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I wad na been surprised to spy You on an auld wife's flainen toy; Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
On's wylie coat; But miss's fine Lunardi! fie,
How dare ye do't?
O Jenny, dinna toss your bead, An' set your beauties a’abread! Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie's makin' Thae winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin!
To serve their king and country weel,
I will not wind a lang conclusion,
But if (which powers above prevent!) That iron-hearted carl, want, Attended in his grim advances By sad mistakes, and black mischances, While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him, Make you as poor a dog as I am, Your humble servant then no more ; For who would humbly serve the poor? But by a poor man's hopes in heaven! While recollection's power is given, If, in the vale of humble life, The victim sad of fortune's strife, I, through the tender gushing tear, Should recognise my master dear, If friendless, low, we meet together, Then, sir, your hand-my friend and brother!
O wad some power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us
And foolish notion; What airs in dress and gait wad lea'e us
And e'en devotion!
ADDRESS TO EDINBURGH.
All hail thy palaces and towers, Where once beneath a monarch's feet
Sat legislation's sovereign powers ! From marking wildly-scatter'd lowers
As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in thy honour'd shade.
II. Here wealth still swells the golden tide,
As busy trade his labours plies; There architecture's noble pride
Bids elegance and splendour rise ; Here justice, from her native skies,
High wields her balance and her rod; There learning, with his eagle eyes,
Seeks science in her coy abode.
TO A LO USE.
HA! whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Owre gauze and lace;
On sic a place.
Sae fine a lady?
On some poor body.
In shoals and nations ;
Your thick plantations.
Till ye've got on it,
O'miss's bonnet. My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out, As plump and gray as onie grozet ; O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum, I'd gie you sic a hearty doze o't,
Wad dress your droddum!
With open arms the stranger hail; Their views enlarged, their liberal mind,
Above the narrow, rural vale; Attentive still to sorrow's wail,
Or modest merit's silent claim ; And never may their sources fail !
And never envy blot their name!
IV. Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn!
Gay as the gilded summer sky, Sweet as the dewy milk-white thorn,
Dear as the raptured thrill of joy! Fair B-strikes th' adoring eye,
Heaven's beauties on my fancy shine I see the sire of love on high, And own his work indeed divine !
V. There, watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar;
It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't, And sae about him there I spier't ; Then a' that ken't him round declared
He had ingine, That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
It was sae fine.
That set him to a pint of ale, An' either douce or merry tale, Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,
Or witty catches, 'Tween Inverness and Tiviotdale,
He had few matches.
Like some bold veteran, gray
arms, And mark'd with many a seamy scar; The ponderous walls and massy bar,
Grim rising o'er the rugged rock ;
I view that noble, stately dome, Where Scotia's kings of other years,
Famed heroes! had their royal home: Alas! how changed the times to come!
Their royal name low in the dust! Their hapless race wild-wandering roam ! Though rigid law cries out, 'Twas just!
Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
Old Scotia's bloody lion bore : E’en I who sing in rustic lore,
Haply my sires have left their shed, And faced grim danger's loudest roar, Bold following where your fathers led!
All hail thy palaces and towers,
Sat legislation's sovereign powers ! From marking wildly-scatter'd flowers,
As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in thy honour'd shade.
Then up I gat, an' swoor an' aith, Though I should pawn my pleugh and graith, Or die a cadger pownie's death,
At some dyke-back, A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith
To hear your crack.
But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
Though rude an' rough, Yet crooning to a body's opl,
Does well eneugh.
Yet, what the matter? Whene'er my muse does on me glance,
I jingle at her. Your critic folk may cock their nose, And say, “ How can you e'er propose, You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
To mak a sang ?” But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
Ye're may be wrang.
EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK, AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD.-APRIL 1st, 1785.
While briers and woodbines budding green, an' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en, An' morning poussie whiddin seen,
Inspire my muse,
I pray excuse.
Ye need na doubt;
At sang about. There was ae sang, amang the rest, Aboon them a' it pleased me best, That some kind husband had addrest
To some sweet wife: It thrill'd the heart-strings through the breast,
A' to the life. I've scarce heard aught describes sae weel, What generous, manly bosoms feel; Thought I,“ Can this be Pope, or Steele,
Or Beattie's wark !” They tauld me 'twas an odd kind chiel
What's a' your jargon o' your schools, Your Latin names for horns an’ stools ; If honest nature made you fools,
What sairs your grammar : Ye'd better ta'en up spades and shools,
Or knappin hammers.
Plain truth to speak ;
By dint o' Greek!
Gie me ae spark o' nature's fire, That's a' the learning I desire ; Then though I drudge through dub an' mire
At pleugh or cart, My muse, though hamely in attire,
May touch the heart.
