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WITH SOME ADDITIONS :
To which is added,
A HISTORY OF THESE POEMS,
HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED OR
Of the Second Edition of the Poems formerly
NOBLEMEN AND GENTLEMEN
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 approach you, my lords and gentlemen, in the usual style of dedication, to thank you for 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 continuation of those favours: I was bred to the plough, 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 come to congratulate my country, that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs uncontaminated ; and that from your courage, knowledge, and publie 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, for your welfare and happiness.
When you go forth to waken the echoes, in the ancient and favourite 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 justlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest consciousness of injured worth attend your return to your native seats ; and may domestic happiness, with a smiling welcome, 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,
My lords and gentlemen,
ROBERT BURNS. Edinburgh, April 4th, 1787.