Page images
PDF
EPUB

VI. With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears,

I view that noble, stately dome, Where Scotia's kings of other years,

Fam'd heroes, had their royal home: Alas, how chang'd the times to come!

Their royal name low in the dust! Their hapless race wild-wand'ring roam !

Tho' rigid law cries out, 'twas just!

VII.
Wild beats my heart to trace your steps

Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
Thro' hostile ranks and ruin'd gaps

Old Scotia's bloody lion bore : Ey'n I, who sing in rustic lore,

Haply my sires have left their shed, And fac'd grim danger's loudest roar,

Bold-following where your fathers led !

VIII. Edina! Scotia's darling seat!

All hail thy palaces and tow'rs, Where once beneath a monarch's feet

Sat legislation's sov'reign pow'rs ! From marking wildly-scatter'd flow'rs,

As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the ling‘ring hours,

I shelter in thy honour'd shade.

EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK,

AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD,

April 1st, 1785.

While briers an' woodbines budding green, An' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en,

An' morning poussie whiddin seen,

Inspire my musė, This freedom in an unknoron frien'

I pray excuse.

On fasten-een we had a rockin,
To ca’ the crack and weave our stockin;
And there was muckle fun an' jokin,

Ye need na doubt;
At length we had a hearty yokin

At sang about.

There was ae sang, amang the rest, Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best, That some kind husband had addrest

To some sweet wife : It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast;

A' to the life.

I've scarce heard ought describes sae weel What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel; Thought I, “ Can this be Pope, or Steele,

Or Beattie's wark?" They tald me 'twas an odd kind chiel

About Muirkirk.

It pat me fidgin-lain to heart,
And sae about himn there I spier't,
Then a' that ken't him round declard

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,
STween Inverness and Tiviotdale

He had few matches.

Then up

I gat, an' swoor an aith,
Tho' 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,
Amaist as soon as I could spell,
I to the crambo-jingle fell,

Tho' rude an' rough,
Yet crooning to a body's sel,

Does weel eneugh.

I am nae poet, in a sense,
But just a rhymer, like, by chance,
An' hae to learning nae pretence,

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 make a sang

793 But, by your leaves, my learned foes,

Ye're maybe wrang.
What's a' your jargon o your schools,
Your Latin names for horns an' stools ;
If honest nature made you fools,

What sairs your grammars ? Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,

Or knappin-hammers.

A set o' dull, conceited hashes Confuse their brains in college classes ! They gang in stirks, and come out asses,

Plain truth to speak ; An' syne chey think to climb Parnassus

By dint o Greek!

Gie me ae spark of nature's fire,
That's a' the learning I desire ;
Then though I drudge thro' 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.

Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
Tho' real friends, I b’lieve are few,
Yet, if your catalogue be fou,

I'se no insist,
But gif ye want ae friend that's true,

I'm on your list.

I winna blaw about mysel ;
As ill I like my fauts to tell ;
But friends and folks that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me ; Tho' I maun own, as monie still

As far abuse me.

There's ae wee faut they whiles lay to me, I like the lasses-Gude forgie me! For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,

At dance or fair ; Maybe 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'de gie ae night's discharge to care,

If we forgather, An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware

Wi' ane anither.

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, Ev'n love an' friendship, should give place

To catch-the-plack ! I dinna like to see your face,

Nor hear your crack.

But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose hearts 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 !

But, to conclude my lang epistle, As my auld pen's worn to the grissle ; Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,

Who am, most fervent, While I can either sing or whissle,

Your friend and servant.

TO THE SAME.

April 21st, 1785.

While new-ca'd kye rout at the stake, An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik, This hour on e'enin's edge I take,

To own I'm debtor
To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,

For his kind letter.
Vol. III.

« PreviousContinue »