Letter to Mrs Frances Anna Dunlop of Dunlop, January 21 1788

Mrs Frances Anna Dunlop of Dunlop
Edinburgh, 21st January 1788

After six weeks’ confinement, I am beginning to walk across the room. They have been six horrible weeks, anguish and low spirits made me unfit to read, write, or think.

I have a hundred times wished that one could resign life as an officer resigns a commission: for I would not take in any poor, ignorant wretch, by selling out. Lately I was a sixpenny private; and, God knows, a miserable soldier enough: now I march to the campaign, a starving cadet; a little more conspicuously wretched.

I am ashamed of all this; for though I do want bravery for the warfare of life, I could wish, like some other soldiers, to have as much fortitude or cunning as to dissemble or conceal my cowardice.

As soon as I can bear the journey, which will be, I suppose about the middle of the next week, I leave Edinburgh, and soon after I shall pay my grateful duty at Dunlop-house.

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Letter to Mrs Frances Anna Dunlop of Dunlop , November 24 1787


I will bear the reproaches of my conscience respecting this letter no longer.

– I was indebted to you some time ago for a kind, long letter; (your letters, the longer the better) and again the other day I heard from you, enclosing a very friendly letter from Dr Moore.

– I thought with myself in the height of my gratitude and pride of my remark that I would sit down some hour of inspiration, and write you a letter, at least worth twa groats; consequently you would have been a gainer, as you are so benevolent as bestow your epistolary correspondence on me, I am sure without the least idea of being paid in kind.

– When you talk of correspondence and friendship to me, Madam, you do me too much honor; but, as I shall soon be at my wonted leisure and rural occupation, if my remark on what I have read or seen, or any new rhyme I may twist, that is worth while, if such a letter, Madam, can give a person of your rank, information and abilities any entertainment, you shall have it with all my heart and soul. 

It requires no common exertion of good sense and Philosophy in persons of elevated rank, to keep a friendship properly alive with one much their inferior.

– Externals, things totally extraneous of the man, steal upon the heart and judgments of almost, if not altogether, all mankind; nor do I know any more than one instance of a Man who fully and truly regards “all the world as a stage, and all the men and women merely Players”, and who, the dancing-school bow excepted only values these Players, the Dramatis Personae, who build Cities, or who rear hedges; who govern provinces, or superintend flocks, merely as they act their parts.

– For the honor of Ayrshire,. this Man is Professor Dugald Stewart of Catrine.-

To him I might perhaps add another instance, a Popish Bishop [Geddes]; but I have outraged that gloomy’ Fury, Presbytereanism, enough already, though I don’t spit in her lugubrious face by telling her that the first Cleric character I ever saw was a Roman Catholick.- 

I ever could ill endure those surly cubs of “Chaos and old Night;”-these ghostly beasts of prey, who foul the hallow’d ground of Religion with their nocturnal prowlings; but if the prosecution which I hear the Erebean Fanatics are projecting against my learned and truly worthy friend, Dr McGill, goes on, I shall keep no measure with the savages, but fly at them with the faulcons of Ridicule, or run them down with the bloodhounds of Satire, as lawful game, wherever I start them.- 

I expect to leave Edinburgh in eight or ten days, and shall certainly do myself the honor of calling at Dunlop house as I return to Ayrshire.

– I have the honor to be, Madam, your oblidged humble servant, Robt Burns

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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