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CCLXXI. To James Johnson.-July 4, 1796. Inquiries
CCLXXIV. To Mrs Burns.-Sea-bathing affords little re-
+ CCLXXVI. To James Burness.-July 12, 1796. Solicit-
+ CCLXXVII. To James Gracie, Esq.-July 16, 1796.
† CCLXXVIII. To James Armour.-July 18, 1796. Beg-
+ CCLXXIX. To William Burns.-March 25, 1789. Wish-
+ LETTERS TO CLARINDA
TO MRS DUNLOP.
EDINBURGH, 15th April, 1787.
THERE is an affectation of gratitude which I dislike. The periods of Johnson and the pauses of Sterne may hide a selfish heart. For my part, Madam, I trust I have too much pride for servility, and too little prudence for selfishness. I have this moment broken open your letter, but
"Rude am I in speech,
And therefore little can I grace my cause
so I shall not trouble you with any fine speeches and hunted figures. I shall just lay my hand on my heart and say, I hope I shall ever have the truest, the warmest sense of your goodness.
I come abroad, in print, for certain on Wednesday. Your orders I shall punctually attend to; only, by the I must tell you that I was paid before for Dr Moore's and Miss Williams' copies, through the medium of Commissioner Cochrane in this place, but that we can settle when I have the honour of waiting on you.
Dr Smith* was just gone to London the morning before I received your letter to him. R. B.
* Adam Smith, the celebrated author of the "Wealth of Nations," &c.
TO DR MOORE.*
EDINBURGH, 23d April, 1787.
I RECEIVED the books, and sent the one you mentioned to Mrs Dunlop. I am ill skilled in beating the coverts of imagination for metaphors of gratitude. I thank you, Sir, for
* To the above, Dr Moore returned the following answer, which, as containing his strictures on the Poet's new edition of his works and hints for his future exertions, is of considerable interest.
"CLIFFORD-STREET, May 23, 1787.
"I had the pleasure of your letter by Mr Creech, and soon after he sent me the new edition of your poems. You seem to think it incumbent on you to send to each subscriber a number of copies proportionate to his subscription money, but you may depend upon it, few subscribers expect more than one copy, whatever they subscribed; I must inform you however that I took twelve copies for those subscribers, for whose money you were so accurate as to send me a receipt, and Lord Eglinton told me he had sent for six copies for himself, as he wished to give five of them as presents.
"Some of the poems you have added in this last edition are very beautiful, particularly the Winter Night,' the Edinburgh,' Green grow the rashes,' and the two diately following; the latter of which is exquisite.
Address to songs immeBy the way,
I imagine you have a peculiar talent for such compositions, which you ought to indulge. No kind of poetry demands more delicacy or higher polishing. Horace is more admired on account of his Odes than all his other writings. But nothing now added is equal to your Vision,' and 'Cotter's Saturday Night.' In these are united fine imagery, natural and pathetic description, with sublimity of language and thought. It is evident that you already possess a great variety of expression and command of the English language; you ought therefore to deal more sparingly, for the future, in the provincial dialect-why should you, by using that, limit the number of your admirers to those who understand the Scottish, when you can extend it to all persons of taste who understand the English language? In my opinion, you should plan some larger work than any you have as yet attempted. I mean, reflect upon some proper subject, and arrange the plan in your mind, without beginning to execute any part of it till you have studied most of the best English poets, and read a little
the honour you have done me; and to my latest hour will warmly remember it. To be highly pleased with your book, is what I have in common with the world; but to regard these volumes as a mark of the author's friendly esteem, is a still more supreme gratification.
I leave Edinburgh in the course of ten days or a fort
more of history.-The Greek and Roman stories you can read in some abridgment, and soon become master of the most brilliant facts, which must highly delight a poetical mind. You should also, and very soon may, become master of the heathen mythology, to which there are everlasting allusions in all the poets, and which in itself is charmingly fanciful. What will require to be studied with more attention, is modern history; that is, the history of France and great Britain, from the beginning of Henry the Seventh's reign. I know very well you have a mind capable of attaining knowledge by a shorter process than is commonly used, and I am certain you are capable of making a better use of it, when attained, than is generally done.
"I beg you will not give yourself the trouble of writing to me when it is inconvenient, and make no apology when you do write for having postponed it-be assured of this, however, that I shall always be happy to hear from you. I think my friend Mr told me that you had some poems in manuscript by you, of a satirical and humorous nature, (in which, by the way, I think you very strong,) which your prudent friends prevailed on you to omit; particularly one called 'Somebody's Confession;' if you will intrust me with a sight of any of these, I will pawn my word to give no copies, and will be obliged to you for a perusal of them.
"I understand you intend to take a farm, and make the useful and respectable business of husbandry your chief occupation : this I hope will not prevent your making occasional addresses to the nine ladies who have shown you such favour, one of whom visited you in the "auld clay biggin." Virgil, before you, proved to the world that there is nothing in the business of husbandry inimical to poetry; and I sincerely hope that you may afford an example of a good poet being a successful farmer. I fear it will not be in my power to visit Scotland this season; when I do, I'll endeavour to find you out, for I heartily wish to see and converse with you. If ever your occasions call you to this place, I make no doubt of your paying me a visit, and you may depend on a very cordial welcome from this family.
"I am, dear Sir,
"Your friend and obedient servant,