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Title: The Complete Works of Robert Burns: Containing his Poems, Songs, and Correspondence. - With a New Life of the Poet, and Notices, Critical and Biographical by Allan Cunningham
Author: Burns, Robert, 1759-1796, Cunningham, Allan, 1784-1842
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complete Works of Robert Burns: Containing his Poems, Songs, and Correspondence. - With a New Life of the Poet, and Notices, Critical and Biographical by Allan Cunningham" ***

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public domain works from the University of Michigan Digital

                          Transcriber's Note.

1. The hyphenation and accent of words is not uniform throughout the
book. No change has been made in this.

2. The relative indentations of Poems, Epitaphs, and Songs are as
printed in the original book.


                            COMPLETE WORKS


                            ROBERT BURNS:

                            CONTAINING HIS



                       A NEW LIFE OF THE POET,



                         BY ALLAN CUNNINGHAM.

                      ELEGANTLY ILLUSTRATED.

                   PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY.
                        NEW YORK: J.C. DERBY.

















[On the title-page of the second or Edinburgh edition, were these
words: "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns,
printed for the Author, and sold by William Creech, 1787." The motto
of the Kilmarnock edition was omitted; a very numerous list of
subscribers followed: the volume was printed by the celebrated


A Scottish Bard, proud of the name, and whose highest ambition is to
sing in his country's service, where shall he so properly look for
patronage as to the illustrious names of his native land: those who
bear the honours and inherit the virtues of their ancestors? The
poetic genius of my country found me, as the prophetic bard Elijah did
Elisha--at the PLOUGH, and threw her inspiring mantle over
me. She bade me sing the loves, the joys, the rural scenes and rural
pleasures of my native soil, in my native tongue; I tuned my wild,
artless notes as she inspired. She whispered me to come to this
ancient metropolis of Caledonia, and lay my songs under your honoured
protection: I now obey her dictates.

Though much indebted to your goodness, I do not approach you, my Lords
and Gentlemen, in the usual style of dedication, to thank you for past
favours: that path is so hackneyed by prostituted learning that honest
rusticity is ashamed of it. Nor do I present this address with the
venal soul of a servile author, looking for a continuation of those
favours: I was bred to the plough, and am independent. I come to claim
the common Scottish name with you, my illustrious countrymen; and to
tell the world that I glory in the title. I come to congratulate my
country that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs
uncontaminated, and that from your courage, knowledge, and public
spirit, she may expect protection, wealth, and liberty. In the last
place, I come to proffer my warmest wishes to the great fountain of
honour, the Monarch of the universe, for your welfare and happiness.

When you go forth to waken the echoes, in the ancient and favourite
amusement of your forefathers, may Pleasure ever be of your party: and
may social joy await your return! When harassed in courts or camps
with the jostlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest
consciousness of injured worth attend your return to your native
seats; and may domestic happiness, with a smiling welcome, meet you at
your gates! May corruption shrink at your kindling indignant glance;
and may tyranny in the ruler, and licentiousness in the people,
equally find you an inexorable foe!

I have the honour to be,

With the sincerest gratitude and highest respect,

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Your most devoted humble servant,


EDINBURGH, _April 4, 1787._


I cannot give to my country this edition of one of its favourite
poets, without stating that I have deliberately omitted several pieces
of verse ascribed to Burns by other editors, who too hastily, and I
think on insufficient testimony, admitted them among his works. If I
am unable to share in the hesitation expressed by one of them on the
authorship of the stanzas on "Pastoral Poetry," I can as little share
in the feelings with which they have intruded into the charmed circle
of his poetry such compositions as "Lines on the Ruins of Lincluden
College," "Verses on the Destruction of the Woods of Drumlanrig,"
"Verses written on a Marble Slab in the Woods of Aberfeldy," and those
entitled "The Tree of Liberty." These productions, with the exception
of the last, were never seen by any one even in the handwriting of
Burns, and are one and all wanting in that original vigour of language
and manliness of sentiment which distinguish his poetry. With respect
to "The Tree of Liberty" in particular, a subject dear to the heart of
the Bard, can any one conversant with his genius imagine that he
welcomed its growth or celebrated its fruit with such "capon craws" as

    "Upo' this tree there grows sic fruit,
       Its virtues a' can tell, man;
     It raises man aboon the brute,
       It mak's him ken himsel', man.
     Gif ance the peasant taste a bit,
       He's greater than a lord, man,
     An' wi' a beggar shares a mite
       O' a' he can afford, man."

There are eleven stanzas, of which the best, compared with the "A
man's a man for a' that" of Burns, sounds like a cracked pipkin
against the "heroic clang" of a Damascus blade. That it is extant in
the handwriting of the poet cannot be taken as a proof that it is his
own composition, against the internal testimony of utter want of all
the marks by which we know him--the Burns-stamp, so to speak, which is
visible on all that ever came from his pen. Misled by his handwriting,
I inserted in my former edition of his works an epitaph, beginning

    "Here lies a rose, a budding rose,"

the composition of Shenstone, and which is to be found in the
church-yard of Hales-Owen: as it is not included in every edition of
that poet's acknowledged works, Burns, who was an admirer of his
genius, had, it seems, copied it with his own hand, and hence my
error. If I hesitated about the exclusion of "The Tree of Liberty,"
and its three false brethren, I could have no scruples regarding the
fine song of "Evan Banks," claimed and justly for Miss Williams by Sir
Walter Scott, or the humorous song called "Shelah O'Neal," composed by
the late Sir Alexander Boswell. When I have stated that I have
arranged the Poems, the Songs, and the Letters of Burns, as nearly as
possible in the order in which they were written; that I have omitted
no piece of either verse or prose which bore the impress of his hand,
nor included any by which his high reputation would likely be
impaired, I have said all that seems necessary to be said, save that
the following letter came too late for insertion in its proper place:
it is characteristic and worth a place anywhere.


       *       *       *       *       *


_Mossgiel, 13th Nov. 1786._


I have along with this sent the two volumes of Ossian, with the
remaining volume of the Songs. Ossian I am not in such a hurry about;
but I wish the Songs, with the volume of the Scotch Poets, returned as
soon as they can conveniently be dispatched. If they are left at Mr.
Wilson, the bookseller's shop, Kilmarnock, they will easily reach me.

My most respectful compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Laurie; and a Poet's
warmest wishes for their happiness to the young ladies; particularly
the fair musician, whom I think much better qualified than ever David
was, or could be, to charm an evil spirit out of a Saul.

Indeed, it needs not the Feelings of a poet to be interested in the
welfare of one of the sweetest scenes of domestic peace and kindred
love that ever I saw; as I think the peaceful unity of St. Margaret's
Hill can only be excelled by the harmonious concord of the Apocalyptic

I am, dear Sir, yours sincerely,




Preface to the Kilmarnock Edition of 1786

Dedication to the Edinburgh Edition of 1787

       *       *       *       *       *


Winter. A Dirge

The Death and dying Words of poor Mailie

Poor Mailie's Elegy

First Epistle to Davie, a brother Poet


Address to the Deil

The auld Farmer's New-year Morning Salutation to his auld Mare Maggie

To a Haggis

A Prayer under the pressure of violent Anguish

A Prayer in the prospect of Death

Stanzas on the same occasion

A Winter Night

Remorse. A Fragment

The Jolly Beggars. A Cantata

Death and Dr. Hornbook. A True Story

The Twa Herds; or, the Holy Tulzie

Holy Willie's Prayer

Epitaph to Holy Willie

The Inventory; in answer to a mandate by the surveyor of taxes

The Holy Fair

The Ordination

The Calf

To James Smith

The Vision


Man was made to Mourn. A Dirge

To Ruin

To John Goudie of Kilmarnock, on the publication of his Essays

To J. Lapraik, an old Scottish Bard. First Epistle

To J. Lapraik. Second Epistle

To J. Lapraik. Third Epistle

To William Simpson, Ochiltree

Address to an illegitimate Child

Nature's Law. A Poem humbly inscribed to G.H., Esq.

To the Rev. John M'Math

To a Mouse

Scotch Drink

The Author's earnest Cry and Prayer to the Scotch Representatives of
the House of Commons

Address to the unco Guid, or the rigidly Righteous

Tam Samson's Elegy

Lament, occasioned by the unfortunate issue of a Friend's Amour

Despondency. An Ode

The Cotter's Saturday Night

The first Psalm

The first six Verses of the ninetieth Psalm

To a Mountain Daisy

Epistle to a young Friend

To a Louse, on seeing one on a Lady's Bonnet at Church

Epistle to J. Rankine, enclosing some Poems

On a Scotch Bard, gone to the West Indies

The Farewell

Written on the blank leaf of my Poems, presented to an old Sweetheart
then married

A Dedication to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.

Elegy on the Death of Robert Ruisseaux

Letter to James Tennant of Glenconner

On the Birth of a posthumous Child

To Miss Cruikshank

Willie Chalmers

Verses left in the room where he slept

To Gavin Hamilton, Esq., recommending a boy

To Mr. M'Adam, of Craigen-gillan

Answer to a Poetical Epistle sent to the Author by a Tailor

To J. Rankine. "I am a keeper of the law."

Lines written on a Bank-note

A Dream

A Bard's Epitaph

The Twa Dogs. A Tale

Lines on meeting with Lord Daer

Address to Edinburgh

Epistle to Major Logan

The Brigs of Ayr

On the Death of Robert Dundas, Esq., of Arniston, late Lord President
of the Court of Session

On reading in a Newspaper the Death of John M'Leod, Esq.

To Miss Logan, with Beattie's Poems

The American War, A fragment

The Dean of Faculty. A new Ballad

To a Lady, with a Present of a Pair of Drinking-glasses

To Clarinda

Verses written under the Portrait of the Poet Fergusson

Prologue spoken by Mr. Woods, on his Benefit-night, Monday, April 16,

Sketch. A Character

To Mr. Scott, of Wauchope

Epistle to William Creech

The humble Petition of Bruar-Water, to the noble Duke of Athole

On scaring some Water-fowl in Loch Turit

Written with a pencil, over the chimney-piece, in the parlour of the
Inn at Kenmore, Taymouth

Written with a pencil, standing by the Fall of Fyers, near Loch Ness

To Mr. William Tytler, with the present of the Bard's picture

Written in Friars-Carse Hermitage, on the banks of Nith, June, 1780.
First Copy

The same. December, 1788. Second Copy

To Captain Riddel, of Glenriddel. Extempore lines on returning a

A Mother's Lament for the Death of her Son

First Epistle to Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray

On the Death of Sir James Hunter Blair

Epistle to Hugh Parker

Lines, intended to be written under a Noble Earl's Picture

Elegy on the year 1788. A Sketch

Address to the Toothache

Ode. Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Oswald, of Auchencruive

Fragment inscribed to the Right Hon. C.J. Fox

On seeing a wounded Hare limp by me, which a Fellow had just shot

To Dr. Blacklock. In answer to a Letter

Delia. An Ode

To John M'Murdo, Esq.

Prologue, spoken at the Theatre, Dumfries, 1st January, 1790

Scots Prologue, for Mr. Sutherland's Benefit-night, Dumfries

Sketch. New-year's Day. To Mrs. Dunlop

To a Gentleman who had sent him a Newspaper, and offered to continue
it free of expense

The Kirk's Alarm. A Satire. First Version

The Kirk's Alarm. A Ballad. Second Version

Peg Nicholson

On Captain Matthew Henderson, a gentleman who held the patent for his
honours immediately from Almighty God

The Five Carlins. A Scots Ballad

The Laddies by the Banks o' Nith

Epistle to Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray, on the close of the
disputed Election between Sir James Johnstone, and Captain Miller, for
the Dumfries district of Boroughs

On Captain Grose's Peregrination through Scotland, collecting the
Antiquities of that kingdom

Written in a wrapper, enclosing a letter to Captain Grose

Tam O' Shanter. A Tale

Address of Beelzebub to the President of the Highland Society

To John Taylor

Lament of Mary Queen of Scots, on the approach of Spring

The Whistle

Elegy on Miss Burnet of Monboddo

Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn

Lines sent to Sir John Whitefoord, Bart., of Whitefoord, with the
foregoing Poem

Address to the Shade of Thomson, on crowning his Bust at Ednam with

To Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray

To Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray, on receiving a favour

A Vision

To John Maxwell, of Terraughty, on his birthday

The Rights of Women, an occasional Address spoken by Miss Fontenelle,
on her benefit-night, Nov. 26, 1792

Monody on a Lady famed for her caprice

Epistle from Esopus to Maria

Poem on Pastoral Poetry

Sonnet, written on the 25th January, 1793, the birthday of the Author,
on hearing a thrush sing in a morning walk

Sonnet on the death of Robert Riddel, Esq., of Glenriddel, April, 1794

Impromptu on Mrs. Riddel's birthday

Liberty. A Fragment

Verses to a young Lady

The Vowels. A Tale

Verses to John Rankine

On Sensibility. To my dear and much-honoured friend, Mrs. Dunlop, of

Lines sent to a Gentleman whom he had offended Address spoken by Miss
Fontenelle on her Benefit-night

On seeing Miss Fontenelle in a favourite character

To Chloris

Poetical Inscription for an Altar to Independence

The Heron Ballads. Balled First

The Heron Ballads. Ballad Second

The Heron Ballads. Ballad Third

Poem addressed to Mr. Mitchell, Collector of Excise, Dumfries, 1796

To Miss Jessy Lewars, Dumfries, with Johnson's

Musical Museum

Poem on Life, addressed to Colonel de Peyster, Dumfries, 1796

       *       *       *       *       *


On the Author's Father

On R.A., Esq.

On a Friend

For Gavin Hamilton

On wee Johnny

On John Dove, Innkeeper, Mauchline

On a Wag in Mauchline

On a celebrated ruling Elder

On a noisy Polemic

On Miss Jean Scott

On a henpecked Country Squire

On the same

On the same

The Highland Welcome

On William Smellie

Written on a window of the Inn at Carron

The Book-worms

Lines on Stirling

The Reproof

The Reply

Lines written under the Picture of the celebrated Miss Burns

Extempore in the Court of Session

The henpecked Husband

Written at Inverary

On Elphinston's Translation of Martial's Epigrams

Inscription on the Head-stone of Fergusson

On a Schoolmaster

A Grace before Dinner

A Grace before Meat

On Wat

On Captain Francis Grose

Impromptu to Miss Ainslie

The Kirk of Lamington

The League and Covenant

Written on a pane of glass in the Inn at Moffat

Spoken on being appointed to the Excise

Lines on Mrs. Kemble

To Mr. Syme

To Mr. Syme, with a present of a dozen of porter

A Grace

Inscription on a goblet

The Invitation

The Creed of Poverty

Written in a Lady's pocket-book

The Parson's Looks

The Toad-eater

On Robert Riddel

The Toast

On a Person nicknamed the Marquis

Lines written on a window

Lines written on a window of the Globe Tavern, Dumfries

The Selkirk Grace

To Dr. Maxwell, on Jessie Staig's Recovery


Epitaph on William Nicol

On the Death of a Lapdog, named Echo

On a noted Coxcomb

On seeing the beautiful Seat of Lord Galloway

On the same

On the same

To the same, on the Author being threatened with his resentment

On a Country Laird

On John Bushby

The true loyal Natives

On a Suicide

Extempore, pinned on a Lady's coach

Lines to John Rankine

Jessy Lewars

The Toast

On Miss Jessy Lewars

On the recovery of Jessy Lewars

Tam the Chapman

"Here's a bottle and an honest friend"

"Tho' fickle fortune has deceived me"

To John Kennedy

To the same

"There's naethin' like the honest nappy"

On the blank leaf of a work by Hannah More, presented by Mrs. C

To the Men and Brethren of the Masonic Lodge at Tarbolton


Prayer for Adam Armour

       *       *       *       *       *


Handsome Nell

Luckless Fortune

"I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing"

Tibbie, I hae seen the day

"My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border"

John Barleycorn. A Ballad

The Rigs o' Barley

Montgomery's Peggy

The Mauchline Lady

The Highland Lassie


The rantin' Dog the Daddie o't

"My heart was ance as blithe and free"

My Nannie O

A Fragment. "One night as I did wander"

Bonnie Peggy Alison

Green grow the Rashes, O

My Jean


"Her flowing locks, the raven's wing"

"O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles"

Young Peggy

The Cure for all Care


The Sons of Old Killie

And maun I still on Menie doat

The Farewell to the Brethren of St. James's Lodge, Tarbolton

On Cessnock Banks


The Lass of Ballochmyle

"The gloomy night is gathering fast"

"O whar did ye get that hauver meal bannock?"

The Joyful Widower

"O Whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad"

"I am my mammy's ae bairn"

The Birks of Aberfeldy

Macpherson's Farewell

Braw, braw Lads of Galla Water

"Stay, my charmer, can you leave me?"

Strathallan's Lament

My Hoggie

Her Daddie forbad, her Minnie forbad

Up in the Morning early

The young Highland Rover

Hey the dusty Miller

Duncan Davison

Theniel Menzies' bonnie Mary

The Banks of the Devon

Weary fa' you, Duncan Gray

The Ploughman

Landlady, count the Lawin

"Raving winds around her blowing"

"How long and dreary is the night"

Musing on the roaring Ocean

Blithe, blithe and merry was she

The blude red rose at Yule may blaw

O'er the Water to Charlie

A Rose-bud by my early walk

Rattlin', roarin' Willie

Where braving angry Winter's Storms

Tibbie Dunbar

Bonnie Castle Gordon

My Harry was a gallant gay

The Tailor fell through the bed, thimbles an' a'

Ay Waukin O!

Beware o' Bonnie Ann

The Gardener wi' his paidle

Blooming Nelly

The day returns, my bosom burns

My Love she's but a lassie yet

Jamie, come try me

Go fetch to me a Pint O' Wine

The Lazy Mist

O mount and go

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw

Whistle o'er the lave o't

O were I on Parnassus' Hill

"There's a youth in this city"

My heart's in the Highlands

John Anderson, my Jo

Awa, Whigs, awa

Ca' the Ewes to the Knowes

Merry hae I been teethin' a heckle

The Braes of Ballochmyle

To Mary in Heaven

Eppie Adair

The Battle of Sherriff-muir

Young Jockey was the blithest lad

O Willie brewed a peck o' maut

The braes o' Killiecrankie, O

I gaed a waefu' gate yestreen

The Banks of Nith

Tam Glen

Frae the friends and land I love

Craigie-burn Wood

Cock up your Beaver

O meikle thinks my luve o' my beauty

Gudewife, count the Lawin

There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame

The bonnie lad that's far awa

I do confess thou art sae fair

Yon wild mossy mountains sae lofty and wide

It is na, Jean, thy bonnie face

When I think on the happy days

Whan I sleep I dream

"I murder hate by field or flood"

O gude ale comes and gude ale goes

Robin shure in hairst

Bonnie Peg

Gudeen to you, Kimmer

Ah, Chloris, since it may na be

Eppie M'Nab

Wha is that at my bower-door

What can a young lassie do wi' an auld man

Bonnie wee thing, cannie wee thing

The tither morn when I forlorn

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever

Lovely Davies

The weary Pond o' Tow


An O for ane and twenty, Tam

O Kenmure's on and awa, Willie

The Collier Laddie

Nithsdale's Welcome Hame

As I was a-wand'ring ae Midsummer e'enin

Bessy and her Spinning-wheel

The Posie

The Country Lass

Turn again, thou fair Eliza

Ye Jacobites by name

Ye flowery banks o'bonnie Doon

Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon

Willie Wastle

O Lady Mary Ann

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation

The Carle of Kellyburn braes

Jockey's ta'en the parting kiss

Lady Onlie

The Chevalier's Lament

Song of Death

Flow gently, sweet Afton

Bonnie Bell

Hey ca' thro', ca' thro'

The Gallant weaver

The deuks dang o'er my Daddie

She's fair and fause

The Deil cam' fiddling thro' the town

The lovely Lass of Inverness

O my luve's like a red, red rose

Louis, what reck I by thee

Had I the wyte she bade me

Coming through the rye

Young Jamie, pride of a' the plain

Out over the Forth I look to the north

The Lass of Ecclefechan

The Cooper o' Cuddie

For the sake of somebody

I coft a stane o' haslock woo

The lass that made the bed for me

Sae far awa

I'll ay ca' in by yon town

O wat ye wha's in yon town

O May, thy morn

Lovely Polly Stewart

Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie

Anna, thy charms my bosom fire

Cassilis' Banks

To thee, lov'd Nith

Bannocks o' Barley

Hee Balou! my sweet wee Donald

Wae is my heart, and the tear's in my e'e

Here's his health in water

My Peggy's face, my Peggy's form

Gloomy December

My lady's gown, there's gairs upon 't

Amang the trees, where humming bees

The gowden locks of Anna

My ain kind dearie, O

Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary

She is a winsome wee thing

Bonny Leslie

Highland Mary

Auld Rob Morris

Duncan Gray

O poortith cauld, and restless love

Galla Water

Lord Gregory

Mary Morison

Wandering Willie. First Version

Wandering Willie. Last Version

Oh, open the door to me, oh!


The poor and honest sodger

Meg o' the Mill

Blithe hae I been on yon hill

Logan Water

"O were my love yon lilac fair"

Bonnie Jean

Phillis the fair

Had I a cave on some wild distant shore

By Allan stream

O Whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad

Adown winding Nith I did wander

Come, let me take thee to my breast

Daintie Davie

Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled. First Version

Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled. Second Version

Behold the hour, the boat arrives

Thou hast left me ever, Jamie

Auld lang syne

"Where are the joys I have met in the morning"

"Deluded swain, the pleasure"


Husband, husband, cease your strife

Wilt thou be my dearie?

But lately seen in gladsome green

"Could aught of song declare my pains"

Here's to thy health, my bonnie lass

It was a' for our rightfu' king

O steer her up and haud her gaun

O ay my wife she dang me

O wert thou in the cauld blast

The Banks of Cree

On the seas and far away

Ca' the Yowes to the Knowes

Sae flaxen were her ringlets

O saw ye my dear, my Phely?

How lang and dreary is the night

Let not woman e'er complain

The Lover's Morning Salute to his Mistress

My Chloris, mark how green the groves

Youthful Chloe, charming Chloe

Lassie wi' the lint-white locks

Farewell, thou stream, that winding flows

O Philly, happy be the day

Contented wi' little and cantie wi' mair

Canst thou leave me thus, my Katy

My Nannie's awa

O wha is she that lo'es me


O lay thy loof in mine, lass

The Fête Champêtre

Here's a health to them that's awa

For a' that, and a' that

Craigieburn Wood

O lassie, art thou sleeping yet

O tell na me o' wind and rain

The Dumfries Volunteers

Address to the Wood-lark

On Chloris being ill

Their groves o' sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon

'Twas na her bonnie blue een was my ruin

How cruel are the parents

Mark yonder pomp of costly fashion

O this is no my ain lassie

Now Spring has clad the grove in green

O bonnie was yon rosy brier

Forlorn my love, no comfort near

Last May a braw wooer cam down the lang glen


The Highland Widow's Lament

To General Dumourier


There was a bonnie lass

O Mally's meek, Mally's sweet

Hey for a lass wi' a tocher

Jessy. "Here's a health to ane I lo'e dear"

Fairest Maid on Devon banks

       *       *       *       *       *



No. I. To William Burness. His health a little better, but tired of
life. The Revelations


II. To Mr. John Murdoch. His present studies and temper of mind

III. To Mr. James Burness. His father's illness, and sad state of the

IV. To Miss E. Love

V. To Miss E. Love

VI. To Miss E. Love

VII. To Miss E. On her refusal of his hand

VIII. To Robert Riddel, Esq. Observations on poetry and human life


IX. To Mr. James Burness. On the death of his father

X. To Mr. James Burness. Account of the Buchanites

XI. To Miss ----. With a book


XII. To Mr. John Richmond. His progress in poetic composition

XIII. To Mr. John Kennedy. The Cotter's Saturday Night

XIV. To Mr. Robert Muir. Enclosing his "Scotch Drink"

XV. To Mr. Aiken. Enclosing a stanza on the blank leaf of a book by
Hannah More

XVI. To Mr. M'Whinnie, Subscriptions

XVII. To Mr. John Kennedy. Enclosing "The Gowan"

XVIII. To Mon. James Smith. His voyage to the West Indies

XIX. To Mr. John Kennedy. His poems in the press. Subscriptions

XX. To Mr. David Brice. Jean Armour's return,--printing his poems

XXI. To Mr. Robert Aiken. Distress of mind

XXII. To Mr. John Richmond. Jean Armour

XXIII. To John Ballantyne, Esq. Aiken's coldness. His marriage-lines

XXIV. To Mr. David Brice. Jean Armour. West Indies

XXV. To Mr. John Richmond. West Indies The Armours

XXVI. To Mr. Robert Muir. Enclosing "The Calf"

XXVII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Thanks for her notice. Sir William Wallace

XXVIII. To Mr. John Kennedy. Jamaica

XXIX. To Mr. James Burness. His departure uncertain

XXX. To Miss Alexander. "The Lass of Ballochmyle"

XXXI. To Mrs. Stewart, of Stair and Afton. Enclosing some songs. Miss

XXXII. Proclamation in the name of the Muses

XXXIII. To Mr. Robert Muir. Enclosing "Tam Samson." His Edinburgh

XXXIV. To Dr. Mackenzie. Enclosing the verses on dining with Lord Daer

XXXV. To Gavin Hamilton, Esq. Rising fame. Patronage

XXXVI. To John Ballantyne, Esq. His patrons and patronesses. The

XXXVII. To Mr. Robert Muir. A note of thanks. Talks of sketching the
history of his life

XXXVIII. To Mr. William Chalmers. A humorous sally


XXXIX. To the Earl of Eglinton. Thanks for his patronage

XL. To Gavin Hamilton, Esq. Love

XLI. To John Ballantyne, Esq. Mr. Miller's offer of a farm

XLII. To John Ballantyne, Esq. Enclosing "The Banks o' Doon." First

XLIII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Dr. Moore and Lord Eglinton. His situation in

XLIV. To Dr. Moore. Acknowledgments for his notice

XLV. To the Rev. G. Lowrie. Reflections on his situation in life. Dr.
Blacklock, Mackenzie

XLVI. To Dr. Moore. Miss Williams

XLVII. To John Ballantyne, Esq. His portrait engraving

XLVIII. To the Earl of Glencairn. Enclosing "Lines intended to be
written under a noble Earl's picture"

XLIX. To the Earl of Buchan. In reply to a letter of advice

L. To Mr. James Candlish. Still "the old man with his deeds"

LI. To ----. On Fergusson's headstone

LII. To Mrs. Dunlop. His prospects on leaving Edinburgh 341

LIII. To Mrs. Dunlop. A letter of acknowledgment for the payment of
the subscription

LIV. To Mr. Sibbald. Thanks for his notice in the magazine

LV. To Dr. Moore. Acknowledging the present of his View of Society

LVI. To Mr. Dunlop. Reply to criticisms

LVII. To the Rev. Dr. Hugh Blair. On leaving Edinburgh. Thanks for his

LVIII. To the Earl of Glencairn. On leaving Edinburgh

LIX. To Mr. William Dunbar. Thanking him for the present of Spenser's

LX. To Mr. James Johnson. Sending a song to the Scots Musical Museum

LXI. To Mr. William Creech. His tour on the Border. Epistle in verse
to Creech

LXII. To Mr. Patison. Business

LXIII. To Mr. W. Nicol. A ride described in broad Scotch

LXIV. To Mr. James Smith. Unsettled in life. Jamaica

LXV. To Mr. W. Nicol. Mr. Miller, Mr. Burnside. Bought a pocket Milton

LXVI. To Mr. James Candlish. Seeking a copy of Lowe's poem of
"Pompey's Ghost"

LXVII. To Robert Ainslie, Esq. His tour

LXVIII. To Mr. W. Nicol. Auchtertyre

LXIX. To Mr. Wm. Cruikshank. Auchtertyre

LXX. To Mr. James Smith. An adventure

LXXI. To Mr. John Richmond. His rambles

LXXII. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. Sets high value on his friendship

LXXIII. To the same. Nithsdale and Edinburgh

LXXIV. To Dr. Moore. Account of his own life

LXXV. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. A humorous letter

LXXVI. To Mr. Robert Muir. Stirling, Bannockburn

LXXVII. To Gavin Hamilton, Esq. Of Mr. Hamilton's own family

LXXVIII. To Mr. Walker. Bruar Water. The Athole family

LXXIX. To Mr. Gilbert Burns. Account of his Highland tour

LXXX. To Miss Margaret Chalmers. Charlotte Hamilton. Skinner.

LXXXI. To the same. Charlotte Hamilton, and "The Banks of the Devon"

LXXXII. To James Hoy, Esq. Mr. Nicol. Johnson's Musical Museum

LXXXIII. To Rev. John Skinner. Thanking him for his poetic compliment

LXXXIV. To James Hoy, Esq. Song by the Duke of Gordon

LXXXV. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. His friendship for him

LXXXVI. To the Earl of Glencairn. Requesting his aid in obtaining an
excise appointment

LXXXVII. To James Dalrymple, Esq. Rhyme. Lord Glencairn

LXXXVIII. To Charles Hay, Esq. Enclosing his poem on the death of the
Lord President Dundas

LXXXIX. To Miss M----n. Compliments

XC. To Miss Chalmers. Charlotte Hamilton

XCI. To the same. His bruised limb. The Bible. The Ochel Hills

XCII. To the same. His motto--"I dare." His own worst enemy

XCIII. To Sir John Whitefoord. Thanks for his friendship. Of poets

XCIV. To Miss Williams. Comments on her poem of the Slave Trade

XCV. To Mr. Richard Brown. Recollections of early life. Clarinda

XCVI. To Gavin Hamilton, Esq. Prayer for his health

XCVII. To Miss Chalmers. Complimentary poems. Creech


XCVIII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Lowness of spirits. Leaving Edinburgh

XCIX. To the same. Religion

C. To the Rev. John Skinner. Tullochgorum. Skinner's Latin

CI. To Mr. Richard Brown. His arrival in Glasgow

CII. To Mrs. Rose of Kilravock. Recollections of Kilravock

CIII. To Mr. Richard Brown. Friendship. The pleasures of the present

CIV. To Mr. William Cruikshank. Ellisland. Plans in life

CV. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. Ellisland. Edinburgh. Clarinda

CVI. To Mr. Richard Brown. Idleness. Farming

CVII. To Mr. Robert Muir. His offer for Ellisland. The close of life

CVIII. To Miss Chalmers. Taken Ellisland. Miss Kennedy

CIX. To Mrs. Dunlop. Coila's robe

CX. To Mr. Richard Brown. Apologies. On his way to Dumfries from

CXI. To Mr. Robert Cleghorn. Poet and fame. The air of Captain O'Kean

CXII. To Mr. William Dunbar. Foregoing poetry and wit for farming and

CXIII. To Miss Chalmers. Miss Kennedy. Jean Armour

CXIV. To the same. Creech's rumoured bankruptcy

CXV. To the same. His entering the Excise

CXVI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Fanning and the Excise. Thanks for the loan of
Dryden and Tasso

CXVII. To Mr. James Smith. Jocularity. Jean Armour

CXVIII. To Professor Dugald Stewart. Enclosing some poetic trifles

CXIX. To Mrs. Dunlop. Dryden's Virgil. His preference of Dryden to

CXX. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. His marriage.

