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IT is impossible to dismiss this volume of the correspondence of our bard, without some anxie. ty as to the reception it may meet with. periment we are making has not often been tried ; perhaps on no occasion, has so large a portion of the recent and unpremeditated effusions of a man of genius been committed to the press.
of the following letters of Burns, a considerable number were transmitted for publication, by the individuals to whom they were addressed; but very few have been printed entire. It will easily be believed, that in a series of letters, written without the least view to publication, various passages were found unfit for the press, from different considerations. It will also be readily supposed, that our poet, writing nearly at the same time, and under the same feelings, to different individuals, would sometimes fall into the same train of sentiment, and forms of expression. To avoid therefore the tediousness of such repetitions, it has been found necessary to mutilate many of the individual letters, and sometimes to exscind parts of great delicacy-the unbridled effusions of panegyric and regard. But though many of the letters are printed from originals furnished by the persons to whom they were addressed, others are printed from first draughts, or sketches, found among the papers of our bard. Though in general no man committed his thoughts to his corres. pondents with less consideration or effort than Burns, yet it appears, that in some instances he was dissatisfied with his first essays, and wrote out his communications in a fairer character, or per. haps in more studied language. In the chaos of his manuscripts, some of the original sketches were Cound, and as these sketches, though less perfect,
ve fairly to be considered as the offspring of his inind, where they have seemed in themselves worihy of a place in this volume, we have not hesitated to insert them, though they may not always correspond exactly with the letters trans. initted, which have been lost, or withheld.
Our author appears at one time to have formed an intention of making a collection of his letters, for the amusement of a friend. Accordingly, he copied an inconsiderable number of them into a book, which he presented to Robert Riddel, of Glenriddel, Esq. Among these was the account of his life, addressed to Dr. Moore, and printed in the first volume. In copying from his imper. fect sketches (it does not appear that he had the letters actually sent to his correspondents before him) he seems to have occasionally enlarged his observations, and altered his expressions. In suck instances his emendations have been adopted; but n truth there are but five of the letters thus selected by the poet, to be found in the present volume, the rest being thought of inferior merit, or otherwise unfit for the public eye.
In printing this volume, the editor has found some corrections of gramma necessary; but these have been very few, and such as may be supposed to occur in the careless effusions even of literary characters, who have not been in the habit of carrying their compositions to the press. These cor. rections have never been extended to any habitual modes of expression of the poet, even where his phraseology may seem to violate the delicacies of taste, or the idiom of our language, which he wrote in general with great accuracy. Some difference will indeed be found in this respect in his earlier and in his later compositions; and this volume will exhibit the progress of his style, as well as the history of his mind. In this edition several new letters are introduced, and some of ing ferior importance are emitted.
10. To the Earl of Eglington. Jan, 1787.