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that he had not seen a spurious Burns MS., and that he did not believe in their existence, we undertook to borrow examples and show them to him on Tuesday, which we did. On that day we were late, having been detained in the borrowing of the spurious MSS., which two most respectable firms in Edinburgh, knowing our object, kindly placed at our disposal. We explained to Mr. Mackenzie the cause of our being late for our appointment. He demurred to showing us the documents at that late hour, but he relented and showed us a MS. named in the Express ; we showing him those we had borrowed. With the exception of one signature, which he thought doubtful, he seemed inclined to think the MSS. authentic. We were not so complimentary to those he showed us. Taking his statements as to the cabinet with the secret spring, and his denial or modification, on the occasion of our second visit, of the statements he made on our first, we were no wiser as to how he came by the boasted MSS. than if we had not conversed with him on the subject. Putting all the circumstances together, I doubt if Mr. Mackenzie has in his possession a genuine MS. of Burns.

All honour to the men of Ayr for their courage in verifying the MS. of “The bonnie banks of Ayr.” The committee, when it was challenged, as it was by Mr. M‘Naught, the new editor of the Burns Chronicle, Treasurer Mackay, of Kilmarnock, and myself, should not have accepted it without, in the first instance, putting it to a reasonable test. That MS. has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” On the subject of the "Mysterious Cabinet," Mr. Colvill Scott wrote to the Dispatch on November 30th :

“On another occasion of calling on Mr. Mackenzie at his shop, I heard from his own lips the following :-On asking him personally where he discovered the MSS., he gave me to understand that, being a kind of general collector of all sorts of things, he was shown one day a desk or cabinet, and, on looking over it, naturally enough previous to purchasing, he suddenly touched an invisible spring, when out flew a drawer filled with MSS. of Burns, &c. Having drawn the attention of the owner to the fact, he decided to make an offer for the MSS., and purchased it, but told me, when closely pressed, that he did not buy the desk wherein the peculiar discovery was made, and which might be called the 'Enchanted Cabinet.""

Mr. Mackenzie, writing on December 3rd in reply to the foregoing, says:

“Already much has been made of the cabinet story, and, as it has been referred to, let me mention the facts without the fiction. Two parties named in this correspondence called on me, and, in course of conversation, I said that some years ago, when looking at an old cabinet, the owner showed me a secret drawer in which he had found some old MSS. I bought the MSS. On another occasion one of these gentlemen asked why I had not reported the finding of the Burns MSS. in the cabinet. I at once stated that these were not Burns MSS., but merely old medical MSS. Yet, in the face of this, a very different light has been thrown on the cabinet story. The Burns MSS. I possessed had often been shown to gentlemen known to be authorities on Burns, and no one thought them to be other than genuine, even including those that so much has been made of. I am now pleased, however, that the authorship of these has been discovered."

Such is the story of the “Enchanted Cabinet,” and it must be considered a very strange one as it stands. After the judgment passed upon that part of Mr. Mackenzie's collection of which “so much for rather, so little) has been made”-a

. judgment, by the way, with which he has been forced to coincide—he surely cannot feel at ease regarding the remainder of his literary treasures. We are at a loss to account for the motives of any “amateur collector," who, in the circumstances in which Mr. Mackenzie finds himself placed, refuses, or even delays, to give the fullest information at his command concerning the history of the questioned documents, and how they came into his possession. But we must proceed with our narrative. A few weeks ago, Mr. Stillie, writing to Mr. Muir, late Editor of “BURNS CHRONICLE,” offered to submit for inspection of the Burns Monument Committee of Kilmarnock certain Burns MSS., of which a list was enclosed. A parcel containing six MSS. was accordingly forwarded, accompanied by a printed list, which was supplemented by the following memorandum from Mr. Stillie :

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“ EDINBURGH, 11th November, 1892. To John Haggo, Esq.,

Besides the list sent I have found Burns Original Manuscript of his introduction to the Kilmarnock First Edition of his Poems. It was sent by Wilson to Creech, Bookseller. These are the earliest and finest collection I have ever seen. Burns wrote his chief works on one side for the printer. Henry Mackenzie bound all his Manuscripts this way. These six documents offered at the reduced value of £100.”

It is to be regretted that the venerable and honourable name of Mr. Stillie is so closely connected with the subject of this article. If, as is the general opinion, his judgment only has been at fault, he deserves all sympathy and consideration. There is but one course open for him however, and that is the obvious one of self-vindication, by recounting unreservedly the circumstances that led to his being inveigled. Judges, however well qualified by nature and experience, are not infallible. No shame attaches to the confession of unconscious error, while mistaken ideas of consistency very often lead to an unreasonable obstinacy which is not to be commended. We were privileged to examine the six documents forwarded. The grounds of our personal judgment, either in this or the Ayr case, would not be particularly interesting to the general reader, suffice it therefore to say, that apart from the handwriting and contents, it was matter of extreme surprise to us that any one accustomed to handle old documents should have accepted them as correct, without putting them to the severest test.

We subjoin a detailed description of the MSS., to show the elaborate manner in which they have been prepared.

Burns Manuscripts on offer to the Kilmarnock Town Council,

12th November, 1892. 1. Burns' Original Manuscript of the Preface to the Kilmarnock

First Edition of his Poems, with a Note at the end, asking his friend, Mr. Robert Aikin, for a criticism.

Sent to John Wilson, Printer, Kilmarnock, June, 1786. Consists of seven 4to leaves, with two Autographs. Docketed—William Creech and R. Heron. Robert Burns MS. (Lounger MS.)

