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After some dog in Highland sang*,
Was made lang syne-Lord knows how lang.
He was a gash an' faithful tyke,
As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws'nt face,
Aye gat him friends in ilka place.
His breast was white, his towzie back
Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black;
His gawcie tail, wi' upward curl,
Hung o'er his hurdies wi' a swirl.
Nae doubt but they were fain o'ither,
An' unco pack an' thick thegither;
Wi’ social nose whyles snuft”d and snowkit,
Whyles mice an' moudieworts they howkit ;
Whyles scour'd awa in lang excursion,
An' worry'd ither in diversion ;
Until, wi' daffin weary grown,
Upon a knowe they sat them down,
And there began a long digression
About the lords of the creation.
I've aften wonder'd, honest Luath,
What sort o' life poor dogs like you have ;
An' when the gentry's life I saw,
What way poor bodies lived ava.
Our laird gets in his racked rents,
His cols, his kain, and a' his stents:
He rises when he likes himsel;
His flunkies answer at the bell :
He ca's his coach, he ca's his horse;
He draws a bonnie silken purse,
As lang's my tail, whare, thro' the steeks,
The yellow letter'd Geordie keeks.
Frae morn to e'en it's nought but toiling,
At baking, roasting, frying, boiling;
An' tho' the gentry first are stechin,
Yet ev'n the ha' folk fill their pechan
Wi' sauce, ragouts, and sicklike trashtrie,
That's little shirt o' downright wastrie.
* Cuchullin's dog in Ossian's Fingal.
Our whipper-in, wee blastit wonner,
Poor worthless elf, it eats a dinner
Better than ony tenant man
His honour has in a' the lan':
An' what poor cot-folk pit their painch in,
I own it's past my comprehension.
Trowth, Cæsar, whyles they're fash't enough ;
A cottar howkin in a sheugh,
Wi dirty stanes biggin a dyke,
Baring a quarry, and sicklike,
Himself, a wife, he thus sustains,
A smytrie o' wee duddie weans,
An' nought but his han darg, to keep
Them right and tight in thack an' rape.
An' when they meet wi' sair disasters,
Like loss o' health, or want o' masters,
Ye maist wad think, a wee touch langer,
An' they maun starve o' cauld and hunger;
But, how it comes, I never ken'd yet,
They're maistly wonderfu' contented;
An' buirdly chiels, an' clever hizzies,
Are bred in sick a way as this is.
But then to see how ye’re negleckit,
How huff'd, and cuff’d, and disrespeçkit!
L-d, man, our gentry care as little
For delvers, ditchers, an' sic cattle ;
They gang as saucy by poor folk,
As I wad by a stinking brock.
I've notic’d, on our laird's court-day,
An' mony a time my heart's been wae,
Poor tenant bodies, scant o'cash,
How they maun thole a factor's snash :
He'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear,
He'll apprehend them, poind their gear;
While they maun stan', wi' aspect humble,
An' hear it a', an' fear an' tremble !
I see how folk live that hae riches;
But surely poor folk maun be wretches !
They're nae sae wretched's ane wad think;
Tho' constantly on poortith's brink :
They're sae accustom'd wi' the sight,
The view o't gies them little fright.
Then chance ano fortune are sae guided,
They're aye in less or mair provided ;
An' tho' fatigu'd wi? close employment,
A blink o' rest's a sweet enjoyment.
The dearest comfort o' their lives,
Their grushie weans an' faithfu' wives;
The prattling things are just their pride, ,
That sweetens a' their fire-side.
An' whyles twalpennie worth o' nappy
Can mak the bodies unco happy;
They lay aside their private cares,
To mind the kirk and state affairs :
They'll talk o' patronage and priests,
Wi' kindling fury in their breasts,
Or tell what new taxation's comin,
An' ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.
As bleak-fac'd Hallowmass returns,
They get the jovial, ranting kirns,
When rural life, o ev'ry station,
Unite in common recreation;
Love blinks, Wit slaps, an' social Mirth,
Forgets there's Care upo' the earth.
That merry day the year begins,
They bar the door on frosty winds;
The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,
An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
The luntin pipe, an' sneeshin mill,
Are handed round wi' right guid will ;
The cantie auld folks crackin crouse,
The young anes rantin thro' the house,
My heart has been sae fain to see them,
That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.
Still it's owre true that ye haé said,
Sic game is now owre aften play'd.
There's monie a creditable stock
O' decent, honest, fawsont folk,
Are riven out baith root and branch,
Some rascal's pridefu' greed to quench,
Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster
In favour wi' some gentle master,
Wha' aiblins, thrang a parliamentin,
For Britain's guid his saul indentin-
Haith, lad, ye little ken about it;
For Britain's guid! guid faith! I doubt it.
Say rather, gaun as premiers lead him,
An' saying ay or no's they bid him :
At operas an' plays parading,
Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading ;
Or may be, in a frolic daft,
To Hague or Calais takes a waft,
To make a tour, an' tak a whirl,
To learn bon ton an' see the worl'.
There, at Vienna or Versailles,
He rives his father's auld entails;
Or by Madrid he takes the rout,
To thrum guitars, and fecht wi' nowt;
Or down Italian vista startles,
Wh-re-hunting among groves o' myrtles :
Then bouses drumly German water,
To mak himsel look fair and fatter,
An' clear the consequential sorrows,
Love-gifts of carnival signoras.
For Britain's guid! for her destruction !
Wi' dissipation, feud, an' faction.
Hech man! dear sirs ! is that the gate
They waste sae mony a braw estate!
Are we sae foughten an' harass'd
For gear to gang that gate at last !
O would they stay aback frae courts,
An' please themsels wi' countra sports,
It wad for ev'ry ane be better,
The laird, the tenant, an' the cotter!
For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies,
Fient haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows;
Except for breakin o' their timmer,
Or speakin lightly o' their limmer,
Or shootin o' a hare or moor-cock,
The ne'er a bit they're ill to poor folk,
But will ye tell me, master Cæsar,
Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure ?
Nae cauld or hunger e'er can steer them,
The vera thought o't need na fear them.
CÆSAR. L-d, man, were ye but whiles whare I am, The gentles ye wad ne'er envy 'em.
It's true, they need na starve or sweat, Thro’ winter's cauld, or simmer's heat ; They've nae sair wark to craze their banes, An' fill auld age wi' grips an' granes : But human bodies are sic fools, For a' their colleges and schools, That when nae real ills perplex them, They make enow themsels to vex them; An' aye the less they hae to sturt them, In like proportion, less will hurt them. A country fellow at the pleugh, His acre's till’d, he's right enough ; A country girl at her wheel, Her dizzen's done, she's unco weel : But gentlemen, an’ ladies warst, Wi' ev'ndown want o' wark are curst. They loiter, lounging, lank, an' lazy; Tho' deil haet ails them, yet uneasy ; Their days insipid, dull, an' tasteless ; Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless : An' even their sports, their balls an' races, Their galloping through public places, There's sic parade, sic pomp, an' art, The joy can scarcely reach the heart. The men cast out in party matches, Then sowther a' in deep debauches ; Ae night they're mad wi’ drink an’ wh-ring, Niest day their life is past enduring.