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Or the following Letters, seven were addressed by Burns to Mr
Richard Brown, a shipmaster, in the West India Trade, with whom he had formed an intimacy during his residence in Irvine. These letters, which were written in 1787, 1788, and 1789, a period when the poet was in the full blaze of reputation, shew, that he was at no time so dazzled by success, as to forget the friends who had anticipated the public in discovering his merit,
One letter is from Mr Crawford of Cartsburn, requesting the
acquaintance of the bard, of whom he was an enthusiastic admirer. It is inserted, both on account of the strain in which it is written, and which, those who remember its author will acknowledge to be highly characteristic of his amiable peculiarities; and also, because it is referred to in one of the letters of Burns to Mr Brown,
The remaining letter, addressed to a gentleman in Ayr, con.
tains some interesting remarks on the character of Burns, from the pen of Mr David Sillar, his brother poet.
To MR RICHARD BROWN,
Edinburgh, 30. December 1787.
MY DEAR SIR,
HAVE met with few things in life which have given me more pleasure than fortune's kindness to you, since those days in which we met in the vale of misery ; as I can honestly say, that I never knew a man who more truly deserved it, or to whom my heart more truly wished it. I have been much indebted, since that time, to your story and sentiments for steeling my mind against evils, of which I have had a pretty decent share. My will-o-wisp fate you
know: Do you recollect a Sunday we spent together in Eglinton woods? You told me, on my repeating some verses to you, that you wondered I could resist the temptation of sending verses of such merit to a magazine. It was from this remark I derived that idea of my own pieces, which encouraged
me to endeavour at the character of a poet. I am happy to hear that you will be two or three months at home. As soon as a bruised limb will permit me, I shall return to Ayrshire, and we shall meet; “ and faith, I hope we'll “ not sit dumb, nor yet cast out !" I have much to tell
of “ men, their man“ ners, and their ways; "-perhaps a little of the other sex. Apropos, I beg to be remembered to Mrs Brown. There, I doubt not, my dear friend, but you have found substantial happiness. I am impatient to see her as well as you. pect to find you something of an altered, but not a different man ;-the wild, bold, generous young fellow, composed into the steady, affectionate husband, and the fond, careful parent. For me, I am just the same Will-o'-wisp being I used to be. About the first and fourth quarters of the moon, I generally set in for the trade-wind of wisdom ; but about the full and change, I am the luckless victim of mad tornadoes, which blow me into chaos. Almighty love still reigns and revels in my bosom ; and I am at this moment ready to hang myself for a young Edinburgh widow, who has wit and beauty more murderously fatal, than the assassinating stiletto of the Sicilian banVOL, II.
ditti, or the poisoned arrow of the savage African. My Highland durk that used to hang beside my crutches, I have gravely removed into a neighbouring closet, the key of which I cannot command, in case of spring-tide paroxysms. You may guess of her wit by the following verses which she sent me the other day:
6 Talk not of love, it gives me pain,
66 For love has been my foe;
“ And plunged me deep in woe!
But Friendship's pure and lasting joys
" My heart was formed to prove,-
66 But never talk of love!
« Your friendship much can make me blest,
“ O why that bliss destroy ?
" You know I must deny."
My best compliments to our friend Allan, Adieu !
TO THE SAME.
Edinburgh, 15th February, 1788.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I received yours with the greatest pleasure. I shall arrive at Glasgow on Monday evening; and beg, if possible, you will meet me on Tuesday. I shall wait you Tuesday all day. I shall be found at Durie's, Black Bull Inn. I am hurried, as if hunted by fifty devils, else I should go to Greenock; but if you cannot possibly come, write me, if possible, to Glasgow, on Monday; or direct to me at Mossgiel by Mauchline; and name a day and place in Ayrshire, within a fortnight from this date, where I may meet you. I only stay a fortnight in Ayrshire, and return to Edinburgh. I am ever, my dearest friend, yours,