CXXI. To Mrs. Dunlop. On the treatment of servants

CXXII. To the same. The merits of Mrs. Burns

CXXIII. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. The warfare of life. Books. Religion

CXXIV. To the same. Miers' profiles

CXXV. To the same. Of the folly of talking of one's private affairs

CXXVI. To Mr. George Lockhart. The Miss Baillies. Bruar Water

CXXVII. To Mr. Peter Hill. With the present of a cheese

CXXVIII. To Robert Graham Esq., of Fintray. The Excise

CXXIX. To Mr. William Cruikshank. Creech. Lines written in Friar's
Carse Hermitage

CXXX. To Mrs. Dunlop. Lines written at Friar's Carse. Graham of

CXXXI. To the same. Mrs. Burns. Of accomplished young ladies

CXXXII. To the same. Mrs. Miller, of Dalswinton. "The Life and Age of

CXXXIII. To Mr. Beugo. Ross and "The Fortunate Shepherdess."

CXXXIV. To Miss Chalmers. Recollections. Mrs. Burns. Poetry

CXXXV. To Mr. Morison. Urging expedition with his clock and other
furniture for Ellisland

CXXXVI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Mr. Graham. Her criticisms

CXXXVII. To Mr. Peter Hill. Criticism on an "Address to Loch Lomond."

CXXXVIII. To the Editor of the Star. Pleading for the line of the

CXXXIX. To Mrs. Dunlop. The present of a heifer from the Dunlops

CXL. To Mr. James Johnson. Scots Musical Museum

CXLI. To Dr. Blacklock. Poetical progress. His marriage

CXLII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Enclosing "Auld Lang Syne"

CXLIII. To Miss Davies. Enclosing the song of "Charming, lovely

CXLIV. To Mr. John Tennant. Praise of his whiskey


CXLV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Reflections suggested by the day

CXLVI. To Dr. Moore. His situation and prospects

CXLVII. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. His favourite quotations. Musical

CXLVIII. To Professor Dugald Stewart. Enclosing some poems for his
comments upon

CXLIX. To Bishop Geddes. His situation and prospects

CL. To Mr. James Burness. His wife and farm. Profit from his poems.
Fanny Burns

CLI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Reflections. His success in song encouraged a
shoal of bardlings

CLII. To the Rev. Peter Carfrae. Mr. Mylne's poem

CLIII. To Dr. Moore. Introduction. His ode to Mrs. Oswald

CLIV. To Mr. William Burns. Remembrance

CLV. To Mr. Peter Hill. Economy and frugality. Purchase of books

CLVI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Sketch inscribed to the Right Hon. C.J. Fox

CLVII. To Mr. William Burns. Asking him to make his house his home

CLVIII. To Mrs. M'Murdo. With the song of "Bonnie Jean"

CLIX. To Mr. Cunningham. With the poem of "The Wounded Hare"

CLX. To Mr. Samuel Brown. His farm. Ailsa fowling

CLXI. To Mr. Richard Brown. Kind wishes

CLXII. To Mr. James Hamilton. Sympathy

CLXIII. To William Creech, Esq. Toothache. Good wishes

CLXIV. To Mr. M'Auley. His own welfare

CLXV. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. Overwhelmed with incessant toil

CLXVI. To Mr. M'Murdo. Enclosing his newest song

CLXVII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Reflections on religion

CLXVIII. To Mr. ----. Fergusson the poet

CLXIX. To Miss Williams. Enclosing criticisms on her poems

CLXX. To Mr. John Logan. With "The Kirk's Alarm"

CLXXI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Religion. Dr. Moore's "Zeluco"

CLXXII. To Captain Riddel. "The Whistle"

CLXXIII. To the same. With some of his MS. poems

CLXXIV. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. His Excise employment

CLXXV. To Mr. Richard Brown. His Excise duties

CLXXVI. To Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray. The Excise. Captain Grose.
Dr. M'Gill

CLXXVII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Reflections on immortality

CLXXVIII. To Lady M.W. Constable. Jacobitism

CLXXIX. To Provost Maxwell. At a loss for a subject


CLXXX. To Sir John Sinclair. Account of a book-society in Nithsdale

CLXXXI. To Charles Sharpe, Esq. A letter with a fictitious signature

CLXXXII. To Mr. Gilburt Burns. His farm a ruinous affair. Players

CLXXXIII. To Mr. Sutherland. Enclosing a Prologue

CLXXXIV. To Mr. William Dunbar. Excise. His children. Another world

CLXXXV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Falconer the poet. Old Scottish songs

CLXXXVI. To Mr. Peter Hill. Mademoiselle Burns. Hurdis. Smollett and

CLXXXVII. To Mr. W. Nicol. The death of Nicol's mare Peg Nicholson

CLXXXVIII. To Mr. W. Cunningham. What strange beings we are

CLXXXIX. To Mr. Peter Hill. Orders for books. Mankind

CXC. To Mrs. Dunlop. Mackenzie and the Mirror and Lounger

CXCI. To Collector Mitchell. A county meeting

CXCII. To Dr. Moore. "Zeluco." Charlotte Smith

CXCIII. To Mr. Murdoch. William Burns

CXCIV. To Mr. M'Murdo. With the Elegy on Matthew Henderson

CXCV. To Mrs. Dunlop. His pride wounded

CXCVI. To Mr. Cunningham. Independence

CXCVII. To Dr. Anderson. "The Bee."

CXCVIII. To William Tytler, Esq. With some West-country ballads

CXCIX. To Crauford Tait, Esq. Introducing Mr. William Duncan

CC. To Crauford Tait, Esq. "The Kirk's Alarm"

CCI. To Mrs. Dunlop. On the birth of her grandchild. Tam O' Shanter


CCII. To Lady M.W. Constable. Thanks for the present of a gold

CCIII. To Mr. William Dunbar. Not gone to Elysium. Sending a poem

CCIV. To Mr. Peter Mill. Apostrophe to Poverty

CCV. To Mr. Cunningham. Tam O' Shanter. Elegy on Miss Burnet

CCVI. To A.F. Tytler, Esq. Tam O' Shanter

CCVII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Miss Burnet. Elegy writing

CCVIII. To Rev. Arch. Alison. Thanking him for his "Essay on Taste"

CCIX. To Dr. Moore. Tam O' Shanter. Elegy on Henderson. Zeluco. Lord

CCX. To Mr. Cunningham. Songs

CCXI. To Mr. Alex. Dalzel. The death of the Earl of Glencairn

CCXII. To Mrs. Graham, of Fintray. With "Queen Mary's Lament"

CCXIII. To the same. With his printed Poems

CCXIV. To the Rev. G. Baird. Michael Bruce

CCXV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Birth of a son

CCXVI. To the same. Apology for delay

CCXVII. To the same. Quaint invective on a pedantic critic

CCXVIII. To Mr. Cunningham. The case of Mr. Clarke of Moffat,

CCXIX. To the Earl of Buchan. With the Address to the shade of Thomson

CCXX. To Mr. Thomas Sloan. Apologies. His crop sold well

CCXXI. To Lady E. Cunningham. With the Lament for the Earl of

CCXXII. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. State of mind. His income

CCXXIII. To Col. Fullarton. With some Poems. His anxiety for
Fullarton's friendship

CCXXIV. To Miss Davis. Lethargy, Indolence, and Remorse. Our wishes
and our powers

CCXXV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Mrs. Henri. The Song of Death


CCXXVI. To Mrs. Dunlop. The animadversions of the Board of Excise

CCXXVII. To Mr. William Smellie. Introducing Mrs. Riddel

CCXXVIII. To Mr. W. Nicol. Ironical reply to a letter of counsel and

CCXXIX. To Francis Grose, Esq. Dugald Stewart

CCXXX. To the same. Witch stories

CCXXXI. To Mr. S. Clarke. Humorous invitation to teach music to the
M'Murdo family

CCXXXII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Love and Lesley Baillie

CCXXXIII. To Mr. Cunningham. Lesley Baillie

CCXXXIV. To Mr. Thomson. Promising his assistance to his collection of
songs and airs

CCXXXV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Situation of Mrs. Henri

CCXXXVI. To the same. On the death of Mrs. Henri

CCXXXVII. To Mr. Thomson. Thomson's fastidiousness. "My Nannie O," &c.

CCXXXVIII. To the same. With "My wife's a winsome wee thing," and
"Lesley Baillie"

CCXXXIX. To the same. With Highland Mary. The air of Katherine Ogie

CCXL. To the same. Thomson's alterations and observations

CCXLI. To the same. With "Auld Rob Morris," and "Duncan Gray"

CCXLII. To Mrs. Dunlop. Birth of a daughter. The poet Thomson's dramas

CCXLIII. To Robert Graham, Esq., of Fintray. The Excise inquiry into
his political conduct

CCXLIV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Hurry of business. Excise inquiry


CCXLV. To Mr. Thomson. With "Poortith cauld" and "Galla Water"

CCXLVI. To the same. William Tytler, Peter Pindar

CCXLVII. To Mr. Cunningham. The poet's seal. David Allan

CCXLVIII. To Thomson. With "Mary Morison"

CCCXLIX. To the same. With "Wandering Willie"

CCL. To Miss Benson. Pleasure he had in meeting her

CCLI. To Patrick Miller, Esq. With the present of his printed poems

CCLII. To Mr. Thomson. Review of Scottish song. Crawfurd and Ramsay

CCLIII. To the same. Criticism. Allan Ramsay

CCLIV. To the same. "The last time I came o'er the moor"

CCLV. To John Francis Erskine, Esq. Self-justification. The Excise

CCLVI. To Mr. Robert Ainslie. Answering letters. Scholar-craft

CCLVII. To Miss Kennedy. A letter of compliment

CCLVIII. To Mr. Thomson. Frazer. "Blithe had I been on yon hill"

CCLIX. To Mr. Thomson. "Logan Water." "O gin my love were yon red

CCLX. To the same. With the song of "Bonnie Jean"

CCLXI. To the same. Hurt at the idea of pecuniary recompense. Remarks
on song

CCLXII. To the same. Note written in the name of Stephen Clarke

CCLXIII. To the same. With "Phillis the fair"

CCLXIV. To the same. With "Had I a cave on some wild distant shore"

CCLXV. To the same. With "Allan Water"

CCLXVI. To the same. With "O whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad,"

CCLXVII. To the same. With "Come, let me take thee to my breast"

CCLXVIII. To the same. With "Dainty Davie"

CCLXIX. To Miss Craik. Wretchedness of poets

CCLXX. To Lady Glencairn. Gratitude. Excise. Dramatic composition

CCLXXI. To Mr. Thomson. With "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled"

CCLXXII. To the same. With "Behold the hour, the boat arrive"

CCLXXIII. To the same. Crawfurd and Scottish song

CCLXXIV. To the same. Alterations in "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled"

CCLXXV. To the same. Further suggested alterations in "Scots wha hae"

CCLXXVI. To the same. With "Deluded swain, the pleasure," and "Raving
winds around her blowing"

CCLXXVII. To the same. Erskine and Gavin Turnbull

CCLXXVIII. To John M'Murdo, Esq. Payment of a debt. "The Merry Muses"

CCLXXIX. To the same. With his printed poems

CCLXXX. To Captain ----. Anxiety for his acquaintance. "Scots wha hae
wi' Wallace bled"

CCLXXXI. To Mrs. Riddel. The Dumfries Theatre


CCLXXXII. To a Lady. In favour of a player's benefit

CCLXXXIII. To the Earl of Buchan. With a copy of "Scots wha hae"

CCLXXXIV. To Captain Miller. With a copy of "Scots wha hae"

CCLXXXV. To Mrs. Riddel. Lobster-coated puppies

CCLXXXVI. To the same. The gin-horse class of the human genus

CCLXXXVII. To the same. With "Werter." Her reception of him

CCLXXXVIII. To Mrs. Riddel. Her caprice

CCLXXXIX. To the same. Her neglect and unkindness

CCXC. To John Syme, Esq. Mrs. Oswald, and "O wat ye wha's in yon town"

CCXCI. To Miss ----. Obscure allusions to a friend's death. His
personal and poetic fame

CCXCII. To Mr. Cunningham. Hypochondria. Requests consolation

CCXCIII. To the Earl of Glencairn. With his printed poems

CCXCIV. To Mr. Thomson. David Allan. "The banks of Cree"

CCXCV. To David M'Culloch, Esq. Arrangements for a trip in Galloway

CCXCVI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Threatened with flying gout. Ode on
Washington's birthday

CCXCVII. To Mr. James Johnson. Low spirits. The Museum. Balmerino's

CCXCVIII. To Mr. Thomson. Lines written in "Thomson's Collection of

CCXCIX. To the same. With "How can my poor heart be glad"

CCC. To the same. With "Ca' the yowes to the knowes"

CCCI. To the same. With "Sae flaxen were her ringlets." Epigram to Dr.

CCCII. To the same. The charms of Miss Lorimer. "O saw ye my dear, my
Phely," &c.

CCCIII. To the same. Ritson's Scottish Songs. Love and song

CCCIV. To the same. English songs. The air of "Ye banks and braes o'
bonnie Doon"

CCCV. To the same. With "O Philly, happy be the day," and "Contented
wi' little"

CCCVI. To the same. With "Canst thou leave me thus, my Katy"

CCCVII. To Peter Miller, jun., Esq. Excise. Perry's offer to write for
the Morning Chronicle

CCCVIII. To Mr. Samuel Clarke, jun. A political and personal quarrel.

CCCIX. To Mr. Thomson. With "Now in her green mantle blithe nature


CCCX. To Mr. Thomson. With "For a' that and a' that"

CCCXI. To the same. Abuse of Ecclefechan

CCCXII. To the same. With "O stay, sweet warbling woodlark, stay," and
"The groves of sweet myrtle"

CCCXIII. To the same. With "How cruel are the parents" and "Mark
yonder pomp of costly fashion"

CCCXIV. To the same. Praise of David Allan's "Cotter's Saturday Night"

CCCXV. To the same. With "This is no my ain Lassie." Mrs. Riddel

CCCXVI. To Mr. Thomson. With "Forlorn, my love, no comfort near"

CCCXVII. To the same. With "Last May a braw wooer," and "Why tell thy

CCCXVIII. To Mrs. Riddel. A letter from the grave

CCCXIX. To the same. A letter of compliment. "Anacharsis' Travels"

CCCXX. To Miss Louisa Fontenelle. With a Prologue for her

CCCXXI. To Mrs. Dunlop. His family. Miss Fontenelle. Cowper's "Task"

CCCXXII. To Mr. Alexander Findlater. Excise schemes

CCCXXIII. To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle. Written for a
friend. A complaint

CCCXXIV. To Mr. Heron, of Heron. With two political ballads

CCCXXV. To Mrs. Dunlop. Thomson's Collection. Acting as Supervisor of

CCCXXVI. To the Right Hon. William Pitt. Address of the Scottish

CCCXXVII. To the Provost, Bailies, and Town Council of Dumfries.
Request to be made a freeman of the town


CCCXXVIII. To Mrs. Riddel. "Anarcharsis' Travels." The muses

CCCXXIX. To Mrs. Dunlop. His ill-health.

CCCXXX. To Mr. Thomson. Acknowledging his present to Mrs. Burns of a
worsted shawl

CCCXXXI. To the same. Ill-health. Mrs. Hyslop. Allan's etchings.

CCCXXXII. To the same. "Here's a health to ane I loe dear"

CCCXXXIII. To the same. His anxiety to review his songs, asking for

CCCXXXIV. To Mrs. Riddel. His increasing ill-health

CCCXXXV. To Mr. Clarke, acknowledging money and requesting the loan of
a further sum

CCCXXXVI. To Mr. James Johnson. The Scots Musical Museum. Request for
a copy of the collection

CCCXXXVII. To Mr. Cunningham. Illness and poverty, anticipation of

CCCXXXVIII. To Mr. Gilbert Burns. His ill-health and debts

CCCXXXIX. To Mr. James Armour. Entreating Mrs. Armour to come to her
daughter's confinement

CCCXL. To Mrs. Burns. Sea-bathing affords little relief

CCCXLI. To Mrs. Dunlop. Her friendship. A farewell

CCCXLII. To Mr. Thomson. Solicits the sum of five pounds. "Fairest
Maid on Devon Banks"

CCCXLIII. To Mr. James Burness. Soliciting the sum of ten pounds

CCCXLIV. To James Gracie, Esq. His rheumatism, &c. &c.--his loss of

Remarks on Scottish Songs and Ballads

The Border Tour

The Highland Tour

Burns's Assignment of his Works





Robert Burns, the chief of the peasant poets of Scotland, was born in
a little mud-walled cottage on the banks of Doon, near "Alloway's auld
haunted kirk," in the shire of Ayr, on the 25th day of January, 1759.
As a natural mark of the event, a sudden storm at the same moment
swept the land: the gabel-wall of the frail dwelling gave way, and the
babe-bard was hurried through a tempest of wind and sleet to the
shelter of a securer hovel. He was the eldest born of three sons and
three daughters; his father, William, who in his native
Kincardineshire wrote his name Burness, was bred a gardener, and
sought for work in the West; but coming from the lands of the noble
family of the Keiths, a suspicion accompanied him that he had been
out--as rebellion was softly called--in the forty-five: a suspicion
fatal to his hopes of rest and bread, in so loyal a district; and it
was only when the clergyman of his native parish certified his loyalty
that he was permitted to toil. This suspicion of Jacobitism, revived
by Burns himself, when he rose into fame, seems not to have influenced
either the feelings, or the tastes of Agnes Brown, a young woman on
the Doon, whom he wooed and married in December, 1757, when he was
thirty-six years old. To support her, he leased a small piece of
ground, which he converted into a nursery and garden, and to shelter
her, he raised with his own hands that humble abode where she gave
birth to her eldest son.

The elder Burns was a well-informed, silent, austere man, who endured
no idle gaiety, nor indecorous language: while he relaxed somewhat the
hard, stern creed of the Covenanting times, he enforced all the
work-day, as well as sabbath-day observances, which the Calvinistic
kirk requires, and scrupled at promiscuous dancing, as the staid of
our own day scruple at the waltz. His wife was of a milder mood: she
was blest with a singular fortitude of temper; was as devout of heart,
as she was calm of mind; and loved, while busied in her household
concerns, to sweeten the bitterer moments of life, by chanting the
songs and ballads of her country, of which her store was great. The
garden and nursery prospered so much, that he was induced to widen his
views, and by the help of his kind landlord, the laird of Doonholm,
and the more questionable aid of borrowed money, he entered upon a
neighbouring farm, named Mount Oliphant, extending to an hundred
acres. This was in 1765; but the land was hungry and sterile; the
seasons proved rainy and rough; the toil was certain, the reward
unsure; when to his sorrow, the laird of Doonholm--a generous
Ferguson,--died: the strict terms of the lease, as well as the rent,
were exacted by a harsh factor, and with his wife and children, he was
obliged, after a losing struggle of six years, to relinquish the farm,
and seek shelter on the grounds of Lochlea, some ten miles off, in the
parish of Tarbolton. When, in after-days, men's characters were in the
hands of his eldest son, the scoundrel factor sat for that lasting
portrait of insolence and wrong, in the "Twa Dogs."

In this new farm William Burns seemed to strike root, and thrive. He
was strong of body and ardent of mind: every day brought increase of
vigour to his three sons, who, though very young, already put their
hands to the plough, the reap-hook, and the flail. But it seemed that
nothing which he undertook was decreed in the end to prosper: after
four seasons of prosperity a change ensued: the farm was far from
cheap; the gains under any lease were then so little, that the loss of
a few pounds was ruinous to a farmer: bad seed and wet seasons had
their usual influence: "The gloom of hermits and the moil of
galley-slaves," as the poet, alluding to those days, said, were
endured to no purpose; when, to crown all, a difference arose between
the landlord and the tenant, as to the terms of the lease; and the
early days of the poet, and the declining years of his father, were
harassed by disputes, in which sensitive minds are sure to suffer.

Amid these labours and disputes, the poet's father remembered the
worth of religious and moral instruction: he took part of this upon
himself. A week-day in Lochlea wore the sober looks of a Sunday: he
read the Bible and explained, as intelligent peasants are accustomed
to do, the sense, when dark or difficult; he loved to discuss the
spiritual meanings, and gaze on the mystical splendours of the
Revelations. He was aided in these labours, first, by the
schoolmaster of Alloway-mill, near the Doon; secondly, by John
Murdoch, student of divinity, who undertook to teach arithmetic,
grammar, French, and Latin, to the boys of Lochlea, and the sons of
five neighboring farmers. Murdoch, who was an enthusiast in learning,
much of a pedant, and such a judge of genius that he thought wit
should always be laughing, and poetry wear an eternal smile, performed
his task well: he found Robert to be quick in apprehension, and not
afraid to study when knowledge was the reward. He taught him to turn
verse into its natural prose order; to supply all the ellipses, and
not to desist till the sense was clear and plain: he also, in their
walks, told him the names of different objects both in Latin and
French; and though his knowledge of these languages never amounted to
much, he approached the grammar of the English tongue, through the
former, which was of material use to him, in his poetic compositions.
Burns was, even in those early days, a sort of enthusiast in all that
concerned the glory of Scotland; he used to fancy himself a soldier of
the days of the Wallace and the Bruce: loved to strut after the
bag-pipe and the drum, and read of the bloody struggles of his country
for freedom and existence, till "a Scottish prejudice," he says, "was
poured into my veins, which will boil there till the flood-gates of
life are shut in eternal rest."

In this mood of mind Burns was unconsciously approaching the land of
poesie. In addition to the histories of the Wallace and the Bruce, he
found, on the shelves of his neighbours, not only whole bodies of
divinity, and sermons without limit, but the works of some of the best
English, as well as Scottish poets, together with songs and ballads
innumerable. On these he loved to pore whenever a moment of leisure
came; nor was verse his sole favourite; he desired to drink knowledge
at any fountain, and Guthrie's Grammar, Dickson on Agriculture,
Addison's Spectator, Locke on the Human Understanding, and Taylor's
Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, were as welcome to his heart as
Shakspeare, Milton, Pope, Thomson, and Young. There is a mystery in
the workings of genius: with these poets in his head and hand, we see
not that he has advanced one step in the way in which he was soon to
walk, "Highland Mary" and "Tam O' Shanter" sprang from other

Burns lifts up the veil himself, from the studies which made him a
poet. "In my boyish days," he says to Moore, "I owed much to an old
woman (Jenny Wilson) who resided in the family, remarkable for her
credulity and superstition. She had, I suppose, the largest collection
in the country of tales and songs, concerning devils, ghosts, fairies,
brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles,
dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted
towers, dragons, and other trumpery. This cultivated the latent seeds
of poesie; but had so strong an effect upon my imagination that to
this hour, in my nocturnal rambles, I sometimes keep a look-out on
suspicious places." Here we have the young poet taking lessons in the
classic lore of his native land: in the school of Janet Wilson he
profited largely; her tales gave a hue, all their own, to many noble
effusions. But her teaching was at the hearth-stone: when he was in
the fields, either driving a cart or walking to labour, he had ever in
his hand a collection of songs, such as any stall in the land could
supply him with; and over these he pored, ballad by ballad, and verse
by verse, noting the true, tender, and the natural sublime from
affectation and fustian. "To this," he said, "I am convinced that I
owe much of my critic craft, such as it is." His mother, too,
unconsciously led him in the ways of the muse: she loved to recite or
sing to him a strange, but clever ballad, called "the Life and Age of
Man:" this strain of piety and imagination was in his mind when he
wrote "Man was made to Mourn."

He found other teachers--of a tenderer nature and softer influence.
"You know," he says to Moore, "our country custom of coupling a man
and woman together as partners in the labours of harvest. In my
fifteenth autumn my partner was a bewitching creature, a year younger
than myself: she was in truth a bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass, and
unwittingly to herself, initiated me in that delicious passion, which,
in spite of acid disappointment, gin-horse prudence, and bookworm
philosophy, I hold to be the first of human joys. How she caught the
contagion I cannot tell; I never expressly said I loved her: indeed I
did not know myself why I liked so much to loiter behind with her,
when returning in the evenings from our labours; why the tones of her
voice made my heart strings thrill like an Æolian harp, and
particularly why my pulse beat such a furious ratan, when I looked and
fingered over her little hand, to pick out the cruel nettle-stings and
thistles. Among other love-inspiring qualities, she sang sweetly, and
it was her favourite reel to which I attempted to give an embodied
vehicle in rhyme; thus with me began love and verse." This intercourse
with the fair part of the creation, was to his slumbering emotions, a
voice from heaven to call them into life and poetry.

From the school of traditionary lore and love, Burns now went to a
rougher academy. Lochlea, though not producing fine crops of corn, was
considered excellent for flax; and while the cultivation of this
commodity was committed to his father and his brother Gilbert, he was
sent to Irvine at Midsummer, 1781, to learn the trade of a
flax-dresser, under one Peacock, kinsman to his mother. Some time
before, he had spent a portion of a summer at a school in Kirkoswald,
learning mensuration and land-surveying, where he had mingled in
scenes of sociality with smugglers, and enjoyed the pleasure of a
silent walk, under the moon, with the young and the beautiful. At
Irvine he laboured by day to acquire a knowledge of his business, and
at night he associated with the gay and the thoughtless, with whom he
learnt to empty his glass, and indulge in free discourse on topics
forbidden at Lochlea. He had one small room for a lodging, for which
he gave a shilling a week: meat he seldom tasted, and his food
consisted chiefly of oatmeal and potatoes sent from his father's
house. In a letter to his father, written with great purity and
simplicity of style, he thus gives a picture of himself, mental and
bodily: "Honoured Sir, I have purposely delayed writing, in the hope
that I should have the pleasure of seeing you on new years' day, but
work comes so hard upon us that I do not choose to be absent on that
account. My health is nearly the same as when you were here, only my
sleep is a little sounder, and on the whole, I am rather better than
otherwise, though I mend by very slow degrees: the weakness of my
nerves had so debilitated my mind that I dare neither review past
wants nor look forward into futurity, for the least anxiety or
perturbation in my breast produces most unhappy effects on my whole
frame. Sometimes indeed, when for an hour or two my spirits are a
little lightened, I _glimmer_ a little into futurity; but my principal
and indeed my only pleasurable employment is looking backwards and
forwards in a moral and religious way. I am quite transported at the
thought that ere long, perhaps very soon, I shall bid an eternal adieu
to all the pains and uneasinesses, and disquietudes of this weary
life. As for the world, I despair of ever making a figure in it: I am
not formed for the bustle of the busy, nor the flutter of the gay. I
foresee that poverty and obscurity probably await me, and I am in some
measure prepared and daily preparing to meet them. I have but just
time and paper to return you my grateful thanks for the lessons of
virtue and piety you have given me, which were but too much neglected
at the time of giving them, but which, I hope, have been remembered
ere it is yet too late." This remarkable letter was written in the
twenty-second year of his age; it alludes to the illness which seems
to have been the companion of his youth, a nervous headache, brought
on by constant toil and anxiety; and it speaks of the melancholy which
is the common attendant of genius, and its sensibilities, aggravated
by despair of distinction. The catastrophe which happened ere this
letter was well in his father's hand, accords ill with quotations from
the Bible, and hopes fixed in heaven:--"As we gave," he says, "a
welcome carousal to the new year, the shop took fire, and burnt to
ashes, and I was left, like a true poet, not worth a sixpence."

This disaster was followed by one more grievous: his father was well
in years when he was married, and age and a constitution injured by
toil and disappointment, began to press him down, ere his sons had
grown up to man's estate. On all sides the clouds began to darken: the
farm was unprosperous: the speculations in flax failed; and the
landlord of Lochlea, raising a question upon the meaning of the lease,
concerning rotation of crop, pushed the matter to a lawsuit, alike
ruinous to a poor man either in its success or its failure. "After
three years tossing and whirling," says Burns, "in the vortex of
litigation, my father was just saved from the horrors of a jail by a
consumption, which, after two years' promises, kindly slept in and
carried him away to where the 'wicked cease from troubling and the
weary are at rest.' His all went among the hell-hounds that prowl in
the kennel of justice. The finishing evil which brought up the rear of
this infernal file, was my constitutional melancholy being increased
to such a degree, that for three months I was in a state of mind
scarcely to be envied by the hopeless wretches who have got their
mittimus, 'Depart from me, ye cursed.'"

Robert Burns was now the head of his father's house. He gathered
together the little that law and misfortune had spared, and took the
farm of Mossgiel, near Mauchline, containing one hundred and eighteen
acres, at a rent of ninety pounds a year: his mother and sisters took
the domestic superintendence of home, barn, and byre; and he
associated his brother Gilbert in the labours of the land. It was made
a joint affair: the poet was young, willing, and vigorous, and
excelled in ploughing, sowing, reaping, mowing, and thrashing. His
wages were fixed at seven pounds per annum, and such for a time was
his care and frugality, that he never exceeded this small allowance.
He purchased books on farming, held conversations with the old and the
knowing; and said unto himself, "I shall be prudent and wise, and my
shadow shall increase in the land." But it was not decreed that these
resolutions were to endure, and that he was to become a mighty
agriculturist in the west. Farmer Attention, as the proverb says, is a
good farmer, all the world over, and Burns was such by fits and by
starts. But he who writes an ode on the sheep he is about to shear, a
poem on the flower that he covers with the furrow, who sees visions on
his way to market, who makes rhymes on the horse he is about to yoke,
and a song on the girl who shows the whitest hands among his reapers,
has small chance of leading a market, or of being laird of the fields
he rents. The dreams of Burns were of the muses, and not of rising
markets, of golden locks rather than of yellow corn: he had other
faults. It is not known that William Burns was aware before his death
that his eldest son had sinned in rhyme; but we have Gilbert's
assurance, that his father went to the grave in ignorance of his son's
errors of a less venial kind--unwitting that he was soon to give a
two-fold proof of both in "Rob the Rhymer's Address to his Bastard
Child"--a poem less decorous than witty.

