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EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK.
Think for a moment on his wretched fate, / Then a' that ken't him round declar'd
He had ingine,
It was sae fine.
(wall, That, set him to a pint of ale, While through the ragged roof and chinky And either douce or merry tale, Chill o'er his slumbers piles the drifty Or rhymes and sangs he'd made himseľ, heap;
Or witty catches,
He had a few matches.
Then up I gat, and swoor an aith,
Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith,
Or die a cadger pownie's death
At some dyke back Affliction's sons are brothers in distress ;
A pint and gill I'd gie them baith A brother to relieve, how exquisite the
To hear your crack.
But, first and foremost, I should tell,
Amaist as soon as I could spell,
I to the crambo-jingle fell;
Thoʻrude and rough,
Yet crooning to a body's sell,
Does weel eneugh.
I am nae poet, in a sense,
But just a rhymer, like by chance,
And hae to learning nae pretence,
Yet, what the matter!
Í jingle at her.
And say, “How can you e'er propose,
You, wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
To mak a sang?”
Ye're may be wrang.
Your Latin names for horns and stools; This freedom in an unknown frien'
If honest nature made you fools,
What sairs your grammars ? On Fasten-e'en we had a rockin',
Ye'd better taen up spades and shools, To ca' the crack and weave our stockin';
Or knappin-hammers. And there was muckle fun and jokin',
| A set o' dull, conceited hashes, Ye need na' doubt;
Confuse their brains in college classes ! At length we had a hearty yokin'
They gang in stirks, and come out asses, . At sang about.
Plain truth to speak; There was ae sang, amang the rest,
And syne they think to climb Parnassus Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
to Greek! That some kind husband had addrest
Gie me ae spark o' nature's fire !
That's a' the learning I desire ;
At pleugh or cart,
May touch the heart.
Oh for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
Or Fergusson's the bauld and slee,
Or bright Lapraik's, my friend to be,
If I can hit it!
That would be lear eneugh for me, And sae about him there I spier't,
If I could get it!
Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
I'se no insist,
I'm on your list.
They sometimes roose me;
As far abuse me. But Mauchline race (26), or Mauchline fair, I should be proud to meet you there; We’se gie ae night's discharge to care,
If we forgather,
Wi' ane anither.
To cheer our heart;
Before we part.
To catch the plack! I dinna like to see your face,
Nor hear your crack. But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the terms,
" Each aid the others.” Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
My friends, my brothers !
Who am, most fervent,
Your friend and servant.
Their ten hours' bite,
I would na write.
This month and mair,
And something sair.”
This vera night;
But rhyme it right.
In terms sae friendly,
And thank him kindly ?"
I vow I'll close it;
By Jove I'll prose it ! "
Let time mak proof;
Just clean aff-loof.
To the Game.
April 21, 1785. WHILE new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake, And pownies reek in plengh or braik, This hour on e'enin's edge I take,
To own I'm debtor, To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,
For his kind letter. Forjesket sair, wi' weary legs, Rattlin' the corn out-owre the rigs, Or dealing thro' amang the naigs
Come, kittle up your moorland-harp
She's but a b-tch!
Wi' lyart pow,
As lang's I dow!
Frae year to year;
. I, Rob, am here.
And muckle wame,
A bailie's name?
TO WILLIAM SLIMPSON).
111 Or is't the paughty, feudal Thane,
On my poor Musie; Wi' ruffl'd sark and glancing cane,
Tho' in sic phraisin terms ye've penn'd it Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
I scarcely excuse ye.
My senses wad be in a creel,
Should I but dare a hope to speel,
Wi' Allan, or wi Gilbertfield,
The braes o' fame; Gie me o' wit and sense a lift,
Or Fergusson, the writer chiel,
A deathless nanie.
(Oh Fergusson! thy glorious parts Wi'cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
Ill suited law's dry musty arts !
My curse upon your whunstaue hearts, Were this the charter of our state,
Ye E’nbrugh gentry; “On pain' o' hell be rich and great,"
The tythe o' what ye waste at cartes
Wad stow'd his pantry!)
Yet when a tale comes i' my head,
Or lassies gie my heart a screed,
As whiles they're like to be my dead,
(Oh sad disease!) When first the human race began,
I kittle up my rustic reed ; “ The social, friendly, honest man,
It gies me ease.
Auld Coila, now, may fidge fu' fain,
She's gotten poets o’ her ain,
Chiels wha their chanters winna hain, Oh mandate glorious and divine !
But tune their lays, The followers o'the ragged Nine,
Till echoes a' resound again
Her weel-sung praise
Nae poet thought her worth his while,
To set her name in measur'd style;
She lay like some unken'd-of-isle
Beside New Holland, Their worthless nievfu' of a soul
Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
Ramsay and famous Fergusson
Gied Forth and Tay a lift aboon
Yarrow and Tweed, to monie a tune,
Owre Scotland rings, To reach their native kindred skies,
While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, and Doon,
Th' Illissus. Tiber, Thames, and Seine,
Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line;
But, Willie, set your fit to mine,
And cock your crest,
We'll gar our streams and burnies shine To William m[impson),
Up wi' the best!
We'll sing auld Coila's plains and fells,
Her moors red-brown wi' heather bells,
May, 1785, Her banks and braes, her dens and dells, I GAT your letter, winsome Willie;
Where glorious Wallace
Frae southron billies.
