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But oh! prodigious to reflec'!

A towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck ! twelvemonth
Oh Eighty-eight, in thy sma' space
What dire events hae taken place!
Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!
In what a pickle thou hast left us!

The Spanish empire's tint a head,1
And my auld teethless Bawtie's 2 dead;
The tulzie's sair 'tween Pitt and Fox,
And our guidwife's wee birdie cocks :
The tane is game, a bluidie devil,
But to the hen-birds unco civil;



The tither's something dour o' treadin', unsparing But better stuff ne'er clawed a midden. dunghill

age was produced in December. We agree with Allan Cunningham in seeing in this second effort a proof of the comparative labor which Burns encountered in attempting to compose in pure English. The restricted religious views of the poet will be remarked.

1 Charles III., king of Spain, died on the 13th of December, 1788.

2 A generic familiar name for a dog in Scotland.

Ye ministers, come mount the pu'pit,



And cry till ye be hearse and roopit hoarse-
For Eighty-eight he wished you weel,
And gied ye a' baith gear and meal;
E'en monie a plack, and monie a peck,
Ye ken yoursel's, for little feck! . consideration
Observe the very nowt and sheep,

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How dowf and dowie now they creep: dull — sad Nay, even the yirth itsel' does cry,

For Embro' wells are grutten dry.1 Edinburgh — wept

Oh Eighty-nine, thou's but a bairn,
And no owre auld, I hope, to learn!
Thou beardless boy, I pray tak care,
Thou now has got thy daddy's chair,

Nae hand-cuffed, muzzled, hap-shackled foot-tied

But, like himsel', a full free agent.
Be sure ye follow out the plan

Nae waur than he did, honest man!
As muckle better as you can.

1 The Edinburgh newspapers of this period contain many references to a scarcity of water, in consequence of severe frost.

2 The king having shown symptoms of unsound mind in November, the public was at this time agitated with discussions as to the choice of a regent.


Burns meditated a laborious poem, to be entitled The Poet's Progress, probably of an autobiographical nature. He submitted to Mr. Stewart various short pieces designed to form part of this poem, but none have been preserved except the following.1

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,
Learned vive la bagatelle, et vive l'amour;
So travelled 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 Scotch ell;
His meddling vanity, a busy fiend,

Still making work his selfish craft must mend.2

1 It is not unlikely that the lines on William Smellie, already introduced, were intended to form a part of The Poet's Progress.

2 It is painful to come to the conclusion, from a remark and quotation in a subsequent letter, that this selfish, superficial wight was- Creech-the same "Willie" whom Burns de



On returning a newspaper which Captain Riddel had sent to him for his perusal, containing some strictures on his poetry, Burns added a note in impromptu


ELLISLAND, Monday Evening.

YOUR news and review, sir, I've read through and through, sir,

With little admiring or blaming ;

The papers are barren of home-news or foreign, No murders or rapes worth the naming.

Our friends, the reviewers, those chippers and hewers,

Are judges of mortar and stone, sir;

But of meet or unmeet, in a fabric complete,
I'll boldly pronounce they are none, sir.

My goose-quill too rude is to tell all your good


Bestowed on your servant the poet;

Would to God I had one like a beam of the sun, And then all the world, sir, should know it!

scribed in such affectionate terms in May, 1787, and to whom he then wished "a pow as auld's Methusalem."



The irritable genius of Burns led him often to view persons and things very much as they affected himself. The same lord, gentleman, or lady, who, receiving him with urbanity, became the theme of his kindest feelings, might have come in for the eternal stigma of his satire, if, by a slight change of circumstances, he or she had been a cause of personal annoyance to him, or awakened his jealous apprehensions regarding his own dignity. In the course of

the present month, an example of this infirmity of temper occurs. Let himself be the recorder of the incident, it being premised that the lady whom he thus holds up to execration was one fairly liable to no such censure!

“In January last, on my road to Ayrshire, I had to put up at Bailie Whigham's in Sanquhar, the only tolerable inn in the place. The frost was keen, and the grim evening and howling wind were ushering in a night of snow and drift. My horse and I were both much fatigued with the labours of the day; and just as my friend the bailie and I were bidding defiance to the storm, over a smoking bowl, in wheels the funeral pageantry of the late Mrs. Oswald, and poor I am forced to brave all the terrors of the tempestuous night, and jade my horse-my young favourite horse, whom I had just christened Pegasus

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