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The dearest comfort o' their lives, Their grushie weans an’ faithfu' wives ; The prattling things are just their pride, That sweetens a' their fire side.
Hech man! dear sirs! is that the gnte They waste sae mony a braw estate! Are we sae foughten an' barass'd For gear to gang that gate at last!
An' whyles twalpennie worth o'nappy Can mak the bodies unco happy ; They lay aside their private cares, To mend the kirk and state affairs ; They'll talk o' patronage and priests, Wi' kindling fury in their breasts, Or tell what new taxation's coming, An' ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.
O would they stay aback frae courts, An' please themsels wi' kintra sports, It wa'd for every ane be better, The laird, the tenant, and the cotter! For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies, Fient haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows; Except for breakin o' their timmer, Or speakin lightly o’ their limmer, Or shootin o' a hare or moor-cock, The ne'er a bit they're ill to poor fo’k.
As bleak-faced Hallowmass returns, They get the jovial, ranting kirns, When rural life, o ev'ry station, Unite in common recreation ; Love blinks, Wit slaps, an’social Mirth, Forgets there's care upo' the earth.
But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar, Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure ? Nae cauld nor hunger e'er can steer them, The vera thought o't need na fear them.
That merry day the year begins, They bar the door on frosty winds ; The nappy reeks wi’mantling ream, An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam; The luntin pipe, an' sneeshin mill, Are handed round wi' richt guid will; The cantie auld folks crackin crouse, The young anos rantin through the house, My heart has been sae fain to see them, That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.
L-d, man, were ye but whyles where I am The gentles ye wad ne'er envy 'em.
Still it's owre true that ye hae said, Sic game is now oyre aften play'd. There's monie a creditable stock, O’decent, honest, fawsont fo’k, Are riven out baith root and branch, Some rascal's pridefu’greed to quench, Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster In favour wi' some gentle master, Wha, aiblins, thrang a-parliamentin, For Britain's guid his saul indentin
Haith, lad, ye little ken about it; For Britain's guid! guid faith! I doubt it, Say rather, gaun as premiers lead him, An' saying ay or no's they bid him, At operas an' plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading; Or may be, in a frolic daft, To Hague or Calais takes a waft, To make a tour, an' tak a whirl, To learn bon ton, an' see the warl'.
It's true they need na starve or sweat, Through winter's cauld, or simmer's heat; They've nae sair wark to craze their banes, An' fill auld age wi' gripes an’granes: But human bodies are sic fools, For a' their colleges and schools, That when nae real ills perplex them, They make enow themselves to vex them; An'aye the less they hae to sturt them, In like proportion less will hurt them. A country fellow at the pleugh, His acres till’d, he's right eneugh; A kintra lassic at lier wheel, Her dizzens done, she's unco weel: But gentlemen, an'ladies warst, Wi’ev’ndown want o' wark are curst. They loiter, lounging, lank, an' lazy ; Though deil haet ails them, yet uneasy ; Their days, insipid, dull, and tasteless ; Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless ; An'e'en their sports, their balls an' races, Their galloping through public places. There's sic parade, sic pomp, an' art, The joy can scarcely reach the heart. The men cast out in party matches, Then sowther a' in deep debauches; Ae night they're mad wi' drink an' wh-ring Niest day their life is past enduring. The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters, As great and gracious a' as sisters ; But hear their absent thoughts o'ither, They're a' run deils an’jads thegither. Whyles o’er the wee bit cup an' platie, They sip the scandal portion pretty Or lee-lang nights, wi'crabbit leuks Pore owre the devil's pictured beuks; Stake on a chance a farmer's stackyard, An' cheat like onie unhang'd blackguard.
There's some exception, man an'woman; | But this is gentry's life in common.
There, at Vienna or Versailles He rives his father's auld 'entails; Or by Madrid he takes the rout, To thrum guitars, and fecht wi' nowt; Or down Italian vista startles, Wh-re-hunting among groves o' myrtles ; Then bouses drumly German water, To mak himsel look fair and fatter, An' clear the consequential sorrows, Love-gifts of carnival signoras. For Britain's guid! for her destruction ! Wi’ dissipation, feud, an' faction.
