Mr William Nicol.
Master of the High School Edinburgh
Carlisle 1st June 1787
Kind, honest-hearted Willie,
I’m sitten down here, after seven and forty miles ridin, e’en as forjesket and forniaw’d as a forfoughten cock, to gie you some notion o’ my lanlowper-like stravaguin sin the sorrwfu’ hour that I sheuk hands and parted wi’ Auld Reekie. My auld, ga’d Gleyd o’ a mere has huchyall’d up hill and down brae, in Scotland and England, as teugh and birnie as a vera devil wi’ me.--- It’s true she’s as poor as a Sang-maker and as hard’s a kirk, and tipper-taipers when she taks the gate first like a Lady’s gentlewoman in a minuet or a hen on a het girdle, but she’s a yauld, poutherie Girran for a’ that; and has a stomach like Willie Stalker’s mere that wad hae digeested tumbler-wheels, for she’ll whip me aff five stimparts o’ the best aits at a down-sittin and ne’er fash her thumb.--- When ance her ring-banes and spavies, her crucks and cramps, are fairly soupl’d, she beets to, beets to, and ay the hindmost hour the tightest.--- I could wager her price to a thretty pennies that, for twa or three wooks ridin at fifty mile a day, the deil-sticket a five gallopers acqueesh Clyde and Whithorn could cast saut in her tail.
I hae daunder’d owre the kintra frae Dunbar to Selcraig, and hae forgather’d wi’ monie a guid fallow and monie a weel-far’d hizzie.--- I met wi’ twa dink quines in particular, ane o’ them a sonsie, fine, fodgel lass, baith braw and bonie; the tither was a clean-shankit, straight, tight, weel-far’d winch, as blythe’s a lintwhite on a flowerie thorn, and as sweet and modest’s a new blawn plumrose in a hazle shaw.--- They were baith bred to mainers by the beuk, and onie ane o’ them has a muckle smeddum and rumblegumtion as the half o’ some Presbyteries that you and I baith ken.--- They play’d such a deevil o’ a shavie that I daur say if my harigals were turn’d out, ye wad see twa nicks i’ the heart o’ me like the mark o’ a kailwhittle in a castock.---
I was gaun to write you a lang pystle, but, Gude forgie me, I gat myself sae notoriously bitchify’d the day after kail-time that I can hardy stoiter but and ben.---
My best respecks to the guid-wife and a’ our common friens, especiall Mr & Mrs Cruikshank and the honest Guidman o’ Jock’s Lodge.
I’ll be in Dumfries the morn gif the beast be to the fore and the branks bide hale.
Gude be wi’ you, Willie! Amen.