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EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK.

109

Think for a moment on his wretched fate, / Then a' that ken't him round declar'd
Whom friends and fortune quite disown!

He had ingine,
Il satisfied keen nature's clamorous call, That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
Stretched on his straw he lays himself

It was sae fine.
to sleep,

(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,
Think on the dungeon's grim confine, | 'Tween Inverness and Teviotdale,
Where guilt and poor misfortune pine!

He had a few matches.
Guilt, erring man, relenting view!
But shall thy legal rage pursue

Then up I gat, and swoor an aith,

Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith,
The wretch, already crushed low
By cruel fortune's undeserved blow?

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.
bliss !”

But, first and foremost, I should tell,
I hear nae mair, for chanticleer

Amaist as soon as I could spell,
Shook off the poutheray snaw,

I to the crambo-jingle fell;
And hailed the morning with a chee

Thoʻrude and rough,
A cottage-rousing craw.

Yet crooning to a body's sell,
But deep this truth impressed my

Does weel eneugh.
mind

I am nae poet, in a sense,
Through all his works abroad,

But just a rhymer, like by chance,
The heart benevolent and kind

And hae to learning nae pretence,
The most resembles GOD.

Yet, what the matter!
Whene'er my muse does on me glance,

Í jingle at her.
Epistle to J. Lapraik. Your critic folk may cock their nose,

And say, “How can you e'er propose,
AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD. (25.)

You, wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
April 1, 1785.

To mak a sang?
WHILE briers and woodbines budding green, But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
And paitricks scraichin’loud at e'en,

Ye're may be wrang.
And morning poussie whiddin seen, What's a' your jargon o' your schools,
Inspire my muse,

Your Latin names for horns and stools; This freedom in an unknown frien'

If honest nature made you fools,
I pray excuse.

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 !
To some sweet wife :

That's a' the learning I desire ;
It thirld the heart-strings thro' the breast, Then tho' I drudge thro' dub and mire
A' to the life.

At pleugh or cart,
I've scarce heard ought described sae weel, My muse, tho' hamely in attire,
What gen'rous manly bosons feel;

May touch the heart.
Thought I,“ Can this be Pope, or Steele,

Oh for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
Or Beattie's wark?"

Or Fergusson's the bauld and slee,
They tauld me 'twas an odd kind chiel

Or bright Lapraik's, my friend to be,
About Muirkirk.

If I can hit it!
It pat me fidgin-fain to heart,

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,
Tho' real friends I believe are few,
Yet, if your catalogue be fou,

I'se no insist,
But gif ye want ae friend that's true,

I'm on your list.
I winna blaw about mysel ;
As ill I like my faults to tell ;
But friends and folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me;
Tho' I maun own, as monie still

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,
And hae a swap o' rhymin'-ware

Wi' ane anither.
The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
And kirsen him wi' reekin' water;
Syne we'll sit down and tak our whitter,

To cheer our heart;
And, faith, we'se be acquainted better

Before we part.
Awa ye selfish war'ly race,
Wha think that havins, sense, and grace,
Ev'n love and friendship, should give place

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 !
But, to conclude my lang epistle,
As my auld pen's worn to the grissle;
Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,

Who am, most fervent,
While I can either sing or whissle,

Your friend and servant.

Their ten hours' bite,
My awkwart muse sair pleads and begs

I would na write.
The tapetless ramfeezid hizzie,
She's saft at best, and something lazy,
Quo' she, “Ye ken, we've been sae busy,

This month and mair,
That trouth, my head is grown right dizzie,

And something sair.”
Her dowff excuses pat me mad :
“ Conscience," says I, “ye thowless jad!
I'll write, and that a hearty blaud,

This vera night;
So dinna ye affront your trade,

But rhyme it right.
Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o' hearts,
Tho' mankind were a pack o' cartes,
Roose you sae weel for your deserts,

In terms sae friendly,
Yet ye'll neglect to shaw your parts,

And thank him kindly ?"
Sae I gat paper in a blink,
And down gaed stumpie in the ink:
Quoth I, “ before I sleep a wink,

I vow I'll close it;
And if ye winna mak it clink,

By Jove I'll prose it ! "
Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether
In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither,
Or some hotch-potch that's rightly neither,

Let time mak proof;
But I shall scribble down some blether

Just clean aff-loof.
My worthy friend, ne'er grudge and carp,

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

Wigleesome touch;
Ne'er mind how fortune waft and warp-

She's but a b-tch!
She's gien me monie a jirt and fleg,
Sin' I could striddle owre a rig;
But, by the L-d, tho’I should beg

Wi' lyart pow,
I'll laugh, and sing, and shake my leg,

As lang's I dow!
Now comes the sax and twentieth simmer,
I've seen the bud upo' the timmer,
Still persecuted by the limmer

Frae year to year;
But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,

. I, Rob, am here.
Do ye envy the city gent,
Behint a kist to lie and sklent,
Or purse-proud, big wi' cent. per cent.

And muckle wame,
In some bit brugh to represent

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.
But Lordly stalks,

My senses wad be in a creel,
While caps and bonnets aff are taen,

Should I but dare a hope to speel,
As by he walks ?

Wi' Allan, or wi Gilbertfield,
Oh Thou wha gies us each guid gift!

The braes o' fame; Gie me o' wit and sense a lift,

Or Fergusson, the writer chiel,
Then turn me, if Thou please, adrift,

A deathless nanie.
Thro' Scotland wide;

(Oh Fergusson! thy glorious parts Wi'cits nor lairds I wadna shift,

Ill suited law's dry musty arts !
In a' their pride!