The dress and condition of Burns when he became a poet were not at all
poetical, in the minstrel meaning of the word. His clothes, coarse and
homely, were made from home-grown wool, shorn off his own sheeps'
backs, carded and spun at his own fireside, woven by the village
weaver, and, when not of natural hodden-gray, dyed a half-blue in the
village vat. They were shaped and sewed by the district tailor, who
usually wrought at the rate of a groat a day and his food; and as the
wool was coarse, so also was the workmanship. The linen which he wore
was home-grown, home-hackled, home-spun, home-woven, and
home-bleached, and, unless designed for Sunday use, was of coarse,
strong harn, to suit the tear and wear of barn and field. His shoes
came from rustic tanpits, for most farmers then prepared their own
leather; were armed, sole and heel, with heavy, broad-headed nails, to
endure the clod and the road: as hats were then little in use, save
among small lairds or country gentry, westland heads were commonly
covered with a coarse, broad, blue bonnet, with a stopple on its flat
crown, made in thousands at Kilmarnock, and known in all lands by the
name of scone bonnets. His plaid was a handsome red and white
check--for pride in poets, he said, was no sin--prepared of fine wool
with more than common care by the hands of his mother and sisters, and
woven with more skill than the village weaver was usually required to
exert. His dwelling was in keeping with his dress, a low, thatched
house, with a kitchen, a bedroom and closet, with floors of kneaded
clay, and ceilings of moorland turf: a few books on a shelf, thumbed
by many a thumb; a few hams drying above head in the smoke, which was
in no haste to get out at the roof--a wooden settle, some oak chairs,
chaff beds well covered with blankets, with a fire of peat and wood
burning at a distance from the gable wall, on the middle of the floor.
His food was as homely as his habitation, and consisted chiefly of
oatmeal-porridge, barley-broth, and potatoes, and milk. How the muse
happened to visit him in this clay biggin, take a fancy to a clouterly
peasant, and teach him strains of consummate beauty and elegance, must
ever be a matter of wonder to all those, and they are not few, who
hold that noble sentiments and heroic deeds are the exclusive portion
of the gently nursed and the far descended.

Of the earlier verses of Burns few are preserved: when composed, he
put them on paper, but the kept them to himself: though a poet at
sixteen, he seems not to have made even his brother his confidante
till he became a man, and his judgment had ripened. He, however, made
a little clasped paper book his treasurer, and under the head of
"Observations, Hints, Songs, and Scraps of Poetry," we find many a
wayward and impassioned verse, songs rising little above the humblest
country strain, or bursting into an elegance and a beauty worthy of
the highest of minstrels. The first words noted down are the stanzas
which he composed on his fair companion of the harvest-field, out of
whose hands he loved to remove the nettle-stings and the thistles: the
prettier song, beginning "Now westlin win's and slaughtering guns,"
written on the lass of Kirkoswald, with whom, instead of learning
mensuration, he chose to wander under the light of the moon: a strain
better still, inspired by the charms of a neighbouring maiden, of the
name of Annie Ronald; another, of equal merit, arising out of his
nocturnal adventures among the lasses of the west; and, finally, that
crowning glory of all his lyric compositions, "Green grow the rashes."
This little clasped book, however, seems not to have been made his
confidante till his twenty-third or twenty-fourth year: he probably
admitted to its pages only the strains which he loved most, or such as
had taken a place in his memory: at whatever age it was commenced, he
had then begun to estimate his own character, and intimate his
fortunes, for he calls himself in its pages "a man who had little art
in making money, and still less in keeping it."

We have not been told how welcome the incense of his songs rendered
him to the rustic maidens of Kyle: women are not apt to be won by the
charms of verse; they have little sympathy with dreamers on Parnassus,
and allow themselves to be influenced by something more substantial
than the roses and lilies of the muse. Burns had other claims to their
regard then those arising from poetic skill: he was tall, young,
good-looking, with dark, bright eyes, and words and wit at will: he
had a sarcastic sally for all lads who presumed to cross his path, and
a soft, persuasive word for all lasses on whom he fixed his fancy: nor
was this all--he was adventurous and bold in love trystes and love
excursions: long, rough roads, stormy nights, flooded rivers, and
lonesome places, were no letts to him; and when the dangers or labours
of the way were braved, he was alike skilful in eluding vigilant
aunts, wakerife mothers, and envious or suspicions sisters: for rivals
he had a blow as ready us he had a word, and was familiar with snug
stack-yards, broomy glens, and nooks of hawthorn and honeysuckle,
where maidens love to be wooed. This rendered him dearer to woman's
heart than all the lyric effusions of his fancy; and when we add to
such allurements, a warm, flowing, and persuasive eloquence, we need
not wonder that woman listened and was won; that one of the most
charming damsels of the West said, an hour with him in the dark was
worth a lifetime of light with any other body; or that the
accomplished and beautiful Duchess of Gordon declared, in a latter
day, that no man ever carried her so completely off her feet as Robert

It is one of the delusions of the poet's critics and biographers, that
the sources of his inspiration are to be found in the great classic
poets of the land, with some of whom he had from his youth been
familiar: there is little or no trace of them in any of his
compositions. He read and wondered--he warmed his fancy at their
flame, he corrected his own natural taste by theirs, but he neither
copied nor imitated, and there are but two or three allusions to Young
and Shakspeare in all the range of his verse. He could not but feel
that he was the scholar of a different school, and that his thirst was
to be slaked at other fountains. The language in which those great
bards embodied their thoughts was unapproachable to an Ayrshire
peasant; it was to him as an almost foreign tongue: he had to think
and feel in the not ungraceful or inharmonious language of his own
vale, and then, in a manner, translate it into that of Pope or of
Thomson, with the additional difficulty of finding English words to
express the exact meaning of those of Scotland, which had chiefly been
retained because equivalents could not be found in the more elegant
and grammatical tongue. Such strains as those of the polished Pope or
the sublimer Milton were beyond his power, less from deficiency of
genius than from lack of language: he could, indeed, write English
with ease and fluency; but when he desired to be tender or
impassioned, to persuade or subdue, he had recourse to the Scottish,
and he found it sufficient.

The goddesses or the Dalilahs of the young poet's song were, like the
language in which he celebrated them, the produce of the district; not
dames high and exalted, but lasses of the barn and of the byre, who
had never been in higher company than that of shepherds or ploughmen,
or danced in a politer assembly than that of their fellow-peasants, on
a barn-floor, to the sound of the district fiddle. Nor even of these
did he choose the loveliest to lay out the wealth of his verse upon:
he has been accused, by his brother among others, of lavishing the
colours of his fancy on very ordinary faces. "He had always," says
Gilbert, "a jealousy of people who were richer than himself; his love,
therefore, seldom settled on persons of this description. When he
selected any one, out of the sovereignty of his good pleasure, to whom
he should pay his particular attention, she was instantly invested
with a sufficient stock of charms out of the plentiful stores of his
own imagination: and there was often a great dissimilitude between his
fair captivator, as she appeared to others and as she seemed when
invested with the attributes he gave her." "My heart," he himself,
speaking of those days, observes, "was completely tinder, and was
eternally lighted up by some goddess or other." Yet, it must be
acknowledged that sufficient room exists for believing that Burns and
his brethren of the West had very different notions of the captivating
and the beautiful; while they were moved by rosy checks and looks of
rustic health, he was moved, like a sculptor, by beauty of form or by
harmony of motion, and by expression, which lightened up ordinary
features and rendered them captivating. Such, I have been told, were
several of the lasses of the West, to whom, if he did not surrender
his heart, he rendered homage: and both elegance of form and beauty of
face were visible to all in those of whom he afterwards sang--the
Hamiltons and the Burnets of Edinburgh, and the Millers and M'Murdos
of the Nith.

The mind of Burns took now a wider range: he had sung of the maidens
of Kyle in strains not likely soon to die, and though not weary of the
softnesses of love, he desired to try his genius on matters of a
sterner kind--what those subjects were he tells us; they were homely
and at hand, of a native nature and of Scottish growth: places
celebrated in Roman story, vales made famous in Grecian song--hills of
vines and groves of myrtle had few charms for him. "I am hurt," thus
he writes in August, 1785, "to see other towns, rivers, woods, and
haughs of Scotland immortalized in song, while my dear native county,
the ancient Baillieries of Carrick, Kyle, and Cunningham, famous in
both ancient and modern times for a gallant and warlike race of
inhabitants--a county where civil and religious liberty have ever
found their first support and their asylum--a county, the birth-place
of many famous philosophers, soldiers, and statesmen, and the scene of
many great events recorded in history, particularly the actions of the
glorious Wallace--yet we have never had one Scotch poet of any
eminence to make the fertile banks of Irvine, the romantic woodlands
and sequestered scenes of Ayr. and the mountainous source and winding
sweep of the Doon, emulate Tay, Forth, Ettrick, and Tweed. This is a
complaint I would gladly remedy, but, alas! I am far unequal to the
task, both in genius and education." To fill up with glowing verse the
outline which this sketch indicates, was to raise the long-laid spirit
of national song--to waken a strain to which the whole land would
yield response--a miracle unattempted--certainly unperformed--since
the days of the Gentle Shepherd. It is true that the tongue of the
muse had at no time been wholly silent; that now and then a burst of
sublime woe, like the song of "Mary, weep no more for me," and of
lasting merriment and humour, like that of "Tibbie Fowler," proved
that the fire of natural poesie smouldered, if it did not blaze; while
the social strains of the unfortunate Fergusson revived in the city,
if not in the field, the memory of him who sang the "Monk and the
Miller's wife." But notwithstanding these and other productions of
equal merit, Scottish poesie, it must be owned, had lost much of its
original ecstasy and fervour, and that the boldest efforts of the
muse no more equalled the songs of Dunbar, of Douglas, of Lyndsay, and
of James the Fifth, than the sound of an artificial cascade resembles
the undying thunders of Corra.

To accomplish this required an acquaintance with man beyond what the
forge, the change-house, and the market-place of the village supplied;
a look further than the barn-yard and the furrowed field, and a
livelier knowledge and deeper feeling of history than, probably, Burns
ever possessed. To all ready and accessible sources of knowledge he
appears to have had recourse; he sought matter for his muse in the
meetings, religious as well as social, of the district--consorted with
staid matrons, grave plodding farmers--with those who preached as well
as those who listened--with sharp-tongued attorneys, who laid down the
law over a Mauchline gill--with country squires, whose wisdom was
great in the game-laws, and in contested elections--and with roving
smugglers, who at that time hung, as a cloud, on all the western coast
of Scotland. In the company of farmers and fellow-peasants, he
witnessed scenes which he loved to embody in verse, saw pictures of
peace and joy, now woven into the web of his song, and had a poetic
impulse given to him both by cottage devotion and cottage merriment.
If he was familiar with love and all its outgoings and incomings--had
met his lass in the midnight shade, or walked with her under the moon,
or braved a stormy night and a haunted road for her sake--he was as
well acquainted with the joys which belong to social intercourse, when
instruments of music speak to the feet, when the reek of punchbowls
gives a tongue to the staid and demure, and bridal festivity, and
harvest-homes, bid a whole valley lift up its voice and be glad. It is
more difficult to decide what poetic use he could make of his
intercourse with that loose and lawless class of men, who, from love
of gain, broke the laws and braved the police of their country: that
he found among smugglers, as he says, "men of noble virtues,
magnanimity, generosity, disinterested friendship, and modesty," is
easier to believe than that he escaped the contamination of their
sensual manners and prodigality. The people of Kyle regarded this
conduct with suspicion: they were not to be expected to know that when
Burns ranted and housed with smugglers, conversed with tinkers huddled
in a kiln, or listened to the riotous mirth of a batch of "randie
gangrel bodies" as they "toomed their powks and pawned their duds,"
for liquor in Poosie Nansie's, he was taking sketches for the future
entertainment and instruction of the world; they could not foresee
that from all this moral strength and poetic beauty would arise.

While meditating something better than a ballad to his mistress's
eyebrow, he did not neglect to lay out the little skill he had in
cultivating the grounds of Mossgiel. The prosperity in which he found
himself in the first and second seasons, induced him to hope that good
fortune had not yet forsaken him: a genial summer and a good market
seldom come together to the farmer, but at first they came to Burns;
and to show that he was worthy of them, he bought books on
agriculture, calculated rotation of crops, attended sales, held the
plough with diligence, used the scythe, the reap-hook, and the flail,
with skill, and the malicious even began to say that there was
something more in him than wild sallies of wit and foolish rhymes. But
the farm lay high, the bottom was wet, and in a third season,
indifferent seed and a wet harvest robbed him at once of half his
crop: he seems to have regarded this as an intimation from above, that
nothing which he undertook would prosper: and consoled himself with
joyous friends and with the society of the muse. The judgment cannot
be praised which selected a farm with a wet cold bottom, and sowed it
with unsound seed; but that man who despairs because a wet season robs
him of the fruits of the field, is unfit for the warfare of life,
where fortitude is as much required as by a general on a field of
battle, when the tide of success threatens to flow against him. The
poet seems to have believed, very early in life, that he was none of
the elect of Mammon; that he was too much of a genius ever to acquire
wealth by steady labour, or by, as he loved to call it, gin-horse
prudence, or grubbing industry.

And yet there were hours and days in which Burns, even when the rain
fell on his unhoused sheaves, did not wholly despair of himself: he
laboured, nay sometimes he slaved on his farm; and at intervals of
toil, sought to embellish his mind with such knowledge as might be
useful, should chance, the goddess who ruled his lot, drop him upon
some of the higher places of the land. He had, while he lived at
Tarbolton, united with some half-dozen young men, all sons of farmers
in that neighbourhood, in forming a club, of which the object was to
charm away a few evening hours in the week with agreeable chit-chat,
and the discussion of topics of economy or love. Of this little
society the poet was president, and the first question they were
called on to settle was this, "Suppose a young man bred a farmer, but
without any fortune, has it in his power to marry either of two women;
the one a girl of large fortune, but neither handsome in person, nor
agreeable in conversation, but who can manage the household affairs of
a farm well enough; the other of them, a girl every way agreeable in
person, conversation, and behaviour, but without any fortune, which of
them shall he choose?" This question was started by the poet, and once
every week the club were called to the consideration of matters
connected with rural life and industry: their expenses were limited to
threepence a week; and till the departure of Burns to the distant
Mossgiel, the club continued to live and thrive; on his removal it
lost the spirit which gave it birth, and was heard of no more; but its
aims and its usefulness were revived in Mauchline, where the poet was
induced to establish a society which only differed from the other in
spending the moderate fines arising from non-attendance, on books,
instead of liquor. Here, too, Burns was the president, and the members
were chiefly the sons of husbandmen, whom he found, he said, more
natural in their manners, and more agreeable than the self-sufficient
mechanics of villages and towns, who were ready to dispute on all
topics, and inclined to be convinced on none. This club had the
pleasure of subscribing for the first edition of the works of its
great associate. It has been questioned by his first biographer,
whether the refinement of mind, which follows the reading of books of
eloquence and delicacy,--the mental improvement resulting from such
calm discussions as the Tarbolton and Mauchline clubs indulged in, was
not injurious to men engaged in the barn and at the plough. A
well-ordered mind will be strengthened, as well as embellished, by
elegant knowledge, while over those naturally barren and ungenial all
that is refined or noble will pass as a sunny shower scuds over lumps
of granite, bringing neither warmth nor life.

In the account which the poet gives to Moore of his early poems, he
says little about his exquisite lyrics, and less about "The Death and
dying Words of Poor Mailie," or her "Elegy," the first of his poems
where the inspiration of the muse is visible; but he speaks with
exultation of the fame which those indecorous sallies, "Holy Willie's
Prayer" and "The Holy Tulzie" brought from some of the clergy, and the
people of Ayrshire. The west of Scotland is ever in the van, when
mutters either political or religious are agitated. Calvinism was
shaken, at this time, with a controversy among its professors, of
which it is enough to say, that while one party rigidly adhered to the
word and letter of the Confession of Faith, and preached up the palmy
and wholesome days of the Covenant, the other sought to soften the
harsher rules and observances of the kirk, and to bring moderation and
charity into its discipline as well as its councils. Both believed
themselves right, both were loud and hot, and personal,--bitter with a
bitterness only known in religious controversy. The poet sided with
the professors of the New Light, as the more tolerant were called, and
handled the professors of the Old Light, as the other party were
named, with the most unsparing severity. For this he had sufficient
cause:--he had experienced the mercilessness of kirk-discipline, when
his frailties caused him to visit the stool of repentance; and
moreover his friend Gavin Hamilton, a writer in Mauchline, had been
sharply censured by the same authorities, for daring to gallop on
Sundays. Moodie, of Riccarton, and Russel, of Kilmarnock, were the
first who tasted of the poet's wrath. They, though professors of the
Old Light, had quarrelled, and, it is added, fought: "The Holy
Tulzie," which recorded, gave at the same time wings to the scandal;
while for "Holy Willie," an elder of Mauchline, and an austere and
hollow pretender to righteousness, he reserved the fiercest of all his
lampoons. In "Holy Willie's Prayer," he lays a burning hand on the
terrible doctrine of predestination: this is a satire, daring,
personal, and profane. Willie claims praise in the singular,
acknowledges folly in the plural, and makes heaven accountable for his
sins! in a similar strain of undevout satire, he congratulates Goudie,
of Kilmarnock, on his Essays on Revealed Religion. These poems,
particularly the two latter, are the sharpest lampoons in the

While drudging in the cause of the New Light controversialists, Burns
was not unconsciously strengthening his hands for worthier toils: the
applause which selfish divines bestowed on his witty, but graceless
effusions, could not be enough for one who knew how fleeting the fame
was which came from the heat of party disputes; nor was he insensible
that songs of a beauty unknown for a century to national poesy, had
been unregarded in the hue and cry which arose on account of "Holy
Willie's Prayer" and "The Holy Tulzie." He hesitated to drink longer
out of the agitated puddle of Calvinistic controversy, he resolved to
slake his thirst at the pure well-springs of patriot feeling and
domestic love; and accordingly, in the last and best of his
controversial compositions, he rose out of the lower regions of
lampoon into the upper air of true poetry. "The Holy Fair," though
stained in one or two verses with personalities, exhibits a scene
glowing with character and incident and life: the aim of the poem is
not so much to satirize one or two Old Light divines, as to expose and
rebuke those almost indecent festivities, which in too many of the
western parishes accompanied the administration of the sacrament. In
the earlier days of the church, when men were staid and sincere, it
was, no doubt, an impressive sight to see rank succeeding rank, of the
old and the young, all calm and all devout, seated before the tent of
the preacher, in the sunny hours of June, listening to his eloquence,
or partaking of the mystic bread and wine; but in these our latter
days, when discipline is relaxed, along with the sedate and the pious
come swarms of the idle and the profligate, whom no eloquence can
edify and no solemn rite affect. On these, and such as these, the poet
has poured his satire; and since this desirable reprehension the Holy
Fairs, east as well as west, have become more decorous, if not more

His controversial sallies were accompanied, or followed, by a series
of poems which showed that national character and manners, as Lockhart
has truly and happily said, were once more in the hands of a national
poet. These compositions are both numerous and various: they record
the poet's own experience and emotions; they exhibit the highest moral
feeling, the purest patriotic sentiments, and a deep sympathy with the
fortunes, both here and hereafter of his fellow-men; they delineate
domestic manners, man's stern as well as social hours, and mingle the
serious with the joyous, the sarcastic with the solemn, the mournful
with the pathetic, the amiable with the gay, and all with an ease and
unaffected force and freedom known only to the genius of Shakspeare.
In "The Twa Dogs" he seeks to reconcile the labourer to his lot, and
intimates, by examples drawn from the hall as well as the cottage,
that happiness resides in the humblest abodes, and is even partial to
the clouted shoe. In "Scotch Drink" he excites man to love his
country, by precepts both heroic and social; and proves that while
wine and brandy are the tipple of slaves, whiskey and ale are the
drink of the free: sentiments of a similar kind distinguish his
"Earnest Cry and Prayer to the Scotch Representatives in the House of
Commons," each of whom he exhorts by name to defend the remaining
liberties and immunities of his country. A higher tone distinguishes
the "Address to the Deil:" he records all the names, and some of them
are strange ones; and all the acts, and some of them are as whimsical
as they are terrible, of this far kenned and noted personage; to these
he adds some of the fiend's doings as they stand in Scripture,
together with his own experiences; and concludes by a hope, as
unexpected as merciful and relenting, that Satan may not be exposed to
an eternity of torments. "The Dream" is a humorous sally, and may be
almost regarded as prophetic. The poet feigns himself present, in
slumber, at the Royal birth-day; and supposes that he addresses his
majesty, on his household matters as well as the affairs of the
nation. Some of the princes, it has been satirically hinted, behaved
afterwards in such a way as if they wished that the scripture of the
Burns should be fulfilled: in this strain, he has imitated the license
and equalled the wit of some of the elder Scottish Poets.

"The Vision" is wholly serious; it exhibits the poet in one of those
fits of despondency which the dull, who have no misgivings, never
know: he dwells with sarcastic bitterness on the opportunities which,
for the sake of song, he has neglected of becoming wealthy, and is
drawing a sad parallel between rags and riches, when the muse steps in
and cheer his despondency, by assuring him of undying fame.
"Halloween" is a strain of a more homely kind, recording the
superstitious beliefs, and no less superstitious doings of Old
Scotland, on that night, when witches and elves and evil spirits are
let loose among the children of men: it reaches far back into manners
and customs, and is a picture, curious and valuable. The tastes and
feelings of husbandmen inspired "The old Farmer's Address to his old
mare Maggie," which exhibits some pleasing recollections of his days
of courtship and hours of sociality. The calm, tranquil picture of
household happiness and devotion in "the Cotter's Saturday Night," has
induced Hogg, among others, to believe that it has less than usual of
the spirit of the poet, but it has all the spirit that was required;
the toil of the week has ceased, the labourer has returned to his
well-ordered home--his "cozie ingle and his clean hearth-stane,"--and
with his wife and children beside him, turns his thoughts to the
praise of that God to whom he owes all: this he performs with a
reverence and an awe, at once natural, national, and poetic. "The
Mouse" is a brief and happy and very moving poem: happy, for it
delineates, with wonderful truth and life, the agitation of the mouse
when the coulter broke into its abode; and moving, for the poet takes
the lesson of ruin to himself, and feels the present and dreads the
future. "The Mountain Daisy," once, more properly, called by Burns
"The Gowan," resembles "The Mouse" in incident and in moral, and is
equally happy, in language and conception. "The Lament" is a dark, and
all but tragic page, from the poet's own life. "Man was made to
Mourn'" takes the part of the humble and the homeless, against the
coldness and selfishness of the wealthy and the powerful, a favourite
topic of meditation with Burns. He refrained, for awhile, from making
"Death and Doctor Hernbook" public; a poem which deviates from the
offensiveness of personal satire, into a strain of humour, at once
airy and original.

His epistles in verse may be reckoned amongst his happiest
productions: they are written in all moods of mind, and are, by turns,
lively and sad; careless and serious;--now giving advice, then taking
it; laughing at learning, and lamenting its want; scoffing at
propriety and wealth, yet admitting, that without the one he cannot be
wise, nor wanting the other, independent. The Epistle to David Sillar
is the first of these compositions: the poet has no news to tell, and
no serious question to ask: he has only to communicate his own
emotions of joy, or of sorrow, and these he relates and discusses with
singular elegance as well as ease, twining, at the same time, into the
fabric of his composition, agreeable allusions to the taste and
affections of his correspondent. He seems to have rated the intellect
of Sillar as the highest among his rustic friends: he pays him more
deference, and addresses him in a higher vein than he observes to
others. The Epistles to Lapraik, to Smith, and to Rankine, are in a
more familiar, or social mood, and lift the veil from the darkness of
the poet's condition, and exhibit a mind of first-rate power, groping,
and that surely, its way to distinction, in spite of humility of
birth, obscurity of condition, and the coldness of the wealthy or the
titled. The epistles of other poets owe some of their fame to the rank
or the reputation of those to whom they are addressed; those of Burns
are written, one and all, to nameless and undistinguished men. Sillar
was a country schoolmaster, Lapraik a moorland laird, Smith a small
shop-keeper, and Rankine a farmer, who loved a gill and a joke. Yet
these men were the chief friends, the only literary associates of the
poet, during those early years, in which, with some exceptions, his
finest works were written.

Burns, while he was writing the poems, the chief of which we have
named, was a labouring husbandman on the little farm of Mossgiel, a
pursuit which affords but few leisure hours for either reading or
pondering; but to him the stubble-field was musing-ground, and the
walk behind the plough, a twilight saunter on Parnassus. As, with a
careful hand and a steady eye, he guided his horses, and saw an evenly
furrow turned up by the share, his thoughts were on other themes; he
was straying in haunted glens, when spirits have power--looking in
fancy on the lasses "skelping barefoot," in silks and in scarlets, to
a field-preaching--walking in imagination with the rosy widow, who on
Halloween ventured to dip her left sleeve in the burn, where three
lairds' lands met--making the "bottle clunk," with joyous smugglers,
on a lucky run of gin or brandy--or if his thoughts at all approached
his acts--he was moralizing on the daisy oppressed by the furrow which
his own ploughshare had turned. That his thoughts were thus wandering
we have his own testimony, with that of his brother Gilbert; and were
both wanting, the certainty that he composed the greater part of his
immortal poems in two years, from the summer of 1784 to the summer of
1786, would be evidence sufficient. The muse must have been strong
within him, when, in spite of the rains and sleets of the
"ever-dropping west"--when in defiance of the hot and sweaty brows
occasioned by reaping and thrashing--declining markets, and showery
harvests--the clamour of his laird for his rent, and the tradesman for
his account, he persevered in song, and sought solace in verse, when
all other solace was denied him.

The circumstances under which his principal poems were composed, have
been related: the "Lament of Mailie" found its origin in the
catastrophe of a pet ewe; the "Epistle to Sillar" was confided by the
poet to his brother while they were engaged in weeding the kale-yard;
the "Address to the Deil" was suggested by the many strange portraits
which belief or fear had drawn of Satan, and was repeated by the one
brother to the other, on the way with their carts to the kiln, for
lime; the "Cotter's Saturday Night" originated in the reverence with
which the worship of God was conducted in the family of the poet's
father, and in the solemn tone with which he desired his children to
compose themselves for praise and prayer; "the Mouse," and its moral
companion "the Daisy," were the offspring of the incidents which they
relate; and "Death and Doctor Hornbook" was conceived at a
freemason-meeting, where the hero of the piece had shown too much of
the pedant, and composed on his way home, after midnight, by the poet,
while his head was somewhat dizzy with drink. One of the most
remarkable of his compositions, the "Jolly Beggars," a drama, to which
nothing in the language of either the North or South can be compared,
and which was unknown till after the death of the author, was
suggested by a scene which he saw in a low ale-house, into which, on a
Saturday night, most of the sturdy beggars of the district had met to
sell their meal, pledge their superfluous rags, and drink their gains.
It may be added, that he loved to walk in solitary spots; that his
chief musing-ground was the banks of the Ayr; the season most
congenial to his fancy that of winter, when the winds were heard in
the leafless woods, and the voice of the swollen streams came from
vale and hill; and that he seldom composed a whole poem at once, but
satisfied with a few fervent verses, laid the subject aside, till the
muse summoned him to another exertion of fancy. In a little back
closet, still existing in the farm-house of Mossgiel, he committed
most of his poems to paper.

But while the poet rose, the farmer sank. It was not the cold clayey
bottom of his ground, nor the purchase of unsound seed-corn, not the
fluctuation in the markets alone, which injured him; neither was it
the taste for freemason socialities, nor a desire to join the mirth of
comrades, either of the sea or the shore: neither could it be wholly
imputed to his passionate following of the softer sex--indulgence in
the "illicit rove," or giving way to his eloquence at the feet of one
whom he loved and honoured; other farmers indulged in the one, or
suffered from the other, yet were prosperous. His want of success
arose from other causes; his heart was not with his task, save by fits
and starts: he felt he was designed for higher purposes than
ploughing, and harrowing, and sowing, and reaping: when the sun called
on him, after a shower, to come to the plough, or when the ripe corn
invited the sickle, or the ready market called for the measured grain,
the poet was under other spells, and was slow to avail himself of
those golden moments which come but once in the season. To this may be
added, a too superficial knowledge of the art of farming, and a want
of intimacy with the nature of the soil he was called to cultivate. He
could speak fluently of leas, and faughs, and fallows, of change of
seed and rotation of crops, but practical knowledge and application
were required, and in these Burns was deficient. The moderate gain
which those dark days of agriculture brought to the economical farmer,
was not obtained: the close, the all but niggardly care by which he
could win and keep his crown-piece,--gold was seldom in the farmer's
hand,--was either above or below the mind of the poet, and Mossgiel,
which, in the hands of an assiduous farmer, might have made a
reasonable return for labour, was unproductive, under one who had
little skill, less economy, and no taste for the task.

Other reasons for his failure have been assigned. It is to the credit
of the moral sentiments of the husbandmen of Scotland, that when one
of their class forgets what virtue requires, and dishonours, without
reparation, even the humblest of the maidens, he is not allowed to go
unpunished. No proceedings take place, perhaps one hard word is not
spoken; but he is regarded with loathing by the old and the devout; he
is looked on by all with cold and reproachful eyes--sorrow is foretold
as his lot, sure disaster as his fortune; and is these chance to
arrive, the only sympathy expressed is, "What better could he expect?"
Something of this sort befel Burns: he had already satisfied the kirk
in the matter of "Sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess," his daughter,
by one of his mother's maids; and now, to use his own words, he was
brought within point-blank of the heaviest metal of the kirk by a
similar folly. The fair transgressor, both for her fathers and her own
youth, had a large share of public sympathy. Jean Armour, for it is of
her I speak, was in her eighteenth year; with dark eyes, a handsome
foot, and a melodious tongue, she made her way to the poet's
heart--and, as their stations in life were equal, it seemed that they
had only to be satisfied themselves to render their union easy. But
her father, in addition to being a very devout man, was a zealot of
the Old Light; and Jean, dreading his resentment, was willing, while
she loved its unforgiven satirist, to love him in secret, in the hope
that the time would come when she might safely avow it: she admitted
the poet, therefore, to her company in lonesome places, and walks
beneath the moon, where they both forgot themselves, and were at last
obliged to own a private marriage as a protection from kirk censure.
The professors of the Old Light rejoiced, since it brought a scoffing
rhymer within reach of their hand; but her father felt a twofold
sorrow, because of the shame of a favourite daughter, and for having
committed the folly with one both loose in conduct and profane of
speech. He had cause to be angry, but his anger, through his zeal,
became tyrannous: in the exercise of what he called a father's power,
he compelled his child to renounce the poet as her husband and burn
the marriage-lines; for he regarded her marriage, without the kirk's
permission, with a man so utterly cast away, as a worse crime than her
folly. So blind is anger! She could renounce neither her husband nor
his offspring in a lawful way, and in spite of the destruction of the
marriage lines, and renouncing the name of wife, she was as much Mrs.
Burns as marriage could make her. No one concerned seemed to think so.
Burns, who loved her tenderly, went all but mad when she renounced
him: he gave up his share of Mossgiel to his brother, and roamed,
moody and idle, about the land, with no better aim in life than a
situation in one of our western sugar-isles, and a vague hope of
distinction as a poet.

