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"I drew my sithe in sic a fury, I nearhand cowpit wi' my hurry; But yet the bauld apothecary
"A bonnie lass, ye kend her name, Some ill-brewn drink had hoved her wame : She trusts hersel, to hide the shame,
Withstood the shock; I might as weel hae try'd a quarry
In Hornbook's care; Horn sent her aff, to her lang hame,
"E'en them he canna get attended, Alto' their face he ne'er had kend it, Justin a kail-blade, and send it,
As soon he smells't, Baith their disease, and what will mend it At once he tells't.
"And then a' doctors' saws and whittles,
Of a' dimensions, shapes, an' mettles,
A' kinds o' boxes, mugs, an' bottles,
He's sure to hae;
Their Latin names as fast he rattles
As A B C.
"Calces o' fossils, earth, and trees;
True Sal-marinum o' the seas;
The Farina of beans and pease,
He has❜t in plenty;
Aqua-fortis, what you please,
"Waes me for Johnny Ged's Hole* now,"
Quo' I," if that the news be true!
His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,
Sae white and bonnie,
Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew;
They'll ruin Johnie !"
The creature grain'd an eldrich laugh,
And says, "Ye need na yoke the pleugh,
Kirkyards will soon be till'd eneugh,
Tak ye nae fear:
They'll a' be trench'd wi' monie a sheugh
In twa-three year.
"Whare I killed ane a fair strae-death,
By loss o' blood or want o' breath,
This night I'm free to tak my aith,
That Hornbook's skill
THE simple bard, rough at the rustic plough,
Learning his tuneful trade from every bough,
The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush,
Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn
The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill,
Or deep-toned plovers gray, wild-whistling o'er
Shall he, nurst in the peasant's lowly shed,
To hardy independence bravely bred,
By early poverty to hardship steel'd,
And train'd to arms in stern misfortune's field,
Shall he be guilty of their hireling crimes,
The servile, mercenary Swiss of rhymes?
Or labour hard the panegyric close,
With all the venal soul of dedicating prose?
No! though his artless strains he rudely sings,
And throws his hand uncouthly o'er the strings,
He glows with all the spirit of the bard,
Fame, honest fame, his great, his dear reward.
Still, if some patron's generous care he trace,
Skill'd in the secret, to bestow with grace;
When B********* befriends his humble name,
And hands the rustic stranger up to fame,
With heartfelt throes his grateful bosom swells,
The godlike bliss, to give, alone excels.
'Twas when the stacks get on their winter-hap, And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap; Potato-bings are snugged up frae skaith Of coming winter's biting, frosty breath;
The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils,
Unnumber'd buds' an' flowers' delicious spoils,
Seal'd up with frugal care in massive waxen piles,
Are doom'd by man, that tyrant o'er the weak,
The death o' devils smoor'd wi' brimstone reek:
The thundering guns are heard on every side,
The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide;
The feather'd field-mates, bound by nature's tie,
Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
(What warm, poetic heart, but inly bleeds,
And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!)
Nae mair the flower in field or meadow springs;
Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings,
Except, perhaps, the robin's whistling glee,
Proud o' the height o' some bit half-lang tree :
The hoary morns precede the sunny days,
Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide
I doubt na, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheep shank,
Ance ye were streekit o'er frae bank to bank;
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me,
Though faith that day, I doubt, ye'll never see,
There'll be, if that date come, I'll wad a boddle,
Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle.
Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense,
Just much about it wi' your scanty sense;
Will your poor, narrow footpath of a street,
Where twa wheelbarrows tremble when they meet,
Your ruin'd, formless bulk o' stane an' lime,
Compare wi' bonnie brigs o' modern time?
There's men o' taste would tak the Ducat-stream,*
Though they should cast the very sark an' swim,
Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view
While thick the gossamer waves wanton in the rays. Of sic an ugly Gothic hulk as you.
"Twas in that season, when a simple bard,
Unknown and poor, simplicity's reward:
Ae night, within the ancient brugh of Ayr,
By whim inspired, or haply prest wi' care;
He left his bed, and took his wayward route,
And down by Simpson's* wheel'd the left about:
(Whether impell'd by all-directing fate,
To witness what I after shall narrate;
Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
He wander'd out, he knew not where nor why ;)
The drowsy dungeon-clock† had number'd two,
And Wallace towert had sworn the fact was true:
The tide-swoln Firth with sullen sounding roar,
Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore:
All else was hush'd as nature's closed e'e;
The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree:
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
Crept, gently crusting, o'er the glittering stream.-
When, lo! on either hand the listening bard,
The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard;
Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air,
Swift as the gost drives on the wheeling hare;
Ane on th' auld brig his airy shape uprears,
The ither flutters o'er the rising piers:
Our warlock rhymer instantly descried
The sprites that owre the brigs of Ayr preside.
(That bards are second-sighted is nae joke,
And ken the lingo of the spiritual fo❜k;
Fays, spunkies, kelpies, a', they can explain them,
And e'en the very deils they brawly ken them.)
Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race,
The vera wrinkles Gothic in his face:
He seem'd as he wi' time had warstled lang,
Yet teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams got:
In's hand five taper staves as smooth's a bead,
Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
The Goth was stalking round with anxious search,
Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch;
It chanced his new-come neebor took his e'e,
And e'en a vex'd and angry heart had he!
Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien,
He, down the water, gies him this guideen :-
A noted tavern at the auld brig end. †The two steeples. The gos-hawk, or falcon.
Conceited gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride!
This monie a year I've stood the flood an' tide;
And though wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn,
I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn!
As yet ye little ken about the matter,
But twa-three winters will inform you better,
When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains,
Wi' deepening deluges o'erflow the plains;
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil,
Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course,
Or haunted Garpalt draws his feeble source,
Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes,
In mony a torrent down his sna-broo rowes;
While crashing ice, borne on the roaring speat,
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate;
And from Glenbuck, down to the Rotton-key,§
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea;
Then down ye hurl, deil nor ye never rise!
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies:
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost,
That architecture's noble art is lost!
Fine architecture! trowth, I needs must say't o't,
The L-d be thankit that we've tint the gate o't!
Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices,
Hanging with threatening jut, like precipices,
O'er arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves,
Supporting roofs fantastic, stony groves :
Windows and doors, in nameless sculpture drest,
With order, symmetry, or taste unblest;
Forms like some bedlam statuary's dream,
The crazed creations of misguided whim;
Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended knee,
And still the second dread command be free;
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea.
*A noted ford, just above the auld brig.
†The banks of Garpal Water is one of the few places in the west of Scotland, where those fancy-scaring beings, known by the name of ghaists, still continue pertinaciously to inhabit.
The source of the river Ayr.
§ A small landing place above the large kev.
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste
Of any mason, reptile, bird, or beast;
Fit only for a doited monkish race,
Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
Or cuifs of later times, wha held the notion
That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion;
Fancies that our guid brugh denies protection,
And soon may they expire, unblest with resurrec-
O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings! Ye worthy proveses, an' mony a bailie, Wha in the paths o' righteousness did toil aye; Ye dainty deacons, and ye douce conveners, To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners; Ye godly councils wha hae blest this town, Ye godly brethren of the sacred gown, Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters; And (what would now be strange) ye godly writers: A' ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo, Were ye but here, what would ye say or do ? How would your spirits groan in deep vexation, To see each melancholy alteration; And, agonizing, curse the time and place When ye begat the base, degenerate race! Nae langer reverend men, their country's glory, In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story; Nae langer thrifty citizens, an' douce, Meet owre a pint, or in the council-house; But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless gentry, The herryment and ruin of the country; Men, three parts made by tailors and by barbers, Wha waste your well-hain'd gear on d-d new brigs and harbours!
Now haud you there! for faith ye've said enough,
And muckle mair than ye can mak to through;
As for your priesthood, I shall say but little,
Corbies and clergy are a shot right kittle :
But under favour o' your langer beard,
Abuse o' magistrates might weel be spared:
To liken them unto your auld-warld squad,
I must needs say, comparisons are odd.
In Ayr, wag-wits nae mair can hae a handle
To mouth "a citizen" a term o' scandal:
Nae mair the council waddles down the street,
In all the pomp of ignorant conceit ;
Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops an' raisins,
Or gather'd liberal views in bonds and seisins.
If haply knowledge, on a random tramp,
Had shored them with a glimmer of his lamp,
And would to common sense for once betray'd them,
Plain, dull stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
What farther clishmaclaver might been said, What bloody wars, if sprites had blood to shed, No man can tell: but, all before their sight, A fairy train appear'd in order bright: Adown the glittering stream they featly danced, Bright to the moon their various dresses glanced; They footed o'er the watery glass so neat, The infant ice scarce bent beneath their feet: While arts of minstrelsy among them rung, And soul-ennobling bards heroic ditties sung.
O had M Lauchlan,* thairm-inspiring sage,
Been there to hear this heavenly band engage,
When through his dear strathspeys they bore with
Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs,
The lover's raptured joys or bleeding cares;
How would his highland lug been nobler fired,
And e'en his matchless hand with finer touch in-
No guess could tell what instrument appear'd,
But all the soul of music's self was heard;
Harmonious concert rung in every part,
While simple melody pour'd moving on the heart.
The genius of the stream in front appears,
A venerable chief advanced in years;
His hoary head with water-lilies crown'd,
His manly leg with garter tangle bound.
Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring,
Sweet female beauty hand in hand with spring;
Then, crown'd with flowery hay, came rural joy,
And summer, with his fervid-beaming eye:
All-cheering plenty, with her flowing horn,
Led yellow autumn wreathed with nodding corn;
Then winter's time-bleach'd locks did hoary show,
By hospitality with cloudless brow.
Next follow'd courage with his martial stride,
From where the feal wild-woody coverts hide;
Benevolence, with mild, benignant air,
A female form, came from the towers of Stair:
Learning and worth in equal measures trode
From simple Catrine, their long-loved abode :
Last, white-robed peace, crown'd with a hazel
To rustic agriculture did bequeath
The broken iron instruments of death,
At sight of whom our sprites forgat their kindling
THE DEATH AND DYING WORDS OF POOR MAILIE,
THE AUTHOR'S ONLY PET YOWE.