By this, the sun was out o'sight,
| It spak right howe,_" My name is Death, An’darker gloaming brought the night!
But be na fley'd.”-Quoth I, “Guid faith, The bum-clock humm’d wi' lazy drone;
Ye're may be come to stap my breath; The kye stood rowtin i’ the loan;
But tent me, billie: When up they gat, and shook their lugs,
I red ye weel, tak care o’skaith, Rejoiced they were na men but dogs ;
See, there's a gully!"
“ Guidman,” quo' he,“ put up your whittle,
To be mislear'd,
I wad na mind it, no, that spittle
Out-owre my beard."
“Well, weel!” says I, “a bargain be't ; SOME books are lies frae end to end,
Come, gies your hand, an' sae we're greet; And some great lies were never penn'd,
| We'll ease our sharks; an' tak a seat, E'en ministers, they hae been kennid
Come, gies your news; In holy rapture,
This while* ye hae been monie a gate
At monie a house.'
“Ay, ay !" quo' he, an’ shook his head, Which lately on a night befell,
“ It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed Is just as true's the deil's in h-lı
Sin' I began to nick the thread,
An' choke the breath:
Folk maun do something for their bread,
An' sae maun Death. 'S a muckle pity. The Clachan yill had made me canty,
“ Sax thousand years are near hand Aed I was na fou, but just had plenty;
Sin' I was to the butching bred,
An' monie a scheme in vain's been laid,
To stap or scar me;
An' faith, he'll waur me The rising moon began to glow'r
“ Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the Clachan, The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
Deil mak his king's-hood in a spleuchan!
He's grown sae well acquaint wi’ Buchant
An' ither chaps,
That weans haud out their fingers laughin
And pouk my hips.
“ See, here's a sithe, and there's a dart, And toddlin down on Willie's mill,
They hae pierced mony a gallant heart;
But Doctor Hornbook, wi’his art,
And cursed skill,
Has made them baith not worth a f-t,
Damn'd haet they'll kill..
“ 'Twas but yestreen, nae further gaen, An awfu’ sithe, out-owre ae showther,
I threw a noble throw at ane;
But did nae mair.
“ Hornbook was by, wi' ready art, For fient a wame it had ava:
And had sae fortified the part, And then, its shanks, That when I looked to my dart, They were as thin, as sharp an' sma'
It was sae blunt, As cheeks o' branks. Fient haet o't wad hae pierced the heart u Guid-e'en,” quo’I;“ Friend ! hae ye been mawin
Of a kail-runt.
* An epidemical fever was then rag ng in that country But naething spak;
+ This gentleman, Dr. Hornbook, is professionally, a At length, says I,“ Friend, whare ye gaun, brother of the sovereign order of the ferula; but, by Will ye go back ?”
intuition and inspiration, is at once an apothecary, sur
geon, and physician. This rencounter happened in seed-time, 1785. 1 Buchan's Domestic Medicine.
“ A bonnie lass, ye kend her name, Some ill-brewn drink had hoved her wame: She trusts hersel, to hide the shame,
In Hornbook's care ; Horn sent her aff, to her lang hame,
To hide it there.
That's just a swatch o’Hornbook's way; Thus goes he on from day to day, | Thus does he poison, kill, an' slay,
An's weel paid for't ; | Yet stops me o' my lawfu' prey,
Wi' his d-mn'd dirt : “But, hark! I'll tell you of a plot, | Though dinna ye be speaking o't; I'll nail the self-conceited Scot
As dead's a herrin :: Niest time we meet, I'll wad a groat,
He gets his fairin !"
Which raised us baith : I took the way that pleased mysel,
And sae did Death.
THE BRIGS OF AYR;
*I drew my sithe in sic a fury,
Withstood the shock;
O’hard whin rock.
As soon he smells't,
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;
As A B C.
He has't in plenty;
He can content ye.
Distillid per se;
And monie mae.”
Sae white and bonnie,
They'll ruin Johnie!”
Tak ye nae fear:
In twa-three year.
That Hornbook's skill
By drap an' pill. “ An honest wabster to his trade, Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce wee bred, Gat tippence-worth to mend her head
When it was sair ;
But ne'er spak mair.
