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WHEN chapman billies' leave the street,
And drouthy * neebors, 3 neebors meet,
As market-days are wearing late,
An' 4 folk begin to tak the gate ;
While we fit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou 7 and unco 8 happy,
We think na' on the lang "° Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps," and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,'%
Whare '3 sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand' honest Tam O'Shanter,
As he frae? Ayr ae 3 night did canter,
(Auld 4 Ayr wham 5 ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny“ laffes.)
O Tam ! had'it thou but been fae 7 wise,
As ta'en thy ain & wife Kate's advice !
She tauld othee weel 10 thou was a skellum,'
A blethering," blustering, drunken blellum ;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was nae "3 sober;
That ilka 14 melder, wi' 15 the miller,
Thou fat as lang as thou had filler ; 16
That every naig
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
That at the Ld's house, even on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesy'd that, late or foon,
Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon ;
Or catch'd wi' warlocks' in the mirk,
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.3
Ah, gentle dames ! it gars me greet, 4
To think how monys counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd fage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises !
But to our tale: Ae market night,
Tam had got planted unco right;
Fast by an ingle, bleezing 7 finely,
Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter " Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;"
Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither."
The night drave 13 on wi' sangs and clatter; 4
And ay the ale was growing better :
* Warlock, a wizard.
2 Mirk, dark. 3 Kirk, church.
* Gars me greet, makes me weep. 5 Mony, many
Ingle, fire. 7 Bleezing, burning.
Reaming fwats, a sort of liquor, . Souter, a shoemaker. 10 Crony, or cronie, an old acquaintance. 11 Vera brither, very brother. 12 Thegitber, together. 18 Drave, passed. 14 Sangs and clatter, songs and discourse.
The landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi’ favours, secret, sweet, and precious :
The fouter tauld his queerest stories;
The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair' and rustle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E'en drown'd himself amang 2 the nappy,
As bees flee hame wi' lades 3 o'4 treasure,
The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure :
Kings may be bless’d, but Tam was glorious,
O'er a'5 the hills o’life victorious !
Bat pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form,
Evanishing amid the storm.-
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in ;
all. 6 Tether, tie.
3 Lades, loads. 7 Maun, muft.
And fic' a night he tacks * the road in,
As ne'er poor finner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn 3 its last;
The rattling lowers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd :
That night, a child might understand,
The deil 4 had business on his hand.
Weels mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpito on through dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire ;
Whiles 8 holding fast his gude' blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow'ring ” round wi' prudent cares, ,
12 catch him unawares :
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists "3 and houlets 54 nightly cry.
By this time he was cross the ford,
Whare in the snaw '5 the chapman smoor'd ; 1S
* Sic, such.
? Tacks, takes. 3 As 'twad blawn, as if it would have blown. 4 Deil, the devil.. $ Weel, well.
Skelpit, galloped. i Dub, a pool.
8 Whiles, fometimes. Gude, gooil.
ro Crooning, humming. 11 Glow'ring, staring:
12 Bogles, bad spirits. 13 Gbaits, gholts.
14 Houlets, owls. 15 Snow, (now, 10 Smoor'd, Imother'd.