Letter to Margaret Chalmers, November 21, 1787

I have one vexatious fault to the kindly-welcome, well-filled sheet which l owe to your and Charlotte’s goodness – it contains too much sense, sentiment, and good-spelling. It is impossible that even you two, whom I declare to my God, I will give credit for any degree of excellence the sex are capable of attaining, it is impossible you can go on to correspond at that rate; so like those who, Shenstone says, retire because they have made a good speech, I shall after a few letters hear no more of you.

I insist that you shall write whatever comes first: what you see, what you read, what you hear, what you admire, what you dislike, trifles, bagatelles, nonsense; or to fill up a corner, e’en put down a laugh at full length. Now none of your polite hints about flattery: I leave that to your lovers, if you have or shall have any; though thank heaven I have found at last two girls who can be luxuriantly happy in their own minds and with one another, without that commonly necessary appendage to female bliss, a lover. 

Charlotte and you are just two favorite resting places for my soul in her wanderings through the weary, thorny wilderness of this world – God knows I am ill-fitted for the struggle: I glory in being a Poet, and I want to be thought a wise man- I would fondly be generous, and I wish to be rich. After all, I am afraid I am a lost subject. “Some folk hae a hantle 0′ fauts, an’ I’m but a ne’er-do-weel.” 

– To close the melancholy reflections at the end of last sheet, I shall just add a piece of devotion commonly known in Carrick, by the title of the “Wabster’s grace.” 

“Some say we’re thieves, and e’en sae are we,

“Some say we lie, and e’en sae do we! 

“Gude forgie us, and I hope sae will he!

–“Up and to your looms, lads.”

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