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Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow, Though real friends, I b’lieve, are few, Yet, if your catalogue be fu',
I’se no insist, But gif ye want ae friend that's true,
I'm on your list.
Forjesket sair, with weary legs, Rattlin' the corn out-owre the rigs, Or dealing through amang the naigs
Their ten-hours' bite, My awkart muse sair pleads and begs
I would na write.
I winna blaw about mysel ;
They sometimes roose me, Though I maun own, as monie still
As far abuse me.
There's ae wee faut they whyles lay to me, I like the lasses–Gude forgie me ! For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,
At dance or fair ; May be some ither thing they gie me
They weel can spare.
But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair, I should be proud to meet you there; We'se gie ae night's discharge to care,
If we forgather, An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware
Wi' ane anither.
The tapeless ramfeezid hizzie,
This month an' mair,
An' something sair.”
This vera night;
But rhyme it right. “ Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o' hearts, Though mankind were a pack o'cartes, Roose you sae weel for your deserts,
In terms so friendly ; Yet ye'll neglect to shaw your parts,
An' thank him kindly !" Sae I gat paper in a blink, An' down gaed stumpie in the ink: Quoth I,“ Before I sleep a wink,
I vow I'll close it ; An' if ye winna mak it clink,
By Jove I'll prose it !” Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether In rhyme or prose, or baith thegither, Or some hotch-potch that's rightly neither,
Let time mak proof; But I shall scribble down some blether
Just clean atl-loof.
The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter, An' kirsen him wi' reekin water; Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,
To cheer our heart; An' faith we'se be acquainted better
Before we part.
Awa, ye selfish warly race, Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace, E’en love an' friendship, should give place
To catch-the-plack ! I dinna like to see your face,
Nor hear you crack.
But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose heart the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the terms,
Each aid the others', Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
My friends, my brothers !
My worthy friend, ne'er grudge an'carp, Though fortune use you hard an' sharp; Come, kittle up your moorland harp
Wi' gleesome touch! Ne'er mind how fortune waft an' warp:
She's but a b-tch.
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.
For thus the royal mandate ran, When first the human race began, “The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be, 'Tis he fulfils great nature's plan,
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.
(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
Besouth Magellan. 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 eroods
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.
My memory's no worth a preen;
By this “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 lied 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 dcfended so strenuously.
EPISTLE TO J. R******,
ENCLOSING SOME POEMS.
O ROUGH, rude, ready-witted R******, The wale o cocks for fun an' drinkin! There's mony godly folks are thinkin,
Your dreams* an' tricks Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin,
Straught to auld Nick's.
Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants, And in your wicked druncken rants, Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
An' fill them fou ; And then their failings, flaws, an' wants,
Are a' seen through.
But, by my gun, o' guns the wale,
I vow an' swear!
For this, niest year.
For my gowd guinea :
For’t in Virginia.
Scarce through the feathers; An' baith a yellow George to claim,
An' thole their blethers!
When time's expedient:
Your most obedient.
Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
The lads in black !
Rives 't aff their back. Think, wicked sinner, wha ye’re skaithing, Its just the blue-gown badge an’claithing O’ saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
To ken them by,
Like you or I.
I will expect
And no neglect.
An' danced my fill ! I'd better gane an' sair't the king,
At Bunker's Hill.
Of brownyis and of bogilis full is this buke.
'Twas ae night lately in my fun, I gaed a roving wi' the gun, An' brought a paitrick to the grun,
A bonnie hen, And, as the twilight was begun,
Thought nane wad ken. The poor wee thing was little hurt; I straikit it a wee for sport, Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me fort;
But, deil-ma-care! Somebody tells the poacher-court
The hale affair.
WHEN chapman billies leave the street,
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
Some auld used hands had ta’en a note, That sic a hen had got a shot; I was suspected for the plot;
I scorn'd to lie; So gat the whizzle o' my groat,
An' pay't the fee.
* A certain humorous dream of his was then making a noise in the country side.
A song he had promised the author.
Ah, gentle dames ! it gars me greet,
And near the thorn, aboon the well, To think how mony counsels sweet,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel.How mony lengthen'd, sage advices,
Before him Doon pours all his floods ; The husband frae the wife despises !
The doubling storm roars through the woods :
The lightnings flash from pole to pole ; But to our tale: Ae market night,
Near and more near the thunders roll; Tam had got planted unco right;
When, glimmering through the groaning trees, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze ; Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely;
Through ilka bore the beams were glancing ; And at his elbow souter Johnny,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither ;
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi’ usquabae we'll face the devil!
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious :
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle. The souter tauld his queerest stories ;
But Maggie stood right sair astonish'd, The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'a, The storm without might rair and rustle,
She ventured forward on the light; Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance; Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
Nae cotillon brent new frae France, E’en drown'd himself amang the nappy ;
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure,
Put life and mettle in their heels. The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure;
A winnock-bunker in the east, Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast; O'er a' the ills o life victorious.
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, But pleasures are like poppies spread,
To gie them music was his charge : You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
He screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. -
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses ; That fit ere you can point their place ;
And by some devilish cantraip slight, Or like the rainbow's lovely form
Each in its cauld hand held a light,Evanishing amid the storm.
By which heroic Tam was able Nae man can tether time or tide ;
To note upon the haly table, The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns ; That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
Twa span lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns ; That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
A thief new cutted frae a rape, And sic a night he taks the road in,
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape ; As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red rusted ;
Five cimiters, wi' murder crusted ;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu',
Which e'en to name wad be unlawfu'. Weel mounted on his gray mare Meg,
As Tammie glowr'd, amazed and curious, A better never lifted leg,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious : Tam skelpit on through dub and mire,
The piper loud and louder blew; Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
And linket at it in her sark!
Now Tam, 0 Tam! had they been queans,
A' plump and strapping, in their teens ; By this time he was cross the ford,
Their sarks, instead o’creeshie flannen, Whare in the snaw the chapman smoord; Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! And past the birks an’ meikle stane,
Thir breeks o’mine, my only pair, Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck bane; That ance were plush, o'guid blue hair, And through the whins, and by the cairn, I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies.