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VI.-POEMS ASCRIBED TO ROBERT BURNS. Glasgow: 1801. Country Gentleman's" Copy (Puttick's, 1891), boards uncut. £1. VII.—LETTErs Addressed TO CLARINDA. BY ROBERT Burns, the Ayrshire Poet. Never before published. Glasgow: 1802.
David Laing's Copy (Sotheby's, 1879), uncut.
£3 12s 6d. Sir Edward Sullivan's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), morocco, gilt edges
Walter King's Copy (Sotheby's, 1891), half morocco.
£3 3s. £1 12s.
POETICAL WORKS OF ROBERT BURNS; with his Life : engravings on wood by Mr. Bewick. In two volumes. Alnwick: 1808.
Isabella Bewick's Copy (Bewick Sale, Newcastle, 1884), half morocco, with Autograph.
£5. R. S. Turner's Copy (Sotheby's, 1888) morocco, gilt edges, by Bedford. £5 10s. John Leigh's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), half morocco, marbled edges. £1 15s.
IX. POETICAL WORKS OF ROBERT BURNS. 3 volumes. London: William Pickering. 1839.
Sir Edward Sullivan's Copy (Sotheby's), 1890), printed on vellum, morocco, gilt edges, by Hayday. £16.
With the Kilmarnock edition, both the first Edinburgh and the first London editions are advancing; as, indeed, are all the editions we have given prices for; and it is not too much to say that by the bi-centenary of the Poet's birth, the price of perfect copies of the premier edition in all probability will have advanced to the price of a first Shakespeare, which will be more than double the present price. The book is being absorbed in our public libraries, to which not a few copies have been presented by pious donors; and there is not a public library at home, (or a private collection for that matter), in America, or the Colonies, which, if funds permitted, would not acquire a copy of the Kilmarnock Burns. The bibliophile abroad, vies with his brother at home as to who shall have the best Burns. No matter where his lot may be cast; no matter what his politics or creed, the true Scot, if he be a book-lover and of a poetic temperament, generally acquires some item relating to the National Poet, which he regards as the most sacred of his earthly possessions. W. CRAIBE ANGUS.
SOME HAMILTON PAUL MSS.
'HROUGH the courtesy of Mr. David Aird of the George Hotel, Kilmarnock, we have been favoured
with the perusal of a large number of letters, manuscripts, and Burnsiana notes in the handwriting of the Rev. Hamilton Paul, one of the earliest admirers and biographers of the Bard. Mr. Aird, it may be mentioned, is a lineal descendant of Mr. Paul, the connection being through his great-grandmother, who was a full sister of the reverend gentleman. Mr. Paul's edition of Burns, with life of the Poet, appeared in 1819, and he afterwards published a small edition of his own poems. The "Air Edition of the Poems and Songs of Robert Burns,” as that of Mr. Paul is entitled, contains, perhaps, the best life of the Poet ever written, but the selection of the poetry, for which Mr. Paul was not responsible, is scarcely of a piece with the rest of the work.
The MSS. collection submitted to us contains the originals of many of these published pieces, as well as others which have not yet seen the light; but the most interesting of the documents are those relating to Burns and the proceedings of the first Ayr Club before Mr. Paul's translation to the parish of Broughton, which took place in 1813. The pressure on our space precludes a detailed description of the varied and interesting papers we have had the privilege of examining; we must therefore content ourselves with submitting a list of those more immediately connected with Burns, quoting, in extenso, only the earliest in date, for the reason that it has a direct bearing on the disputed point as to which of the Scottish clubs is entitled to premier position in the particular of date of origin. The remainder will be given from time to time in the pages of the Chronicle, as opportunity presents itself. The first six are paged and numbered as if they had formed part of a quarto note-book, or were sheets intended for the press. They are fragmentary and incomplete, eight pages being awanting between page 4 and page 13, and eleven between page 17 and page 29. The rest are all separate documents. At the first meeting of the Ayr Club, Mr. Paul was appointed poet-laureate, and it appears that it devolved upon him to produce an ode on the occasion of each
anniversary meeting. We are sorry to say that the first of these, perhaps the first of its kind ever composed, has disappeared. The earliest in the collection is docqueted "No. 5," from which we may infer that other four preceded it. In chronological order the list of the more important Burnsiana documents is as follows:
Minute of Anniversary Meeting in the Cottage
Summer of 1801.
Minute of Anniversary Meeting in the Cottage
Minute of Anniversary Meeting in "King's Arms
Ode, described as "Anniversary of Burns, and Tribute to the memory of three friends to whom the Poet was dear, and some of whom he distinguished with peculiar marks of gratitude and esteem, as his writings testify." (The "three friends" mentioned are Aitken, Crawford, and M'Gill)..........
Ode on the Anniversary of Burns.........
signed "Gilb. M'Ilveen, modr., and William
Petition of the Auld Brig o' Doon, on its threatened
Petition and Complaint of the Old Brig of Doon to the Road Trustees, with autograph list of subscribers
Sept. 29th, 1813.
Besides these, there are two four-page autograph letters from Thomas Campbell the poet, addressed to Mr. H. Paul, his friend and fellow-student; one facetiously headed, "Epistle of Timothy to his beloved Paul," and dated,—“ We savages in Mull never keep any reckon of the months—I believe it is the eighteenth century"; and the other dated, "Downie, August 12th, 179. The last figure is indistinct, and may be taken for "5" or "6."
From the foregoing it is clear that Mr. Paul kept up his connection with the Ayr Club long after his translation to
Broughton. It will be observed that the exact date of the first meeting is not given. In M'Kie's Bibliography it is set down as "January 25th, 1801," but that is a palpable mistake, for, irrespective of what follows, the 29th was then believed to be the correct date of the Poet's birth. We will allow the document to speak for itself.
"In the summer of 1801, a select party of the friends of Burns proposed to dine in the cottage in which he was born, and to offer a tribute to the memory of departed genius. Two gentlemen of distinguished philanthropy and taste waited on the author of the following Odes, and requested him to produce a short poem on the occasion. The author never saw Burns, but was an early and enthusiastic admirer of his writings. The party was such as Burns himself would have joined with heartfelt satisfaction.
WILLIAM CRAWFORD, Esq., of Doonside.
JOHN BALLANTINE, Esq., to whom Burns dedicated 'The twa brigs of Ayr.'
ROBT. AITKEN, Esq., to whom Burns dedicated the
PATRICK DOUGLAS, Esq., of Garallan, who patronised
THOMAS JACKSON, A.M., Rector of the Air (sic)
The Rev. HAMILTON PAUL, Chaplain and Laureat.
"These nine sat down to a comfortable dinner, of which sheep's head and haggis formed an interesting part. The Address to the Haggis ' was read, and every toast was drank by three times three, i.e., by nine. A portrait of the Poet, painted on wood, intended as a signpost to the cottage, which is a rural tavern, was presented to the company, to which there is an allusion in the poem,
'When even his image in my burning breast,' &c.
"Before breaking up, the company unanimously resolved that the Anniversary of Burns should be regularly celebrated, and that H. Paul should exhibit an annual poetical production in praise of the Bard of Coila, and that the meeting should take place on 29th January, the supposed birthday of the Poet.
"Accordingly on 29th January, 1802, the Club mustered to the number of twenty, consisting of the former nine, with the addition of :WILLIAM BOWIE, Esq., of Cambusiscan, Provost of
WILLIAM COWAN, Esq.
HUGH COWAN, Esq.
CHARLES MAIMIKIM BUCHAN, Esq., of Kilsaint
GEORGE DUNLOP, Esq., etc., etc.
"To this meeting the second Ode in the collection, being the first Birthday Ode, was read by the author. The forenoon had been rainy, and the afternoon proved fine, which gave occasion to the following extemporaneous jeu d'esprit by one of the company :—
'Auspicious day, rever'd by fame,
On which the Muse's darling came
The changing skies forget to frown,
And conscious seasons smile.'
This was preserved by recollection, as the author would not allow a copy to be taken.”
The foregoing occupies the first four pages of the numbered. sheets already referred to, which extend to 32 pages in all. The water-mark on the paper is "1808." It would therefore appear that Mr Paul, in that year or the following one, and while he was yet in Ayr, collected all his notes on the "Anniversaries of Burns" (the first page bears that title), and set them down in the permanent form in which they have come down through the family to their present possessor. We may add that Mr Aird, with commendable public spirit, has intimated his intention to present the whole collection to the Trustees of the Burns Museum in his native town.