Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/21

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( xv )

It would appear, however, that he had become aware of the peculiar tastes of this class of correspondent as early as 1787. On November 6th of that year, he writes to James Hoy, Gordon Castle, in the following terms:—

"Johnson sends the books by the fly, as directed, and begs me to enclose his most grateful thanks. My return I intended should have been one or two poetic bagatelles, which the world have (sic) not seen, or, perhaps, for obvious reasons, cannot see. These I shall send you before I leave Edinburgh. They may make you laugh a little, which, on the whole, is the best way of spending one's precious hours and still more precious breath; at any rate they will be, though a small, yet a very sincere mark of my respectful esteem for a gentleman whose further acquaintance I should look upon as a peculiar obligation."

The effusions forwarded to his boon companions of the Crochallan Club were more of the nature of replies to solicitations than voluntary offerings on his part; besides, the membership of that Club ought to be studied before the application of individual strictures. In 1793 he thus writes to Cleghorn: —

"For you I make a present of the following new edition of an old Cloaciniad song, a species of composition which I have heard you admire, and a kind of song which I knew you wanted much. It is sung to an old tune something like 'Tak' your auld cloak about ye.'"

There was twa wives, and twa witty wives,
 Sat o'er a stoup o' brandy.

* * * * * * * * * *

God speed the plough, and send a good seedtime. Amen! farewell!"

That is the beginning and end of this "old Cloaciniad," for we can find no trace of it in any of the collections we have examined. That he did not scatter these "bagatelles," as he calls them, broadcast with