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admires Burns, and occasionally invites him to a family Sunday dinner, "--Chambers, 1851.
Increase of Salary.--"I am on the list, as we call it, for a Supervisor, and will be called out, by and by, to act as one ; but at present I am a simple gauger, though t'other day I got an appointment to an excisedivision, of £25 per annum better than the rest. My present income -down money–is £70 per annum.”—Letter to Ainslie, Dec., 1791.
Mrs. Maria Riddel of Woodley Park.-The poet's intimacy with her commences with the Dumfries period of his life. He introduces her to Wm. Smellie, printer, Edinburgh :-“She is just going to pay her first visit to our Caledonian capital. I told her that, lest you might think of her as a lively West Indian girl of eighteen, as girls of eighteen too often deserve to be thought of, I should take care to remove that prejudice. She has one unlucky failing-a failing which you will easily discover, as she seems rather pleased with indulging it; and a failing that you will easily pardon, as it is a sin which very much besets yourself - where she dislikes or despises, she is apt to make no more a secret of it, than where she esteems and respects.”—Letter to Smellie, Jan. 22, 1792.
FEB.-The Deil's awa' wi' the Exciseman.
Aug.-Fourth volume of Johnson's Museum published. Fifty songs by Burns.
APRIL 10TH.—Date of Burns' Diploma as a member of the Caledonian Hunt, the original now in the Burns Monument at Edinburgh.
SEPT.—Correspondence with George Thomson commences.
of Woman. Jacobinism.—The poet suspected of being a “Friend of the People,” and his conduct investigated by the Board of Excise.
The Jacobinism of Burns. -“As to France, I was her enthusiastic votary in the beginning of the business.
When she came to shew her old avidity for conquest, 1793. in annexing Savoy, &c., to her dominions, and invading (AGE 34.) the rights of Holland, I altered my sentiments.
Enticements to Intemperance.—“ The highest gentry of the country, whenever they had especial merriment in view, called in the wit of Burns to enliven their carousals ; and in his perpetual perambulations, he had every temptation to encounter, which bodily fatigue, the blandishments of hosts and hostesses, and the habitual manners of those who acted along with him in the duties of the Excise, could present. From the castle to the cottage, every door flew open at his approach ; and the old system of hospitality, then flourishing, rendered it difficult for the most soberly inclined guest to rise from any man's board in the same trim that he sat down to it."
Jean Lorimer (afterwards the poet's “Chloris ") contracts a strong intimacy with him, and exerts a powerful influence over his musings.
FEB. 1.–War declared against the Revolutionists of France, by this Country.
JAN.-SONG: O poortith cauld and restless love.
APRIL.-- New Edition of his Poems, published in two volumes, with 20 additional pieces.
Some, on account of the many typographical and other errors in this (1793) edition, have doubted if the anthor took any trouble in revising the sheets ; but the following passage in his letter to Alex. Cunningham, of 10th Sep., 1792, sets that question at rest :
:-"Amid all the hurry of business, grinding the faces of the publican and the sinner on the merciless wheels of the exciso; making ballads, and then drinking, and singing them; and over and above all, the correcting the press-work, of two different publications,”, &c. These publications were, undoubtedly, Johnson's Museum, and the two-volume edition of his poems : this is corroborated by the following passage in an undated letter of this period addressed to Johnson :-“1 am just now busy correcting a new edition of my poems, and this, with my ordinary business, finds me in full employment."
Removal to Burns' Street.— Whitsunday, 1793.- This new dwelling, situated in the Mill Vennel (afterwards called Burns' Street), was a small detached house of two stories, with kitchen, parlour, two large bedrooms, and several smaller apartments. Ascending three steps at the front door, we reach the lower floor, containing a butt and a benthe one a kitchen, and the other a fine commodious parlour, well furnished. Above, are two rooms of irregular size, the smaller of these being the bedroom in which the poet died; a closet, nine feet square, between these rooms, was the writing chamber of the exciseman-bard, from which issued his matchless lyrics and powerful letters, during the closing three years of his life. The late Wm. Ewart, M.P. for the Dumfries Burghs, placed a memorial-bust of the poet within a niche in the wall of the next house, which is used as a Ragged School, and this inscription is affixed:-“IN THE ADJOINING HOUSE—TO THE NORTH -LIVED AND DIED THE POET OF HIS COUNTRY AND OF MANKINDROBERT BURNS." JUNE.-SONG: Logan Braes.
