Rev. Thomas Blacklock

Robert Burns to Dr. John Moore, 2 August 1787; Works, ed Douglas (1877-79) 4:18.

I had for some time been sculking from covert to covert under all the terrors of a jail; as some ill-advised, ungrateful people had uncoupled the merciless legal pack at my heels. I had taken the last farewell of my few friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock, I had composed the last song I should ever measure in Caledonia, "The gloomy night is gathering fast," when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a friend of mine overthrew all my schemes by rousing my poetic ambition. The Doctor belonged to a set of critics fro whose applause I had not even dared to hope. His idea, that I would meet with every encouragement for a second edition, fired me so much that away I posted to Edinburgh without a single acquaintance in town, or a single letter of introduction in my pocket.