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indifferent enough; and the rest, of poems of various kinds, some of them of considerable merit. I doubt if there be any that will suit your purpose; but I will give you a short notice of such as seem to approach your description.
(Here follows the notice, which it has not been thought necessary to insert, being of some length.)
I have read your “ Green Ladies” many a time; it is a
it is a very noble poem: I doubt, since the days of Gray, if any thing has appeared of equal force and sublimity. It is happily varied, too: there is great beauty of description, correctness, as far as poetry admits, of manners, and a happy flow of versification. I long to see more of your poetry.
I am much obliged by what you say of the manner in which I have executed the task I undertook for the family of Burns. I wish you had detailed your observations a little, and wish it still, if your leisure will permit. The first edition, of two thousand copies, is gone; a second of the same number is just issuing from the press. The family have an interest in three editions, if there should be so many. Excuse haste.
I am, with much respect,
To the same.
Liverpool, July 2. 1801.
I am happy you are going to intersperse your poems in your projected publication *, where they will appear to much greater advantage when relieved by the real language, manners, and poetry of the olden times."
I am glad you have a copy of the old ballad, 6. I wish I were where Helen lies." I have seen the tomb of the lover, Fleming, a thousand times. Kirkconnell church-yard, and Kirkconnell Lee, the scene of this story, are in the parish where I was born, and of which my father was clergyman. They are on the banks of the little river Kirtle, my parent stream. I hope your verses introduce this sweet stream: if they do not, I wish you would make them do it. It is a wizard scenery all round. There are, within half a mile, two old towers, inhabited each by a bogle or brownie, very active spirits in my younger days, but now seldom heard of, as I was told when last in the country. The house of Springkell, belonging to Sir William Maxwell,
* The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.
is below Kirkconnell church-yard, on the same river Kirtle, about half a mile, and Sir William has allowed a wash-house to intrude itself into the vicinage of the church-yard, the scenery
of which is in all other respects dark, solemn, and awful. The church itself has long been in ruins, but the cemetery of the family of Springkell is there; and a finer situation for a burial-ground cannot be conceived. Kirkconnell Lee (part of which is the church-yard) is a holm* round which the river winds in a semicircle.
The opposite bank is high, steep, and woody. Here was concealed the murderer; and hence flew the arrow, or shot, which pierced Helen Irving's heart.
While I was on a visit at Sir William Maxwell's, many years ago, I wandered out alone one summer evening into this beautiful and solemn scene; and here, strange to say, I met with a ghost! + This is not the only ghost I have seen in my time; I met with another in Wales. I have often told the story of my Welsh and Scottish ghosts in conversation; and if I * Holm. “ The level low ground on the banks of a river had now time, I would commit the whole to writing, in hopes that they might fall on some combustible part of your fancy, and perhaps kindle a blaze there.
See Life of Burns. 't This incident is related in the beginning of the Memoir. Vol. i. p. 53. It will be seen that what is here said of ghosts must not be taken literally. The occurrence in Wales was as naturally accounted for as that at Springkell, although attended by circumstances equally fitted to shake the nerves. The Editor would not have thought it necessary to insert this caution, but for the suggestion of a friend, whose judgment he respects.
I am glad that you have any notice of Annan Water: I am myself of Annandale, born within a short distance of that beautiful river, on the banks of which stands the residence of
my ancestors, now in possession of Colonel Dirom.
I hope your Annan Water has some locality in it; if it has not, it ought to have. I have some sort of recollection of the stanzas you quote. I once in my early days heard (for it was night, and I could not see,) a traveller drowning, not in the river Annan itself, but in the Firth of Solway, close by the mouth of the Annan. The influx of the tide had unhorsed him in the night, as he was passing the sands from Cumberland. The west wind blew a tempest, and brought in the water three « feet abreast," as the expression is. The traveller got upon a standing net, a little way from the shore: there he lashed himself to the post, shouting for half an hour for assistance, till the tide rose over his head! In the darkness of night, and amidst the pauses of the hurricane, his voice, heard at intervals, was exquisitely mournful. No one could go to his assistance;
no one knew where he was : the sound seemed to come from the spirit of the water. But morning rose, the tide had ebbed, and the poor traveller was found lashed to the pole of the net, and bleaching in the wind. This is almost the earliest thing on my memory: I was with my father's family, at sea-bathing quarters, in a cottage immediately on the shore.
The third edition of Burns is now in the press. The two first consisted of two thousand copies each, so that the sale has been great. An American edition is printed.
When you have leisure, it will give me pleasure to hear from you.
I am, dear Sir,
To Mrs. Rathbone, Greenbank.
Liverpool, June 25. 1801. MY DEAR MADAM,
When I think of these children of yours, and of my own children, advancing so fast into life ; when I think what they were a few years ago, what they will be a few years hence, I feel that the generations of men are, indeed, “the leaves