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And, after proper purpose of amendment,
HAVE HAT of Earls with whom you have supt, AV And of Dukes that you dined with
yestreen ? Lord ! a louse, Sir, is still but a louse,
Though it crawl on the curls of a Queen.
TO —- .t
Mossgiel, — 1786. SIR, M O URS this moment I unseal,
Care And faith I am gay and hearty! Be To tell the truth and shame the Deil
I am as fu' as Bartie :
Expect me o’your partie,
Or hurl in a cartie, R. B. * "At the table of Maxwell of Terraughty, when it was the pleasure of one of the guests to talk only of Dukes with whom he had drank, and of Earls with whom he had dined, Burns silenced him with this epigram."
+ The original of this reply to an invitation is preserved in the Paisley library.
“IN VAIN WOULD PRUDENCE.” *
EN vain would Prudence, with decorous sneer,
Point out a cens’ring world, and bid me
A fear; Above that world on wings of love I rise, I know its worst—and can that worst despise. * Wrong’d, injur’d, shunn'd; unpitied, unredrest, The mock'd quotation of the scorner's jest,' Let Prudence' direst bodements on me fall, Clarinda, rich reward ! o'erpays them all!
“ THOUGH FICKLE FORTUNE.”
T HOUGH fickle Fortune has deceived me,
She promis’d fair and perform’d but ill; Son Of mistress, friends and wealth bereav'd me,
Yet I bear a heart shall support me still. —
But if success I must never find,
I'll meet thee with an undaunted mind.
* These lines occur in one of Burns' letters to Clarinda (Mrs. M‘Lehose), in March, 1788, to which he adds: “I have been rhyming a little of late, but I do not know if they are worth postage. Tell me.”
† “ The above,” says Burns," was an extempore, under the pressure of a heavy train of misfortunes, which, indeed, threatened to undo me altogether. It was just at the close of that dreadful period before mentioned (March, 1784); and though the weather has brightened up a little with me since, yet there has always been a tempest brewing round me in the grim sky of futurity, which I pretty plainly see will
“ I BURN, I BURN.”* BURN, I burn, as when thro' ripen'd
corn, By driving winds the crackling flames
are borne, Now maddening, wild, I curse that fatal night; Now bless the hour which charm'd my guilty sight. In vain the laws their feeble force oppose : Chain'd at his feet they groan, Love's vanquish'd
foes; In vain religion meets my sinking eye; I dare not combat--but I turn and fly; Conscience in vain upbraids th' unhallowed fire ; Love grasps his scorpions—stifled they expire! 10 Reason drops headlong from his sacred throne, Your dear idea reigns and reigns alone : Each thought intoxicated homage yields, And riots wanton in forbidden fields !
By all on high adoring mortals know ! By all the conscious villain fears below! By your dear self !--the last great oath I swear; Nor life nor soul were ever half so dear !
some time or other, perhaps ere long, overwhelm me, and drive me into some doleful dell, to pine in solitary, squalid wretchedness. However, as I hope my poor country Muse, who, all rustic, awkward, and unpolished as she is, has more charms for me than any other of the pleasures of life beside-as I hope she will not then desert me, I may even then learn to be, if not happy, at least easy, and south a sang to sooth my misery." These verses were first printed in Cromek's Reliques from the Poet's MS.
• These verses occur in one of Burns' letters to Clarinda in 1788.
EPIGRAM ON A NOTED COXCOMB.*
KXIGHT lay the earth on Billy's breast, 1032 His chicken heart so tender;
But build a castle on his head,
His scull will prop it under.
TAM THE CHAPMAN.+ SPESAS Tam the Chapman on a day
A Wi’ Death forgather'd by the way, 2 Weel pleas’d, he greets a wight so famous, And Death was nae less pleased wi' Thomas,
* Printed from Burns' manuscript.
+ These verses were printed by the late Mr. Cobbett, with this account of them :
“ It is our fortune to know a Mr. Kennedy, an aged gentleman, a native of Scotland, and the early associate and friend of Robert Burns. Both were born in Ayrshire, near the town of Ayr, so frequently celebrated in the poems of the bard. Burns, as is well known, was the poor peasant's son; and in the Cotter's Saturday Night,' gives a noble picture of, what we may presume to be, the family circle of his father. Kennedy, whose boyhood was passed in the labours of a farm, subsequently became the agent to a mercantile house in a neighbouring town. Hence he is called, in an epitaph which his friend the Poet wrote on him, the Chapman.' These lines, omitted in all editions of Burns' works, were composed on Kennedy's recovery from a severe illness. On his way to kirk on a bright Sabbath morning, he was met by the Poet, who, having rallied him on the sombre expression of his countenance, fell back, and soon rejoined him, presented him with the epitaph scrawled on a bit of paper with a pencil.” “ Kennedy's occupation,"
Wha cheerfully lays down the pack,
TO DR. MAXWELL,
ON MISS JESSY STAIG'S RECOVERY.*
BURNS wrote to Mr. Thomson in September or October, 1794, “How do you like the following epigram, which I wrote the other day on a lovely young girl's recovery from a fever ? Doctor Maxwell was the physician who seemingly saved her from the grave, and to him I address the following:”
FEAXWELL, if merit here you crave,
That merit I deny: 28 You save fair Jessy from the grave !
An Angel could not die.
says Allan Cunningham," which gave him a knowledge of the world at that time far beyond that of the humble cotter's son, made him an extremely acceptable companion, while his 'social, friendly, honest heart, converted acquaintance into friendship. They maintained a regular correspondence until about the time of Burns' departure for Edinburgh, when Kennedy removed far from the banks and braes of his native Ayrshire."
* Miss Jessy Staig married Major Miller, and died young. She was the Jessy of the song, "True hearted was he, the sad swain of the Yarrow.”