Page images

I'll conjure the ghost of the great Rorie More,* And bumper his horn with him twenty times o’er.'

Sir Robert, a soldier, no speech would pretend, But he ne'er turn’d his back on his foe—or his friend, Said, toss down the Whistle, the prize of the field, And knee-deep in claret, he'd die ere he'd yield.

To the board of Glenriddel our heroes repair,
So noted for drowning of sorrow and care ;
But for wine and for welcome not more known to

fame, Than the sense, wit, and taste of a sweet lovely



A bard was selected to witness the fray,
And tell future ages the feats of the day;
A bard who detested all sadness and spleen,
And wish'd that Parnassus a vineyard had been.

The dinner being over, the claret they ply,
And ev'ry new cork is a new spring of joy ;
In the bands of old friendship and kindred so set,
And the bands grew the tighter the more they

were wet.


Gay Pleasure ran riot as bumpers ran o’er ;
Bright Phoebus ne'er witness'd so joyous a core,
And vow'd that to leave them he was quite forlorn,
Till Cynthia hinted he'd see them next morn.
Six bottles a-piece had well wore out the night,
When gallant Sir Robert, to finish the fight,

* See Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides. R. B.

Turn’d o'er in one bumper a bottle of red,
And swore 'twas the way that their ancestors did.

Then worthy Glenriddel, so cautious and sage,
No longer the warfare ungodly would wage;
A high-ruling elder to wallow in wine !
He left the foul business to folks less divine.


The gallant Sir Robert fought hard to the end ; But who can with Fate and quart bumpers contend ? Though Fate said, a hero should perish in light; So uprose bright Phoebus—and down fell the knight.

Next up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink : • Craigdarroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall

sink ! • But if thou would flourish immortal in rhyme, Come—one bottle more—and have at the sublime!


• Thy line, that have struggled for freedom with

Bruce, Shall heroes and patriots ever produce: • So thine be the laurel, and mine be the bay ; • The field thou hast won, by yon bright god of



[blocks in formation]



Burns in his letter to Mrs. Dunlop from Ellisland, 4th April, 1789, says, “I no sooner hit on any poetic plan or fancy, but I wish to send it to you; and if knowing and reading these give half the pleasure to you that communicating them to you gives to me, I am satisfied.

“I have a poetic whim in my head, which I at present dedicate, or rather inscribe, to the Right Hon. C. J. Fox; but how long that fancy may hold, I cannot say. A few of the first lines I have just rough-sketched, as follows:”

This “Sketch” was not printed in any edition of the Poet's works revised by himself.


OW Wisdom and Folly meet, mix, and

unite; How Virtue and Vice blend their black

and their white; How Genius, th' illustrious father of fiction, Confounds rule and law, reconciles contradiction, I sing; If these mortals, the Critics, should bustle, I care not, not 1,—let the Critics go whistle !

But now for a Patron, whose name and whose glory, At once may illustrate and honour my story.

Thou, first of our orators, first of our wits,
Yet whose parts and acquirements seem just lucky



With knowledge so vast, and with judgement so

strong, No man, with the half of 'em, e'er went far wrong;

With passions so potent, and fancies so bright,
No man, with the half of 'em e'er went quite right;
A sorry, poor, misbegot son of the Muses,
For using thy name offers fifty excuses.
Good Lord, what is man ! for as simple he looks,
Do but try to develope his hooks and his crooks,
With his depths and his shapws, his good and

his evil, All in all, he's a problem must puzzle the devil. 20

On his one ruling Passion Sir Pope hugely labours, That, like th' old Hebrew walking switch, eats up

its neighbours : Mankind are? his show-box- a3 friend, would you

know him? Pull the string, Ruling Passion, the picture will

show him. What pity, in rearing so beauteous a system, One trifling particular, Truth, should have miss'd

him ! For, spite of his fine theoretic positions, Mankind is a science defies definitions.

Some sort all our qualities each to its tribe,
And think Human-nature they truly describe ; 30

you found this, or t’other? there's more in

the wind, As by one drunken fellow his comrades you'll find. But such is the flaw, or the depth of the plan In the make of the wonderful creature called Man, No two virtues, whatever relation they claim, VAR. ' warmly. MS. in Buins' writing.

2 Human nature's. MS.


your. MS.

Nor even two different shades of the same, Though like as was ever twin-brother to brother, Possessing the one shall* imply you've the other.


* But truce with abstraction, and truce with a muse, Whose rhymes you'll perhaps, Sir, ne'er deign to

peruse : Will you leave your justings, your jars, and your

quarrels, Contending with Billy for proud-nodding laurels. My much-honor'd Patron, believe your poor Poet, Your courage much more than your prudence you

show it, In vain with Squire Billy for laurels you struggle, He'll have them by fair trade, if not, he willsmuggle; Net cabinets even of kings would conceal 'em, He'd up the back-stairs, and by G- he would steal

'em. Then feats like Squire Billy's you ne'er can atchieve

'em, It is not, outdo him,—the task is, out-thieve him.






* The following twelve lines first appeared in the Aldine edition of Burns (1839), and were printed from a MS. in the Poet's own writing, in the possession of the late Mr. Pickering.

« PreviousContinue »