Site fixed

Database sorted, so all the letters will reappear at the next refresh in the next 24 hours. Thanks everyone for patience.

And stay tuned for a very special video featuring Robert Burns himself. More details in a week or so…

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 9:53 am  Leave a Comment  


Last few postings have had problems. We’re sorting it and will have them back up shortly. Apologies for this.

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 12:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Letter to Agnes McLehose, 25 January 1788

Clarinda, my life, you have wounded my soul.-Can I think of your being unhappy, even tho’ it be not described in your pathetic elegance of language, without being miserable?

Clarinda, can I bear to be told from you, that “you will not see me tomorrow night-that you wish the hour of parting were come”! Do not let us impose on ourselves by sounds: if in the moment of fond endearment and tender dalliance, I perhaps trespassed against the letter of Decorum’s law; I appeal, even to you, wbether I ever smned m the very least degree against the spirit of her strictest statute.

-But why, My Love, talk to me in such strong terms; every word of which cuts me to the very soul? You know, a hint, the slightest signification of your wish, is to me a sacred command.

-Be reconciled, My Angel, to your God, your self and me; and I pledge you Sylvander’s honor, an oath I dare say you will trust without reserve, that you shall never more have reason to complain of his conduct.

-Now, my Love, do not wound our next meeting with any averted looks or restrained caresses: I have marked the line of conduct, a line I know exactly to your taste, and which I will inviolably keep; but do not you show the least inclination to make boundaries: seeming distrust, where you know you may confide, is a cruel sin against Sensibility.-

“Delicacy, you know it, was which won me to you at once-“take care you do not loosen the dearest most sacred tie that unites us” Clarinda, I would not have stung your soul, I would not have bruised your spirit, as that harsh crucifying, “Take care,” did mine; no, not to have gained heaven! Let me again appeal to your dear Self, if Sylvander, even when he seemingly half-transgressed the laws of Decorum, if he did not shew more chastised, trembling, faultering delicacy, than the MANY of the world do in keeping these laws.-

O Love and Sensibility, ye have conspired against My Peace! I love to madness, and I feel to torture! Clarinda, how can I forgive myself, that I ever have touched a single chord in your bosom with pain! would I do it willingly? Would any consideration, any gratification make me do so?

O, did you love like me, you would not, you could not deny or put off a meeting with the Man who adores you; who would die a thousands deaths before he would injure you; and who must soon bid you a long farewell!-

I had proposed bringing my bosom friend, Mr Ainslie, tomorrow evening, at his strong request, to see you; as he only has time to stay with us about ten minutes, for an engagement; but-I shall hear from you: this afternoon, for mercy’s sake! for till I hear from you I am wretched.-O Clarinda, the tie that binds me to thee, is entwisted, incorporated with my dearest threads of life!

Published in: on January 26, 2009 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Letter to Agnes McLehose, 24 January 1788

“Unlavish Wisdom never works in vain”..!
I have been tasking my reason, Clarinda, why a woman, who for native genius, poignant wit, strength of mind, generous sincerity of soul, and the sweetest female tenderness, is without a peer; and whose personal charms have few, very, very few parallels, among her sex; why, or how she should fall to the blessed lot of a poor hairumscairum Poet, whom Fortune has kept for her particular use to wreak her temper on, whenever she was in ill-humour.

One time I conjectured that as Fortune is the most capricious jade ever known; she may have taken, not a fit of remorse, a paroxysm of whim, to raise the poor devil out of the mire, where he had so often and so conveniently served her as a stepping-stone, and give him the most glorious boon she ever had in her gift, merely for the maggot’s sake, to see how his fool head and his fool heart will bear it.

At other times I was vain enough to think that Nature, who has a great deal to say with Fortune, had given the coquettish goddess some such hint as, “Here is a paragon of Female Excellence, whose equal, in all my former conposItions, I never was lucky enough to hit on, and despair of ever doing so again; you have cast her rather in the shades of life; there is a certain Poet, of my making; amongst your frolicks, it would not be amiss to attach him to this master-piece of my hand, to give her that immortality amongst mankind which no woman of any age ever more deserv’d, and which few Rhymesters of this age are better able to confer.”

Evening, 9 o’clock I am here, absolutely unfit to finish my letter-pretty hearty after a bowl, which has been constantly plied since dinner, till this moment.

I have been with Mr. Schetki, the musician, and he has set it finely. -1 have no distinct ideas of any thing, but that I have drunk your health twice tonight, and that you are all my soul holds dear in this world.-


Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Letter to Agnes McLehose, January 16 1788

Clarinda, Your letter found me writing to you.-I read yours two or three times by way of welcome: by and by, I shall do it more justice. – Friday evening, about eight, expect me. – If I can’t walk all the way, I’ll take a chair to Nicolson’s square, or so; and walk the rest.

-You talk of vanity; in mercy remember me, when you praise my letter writing talents so extravagantly.-Inured to flattery as I have been for some time past, I am not proof against the applauses of one whom I love dearer, and whose judgement I esteem more, than I do all the world beside.-I forget the chairman waits-God bless you!



Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Letter to Agnes McLehose, January 12 1788

( 12th January 1788 )
You talk of weeping Clarinda; some involuntary drops wet your tines as I read them.-Offend me, my dearest Angel! you cannot offend me: you never offended me! If you had ever given me the least shadow of offence; so pardon me, my God, as I forgive Clarinda-I have read yours again: it has blotted my paper.-Tho’ I find your letter has agitated me into a violent headache, I shall take a chair and be with you about eight.

-A friend is to be with us at tea on my account, which hinders me from coming sooner.-Forgive, my dearest Clarinda, my unguarded expressions.-For Heaven’s sake forgive me, or I shall never be able to bear my own mind!-
Your unhappy Sylvander

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment