To David Brodie, April 23, 1788

'A poor inconsiderate mortal—varied scenes and parts—unsoothed grief—a glimpse of the setting sun to the traveller—'sailor's' last look—the past 'harmony and love,' except visits of 'a certain tattered dame'—a 'packman'—Kennedy, Picken, and author of song of 'Bannockburn'—good wishes—Verse.

To Mr. DAVID BRODIE, Schoolmaster,
Quarrelton, near Paisley.
April 23, 1788.

            A poor inconsiderate mortal once known to you, but alas! long since lost from you amidst the hurry and bustle of life, here takes the liberty of enquiring after your welfare. Many a scene has he passed through, and many a part has he acted; yet in all his lonely hours, you presented yourself to his ken. And did that soothe his grief or heighten his pleasure? No; alas, no more than the last brief glimpse of the setting sun gives to the traveller when he is himself just about to be benighted in some lonely desert, and hears already the dismal howls and growls of ferocious animals surrounding him; or as the weeping sailor, when he takes his last long look of his native shore which contains all he holds dear. With what anguish do I reflect on past scenes, where all was harmony and love, except for a few visits that your humble servant had the dishonour of receiving from a certain tattered dame, whom, however, he did not much regard, but often laughed her out of countenance. Oh! happy, happy seasons, ne'er shall ye return! and where and what have you left me? Why, nothing but a Poor Packman! Nay, stare not, my friend; nothing more or less, I assure you, is the personage that thus makes bold to address you. Here I should pause and stop, and let you ponder and wonder and laugh; but I will not, for I have more to tell you. Know then, that last week I passed almost a whole night in company with three poets. One was James Kennedy, Ebenezer Picken—who is publishing his works, and the last and most glorious was the immortal author of that well-known ballad, "The Battle of Bannockburn," "From the Ocean, &c." Blessed meeting! Never did I spend such a night all my life. Oh, I was all fire! oh, I was all spirit! I had the honour of being highly complimented by 'Bannockburn' for a poem which I wrote in praise of his sublime song. Perhaps I may have the pleasure of sending a copy of it, if you please to answer my letter, with several other pieces which I have beside me. I have sent you here a few verses on a trifling circumstance, but the thoughts resemble a spider—she spins a very extensive work from a small compass. Dear Sir, if you will favour me with a letter on receiving this, I shall regard it [as] one of the greatest honours you ever did me. I have now a more deep regard for the Muse than ever. I have opportunity, and my views are more expanded than when I sung on the loom. Mr. Kennedy desires to be remembered to you. I would write more to you, but perhaps I disturb you. If I have said anything amiss, pardon me. I know there are a great many wrong-spelt words, which you will please look over. That you may long be happy in your noisy mansion to hammer wisdom through the dark walls of the blockheads' skulls; to teach the young ideas how to shoot; to pour instruction over the opening mind; to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to well-doers, is the sincere wish of
          Your humble Servant,
               ALEXANDER WILSON.

P.S.—Please direct to the care of Alex. Leishman, West End of Falkirk, where I will be for three weeks to come.
EDINBURGH, April 28, 1788.

Dear Friend and patron of my Muse's song,
All she attempts does unto you belong;
Vouchsafe the thanks she thus most grateful pays.
Inspired by you she shot her infant rays,
Dawn'd to the light, and glory'd in your praise;
But cursed Fortune that still frowning slut,
Rent us asunder from our peaceful hut.
O happy dwelling! where my willing pen
Drew scenes of horror, or deceits of men,—
In your kind face I saw encore or hiss,
Each smile was rapture, and each laugh was bliss.

P. S.—If you should wonder at this short address,
Read the first letters of these lines, and guess.
[An acrostic—D-A-V-I-D B-R-O-D-I-E.]