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P R E F A CE,
TO THE FIRST EDITION OF
PUBLISHED AT KILMARNOCK.
THE following Trifles are not the production of the poet, who; with all the advantages of learned art, and, perhaps, amid the elegancies and idlenesses of upper life, looks down for a rural theme, with an eye to Theocritus or Virgii. To the author of this, these and other celebrated names, their countrymen, ara, at least in their original language, A fountain shut up; and a book sealed. Unacquainted with tbe necessary. requisites for commencing poet. by rule, be sings the sentiments and manners.be felt and saw in himself and bis rustic compeers around bim, in. bis and their native language. Though a rhymer from his earliest years; at least, from the earliest impulses of the softer passions, it was not till very lately, that a 3
the applause, perhaps the partiality, of friendship, wakened bis vanity so far as to make bim think any thing of his worth shewing; and none of the following works were composed with a view to the press. To amuse himself with the little creations of his own fancy, amid the toil and fatigues of a laborious life; to transcribe the various feelings, the loves, the griefs, the hopes, the fears in his own breast ; to find some kind of counterpoise to the struggles of a world, always an alien scene, a task uncouth to the poetical mind----these were his motives for courting the muses, and in these be found poetry to be its own reward.
Now that he appears in the public character of an autbor, be does it with fear and trembling: So dear is fame to the rhyming tribe, that even be, an obscure nameless Bard, shrinks aghast at the thought of being branded as---An impertinent blockbead, obtruding bis nonsense on the world; and because be
(9) can make a shift to jingle a few doggerel Scotch rhymes togetber, looking upon bimself as a poet of no small consequence forsooth!
It is an observation of that celebrated poet, Shenstone, whose divine elegies do bonour to our language, our nation, and our species, that . Humility has depressed many a genius to a hermit
, but never raised one to fame! If any critic catches at the word genius, the author tells him once for all, that he certainly looks upon himself as possest of some poetic abilities, otherwise bis publishing in the manner he has done, would be a manæuvre below the worst character, which be bopes, bis worst enemy will ever give him. But to the genius of a Ramsay, or the glorious drawings of the poor, unfortunate Ferguson, be, with equal unaffected sincerity, declares, that even in his bighest pulse of vanity, be has not the most distant pretensions." These two justly admired Scotch poets be bas often had
in bis eye in the following pieces; bit fatber with a view to kindle at their flame than for servile imitation.
To bis Subscribers, the Author returns his most sincere thanks. Not the mercenary bow over a counter, but the beart throbbing gratitude of the bard, conscious how much be owes to benevolence, and friendship, for gratifying him, if he deserves it, in that dearest wish of every poetic boson----to be distinguished. He begs bis readers, particularly the learned and the polite, who may honour him with a perusal, that they will make every allowance for education and circumstances of life;" but, if after a fair, candid, and impartial criticism, be shall stand convicted of dullness and nonsense, let him be done by as he would in that case do by others: ----let bim be condemned without: mercy to contempt and oblivion.
NOBLEMEN AND GENTLEMEN
MY LORDS, AND GENTLEMEN,
A SCOTTISH Bard, proud of the name, and whose bigbest ambition is to șing in his Country's service, where shall be so properly look for patronage astothe illustrious Names of his native Land; those who bear the honours and inherit the virtues of their Ancestors? ----The Poetic Genius of my Country found me as the prophetic bard Elijah did Elisha ----at the plough; and threw her inspiring mantle over me. She bade me