Mr. Wilson, Kilmarnock,

DEAR SIR, -I send you as promised the following sheets as an addition to what I have already sent. You might address me privately, with proof sheets, to Old Romne Forest, as I have reasons for liviog there quietly. I send also the introduction with this. — Yours truly, July, 1786.


Letter by him (William Creech) to John Wilson, Kilmarnock, and Preface to his Work printed there. From Mr. R. Heron, 1798. See criticism upon Second Edition by Mr. Mackenzie (Lounger 39). See letter to Mr. Creech, 391. Substituted for dedication to the Caledonian Hunt.

2. Burns Original Manuscript Dedication of his Poems, sent

to his friend, Gavin Hamilton, Writer, Mauchline, 1786. Robert Burns, Mossgiel, July, 1786.

This Poem was inserted in the body of his Poems. Consists of 9 folio leaves, with two Autographs.

Docketed—William Creech, R. Heron, Mackenzie, from John Wilson, Kilmarnock.

Mr. Robert Burns MS. - William Creech.

Dedication of his Poems to Gavin Hamilton, Esq., Writer, Mauchline.


This was afterwards substituted for another to the general public, but was inserted in the body of his works.-R. Heron. Mackenzie

41 From John Wilson, Kilmarnock.


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3. Burns' Original Manuscript of Ten of his Earliest Poems and

Songs, sent to his friend, “Gavin Hamilton, Esquire,
Mauchline, and my other friends there. I present, with
diffidence, the following effusions for his kindly criticism.

Mossgiel, Jany. 1786.
Consists of 32 folio leaves, with two Autographs.

Docketed—R. H., see letter by John Hamilton to Mr. Creech; Mackenzie, “Lounger."

Given to me by Mr. Hamilton.-William Johnston.

Docket-Mr. Robert Burns. MS. Poems sent to Mr. Gavin Hamilton, Manchline, for criticism. This was the first time that many of the contents were known.-R. H. See letter by John Hamilton to Mr. Creech.

52 Mackenzie MS. “Lounger.”

6 Contents : 1. Epistle to a Friend (J. Rankine).—Robert Burns. 2. Song, to the tune “Green Grow the Rashes." 3. An Elegy, “Now Robin lies in his last lair." 4. “When clouds in skies do come together."--Robert Burns. 5. An Epistle to Davy, a brother Poet, Lover, Ploughman, and

Fiddler.--Robert Burns. 6. Song, Robin, “ There was a Lad was Born in Kyle." 7. Song, “Though cruel fate should bid us part.” 8. Song, “O! raging fortune's withering blast.”Robert Burns. 9. “ The Twa Herds, or the Holy Tulzie.”-- Robert Burns. 10. Song, “ The Braes o’ Ballochmyle.Robert Burns. 11. Epitaph on John Dove, the Innkeeper. 12. Another Epistle to Davy, a brother poet. "Auld Neebor.”

-Robert Burns.


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4. Burns' Original Manuscript : Dedication to the Noblemen

and Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt, Edinburgh,
4th April, 1787, for Creech's first Edinburgh edition of

Burns' Poems.
Consists of 3 folio leaves and has one Autograph.

Docket-4th April. 1787. Mr. Robert Burns. Proposed Dedication to his book of poems. Mr. William Creech.

(Signed) ROBERT BURNS. M. 137.

Edinburgh, April 4th, 1787.


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5. A Manuscript Letter of Burns, which includes a copy of

Wilson's Settled Account for Printing Burns' First
Edition at Kilmarnock.

“MossGIEL, OCTOBER 9TH, 1786.
“DEAR AND HONOURED SIR, -I have settled all the claims which Mr.
Wilson, Kilmarnock, had against me.--I proposed for a second
edition, with additional matter if I thought well. -But as his terms
were against me, I could not enter into any arrangement.
posed that I should pay for the paper, which, for 1000 copies, would be
about £27, and the printing would come to about £16. -The latter
was to be his risk, to be paid out of the first monies coming in.---As
you know, this was quite out of my power, and so I have given up all
hopes of a second edition in the meantime. -As you so kindly in-
terested yourself to my welfare in the matter, I let you have a copy of
Wilson's account. ---I am much disappointed at Wilson's terms, for I
could have added considerably to the merits of the work, as I have, as
you know, been cultivating the Muses

spirit of late. I was sorry not seeing you when I was in Kilmarnock, as I have every wish to converse with you on various matters, and I shall call on you the first day I am in Kilmarnock.-I remain, Dear Sir, your obliged and devoted servant,

ROBERT BURNS.” Mr. Robert Burns to John Wilson, Dr.

1786. August 28.- Printing 15 sheets at 19s,

£14 5 0 19 reams 13 quires paper at 17s,

16 4 0 Carriage of the paper,

0 8 9 Stitching 612 Copies in blue paper, at 1{d, 4 9 3

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October 6.—By Cash in full, £3 4s,

3 4 0 Folded, Sealed, and Addressed to

Mr. Robert Muir, Merchant, Kilmarnock. 6. Burns' Original Manuscript of his Introduction to the Kil

marnock First Edition of his Poems. It was sent by

Wilson to William Creech, bookseller.
Docket-Mr. Robert Burns. Preface to the First Edition of his
Poems at Kilmarnock.

Given to me by William Park, Kilmarnock, 1803.--J. C.

This document is signed Robert Burns, and dated “Old Rome Forest, July 1786.

(No. 1 of this lot of MS. is a copy of No. 6.-Ed.)

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