MS: Letter from Robert Burns to Agnes McLehose, dated 20 December 1787

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MS: Letter from Robert Burns to Agnes McLehose, dated 20 December 1787

fence - were you, My Friend, to sit in judgement, and
the poor airy Straggler brought before you, trembling, self
condemned; with artless eyes, brimful of contrition, looking
wistfully on its judge - you could not, My dear Madam,
condemn the hapless wretch to death without benefit of
"Clergy"?
I won't tell you what reply my heart made to your
raillery of "Seven Years"; but I will give you what a brother
of my trade says on the same allusion -

The Patriarch to gain a wife
Chaste, beautiful and young,
Serv'd fourteen years a painful life
And never thought it long:
O were you to reward such cares,
And life so long would stay,
Not fourteen but four hundred years
Would seem but as one day!
I have written you this scrawl because I have nothing else
to do, and you may sit down and find fault with it if you
have no better way of consuming your time; but finding fault
with the vaguings of a Poet's fancy is much such another business
as Xerxes chastising the waves of Hellespont. -
My limb now allows me to sit in some peace; to walk
I have yet no prospect of, as I can't mark it to the

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