At Wallace' name what Scottish blood
But boils up in spring-tide flood!
Oft have our fearless fathers strode
By Wallace' side, I sud de laith to think ye hinted
Still pressing onward, red-wat shod, Ironic satire, sidelins sklented
Or glorious died !
Oh sweet are Coila's haughs and woods, In thae auld times, they thought the moon;
Wore by degrees, till her last roon
Gaed past their viewing,
They gat a new one. Ev'n winter bleak has charms to me
This past for certain--undisputed; When winds rave thro' the naked tree;
It ne'er cam i' their heads to doubt it, Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
Till chiels gat up and wad confute it, · Are hoary gray :
And ca'd it wrang;
And muckle din there was about it,
Baith loud and lang.
Some herds, well learn'd upo' the beuk, To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!
Wad threap auld folk the think misteuk; Whether the summer kindly warms,
For 'twas the auld moon turned a neuk, Wi' life and light,
And out o'sight,
And backlins-comin', to the leuk
She grew mair bright.
This was denied-it was affirmed ;
The herds and hirsels were alarmed :
The rev'rend grey-beards rav'd and storm'd
That beardless laddies
Should think they better were inform'd
Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks ;
Frae words and aitlis to clours and nicks, And I, wi' pleasure,
And mony a fallow gat his licks,
Wi' hearty crunt;
And some, to learn them for their tricks,
Were hang'd and brunt.
And Auld Light caddies bure sic hands,
That, faith, the youngsters took the sands May envy wallop in a tether,
Wi' nimble shanks,
Till lairds forbade, by strict commands,
Sic bluidy pranks.
| Folk thought them ruin'd stick-and-stowe, Diurnal turns,
Till now amaist on every knowe,
Ye'll find ane plac'd;
And some their New-Light fair avow,
Just quite barefac'd.
Nae doubt the Auld Light flocks are bleatin'; I had amaist forgotten clean,
Their zealous herds are vex'd and sweatin'; Ye bade me write you what they mean,
Mysel' I've even seen them greetin'
Wi' girnin' spite, 'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
By word and write.
Some Auld Light herds in neebor towns They took nae pains their speech to balance, Are mind't in thinns they ca' balloons, Or rules to gie,
To tak a flight,
And see them right.
DEATH AND DR. HORNBOOK. Guid observation they will gie them;
And then, its shanks, And when the auld moon's gaun 'to lea’e They were as thin, as sharp and sma', them.
As cheeks o'branks. The hindmost shair’d; they'll fetch it wi'them, “Guid e'en." quo' I: “Friend, hae ye been Just i' their pouch,
When other folk are busy sawin'?” (mawin', And when the New Light billies see then,
It seem'd to mak a kind oʻstan',
But naething spak;
At length says I,“ Friend, whare ye gaun, Is näething but a “moonshine matter;
Will ye go back ?" But tho' dull prose-folk Latin splatter It spake right howe—“My name is Death, In logic tulzie,
But be na fley'd." Quoth I, “Guid faith, I hope we bardies ken some better
Ye're maybe come to stap my breath;
But tent me, billie-
See, there's a gully !"
I'm no designed to try its mettle;
But if I did, I wad be kittle
To be mislear'd; And some great lies were never penn'd;
I wad na mind it, no, that spittle
Out-owre my beard."
“Weel, weel !" says I, "a bargain be’t; A rousing whid at times to vend.
Come, gies your hund, and sae we're gree't; And nail't wi' Scripture. We'll ease our shanks and tak a seatBut this that I am gaun to tell,
Come, gies your news; Which lately on a night befell,
This while ye hae been mony a gate,
At mony a house."
“Ay, ay !" quo'he, and shook his head, That e'er he ne nearer comes oursel
“It's e en a lang time indeed • 's a muckle pity.
Sin' I began to nick the thread, The clachan yıll had made me canty
Anil choke the breath: I was na fou, but just had plenty;
Folk maun do something for their bread, I stacher'd whyles, but yet took tent aye
And sae maun Death.
"Sax thousand years are near hand fled And hillocks, stanes, and bushes kenned aye Sin' I was to the butching bred,
Frae ghaists and witches. And mony a scheme in vain's been laid, The rising moon began to glow'r
To stap or scaur me; The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
Till ane Hornbook's taen up the trade, To count her horns, wi'a' my pow'r,
And faith he'll waur me.
“ Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the clachan, But whether sha had three or four,
Deil mak his king's-hood in a spleuchan! I could na tell.
He's grown sae well acquaint wi' Buchan (30), I was come round about the hill,
And ither chaps,
And pouk my hips.
“See, here's a scythe, and there's a dart, Tho' leeward whyles, against my will, They hae pierc'd mony a gallant heart; I took a bicker.
But Doctor Hornbook wi his art I there wi' something did forgather,
And cursed skill, That put me in an eerie swither;
Has made them both no worth a ft. An awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther,
Damn'd haet they'll kill.
“ 'Twas but yestreen, nae farther gaen,.. A three-taed leister on the ither
I threw a noble throw at ane;
Wi' less, I'm sure, I've hundreds slain: Its stature seem'd lang Scotch ells twa,
But deil-ma-care, The queerest shape that e'er I saw,
It just play'd dirl on the bane, For fient a wame it had ava;
But did nae mair.