How the distinction which he desired as a poet was to be obtained,
was, to a poor bard in a provincial place, a sore puzzle: there were
no enterprising booksellers in the western land, and it was not to be
expected that the printers of either Kilmarnock or Paisley had money
to expend on a speculation in rhyme: it is much to the honour of his
native county that the publication which he wished for was at last
made easy. The best of his poems, in his own handwriting, had found
their way into the hands of the Ballantynes, Hamiltons, Parkers, and
Mackenzies, and were much admired. Mrs. Stewart, of Stair and Afton, a
lady of distinction and taste, had made, accidentally, the
acquaintance both of Burns and some of his songs, and was ready to
befriend him; and so favourable was the impression on all hands, that
a subscription, sufficient to defray the outlay of paper and print,
was soon filled up--one hundred copies being subscribed for by the
Parkers alone. He soon arranged materials for a volume, and put them
into the hands of a printer in Kilmarnock, the Wee Johnnie of one of
his biting epigrams. Johnnie was startled at the unceremonious freedom
of most of the pieces, and asked the poet to compose one of modest
language and moral aim, to stand at the beginning, and excuse some of
those free ones which followed: Burns, whose "Twa Dogs" was then
incomplete, finished the poem at a sitting, and put it in the van,
much to his printer's satisfaction. If the "Jolly Beggars" was omitted
for any other cause than its freedom of sentiment and language, or
"Death and Doctor Hornbook" from any other feeling than that of being
too personal, the causes of their exclusion have remained a secret. It
is less easy to account for the emission of many songs of high merit
which he had among his papers: perhaps he thought those which he
selected were sufficient to test the taste of the public. Before he
printed the whole, he, with the consent of his brother, altered his
name from Burness to Burns, a change which, I am told, he in after
years regretted.

In the summer of the year 1786, the little volume, big with the hopes
and fortunes of the bard made its appearance: it was entitled simply,
"Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect; by Robert Burns;" and
accompanied by a modest preface, saying, that he submitted his book to
his country with fear and with trembling, since it contained little of
the art of poesie, and at the best was but a voice given, rude, he
feared, and uncouth, to the loves, the hopes, and the fears of his own
bosom. Had a summer sun risen on a winter morning, it could not have
surprised the Lowlands of Scotland more than this Kilmarnock volume
surprised and delighted the people, one and all. The milkmaid sang his
songs, the ploughman repeated his poems; the old quoted both, and
ever the devout rejoiced that idle verse had at last mixed a tone of
morality with its mirth. The volume penetrated even into Nithsdale.
"Keep it out of the way of your children," said a Cameronian divine,
when he lent it to my father, "lest ye find them, as I found mine,
reading it on the Sabbath." No wonder that such a volume made its way
to the hearts of a peasantry whose taste in poetry had been the marvel
of many writers: the poems were mostly on topics with which they were
familiar: the language was that of the fireside, raised above the
vulgarities of common life, by a purifying spirit of expression and
the exalting fervour of inspiration: and there was such a brilliant
and graceful mixture of the elegant and the homely, the lofty and the
low, the familiar and the elevated--such a rapid succession of scenes
which moved to tenderness or tears; or to subdued mirth or open
laughter--unlooked for allusions to scripture, or touches of sarcasm
and scandal--of superstitions to scare, and of humour to
delight--while through the whole was diffused, as the scent of flowers
through summer air, a moral meaning--a sentimental beauty, which
sweetened and sanctified all. The poet's expectations from this little
venture were humble: he hoped as much money from it as would pay for
his passage to the West Indies, where he proposed to enter into the
service of some of the Scottish settlers, and help to manage the
double mystery of sugar-making and slavery.

The hearty applause which I have recorded came chiefly from the
husbandman, the shepherd, and the mechanic: the approbation of the
magnates of the west, though not less-warm, was longer in coming. Mrs.
Stewart of Stair, indeed, commended the poems and cheered their
author: Dugald Stewart received his visits with pleasure, and wondered
at his vigour of conversation as much as at his muse: the door of the
house of Hamilton was open to him, where the table was ever spread,
and the hand ever ready to help: while the purses of the Ballantynes
and the Parkers were always as open to him as were the doors of their
houses. Those persons must be regarded as the real patrons of the
poet: the high names of the district are not to be found among those
who helped him with purse and patronage in 1786, that year of deep
distress and high distinction. The Montgomerys came with their praise
when his fame was up; the Kennedys and the Boswells were silent: and
though the Cunninghams gave effectual aid, it was when the muse was
crying with a loud voice before him, "Come all and see the man whom I
delight to honour." It would be unjust as well as ungenerous not to
mention the name of Mrs. Dunlop among the poet's best and early
patrons: the distance at which she lived from Mossgiel had kept his
name from her till his poems appeared: but his works induced her to
desire his acquaintance, and she became his warmest and surest friend.

To say the truth, Burns endeavoured in every honourable way to obtain
the notice of those who had influence in the land: he copied out the
best of his unpublished poems in a fair hand, and inserting them in
his printed volume, presented it to those who seemed slow to buy: he
rewarded the notice of this one with a song--the attentions of that
one with a sally of encomiastic verse: he left psalms of his own
composing in the manse when he feasted with a divine: he enclosed
"Holy Willie's Prayer," with an injunction to be grave, to one who
loved mirth: he sent the "Holy Fair" to one whom he invited to drink a
gill out of a mutchkin stoup, at Mauchline market; and on accidentally
meeting with Lord Daer, he immediately commemorated the event in a
sally of verse, of a strain more free and yet as flattering as ever
flowed from the lips of a court bard. While musing over the names of
those on whom fortune had smiled, yet who had neglected to smile on
him, he remembered that he had met Miss Alexander, a young beauty of
the west, in the walks of Ballochmyle; and he recorded the impression
which this fair vision made on him in a song of unequalled elegance
and melody. He had met her in the woods in July, on the 18th of
November he sent her the song, and reminded her of the circumstance
from which it arose, in a letter which it is evident he had laboured
to render polished and complimentary. The young lady took no notice of
either the song or the poet, though willing, it is said, to hear of
both now:--this seems to have been the last attempt he made on the
taste or the sympathies of the gentry of his native district: for on
the very day following we find him busy in making arrangements for his
departure to Jamaica.

For this step Burns had more than sufficient reasons: the profits of
his volume amounted to little more than enough to waft him across the
Atlantic: Wee Johnnie, though the edition was all sold, refused to
risk another on speculation: his friends, both Ballantynes and
Parkers, volunteered to relieve the printer's anxieties, but the poet
declined their bounty, and gloomily indented himself in a ship about
to sail from Greenock, and called on his muse to take farewell of
Caledonia, in the last song he ever expected to measure in his native
land. That fine lyric, beginning "The gloomy night is gathering fast,"
was the offspring of these moments of regret and sorrow. His feelings
were not expressed in song alone: he remembered his mother and his
natural daughter, and made an assignment of all that pertained to him
at Mossgiel--and that was but little--and of all the advantage which a
cruel, unjust, and insulting law allowed in the proceeds of his poems,
for their support and behoof. This document was publicly read in the
presence of the poet, at the market-cross of Ayr, by his friend
William Chalmers, a notary public. Even this step was to Burns one of
danger: some ill-advised person had uncoupled the merciless pack of
the law at his heels, and he was obliged to shelter himself as he best
could, in woods, it is said, by day and in barns by night, till the
final hour of his departure came. That hour arrived, and his chest was
on the way to the ship, when a letter was put into his hand which
seemed to light him to brighter prospects.

Among the friends whom his merits had procured him was Dr. Laurie, a
district clergyman, who had taste enough to admire the deep
sensibilities as well as the humour of the poet, and the generosity to
make known both his works and his worth to the warm-hearted and
amiable Blacklock, who boldly proclaimed him a poet of the first rank,
and lamented that he was not in Edinburgh to publish another edition
of his poems. Burns was ever a man of impulse: he recalled his chest
from Greenock; he relinquished the situation he had accepted on the
estate of one Douglas; took a secret leave of his mother, and, without
an introduction to any one, and unknown personally to all, save to
Dugald Stewart, away he walked, through Glenap, to Edinburgh, full of
new hope and confiding in his genius. When he arrived, he scarcely
knew what to do: he hesitated to call on the professor; he refrained
from making himself known, as it has been supposed he did, to the
enthusiastic Blacklock; but, sitting down in an obscure lodging, he
sought out an obscure printer, recommended by a humble comrade from
Kyle, and began to negotiate for a new edition of the Poems of the
Ayrshire Ploughman. This was not the way to go about it: his barge had
well nigh been shipwrecked in the launch; and he might have lived to
regret the letter which hindered his voyage to Jamaica, had he not met
by chance in the street a gentleman of the west, of the name of
Dalzell, who introduced him to the Earl of Glencairn, a nobleman whose
classic education did not hurt his taste for Scottish poetry, and who
was not too proud to lend his helping hand to a rustic stranger of
such merit as Burns. Cunningham carried him to Creech, then the Murray
of Edinburgh, a shrewd man of business, who opened the poet's eyes to
his true interests: the first proposals, then all but issued, were put
in the fire, and new ones printed and diffused over the island. The
subscription was headed by half the noblemen of the north: the
Caledonian Hunt, through the interest of Glencairn, took six hundred
copies: duchesses and countesses swelled the list, and such a crowding
to write down names had not been witnessed since the signing of the
solemn league and covenant.

While the subscription-papers were filling and the new volume printing
on a paper and in a type worthy of such high patronage, Burns remained
in Edinburgh, where, for the winter season, he was a lion, and one of an
unwonted kind. Philosophers, historians, and scholars had shaken the
elegant coteries of the city with their wit, or enlightened them with
their learning, but they were all men who had been polished by polite
letters or by intercourse with high life, and there was a sameness in
their very dress as well as address, of which peers and peeresses had
become weary. They therefore welcomed this rustic candidate for the
honour of giving wings to their hours of lassitude and weariness, with a
welcome more than common; and when his approach was announced, the
polished circle looked for the advent of a lout from the plough, in
whose uncouth manners and embarrassed address they might find matter
both for mirth and wonder. But they met with a barbarian who was not at
all barbarous: as the poet met in Lord Daer feelings and sentiments as
natural as those of a ploughman, so they met in a ploughman manners
worthy of a lord: his air was easy and unperplexed: his address was
perfectly well-bred, and elegant in its simplicity: he felt neither
eclipsed by the titled nor struck dumb before the learned and the
eloquent, but took his station with the ease and grace of one born to
it. In the society of men alone he spoke out: he spared neither his wit,
his humour, nor his sarcasm--he seemed to say to all--"I am a man, and
you are no more; and why should I not act and speak like one?"--it was
remarked, however, that he had not learnt, or did not desire, to conceal
his emotions--that he commended with more rapture than was courteous,
and contradicted with more bluntness than was accounted polite. It was
thus with him in the company of men: when woman approached, his look
altered, his eye beamed milder; all that was stern in his nature
underwent a change, and he received them with deference, but with a
consciousness that he could win their attention as he had won that of
others, who differed, indeed, from them only in the texture of their
kirtles. This natural power of rendering himself acceptable to women had
been observed and envied by Sillar, one of the dearest of his early
comrades; and it stood him in good stead now, when he was the object to
whom the Duchess of Gordon, the loveliest as well as the wittiest of
women--directed her discourse. Burns, she afterwards said, won the
attention of the Edinburgh ladies by a deferential way of address--by an
ease and natural grace of manners, as new as it was unexpected--that he
told them the stories of some of his tenderest songs or liveliest poems
in a style quite magical--enriching his little narratives, which had one
and all the merit of being short, with personal incidents of humour or
of pathos.

In a party, when Dr. Blair and Professor Walker were present, Burns
related the circumstances under which he had composed his melancholy
song, "The gloomy night is gathering fast," in a way even more
touching than the verses: and in the company of the ruling beauties of
the time, he hesitated not to lift the veil from some of the tenderer
parts of his own history, and give them glimpses of the romance of
rustic life. A lady of birth--one of his must willing listeners--used,
I am told, to say, that she should never forget the tale which he
related of his affection for Mary Campbell, his Highland Mary, as he
loved to call her. She was fair, he said, and affectionate, and as
guileless as she was beautiful; and beautiful he thought her in a very
high degree. The first time he saw her was during one of his musing
walks in the woods of Montgomery Castle; and the first time he spoke
to her was during the merriment of a harvest-kirn. There were others
there who admired her, but he addressed her, and had the luck to win
her regard from them all. He soon found that she was the lass whom he
had long sought, but never before found--that her good looks were
surpassed by her good sense; and her good sense was equalled by her
discretion and modesty. He met her frequently: she saw by his looks
that he was sincere; she put full trust in his love, and used to
wander with him among the green knowes and stream-banks till the sun
went down and the moon rose, talking, dreaming of love and the golden
days which awaited them. He was poor, and she had only her half-year's
fee, for she was in the condition of a servant; but thoughts of gear
never darkened their dream: they resolved to wed, and exchanged vows
of constancy and love. They plighted their vows on the Sabbath to
render them more sacred--they made them by a burn, where they had
courted, that open nature might be a witness--they made them over an
open Bible, to show that they thought of God in this mutual act--and
when they had done they both took water in their hands, and scattered
it in the air, to intimate that as the stream was pure so were their
intentions. They parted when they did this, but they parted never to
meet more: she died in a burning fever, during a visit to her
relations to prepare for her marriage; and all that he had of her was
a lock of her long bright hair, and her Bible, which she exchanged for

Even with the tales which he related of rustic love and adventure his
own story mingled; and ladies of rank heard, for the first time, that
in all that was romantic in the passion of love, and in all that was
chivalrous in sentiment, men of distinction, both by education and
birth, were at least equalled by the peasantry of the land. They
listened with interest, and inclined their feathers beside the bard,
to hear how love went on in the west, and in no case it ran quite
smooth. Sometimes young hearts were kept asunder by the sordid
feelings of parents, who could not be persuaded to bestow their
daughter, perhaps an only one, on a wooer who could not count penny
for penny, and number cow for cow: sometimes a mother desired her
daughter to look higher than to one of her station: for her beauty and
her education entitled her to match among the lairds, rather than the
tenants; and sometimes, the devotional tastes of both father and
mother, approving of personal looks and connexions, were averse to
see a daughter bestow her hand on one, whose language in religion was
indiscreet, and whose morals were suspected. Yet, neither the
vigilance of fathers, nor the suspicious care of aunts and mothers,
could succeed in keeping those asunder whose hearts were together; but
in these meetings circumspection and invention were necessary: all
fears were to be lulled by the seeming carelessness of the lass,--all
perils were to be met and braved by the spirit of the lad. His home,
perhaps, was at a distance, and he had wild woods to come through, and
deep streams to pass, before he could see the signal-light, now shown
and now withdrawn, at her window; he had to approach with a quick eye
and a wary foot, lest a father or a brother should see, and deter him:
he had sometimes to wish for a cloud upon the moon, whose light,
welcome to him on his way in the distance, was likely to betray him
when near; and he not unfrequently reckoned a wild night of wind and
rain as a blessing, since it helped to conceal his coming, and proved
to his mistress that he was ready to brave all for her sake. Of rivals
met and baffled; of half-willing and half-unconsenting maidens,
persuaded and won; of the light-hearted and the careless becoming
affectionate and tender; and the coy, the proud, and the satiric being
gained by "persuasive words, and more persuasive sighs," as dames had
been gained of old, he had tales enow. The ladies listened, and smiled
at the tender narratives of the poet.

Of his appearance among the sons as well as the daughters of men, we
have the account of Dugald Stewart. "Burns," says the philosopher,
"came to Edinburgh early in the winter: the attentions which he
received from all ranks and descriptions of persons, were such as
would have turned any head but his own. He retained the same
simplicity of manners and appearance which had struck me so forcibly
when I first saw him in the country: his dress was suited to his
station; plain and unpretending, with sufficient attention to
neatness: he always wore boots, and, when on more than usual ceremony,
buckskin breeches. His manners were manly, simple, and independent;
strongly expressive of conscious genius and worth, but without any
indication of forwardness, arrogance, or vanity. He took his share in
conversation, but not more than belonged to him, and listened with
apparent deference on subjects where his want of education deprived
him of the means of information. If there had been a little more of
gentleness and accommodation in his temper, he would have been still
more interesting; but he had been accustomed to give law in the circle
of his ordinary acquaintance, and his dread of anything approaching to
meanness or servility, rendered his manner somewhat decided and hard.
Nothing perhaps was more remarkable among his various attainments,
than the fluency and precision and originality of language, when he
spoke in company; more particularly as he aimed at purity in his turn
of expression, and avoided more successfully than most Scotsmen, the
peculiarities of Scottish phraseology. From his conversation I should
have pronounced him to have been fitted to excel in whatever walk of
ambition he had chosen to exert his abilities. He was passionately
fond of the beauties of nature, and I recollect he once told me, when
I was admiring a distant prospect in one of our morning walks, that
the sight of so many smoking cottages gave a pleasure to his mind,
which none could understand who had not witnessed, like himself, the
happiness and worth which cottages contained."

Such was the impression which Burns made at first on the fair, the
titled, and the learned of Edinburgh; an impression which, though
lessened by intimacy and closer examination on the part of the men,
remained unimpaired, on that of the softer sex, till his dying-day.
His company, during the season of balls and festivities, continued to
be courted by all who desired to be reckoned gay or polite. Cards of
invitation fell thick on him; he was not more welcome to the plumed
and jewelled groups, whom her fascinating Grace of Gordon gathered
about her, than he was to the grave divines and polished scholars, who
assembled in the rooms of Stewart, or Blair, or Robertson. The classic
socialities of Tytler, afterwards Lord Woodhouslee, or the elaborate
supper-tables of the whimsical Monboddo, whose guests imagined they
were entertained in the manner of Lucullus or of Cicero, were not
complete without the presence of the ploughman of Kyle; and the
feelings of the rustic poet, facing such companies, though of surprise
and delight at first, gradually subsided, he said, as he discerned,
that man differed from man only in the polish, and not in the grain.
But Edinburgh offered tables and entertainers of a less orderly and
staid character than those I have named--where the glass circulated
with greater rapidity; where the wit flowed more freely; and where
there were neither highbred ladies to charm conversation within the
bounds of modesty, nor serious philosophers, nor grave divines, to set
a limit to the license of speech, or the hours of enjoyment. To these
companions--and these were all of the better classes, the levities of
the rustic poet's wit and humour were as welcome us were the tenderest
of his narratives to the accomplished Duchess of Gordon and the
beautiful Miss Burnet of Monboddo; they raised a social roar not at
all classic, and demanded and provoked his sallies of wild humour, or
indecorous mirth, with as much delight as he had witnessed among the
lads of Kyle, when, at mill or forge, his humorous sallies abounded as
the ale flowed. In these enjoyments the rough, but learned William
Nicol, and the young and amiable Robert Ainslie shared: the name of
the poet was coupled with those of profane wits, free livers, and that
class of half-idle gentlemen who hang about the courts of law, or for
a season or two wear the livery of Mars, and handle cold iron.

Edinburgh had still another class of genteel convivialists, to whom
the poet was attracted by principles as well as by pleasure; these
were the relics of that once numerous body, the Jacobites, who still
loved to cherish the feelings of birth or education rather than of
judgment, and toasted the name of Stuart, when the last of the race
had renounced his pretensions to a throne, for the sake of peace and
the cross. Young men then, and high names were among them, annually
met on the pretender's birth-day, and sang songs in which the white
rose of Jacobitism flourished; toasted toasts announcing adherence to
the male line of the Bruce and the Stuart, and listened to the strains
of the laureate of the day, who prophesied, in drink, the dismissal of
the intrusive Hanoverian, by the right and might of the righteous and
disinherited line. Burns, who was descended from a northern race,
whoso father was suspected of having drawn the claymore in 1745, and
who loved the blood of the Keith-Marishalls, under whose banners his
ancestors had marched, readily united himself to a band in whose
sentiments, political and social, he was a sharer. He was received
with acclamation: the dignity of laureate was conferred upon him, and
his inauguration ode, in which he recalled the names and the deeds of
the Grahams, the Erskines, the Boyds, and the Gordons, was applauded
for its fire, as well as for its sentiments. Yet, though he ate and
drank and sang with Jacobites, he was only as far as sympathy and
poesie went, of their number: his reason renounced the principles and
the religion of the Stuart line; and though he shed a tear over their
fallen fortunes--though he sympathized with the brave and honourable
names that perished in their cause--though he cursed "the butcher,
Cumberland," and the bloody spirit which commanded the heads of the
good and the heroic to be stuck where they would affright the
passer-by, and pollute the air--he had no desire to see the splendid
fabric of constitutional freedom, which the united genius of all
parties had raised, thrown wantonly down. His Jacobitism influenced,
not his head, but his heart, and gave a mournful hue to many of his
lyric compositions.

Meanwhile his poems were passing through the press. Burns made a few
emendations of those published in the Kilmarnock edition, and he added
others which, as he expressed it, he had carded and spun, since he
passed Glenbuck. Some rather coarse lines were softened or omitted in
the "Twa Dogs;" others, from a change of his personal feelings, were
made in the "Vision:" "Death and Doctor Hornbook," excluded before,
was admitted now: the "Dream" was retained, in spite of the
remonstrances of Mrs. Stewart, of Stair, and Mrs. Dunlop; and the
"Brigs of Ayr," in compliment to his patrons in his native district,
and the "Address to Edinburgh," in honour of his titled and
distinguished friends in that metropolis, were printed for the first
time. He was unwilling to alter what he had once printed: his friends,
classic, titled, and rustic, found him stubborn and unpliable, in
matters of criticism; yet he was generally of a complimental mood: he
loaded the robe of Coila in the "Vision," with more scenes than it
could well contain, that he might include in the landscape, all the
country-seats of his friends, and he gave more than their share of
commendation to the Wallaces, out of respect to his friend Mrs.
Dunlop. Of the critics of Edinburgh he said, they spun the thread of
their criticisms so fine that it was unfit for either warp or weft;
and of its scholars, he said, they were never satisfied with any
Scottish poet, unless they could trace him in Horace. One morning at
Dr. Blair's breakfast-table, when the "Holy Fair" was the subject of
conversation, the reverend critic said, "Why should

    '--Moody speel the holy door
        With tidings of _salvation_?'

if you had said, with tidings of _damnation_, the satire would have
been the better and the bitterer." "Excellent!" exclaimed the poet,
"the alteration is capital, and I hope you will honour me by allowing
me to say in a note at whose suggestion it was made." Professor
Walker, who tells the anecdote, adds that Blair evaded, with equal
good humour and decision, this not very polite request; nor was this
the only slip which the poet made on this occasion: some one asked him
in which of the churches of Edinburgh he had received the highest
gratification: he named the High-church, but gave the preference over
all preachers to Robert Walker, the colleague and rival in eloquence
of Dr. Blair himself, and that in a tone so pointed and decisive as to
make all at the table stare and look embarrassed. The poet confessed
afterwards that he never reflected on his blunder without pain and
mortification. Blair probably had this in his mind, when, on reading
the poem beginning "When Guildford good our pilot stood," he
exclaimed, "Ah! the politics of Burns always smell of the smithy,"
meaning, that they were vulgar and common.

In April, the second or Edinburgh, edition was published: it was
widely purchased, and as warmly commended. The country had been
prepared for it by the generous and discriminating criticisms of Henry
Mackenzie, published in that popular periodical, "The Lounger," where
he says, "Burns possesses the spirit as well as the fancy of a poet;
that honest pride and independence of soul, which are sometimes the
muse's only dower, break forth on every occasion, in his works." The
praise of the author of the "Man of Feeling" was not more felt by
Burns, than it was by the whole island: the harp of the north had not
been swept for centuries by a hand so forcible, and at the same time
so varied, that it awakened every tone, whether of joy or woe: the
language was that of rustic life; the scenes of the poems were the
dusty barn, the clay-floored reeky cottage, and the furrowed field;
and the characters were cowherds, ploughmen, and mechanics. The volume
was embellished by a head of the poet from the hand of the now
venerable Alexander Nasmith; and introduced by a dedication to the
noblemen and gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt, in a style of vehement
independence, unknown hitherto in the history of subscriptions. The
whole work, verse, prose, and portrait, won public attention, and kept
it: and though some critics signified their displeasure at expressions
which bordered on profanity, and at a license of language which they
pronounced impure, by far the greater number united their praise to
the all but general voice; nay, some scrupled not to call him, from
his perfect ease and nature and variety, the Scottish Shakspeare. No
one rejoiced more in his success and his fame, than the matron of

Other matters than his poems and socialities claimed the attention of
Burns in Edinburgh. He had a hearty relish for the joyous genius of
Allan Ramsay; he traced out his residences, and rejoiced to think that
while he stood in the shop of his own bookseller, Creech, the same
floor had been trod by the feet of his great forerunner. He visited,
too, the lowly grave of the unfortunate Robert Fergusson; and it must
be recorded to the shame of the magistrates of Edinburgh, that they
allowed him to erect a headstone to his memory, and to the scandal of
Scotland, that in such a memorial he had not been anticipated. He
seems not to have regarded the graves of scholars or philosophers; and
he trod the pavements where the warlike princes and nobles had walked
without any emotion. He loved, however, to see places celebrated in
Scottish song, and fields where battles for the independence of his
country had been stricken; and, with money in his pocket which his
poems had produced, and with a letter from a witty but weak man, Lord
Buchan, instructing him to pull birks on the Yarrow, broom on the
Cowden-knowes, and not to neglect to admire the ruins of Drybrugh
Abbey, Burns set out on a border tour, accompanied by Robert Ainslie,
of Berrywell. As the poet had talked of returning to the plough, Dr.
Blair imagined that he was on his way back to the furrowed field, and
wrote him a handsome farewell, saying he was leaving Edinburgh with a
character which had survived many temptations; with a name which would
be placed with the Ramsays and the Fergussons, and with the hopes of
all, that, in a second volume, on which his fate as a poet would very
much depend, he might rise yet higher in merit and in fame. Burns, who
received this communication when laying his leg over the saddle to be
gone, is said to have muttered, "Ay, but a man's first book is
sometimes like his first babe, healthier and stronger than those which

On the 6th of May, 1787, Burns reached Berrywell: he recorded of the
laird, that he was clear-headed, and of Miss Ainslie, that she was
amiable and handsome--of Dudgeon, the author of "The Maid that tends
the Goats," that he had penetration and modesty, and of the preacher,
Bowmaker, that he was a man of strong lungs and vigorous remark. On
crossing the Tweed at Coldstream he took off his hat, and kneeling
down, repeated aloud the two last verses of the "Cotter's Saturday
Night:" on returning, he drunk tea with Brydone, the traveller, a man,
he said, kind and benevolent: he cursed one Cole as an English
Hottentot, for having rooted out an ancient garden belonging to a
Romish ruin; and he wrote of Macdowal, of Caverton-mill, that by his
skill in rearing sheep, he sold his flocks, ewe and lamb, for a couple
of guineas each: that he washed his sheep before shearing--and by his
turnips improved sheep-husbandry; he added, that lands were generally
let at sixteen shillings the Scottish acre; the farmers rich, and,
compared to Ayrshire, their houses magnificent. On his way to Jedburgh
he visited an old gentleman in whose house was an arm-chair, once the
property of the author of "The Seasons;" he reverently examined the
relic, and could scarcely be persuaded to sit in it: he was a warm
admirer of Thomson.

In Jedburgh, Burns found much to interest him: the ruins of a splendid
cathedral, and of a strong castle--and, what was still more
attractive, an amiable young lady, very handsome, with "beautiful
hazel eyes, full of spirit, sparkling with delicious moisture," and
looks which betokened a high order of female mind. He gave her his
portrait, and entered this remembrance of her attractions among his
memoranda:--"My heart is thawed into melting pleasure, after being so
long frozen up in the Greenland bay of indifference, amid the noise
and nonsense of Edinburgh. I am afraid my bosom has nearly as much
tinder as ever. Jed, pure be thy streams, and hallowed thy sylvan
banks: sweet Isabella Lindsay, may peace dwell in thy bosom
uninterrupted, except by the tumultuous throbbings of rapturous love!"
With the freedom of Jedburgh, handsomely bestowed by the magistrates,
in his pocket, Burns made his way to Wauchope, the residence of Mrs.
Scott, who had welcomed him into the world as a poet in verses lively
and graceful: he found her, he said, "a lady of sense and taste, and
of a decision peculiar to female authors." After dining with Sir
Alexander Don, who, he said, was a clever man, but far from a match
for his divine lady, a sister of his patron Glencairn, he spent an
hour among the beautiful ruins of Dryburgh Abbey; glanced on the
splendid remains of Melrose; passed, unconscious of the future, over
that ground on which have arisen the romantic towers of Abbotsford;
dined with certain of the Souters of Selkirk; and visited the old keep
of Thomas the Rhymer, and a dozen of the hills and streams celebrated
in song. Nor did he fail to pay his respects, after returning through
Dunse, to Sir James Hall, of Dunglass, and his lady, and was much
pleased with the scenery of their romantic place. He was now joined by
a gentleman of the name of Kerr, and crossing the Tweed a second time,
penetrated into England, as far as the ancient town of Newcastle,
where he smiled at a facetious Northumbrian, who at dinner caused the
beef to be eaten before the broth was served, in obedience to an
ancient injunction, lest the hungry Scotch should come and snatch it.
On his way back he saw, what proved to be prophetic of his own
fortune--the roup of an unfortunate farmer's stock: he took out his
journal, and wrote with a troubled brow, "Rigid economy, and decent
industry, do you preserve me from being the principal _dramatis
personæ_, in such a scene of horror." He extended his tour to
Carlisle, and from thence to the banks of the Nith, where he looked at
the farm of Ellisland, with the intention of trying once more his
fortune at the plough, should poetry and patronage fail him.

