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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION,

BEARING THE IMPRINT,

KILMARNOCK, 1786."

The following trifles are not the production of the poet who, with all the advantages of learned art, and, perhaps, amiá the elegancies and idlenesses of upper life, looks down for a rural theme, with an eye to Theocritus or Virgil. To the Author of this, these, and other celebrated names, their countrymen, are, at least, in their original language, a fountuin shut up, and a book sealed. Unacquainted with the necessary requisites for commencing poet hy rule, he sings the sentiments and manners he felt and saw in himself and his rustic compeers around him, in his and their native language. Though a rhymer from his earliest years, at least from the earliest impulses of the softer passions, it was not till very lately that the applause, perhaps the partiality, of friendship, awakened his vanity so far as to make him think anything of his worth showing; and none of the following works were composed with a view to the press. To amuse himself with the little creations of his own fancy, amid the toil and fatigues of a laborious life; to transcribe the various feelings, the loves, the griefs, the hopes, the fears, in his own breast; to find some kind of counterpoise to the struggles of a world, always an alien scene, a task uncouth to the poetical mind---these were his motives for courting the Muses, and in these he found Poetry to be its own reward. Now that he appears in the public character of an Author, he does it with fear and trembling. So dear is fame to the rhyming tribe, that even he, an obscure, nameless Bard, shrinks aghast at the thought of being branded as an impertinent blockhead, obtruding his nonsense on the world, and because he can make a shift to jingle a few doggerel Scotch rhymes together, looking upon himself as a poet of no small consequence forsooth! It is an observation of that celebrated poet, Shenstone, whose divine elegies do honour to our language, our nation, and our species, “Humility has depressed many a genius to a hermit, but never raised one to fame!" If any critic catches at the word "Genius," the Author tells him, once for all, that he certainly looks upon himself as possessed of some poetic abilities, otherwise his publishing in the manner he has done, would be a manœuvre below the worst character which, he hopes, his worst enemy will ever give him. But to the genius of a Ramsay, or the glorious dawnings of the poor unfortunate Fergusson, he, with equal unaffected sincerity, declares that, even in his highest pulse of vanity, he has not the most distant pretensions. These two justly admired Scotch poets he has often had in his eye in the following pieces: but rather with a view to kindle at their flame, than for servile imitation.

To his subscribers, the Author returns his most sincere thanks-not the mercenary bow_over a counter, but the heart-throbbing gratitude of the Bard, conscious how much he owes to benevolence and friendship, for gratifying him, if he deserves it, in that dearest wish of every poetic bosom -to be distinguished. He begs his readers, particularly the learned and the polite, who may honour him with a perusa), that they will make every allowance for education and circumstances of life; but if, after a fair, candid, and impartial criticism, he shall stand convicted of dulness and nonsense, let him be done by as he would in that case do by otherslet him be condemned, without mercy, to contempt and oblivion.

DEDICATION TO THE SECOND EDITION.

TO THE NOBLEMEN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE

CALEDONIAN HUNT.

My Lords and Gentlemen,-A Scottish Bard, proud of the name, and whose highest ambition is to sing in his Country's service-where shall he so properly look for patronage as to the illustrious names of his native land; those who bear the honours and inherit the virtues of their ancestors? The Poetic Genius of my country found me, as the prophetic bard Elijah did Elisha-at the plough, and threw her inspiring mantle over me. She bade me sing the loves, the joys, the rural scenes, and rural pleasures of my native soil, in my native tongue: I tuned my wild, artless notes as she inspired: She whispered me to come to this ancient Metropolis of Caledonia, and lay my Songs under your honoured protection: I now obey her dictates.

Though much indebted to your goodness, I do not ap. proach you, my Lords and Gentlemen, in the usual style of dedication, to thank you for your past favours; that path is so hackneyed by prostituted Learning, that honest Rusticity is ashamed of it. Nor do I present this Address with the venal soul of a servile author, looking for a continviation of those favours: I was bred to the plongh, and am independent. I come to claim the common Scottish name with you, my illustrious Countrymen; and to tell the world that I glory in the title. I came to congratulate my country, that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs uncontaminated; and that from your courage, knowledge, and public spirit, she may expect protection, wealth, and liberty. In the last place, I come to proffer my warmest wishes to the Great Fountain of Honour, the Monarch of the Universe, welfare and happiness.

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for your

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When you go forth to waken the Echoes, in the ancient and favorite amusement of your forefathers, may Pleasure ever be of your party; and 'may Social Joy await your return: when harassed in courts or camps, with the jostlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest conscious ness of injured Worth attend your return to your native seats; and may Domestic Happiness, with a smiling welconie, meet you at your gates! May Corruption shrink at your kindling indignant glance; and may tyranny in the Ruler, and licentiousness in the People, equally find you an inexorable foe!

I have the honour to be,
With the sincerest gratitude and highest respect,
My Lords and Gentlemen,
Your most devoted humble Servant,

ROBERT BURNS.
Edinburgh, April 4,

1787.

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