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Your letter of the 15th gave me a great deal of pleasure. It is not surprising that you improve in correctness and taste, considering where you have been for some time past. And I dare swear there is no danger of your
admitting any polish which might weaken the vigour of your native
I am glad to perceive that you disdain the nauseous affectation of decrying your own merit as a poet, an affectation which is displayed with most ostentation by those who have the greatest share of self-conceit, and which only
adds undeceiving falsehood to disgusting vanity. For you to deny the merit of your poems would be arraigning the fixed opinion of the public.
As the new edition of my View of Society is not yet ready, I have sent you the former edition, which I beg you will accept as a small mark of my esteem. It is sent by sea to the care of Mr. Creech; and, along with these four volumes for yourself, I have also sent my Medical Sketches, in one volume, for my
friend Mrs. Dunlop of Dunlop: this you will be so obliging as to transmit, or if you chance to pass soon by Dunlop, to give to her.
I am happy to hear that your subscription is so ample, and shall rejoice at every piece of good fortune that befals you; for you are a very great favourite in my family; and this is a higher compliment than perhaps you are aware of. It includes almost all the professions, and of course is a proof that your writings are adapted to various tastes and situations. My youngest son, who is at Winchester school, writes to me that he is translating some stanzas of your Hallow E'en into Latin verse, for the benefit of his comrades. This union of taste partly proceeds, no doubt, from the cement of
Scottish partiality, with which they are all somewhat tinctured. Even your translator, who left Scotland too early in life for recollection, is not without it.
I remain, with great sincerity,
Your obedient servant,
To the Earl of GLENCAIRN.
I WANTED to purchase a profile of your lordship, which I was told was to be got in town: but I am truly sorry to see that a blundering painter has spoiled a “ human face divine,” The inclosed stanzas I intended to have written below a picture or profile of your lordship, could I have been so happy as to procure one with any thing of a likeness.
As I will soon return to my shades, I wanted to have something like a material object for my gratitude; I wanted to have it in my power to say to a friend, There is my noble patron, my generous benefactor.
Allow me, my lord, to publish these verses. I conjure your lordship by the honest throe of gratitude, by the generous wish of benevolence, by all the powers and
magnanimous mind, do not deny me this petition.* I owe much to your lordship; and what has not in some other instances always been the case with me, the weight of obligation is a pleasing load. I trust I have a heart as independent as your lordship’s, than which I can say nothing more: and I would not be beholden to favours that would crucify my feelings. Your dignified character in life, and manner of supporting that character, are flattering to my pride ; and I would be jealous of the purity of my grateful attachment where I was under the patronage of one of the much favoured sons of fortune.
Almost every poet has celebrated his patrons, particularly when they were names dear to fame, and illustrious in their country;
country; allow me, then, my lord, if you think the verses have intrinsic merit, to tell the world how much I have the honour to be
Your lordship’s highly indebted,
and ever grateful humble servant.
* It does not appear that the Earl granted this request, nor have the verses alluded to been found among the MSS.