« السابقةمتابعة »
science, as in the case of this letter, tells me I am leaving something undone that I ought to do, it teazes me eternally till I do it.
I am still “ dark as was chaos” in respect to futurity. My generous friend, Mr. Patrick Miller, has been talking with me about a lease of some farm or other in an estate called Dalswinton, which he has lately bought near Dumfries, Some life-rented embittering recollections whisper me that I will be happier any where than in my old neighbourhood, but Mr. Miller is no judge of land ; and though I dare say he means to favour me, yet he may give me in his opinion an advantageous bargain, that may ruin me. I am to take a tour by Dumfries as I return, and have promised to meet Mr. Miller on his lands some time in May.
I went to a mason-lodge yesternight, where the most worshipful grand-master Charters, and all the Grand Lodge of Scotland visited. The meeting was numerous and elegant; all the different lodges about town were present, in all their pomp The grand master, who presided with great solemnity and honour to himself as a gentleman and mason, among other general toasts gave “ Caledonia, and Caledonia's bard, brother B-" which rung through the whole assembly with multiplied honours and repeated acclamations. As I had no idea such a thing would happen, I was downright thunder-struck, and trembling in every nerve made the best return in my power. Just as I had finished, some of the grand officers said, so loud that I could hear, with a most comforting accent, “ Very well, indeed!” which set me something to rights again.
I have to-day corrected my 152d page. My best good wishes to Mr. Aiken.
I am ever,
TO THE SAME.
While here I sit, sad and solitary, by the side of a fire in a little country inn, and drying my wet clothes, in pops a poor fellow of a sodger, and tells me he is going to Ayr. By heavens! say I to myself, with a tide of good spirits which the magic of that sound, auld toon o' Ayr, conjured up, I will send my last song to Mr. Ballantine.-Here it is
Ye flowery banks o' bonnie Doon*,
How can ye blume sae fair; How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care !
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings upon the bough; 'Thou minds me o' the happy days
When my fause luve was true.
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings beside thy mate ; For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.
Aft hae I rov'd by bonnie Doon,
To see the wood-bine twine, And ilka bird sang u' its luve,
And sae did I o' mine.
* The reader will perceive that the measure of this copy of the “ Banks o' bonnie Doon," differs from that which is already published. Burns was obliged to adapt his words to a particular air, and in so doing, he lost much of the simplicity and beauty which the song possesses in its present state,
Wi' lightsome heart I pa'd a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree,
But left the thorn wi' me.
TO THE SAME.
Edinburgh, Feb. 24, 1787. My honoured friend,
I will soon be with you now in guid black prent; in a week or ten days at farthest. I am obliged, against my own wish, to print subscribers' names, so if any of my Ayr friends have subscription bills, they must be sent into Creech directly. I am getting my phiz done by an eminent engraver; and if it can be ready in time, I will appear in my book looking, like other fools, to my titlepage*.
I have the honour to be,
Ever your grateful, &c.
* This portrait is engraved by Mr. Beugo, an artist who well merits the epithet bestowed on him by the poet, after a picture of Mr. Nasmyth, which he painted con amore, and liberally presented to Burns. This picture is of the cabinet size, and is now in the possession of Mr. Alex. Cunningham, of Edinburgh.
To Mr. JAMES CANDLISH,
Student in physic, College, Glasgow.
Edinburgh, March 21, 1787. My ever dear old acquaintance,
I was equally surprised and pleased at your letter ; though I dare say you will think by my delaying so long write to you, that I am so drowned in the intoxication of good fortune as to be indifferent to old and once dear connexions. The truth is, I was determined to write a good letter, full of argument, amplification, erudition, and, as Bayes says, all that. I thought of it, and thought of it, but for my soul I cannot: and lest you should mistake the cause of my silence, I just sit down to tell you so. Don't give yourself credit though, that the strength of your logic scares me : the truth is, I never mean to meet you on that ground at all. You have shown me one thing which was to be demonstrated, that strong pride of reasoning, with a little affectation of singularity, may mislead the best of hearts. I, likewise, since you and I were first acquainted, in the pride of despising old women's stories, ventured in " the daring path Spinosa trod;" but experi ence of the weakness, not the strength, of human powers, made me glad to grasp at revealed religion.
I must stop, but don't impute my brevity to a wrong cause. I am still, in the apostle Paul's phrase, “ the old man with his deeds,” as when we were sporting about the lady thorn. I shall be four weeks here yet, at least; and so I shall expect to hear from you-welcome sense, welcome nonsense.
TO THE SAME.
My dear friend,
If once I were gone from this scene of hurry and dissipation, I promise myself the pleasure of that correspondence being renewed which has been so long broken. At present I have time for nothing. Dissipation and business engross every moment. I am engaged in assisting an honest Scots enthusiast*, a friend of mine, who is an engraver, and has taken it into his head to publish a collection of all our songs set to music, of which the words and music are done by Scotsmen. This, you will easily guess, is an undertaking exactly suited to my taste. I have collected, begged, borrowed, and stolen all the songs I could meet with. Pompey's Ghost, words and music, I beg from you immediately, to go into his second number: the first is already published. I shall show you the first number when I see you in Glasgow, which will be in a fortnight or less. Do be so kind as to send me the song in a day or two: you cannot imagine how much it will oblige me.
Direct to me at Mr. W. Cruikshank's, St. James's Square, New Town, Edinburgh.
TO WILLIAM CREECH, esq. (of Edinburgh),
Selkirk, 13th May, 1787. My honoured friend,
The enclosed I have just wrote, nearly extem pore, in a solitary inn in Selkirk, after a misera
* Johnson, the publisher of the Scots Musical Museum.