-Song: Bonie Jean.
-Song: Adown winding Nith I did wander.
-SONG : Whistle, and I'll come to you.
JULY.—Excursion through Galloway and Wigtown, with Mr Syme of Ryedale.
SEPT. 30.—The poet presents four volumes to the Subscription Library of Dumfries, one of these being De Lolme, on the British Constitution, on which he had inscribed these words :—"Mr. Burns presents this Book to the Library, and begs they will take it as a creed of British Liberty-until they find a better.-R. B."
“ His wit, from this time, became more gloomy and FICKLE FRIENDS. sarcastic, and his conversation and writings began to DUMFRIES. assume a misanthropical tone, by which they had not
1794. been before, in any eminent degree, distinguished. But (AGE 35.) with all his failings, his was still that exalted mind
which had raised itself above the depression of its original condition with all the energy of the lion, pawing to free his hinder limbs from the yet encumbering earth. He still appeared 'not less than Archangel ruined !""— Robert Heron, 1797.
Quarrel with Mrs. Riddel.—" 'Tis true, madam, I saw you once since I was at Woodley Park, and that once froze the very life-blood of my heart. Your reception of me was such, that a wretch meeting the eye of his judge about to pronounce sentence of death upon him, could only have envied my feelings and situation.”—Letter to Mrs. Riddel, 1794.
“FEB. 24, 1794.-For these two months, I have not been able to lift a pen. My constitution and frame were, ab origine, blasted with a deep, incurable taint of hypochondria, which poisons my existence. I have exhausted, in reflection, every topic of comfort : a heart at ease might have been charmed with my reasonings ; but as to myself, I was like Judas Iscariot preaching the Gospel. He might melt and mould the hearts of those around him, but his own kept its native incorrigibility.” -Letter to Alexander Cunningham.
Monody on a Lady famed for her caprice. Epistle from Esopus to Maria. Epigram pinned to a Lady's Coach. APRIL.-Sonnet on the Death of Robert Riddel of Glenriddel. JUNE 4.-Birth-day Assembly.—"The Loyal Natives' Club wore ribbons, embroidered by loyal ladies.”--Newspaper Notice.
Burns in shadow.- “Mr David M‘Culloch, of Ardwell, has often told me that he was seldom more grieved, than when riding into Dumfries, one fine summer evening, about this time, to attend a county-ball, he saw Burns walking alone, on the shady side of the principal street, while the opposite side was gay with successive groups of gentlemen and ladies, all drawn together for the festivities of the night, not one of whom appeared willing to recognise him.”—Lockhart, 1828.
Aug. 12.-Birth of a Son-JAMES GLENCAIRN BURNS. (Died in 1865.)
Oct.—“CLARINDA” styled “a ci devant goddess of mine,” in a letter to Thomson, and her name directed to be effaced from the song, am I, my faithful Fair," in order that its heroineship may be transferred to Chloris !
Nov.–Visit of Professor Walker to Burns.--See Nov., 1795.
DEC.-Burns announces to Mrs Dunlop his appointment to a temporary Supervisorship.
“NEW-YEAR'S-DAY, 1795.- This is the season of THE SUNSET wishes, and mine are most fervently offered
for you! What a transient business is life ! Very lately I was a boy-but t'other day I was a young man--and I
already begin to feel the rigid fibre and stiffening 1795. joints of old age coming fast o'er my frame !”—Letter (AGE 36.) to Mrs. Dunlop.
“At present, my situation in life mnst be in a great measure stationary at least for two or three years. on the Supervisors' list, and as we come on by precedency, in two or three years I shall be at the head of that list, and be appointed of course. Then, a FRIEND might be of service to me in getting me into a place of the kingdom which I would like. A Supervisor's income varies from about £120 to $200 a-year; but the business is incessant drudgery, and would be nearly a complete bar to every species of literary pursuit. A Collectorship varies much, from better than £200 a-year to near £1000. They also come forward by precedency on the list, and have, besides a handsome income, a life of complete leisure.”—Letter to Mr. Heron of Heron, 1795. JAN.-Is there, for honest Poverty. JAN.-Craigieburn.— New Version. FEB.-0 Lassie, art thou sleeping yet ? FEB.-0 wat ye wha's in yon town. FEB.-Great Snow-storm of 1795. The Heron Election Ballads.
