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Poor Miss K. is ailing a good deal this winter, and begged me to remember her to you the first time I wrote you. Surely woman, amiable woman, is often made in vain! Too delicately formed for the rougher pursuits of ambition ; too noble for the dirt of avarice, and even too gentle for the rage of pleasure : formed indeed for, and highly susceptible of enjoyment and rapture ; but that enjoyment, alas ! almost wholly at the mercy of the caprice, malevolence, stupidity, or wickedness of an animal at all times comparatively unfeeling, and often brutal.
Mauchline, 7th April, 1788. I am indebted to you and Miss Nimmo for letting me know Miss Kennedy. Strange ! how apt we are to indulge prejudices in our judgments of one another ! Even I, who pique myself on my skill in marking characters ; because I am too proud of my character as a man, to be dazzled in my judgment for glaring wealth ; and too proud of my situation as a poor man to be biassed against squalid poverty; I was unacquainted with Miss K's very uncommon worth.
I am going on a good deal progressive in mon grand bat, the sober science of life. I have lately made some sacrifices, for which, were I viva voce with you to paint the situation and recount the circumstances, you would applaud me.
No date. Now for that wayward, unfortunate thing, myself. I have broke measures with * last week I wrote him a frosty, keen letter. He replied in terms of chastisement, and promised me upon his honour, that I should have the account on Monday; but this is Tuesday, and yet I have not heard a word from him. God have mercy on Thank my
me! a poor, d-mned, incautious, duped, unfortunate fool! The sport, the miserable victim of rebellious pride, hypochondriac imagination, agonizing sensibility, and bedlam passions !
“I wish that I were dead, but I'm no like to die!" I had lately “ a hairbreadth 'scape in th’ imminent deadly breach" of love too. stars I got off heart-whole, “ waur fleyd than hurt."-Interruption. I have this moment got a hint
I fear I am something like-undone-but I hope for the best. Come, stubborn pride and unshrinking resolution ! accompany me through this, to me, miserable world! You must not desert me! Your friendship I think I can count on, though I should date my letters from a marching regiment. Early in life, and all my life, I reckoned on a recruiting drum as my forlorn hope. Seriously though, life at present presents me with but a melancholy path: bitmy limb will soon be sound, and I shall struggle
Edinburgh, Sunday. To-morrow, my dear madam, I leave Edinburgh.
I have altered all my plans of future life. A farm that I could live in, I could not find ; and, indeed, after the necessary support my brother and the rest of the family required, I could not venture on farming in that style suitable to my feelings. You will condemn me for the next step I have taken. I have entered into the excise. I stay in the west about three weeks, and then return to Edinburgh for six weeks instructions ; afterwards, for I get employ instantly, I go où il plait à Dieu, -et mon roi, I have chosen this, my dear friend, after mature deliberation. The question is not at what door of fortune's palace shall we enter in ; but what doors does she open to us ? I was not likely to get any thing to do. I wanted un but, which is a dangerous, an unhappy situation. I got this without any hanging on, or mortifying solicitation; it is immediate bread, and though poor in comparison of the last eighteen months of my existence, 'tis luxury in comparison of all my preced ing life: besides, the commissioners are some of them my acquaintances, and all of them my firm friends.
To Miss MN.
Saturday noon, No. 2, St. James's Sqr.
Newtown, Edinburgh. Here have I sat, my dear madam, in the stony attitude of perplexed study, for fifteen vexatious minutes, my head askew, bending over the intended card; my fixed eye insensible to the very light of day poured around; my pendulous goose-feather, loaded with ink, hanging over the future letter ; all for the important purpose of writing a complimentary card to accompany your trinket.
Compliments is such a miserable Greenland expression ; lies at such a chilly polar distance from the torrid zone of my constitution, that I cannot, for the very soul of me, use it to any person for whom I have the twentieth part of the esteem, every one must have for you who knows you.
As I leave town in three or four days, I can give myself the pleasure of calling for you only for a minute. Tuesday evening, some time about seven, or after, I shall wait on you, for your farewell commands.
The hinge of your box, I put into the hands of the proper connoisseur. The broken glass, likewise, went under review ; but deliberative wisdom
thought it would too much endanger the whole fabric,
I am, dear madam,
Your very humble servant.
To Mr. ROBERT AINSLIE, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh, Sunday morning,
Nov. 23, 1787.
I beg, my dear sir, you would not make any appointment to take us to Mr. Ainslie's to-night. On looking over my engagements, constitution, present state of my health, some little vexatious soul concerns, &c., I find I can't sup abroad tonight.
'I shall be in to-day till one o'clock if you have a leisure hour.
You will think it romantic when I tell you, that I find the idea of your friendship almost necessary to my existence.You assume a proper length of face in my bitter hours of blue-devilism, and you laugh fully up to my highest wishes at my good things. I don't know upon the whole, if you are one of the first fellows in God's world, but you are so to me. I tell you this just now in the conviction that some inequalities in my temper and manner may, perhaps, sometimes make you suspect that I am not so warmly as I ought
To Miss CHALMERS.
Edinburgh, Dec, 1787. My dear madam,
I just now have read yours. The poetic compliments I pay cannot be misunderstood. They are neither of them so particular as to point you out to the world at large ; and the circle of your acquaintances will allow all I have said. Besides, I have complimented you chiefly, almost solely, on your mental charms. Shall I be plain with you? I will; so look to it. Personal attractions, madam, you have much above par; wit, understanding, and worth you possess in the first class. This is a cursed flat way of telling you these truths, but let me hear no more of your sheepish timidity, I know the world a little. 1 know what they will say of my poems; by second sight I suppose ; for I am seldom out in my
I conjectures; and you may believe me, my dear madam, I would not run any risk of hurting you by an ill-judged compliment. I wish to show to the world, the odds between a poet's friends and those of simple prosemen. More for your information, both the pieces go in. One of them, " Where braving all the winter's harms,” already set-the tune is Neil Gow's Lamentation for Abercarny ; the other is to be set to an old Highland air in Daniel Dow's “ Collection of ancient Scots music;" the name is Ha a Chaillich air mo Dheidh. My treacherous memory has forgot every circumstance about Les Incas, only I think you mentioned them as being in s possession. I shall ask him about it. I am afraid the song of * Somebody” will come too late-as I shall, for certain, leave town in a week for Ayrshire, and from that to Dumfries, but ther my hopes are slender. I leave my direction in town, so avy thing, wherever I am, will reach me.