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No. XII.



MRS. DUNLOP has been so kind as to send me extracts of letters she has had from you, where you do the rustic bard the honour of noticing him and his works. Those who have felt the anxieties and solicitudes of authorship, can only know what pleasure it gives to be noticed in such a manner by judges of the first character. Your criticisms, Sir, I receive with reverence; only, I am sorry they mostly came too late a peccant passage or two, that I would certainly have altered, were gone to the press.

The hope to be admired for ages is, in by far the greater part of those even who are authors


of repute, an unsubstantial dream. For my part, my first ambition was, and still my strongest wish is, to please my compeers, the rustic inmates of the hamlet, while ever-changing language and manners shall allow me to be relished and understood. I am very willing to admit that I have some poetical abilities; and as few, if any writers, either moral or poetical, are intimately acquainted with the classes of mankind among whom I have chiefly mingled, I may have seen men and manners in a different phasis from what is common, which may assist originality of thought. Still I know very well the novelty of my character has by far the greatest share in the learned and polite notice I have lately had; and in a language where Pope and Churchill have raised the laugh, and Shenstone and Gray drawn the tear-where Thomson and Beattie have painted the landscape, and Littleton and Collins described the heart, I am not vain enough to hope for distinguished poetic fame.




Clifford-street January, 23d, 1787.


I HAVE just received your letter, by which I find I have reason to complain of my friend Mrs. Dunlop for transmitting to you extracts from my letters to her, by much too freely and too carelessly written for your perusal, I must forgive her, however, in consideration of her good intention, as you will forgive me, I hope, for the freedom I use with certain expressions, in consideration of my admiration of the poems in general. If I may judge of the author's disposition from his works, with all the other good qualities of a poet, he has not the irritable temper ascribed to that race of men by


one of their own number, whom you have the happiness to resemble in ease and curious felicity of expression. Indeed the poetical beauties, however original and brilliant, and lavishly scattered, are not all I admire in your works; the love of your native country, that feeling sensibility to all the objects of humanity, and the independent spirit which breathes through the whole, give me a most favourable impression of the poet, and have made me often regret that I did not see the poems, the certain effect of which would have been my seeing the author last summer, when I was longer in Scotland than I have been for many years.

I rejoice very sincerely at the encouragement you receive at Edinburgh, and I think you peculiarly fortunate in the patronage of Dr. Blair, who, I am informed, interests himself very much for you. I beg to be remembered to him; nobody can have a warmer regard for that gentleman than I have, which, independent of the worth of his character, would be kept alive by the memory of our common friend, the late Mr. George Be.

Before I received your letter, I sent inclosed in a letter to, a sonnet by Miss Williams, a young poetical lady, which she wrote on read

ing your Mountain-daisy; perhaps it may not displease you.*

I have been trying to add to the number of your subscribers, but find many of my acquaintance are already among them. I have only to add, that with every sentiment of esteem, and the most cordial good wishes,

I am

Your obedient humble servant,



* The sonnet is as follows:

WHILE Soon" the garden's flaunting flowers" decay,
And scattered on the earth neglected lie,
The "Mountain-daisy," cherished by the ray,
A poet drew from heaven, shall never die.
Ah, like that lonely flower the poet rose !
'Mid penury's bare soil and bitter gale;
He felt each storm that on the mountain blows,
Nor ever knew the shelter of the vale.

By genius in her native vigour nurst,

On nature with impassion'd look he gazed; Then through the cloud of adverse fortune burst

Indignant, and in light unborrow'd blazed.

Scotia! from rude affliction shield thy bard,

His heaven-taught numbers Fame herself will guard.


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