O for a spunk o' Allan's glee, Or Fergusson's, the bauld and slee, Or bright Lapraik's my friend to be,
If I can hit it! That would be lear eneugh for me,
If I could get it.
My senses wad be in a creel Should I but dare a hope to speel Wi' Allan, or wi' Gilbertfield,
The braes o' fame; Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,
A deathless name.
Or is't the paughty, feudal thane,
But lordly stalks,
As by he walks ?
Through Scotland wide; Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
In a' their pride !"
We learn our creed.
(0 Fergusson ! thy glorious parts Ill suited law's dry, musty arts ! My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
Ye Enbrugh gentry! The tithe o' what ye waste at cartes,
Wad stow'd his pantry!)
Yet when a tale comes i' my head, Or lasses gie my heart a screed, As whyles they're like to be my deed,
(0 sad disease!) I kittle up my rustic reed;
It gies me ease.
But tune their lays,
Her weel-sung praise. Nae poet thought her worth his while, To set her name in measured style ; She lay like some unkenn'd-of isle
Beside New Holland, Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
For thus the royal mandate ran, When first the human race began, “The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be,
An' none but he !"
In glorious light,
Are dark as night. Though here they scrape, an' squeeze, an'
growl, Their worthless nievefu' of a soul May in some future carcass howl,
The forest's fright;
May shun the light.
In some mild sphere,
Each passing year.
Ramsay an' famous Fergusson Gied Forth an' Tay a lift aboon ; Yarrow an' Tweed to monie a tune,
Owre Scotland rings, While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an' Doon,
Th’ Illyssus, Tiber, Thames, an’ Seine, Glide sweet in monie a tunefu’ line ! But, Willie, set your fit to mine,
An' cock your crest, We'll gar our streams and burnies shine
Up wi' the best. We'll sing auld Coila's plains an' fells, Her moors red-brown with heather bells, Her banks an' braes, her dens and dells,
Where glorious Wallace Aft bure the gree, as story tells,
Frae southron billies.
At Wallace' name what Scottish blood But boils up in a spring-tide flood ! Oft have our fearless fathers strode
By Wallace' side, Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,
Or glorious dyed.
0, sweet are Coila's haughs an’ woods, When lintwhites chant amang the buds, And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,
Their loves enjoy, While through the braes the cushat croods
This past for certain, undisputed ;
An' ca'd it wrang ; An' muckle din there was about it,
Baith loud and lang.
E'en winter bleak has charms for me, When winds rave through the naked tree; Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
Are hoary gray ;
Darkening the day!
Wi’ life an’ light,
The lang, dark night!
An' no think lang;
A heartfelt sang!
And I, wi' pleasure,
Bum owre their treasure. Fareweel,“my rhyme-composing brither!" We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither: Now let us lay our heads thegither,
In love fraternal: May envy wallop in a tether,
Black fiend, infernal ! While highlandmen hate tolls and taxes ; While moorlan' herds like guid fat braxies : While terra firma, on her axis,
In Robert Burns.
Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk, Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk ; For 'twas the auld moon turn'd a neuk,
An' out o' sight, An' backlins-comin, to the leuk,
She grew mair bright. This was denied, it was affirm'd; The herds an' hissels were alarm'd : The reverend gray-beards raved an’ storm'd,
That beardless laddies Should think they better were inform'd
Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks ; Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks ; An' monie a fallow gat his licks,
Wi' hearty crunt; An' some, to learn them for their tricks,
Were hang'd an' burnt. This game was play'd in monie lands, An' auld-light caddies bure sic hands, That faith the youngsters took the sands
Wi' nimble shanks, The lairds forbade, by strict commands,
Sic bluidy pranks.
“new-light, 'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
Maist like to fight. In days when mankind were but callans At grammar, logic, an' sic talents, They took nae pains their speech to balance,
Or rules to gie, But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
Like you or me. In thae auld times, they thought the moon, Just like a sark, or pair o'shoon, Wore by degrees, till her last roon,
Gaed past their viewing, An' shortly after she was done,
They gat a new one.
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an'-stowe, Till now amaist on every knowe,
Ye'll find ane placed ; An' some, their new-light fair avow,
Just quite barefaced. Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin ; Their zealous herds are vex'd an'sweatin; Mysel, I've even seen them greetin
Wi' girnin spite, To hear the moon sae sadly lie'd on
By word an' write. But shortly they will cowe the louns! Some auld-light herds in neebor towns Are mind't in things they ca' balloons,
To tak a flight, An' stay a month amang the moons
An' see them right. Guid observation they will gie them ; An’ when the auld moon's gaun to leave them, The hindmost shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them,
Just i' their pouch,
I think they'll crouch!
In logic tulzie,
Than mind sic brulzie.
**New-light” is a cant phrase in the west of Scotland, for those religious opinions which Dr. Taylor of Norwich has defended 80 strenuously.