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Mauchline, 21st May, 1789.


I was in this country by accident, and hearing of your safe arrival, I could not resist the temptation of wishing you joy on your returns-wishing you would write me before you sail again,-wishing you would always set me down as your bosom friend -wishing you long life and prosperity, and that every good thing may attend you,-wishing Mrs Brown and your little ones as free of the evils of this world, as is consistent with humanity,--wishing you and she were to make two at the ensuing lying-in, with which Mrs B. threatens very soon to favour me, wishing that I had longer time to write to you at present ;-and, finally, wishing that if there is to be another state of existence, Mrs Br. Mrs B. our little ones, and both families, and you and I, in some snug retreat, may make a joyial party to all eternity !!!

My direction is at Ellisland near Dumfries.



Ellisland, 4th November, 1789.

I have been so hurried, my ever dear friend, that though I got both your letters, I have not been able to command an hour to answer them as I wished ; and, even now, you are to look on this as merely confessing debt, and craving days. Few things could have given me so much pleasure, as the news that you were once more safe and sound on terra firma, and happy in that place where happiness is alone to be found, in the fireside circle: May the benevolent Director of all things peculiarly bless you, in all those endearing connections, consequent on the tender and venerable names of husband and father! I have indeed been extremely lucky in getting an additional income of 501. a-year, while, at the same time, the appointment will not cost me above 101. or 121. per annum of expences more than I must inevitably have incurred. The worst circumstance is, that the Excise division which I have got, is so extensive, no less than ten parishes to ride over; and it abounds, besides, with so much business, that I can scarcely steal a spare moment. However, labour endears rest, and both together are absolutely necessary for the proper enjoyment of human existence. I cannot meet you any where. No less than an order from the Board of Excise at Edinburgh is necessary, before I can have so much time as to meet you in Ayrshire. But do you come, and see me. We must have a social day, and perhaps lengthen it out with half the night, before you go again to sea. You are the earliest friend I now have on earth, my brothers excepted; and is not that an endearing circumstance? When you and I first met, we were at a green period of human life. The twig would easily take a bent; but, would as easily return to its former state. You and I not only took a mutual bent, but, by the melancholy, though strong influence of being both of the family of the unfortunate, we were intertwined with one another in our growth towards advanced age; and blasted be the sacrilegious hand that shall attempt to undo the union! You and I must have one bumper to my favourite toast, “ May the com“ panions of our youth be the friends of our old age !"

Come and see me one year ;

I shall see you at Port-Glasgow the next; and if we can contrive to have a gossiping between our two bedfellows, it will be so much additional pleasure. Mrs Burns joins me in kind compliments to you and Mrs Brown. Adieu! I am ever, my dear

R. B.

Sir, yours,




Cartsburn, 16th March, 1788.


-For congeniality of mind entitles me to the freedom of this appellation, and never did I use it with more cordial sincerity. Through the medium of our mutual friend, Brown, I hazard inviting you to the participation of an

* Referred to in No, V.

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agreeable rural retirement at a convenient distance from a town where there are many of your admirers (but indeed it is not distinguished by that from any town in Great Britain,) a library I hope not ill chosen, a cellar not ill stored, a hearty cock of a landlord, whom his perhaps too partial friends, regard as destitute neither of taste nor letters. He has reached his eight lustre untramelled by the matrimonial chain; and, having neither wife nor ostensible child to disturb his tranquillity or divide his affection, he can offer you a whole heart. Halt!-this is going too far, for he is not so forlorn a wretch, as to be without both a friend and a mistress,--a Davie and a Jean; but this does not hinder his having a very warm place in that same heart, (for though the fellow's person be little, his heart is large) most cordially at your service! How do you like the bill of fare? Not amiss, provided it be not a vapouring sign to a wretched alehouse. Good wine needs no “ bush.” Well-come try, (I must pun), and welcome, and I hope you will find it deficient neither in spirit nor flavour ; but this sage reflection of yours prevents my proceeding to raise your expectations too high. This much I will however in justice to myself add ; viz. that if you should

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