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
Damnation then would be our fate,

Wad stow'd his pantry!)
Beyond remead;
But, thanks to Heav'n, that's no the gate

Yet when a tale comes i' my head,

Or lassies gie my heart a screed,
We learn our creed.

As whiles they're like to be my dead,
For thus the royal mandate ran,

(Oh sad disease!) When first the human race began,

I kittle up my rustic reed ; “ The social, friendly, honest man,

It gies me ease.
Whate'er he be,
'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,

Auld Coila, now, may fidge fu' fain,
And none but he!”

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
Poor thoughtless devils yet may shine

Her weel-sung praise
In glorious light,
While sordid sons o' Mammon's line

Nae poet thought her worth his while,

To set her name in measur'd style;
Are dark as night.

She lay like some unken'd-of-isle
Tho'here they scrape, and squeeze, and growl,

Beside New Holland, Their worthless nievfu' of a soul

Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
May in some future carcase howl,

Besouth Magellan.
The forest's fright;

Ramsay and famous Fergusson
Or in some day-detesting owl

Gied Forth and Tay a lift aboon
May shun the light.

Yarrow and Tweed, to monie a tune,
Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,

Owre Scotland rings, To reach their native kindred skies,

While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, and Doon,
And sing their pleasures, hopes, and joys,

Naebody sings.
In some mild sphere,

Th' Illissus. Tiber, Thames, and Seine,
Still closer knit in friendship’s ties

Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line;
Each passing year!

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,
OCHILTREE. (27)

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
Wi' gratefu' heart I thank you brawlie; Aft bure the gree, as story tell,
Tho' I maun say't, I wad be silly,

Frae southron billies.
And unco vain,

At Wallace' name what Scottish blood
Should I believe, my coaxin' billie,

But boils up in spring-tide flood!
Your flatterin strain.

Oft have our fearless fathers strode
But I'se believe ye kindly meant it,

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;
When lintwhites chant amang the buds, Just like a sark, or pair o' shoon,

Wore by degrees, till her last roon
Their loves enjoy,

Gaed past their viewing,
While thro' the braes the crushat croods And shortly after she was done,
With wailfu'cry!

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;
Or blinding drifts wild furious flee,

And muckle din there was about it,
Dark’ning the day!

Baith loud and lang.
Oh nature ! a' thy shows and forms

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,
Or winter howls, in gusty storms,

And backlins-comin', to the leuk
The lang, dark night!

She grew mair bright.
The muse, nae poet ever fand her,

This was denied-it was affirmed ;
Till by himsel he learn’d to wander,

The herds and hirsels were alarmed :
Adown some trotting burn's meander,
Aud no think lang;

The rev'rend grey-beards rav'd and storm'd

That beardless laddies
Oh sweet, to stray and pensive ponder,

Should think they better were inform'd
A heart-felt sang !

Than their auld daddies.
The war’ly race may drudge and drive,
Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch and strive;

Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks ;
Let me fair nature's face descrive,

Frae words and aitlis to clours and nicks, And I, wi' pleasure,

And mony a fallow gat his licks,
Shall let the busy grumbling hive

Wi' hearty crunt;
Bum owre their treasure.

And some, to learn them for their tricks,

Were hang'd and brunt.
Fareweel,“ my rhyme-composing brither !"
We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither : This game was play'd in monie lands,
Now let us lay our heads thegither,

And Auld Light caddies bure sic hands,
In love fraternal;

That, faith, the youngsters took the sands May envy wallop in a tether,

Wi' nimble shanks,
Black tiend, infernal !

Till lairds forbade, by strict commands,

Sic bluidy pranks.
While highlandmen hate tolls and taxes :
While moorlan' heads like guid fat braxies; But New Light herds gat sic a cowe,
While terra firma on her axis

| Folk thought them ruin'd stick-and-stowe, Diurnal turns,

Till now amaist on every knowe,
Count on a friend, in faith and practice,

Ye'll find ane plac'd;
In ROBERT BURNS.

And some their New-Light fair avow,

Just quite barefac'd.
POSTSCRIPT.
My memory's no worth a preen;

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'
By this New Light,

Wi' girnin' spite, 'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been

To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
Maist like to fight.

By word and write.
In days when mankind were but callans But shortly they will cowe the loons !
At grammar, logic, and sic talents,

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,
But spak their thoughts in plain braid lallans. And stay ae month among the moons
Like you or me.

And see them right.

113

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',
I think they'll crouch!

But naething spak;
Sae, ve observe that a' this clatter

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;
Than mind sic brulzie.

But tent me, billie-
I red ye weel, tak care o' skaith.

See, there's a gully !"
Death and De. Bornhuuk. “Guidman," quo'he,“ put up your whittle,

I'm no designed to try its mettle;
A TRUE STORY. (28)

But if I did, I wad be kittle
SOME books are lies frae end to end,

To be mislear'd; And some great lies were never penn'd;

I wad na mind it, no, that spittle
E'en ministers they hae been kenn'd,

Out-owre my beard."
In holy rapture,

“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,
Is just as true's the deil's in hell

At mony a house."
Or Dublin city :

“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.
To free the ditches;

"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.
I set mysel;

“ 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 todlin' down on Willie's mill (29), The weans haud out their fingers laughin',
Setting my staff wi' all my skill,

And pouk my hips.
To keep me sicker;

“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.
Clear-dangling, hang;

“ 'Twas but yestreen, nae farther gaen,.. A three-taed leister on the ither

I threw a noble throw at ane;
Lay, large and lang.

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.

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