An' pays him well.
Was laird himsel.
INSCRIBED TO J. B*********, ESQ., AYR.
The simple bard, rough at the rustic plough,
bush; The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill, Or deep-toned plovers gray, wild-whistling o’ct
the hill; Shall he, nurst in the peasant's lowly shed, To hardy independence bravely bred, By early poverty to hardship steeld, 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 bosomn swells, The godlike bliss, to give, alone excels.
'Twas when the stacks get on their wintei-nap, | And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap; Potato-bings are snugged up frae skaith Of coming winter's biting, frosty breath ;
• The grave-digger.
The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils,
I doubt na, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheep shank Are doom'd by man, that tyrant o'er the weak. Ance ye were streekit o'er frae bank to bank; The death o' devils smoord wi' brimstone reek :
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me, The thundering guns are heard on every side,
Though faith that day, I doubt, ye'll never see, The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide;
There'll be, if that date come, I'll wad a boddle, The feather'd field-mates, bound by nature's tie. • Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle. Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
NEW BRIG. (What warm, poetic heart, but inly bleeds, And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds !)
Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense, Nae mair the flower in field or meadow springs;
Just much about it wi' your scanty sense ; Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings,
Will your poor, narrow footpath of a street, Except, perhaps, the robin's whistling glee,
Where twa wheelbarrows tremble when they meet Proud o' the height o’some bit half-lang tree :
Your ruin'd, formless bulk o'stane an' lime, The hoary morns precede the sunny days,
Compare wi' bonnie brigs o' modern time? Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide
There's men o'taste would tak the Ducat-stream,"
Though they should cast the very sark an’swim, blaze, While thick the gossamer waves wanton in the rays.
Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view
Of sic an ugly Gothic hulk as you.
Conceited gowk ! puffd up wi’ windy pride ! He left his bed, and took his wayward route,
This monie a year I've stood the flood an' tide ; And down by Simpson's* wheel'd the left about:
And though wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn, (Whether impell’d by all-directing fate,
I'll be a brig when ye’re a shapeless cairn ! To witness what I after shall narrate;
As yet ye little ken about the matter, Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
But twa-three winters will inform you better, He wander'd out, he knew not where nor why ;)
When heavy, dark, continued, a’-day rains, The drowsy dungeon-clockt had number'd two,
Wi’ deepening deluges o’erflow the plains ; And Wallace towert had sworn the fact was true :
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil, The tide-swoln Firth with sullen sounding roar,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil, Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore:
| Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course, All else was hush'd as nature's closed e'e ;
Or haunted Garpalt draws his feeble source, The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree :
Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes, The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
In mony a torrent down his sna-broo rowes; Crept, gently crusting, o'er the glittering stream.
While crashing ice, borne on the roaring speat,
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate ; When, lo ! on either hand the listening bard, The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard ;
And from Glenbuck, down to the Rotton-key, Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air,
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen’d, tumbling sea; Swift as the gost drives on the wheeling hare;
Then down ye hurl, deil nor ye never rise ! Ane on th' auld brig his airy shape uprears,
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies The ither flutters o'er the rising piers :
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost, Our warlock rhymer instantly descried
That architecture's noble art is lost ! The sprites that owre the brigs of Ayr preside.
NEW BRIG. (That bards are second-sighted is nae joke, And ken the lingo of the spiritual fo’k ;
Fine architecture! trowth, I needs must say't o't, Fays, spunkies, kelpies, a', they can explain them,
| The L-d be thankit that we've tint the gate o't! And e'en the very deils they brawly ken them.) Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices, Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race,
Hanging with threatening jut, like precipices, The vera wrinkles Gothic in his face:
O'er arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves, He seem'd as he wi' time had warstled lang,
Supporting roofs fantastic, stony groves : Yet teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
Windows and doors, in nameless sculpture drest, New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
With order, symmetry, or taste unblest; That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams got :
Forms like some bedlam statuary's dream, In's hand five taper staves as smooth's a bead,
The crazed creations of misguided whim ; Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended knee, The Goth was stalking round with anxious search,
And still the second dread command be free; Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch;
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea It chanced his new-come neebor took his e'e, And e'en a vex'd and angry heart had he!