On his way through the West, Burns spent a few days with his mother at
Mossgiel: he had left her an unknown and an almost banished man: he
returned in fame and in sunshine, admired by all who aspired to be
thought tasteful or refined. He felt offended alike with the patrician
stateliness of Edinburgh and the plebeian servility of the husbandmen
of Ayrshire; and dreading the influence of the unlucky star which had
hitherto ruled his lot, he bought a pocket Milton, he said, for the
purpose of studying the intrepid independence and daring magnanimity,
and noble defiance of hardships, exhibited by Satan! In this mood he
reached Edinburgh--only to leave it again on three hurried excursions
into the Highlands. The route which he took and the sentiments which
the scenes awakened, are but faintly intimated in the memoranda which
he made. His first journey seems to have been performed in ill-humour;
at Stirling, his Jacobitism, provoked at seeing the ruined palace of
the Stuarts, broke out in some unloyal lines which he had the
indiscretion to write with a diamond on the window of a public inn. At
Carron, where he was refused a sight of the magnificent foundry, he
avenged himself in epigram. At Inverary he resented some real or
imaginary neglect on the part of his Grace of Argyll, by a stinging
lampoon; nor can he be said to have fairly regained his serenity of
temper, till he danced his wrath away with some Highland ladies at

His second excursion was made in the company of Dr. Adair, of
Harrowgate: the reluctant doors of Carron foundry were opened to him,
and he expressed his wonder at the blazing furnaces and broiling
labours of the place; he removed the disloyal lines from the window of
the inn at Stirling, and he paid a two days' visit to Ramsay of
Ochtertyre, a distinguished scholar, and discussed with him future
topics for the muse. "I have been in the company of many men of
genius," said Ramsay afterwards to Currie, "some of them poets, but
never witnessed such flashes of intellectual brightness as from
him--the impulse of the moment, sparks of celestial fire." From the
Forth he went to the Devon, in the county of Clackmannan, where, for
the first time, he saw the beautiful Charlotte Hamilton, the sister of
his friend Gavin Hamilton, of Mauchline. "She is not only beautiful,"
he thus writes to her brother, "but lovely: her form is elegant, her
features not regular, but they have the smile of sweetness, and the
settled complacency of good nature in the highest degree. Her eyes are
fascinating; at once expressive of good sense, tenderness and a noble
mind. After the exercise of our riding to the Falls, Charlotte was
exactly Dr. Donne's mistress:--

                    "Her pure and eloquent blood
    Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought,
    That one would almost say her body thought."

Accompanied by this charming dame, he visited an old lady, Mrs. Bruce,
of Clackmannan, who, in the belief that she had the blood of the royal
Bruce in her veins, received the poet with something of princely
state, and, half in jest, conferred the honour of knighthood upon him,
with her ancestor's sword, saying, in true Jacobitical mood, that she
had a better right to do that than some folk had! In the same pleasing
company he visited the famous cataract on the Devon, called the
Cauldron Lian, and the Rumbling bridge, a single arch thrown, it is
said by the devil, over the Devon, at the height of a hundred feet in
the air. It was the complaint of his companions that Burns exhibited
no raptures, and poured out no unpremeditated verses at such
magnificent scenes. But he did not like to be tutored or prompted:
"Look, look!" exclaimed some one, as Carron foundry belched forth
flames--"look, Burns, look! good heavens, what a grand sight!--look!"
"I would not look--look, sir, at your bidding," said the bard, turning
away, "were it into the mouth of hell!" When he visited, at a future
time, the romantic Linn of Creehope, in Nithsdale, he looked silently
at its wonders, and showed none of the hoped-for rapture. "You do not
admire it, I fear," said a gentleman who accompanied him; "I could not
admire it more, sir," replied Burns, "if He who made it were to desire
me to do it." There are other reasons for the silence of Burns amid
the scenes of the Devon: he was charmed into love by the sense and the
beauty of Charlotte Hamilton, and rendered her homage in that sweet
song, "The Banks of the Devon," and in a dozen letters written with
more than his usual care, elegance, and tenderness. But the lady was
neither to be won by verse nor by prose: she afterwards gave her hand
to Adair, the poet's companion, and, what was less meritorious, threw
his letters into the fire.

The third and last tour into the North was in company of Nicol of the
High-School of Edinburgh: on the fields of Bannockburn and
Falkirk--places of triumph and of woe to Scotland, he gave way to
patriotic impulses, and in these words he recorded them:--"Stirling,
August 20, 1787: this morning I knelt at the tomb of Sir John the
Graham, the gallant friend of the immortal Wallace; and two hours ago I
said a fervent prayer for old Caledonia, over the hole in a whinstone
where Robert the Bruce fixed his royal standard on the banks of
Bannockburn." He then proceeded northward by Ochtertyre, the water of
Earn, the vale of Glen Almond, and the traditionary grave of Ossian. He
looked in at princely Taymouth; mused an hour or two among the Birks of
Aberfeldy; gazed from Birnam top; paused amid the wild grandeur of the
pass of Killiecrankie, at the stone which marks the spot where a second
patriot Graham fell, and spent a day at Blair, where he experienced the
graceful kindness of the Duke of Athol, and in a strain truly elegant,
petitioned him, in the name of Bruar Water, to hide the utter nakedness
of its otherwise picturesque banks, with plantations of birch and oak.
Quitting Blair he followed the course of the Spey, and passing, as he
told his brother, through a wild country, among cliffs gray with eternal
snows, and glens gloomy and savage, reached Findhorn in mist and
darkness; visited Castle Cawdor, where Macbeth murdered Duncan; hastened
through Inverness to Urquhart Castle, and the Falls of Fyers, and turned
southward to Kilravock, over the fatal moor of Culloden. He admired the
ladies of that classic region for their snooded ringlets, simple
elegance of dress, and expressive eyes: in Mrs. Rose, of Kilravock
Castle, he found that matronly grace and dignity which he owned he
loved; and in the Duke and Duchess of Gordon a renewal of that more than
kindness with which they had welcomed him in Edinburgh. But while he
admired the palace of Fochabers, and was charmed by the condescensions
of the noble proprietors, he forgot that he had left a companion at the
inn, too proud and captious to be pleased at favours showered on others:
he hastened back to the inn with an invitation and an apology: he found
the fiery pedant in a foaming rage, striding up and down the street,
cursing in Scotch and Latin the loitering postilions for not yoking the
horses, and hurrying him away. All apology and explanation was in vain,
and Burns, with a vexation which he sought not to conceal, took his seat
silently beside the irascible pedagogue, and returned to the South by
Broughty Castle, the banks of Endermay and Queensferry. He parted with
the Highlands in a kindly mood, and loved to recal the scenes and the
people, both in conversation and in song.

On his return to Edinburgh he had to bide the time of his bookseller
and the public: the impression of his poems, extending to two thousand
eight hundred copies, was sold widely: much of the money had to come
from a distance, and Burns lingered about the northern metropolis,
expecting a settlement with Creech, and with the hope that those who
dispensed his country's patronage might remember one who then, as now,
was reckoned an ornament to the land. But Creech, a parsimonious man,
was slow in his payments; the patronage of the country was swallowed
up in the sink of politics, and though noblemen smiled, and ladies of
rank nodded their jewelled heads in approbation of every new song he
sung and every witty sally he uttered, they reckoned any further
notice or care superfluous: the poet, an observant man, saw all this;
but hope was the cordial of his heart, he said, and he hoped and
lingered on. Too active a genius to remain idle, he addressed himself
to the twofold business of love and verse. Repulsed by the stately
Beauty of the Devon, he sought consolation in the society of one, as
fair, and infinitely more witty; and as an accident had for a time
deprived him of the use of one of his legs, he gave wings to hours of
pain, by writing a series of letters to this Edinburgh enchantress, in
which he signed himself Sylvander, and addressed her under the name of
Clarinda. In these compositions, which no one can regard as serious,
and which James Grahame the poet called "a romance of real Platonic
affection," amid much affectation both of language and sentiment, and
a desire to say fine and startling things, we can see the proud heart
of the poet throbbing in the dread of being neglected or forgotten by
his country. The love which he offers up at the altar of wit and
beauty, seems assumed and put on, for its rapture is artificial, and
its brilliancy that of an icicle: no woman was ever wooed and won in
that Malvolio way; and there is no doubt that Mrs. M'Lehose felt as
much offence as pleasure at this boisterous display of regard. In
aftertimes he loved to remember her:--when wine circulated, Mrs. Mac
was his favourite toast.

During this season he began his lyric contributions to the Musical
Museum of Johnson, a work which, amid many imperfections of taste and
arrangement, contains more of the true old music and genuine old songs
of Scotland, than any other collection with which I am acquainted.
Burns gathered oral airs, and fitted them with words of mirth or of
woe, of tenderness or of humour, with unexampled readiness and
felicity; he eked out old fragments and sobered down licentious
strains so much in the olden spirit and feeling, that the new cannot
be distinguished from the ancient; nay, he inserted lines and half
lines, with such skill and nicety, that antiquarians are perplexed to
settle which is genuine or which is simulated. Yet with all this he
abated not of the natural mirth or the racy humour of the lyric muse
of Scotland: he did not like her the less because she walked like some
of the maidens of her strains, high-kilted at times, and spoke with
the freedom of innocence. In these communications we observe how
little his border-jaunt among the fountains of ancient song
contributed either of sentiment or allusion, to his lyrics; and how
deeply his strains, whether of pity or of merriment, were coloured by
what he had seen, and heard, and felt in the Highlands. In truth, all
that lay beyond the Forth was an undiscovered land to him; while the
lowland districts were not only familiar to his mind and eye, but all
their more romantic vales and hills and streams were already musical
in songs of such excellence as induced him to dread failure rather
than hope triumph. Moreover, the Highlands teemed with jacobitical
feelings, and scenes hallowed by the blood or the sufferings of men
heroic, and perhaps misguided; and the poet, willingly yielding to an
impulse which was truly romantic, and believed by thousands to be
loyal, penned his songs on Drumossie, and Killiecrankie, as the
spirit of sorrow or of bitterness prevailed. Though accompanied,
during his northern excursions, by friends whose socialities and
conversation forbade deep thought, or even serious remark, it will be
seen by those who read his lyrics with care, that his wreath is
indebted for some of its fairest flowers to the Highlands.

The second winter of the poet's abode in Edinburgh had now arrived: it
opened, as might have been expected, with less rapturous welcomes and
with more of frosty civility than the first. It must be confessed,
that indulgence in prolonged socialities, and in company which, though
clever, could not be called select, contributed to this; nor must it
be forgotten that his love for the sweeter part of creation was now
and then carried beyond the limits of poetic respect, and the
delicacies of courtesy; tending to estrange the austere and to lessen
the admiration at first common to all. Other causes may be assigned
for this wane of popularity: he took no care to conceal his contempt
for all who depended on mere scholarship for eminence, and he had a
perilous knack in sketching with a sarcastic hand the characters of
the learned and the grave. Some indeed of the high literati of the
north--Home, the author of Douglas, was one of them--spoke of the poet
as a chance or an accident: and though they admitted that he was a
poet, yet he was not one of settled grandeur of soul, brightened by
study. Burns was probably aware of this; he takes occasion in some of
his letters to suggest, that the hour may be at hand when he shall be
accounted by scholars as a meteor, rather than a fixed light, and to
suspect that the praise bestowed on his genius was partly owing to the
humility of his condition. From his lingering so long about Edinburgh,
the nobility began to dread a second volume by subscription, the
learned to regard him as a fierce Theban, who resolved to carry all
the outworks to the temple of Fame without the labour of making
regular approaches; while a third party, and not the least numerous,
looked on him with distrust, as one who hovered between Jacobite and
Jacobin; who disliked the loyal-minded, and loved to lampoon the
reigning family. Besides, the marvel of the inspired ploughman had
begun to subside; the bright gloss of novelty was worn off, and his
fault lay in his unwillingness to see that he had made all the sport
which the Philistines expected, and was required to make room for some
"salvage" of the season, to paw, and roar, and shake the mane. The
doors of the titled, which at first opened spontaneous, like those in
Milton's heaven, were now unclosed for him with a tardy courtesy: he
was received with measured stateliness, and seldom requested to repeat
his visit. Of this changed aspect of things he complained to a friend:
but his real sorrows were mixed with those of the fancy:--he told Mrs.
Dunlop with what pangs of heart he was compelled to take shelter in a
corner, lest the rattling equipage of some gaping blockhead should
mangle him in the mire. In this land of titles and wealth such
querulous sensibilities must have been frequently offended.

Burns, who had talked lightly hitherto of resuming the plough, began
now to think seriously about it, for he saw it must come to that at
last. Miller, of Dalswinton, a gentleman of scientific acquirements,
and who has the merit of applying the impulse of steam to navigation,
had offered the poet the choice of his farms, on a fair estate which
he had purchased on the Nith: aided by a westland farmer, he selected
Ellisland, a beautiful spot, fit alike for the steps of ploughman or
poet. On intimating this to the magnates of Edinburgh, no one lamented
that a genius so bright and original should be driven to win his bread
with the sweat of his brow: no one, with an indignant eye, ventured to
tell those to whom the patronage of this magnificent empire was
confided, that they were misusing the sacred trust, and that posterity
would curse them for their coldness or neglect: neither did any of the
rich nobles, whose tables he had adorned by his wit, offer to enable
him to toil free of rent, in a land of which he was to be a permanent
ornament;--all were silent--all were cold--the Earl of Glencairn
alone, aided by Alexander Wood, a gentleman who merits praise oftener
than he is named, did the little that was done or attempted to be done
for him: nor was that little done on the peer's part without
solicitation:--"I wish to go into the excise;" thus he wrote to
Glencairn; "and I am told your lordship's interest will easily procure
me the grant from the commissioners: and your lordship's patronage and
goodness, which have already rescued me from obscurity, wretchedness,
and exile, emboldens me to ask that interest. You have likewise put it
in my power to save the little tie of home that sheltered an aged
mother, two brothers, and three sisters from destruction. I am ill
qualified to dog the heels of greatness with the impertinence of
solicitation, and tremble nearly as much at the thought of the cold
promise as the cold denial." The farm and the excise exhibit the
poet's humble scheme of life: the money of the one, he thought, would
support the toil of the other, and in the fortunate management of
both, he looked for the rough abundance, if not the elegancies
suitable to a poet's condition.

While Scotland was disgraced by sordidly allowing her brightest genius
to descend to the plough and the excise, the poet hastened his
departure from a city which had witnessed both his triumph and his
shame: he bade farewell in a few well-chosen words to such of the
classic literati--the Blairs, the Stewarts, the Mackenzies, and the
Tytlers--as had welcomed the rustic bard and continued to countenance
him; while in softer accents he bade adieu to the Clarindas and
Chlorises of whose charms he had sung, and, having wrung a settlement
from Creech, he turned his steps towards Mossgiel and Mauchline. He
had several reasons, and all serious ones, for taking Ayrshire in his
way to the Nith: he desired to see his mother, his brothers and
sisters, who had partaken of his success, and were now raised from
pining penury to comparative affluence: he desired to see those who
had aided him in his early struggles into the upper air--perhaps
those, too, who had looked coldly on, and smiled at his outward
aspirations after fame or distinction; but more than all, he desired
to see one whom he once and still dearly loved, who had been a
sufferer for his sake, and whom he proposed to make mistress of his
fireside and the sharer of his fortunes. Even while whispering of love
to Charlotte Hamilton, on the banks of the Devon, or sighing out the
affected sentimentalities of platonic or pastoral love in the ear of
Clarinda, his thoughts wandered to her whom he had left bleaching her
webs among the daisies on Mauchline braes--she had still his heart,
and in spite of her own and her father's disclamation, she was his
wife. It was one of the delusions of this great poet, as well as of
those good people, the Armours, that the marriage had been dissolved
by the destruction of the marriage-lines, and that Robert Burns and
Jean Armour were as single as though they had neither vowed nor
written themselves man and wife. Be that as it may, the time was come
when all scruples and obstacles were to be removed which stood in the
way of their union: their hands were united by Gavin Hamilton,
according to law, in April, 1788: and even the Reverend Mr. Auld, so
mercilessly lampooned, smiled forgivingly as the poet satisfied a
church wisely scrupulous regarding the sacred ceremony of marriage.

Though Jean Armour was but a country lass of humble degree, she had
sense and intelligence, and personal charms sufficient not only to win
and fix the attentions of the poet, but to sanction the praise which
he showered on her in song. In a letter to Mrs. Dunlop, he thus
describes her: "The most placid good nature and sweetness of
disposition, a warm heart, gratefully devoted with all its powers to
love me; vigorous health and sprightly cheerfulness, set off to the
best advantage by a more than commonly handsome figure: these I think
in a woman may make a good wife, though she should never have read a
page but the Scriptures, nor have danced in a brighter assembly than
a penny-pay wedding." To the accomplished Margaret Chalmers, of
Edinburgh, he adds, to complete the picture, "I have got the
handsomest figure, the sweetest temper, the soundest constitution, and
kindest heart in the country: a certain late publication of Scots'
poems she has perused very devoutly, and all the ballads in the land,
as she has the finest wood-note wild you ever heard." With his young
wife, a punch bowl of Scottish marble, and an eight-day clock, both
presents from Mr. Armour, now reconciled to his eminent son-in-law,
with a new plough, and a beautiful heifer, given by Mrs. Dunlop, with
about four hundred pounds in his pocket, a resolution to toil, and a
hope of success, Burns made his appearance on the banks of the Nith,
and set up his staff at Ellisland. This farm, now a classic spot, is
about six miles up the river from Dumfries; it extends to upwards of a
hundred acres: the soil is kindly; the holmland portion of it loamy
and rich, and it has at command fine walks on the river side, and
views of the Friar's Carse, Cowehill, and Dalswinton. For a while the
poet had to hide his head in a smoky hovel; till a house to his fancy,
and offices for his cattle and his crops were built, his accommodation
was sufficiently humble; and his mind taking its hue from his
situation, infused a bitterness into the letters in which he first
made known to his western friends that he had fixed his abode in
Nithsdale. "I am here," said he, "at the very elbow of existence: the
only things to be found in perfection in this country are stupidity
and canting; prose they only know in graces and prayers, and the value
of these they estimate as they do their plaiden-webs, by the ell: as
for the muses, they have as much an idea of a rhinoceros as of a
poet." "This is an undiscovered clime," he at another period exclaims,
"it is unknown to poetry, and prose never looked on it save in drink.
I sit by the fire, and listen to the hum of the spinning-wheel: I
hear, but cannot see it, for it is hidden in the smoke which eddies
round and round me before it seeks to escape by window and door. I
have no converse but with the ignorance which encloses me: No kenned
face but that of my old mare, Jenny Geddes--my life is dwindled down
to mere existence."

When the poet's new house was built and plenished, and the atmosphere
of his mind began to clear, he found the land to be fruitful, and its
people intelligent and wise. In Riddel, of Friar's Carse, he found a
scholar and antiquarian; in Miller, of Dalswinton, a man conversant
with science as well as with the world; in M'Murdo, of Drumlanrig, a
generous and accomplished gentleman; and in John Syme, of Ryedale, a
man much after his own heart, and a lover of the wit and socialities
of polished life. Of these gentlemen Riddel, who was his neighbour,
was the favourite: a door was made in the march-fence which separated
Ellisland from Friar's Carse, that the poet might indulge in the
retirement of the Carse hermitage, a little lodge in the wood, as
romantic as it was beautiful, while a pathway was cut through the
dwarf oaks and birches which fringed the river bank, to enable the
poet to saunter and muse without lot or interruption. This attention
was rewarded by an inscription for the hermitage, written with
elegance as well as feeling, and which was the first fruits of his
fancy in this unpoetic land. In a happier strain he remembered Matthew
Henderson: this is one of the sweetest as well as happiest of his
poetic compositions. He heard of his friend's death, and called on
nature animate and inanimate, to lament the loss of one who held the
patent of his honours from God alone, and who loved all that was pure
and lovely and good. "The Whistle" is another of his Ellisland
compositions: the contest which he has recorded with such spirit and
humour took place almost at his door: the heroes were Fergusson, of
Craigdarroch, Sir Robert Laurie, of Maxwelltown, and Riddel, of the
Friar's Carse: the poet was present, and drank bottle and bottle about
with the best, and when all was done he seemed much disposed, as an
old servant at Friar's Carse remembered, to take up the victor.

Burns had become fully reconciled to Nithsdale, and was on the most
intimate terms with the muse when he produced Tam O' Shanter, the
crowning glory of all his poems. For this marvellous tale we are
indebted to something like accident: Francis Grose, the antiquary,
happened to visit Friar's Carse, and as he loved wine and wit, the
total want of imagination was no hinderance to his friendly
intercourse with the poet: "Alloway's auld haunted kirk" was
mentioned, and Grose said he would include it in his illustrations of
the antiquities of Scotland, if the bard of the Doon would write a
poem to accompany it. Burns consented, and before he left the table,
the various traditions which belonged to the ruin were passing through
his mind. One of these was of a farmer, who, on a night wild with
wind and rain, on passing the old kirk was startled by a light
glimmering inside the walls; on drawing near he saw a caldron hung
over a fire, in which the heads and limbs of children were simmering:
there was neither witch nor fiend to guard it, so he unhooked the
caldron, turned out the contents, and carried it home as a trophy. A
second tradition was of a man of Kyle, who, having been on a market
night detained late in Ayr, on crossing the old bridge of Doon, on his
way home, saw a light streaming through the gothic window of Alloway
kirk, and on riding near, beheld a batch of the district witches
dancing merrily round their master, the devil, who kept them "louping
and flinging" to the sound of a bagpipe. He knew several of the old
crones, and smiled at their gambols, for they were dancing in their
smocks: but one of them, and she happened to be young and rosy, had on
a smock shorter than those of her companions by two spans at least,
which so moved the farmer that he exclaimed, "Weel luppan, Maggie wi'
the short sark!" Satan stopped his music, the light was extinguished,
and out rushed the hags after the farmer, who made at the gallop for
the bridge of Doon, knowing that they could not cross a stream: he
escaped; but Maggie, who was foremost, seized his horse's tail at the
middle of the bridge, and pulled it off in her efforts to stay him.

This poem was the work of a single day: Burns walked out to his
favourite musing path, which runs towards the old tower of the Isle,
along Nithside, and was observed to walk hastily and mutter as he
went. His wife knew by these signs that he was engaged in composition,
and watched him from the window; at last wearying, and moreover
wondering at the unusual length of his meditations, she took her
children with her and went to meet him; but as he seemed not to see
her, she stept aside among the broom to allow him to pass, which he
did with a flushed brow and dropping eyes, reciting these lines

    "Now Tam! O, Tum! had thae been queans,
    A' plump and strapping in their teens,
    Their sacks, instead o' creeshie flannen,
    Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen!
    Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair,
    That ance were plush, o' gude blue hair,
    I wad hae gien them off my hurdies,
    For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies!"

He embellished this wild tradition from fact as well as from fancy:
along the road which Tam came on that eventful night his memory
supplied circumstances which prepared him for the strange sight at the
kirk of Alloway. A poor chapman had perished, some winters before, in
the snow; a murdered child had been found by some early hunters; a
tippling farmer had fallen from his horse at the expense of his neck,
beside a "meikle stane"; and a melancholy old woman had hanged herself
at the bush aboon the well, as the poem relates: all these matters the
poet pressed into the service of the muse, and used them with a skill
which adorns rather than oppresses the legend. A pert lawyer from
Dumfries objected to the language as obscure: "Obscure, sir!" said
Burns; "you know not the language of that great master of your own
art--the devil. If you had a witch for your client you would not be
able to manage her defence!"

He wrote few poems after his marriage, but he composed many songs: the
sweet voice of Mrs. Burns and the craving of Johnson's Museum will in
some measure account for the number, but not for their variety, which
is truly wonderful. In the history of that mournful strain, "Mary in
Heaven," we read the story of many of his lyrics, for they generally
sprang from his personal feelings: no poet has put more of himself
into his poetry than Burns, "Robert, though ill of a cold," said his
wife, "had been busy all day--a day of September, 1789, with the
shearers in the field, and as he had got most of the corn into the
stack-yard, was in good spirits; but when twilight came he grew sad
about something, and could not rest: he wandered first up the
waterside, and then went into the stack-yard: I followed, and begged
him to come into the house, as he was ill, and the air was sharp and
cold. He said, 'Ay, ay,' but did not come: he threw himself down on
some loose sheaves, and lay looking at the sky, and particularly at a
large, bright star, which shone like another moon. At last, but that
was long after I had left him, he came home--the song was already
composed." To the memory of Mary Campbell he dedicated that touching
ode; and he thus intimates the continuance of his early affection for
"The fair haired lass of the west," in a letter of that time to Mrs.
Dunlop. "If there is another life, it must be only for the just, the
benevolent, the amiable, and the humane. What a flattering idea, then,
is a world to come! There shall I, with speechless agony of rapture,
again recognise my lost, my ever dear Mary, whose bosom was fraught
with truth, honour, constancy, and love." These melancholy words gave
way in their turn to others of a nature lively and humorous: "Tam
Glen," in which the thoughts flow as freely as the waters of the Nith,
on whose banks he wrote it; "Findlay," with its quiet vein of sly
simplicity; "Willie brewed a peck o' maut," the first of social, and
"She's fair and fause," the first of sarcastic songs, with "The deil's
awa wi' the Exciseman," are all productions of this period--a period
which had besides its own fears and its own forebodings.

For a while Burns seemed to prosper in his farm: he held the plough
with his own hand, he guided the harrows, he distributed the seed-corn
equally among the furrows, and he reaped the crop in its season, and
saw it safely covered in from the storms of winter with "thack and
rape;" his wife, too, superintended the dairy with a skill which she
had brought from Kyle, and as the harvest, for a season or two, was
abundant, and the dairy yielded butter and cheese for the market, it
seemed that "the luckless star" which ruled his lot had relented, and
now shone unboding and benignly. But much more is required than toil
of hand to make a successful farmer, nor will the attention bestowed
only by fits and starts, compensate for carelessness or oversight:
frugality, not in one thing but in all, is demanded, in small matters
as well as in great, while a careful mind and a vigilant eye must
superintend the labours of servants, and the whole system of in-door
and out-door economy. Now, during the three years which Burns stayed
in Ellisland, he neither wrought with that constant diligence which
farming demands, nor did he bestow upon it the unremitting attention
of eye and mind which such a farm required: besides his skill in
husbandry was but moderate--the rent, though of his own fixing, was
too high for him and for the times; the ground, though good, was not
so excellent as he might have had on the same estate--he employed more
servants than the number of acres demanded, and spread for them a
richer board than common: when we have said this we need not add the
expensive tastes induced by poetry, to keep readers from starting,
when they are told that Burns, at the close of the third year of
occupation, resigned his lease to the landlord, and bade farewell for
ever to the plough. He was not, however, quite desolate; he had for a
year or more been appointed on the excise, and had superintended a
district extending to ten large parishes, with applause; indeed, it
has been assigned as the chief reason for failure in his farm, that
when the plough or the sickle summoned him to the field, he was to be
found, either pursuing the defaulters of the revenue, among the
valleys of Dumfrieshire, or measuring out pastoral verse to the
beauties of the land. He retired to a house in the Bank-vennel of
Dumfries, and commenced a town-life: he commenced it with an empty
pocket, for Ellisland had swallowed up all the profits of his poems:
he had now neither a barn to produce meal nor barley, a barn-yard to
yield a fat hen, a field to which he could go at Martinmas for a mart,
nor a dairy to supply milk and cheese and butter to the table--he had,
in short, all to buy and little to buy with. He regarded it as a
compensation that he had no farm-rent to provide, no bankruptcies to
dread, no horse to keep, for his excise duties were now confined to
Dumfries, and that the burthen of a barren farm was removed from his
mind, and his muse at liberty to renew her unsolicited strains.

But from the day of his departure from "the barren" Ellisland, the
downward course of Burns may be dated. The cold neglect of his country
had driven him back indignantly to the plough, and he hoped to gain
from the furrowed field that independence which it was the duty of
Scotland to have provided: but he did not resume the plough with all
the advantages he possessed when he first forsook it: he had revelled
in the luxuries of polished life--his tastes had been rendered
expensive as well as pure: he had witnessed, and he hoped for the
pleasures of literary retirement, while the hands which had led
jewelled dames over scented carpets to supper tables leaded with
silver took hold of the hilts of the plough with more of reluctance
than good-will. Edinburgh, with its lords and its ladies, its delights
and its hopes, spoiled him for farming. Nor were his new labours more
acceptable to his haughty spirit than those of the plough: the excise
for a century had been a word of opprobrium or of hatred in the
north: the duties which it imposed were regarded, not by peasants
alone, as a serious encroachment upon the ancient rights of the
nation, and to mislead a gauger, or resist him, even to blood, was
considered by few as a fault. That the brightest genius of the
nation--one whose tastes and sensibilities were so peculiarly its
own--should be, as a reward, set to look after run-rum and smuggled
tobacco, and to gauge ale-wife's barrels, was a regret and a marvel to
many, and a source of bitter merriment to Burns himself.

The duties of his situation were however performed punctually, if not
with pleasure: he was a vigilant officer; he was also a merciful and
considerate one: though loving a joke, and not at all averse to a
dram, he walked among suspicious brewers, captious ale-wives, and
frowning shop-keepers as uprightly as courteously: he smoothed the
ruggedest natures into acquiescence by his gayety and humour, and yet
never gave cause for a malicious remark, by allowing his vigilance to
slumber. He was brave, too, and in the capture of an armed smuggler,
in which he led the attack, showed that he neither feared water nor
fire: he loved, also, to counsel the more forward of the smugglers to
abandon their dangerous calling; his sympathy for the helpless poor
induced him to give them now and then notice of his approach; he has
been known to interpret the severe laws of the excise into tenderness
and mercy in behalf of the widow and the fatherless. In all this he
did but his duty to his country and his kind: and his conduct was so
regarded by a very competent and candid judge. "Let me look at the
books of Burns," said Maxwell, of Terraughty, at the meeting of the
district magistrates, "for they show that an upright officer may be a
merciful one." With a salary of some seventy pounds a year, the chance
of a few guineas annually from the future editions of his poems, and
the hope of rising at some distant day to the more lucrative situation
of supervisor, Burns continued to live in Dumfries; first in the
Bank-vennel, and next in a small house in a humble street, since
called by his name.

