« PreviousContinue »
MONODY ON A LADY FAMED FOR HER
rouge lately glisten'd ! How silent that tongue which the echoes oft tir'd,
How dull is that ear which to flattery so listen'd!
If sorrow and anguish their exit await,
From friendship and dearest affection remov'd; How doubly severer, Eliza, thy fate,
Thou diedst unwept, as thou livedst unlov’d. * The subject of this satire was the beautiful Mrs. Riddel of Woodlee Park, who had shown Burns much kindness. Having, however, according to Mr. Allan Cunningham, once attempted to salute her, she punished the insult by withdrawing her friendship; and he took his revenge by charging her, in these verses, with caprice. She afterwards generously forgave him his impertinence, as well as this unmerited attack. Before this affair, Burns had, however, occasionally accused her of being capricious. He wrote to her in 1794:-“I meant to have called on you yesternight, but as I edged up to your box door, the first object which greeted my view, was one of those lobster-coated puppies, sitting like another dragon guarding the Hesperian fruit." In another letter, written to her about the same time, he says, “ I have often told you, my dear friend, that you had a spice of caprice in your composition; and you have as often disavowed it, even perhaps while your opinions were at the moment irrefragably proving it. Could any thing estrange me from a friend such as you? No. To-morrow I shall have the honour of waiting on you. Farewell, thou first of friends, and most accomplished of women, even with all thy little caprices.” They had, however, quarrelled before he wrote his next letter; and it was probably in the interval that he vented his chagrin in this Monody.
Loves, Graces, and Virtues, I call not on you;
So shy, grave, and distant, ye shed not a tear : But come, all ye offspring of Folly so true, 11
And flowers let us cull for Eliza's cold bier.
We'll search thro’ the garden for each silly flower,
We'll roam thro’ the forest for each idle weed ; But chiefly the nettle, so typical, shower, For none e'er approach'd her but rued the rash
deed. We'll sculpture the marble, we'll measure the lay;
Here Vanity strums on her idiot lyre; There keen Indignation shall dart on her prey, Which spurning Contempt shall redeem from his
20 THE EPITAPH. HERE lies, now a prey to insulting neglect,
What once was a butterfly, gay in life's beam : Want only of wisdom denied her respect,
Want only of goodness, denied her esteem.
SONNET, ON THE DEATH OF ROBERT RIDDEL, ESQ. OF GLENRIDDEL.
APRIL, 1794. 8 5%O more, ye warblers of the wood—no
more ! Nor pour your descant, grating, on
my soul; Thou young-eyed Spring, gayin thy verdant stole, More welcome were to me grim Winter's wildest roar. How can ye charm, ye flow'rs, with all your dyes ?
Ye blow upon the sod that wraps my friend :
How can I to the tuneful strain attend ?
Yes, pour, ye warblers, pour the notes of woe!
And sooth the Virtues weeping on this bier : 10
The Man of Worth, and has not left his peer, Is in his “ narrow house" for ever darkly low.
Thee, Spring, again with joys shall others greet;
NOVEMBER 4, 1793. *
2) What have I done, of all the year,
* It seems, from the date, that these verses were written before the fair lady's “caprice” had excited the Poet's ire.
Now, Jove, for once be mighty civil,
TO MISS JESSY LEWARS, DUMFRIES, WITH
BOOKS WHICH THE BARD PRESENTED HER.*
ya SHINE be the volumes, Jessy fair,
That fate may in her fairest page,
* The amiable person to whom these verses are addressed is entitled to the esteem and respect of all to whom the memory of Burns is dear. “She watched over him and his little household during his declining days,” says Mr. Allan Cunningham, “ with all the affectionate reverence of a daughter."
EXTEMPORE TO MR. SYME,* ON REFUSING
TO DINE WITH HIM, AFTER HAVING BEEN PROMISED THE FIRST OF COMPANY, AND THE FIRST
OF COOKERY, 17TH DECEMBER, 1795.
76 0 more of your guests, be they titled or not,
TO MR. SYME, WITH A PRESENT OF A
DOZEN OF PORTER.
PA , HAD the malt thy strength of mind,
Or hops the flavour of thy wit,
A gift that e'en for Syme were fit. Jerusalem Tavern, Dumfries.
* “ John Syme, of Ryedale, was," says Allan Cunningham, “the constant companion of Burns. He was a gentleman of education and talent; a wit, an epigrammatist, a rhymer, and an admirable teller of a story." In one of his letters, Burns tells him, “You know that, among other high dignities, you have the honour to be my supreme court of critical judicature, from which there is no appeal.”