A Regiment of Dumfries Volunteers formed. Burns joins one of the Companies.
The Dumfries Volunteers.
On Chloris being ill : ‘Long, long the night.'
Mark yonder pomp of costly fashion.
O this is no my ain lassie.
O bonie was yon rosy brier. We have no account of the progress of the poet during September of this year, but from Dr. Currie's Narrative we learn that, “from October, 1795, to the January following, an accidental complaint confined him to the house." In September, 1795, his only daughter and favourite child, Elizabeth, died at Mauchline, and this event is pathetically referred to by the poet in his letter to Mrs. Dunlop, dated 31st January, 1796, in which he reproaches that lady for not having written in reply to his two lasó communications, namely, of 25th June, 1794, and of New Year's time, 1795. It is an indisputable fact that Mrs. Dunlop, on whose steady friendship the bard had so fondly relied, did in the end prove herself to be like many others of his fair-weather satellites ; and that Dr. Currie, who was her relative, with the manifest design of hiding that scandal, disarranged and misdated the poet's letters addressed to her during his latter years! And it is grievous further to point out, that through the grossest editorial blindness, in every reprint of his correspondence, from that of Currie to Waddel, one of his most pathetic letters, the real date of which is December, 1793, is set
down under date “December, 1795," although we there read of Riddel, of Glenriddel (who died in April, 1794), being still alive (!), and of the poet's only daughter, Elizabeth (who died in September, 1795), being under anxious nursing on account of illness ! Query.-- Was it a feeling of reverence for the poet's memory, or expiatory remorse for a mother's error, that prompted the daughter of Mrs. Dunlop to consign her own dead body to the same grave which had been occupied by the dust of Burns during nineteen years ?
Another glaring mis-date of this same period, is that of the poet's biographer, Professor Walker, who gives November, 1795," instead of November, 1794, as the period of that visit of his to Burns in Dumfries, in regard to which he is so mercilessly squabashed by John Wilson. The description which the visitor gives of the hale condition of Burns on that occasion, cannot possibly apply to the period of November, 1795, when, as is perfectly certain, he was on a sick-bed, and unable for a long ramble up Nithside, much less to drink the Professor and his friend both blind, in their own inn, up to three in the morning. The reference to the Fragment on Liberty-composed in June, 1794–seems to point to that year; and the Election Ballads, recited by the poet to Walker, must have been the matchless Five Carlines, and its magnificent companion-ballad against Queensberry, addressed to Graham of Fintry, -not the squibs, barely intelligible to a non-elector and stranger—the Heron Ballads of 1795-96.
Upwards of a year before his death, there was an LAST ILLNESS, evident decline in our poet's personal appearance; and,
though his appetite continued unimpaired, he was him
self sensible that his constitution was sinking. From 1796. October, 1795, to the January following, an accidental (AGE 37) complaint confined him to the house. A few days after
he began to go abroad, he dined at a tavern, and returned home about three o'clock on a very cold morning, benumbed and intoxicated. This was followed by an attack of rheumatism,” &c.—Dr. Currie, 1800.
Jan. 28.-Burns attends the Mason Lodge, to recommend James Georgeson, merchant, as an apprentice.
Note of his attendance at the Lodge Meetings during his residence in Dumfries.—1791, Dec. 27; 1792, Feb. 6, May 14, May 31, June 5, Nov. 22, Nov. 30; 1793, Nov. 30; 1794, Nov. 29; 1796, Jan. 28, April 14.
FEB.-Letter to George Thomson, with song, Hey for a lass wi' a tocher."
ELECTION BALLAD: Wha will buy my Troggin?
“ Here's a health to ane I lo'e dear." Rhyming Epistle to Colonel de Peyster.
BROW, JULY 12.—“Madam, I have written you so often without receiving any answer, that I would not trouble you again, but for the circumstances in which I am. An illness which has hung about me, will, in all probability, speedily send me beyond that bourne, whence no traveller returns! Your friendship, with which for so many years you honoured me, was a friendship dearest to my soul. Your conversation, and especially your correspondence, were at once highly entertaining and instructive. With what pleasure did I use to break the seal! The remembrance yet adds one pulse more to my poor palpitating heart. Farewell ! !-R. B.”—Letter to Mrs. Dunlop.