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To Mr. JOHN RICHMOND, Edinburgh.
Mosgiel, Feb. 17, 1786. My dear sir,
I have not time at present to upbraid you for your silence and neglect; I shall only say I received yours with great pleasure. I have enclosed you a piece of rhyming ware for your perusal. I have been very busy with the muses since I saw you, and have composed, among several others, The Ordination, a poem on Mr. M*Kinlay's being called to Kilmarnock; Scotch Drink, a poem; The Cotter's Saturday Night ; An Address to the Devil, &c. I have likewise completed my poem on the Dogs, but have not shewn it to the world. My chief patron now is Mr. Aiken in Ayr, who is pleased to express great approbation of my works. Be so good as send me Fergusson, by Connel*, and I will remit you the money. I have no news to acquaint you with about Mauchline, they are just going on in the old way. I have some very important news with respect to myself, not the most agreeable, news that I am sure you cannot guess, but I shall give you the particulars another time. I am extremely happy with Smitht;
Connel, the Mauchline carrier. + Mr. James Smith, then a shop-keeper in Mauchline. It was to this young man that Burns addressed one of his finest performances—" To J. S
,” beginning, 66 Dear S- -, the sleest, paukie thief.” He died in the West-Indies. Vol. IV.
be is the only friend I have now in Mauchline. I can scarcely forgive your long neglect of me, and I beg you will let me hear from you regularly by Connel. If you would act your part as a friend, I am sure neither good nor bad fortune should strange or alter me. Excuse haste, as I got yours but yesterday.-I am, My dear sir, Yours,
To Mr. M'W
-IE, Writer, Ayr.
Mosgiel, 17th April, 1786. It is injuring some hearts, those hearts that elegantly bear the impression of the good Creator, to say to them you give them the trouble of obliging a friend ; for this reason, I only tell you that I gratify my own feelings in requesting your friendly offices with respect to the inclosed, because I know it will gratify yours to assist me in it to the utmost of your power.
I have sent you four copies, as I have no less than eight dozen, which is a great deal more than I shall ever need.
Be sure to remember a poor poet militant in your prayers. He looks forward with fear and trembling to that, to him, important moment which stamps the die with-with-with, perhaps the eternal disgrace of,
My dear sir,
* This is the only letter the Editor bas met with in which the poet adds the termination ess to his name, as his father and family had spelled it.
To Mons. James Smith, Mauchline.
Monday Morning, Mosgiel, 1788. My dear sir,
I went to Dr. Douglas yesterday, fully resolved to take the opportunity of Capt. Smith ; but I found the doctor with a Mr. and Mrs. White, both Jamaicians, and they have deranged my plans altogether. They assure him that to send me from Savannah la Mar to Port Antonio will cost my master, Charles Douglas, upwards of fifty pounds ; besides running the risk of throwing myself into a pleuritic fever in consequence of hard travelling in the sun. On these accounts, he refuses sending me with Smith, but a vessel sails from Greenock the first of September, right for the place of my destination.
The captain of her is an intimate of Mr. Gavin Hamilton's, and as good a fellow as heart could wish : with him I am destined to go. Where I shall shelter, I know not, but I hope to weather the storm. Perish the drop of blood of mine that fears them! I know their worst, and am prepared to meet it.
I'll laugh, an' sing, an' shake my leg,
As lang's I dow.
On Thursday morning, if you can muster as much self-denial as to be out of bed about seven o'clock, I shall see you as I ride through to Cumnock. After all, Heaven bless the sex! I feel there is still happiness for me among them.
O woman, lovely woman! Heaven designed you To temper man! we had been brutes without
To Mr. DAVID BRICE.
Mosgeil, June 12, 1786. Dear Brice,
I received your message by G. Paterson, and as I am not very throng at present, I just write to let you know that there is such a worthless, rhyming reprobate, as your humble servant, still in the land of the living, though I can scarcely say, in the place of hope. I have no news to tell you, that will give me any pleasure to mention or you to hear.
And now for a grand cure; the ship is on her way home that is to take me out to Jamaica ; and then, farewell dear old Scotland, and farewell dear ungrateful Jean, for never, never will I see you more.
You will have heard that I am going to commence poet in print ; and to-morrow my works go to the press.
I expect it will be a volume of about two hundred pages-it is just the last foolish action I intend to do ; and then turn a wise man as fast as possible.
Believe me to be,
Your friend and well-wisher,
To GAVIN HAMILTON, esq. Mauchline.
Edinburgh, Dec. 7, 1786. Honoured sir,
I have paid every attention to your commands, but can only say, what perhaps you will have heard before this reach you, that Muirkirklands