In his earlier years the poet seems to have scattered songs as thick
as a summer eve scatters its dews; nor did he scatter them less
carelessly: he appears, indeed, to have thought much less of them than
of his poems: the sweet song of Mary Morison, and others not at all
inferior, lay unregarded among his papers till accident called them
out to shine and be admired. Many of these brief but happy
compositions, sometimes with his name, and oftener without, he threw
in dozens at a time into Johnson, where they were noticed only by the
captious Ritson: but now a work of higher pretence claimed a share in
his skill: in September, 1792, he was requested by George Thomson to
render, for his national collection, the poetry worthy of the muses of
the north, and to take compassion on many choice airs, which had
waited for a poet like the author of the Cotter's Saturday Night, to
wed them to immortal verse. To engage in such an undertaking, Burns
required small persuasion, and while Thomson asked for strains
delicate and polished, the poet characteristically stipulated that his
contributions were to be without remuneration, and the language
seasoned with a sprinkling of the Scottish dialect. As his heart was
much in the matter, he began to pour out verse with a readiness and
talent unknown in the history of song: his engagement with Thomson,
and his esteem for Johnson, gave birth to a series of songs as
brilliant as varied, and as naturally easy as they were gracefully
original. In looking over those very dissimilar collections it is not
difficult to discover that the songs which he wrote for the more
stately work, while they are more polished and elegant than those
which he contributed to the less pretending one, are at the same time
less happy in their humour and less simple in their pathos. "What
pleases _me_ as simple and naive," says Burns to Thomson, "disgusts
_you_ as ludicrous and low. For this reason 'Fye, gie me my coggie,
sirs,' 'Fye, let us a' to the bridal,' with several others of that
cast, are to me highly pleasing, while 'Saw ye my Father' delights me
with its descriptive simple pathos:" we read in these words the
reasons of the difference between the lyrics of the two collections.

The land where the poet lived furnished ready materials for song:
hills with fine woods, vales with clear waters, and dames as lovely as
any recorded in verse, were to be had in his walks and his visits;
while, for the purposes of mirth or of humour, characters, in whose
faces originality was legibly written, were as numerous in Nithsdale
as he had found them in the west. He had been reproached, while in
Kyle, with seeing charms in very ordinary looks, and hanging the
garlands of the muse on unlovely altars; he was liable to no such
censure in Nithsdale; he poured out the incense of poetry only on the
fair and captivating: his Jeans, his Lucys, his Phillises, and his
Jessies were ladies of such mental or personal charms as the
Reynolds's and the Lawrences of the time would have rejoiced to lay
out their choicest colours on. But he did not limit himself to the
charms of those whom he could step out to the walks and admire: his
lyrics give evidence of the wandering of his thoughts to the distant
or the dead--he loves to remember Charlotte Hamilton and Mary
Campbell, and think of the sighs and vows on the Devon and the Doon,
while his harpstrings were still quivering to the names of the Millers
and the M'Murdos--to the charms of the lasses with golden or with
flaxen locks, in the valley where he dwelt. Of Jean M'Murdo and her
sister Phillis he loved to sing; and their beauty merited his strains:
to one who died in her bloom, Lucy Johnston, he addressed a song of
great sweetness; to Jessie Lewars, two or three songs of gratitude and
praise: nor did he forget other beauties, for the accomplished Mrs.
Riddel is remembered, and the absence of fair Clarinda is lamented in
strains both impassioned and pathetic.

But the main inspirer of the latter songs of Burns was a young woman
of humble birth: of a form equal to the most exquisite proportions of
sculpture, with bloom on her cheeks, and merriment in her large bright
eyes, enough to drive an amatory poet crazy. Her name was Jean
Lorimer; she was not more than seventeen when the poet made her
acquaintance, and though she had got a sort of brevet-right from an
officer of the army, to use his southron name of Whelpdale, she loved
best to be addressed by her maiden designation, while the poet chose
to veil her in the numerous lyrics, to which she gave life, under the
names of "Chloris," "The lass of Craigie-burnwood," and "The lassie
wi' the lintwhite locks." Though of a temper not much inclined to
conceal anything, Burns complied so tastefully with the growing demand
of the age for the exterior decencies of life, that when the scrupling
dames of Caledonia sung a new song in her praise, they were as
unconscious whence its beauties came, as is the lover of art, that the
shape and gracefulness of the marble nymph which he admires, are
derived from a creature who sells the use of her charms indifferently
to sculpture or to love. Fine poetry, like other arts called fine,
springs from "strange places," as the flower in the fable said, when
it bloomed on the dunghill; nor is Burns more to be blamed than was
Raphael, who painted Madonnas, and Magdalens with dishevelled hair and
lifted eyes, from a loose lady, whom the pope, "Holy at Rome--here
Antichrist," charitably prescribed to the artist, while he laboured in
the cause of the church. Of the poetic use which he made of Jean
Lorimer's charms, Burns gives this account to Thomson. "The lady of
whom the song of Craigie-burnwood was made is one of the finest women
in Scotland, and in fact is to me in a manner what Sterne's Eliza was
to him--a mistress, or friend, or what you will, in the guileless
simplicity of platonic love. I assure you that to my lovely friend you
are indebted for many of my best songs. Do you think that the sober
gin-horse routine of my existence could inspire a man with life and
love and joy--could fire him with enthusiasm, or melt him with pathos,
equal to the genius of your book? No! no! Whenever I want to be more
than ordinary in song--to be in some degree equal to your diviner
airs--do you imagine I fast and pray for the celestial emanation?
Quite the contrary. I have a glorious recipe; the very one that for
his own use was invented by the divinity of healing and poesy, when
erst he piped to the flocks of Admetus. I put myself in a regimen of
admiring a fine woman; and in proportion to the adorability of her
charms, in proportion are you delighted with my verses. The lightning
of her eye is the godhead of Parnassus, and the witchery of her smile,
the divinity of Helicon."

Most of the songs which he composed under the influences to which I
have alluded are of the first order: "Bonnie Lesley," "Highland Mary,"
"Auld Rob Morris," "Duncan Gray," "Wandering Willie," "Meg o' the
Mill," "The poor and honest sodger," "Bonnie Jean," "Phillis the
fair," "John Anderson my Jo," "Had I a cave on some wild distant
shore," "Whistle and I'll come to you, my lad," "Bruce's Address to
his men at Bannockburn," "Auld Lang Syne," "Thine am I, my faithful
fair," "Wilt thou be my dearie," "O Chloris, mark how green the
groves," "Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair," "Their groves of
sweet myrtle," "Last May a braw wooer came down the long glen," "O
Mally's meek, Mally's sweet," "Hey for a lass wi' a tocher," "Here's
a health to ane I loe dear," and the "Fairest maid on Devon banks."
Many of the latter lyrics of Burns were more or less altered, to put
them into better harmony with the airs, and I am not the only one who
has wondered that a bard so impetuous and intractable in most matters,
should have become so soft and pliable, as to make changes which too
often sacrificed the poetry for the sake of a fuller and more swelling
sound. It is true that the emphatic notes of the music must find their
echo in the emphatic words of the verse, and that words soft and
liquid are fitter for ladies' lips, than words hissing and rough; but
it is also true that in changing a harsher word for one more
harmonious the sense often suffers, and that happiness of expression,
and that dance of words which lyric verse requires, lose much of their
life and vigour. The poet's favourite walk in composing his songs was
on a beautiful green sward on the northern side of the Nith, opposite
Lincluden: and his favourite posture for composition at home was
balancing himself on the hind legs of his arm-chair.

While indulging in these lyrical nights, politics penetrated into
Nithsdale, and disturbed the tranquillity of that secluded region.
First, there came a contest far the representation of the Dumfries
district of boroughs, between Patrick Miller, younger, of Dalswinton,
and Sir James Johnstone, of Westerhall, and some two years afterwards,
a struggle for the representation of the county of Kirkcudbright,
between the interest of the Stewarts, of Galloway, and Patrick Heron,
of Kerroughtree. In the first of these the poet mingled discretion
with his mirth, and raised a hearty laugh, in which both parties
joined; for this sobriety of temper, good reasons may be assigned:
Miller, the elder, of Dalswinton, had desired to oblige him in the
affair of Ellisland, and his firm and considerate friend, M'Murdo, of
Drumlanrig, was chamberlain to his Grace of Queensbury, on whoso
interest Miller stood. On the other hand, his old Jacobitical
affections made him the secret well-wisher to Westerhall, for up to
this time, at least till acid disappointment and the democratic
doctrine of the natural equality of man influenced him, Burns, or as a
western rhymer of his day and district worded the reproach--Rob was a
Tory. His situation, it will therefore be observed, disposed him to
moderation, and accounts for the milkiness of his Epistle to Fintray,
in which he marshals the chiefs of the contending factions, and
foretells the fierceness of the strife, without pretending to foresee
the event. Neither is he more explicit, though infinitely more
humorous, in his ballad of "The Five Carlins," in which he
impersonates the five boroughs--Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Lochmaben,
Sanquhar, and Annan, and draws their characters as shrewd and
calculating dames, met in much wrath and drink to choose a

But the two or three years which elapsed between the election for the
boroughs, and that for the county adjoining, wrought a serious change
in the temper as well as the opinions of the poet. His Jacobitism, as
has been said was of a poetic kind, and put on but in obedience to old
feelings, and made no part of the man: he was in his heart as
democratic as the kirk of Scotland, which educated him--he
acknowledged no other superiority but the mental: "he was disposed,
too," said Professor Walker, "from constitutional temper, from
education and the accidents of life, to a jealousy of power, and a
keen hostility against every system which enabled birth and opulence
to anticipate those rewards which he conceived to belong to genius and
virtue." When we add to this, a resentment of the injurious treatment
of the dispensers of public patronage, who had neglected his claims,
and showered pensions and places on men unworthy of being named with
him, we have assigned causes for the change of side and the tone of
asperity and bitterness infused into "The Heron Ballads." Formerly
honey was mixed with his gall: a little praise sweetened his censure:
in these election lampoons he is fierce and even venomous:--no man has
a head but what is empty, nor a heart that is not black: men descended
without reproach from lines of heroes are stigmatized as cowards, and
the honest and conscientious are reproached as miserly, mean, and
dishonourable. Such is the spirit of party. "I have privately," thus
writes the poet to Heron, "printed a good many copies of the ballads,
and have sent them among friends about the country. You have already,
as your auxiliary, the sober detestation of mankind on the heads of
your opponents; find I swear by the lyre of Thalia, to muster on your
side all the votaries of honest laughter and fair, candid ridicule."
The ridicule was uncandid, and the laughter dishonest. The poet was
unfortunate in his political attachments: Miller gained the boroughs
which Burns wished he might lose, and Heron lost the county which he
foretold he would gain. It must also be recorded against the good
taste of the poet, that he loved to recite "The Heron Ballads," and
reckon them among his happiest compositions.

From attacking others, the poet was--in the interval between penning
these election lampoons--called on to defend himself: for this he
seems to have been quite unprepared, though in those yeasty times he
might have expected it. "I have been surprised, confounded, and
distracted," he thus writes to Graham, of Fintray, "by Mr. Mitchell,
the collector, telling me that he has received an order from your
board to inquire into my political conduct, and blaming me as a person
disaffected to government. Sir, you are a husband and a father: you
know what you would feel, to see the much-loved wife of your bosom,
and your helpless prattling little ones, turned adrift into the world,
degraded and disgraced, from a situation in which they had been
respectable and respected. I would not tell a deliberate falsehood,
no, not though even worse horrors, if worse can be than those I have
mentioned, hung over my head, and I say that the allegation, whatever
villain has made it, is a lie! To the British constitution, on
Revolution principles, next after my God, I am devotedly attached. To
your patronage as a man of some genius, you have allowed me a claim;
and your esteem as an honest man I know is my due. To these, sir,
permit me to appeal: by these I adjure you to save me from that misery
which threatens to overwhelm me, and which with my latest breath I
will say I have not deserved." In this letter, another, intended for
the eye of the Commissioners of the Board of Excise, was enclosed, in
which he disclaimed entertaining the idea of a British republic--a
wild dream of the day--but stood by the principles of the constitution
of 1688, with the wish to see such corruptions as had crept in,
amended. This last remark, it appears, by a letter from the poet to
Captain Erskine, afterwards Earl of Mar, gave great offence, for
Corbet, one of the superiors, was desired to inform him, "that his
business was to act, and not to think; and that whatever might be men
or measures, it was his duty to be silent and obedient." The
intercession of Fintray, and the explanations of Burns, were so far
effectual, that his political offense was forgiven, "only I
understand," said he, "that all hopes of my getting officially forward
are blasted." The records of the Excise Office exhibit no trace of
this memorable matter, and two noblemen, who were then in the
government, have assured me that this harsh proceeding received no
countenance at head-quarters, and must have originated with some
ungenerous or malicious person, on whom the poet had spilt a little of
the nitric acid of his wrath.

That Burns was numbered among the republicans of Dumfries I well
remember: but then those who held different sentiments from the men in
power, were all, in that loyal town, stigmatized as democrats: that he
either desired to see the constitution changed, or his country invaded
by the liberal French, who proposed to set us free with the bayonet,
and then admit us to the "fraternal embrace," no one ever believed. It
is true that he spoke of premiers and peers with contempt; that he
hesitated to take off his hat in the theatre, to the air of "God save
the king;" that he refused to drink the health of Pitt, saying he
preferred that of Washington--a far greater man; that he wrote bitter
words against that combination of princes, who desired to put down
freedom in France; that he said the titled spurred and the wealthy
switched England and Scotland like two hack-horses; and that all the
high places of the land, instead of being filled by genius and talent,
were occupied, as were the high-places of Israel, with idols of wood
or of stone. But all this and more had been done and said before by
thousands in this land, whose love of their country was never
questioned. That it was bad taste to refuse to remove his hat when
other heads were bared, and little better to refuse to pledge in
company the name of Pitt, because he preferred Washington, cannot
admit of a doubt; but that he deserved to be written down traitor, for
mere matters of whim or caprice, or to be turned out of the unenvied
situation of "gauging auld wives' barrels," because he thought there
were some stains on the white robe of the constitution, seems a sort
of tyranny new in the history of oppression. His love of country is
recorded in too many undying lines to admit of a doubt now: nor is it
that chivalrous love alone which men call romantic; it is a love which
may be laid up in every man's heart and practised in every man's life;
the words are homely, but the words of Burns are always expressive:--

    "The kettle of the kirk and state
      Perhaps a clout may fail in't,
    But deil a foreign tinkler loon
      Shall ever ca' a nail in't.
    Be Britons still to Britons true,
      Amang ourselves united;
    For never but by British hands
      Shall British wrongs be righted."

But while verses, deserving as these do to become the national motto,
and sentiments loyal and generous, were overlooked and forgotten, all
his rash words about freedom, and his sarcastic sallies about thrones
and kings, were treasured up to his injury, by the mean and the
malicious. His steps were watched and his words weighed; when he
talked with a friend in the street, he was supposed to utter sedition;
and when ladies retired from the table, and the wine circulated with
closed doors, he was suspected of treason rather than of toasting,
which he often did with much humour, the charms of woman; even when he
gave as a sentiment, "May our success be equal to the justice of our
cause," he was liable to be challenged by some gunpowder captain, who
thought that we deserved success in war, whether right or wrong. It is
true that he hated with a most cordial hatred all who presumed on
their own consequence, whether arising from wealth, titles, or
commissions in the army; officers he usually called "the epauletted
puppies," and lords he generally spoke of as "feather-headed fools,"
who could but strut and stare and be no answer in kind to retort his
satiric flings, his unfriends reported that it was unsafe for young
men to associate with one whose principles were democratic, and
scarcely either modest or safe for young women to listen to a poet
whose notions of female virtue were so loose and his songs so free.
These sentiments prevailed so far that a gentleman on a visit from
London, told me he was dissuaded from inviting Burns to a dinner,
given by way of welcome back to his native place, because he was the
associate of democrats and loose people; and when a modest dame of
Dumfries expressed, through a friend, a wish to have but the honour of
speaking to one of whose genius she was an admirer, the poet declined
the interview, with a half-serious smile, saying, "Alas! she is
handsome, and you know the character publicly assigned to me." She
escaped the danger of being numbered, it is likely, with the Annas and
the Chlorises of his freer strains.

The neglect of his country, the tyranny of the Excise, and the
downfall of his hopes and fortunes, were now to bring forth their
fruits--the poet's health began to decline. His drooping looks, his
neglect of his person, his solitary saunterings, his escape from the
stings of reflection into socialities, and his distempered joy in the
company of beauty, all spoke, as plainly as with a tongue, of a
sinking heart and a declining body. Yet though he was sensible of
sinking health, hope did not at once desert him: he continued to pour
out such tender strains, and to show such flashes of wit and humour at
the call of Thomson, as are recorded of no other lyrist: neither did
he, when in company after his own mind, hang the head, and speak
mournfully, but talked and smiled and still charmed all listeners by
his witty vivacities.

On the 20th of June, 1795, he writes thus of his fortunes and
condition to his friend Clarke, "Still, still the victim of
affliction; were you to see the emaciated figure who now holds the pen
to you, you would not know your old friend. Whether I shall ever get
about again is only known to HIM, the Great Unknown, whoso creature I
am. Alas, Clarke, I begin to fear the worst! As to my individual self
I am tranquil, and would despise myself if I were not: but Burns's
poor widow and half-a-dozen of his dear little ones, helpless orphans!
_Here_ I am as weak as a woman's tear. Enough of this! 'tis half my
disease. I duly received your last, enclosing the note: it came
extremely in time, and I am much obliged to your punctuality. Again I
must request you to do me the same kindness. Be so very good as by
return of post to enclose me _another_ note: I trust you can do so
without inconvenience, and it will seriously oblige me. If I must go,
I leave a few friends behind me, whom I shall regret while
consciousness remains. I know I shall live in their remembrance. O,
dear, dear Clarke! that I shall ever see you again is I am afraid
highly improbable." This remarkable letter proves both the declining
health, and the poverty of the poet: his digestion was so bad that he
could taste neither flesh nor fish: porridge and milk he could alone
swallow, and that but in small quantities. When it is recollected that
he had no more than thirty shillings a week to keep house, and live
like a gentleman, no one need wonder that his wife had to be obliged
to a generous neighbour for some of the chief necessaries for her
coming confinement, and that the poet had to beg, in extreme need, two
guinea notes from a distant friend.

His sinking state was not unobserved by his friends, and Syme and
M'Murdo united with Dr. Maxwell in persuading him, at the beginning of
the summer, to seek health at the Brow-well, a few miles east of
Dumfries, where there were pleasant walks on the Solway-side, and
salubrious breezes from the sea, which it was expected would bring the
health to the poet they had brought to many. For a while, his looks
brightened up, and health seemed inclined to return: his friend, the
witty and accomplished Mrs. Riddel, who was herself ailing, paid him a
visit. "I was struck," she said, "with his appearance on entering the
room: the stamp of death was impressed on his features. His first
words were, 'Well, Madam, have you any commands for the other world?'
I replied that it seemed a doubtful case which of us should be there
soonest; he looked in my face with an air of great kindness, and
expressed his concern at seeing me so ill, with his usual sensibility.
At table he ate little or nothing: we had a long conversation about
his present state, and the approaching termination of all his earthly
prospects. He showed great concern about his literary fame, and
particularly the publication of his posthumous works; he said he was
well aware that his death would occasion some noise, and that every
scrap of his writing would be revived against him, to the injury of
his future reputation; that letters and verses, written with unguarded
freedom, would be handed about by vanity or malevolence when no dread
of his resentment would restrain them, or prevent malice or envy from
pouring forth their venom on his name. I had seldom seen his mind
greater, or more collected. There was frequently a considerable degree
of vivacity in his sallies; but the concern and dejection I could not
disguise, damped the spirit of pleasantry he seemed willing to
indulge." This was on the evening of the 5th of July; another lady who
called to see him, found him seated at a window, gazing on the sun,
then setting brightly on the summits of the green hills of Nithsdale.
"Look how lovely the sun is," said the poet, "but he will soon have
done with shining for me."

He now longed for home: his wife, whom he ever tenderly loved, was
about to be confined in child-bed: his papers were in sad confusion,
and required arrangement; and he felt that desire to die, at least,
among familiar things and friendly faces, so common to our nature. He
had not long before, though much reduced in pocket, refused with scorn
an offer of fifty pounds, which a speculating bookseller made, for
leave to publish his looser compositions; he had refused an offer of
the like sum yearly, from Perry of the Morning Chronicle, for poetic
contributions to his paper, lest it might embroil him with the ruling
powers, and he had resented the remittance of five pounds from
Thomson, on account of his lyric contributions, and desired him to do
so no more, unless he wished to quarrel with him; but his necessities
now, and they had at no time been so great, induced him to solicit
five pounds from Thomson, and ten pounds from his cousin, James
Burness, of Montrose, and to beg his friend Alexander Cunningham to
intercede with the Commissioners of Excise, to depart from their usual
practice, and grant him his full salary; "for without that," he added,
"if I die not of disease, I must perish with hunger." Thomson sent the
five pounds, James Burness sent the ten, but the Commissioners of
Excise refused to be either merciful or generous. Stobie, a young
expectant in the customs, was both;--he performed the duties of the
dying poet, and refused to touch the salary. The mind of Burns was
haunted with the fears of want and the terrors of a jail; nor were
those fears without foundation; one Williamson, to whom he was
indebted for the cloth to make his volunteer regimentals, threatened
the one; and a feeling that he was without money for either his own
illness or the confinement of his wife, threatened the other.

Burns returned from the Brow-well, on the 18th of July: as he walked
from the little carriage which brought him up the Mill hole-brae to
his own door, he trembled much, and stooped with weakness and pain,
and kept his feet with difficulty: his looks were woe-worn and
ghastly, and no one who saw him, and there were several, expected to
see him again in life. It was soon circulated through Dumfries, that
Burns had returned worse from the Brow-well; that Maxwell thought ill
of him, and that, in truth, he was dying. The anxiety of all classes
was great; differences of opinion were forgotten, in sympathy for his
early fate: wherever two or three were met together their talk was of
Burns, of his rare wit, matchless humour, the vivacity of his
conversation, and the kindness of his heart. To the poet himself,
death, which he now knew was at hand, brought with it no fear; his
good-humour, which small matters alone ruffled, did not forsake him,
and his wit was ever ready. He was poor--he gave his pistols, which he
had used against the smugglers on the Solway, to his physician, adding
with a smile, that he had tried them and found them an honour to their
maker, which was more than he could say of the bulk of mankind! He was
proud--he remembered the indifferent practice of the corps to which he
belonged, and turning to Gibson, one of his fellow-soldiers, who stood
at his bedside with wet eyes, "John," said he, and a gleam of humour
passed over his face, "pray don't let the awkward-squad fire over me."
It was almost the last act of his life to copy into his Common-place
Book, the letters which contained the charge against him of the
Commissioners of Excise, and his own eloquent refutation, leaving
judgment to be pronounced by the candour of posterity.

It has been injuriously said of Burns, by Coleridge, that the man
sunk, but the poet was bright to the last: he did not sink in the
sense that these words imply: the man was manly to the latest draught
of breath. That he was a poet to the last, can be proved by facts, as
well as by the word of the author of Christabel. As he lay silently
growing weaker and weaker, he observed Jessie Lewars, a modest and
beautiful young creature, and sister to one of his brethren of the
Excise, watching over him with moist eyes, and tending him with the
care of a daughter; he rewarded her with one of those songs which are
an insurance against forgetfulness. The lyrics of the north have
nothing finer than this exquisite stanza:--

    "Altho' thou maun never be mine,
      Altho' even hope is denied,
    'Tis sweeter for thee despairing,
      Than aught in the world beside."

His thoughts as he lay wandered to Charlotte Hamilton, and he
dedicated some beautiful stanzas to her beauty and her coldness,
beginning, "Fairest maid on Devon banks."

It was a sad sight to see the poet gradually sinking; his wife in
hourly expectation of her sixth confinement, and his four helpless
children--a daughter, a sweet child, had died the year before--with no
one of their lineage to soothe them with kind words or minister to
their wants. Jessie Lewars, with equal prudence and attention, watched
over them all: she could not help seeing that the thoughts of the
desolation which his death would bring, pressed sorely on him, for he
loved his children, and hoped much from his boys. He wrote to his
father-in-law, James Armour, at Mauchline, that he was dying, his wife
nigh her confinement, and begged that his mother-in-law would hasten
to them and speak comfort. He wrote to Mrs. Dunlop, saying, "I have
written to you so often without receiving any answer that I would not
trouble you again, but for the circumstances in which I am. An illness
which has long hung about me in all probability will speedily send me
beyond that bourne whence no traveller returns. Your friendship, with
which for many years you honoured me, was a friendship dearest to my
soul: your conversation and your correspondence were at once highly
entertaining and instructive--with what pleasure did I use to break up
the seal! The remembrance yet adds one pulse more to my poor
palpitating heart. Farewell!" A tremor pervaded his frame; his tongue
grew parched, and he was at times delirious: on the fourth day after
his return, when his attendant, James Maclure, held his medicine to
his lips, he swallowed it eagerly, rose almost wholly up, spread out
his hands, sprang forward nigh the whole length of the bed, fell on
his face, and expired. He died on the 21st of July, when nearly
thirty-seven years and seven months old.

The burial of Burns, on the 25th of July, was an impressive and
mournful scene: half the people of Nithsdale and the neighbouring
parts of Galloway had crowded into Dumfries, to see their poet
"mingled with the earth," and not a few had been permitted to look at
his body, laid out for interment. It was a calm and beautiful day, and
as the body was borne along the street towards the old kirk-yard, by
his brethren of the volunteers, not a sound was heard but the measured
step and the solemn music: there was no impatient crushing, no fierce
elbowing--the crowd which filled the street seemed conscious of what
they were now losing for ever. Even while this pageant was passing,
the widow of the poet was taken in labour; but the infant born in that
unhappy hour soon shared his father's grave. On reaching the northern
nook of the kirk-yard, where the grave was made, the mourners halted;
the coffin was divested of the mort-cloth, and silently lowered to its
resting-place, and as the first shovel-full of earth fell on the lid,
the volunteers, too agitated to be steady, justified the fears of the
poet, by three ragged volleys. He who now writes this very brief and
imperfect account, was present: he thought then, as he thinks now,
that all the military array of foot and horse did not harmonize with
either the genius or the fortunes of the poet, and that the tears
which he saw on many cheeks around, as the earth was replaced, were
worth all the splendour of a show which mocked with unintended mockery
the burial of the poor and neglected Burns. The body of the poet was,
on the 5th of June, 1815, removed to a more commodious spot in the
same burial-ground--his dark, and waving locks looked then fresh and
glossy--to afford room for a marble monument, which embodies, with
neither skill nor grace, that well-known passage in the dedication to
the gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt:--"The poetic genius of my
country found me, as the prophetic bard, Elijah, did Elisha, at the
plough, and threw her inspiring mantle over me." The dust of the bard
was again disturbed, when the body of Mrs. Burns was laid, in April,
1834, beside the remains of her husband: his skull was dug up by the
district craniologists, to satisfy their minds by measurement that he
was equal to the composition of "Tam o' Shanter," or "Mary in Heaven."
This done, they placed the skull in a leaden box, "carefully lined
with the softest materials," and returned it, we hope for ever, to the
hallowed ground.

Thus lived and died Robert Burns, the chief of Scottish poets: in his
person he was tall and sinewy, and of such strength and activity, that
Scott alone, of all the poets I have seen, seemed his equal: his
forehead was broad, his hair black, with an inclination to curl, his
visage uncommonly swarthy, his eyes large, dark and lustrous, and his
voice deep and manly. His sensibility was strong, his passions full to
overflowing, and he loved, nay, adored, whatever was gentle and
beautiful. He had, when a lad at the plough, an eloquent word and an
inspired song for every fair face that smiled on him, and a sharp
sarcasm or a fierce lampoon for every rustic who thwarted or
contradicted him. As his first inspiration came from love, he
continued through life to love on, and was as ready with the lasting
incense of the muse for the ladies of Nithsdale as for the lasses of
Kyle: his earliest song was in praise of a young girl who reaped by
his side, when he was seventeen--his latest in honour of a lady by
whose side he had wandered and dreamed on the banks of the Devon. He
was of a nature proud and suspicious, and towards the close of his
life seemed disposed to regard all above him in rank as men who
unworthily possessed the patrimony of genius: he desired to see the
order of nature restored, and worth and talent in precedence of the
base or the dull. He had no medium in his hatred or his love; he never
spared the stupid, as if they were not to be endured because he was
bright; and on the heads of the innocent possessors of titles or
wealth he was ever ready to shower his lampoons. He loved to start
doubts in religion which he knew inspiration only could solve, and he
spoke of Calvinism with a latitude of language that grieved pious
listeners. He was warm-hearted and generous to a degree, above all
men, and scorned all that was selfish and mean with a scorn quite
romantic. He was a steadfast friend and a good neighbour: while he
lived at Ellisland few passed his door without being entertained at
his table; and even when in poverty, on the Millhole-brae, the poor
seldom left his door but with blessings on their lips.

Of his modes of study he has himself informed us, as well as of the
seasons and the places in which he loved to muse. He composed while he
strolled along the secluded banks of the Doon, the Ayr, or the Nith:
as the images crowded on his fancy his pace became quickened, and in
his highest moods he was excited even to tears. He loved the winter
for its leafless trees, its swelling floods, and its winds which swept
along the gloomy sky, with frost and snow on their wings: but he loved
the autumn more--he has neglected to say why--the muse was then more
liberal of her favours, and he composed with a happy alacrity unfelt
in all other seasons. He filled his mind and heart with the materials
of song--and retired from gazing on woman's beauty, and from the
excitement of her charms, to record his impressions in verse, as a
painter delineates oil his canvas the looks of those who sit to his
pencil. His chief place of study at Ellisland is still remembered: it
extends along the river-bank towards the Isle: there the neighbouring
gentry love to walk and peasants to gather, and hold it sacred, as the
place where he composed Tam O' Shanter. His favourite place of study
when residing in Dumfries, was the ruins of Lincluden College, made
classic by that sublime ode, "The Vision," and that level and clovery
sward contiguous to the College, on the northern side of the Nith: the
latter place was his favourite resort; it is known now by the name of
Burns's musing ground, and there he conceived many of his latter
lyrics. In case of interruption he completed the verses at the
fireside, where he swung to and fro in his arm-chair till the task was
done: he then submitted the song to the ordeal of his wife's voice,
which was both sweet and clear, and while she sung he listened
attentively, and altered or amended till the whole was in harmony,
music and words.

