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With something of hope and fear, I offer this work to my country. I have endeavoured to relate the checquered fortunes, delineate the character, and trace the works of the Illustrious Peasant with candour and accuracy : his farming speculations—excise schemes-political feelings and poetic musings are discussed with a fulness not common to biography : and his sharp lampoons and personal sallies are alluded to with all possible tenderness to the living and respect for the dead. In writing the Poet's life I have availed myself of his unpublished journals-private letters, manuscript verses, and of well-authenticated anecdotes and traits of character supplied by his friends; and I have arranged his works as much as might be in the order of their composition, and illustrated them with such notes, critical, historical and biographical, as seemed necessary.
Of verse, one hundred and odd pieces will be found in this edition, more than Currie's octavo's contain. The number of letters, too, are materially increased—but nothing is admitted which bears not the true Burns stamp. The embellishments are of high merit: the portrait of the Poet has called forth the commendations of several who had the honour of his acquaintance; and the landscapes are from scenes made memorable by his muse.
A. C. BELGRAVE-PLACE, January 1, 1834.
THE LIFE OF
The national poetry of Scotland, like her thistle, is the offspring of the soil. To the poems of our first James, the strains of forgotten minstrels, or the inspiration of shepherds and husbandmen, its origin has been ascribed. Where proof cannot be procured, we must be content with conjecture: classic or foreign lore can claim no share in the inspiration which comes from nature's free grace and liberality. From whatever source our poetry has sprung, it wears the character and bears the image of the north : the learned and the ignorant have felt alike its tenderness and humour, dignity and ardour ; and both have united in claiming, as its brightest ornament, the poetry of Him of whose life and works I am now about to write. This, however, has already been done with so much affection by Currie, care by Walker, and manliness by Lockhart-the genius, the manners, and fortunes of Burns have been discussed so fully by critics of all classes, and writers of