1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Mary Russell Mitford to Sir William Elford, 10 November 1813; L'Estrange, Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:186.



Burns, the sweetest, the sublimest, the most tricksy poet who has blessed this nether world since the days of Shakspeare! I am just fresh from reading Dr. Currie's four volumes and Cromek's one, which comprise, I believe, all that he ever wrote; and I can not imagine how I can have wasted my admiration on the little living, and disregarded the mighty dead in the way that I have hitherto done. To make it worse, I had read Dr. Currie's Life of Burns before, when I was about twelve or thirteen, and yet I had almost forgotten him. If I forget him again, "may my right hand forget its cunning!" Have you lately read that delightful work? If you have not, pray do, and tell me if you do not admire him — not with the flimsy, lackadaisical praise with which certain gentle damsels bedaub his Mountain Daisy, and his Woodlark, and talk and sing of the rustic bard as the compeer of Bloomfield, and Stephen Duck, and Mrs. Leapor, but with the strong and manly feeling which his fine and indignant letters, his exquisite and original humor, his inimitable pathos, must awaken in such a mind as yours. Oh, what they have to answer for who would let such a man perish!