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Basil, Lord Daer, uncle to the present Earl of Selkirk, died too soon for his country. He had enterprise, talents, and taste, and those winning manners which make their way to all hearts. His name was always pronounced by Dugald Stewart with affection. Late in life he speaks in his letters of his “young friend Basil" with much warmth. "The first time I saw Robert Burns,” said the Professor,
was on the 23rd of October, 1786, when he dined at my house in Ayrshire, together with our common friend, John Mackenzie, surgeon, in Mauchline, to whom I am indebted for the pleasure of his acquaintance. My excellent and much lamented friend, the late Basil Lord Daer, happened to arrive at Catrine the same day, and, by the kindness and frankness of his manners, left an impression on the mind of the Poet, which never was effaced. The verses which the Poet wrote on the occasion are among the most imperfect of his pieces; but a few stanzas may, perhaps, be an object of curiosity, both on account of the character to which they relate, and of the light which they throw on the situation and feelings of the writer before his name was known to the public.”
In a letter to Dr. Mackenzie, the Poet says of the verses, on meeting with Lord Daer, “ They were really extempore, but a little corrected since.
They may entertain you a little with the help of that partiality with which you are so good as to favour my performances.” Burns has described, in language which almost defies translation, the emotions which he felt on finding himself for the first time in the presence of a living lord. His account of his jovial experiences among the writers, the priests, and the squireships of the west, is very humorous, and, perhaps, very true; and his “ watching the symptoms of the great,” is one of his sharp touches.
TO MAJOR LOGAN.
Hail, thairm-inspirin', rattlin' Willie ! Though fortune's road be rough an' hilly To every fiddling, rhyming billie,
We never heed, But take it like the unbacked filly,
Proud o’her speed.
When idly goavan whyles we saunter
Some black bog-hole,
We're forced to thole.
Hale be your heart ! Hale be your fiddle ! Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle, To cheer you through the weary widdle
O’ this wild warl', Until you on a crummock driddle
A gray hair'd carl.
Come wealth, come poortith, late or soon Heaven send your heart-strings ay in tune, And screw your temper pins aboon
A fifth or mair, The melancholious, lazie croon
O’ cankrie care.
May still your life from day to day
Encore ! Bravo!
A blessing on the cheery gang
By square an' rule,
Are wise or fool.
My hand-waled curse keep hard in chase The harpy, hoodock, purse-proud race, Wha count on poortith as disgrace
Their tuneless hearts ! May fireside discords jar a base
To a' their parts !
But come, your hand, my careless brither,
About the matter ;
I'se ne'er bid better.
We've faults and failings—granted clearly,
For our grand fa';
God bless them a'!
Ochon for poor Castalian drinkers,
Hae put me hyte,
Wi' girnan spite.
But by yon moon !—and that's high swearin'An' every star within
hearin'! An' by her een wha was a dear ane !
I'll ne'er forget ; I hope to gie the jads a clearin'
In fair play yet.
My loss I mourn, but not repent it,
Some cantraip hour,
Then, vive l'amour !
Faites mes baissemains respectueuse,
Ye may be proud,
To grace your blood.
Nae mair at present can I measure,
Be't light, bet dark,
To call at Park.
ROBERT Burns. Mossgiel, 30th October, 1786.
Several of the stanzas of this epistle, which is now published for the first time, resemble passages in other productions of the poet; yet it has a spirit all its own. Major Logan lived at Parkhouse, near Ayr, with his mother and sister, and was not only a first-rate performer