Letter to Maria Riddell

Burns wrote this letter to Maria Riddell the month after his friendship with her family ended following a disagreement. He writes:   Madam, I return your Common Place Book. I have perused it with much pleasure. I would have continued my criticism but as it seems the Critic has forfeited your esteem, his strictures must lose their value. If it is true that “Offences come only from the heart”; before you, I am guiltless. To admire, esteem, prize and adore you, as the most accomplished of women, and the first of friends – if these are crimes, I am the most offending thing alive. In a face where I used to meet the kind complacency of friendly confidence, now to find cold neglect and contemptuous scorn – is a wrench that my heart can ill bear. It is however some kind of miserable good luck that while De-haut-en-bas rigour may depress an unoffending wretch to the ground, it has a tendency to rouse a stubborn something in his bosom, which, though it cannot heal the wounds of his soul, is at least an opiate to blunt their poignancy. With the profoundest respect for your exalted abilities; the most sincere esteem and ardent regard. And for your gentle heart and amiable manners; and the most fervent wish and prayer for your welfare, peace and bliss. I have the honor to be, Madam, your most devoted humble servant, Robert Burns
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Robert Burns
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East Ayrshire Council
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