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as most people of my trade are, a strange will-o'-wisp being the victim, too frequently, of much imprudence and many follies. My two great constituent elements are pride and passion: the first I have endeavoured to harmonize into integrity and honour; the last makes me a devotee to the warmest degree of enthusiasm in love, religion, or friendship-either of them, or altogether, as I happen to be inspired."

Having explained or apologized respecting his feelings and his prejudices, the Poet proceeds :-"What a strange mysterious faculty is that thing called imagination! I have often amused myself with visionary schemes of what happiness in another world might be enjoyed by small alterations-alterations that we can fully enter into in this present state of existence. For instance, suppose you and I, just as we are at present-the same reasoning powers, sentiments, and even desires; the same fond curiosity for knowledge and remarking observation in our minds; and imagine our bodies free from pain, and the necessary supplies for the wants of nature, at all times and easily within our reach: imagine, farther, that we were set free from the laws of gravitation which bind us to this globe, and could at pleasure fly without inconvenience through all the yet unconjectured bounds of creation-what a life of bliss would we lead in our mutual pursuit of virtue and knowledge, and our mutual enjoyment of friendship and love! I see you laughing at my fairy fancies, but I am certain I would be a happy creature beyond any thing we call bliss here below; nay, it would be a paradise congenial to you, too. Don't you see us hand in hand, making our remarks on Sirius, the nearest of the fixed stars; or surveying a comet flaming innoxious by us, as we just now would mark the passing pomp of a travelling monarch.”


Written under the Portrait of Fergusson, the Poet, in a copy of that Author's works presented to a young Lady in Edinburgh, March 19th, 1787.

CURSE on ungrateful man, that can be pleas'd,
And yet can starve the author of the pleasure!
O thou my elder brother in misfortune,
By far my elder brother in the muses,
With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!
Why is the bard unpitied by the world,
Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?

This apostrophe to Fergusson, bears a striking affinity to one in the "Epistle to William Simpson :"

"O Fergusson! thy glorious parts
Ill suited law's dry musty arts;

My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
Ye E'nbrugh gentry!

The tythe o' what ye waste at cartes,
Wad stow'd his pantry!"

This was written before Burns visited the Scottish capital. Even without a poet's susceptibility, we may feel how this prophetic parallel of Fergusson's case with his own must have pressed on the memory of our bard, when he paid this second tribute of affection to his "elder brother" in misfortune.


A LITTLE, upright, pert, tart, tripping wight,
And still his precious self his dear delight;
Who loves his own smart shadow in the streets
Better than e'er the fairest she he meets :
A man of fashion, too, he made his tour,
Learn'd vive la bagatelle, et vive l'amour;
So travell❜d monkeys their grimace improve,
Polish their grin, nay, sigh for ladies' love.
Much specious lore, but little understood;
Veneering oft outshines the solid wood :
His solid sense-by inches you must tell,
But mete his cunning by the old Scots ell;
His meddling vanity, a busy fiend,

Still making work his selfish craft must mend.


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The "Sketch" was a portion of a long poem which Burns contemplated, called " The Poet's Progress." He, however, completed no more than the little contained in this page; perhaps the response of Dugald Stewart, to whom he communicated the sketch, damped his ardour. —“ The fragment," says Burns, “beginning ́ A little, upright, pert, tart,' &c., I have not shewn to any man living till I now shew it to you. It forms the postulata, the axioms, the definition of a character, which, if it appear at all, shall be placed in a variety of lights. This particular part I send you merely as a sample of my hand at portrait sketching."





I MIND it weel in early date,
When I was beardless, young and blate,
An' first could thresh the barn;
Or haud a yokin at the pleugh ;
An' tho' forfoughten sair eneugh,
Yet unco proud to learn:
When first amang the yellow corn
A man I reckon'd was,

An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn
Could rank my rig and lass,

Still shearing, and clearing,
The tither stooked raw,
Wi' claivers, an' haivers,

Wearing the day awa.

E'en then, a wish, I mind its pow'r,
A wish that to my latest hour

Shall strongly heave my breast, That I for poor auld Scotland's sake Some usefu' plan or beuk could make, Or sing a sang at least.

The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide
Amang the bearded bear,

I turn'd the weeder-clips aside,
An' spar'd the symbol dear:
No nation, no station,

My envy e'er could raise,
A Scot still, but blot still,
I knew nae higher praise.

But still the elements o' sang
In formless jumble, right an' wrang,
Wild floated in my brain;

'Till on that har'st I said before,
My partner in the merry core,
She rous'd the forming strain:
I see her yet, the sonsie quean,
That lighted up her jingle,
Her witching smile, her pauky een
That gart my heart-strings tingle :

I fired, inspired,

At every kindling keek,
But bashing and dashing

I feared aye to speak.

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