The genius of Burns is of a high order: in brightness of expression
and unsolicited ease and natural vehemence of language, he stands in
the first rank of poets: in choice of subjects, in happiness of
conception, and loftiness of imagination, he recedes into the second.
He owes little of his fame to his objects, for, saving the beauty of a
few ladies, they were all of an ordinary kind: he sought neither in
romance nor in history for themes to the muse; he took up topics from
life around which were familiar to all, and endowed them with
character, with passion, with tenderness, with humour--elevating all
that he touched into the regions of poetry and morals. He went to no
far lands for the purpose of surprising us with wonders, neither did
he go to crowns or coronets to attract the stare of the peasantry
around him, by things which to them were as a book shut and sealed:
"The Daisy" grew on the lands which he ploughed; "The Mouse" built her
frail nest on his own stubble-field; "The Haggis" reeked on his own
table; "The Scotch Drink" of which he sang was the produce of a
neighbouring still; "The Twa Dogs," which conversed so wisely and
wittily, were, one of them at least, his own collies; "The Vision" is
but a picture, and a brilliant one, of his own hopes and fears; "Tam
Samson" was a friend whom he loved; "Doctor Hornbook" a neighbouring
pedant; "Matthew Henderson" a social captain on half-pay; "The Scotch
Bard" who had gone to the West Indies was Burns himself; the heroine
of "The Lament" was Jean Armour; and "Tam O' Shanter" a facetious
farmer of Kyle, who rode late and loved pleasant company, nay, even
"The Deil" himself, whom he had the hardihood to address, was a being
whose eldrich croon bad alarmed the devout matrons of Kyle, and had
wandered, not unseen by the bard himself, among the lonely glens of
the Doon. Burns was one of the first to teach the world that high
moral poetry resided in the humblest subjects: whatever he touched
became elevated; his spirit possessed and inspired the commonest
topics, and endowed them with life and beauty.

His songs have all the beauties and but few of them the faults of his
poems: they flow to the music as readily as if both air and words came
into the world together. The sentiments are from nature, they are
rarely strained or forced, and the words dance in their places and
echo the music in its pastoral sweetness, social glee, or in the
tender and the moving. He seems always to write with woman's eye upon
him: he is gentle, persuasive and impassioned: he appears to watch her
looks, and pours out his praise or his complaint according to the
changeful moods of her mind. He looks on her, too, with a sculptor's
as well as a poet's eye: to him who works in marble, the diamonds,
emeralds, pearls, and elaborate ornaments of gold, but load and injure
the harmony of proportion, the grace of form, and divinity of
sentiment of his nymph or his goddess--so with Burns the fashion of a
lady's boddice, the lustre of her satins, or the sparkle of her
diamonds, or other finery with which wealth or taste has loaded her,
are neglected us idle frippery; while her beauty, her form, or her
mind, matters which are of nature and not of fashion, are remembered
and praised. He is none of the millinery bards, who deal in scented
silks, spider-net laces, rare gems, set in rarer workmanship, and who
shower diamonds and pearls by the bushel on a lady's locks: he makes
bright eyes, flushing cheeks, the magic of the tongue, and the
"pulses' maddening play" perform all. His songs are, in general,
pastoral pictures: he seldom finishes a portrait of female beauty
without enclosing it in a natural frame-work of waving woods, running
streams, the melody of birds, and the lights of heaven. Those who
desire to feel Burns in all his force, must seek some summer glen,
when a country girl searches among his many songs for one which
sympathizes with her own heart, and gives it full utterance, till wood
and vale is filled with the melody. It is remarkable that the most
naturally elegant and truly impassioned songs in our literature were
written by a ploughman in honour of the rustic lasses around him.

His poetry is all life and energy, and bears the impress of a warm
heart and a clear understanding: it abounds with passions and
opinions--vivid pictures of rural happiness and the raptures of
successful love, all fresh from nature and observation, and not as
they are seen through the spectacles of books. The wit of the clouted
shoe is there without its coarseness: there is a prodigality of humour
without licentiousness, a pathos ever natural and manly, a social joy
akin sometimes to sadness, a melancholy not unallied to mirth, and a
sublime morality which seeks to elevate and soothe. To a love of man
he added an affection for the flowers of the valley, the fowls of the
air, and the beasts of the field: he perceived the tie of social
sympathy which united animated with unanimated nature, and in many of
his finest poems most beautifully he has enforced it. His thoughts are
original and his style new and unborrowed: all that he has written is
distinguished by a happy carelessness, a bounding elasticity of
spirit, and a singular felicity of expression, simple yet inimitable;
he is familiar yet dignified, careless, yet correct, and concise, yet
clear and full. All this and much more is embodied in the language of
humble life--a dialect reckoned barbarous by scholars, but which,
coming from the lips of inspiration, becomes classic and elevated.

The prose of this great poet has much of the original merit of his
verse, but it is seldom so natural and so sustained: it abounds with
fine outflashings and with a genial warmth and vigour, but it is
defaced by false ornament and by a constant anxiety to say fine and
forcible things. He seems not to know that simplicity was as rare and
as needful a beauty in prose as in verse; he covets the pauses of
Sterne and the point and antithesis of Junius, like one who believes
that to write prose well he must be ever lively, ever pointed, and
ever smart. Yet the account which he wrote of himself to Dr. Moore is
one of the most spirited and natural narratives in the language, and
composed in a style remote from the strained and groped-for witticisms
and put-on sensibilities of many of his letters:--"Simple," as John
Wilson says, "we may well call it; rich in fancy, overflowing in
feeling, and dashed off in every other paragraph with the easy
boldness of a great master."


[The first edition, printed at Kilmarnock, July, 1786, by John Wilson,
bore on the title-page these simple words:--"Poems, chiefly in the
Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns;" the following motto, marked
"Anonymous," but evidently the poet's own composition, was more

    "The simple Bard, unbroke by rules of art,
    He pours the wild effusions of the heart:
    And if inspired, 'tis nature's pow'rs inspire--
    Hers all the melting thrill, and hers the kindling fire."]

The following trifles are not the production of the Poet, who, with
all the advantages of learned art, and perhaps amid the elegancies and
idlenesses of upper life, looks down for a rural theme with an eye to
Theocritus or Virgil. To the author of this, these, and other
celebrated names their countrymen, are, at least in their original
language, _a fountain shut up, and a book sealed._ Unacquainted with
the necessary requisites for commencing poet by rule, he sings the
sentiments and manners he felt and saw in himself and his rustic
compeers around him in his and their native language. Though a rhymer
from his earliest years, at least from the earliest impulse of the
softer passions, it was not till very lately that the applause,
perhaps the partiality, of friendship awakened his vanity so for as to
make him think anything of his worth showing: and none of the
following works were composed with a view to the press. To amuse
himself with the little creations of his own fancy, amid the toil and
fatigue of a laborious life; to transcribe the various feelings--the
loves, the griefs, the hopes, the fears--in his own breast; to find
some kind of counterpoise to the struggles of a world, always an alien
scene, a task uncouth to the poetical mind--these were his motives for
courting the Muses, and in these he found poetry to be its own reward.

Now that he appears in the public character of an author, he does it
with fear and trembling. So dear is fame to the rhyming tribe, that
even he, an obscure, nameless Bard, shrinks aghast at the thought of
being branded as--an impertinent blockhead, obtruding his nonsense on
the world; and, because he can make a shift to jingle a few doggerel
Scotch rhymes together, looking upon himself as a poet of no small
consequence, forsooth!

It is an observation of that celebrated poet, Shenstone, whose divine
elegies do honour to our language, our nation, and our species, that
"_Humility_ has depressed many a genius to a hermit, but never raised
one to fame!" If any critic catches at the word _genius_ the author
tells him, once for all, that he certainly looks upon himself as
possessed of some poetic abilities, otherwise his publishing in the
manner he has done would be a manoeuvre below the worst character,
which, he hopes, his worst enemy will ever give him. But to the genius
of a Ramsay, or the glorious dawnings of the poor, unfortunate
Fergusson, he, with equal unaffected sincerity, declares, that even in
his highest pulse of vanity, he has not the most distant pretensions.
These two justly admired Scotch poets he has often had in his eye in
the following pieces, but rather with a view to kindle at their flame,
than for servile imitation.

To his Subscriber, the Author returns his most sincere thanks. Not the
mercenary bow over a counter, but the heart-throbbing gratitude of the
Bard, conscious how much he owes to benevolence and friendship for
gratifying him, if he deserves it, in that dearest wish of every
poetic bosom--to be distinguished. He begs his readers, particularly
the learned and the polite, who may honour him with a perusal, that
they will make every allowance for education and circumstances of
life; but if, after a fair, candid, and impartial criticism, he shall
stand convicted of dulness and nonsense, let him be done by as he
would in that case do by others--let him be condemned, without mercy,
in contempt and oblivion.








[This is one of the earliest of the poet's recorded compositions: it
was written before the death of his father, and is called by Gilbert
Burns, 'a juvenile production.' To walk by a river while flooded, or
through a wood on a rough winter day, and hear the storm howling among
the leafless trees, exalted the poet's thoughts. "In such a season,"
he said, "just after a train of misfortunes, I composed _Winter, a

    The wintry west extends his blast,
      And hail and rain does blaw;
    Or the stormy north sends driving forth
      The blinding sleet and snaw;
    While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
      And roars frae bank to brae;
    And bird and beast in covert rest,
      And pass the heartless day.

    "The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"[1]
      The joyless winter day
    Let others fear, to me more dear
      Than all the pride of May:
    The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
      My griefs it seems to join;
    The leafless trees my fancy please,
      Their fate resembles mine!

    Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
      These woes of mine fulfil,
    Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,
      Because they are Thy will!
    Then all I want (O, do thou grant
      This one request of mine!)
    Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
      Assist me to resign!


[Footnote 1: Dr. Young.]

       *       *       *       *       *








[This tale is partly true; the poet's pet ewe got entangled in her
tether, and tumbled into a ditch; the face of ludicrous and awkward
sorrow with which this was related by Hughoc, the herd-boy, amused
Burns so much, who was on his way to the plough, that he immediately
composed the poem, and repeated it to his brother Gilbert when they
met in the evening; the field where the poet held the plough, and the
ditch into which poor Mailie fell, are still pointed out.]

    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 Hughoc[2] he cam doytin by.
    Wi' glowing e'en an' lifted han's,
    Poor Hughoc like a statue stan's;
    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, whose lamentable face
    Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
    My dying words attentive hear,
    An' bear them to my master dear.

      "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, and grow
    To scores o' lambs, an' packs of woo'!

      "Tell him he was a master kin'
    An' ay was gude to me an' 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, and 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' ripps o' corn.

      "An' may they never learn the gaets
    Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets!
    To sink thro' 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 thro' 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' ony blastit, moorland toop,
    But ay 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 kind 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,
    And clos'd her een amang the dead.


[Footnote 2: A neibor herd-callan.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns, when he calls on the bards of Ayr and Doon to join in the
lament for Mailie, intimates that he regards himself as a poet. Hogg
calls it a very elegant morsel: but says that it resembles too closely
"The Ewie and the Crooked Horn," to be admired as original: the
shepherd might have remembered that they both resemble Sempill's "Life
and death of the Piper of Kilbarchan."]

    Lament in rhyme, lament in prose,
    Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose;
    Our bardie's fate is at a close,
                         Past a' remead;
    The last sad cape-stane of his woes;
                         Poor Mailie's dead.

    It's no the loss o' warl's gear,
    That could sae bitter draw the tear,
    Or mak our bardie, dowie, wear
                         The mourning weed;
    He's lost a friend and neebor dear,
                         In Mailie dead.

    Thro' a' the toun she trotted by him;
    A long half-mile she could descry him;
    Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him,
                         She run wi' speed:
    A friend mair faithfu' ne'er cam nigh him,
                         Than Mailie dead.

    I wat she was a sheep o' sense,
    An' could behave hersel wi' mense:
    I'll say't, she never brak a fence,
                         Thro' thievish greed.
    Our bardie, tamely, keeps the spence
                         Sin' Mailie's dead.

    Or, if he wonders up the howe,
    Her living image in her yowe
    Comes bleating to him, owre the knowe,
                         For bits o' bread;
    An' down the briny pearls rowe
                         For Mailie dead.

    She was nae get o' moorland tips,[3]
    Wi' tawted ket, an hairy hips;
    For her forbears were brought in ships
                         Frae yont the Tweed:
    A bonnier fleesh ne'er cross'd the clips
                         Than Mailie dead.

    Wae worth the man wha first did shape
    That vile, wanchancie thing--a rape!
    It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,
                         Wi' chokin dread;
    An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape,
                         For Mailie dead.

    O, a' ye bards on bonnie Doon!
    An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune!
    Come, join the melancholious croon
                         O' Robin's reed!
    His heart will never get aboon!
                         His Mailie's dead!


[Footnote 3: VARIATION.

    'She was nae get o' runted rams,
    Wi' woo' like goats an' legs like trams;
    She was the flower o' Farlie lambs,
                  A famous breed!
    Now Robin, greetin, chews the hams
                  O' Mailie dead.']

       *       *       *       *       *




[In the summer of 1781, Burns, while at work in the garden, repeated
this Epistle to his brother Gilbert, who was much pleased with the
performance, which he considered equal if not superior to some of
Allan Ramsay's Epistles, and said if it were printed he had no doubt
that it would be well received by people of taste.]

--_January_, [1784.]


    While winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw,
    And bar the doors wi' driving snaw,
      And hing us owre the ingle,
    I set me down to pass the time,
    And spin a verse or twa o' rhyme,
      In hamely westlin jingle.
    While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
      Ben to the chimla lug,
    I grudge a wee the great folks' gift,
      That live sae bien an' snug:
        I tent less and want less
          Their roomy fire-side;
        But hanker and canker
          To see their cursed pride.


    It's hardly in a body's power
    To keep, at times, frae being sour,
      To see how things are shar'd;
    How best o' chiels are whiles in want.
    While coofs on countless thousands rant,
      And ken na how to wair't;
    But Davie, lad, ne'er fash your head,
      Tho' we hae little gear,
    We're fit to win our daily bread,
      As lang's we're hale and fier:
        "Muir spier na, nor fear na,"[4]
          Auld age ne'er mind a feg,
        The last o't, the warst o't,
          Is only but to beg.


    To lie in kilns and barns at e'en
    When banes are craz'd, and bluid is thin,
      Is, doubtless, great distress!
    Yet then content could make us blest;
    Ev'n then, sometimes we'd snatch a taste
      O' truest happiness.
    The honest heart that's free frae a'
      Intended fraud or guile,
    However Fortune kick the ba',
      Has ay some cause to smile:
        And mind still, you'll find still,
          A comfort this nae sma';
        Nae mair then, we'll care then,
          Nae farther we can fa'.


    What tho', like commoners of air,
    We wander out we know not where,
      But either house or hall?
    Yet nature's charms, the hills and woods,
    The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
      Are free alike to all.
    In days when daisies deck the ground,
      And blackbirds whistle clear,
    With honest joy our hearts will bound
      To see the coming year:
        On braes when we please, then,
          We'll sit and sowth a tune;
        Syne rhyme till't we'll time till't,
          And sing't when we hae done.


    It's no in titles nor in rank;
    It's no in wealth like Lon'on bank,
      To purchase peace and rest;
    It's no in makin muckle mair;
    It's no in books, it's no in lear,
      To make us truly blest;
    If happiness hae not her seat
      And centre in the breast,
    We may be wise, or rich, or great,
      But never can be blest:
        Nae treasures, nor pleasures,
          Could make us happy lang;
        The heart ay's the part ay
          That makes us right or wrang.


    Think ye, that sic as you and I,
    Wha drudge and drive thro' wet an' dry,
      Wi' never-ceasing toil;
    Think ye, are we less blest than they,
    Wha scarcely tent us in their way,
      As hardly worth their while?
    Alas! how aft, in haughty mood
      God's creatures they oppress!
    Or else, neglecting a' that's guid,
      They riot in excess!
        Baith careless and fearless
          Of either heaven or hell!
        Esteeming and deeming
          It's a' an idle tale!


    Then let us cheerfu' acquiesce;
    Nor make one scanty pleasures less,
      By pining at our state;
    And, even should misfortunes come,
    I, here wha sit, hae met wi' some,
      An's thankfu' for them yet.
    They gie the wit of age to youth;
      They let us ken oursel';
    They make us see the naked truth,
      The real guid and ill.
        Tho' losses, and crosses,
          Be lessons right severe,
        There's wit there, ye'll get there,
          Ye'll find nae other where.


    But tent me, Davie, ace o' hearts!
    (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,
      And flatt'ry I detest,)
    This life has joys for you and I;
    And joys that riches ne'er could buy:
      And joys the very best.
    There's a' the pleasures o' the heart,
      The lover an' the frien';
    Ye hae your Meg your dearest part,
      And I my darling Jean!
        It warms me, it charms me,
          To mention but her name:
        It heats me, it beets me,
          And sets me a' on flame!


    O, all ye pow'rs who rule above!
    O, Thou, whose very self art love!
      Thou know'st my words sincere!
    The life-blood streaming thro' my heart,
    Or my more dear immortal part,
      Is not more fondly dear!
    When heart-corroding care and grief
      Deprive my soul of rest,
    Her dear idea brings relief
      And solace to my breast.
        Thou Being, All-seeing,
          O hear my fervent pray'r!
        Still take her, and make her
          Thy most peculiar care!


    All hail, ye tender feelings dear!
    The smile of love, the friendly tear,
      The sympathetic glow!
    Long since, this world's thorny ways
    Had number'd out my weary days,
      Had it not been for you!
    Fate still has blest me with a friend,
      In every care and ill;
    And oft a more endearing hand,
      A tie more tender still.
        It lightens, it brightens
          The tenebrific scene,
        To meet with, and greet with
          My Davie or my Jean!


    O, how that name inspires my style
    The words come skelpin, rank and file,
      Amaist before I ken!
    The ready measure rins as fine,
    As Phoebus and the famous Nine
      Were glowrin owre my pen.
    My spaviet Pegasus will limp,
      'Till ance he's fairly het;
    And then he'll hilch, and stilt, and jimp,
      An' rin an unco fit:
        But least then, the beast then
          Should rue this hasty ride,
        I'll light now, and dight now
          His sweaty, wizen'd hide.


[Footnote 4: Ramsay.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[David Sillar, to whom these epistles are addressed, was at that time
master of a country school, and was welcome to Burns both as a scholar
and a writer of verse. This epistle he prefixed to his poems printed
at Kilmarnock in the year 1789: he loved to speak of his early
comrade, and supplied Walker with some very valuable anecdotes: he
died one of the magistrates of Irvine, on the 2d of May, 1830, at the
age of seventy.]

    I'm three times doubly o'er your debtor,
    For your auld-farrent, frien'ly letter;
    Tho' I maun say't, I doubt ye flatter,
                          Ye speak sae fair.
    For my puir, silly, rhymin clatter
                          Some less maun sair.

    Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle;
    Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle,
    To cheer you thro' the weary widdle
                          O' war'ly cares,
    Till bairn's bairns kindly cuddle
                          Your auld, gray hairs.

    But Davie, lad, I'm red ye're glaikit;
    I'm tauld the Muse ye hae negleckit;
    An' gif it's sae, ye sud be licket
                          Until yo fyke;
    Sic hauns as you sud ne'er be faiket,
                          Be hain't who like.

    For me, I'm on Parnassus' brink,
    Rivin' the words to gar them clink;
    Whyles daez't wi' love, whyles daez't wi' drink,
                          Wi' jads or masons;
    An' whyles, but ay owre late, I think
                          Braw sober lessons.

    Of a' the thoughtless sons o' man,
    Commen' me to the Bardie clan;
    Except it be some idle plan
                          O' rhymin' clink,
    The devil-haet, that I sud ban,
                          They ever think.

    Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o' livin',
    Nae cares to gie us joy or grievin';
    But just the pouchie put the nieve in,
                          An' while ought's there,
    Then hiltie skiltie, we gae scrievin',
                          An' fash nae mair.

    Leeze me on rhyme! it's aye a treasure,
    My chief, amaist my only pleasure,
    At hame, a-fiel', at work, or leisure,
                          The Muse, poor hizzie!
    Tho' rough an' raploch be her measure,
                          She's seldom lazy.

    Haud to the Muse, my dainty Davie:
    The warl' may play you monie a shavie;
    But for the Muse she'll never leave ye,
                          Tho' e'er so puir,
    Na, even tho' limpin' wi' the spavie
                          Frae door to door.

       *       *       *       *       *



    "O Prince! O Chief of many throned Pow'rs,
    That led th' embattled Seraphim to war."


[The beautiful and relenting spirit in which this fine poem finishes
moved the heart on one of the coldest of our critics. "It was, I
think," says Gilbert Burns, "in the winter of 1784, as we were going
with carts for coals to the family fire, and I could yet point out the
particular spot, that Robert first repeated to me the 'Address to the
Deil.' The idea of the address was suggested to him by running over in
his mind the many ludicrous accounts we have of that august

    O thou! whatever title suit thee,
    Auld Hornie, Satan, Kick, or Clootie,
    Wha in yon cavern grim an' sootie,
                      Closed under hatches,
    Spairges about the brunstane cootie,
                      To scaud poor wretches!

    Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,
    An' let poor damned bodies be;
    I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
                      E'en to a deil,
    To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me,
                      An' hear us squeel!

    Great is thy pow'r, an' great thy fame;
    Far kend an' noted is thy name;
    An' tho' yon lowin heugh's thy hame,
                      Thou travels far;
    An', faith! thou's neither lag nor lame,
                      Nor blate nor scaur.

    Whyles, ranging like a roaring lion,
    For prey, a' holes an' corners tryin;
    Whyles, on the strong-winged tempest flyin,
                      Tirlin the kirks;
    Whiles, in the human bosom pryin,
                      Unseen thou lurks.

    I've heard my reverend Graunie say,
    In lanely glens ye like to stray;
    Or where auld-ruin'd castles, gray,
                      Nod to the moon,
    Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way
                      Wi' eldricht croon.

    When twilight did my Graunie summon,
    To say her prayers, douce, honest woman!
    Aft yont the dyke she's heard you bummin,
                      Wi' eerie drone;
    Or, rustlin, thro' the boortries comin,
                      Wi' heavy groan.

    Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
    The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
    Wi' you, mysel, I gat a fright
                      Ayont the lough;
    Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,
                      Wi' waving sough.

    The cudgel in my nieve did shake.
    Each bristl'd hair stood like a stake,
    When wi' an eldritch, stoor quaick--quaick--
                      Amang the springs,
    Awa ye squatter'd, like a drake,
                      On whistling wings.

    Let warlocks grim, an' wither'd hags,
    Tell how wi' you, on rag weed nags,
    They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags
                      Wi' wicked speed;
    And in kirk-yards renew their leagues
                      Owre howkit dead.

    Thence countra wives, wi' toil an' pain,
    May plunge an' plunge the kirn in vain:
    For, oh! the yellow treasure's taen
                      By witching skill;
    An' dawtit, twal-pint hawkie's gaen
                      As yell's the bill.

    Thence mystic knots mak great abuse
    On young guidmen, fond, keen, an' crouse;
    When the best wark-lume i' the house
                      By cantrip wit,
    Is instant made no worth a louse,
                      Just at the bit,

    When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
    An' float the jinglin icy-boord,
    Then water-kelpies haunt the foord,
                      By your direction;
    An' nighted trav'llers are allur'd
                      To their destruction.

    An' aft your moss-traversing spunkies
    Decoy the wight that late an' drunk is,
    The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkeys
                      Delude his eyes,
    Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
                      Ne'er mair to rise.

    When masons' mystic word an' grip
    In storms an' tempests raise you up,
    Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
                      Or, strange to tell!
    The youngest brother ye wad whip
                      Aff straught to hell!

    Lang syne, in Eden's bonie yard,
    When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
    An' all the soul of love they shar'd,
                      The raptur'd hour,
    Sweet on the fragrant, flow'ry sward,
                      In shady bow'r:

    Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
    Ye came to Paradise incog.
    An' play'd on man a cursed brogue,
                      (Black be your fa'!)
    An' gied the infant world a shog,
                      'Maist ruin'd a'.

    D'ye mind that day, when in a bizz,
    Wi' reekit duds, an' reestit gizz,
    Ye did present your smoutie phiz
                      'Mang better folk,
    An' sklented on the man of Uzz
                      Your spitefu' joke?

    An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
    An' brak him out o' house an' hall,
    While scabs an' botches did him gall,
                      Wi' bitter claw,
    An' lows'd his ill tongu'd, wicked scawl,
                      Was warst ava?

    But a' your doings to rehearse,
    Your wily snares an' fechtin fierce,
    Sin' that day Michael did you pierce,
                      Down to this time,
    Wad ding a' Lallan tongue, or Erse,
                      In prose or rhyme.

    An' now, auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
    A certain Bardie's rantin, drinkin,
    Some luckless hour will send him linkin
                     To your black pit;
    But, faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
                     An' cheat you yet.

    But fare ye well, auld Nickie-ben!
    O wad ye tak a thought an' men'!
    Ye aiblins might--I dinna ken--
                     Still hae a stake--
    I'm wae to think upo' yon den
                     Ev'n for your sake!

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: "AULD MARE MAGGIE."]






["Whenever Burns has occasion," says Hogg, "to address or mention any
subordinate being, however mean, even a mouse or a flower, then there
is a gentle pathos in it that awakens the finest feelings of the
heart." The Auld Farmer of Kyle has the spirit of knight-errant, and
loves his mare according to the rules of chivalry; and well he might:
she carried him safely home from markets, triumphantly from
wedding-brooses; she ploughed the stiffest land; faced the steepest
brae, and, moreover, bore home his bonnie bride with a consciousness
of the loveliness of the load.]

    A guid New-year I wish thee, Maggie!
    Hae, there's a rip to thy auld baggie:
    Tho' thou's howe-backit, now, an' knaggie,
                      I've seen the day
    Thou could hae gaen like onie staggie
                      Out-owre the lay.

    Tho' now thou's dowie, stiff, an' crazy,
    An' thy auld hide as white's a daisy,
    I've seen thee dappl't, sleek, and glaizie,
                      A bonny gray:
    He should been tight that daur't to raize thee,
                      Ance in a day.

    Thou ance was i' the foremost rank,
    A filly, buirdly, steeve, an' swank,
    An set weel down a shapely shank,
                      As e'er tread yird;
    An' could hae flown out-owre a stank,
                      Like ony bird.

    It's now some nine-an'-twenty year,
    Sin' thou was my guid-father's Meere;
    He gied me thee, o' tocher clear,
                      An' fifty mark;
    Tho' it was sma', 'twas weel-won gear,
                      An' thou was stark.

    When first I gaed to woo my Jenny,
    Ye then was trottin wi' your minnie:
    Tho' ye was trickle, slee, an' funny,
                      Ye ne'er was donsie:
    But hamely, tawie, quiet an' cannie,
                      An' unco sonsie.

    That day ye pranc'd wi' muckle pride,
    When ye bure hame my bonnie bride:
    An' sweet an' gracefu' she did ride,
                      Wi' maiden air!
    Kyle-Stewart I could bragged wide,
                      For sic a pair.

    Tho' now ye dow but hoyte and hoble,
    An' wintle like a saumont-coble,
    That day, ye was a jinker noble,
                      For heels an' win'!
    An' ran them till they a' did wauble,
                      Far, far, behin'!

    When thou an' I were young an' skeigh,
    An' stable-meals at fairs were dreigh,
    How thou wad prance, an' snore, an' skreigh,
                      An' tak the road!
    Town's bodies ran, an' stood abeigh,
                      An' ca't thee mad.

    When thou was corn't, an' I was mellow,
    We took the road ay like a swallow:
    At Brooses thou had ne'er a fellow,
                      For pith an' speed;
    But every tail thou pay't them hollow,
                      Where'er thou gaed.

    The sma', droop-rumpl't, hunter cattle,
    Might aiblins waur't thee for a brattle;
    But sax Scotch miles thou try't their mettle,
                      An' gar't them whaizle:
    Nae whip nor spur, but just a whattle
                      O' saugh or hazle.

    Thou was a noble fittie-lan',
    As e'er in tug or tow was drawn:
    Aft thee an' I, in aught hours gaun,
                      In guid March-weather,
    Hae turn'd sax rood beside our han'
                      For days thegither.

    Thou never braindg't, an' fetch't, an' fliskit,
    But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit,
    An' spread abreed thy weel-fill'd brisket,
                      Wi' pith an' pow'r,
    'Till spiritty knowes wad rair't and risket,
                      An' slypet owre.

    When frosts lay lang, an' snaws were deep,
    An' threaten'd labour back to keep,
    I gied thy cog a wee-bit heap
                      Aboon the timmer;
    I ken'd my Maggie wad na sleep
                      For that, or simmer.

    In cart or car thou never reestit;
    The steyest brae thou wad hae fac't it;
    Thou never lap, an' sten't, an' breastit,
                      Then stood to blaw;
    But just thy step a wee thing hastit,
                      Thou snoov't awa.

    My pleugh is now thy bairntime a';
    Four gallant brutes as e'er did draw;
    Forbye sax mae, I've sell't awa,
                      That thou hast nurst:
    They drew me thretteen pund an' twa,
                      The vera worst.

    Monie a sair daurk we twa hae wrought,
    An, wi' the weary warl' fought!
    An' monie an anxious day, I thought
                      We wad be beat!
    Yet here to crazy age we're brought,
                      Wi' something yet.

    And think na, my auld, trusty servan',
    That now perhaps thou's less deservin,
    An' thy auld days may end in starvin,
                      For my last fow,
    A heapit stimpart, I'll reserve ane
                      Laid by for you.

    We've worn to crazy years thegither;
    We'll toyte about wi' ane anither;
    Wi' tentie care I'll flit thy tether,
                      To some hain'd rig,
    Whare ye may nobly rax your leather,
                      Wi' sma' fatigue.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The vehement nationality of this poem is but a small part of its
merit. The haggis of the north is the minced pie of the south; both
are characteristic of the people: the ingredients which compose the
former are all of Scottish growth, including the bag which contains
them; the ingredients of the latter are gathered chiefly from the four
quarters of the globe: the haggis is the triumph of poverty, the
minced pie the triumph of wealth.]

    Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
    Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
    Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
                      Painch, tripe, or thairm:
    Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
                      As lang's my arm.

    The groaning trencher there ye fill,
    Your hurdies like a distant hill,
    Your pin wad help to mend a mill
                      In time o' need,
    While thro' your pores the dews distil
                      Like amber bead.

    His knife see rustic-labour dight,
    An' cut you up wi' ready slight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright
                      Like onie ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
                      Warm-reekin, rich!

    Then horn for horn they stretch an' strive,
    Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
    'Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
                      Are bent like drums;
    Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
                      Bethankit hums.

    Is there that o'er his French ragout,
    Or olio that wad staw a sow,
    Or fricassee wad mak her spew
                      Wi' perfect sconner,
    Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
                      On sic a dinner?

    Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
    As feckless as a wither'd rash,
    His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
                      His nieve a nit;
    Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
                      O how unfit!