AN UNCO MOURNFU' TALE.
As Mailie an' her lambs thegither
Were ae day nibbling on the tether,
Upon her cloot she coost a hitch,
An' owre she warsl'd in the ditch.
There, groaning, dying, she did lie,
When Hughoct he cam doytin by.
Wi' glowrin een, and lifted hans,
Poor Hughoc like a statue stans;
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, waes my heart! he could na mend it!
He gaped wide, but naething spak!
At length poor Mailie silence brak.
"O thou, whase lamentable face
Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
My dying words attentive hear,
An' bear them to my master dear.
* A well known performer of Scottish music on the violin. † A neebor herd-callan.
"Tell him, if e'er again he keep,
As muckle gear as buy a sheep,
O, bid him never tie them mair
Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!
But ca' them out to park or hill,
An' let them wander at their will;
So may his flock increase, an' grow
To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'!
"Tell him, he was a master kin',
An' aye was guid to me and mine;
An' now my dying charge I gie him,
My helpless lambs I trust them wi' him.
"O, bid him save their harmless lives Frae dogs, an' tods, an' butchers' knives! But gie them guid cow-milk their fill, Till they be fit to fend themsel: An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn, Wi' teats o' hay an' rips o' corn.
"An' may they never learn the gaets Of ither vile wanrestfu' pets!
To slink through slaps, an' reave an' steal,
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail.
So may they, like their great forbears,
For monie a year come through the sheers:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.
"My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,
O, bid him breed him up wi' care!
An', if he live to be a beast,
To pit some havins in his breast!
An' warn him, what I winna name,
To stay content wi' yowes at hame;
An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,
Like ither menseless, graceless brutes.
"An, niest my yowie, silly thing,
Gude keep thee frae a tether string!
O, may thou ne'er forgather up
Wi' only blastit, moorland toop;
But aye keep mind to moop an' mell,
Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel!
"And now, my bairns, wi' my last breath, I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:
An' when you think upo' your mither,
Mind to be kin' to ane anither.
"Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail
To tell my master a' my tale ;
An' bid him burn this cursed tether,
An', for thy pains, thou'se get my blather."
This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head, An' closed her e'en amang the dead.
LAMENT in rhyme, lament in prose, Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose; Our bardie's fate is at a close,
The last sad cape-stane of his woes; Poor Mailie's dead!
That auld, capricious carlin, Nature, To mak amends for scrimpit stature, She's turn'd you aff, a human creature On her first plan,
And in her freaks, on every feature,
Just now I've ta'en the fit o' rhyme, My barmie noddle's working prime, My fancy yerkit up sublime
Wi' hasty summon : Hae ye a leisure-moment's time
To hear what's comin?
Some rhyme, a neebor's name to lash; Some rhyme (vain thought!) for needfu' cash: Some rhyme to court the kintra clash, An' raise a din;
For me, an aim I never fash;
I rhyme for fun.
The star that rules my luckless lot,
Has fated me the russet coat,
An' damn'd my fortune to the groat;
But in requit,
Has bless'd me wi' a random shot
O' kintra wit.
This while my notion's ta'en a sklent,
To try my fate in guid black prent;
But still the mair I'm that way bent,
Something cries, "Hoolie !"
I red you, honest man, tak tent!
Ye'll shaw your folly.
"There's ither poets, much your betters, Far seen in Greek, deep men o' letters, Hae thought they had ensured their debtors, A' future ages;
Now moths deform in shapeless tetters, Their unknown pages."
Then fareweel hopes o' laurel-boughs,
To garland my poetic brows!
Henceforth I'll rove where busy ploughs
Are whistling thrang,
An' teach the lanely heights an' howes
My rustic sang.
I'll wander on, with tentless heed
How never-halting moments speed,
Till fate shall snap the brittle thread,
Then, all unknown,
I'll lay me with the inglorious dead,
Forgot and gone!
But why o' death begin a tale?
Just now we're living sound and hale,
Then top and maintop crowd the sail,
Heave care o'er side!
And large, before enjoyment's gale,
Let's tak the tide.
This life, sae far's I understand,
Is a' enchanted, fairy land,
Where pleasure is the magic wand,
That wielded right,
Maks hours, like minutes, hand in hand,
Dance by fu' light.
The magic-wand then let us wield; For ance that five-an'-forty's speel'd, See crazy, weary, joyless eild,
Wi' wrinkled face, Comes hostin, hirplin owre the field, Wi' crepin pace.
When ance life's day draws near the gloamin,
Then fareweel vacant careless roamin;
An' fareweel cheerfu' tankards foamin,
An' social noise;
An' fareweel, dear, deluding woman,
The joy of joys!
O life! how pleasant in thy morning,
Young fancy's rays the hills adorning!
Cold-pausing caution's lesson scorning,
We frisk away,
Like school-boys, at th' expected warning,
To joy and play.
We wander there, we wander here,
We eye the rose upon the brier,
Unmindful that the thorn is near,