* A noted ford, just above the auld brig. Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien,
+ The banks of Garpal Water is one of the few places Hle, down the water, gies him this guideen :
in the west of Scotland, where those fancy-scaring beings, known by the name of ghaists, suill continue pertina
ciously to inhabit. • A noted tavern at the auld brig end.
# The source of the river Ayr. + The two sleeples. The goa-hawk, or falcon. 1 $ A small landing place above the large kev.
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste O had MʻLauchlan," thairm-inspiring sage,
Been there to hear this heavenly band engage, Fit only for a doited monkish race,
When through his dear strathspeys they bore with Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
highland rage ; Or cuifs of later times, wha held the notion Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs, That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion; The lover's raptured joys or bleeding cares ; Fancies that our guid brugh denies protection, How would his highland lug been nobler fired, And soon may they expire, unblest with resurrec- And e'en his matchless hand with finer touch intion !
spired! AULD BRIG.
No guess could tell what instrument appear'd, O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, | But all the soul of music's self was heard ; Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings! Harmonious concert rung in every part, Ye worthy proveses, an'mony a bailie,
While simple melody pour'd moving on the heart. Wha in the paths o’righteousness did toil aye;
The genius of the stream in front appears, Ye dainty deacons, and ye douce conveners,
| A venerable chief advanced in years ; To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners;
His hoary head with water-lilies crown'd, Ye godly councils wha hae blest this town,
His manly leg with garter tangle bound. Ye godly brethren of the sacred gown,
Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring, Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters;
Sweet female beauty hand in hand with spring : And (what would now be strange) ye godly writers:
Then, crown'd with flowery hay, came rural joy, A'ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo,
And summer, with his fervid-beaming eye : Were ye but here, what would ye say or do ?
All-cheering plenty, with her flowing horn, How would your spirits groan in deep vexation,
Led yellow autumn wreathed with nodding corn ; To see each melancholy alteration ;
Then winter's time-bleach'd locks did hoary show, And, agonizing, curse the time and place
By hospitality with cloudless brow. When ye begat the base, degenerate race!
Next follow'd courage with his martial stride, Nae langer reverend men, their country's glory,
From where the feal wild-woody coverts hide ; In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story;
Benevolence, with mild, benignant air, Nae langer thrifty citizens, an' douce,
A female form, came from the towers of Stair : Meet owre a pint, or in the council-house ;
Learning and worth in equal measures trode But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless gentry,
From simple Catrine, their long-loved abode : The herryment and ruin of the country ;
Last, white-robed peace, crownd with a hazel Men, three parts made by tailors and by barbers,
wreath, Wha waste your well-hain'd gear on d-d new
To rustic agriculture did bequeath
The broken iron instruments of death,
At sight of whom our sprites forgat their kindling
donough. Now haud you there! for faith ye've said enough,
| THE DEATH AND DYING WORDS OF POOR
THE AUTHOR'S ONLY PET YOWE.
AN UNCO MOURNFU' TALE.
As Mailie an' her lambs thegither
Were ae day nibbling on the tether, In all the pomp of ignorant conceit;
Upon her cloot she coost a hitch, Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops an' raisins,
An’owre she warsl'd in the ditch. Or gather'd liberal views in bonds and seisins.
There, groaning, dying, she did lie, If haply knowledge, on a random tramp,
When Hughoct he cam doytin by. Had shored them with a glimmer of his lamp,
Wi' glowrin een, and listed hans, And would to common sense for once betray'd them,
Poor Hughoc like a statue stans; Plain, dull stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, waes my heart! he could na mend it ! What farther clishmaclaver might been said, He gaped wide, but naething spak! What bloody wars, if sprites had blood to shed, At length poor Mailie silence brak. No man can tell: but, all before their sight,
“O thou, whase lamentable face A fairy train appear'd in order bright:
Appears to mourn my woefu' case ! Adown the glittering stream they featly danced,
My dying words attentive hear,
An' bear them to my master dear.
* A well known performer of Scottish music on the While arts of minstrelsy among them rung,
violin. And soul-ennobling bards heroic ditties sung.
+ A ncebor herd-callan.