Page images
PDF

Upon a time, Sir Abece the great,
In all his pedagogic powers elate,
His awful chair of state resolves to mount,
And call the trembling Vowels to account.

First enter'd A, a grave, broad, solemn wight, But ah ! deform’d, dishonest to the sight! 10 His twisted head look'd backward on his way, And flagrant from the scourge, he grunted, ai !

Reluctant, E stalk'd in ; with piteous race The jostling tears ran down his honest face !

“ It may, perhaps, be worthy of notice that Lord Craig was cousin-german of Mrs. M‘Lehose, the celebrated Clarinda of Burns, who is still living in Edinburgh, and was left an annuity by his Lordship. She is now nearly eighty years of age, but enjoys excellent health. We found her sitting in the parlour, with some papers on the table. Her appearance at first betrayed a little of that languor and apathy which attend age and solitude; but the moment she comprehended the object of our visit, her countenance, which even yet retains the lineaments of what Clarinda may be supposed to have been, became animated and intelligent. • That,' said she, rising up and pointing to an engraving over the mantelpiece, 'is a likeness of my relative (Lord Craig) about whom you have been inquiring. He was the best friend I ever had. After a little farther conversation about his lordship, she directed our attention to a picture of Burns, by Horsburgh, after Taylor, on the opposite wall of the apartment. You will know who that is-it was presented to me by Constable and Co., for having simply declared, what I knew to be true, that the likeness was good. We spoke of the correspondence betwixt the Poet and Clarinda, at which she smiled, and pleasantly remarked on the great change which the lapse of so many years had produced on her personal appearance. Indeed, any observation respecting Burns seemed to afford her pleasure; and she laughed at a little anecdote we told of him, which she had never before heard. Having prolonged our intrusion to the limits of courtesy, and conversed on various topics, we took leave of the venerable lady, highly gratified by the interview.”

VOL. II.

That name, that well-worn name, and all his own,
Pale he surrenders at the tyrant's throne !
The pedant stifles keen the Roman sound
Not all his mongrel diphthongs can compound;
And next, the title following close behind,
He to the nameless ghastly wretch assign’d. 20

The cobweb'd gothic dome resounded, Y!
In sullen vengeance, I, disdain'd reply:
The pedant swung his felon cudgel round,
And knock'd the groaning vowel to the ground !

In rueful apprehension enter'd 0, The wailing minstrel of despairing woe; Th’ Inquisitor of Spain the most expert, Might there have learnt new mysteries of his art: So grim, deform’d, with horrors entering U, His dearest friend and brother scarcely knew! 30

As trembling U stood staring all aghast, The pedant in his left hand clutch'd him fast, In helpless infants' tears he dipp'd his right, Baptiz’d him eu, and kick'd him from his sight.

[ocr errors]

LITTLE, upright, pert, tart, tripping A

wight, And still his preciousselfhis dear delight; Who loves his own smart shadow in the

streets Better than e'er the fairest she he meets :

* The following Sketch seems to be one of a Series, intended for a projected work, under the title of “The Poet's

A man of fashion too, he made his tour,
Learn'd vive la bagatelle, et vive l'amour ;
So traveld monkeys their grimace improve,
Polish their grin, nay, sigh for ladies' love.
Much specious lore, but little understood;
Veneering oft outshines the solid wood :
His solid sense—by inches you must tell,
But mete his cunning by the old Scots ell;
His meddling vanity, a busy fiend,
Still making work his selfish craft must mend.

PROLOGUE FOR MR. SUTHERLAND'S

BENEFIT-NIGHT, DUMFRIES.*

S

Da

Z HAT needs this din about the town o'

Lon’on, REVAVEN How this new play an' that new sang

is comin'? Progress." This character was sent as a specimen, accompanied by a letter to Professor Dugald Stewart, dated Ellisland, 20th January, 1789, in which it is thus noticed : “ The fragment beginning, “A little, upright, pert, tart,' &c. I have not shown to man living, till I now send it to you. It forms the postulata, the axioms, the definition of a character, which, if it appear at all, shall be placed in a variety of lights. This particular part I send you merely as a sample of my hand at portrait-sketching, but, lest idle conjecture should pretend to point out the original, please to let it be for your single, sole inspection."

* To William Nicol, Burns wrote on the 9th February, 1790, saying, “ For the last two or three months, on an average, I have not ridden less than two hundred miles per week. I have done little in the poetic way. I have given Mr. Sutherland two Prologues, one of which was delivered last week.”

10

Why is outlandish stuff sae meikle courted ?
Does nonsense mend like whisky, when imported ?
Is there nae poet, burning keen for fame,
Will try to gie us sangs and plays at hame ?
For comedy abroad he need na toil,
A fool and knave are plants of every soil ;
Nor need he hunt as far as Rome and Greece
To gather matter for a serious piece;
There's themes enow in Caledonian story,
Would show the tragic muse in a' her glory.

Is there no daring Bard will rise, and tell
How glorious Wallace stood, how hapless fell?
Where are the Muses fled that could produce
A drama worthy o'the name o' Bruce;
How here, even here, he first unsheath'd the sword
'Gainst mighty England and her guilty lord;
And after monie a bloody, deathless doing,
Wrench'd his dear country from the jaws of ruin? 20
O for a Shakespeare or an Otway scene,
To draw the lovely, hapless Scottish Queen !
Vain all th' omnipotence of female charms
'Gainst headlong, ruthless, mad Rebellion's arms.
She fell, but fell with spirit truly Roman,
To glut the vengeance of a rival woman:
A woman, tho’ the phrase may seem uncivil,
As able and as cruel as the Devil !
One Douglas lives in Home's immortal page,
But Douglases were heroes every age:
And tho' your fathers, prodigal of life,
A Douglas follow'd to the martial strife,
Perhaps, if bowls row right, and Right succeeds,
Ye yet may follow where a Douglas leads !

As ye hae generous done, if a’ the land

30

Would tak the Muses' servants by the hand;
Not only hear, but patronize, befriend them,
And where ye justly can commend, commend them;
And aiblins when they winna stand the test,
Wink hard and say, the folks hae done their best !
Would a' the land do this, then I'll be caution 41
Ye'll soon hae Poets o'the Scottish nation,
Will gar fame blaw until her trumpet crack,
And warsle time an' lay him on his back!

For us and for our stage should onie spier,
“Whase aught thae chiels maks a'this bustle here?”
My best leg foremost, I'll set up my brow,
We hae the honour to belong to you !
We're your ain bairns, e'en guide us as ye like,
But like good mithers, shore before ye strike- 50
And gratefu' still I hope ye'll ever find us,
For a' the patronage and meikle kindness
We've got frae a' professions, sets and ranks :
God help us! we're but poor—ye’se get but thanks.

ELEGY ON THE YEAR 1788.*

SKETCH.

[graphic]

POR Lords or Kings I dinna mourn, EVA E'en let them die—for that they're

born :
w But oh! prodigious to reflec'!

* This Elegy was printed in the Glasgow Collection in

« PreviousContinue »