    But mark the rustic, haggis-fed,
    The trembling earth resounds his tread,
    Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
                      He'll mak it whissle;
    An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned,
                      Like taps o' thrissle.

    Ye pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
    And dish them out their bill o' fare,
    Auld Scotland wants nae stinking ware
                      That jaups in luggies;
    But, if ye wish her gratefu' pray'r,
                      Gie her a Haggis!

       *       *       *       *       *




["There was a certain period of my life," says Burns, "that my spirit
was broke by repeated losses and disasters, which threatened and
indeed effected the ruin of my fortune. My body, too, was attacked by
the most dreadful distemper, a hypochondria or confirmed melancholy.
In this wretched state, the recollection of which makes me yet
shudder, I hung my harp on the willow-trees, except in some lucid
intervals, in one of which I composed the following."]

    O Thou Great Being! what Thou art
      Surpasses me to know;
    Yet sure I am, that known to Thee
      Are all Thy works below.

    Thy creature here before Thee stands,
      All wretched and distrest;
    Yet sure those ills that wring my soul
      Obey Thy high behest.

    Sure Thou, Almighty, canst not act
      From cruelty or wrath!
    O, free my weary eyes from tears,
      Or close them fast in death!

    But if I must afflicted be,
      To suit some wise design;
    Then, man my soul with firm resolves
      To bear and not repine!

       *       *       *       *       *




[I have heard the third verse of this very moving Prayer quoted by
scrupulous men as a proof that the poet imputed his errors to the
Being who had endowed him with wild and unruly passions. The meaning
is very different: Burns felt the torrent-strength of passion
overpowering his resolution, and trusted that God would be merciful to
the errors of one on whom he had bestowed such o'ermastering gifts.]

    O Thou unknown, Almighty Cause
      Of all my hope and fear?
    In whose dread presence, ere an hour
      Perhaps I must appear!

    If I have wander'd in those paths
      Of life I ought to shun;
    As something, loudly, in my breast,
      Remonstrates I have done;

    Thou know'st that Thou hast formed me,
      With passions wild and strong;
    And list'ning to their witching voice
      Has often led me wrong.

    Where human weakness has come short,
      Or frailty stept aside,
    Do Thou, All-Good! for such thou art,
      In shades of darkness hide.

    Where with intention I have err'd,
      No other plea I have,
    But, Thou art good; and goodness still
      Delighteth to forgive.

       *       *       *       *       *




[These verses the poet, in his common-place book, calls "Misgivings in
the Hour of Despondency and Prospect of Death." He elsewhere says they
were composed when fainting-fits and other alarming symptoms of a
pleurisy, or some other dangerous disorder, first put nature on the

    Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene?
      How I so found it full of pleasing charms?
    Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between:
      Some gleams of sunshine 'mid renewing storms:
    Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?
      Or Death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode?
    For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms;
      I tremble to approach an angry God,
    And justly smart beneath his sin-avenging rod.

    Fain would I say, "Forgive my foul offence!"
      Fain promise never more to disobey;
    But, should my Author health again dispense,
      Again I might desert fair virtue's way:
    Again in folly's path might go astray;
      Again exalt the brute and sink the man;
    Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray,
      Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan?
    Who sin so oft have mourn'd, yet to temptation ran?

    O Thou, great Governor of all below!
      If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee,
    Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,
      Or still the tumult of the raging sea:
    With that controlling pow'r assist ev'n me
      Those headlong furious passions to confine;
    For all unfit I feel my pow'rs to be,
      To rule their torrent in th' allowed line;
    O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!

       *       *       *       *       *



    "Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are
    That bide the pelting of the pitiless storm!
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your looped and widow'd raggedness defend you
    From seasons such as these?"


["This poem," says my friend Thomas Carlyle, "is worth several
homilies on mercy, for it is the voice of Mercy herself. Burns,
indeed, lives in sympathy: his soul rushes forth into all the realms
of being: nothing that has existence can be indifferent to him."]

    When biting Boreas, fell and doure,
    Sharp shivers thro' the leafless bow'r;
    When Phoebus gies a short-liv'd glow'r
                      Far south the lift,
    Dim-darkening through the flaky show'r,
                      Or whirling drift:

    Ae night the storm the steeples rocked,
    Poor labour sweet in sleep was locked,
    While burns, wi' snawy wreeths up-choked,
                      Wild-eddying swirl.
    Or through the mining outlet bocked,
                      Down headlong hurl.

    Listening, the doors an' winnocks rattle,
    I thought me on the ourie cattle,
    Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
                      O' winter war,
    And through the drift, deep-lairing sprattle
                      Beneath a scar.

    Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing,
    That, in the merry months o' spring,
    Delighted me to hear thee sing,
                      What comes o' thee?
    Whare wilt thou cower thy chittering wing,
                      An' close thy e'e?

    Ev'n you on murd'ring errands toil'd,
    Lone from your savage homes exiled,
    The blood-stained roost, and sheep-cote spoiled
                      My heart forgets,
    While pitiless the tempest wild
                      Sore on you beats.

    Now Phoebe, in her midnight reign,
    Dark muffled, viewed the dreary plain;
    Still crowding thoughts, a pensive train,
                      Rose in my soul,
    When on my ear this plaintive strain
                      Slow, solemn, stole:--

      "Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust!
      And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost:
      Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows!
      Not all your rage, as now united, shows
        More hard unkindness, unrelenting,
        Vengeful malice unrepenting,
    Than heaven-illumined man on brother man bestows;
      See stern oppression's iron grip,
        Or mad ambition's gory hand,
    Sending, like blood-hounds from the slip,
       Woe, want, and murder o'er a land!
      Even in the peaceful rural vale,
      Truth, weeping, tells the mournful tale,
    How pamper'd luxury, flattery by her side,
      The parasite empoisoning her ear.
      With all the servile wretches in the rear,
    Looks o'er proud property, extended wide;
      And eyes the simple rustic hind,
        Whose toil upholds the glittering show,
      A creature of another kind,
      Some coarser substance, unrefin'd,
    Placed for her lordly use thus far, thus vile, below.
      Where, where is love's fond, tender throe,
      With lordly honour's lofty brow,
        The powers you proudly own?
      Is there, beneath love's noble name,
      Can harbour, dark, the selfish aim,
        To bless himself alone!
      Mark maiden innocence a prey
        To love-pretending snares,
      This boasted honour turns away,
      Shunning soft pity's rising sway,
    Regardless of the tears and unavailing prayers!
      Perhaps this hour, in misery's squalid nest,
      She strains your infant to her joyless breast,
    And with a mother's fears shrinks at the rocking blast!
      Oh ye! who, sunk in beds of down,
    Feel not a want but what yourselves create,
    Think, for a moment, on his wretched fate,
      Whom friends and fortune quite disown!
    Ill satisfied keen nature's clamorous call,
      Stretched on his straw he lays himself to sleep,
    While through the ragged roof and chinky wall,
      Chill o'er his slumbers piles the drifty heap!
        Think on the dungeon's grim confine,
        Where guilt and poor misfortune pine!
        Guilt, erring man, relenting view!
        But shall thy legal rage pursue
        The wretch, already crushed low
        By cruel fortune's undeserved blow?
      Affliction's sons are brothers in distress,
      A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!"

      I heard nae mair, for Chanticleer
        Shook off the pouthery snaw,
      And hailed the morning with a cheer--
        A cottage-rousing craw!

      But deep this truth impressed my mind--
        Through all his works abroad,
      The heart benevolent and kind
        The most resembles GOD.

       *       *       *       *       *




["I entirely agree," says Burns, "with the author of the _Theory of
Moral Sentiments_, that Remorse is the most painful sentiment that can
embitter the human bosom; an ordinary pitch of fortitude may bear up
admirably well, under those calamities, in the procurement of which we
ourselves have had no hand; but when our follies or crimes have made
us wretched, to bear all with manly firmness, and at the same time
have a proper penitential sense of our misconduct, is a glorious
effort of self-command."]

    Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,
    That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish,
    Beyond comparison the worst are those
    That to our folly or our guilt we owe.
    In every other circumstance, the mind
    Has this to say, 'It was no deed of mine;'
    But when to all the evil of misfortune
    This sting is added--'Blame thy foolish self!'
    Or worser far, the pangs of keen remorse;
    The torturing, gnawing consciousness of guilt,--
    Of guilt, perhaps, where we've involved others;
    The young, the innocent, who fondly lov'd us,
    Nay, more, that very love their cause of ruin!
    O burning hell! in all thy store of torments,
    There's not a keener lash!
    Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart
    Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,
    Can reason down its agonizing throbs;
    And, after proper purpose of amendment,
    Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace?
    O, happy! happy! enviable man!
    O glorious magnanimity of soul!

       *       *       *       *       *




[This inimitable poem, unknown to Currie and unheardof while the poet
lived, was first given to the world, with other characteristic pieces,
by Mr. Stewart of Glasgow, in the year 1801. Some have surmised that
it is not the work of Burns; but the parentage is certain: the
original manuscript at the time of its composition, in 1785, was put
into the hands of Mr. Richmond of Mauchline, and afterwards given by
Burns himself to Mr. Woodburn, factor of the laird of Craigen-gillan;
the song of "For a' that, and a' that" was inserted by the poet, with
his name, in the _Musical Museum_ of February, 1790. Cromek admired,
yet did not, from overruling advice, print it in the _Reliques_, for
which he was sharply censured by Sir Walter Scott, in the _Quarterly
Review._ The scene of the poem is in Mauchline, where Poosie Nancy had
her change-house. Only one copy in the handwriting of Burns is
supposed to exist; and of it a very accurate fac-simile has been


    When lyart leaves bestrow the yird,
    Or wavering like the bauckie-bird,
        Bedim cauld Boreas' blast;
    When hailstanes drive wi' bitter skyte
    And infant frosts begin to bite,
          In hoary cranreuch drest;
    Ae night at e'en a merry core
        O' randie, gangrel bodies,
    In Poosie-Nansie's held the splore,
        To drink their orra duddies:
          Wi' quaffing and laughing,
            They ranted an' they sang;
          Wi' jumping and thumping,
            The vera girdle rang.

    First, neist the fire, in auld red rags,
    Ane sat, weel brac'd wi' mealy bags,
        And knapsack a' in order;
    His doxy lay within his arm,
    Wi' usquebae an' blankets warm--
          She blinket on her sodger:
    An' ay he gies the tozie drab
        The tither skelpin' kiss,
    While she held up her greedy gab
        Just like an aumous dish.
          Ilk smack still, did crack still,
            Just like a cadger's whip,
          Then staggering and swaggering
            He roar'd this ditty up--


Tune--"_Soldiers' Joy._"

    I am a son of Mars,
    Who have been in many wars,
    And show my cuts and scars
          Wherever I come;
    This here was for a wench,
    And that other in a trench,
    When welcoming the French
          At the sound of the drum.
                    Lal de daudle, &c.

    My 'prenticeship I past
    Where my leader breath'd his last,
    When the bloody die was cast
          On the heights of Abram;
    I served out my trade
    When the gallant game was play'd,
    And the Moro low was laid
          At the sound of the drum.
                    Lal de daudle, &c.

    I lastly was with Curtis,
    Among the floating batt'ries,
    And there I left for witness
          An arm and a limb;
    Yet let my country need me,
    With Elliot to head me,
    I'd clatter on my stumps
          At the sound of a drum.
                    Lal de dandle, &c.

    And now tho' I must beg,
    With a wooden arm and leg,
    And many a tatter'd rag
          Hanging over my bum
    I'm as happy with my wallet,
    My bottle and my callet,
    As when I used in scarlet
          To follow a drum.
                    Lal de daudle, &c.

    What tho' with hoary locks
    I must stand the winter shocks,
    Beneath the woods and rocks
          Oftentimes for a home,
    When the tother bag I sell,
    And the tother bottle tell,
    I could meet a troop of hell,
          At the sound of a drum.
                    Lal de daudle, &c.


    He ended; and kebars sheuk
      Aboon the chorus roar;
    While frighted rattons backward leuk,
      And seek the benmost bore;
    A fairy fiddler frae the neuk,
      He skirl'd out--encore!
    But up arose the martial Chuck,
      And laid the loud uproar.


Tune--"_Soldier laddie._"

    I once was a maid, tho' I cannot tell when,
    And still my delight is in proper young men;
    Some one of a troop of dragoons was my daddie,
    No wonder I'm fond of a sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.

    The first of my loves was a swaggering blade,
    To rattle the thundering drum was his trade;
    His leg was so tight, and his cheek was so ruddy,
    Transported I was with my sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.

    But the godly old chaplain left him in the lurch,
    The sword I forsook for the sake of the church;
    He ventur'd the soul, and I risk'd the body,
    'Twas then I prov'd false to my sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.

    Full soon I grew sick of my sanctified sot,
    The regiment at large for a husband I got;
    From the gilded spontoon to the fife I was ready,
    I asked no more but a sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.

    But the peace it reduc'd me to beg in despair,
    Till I met my old boy in a Cunningham fair;
    His rags regimental they flutter'd so gaudy,
    My heart is rejoic'd at my sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.

    And now I have liv'd--I know not how long,
    And still I can join in a cup or a song;
    But whilst with both hands I can hold the glass steady,
    Here's to thee, my hero, my sodger laddie.
                        Sing, Lal de dal, &c.


    Poor Merry Andrew in the neuk,
      Sat guzzling wi' a tinkler hizzie;
    They mind't na wha the chorus teuk,
      Between themselves they were sae busy:
    At length wi' drink and courting dizzy
      He stoitered up an' made a face;
    Then turn'd, an' laid a smack on Grizzie,
      Syne tun'd his pipes wi' grave grimace.


Tune--"_Auld Sir Symon._"

    Sir Wisdom's a fool when he's fou,
      Sir Knave is a fool in a session;
    He's there but a 'prentice I trow,
      But I am a fool by profession.

    My grannie she bought me a beuk,
      And I held awa to the school;
    I fear I my talent misteuk,
      But what will ye hae of a fool?

    For drink I would venture my neck,
      A hizzie's the half o' my craft,
    But what could ye other expect,
      Of ane that's avowedly daft?

    I ance was ty'd up like a stirk,
      For civilly swearing and quaffing;
    I ance was abused in the kirk,
      Fer touzling a lass i' my daffin.

    Poor Andrew that tumbles for sport,
      Let naebody name wi' a jeer;
    There's ev'n I'm tauld i' the court
      A tumbler ca'd the premier.

    Observ'd ye, yon reverend lad
      Maks faces to tickle the mob;
    He rails at our mountebank squad,
      Its rivalship just i' the job.

    And now my conclusion I'll tell,
      For faith I'm confoundedly dry;
    The chiel that's a fool for himsel',
      Gude L--d! he's far dafter than I.


    Then neist outspak a raucle carlin,
    Wha kent fu' weel to cleek the sterling,
    For monie a pursie she had hooked,
    And had in mony a well been ducked.
    Her dove had been a Highland laddie,
    But weary fa' the waefu' woodie!
    Wi' sighs and sobs she thus began
    To wail her braw John Highlandman.


Tune--"_O an ye were dead, guidman._"

    A Highland lad my love was born,
    The Lalland laws he held in scorn;
    But he still was faithfu' to his clan,
    My gallant braw John Highlandman.


    Sing, hey my braw John Highlandman!
    Sing, ho my braw John Highlandman!
    There's not a lad in a' the lan'
    Was match for my John Highlandman.

    With his philibeg an' tartan plaid,
    An' gude claymore down by his side,
    The ladies' hearts he did trepan,
    My gallant braw John Highlandman.
                      Sing, hey, &c.

    We ranged a' from Tweed to Spey,
    An' liv'd like lords and ladies gay;
    For a Lalland face he feared none,
    My gallant braw John Highlandman.
                      Sing, hey, &c.

    They banished him beyond the sea,
    But ere the bud was on the tree,
    Adown my cheeks the pearls ran,
    Embracing my John Highlandman.
                      Sing, hey, &c.

    But, och! they catch'd him at the last,
    And bound him in a dungeon fast;
    My curse upon them every one,
    They've hang'd my braw John Highlandman.
                      Sing, hey, &c.

    And now a widow, I must mourn,
    The pleasures that will ne'er return:
    No comfort but a hearty can,
    When I think on John Highlandman.
                      Sing, hey, &c.


    A pigmy scraper, wi' his fiddle,
    Wha us'd at trysts and fairs to driddle,
    Her strappan limb and gausy middle
                      He reach'd na higher,
    Had hol'd his heartie like a riddle,
                      An' blawn't on fire.

    Wi' hand on hainch, an' upward e'e,
    He croon'd his gamut, one, two, three,
    Then in an Arioso key,
                      The wee Apollo
    Set off wi' Allegretto glee
                      His giga solo.


Tune--"_Whistle o'er the lave o't._"

    Let me ryke up to dight that tear,
    And go wi' me and be my dear,
    And then your every care and fear
      May whistle owre the lave o't.


    I am a fiddler to my trade,
    An' a' the tunes that e'er I play'd,
    The sweetest still to wife or maid,
      Was whistle owre the lave o't.

    At kirns and weddings we'se be there,
    And O! sae nicely's we will fare;
    We'll house about till Daddie Care
      Sings whistle owre the lave o't
                            I am, &c.

    Sae merrily the banes we'll byke,
    And sun oursells about the dyke,
    And at our leisure, when ye like,
      We'll whistle owre the lave o't.
                            I am, &c.

    But bless me wi' your heav'n o' charms,
    And while I kittle hair on thairms,
    Hunger, cauld, and a' sic harms,
      May whistle owre the lave o't.
                            I am, &c.


    Her charms had struck a sturdy caird,
      As weel as poor gut-scraper;
    He taks the fiddler by the beard,
      And draws a roosty rapier--
    He swoor by a' was swearing worth,
      To speet him like a pliver,
    Unless he wad from that time forth
      Relinquish her for ever.

    Wi' ghastly e'e, poor tweedle-dee
      Upon his hunkers bended,
    And pray'd for grace wi' ruefu' face,
      And sae the quarrel ended.
    But tho' his little heart did grieve
      When round the tinkler prest her,
    He feign'd to snirtle in his sleeve,
      When thus the caird address'd her:


Tune--"_Clout the Caudron._"

    My bonny lass, I work in brass,
      A tinkler is my station:
    I've travell'd round all Christian ground
      In this my occupation:
    I've taen the gold, an' been enrolled
      In many a noble sqadron:
    But vain they search'd, when off I march'd
      To go and clout the caudron.
                        I've taen the gold, &c.

    Despise that shrimp, that wither'd imp,
      Wi' a' his noise and caprin,
    And tak a share wi' those that bear
      The budget and the apron.
    And by that stoup, my faith and houp,
      An' by that dear Kilbaigie,[5]
    If e'er ye want, or meet wi' scant,
      May I ne'er weet my craigie.
                        An' by that stoup, &c.


    The caird prevail'd--th' unblushing fair
      In his embraces sunk,
    Partly wi' love o'ercome sae sair,
      An' partly she was drunk.
    Sir Violino, with an air
      That show'd a man of spunk,
    Wish'd unison between the pair,
      An' made the bottle clunk
                      To their health that night.

    But urchin Cupid shot a shaft,
      That play'd a dame a shavie,
    A sailor rak'd her fore and aft,
      Behint the chicken cavie.
    Her lord, a wight o' Homer's craft,
      Tho' limping wi' the spavie,
    He hirpl'd up and lap like daft,
      And shor'd them Dainty Davie
                      O boot that night.

    He was a care-defying blade
      As ever Bacchus listed,
    Tho' Fortune sair upon him laid,
      His heart she ever miss'd it.
    He had nae wish but--to be glad,
      Nor want but--when he thirsted;
    He hated nought but--to be sad,
      And thus the Muse suggested
                     His sang that night.


Tune--"_For a' that, an' a' that._"

    I am a bard of no regard
      Wi' gentle folks, an' a' that:
    But Homer-like, the glowran byke,
      Frae town to town I draw that.


    For a' that, an' a' that,
      An' twice as muckle's a' that;
    I've lost but ane, I've twa behin',
      I've wife enough for a' that.

    I never drank the Muses' stank,
      Castalia's burn, an' a' that;
    But there it streams, and richly reams,
      My Helicon I ca' that.
                          For a' that, &c.

    Great love I bear to a' the fair,
      Their humble slave, an' a' that;
    But lordly will, I hold it still
      A mortal sin to thraw that.
                          For a' that, &c.

    In raptures sweet, this hour we meet,
      Wi' mutual love, an a' that:
    But for how lang the flie may stang,
      Let inclination law that.
                          For a' that, &c.

    Their tricks and craft have put me daft.
      They've ta'en me in, and a' that;
    But clear your decks, and here's the sex!
      I like the jads for a' that


    For a' that, an' a' that,
      An' twice as muckle's a' that;
    My dearest bluid, to do them guid,
      They're welcome till't for a' that


    So sung the bard--and Nansie's wa's
    Shook with a thunder of applause,
        Re-echo'd from each mouth:
    They toom'd their pocks, an' pawn'd their duds,
    They scarcely left to co'er their fuds,
        To quench their lowan drouth.
    Then owre again, the jovial thrang,
        The poet did request,
    To loose his pack an' wale a sang,
        A ballad o' the best;
          He rising, rejoicing,
            Between his twa Deborahs
          Looks round him, an' found them
            Impatient for the chorus.


Tune--"_Jolly Mortals, fill your Glasses._"

    See! the smoking bowl before us,
      Mark our jovial ragged ring!
    Round and round take up the chorus,
      And in raptures let us sing.


    A fig for those by law protected!
      Liberty's a glorious feast!
    Courts for cowards were erected,
      Churches built to please the priest.

    What is title? what is treasure?
      What is reputation's care?
    If we lead a life of pleasure,
      'Tis no matter how or where!
                      A fig, &c.

    With the ready trick and fable,
      Round we wander all the day;
    And at night, in barn or stable,
      Hug our doxies on the hay.
                      A fig, &c.

    Does the train-attended carriage
      Through the country lighter rove?
    Does the sober bed of marriage
      Witness brighter scenes of love?
                      A fig, &c.

    Life is all a variorum,
      We regard not how it goes;
    Let them cant about decorum
      Who have characters to lose.
                      A fig, &c.

    Here's to budgets, bags, and wallets!
      Here's to all the wandering train!
    Here's our ragged brats and wallets!
      One and all cry out--Amen!

      A fig for those by law protected!
        Liberty's a glorious feast!
      Courts for cowards were erected,
        Churches built to please the priest.


[Footnote 5: A peculiar sort of whiskey.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[John Wilson, raised to the unwelcome elevation of hero to this poem,
was, at the time of its composition, schoolmaster in Tarbolton: he as,
it is said, a fair scholar, and a very worthy man, but vain of his
knowledge in medicine--so vain, that he advertised his merits, and
offered advice gratis. It was his misfortune to encounter Burns at a
mason meeting, who, provoked by a long and pedantic speech, from the
Dominie, exclaimed, the future lampoon dawning upon him, "Sit down,
Dr. Hornbook." On his way home, the poet seated himself on the ledge
of a bridge, composed the poem, and, overcome with poesie and drink,
fell asleep, and did not awaken till the sun was shining over Galston
Moors. Wilson went afterwards to Glasgow, embarked in mercantile and
matrimonial speculations, and prospered, and is still prospering.]

    Some books are lies frae end to end,
    And some great lies were never penn'd:
    Ev'n ministers, they ha'e been kenn'd,
                        In holy rapture,
    A rousing whid, at times, to vend,
                        And nail't wi' Scripture.

    But this that I am gaun to tell,
    Which lately on a night befel,
    Is just as true's the Deil's in h--ll
                        Or Dublin-city;
    That e'er he nearer comes oursel
                        'S a muckle pity.

    The Clachan yill had made me canty,
    I was na fou, but just had plenty;
    I stacher'd whyles, but yet took tent ay
                        To free the ditches;
    An' hillocks, stanes, and bushes, kenn'd ay
                        Frae ghaists an' witches.

    The rising moon began to glow'r
    The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
    To count her horns with a' my pow'r,
                        I set mysel;
    But whether she had three or four,
                        I could na tell.

    I was come round about the hill,
    And todlin down on Willie's mill,
    Setting my staff with a' my skill,
                        To keep me sicker;
    Tho' leeward whyles, against my will,
                        I took a bicker.

    I there wi' something did forgather,
    That put me in an eerie swither;
    An awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther,
                        Clear-dangling, hang;
    A three-taed leister on the ither
                        Lay, large an' lang.

    Its stature seem'd lang Scotch ells twa,
    The queerest shape that e'er I saw,
    For fient a wame it had ava:
                        And then, its shanks,
    They were as thin, as sharp an' sma'
                        As cheeks o' branks.

    "Guid-een," quo' I; "Friend, hae ye been mawin,
    When ither folk are busy sawin?"
    It seem'd to mak a kind o' stan',
                        But naething spak;
    At length, says I, "Friend, where ye gaun,
                        Will ye go back?"

    It spak right howe,--"My name is Death,
    But be na fley'd."--Quoth I, "Guid faith,
    Ye're may be come to stap my breath;
                        But tent me, billie;
    I red ye weel, take care o' skaith,
                        See, there's a gully!"

    "Guidman," quo' he, "put up your whittle,
    I'm no design'd to try its mettle;
    But if I did, I wad be kittle
                        To be mislear'd,
    I wad nae mind it, no that spittle
                        Out-owre my beard."

    "Weel, weel!" says I, "a bargain be't;
    Come, gies your hand, an' sae we're gree't;
    We'll ease our shanks an' tak a seat,
                        Come, gies your news!
    This while ye hae been mony a gate
                        At mony a house.

    "Ay, ay!" quo' he, an' shook his head,
    "It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed
    Sin' I began to nick the thread,
                        An' choke the breath:
    Folk maun do something for their bread,
                        An' sae maun Death.

    "Sax thousand years are near hand fled
    Sin' I was to the butching bred,
    An' mony a scheme in vain's been laid,
                        To stap or scar me;
    Till ane Hornbook's ta'en up the trade,
                        An' faith, he'll waur me.

    "Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the Clachan,
    Deil mak his kings-hood in a spleuchan!
    He's grown sae weel acquaint wi' Buchan[6]
                        An' ither chaps,
    The weans haud out their fingers laughin
                        And pouk my hips.

    "See, here's a scythe, and there's a dart,
    They hae pierc'd mony a gallant heart;
    But Doctor Hornbook, wi' his art
                        And cursed skill,
    Has made them baith no worth a f----t,
                        Damn'd haet they'll kill.

    "'Twas but yestreen, nae farther gaen,
    I threw a noble throw at ane;
    Wi' less, I'm sure, I've hundreds slain;
    It just play'd dirl on the bane,
                        But did nae mair.

    "Hornbook was by, wi' ready art,
    And had sae fortified the part,
    That when I looked to my dart,
                        It was sae blunt,
    Fient haet o't wad hae pierc'd the heart
                        Of a kail-runt.

    "I drew my scythe in sic a fury,
    I near-hand cowpit wi' my hurry,
    But yet the bauld Apothecary,
                        Withstood the shock;
    I might as weel hae tried a quarry
                        O' hard whin rock.

    "Ev'n them he canna get attended,
    Although their face he ne'er had kend it,
    Just sh---- in a kail-blade, and send it,
                        As soon's he smells't,
    Baith their disease, and what will mend it,
                        At once he tells't.

    "And then a' doctor's 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, earths, and trees;
    True sal-marinum o' the seas;
    The farina of beans and pease,
                        He has't in plenty;
    Aqua-fortis, what you please,
                        He can content ye.

    "Forbye some new, uncommon weapons,
    Urinus spiritus of capons;
    Or mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings,
                        Distill'd _per se_;
    Sal-alkali o' midge-tail clippings,
                        And mony mae."

    "Waes me for Johnny Ged's-Hole[7] now,"
    Quo' I, "If that thae news be true!
    His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,
                        Sae white and bonie,
    Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew;
                        They'll ruin Johnie!"

    The creature grain'd an eldritch laugh,
    And says, "Ye need na yoke the plough,
    Kirkyards will soon be till'd eneugh,
                        Tak ye nae fear;
    They'll a' be trench'd wi' mony a sheugh
                        In twa-three year.

    "Whare I kill'd ane a fair strae death,
    By loss o' blood or want of breath,
    This night I'm free to tak my aith,
                        That Hornbook's skill
    Has clad a score i' their last claith,
                        By drap an' pill.

    "An honest wabster to his trade,
    Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce weel bred,
    Gat tippence-worth to mend her head,
                        When it was sair;
    The wife slade cannie to her bed,
                        But ne'er spak mair

    "A countra laird had ta'en the batts,
    Or some curmurring in his guts,
    His only son for Hornbook sets,
                        An' pays him well.
    The lad, for twa guid gimmer-pets,
                        Was laird himsel.

    "A bonnie lass, ye kend her name,
    Some ill-brewn drink had hov'd 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 sot,
                        As dead's a herrin':
    Niest time we meet, I'll wad a groat,
                        He gets his fairin'!"

    But just as he began to tell,
    The auld kirk-hammer strak' the bell
    Some wee short hour ayont the twal,
                        Which rais'd us baith:
    I took the way that pleas'd mysel',
                        And sae did Death.


[Footnote 6: Buchan's Domestic Medicine.]

[Footnote 7: The grave-digger.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[The actors in this indecent drama were Moodie, minister of Ricartoun,
and Russell, helper to the minister of Kilmarnock: though apostles of
the "Old Light," they forgot their brotherhood in the vehemence of
controversy, and went, it is said, to blows. "This poem," says Burns,
"with a certain description of the clergy as well as laity, met with a
roar of applause."]

    O a' ye pious godly flocks,
    Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
    Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
                      Or worrying tykes,
    Or wha will tent the waifs and crocks,
                      About the dykes?

    The twa best herds in a' the wast,
    That e'er ga'e gospel horn a blast,
    These five and twenty simmers past,
                      O! dool to tell,
    Ha'e had a bitter black out-cast
                      Atween themsel.

    O, Moodie, man, and wordy Russell,
    How could you raise so vile a bustle,
    Ye'll see how New-Light herds will whistle
                      And think it fine:
    The Lord's cause ne'er got sic a twistle
                      Sin' I ha'e min'.

    O, sirs! whae'er wad ha'e expeckit
    Your duty ye wad sae negleckit,
    Ye wha were ne'er by lairds respeckit,
                      To wear the plaid,
    But by the brutes themselves eleckit,
                      To be their guide.

    What flock wi' Moodie's flock could rank,
    Sae hale and hearty every shank,
    Nae poison'd sour Arminian stank,
                      He let them taste,
    Frae Calvin's well, ay clear they drank,--
                      O sic a feast!

    The thummart, wil'-cat, brock, and tod,
    Weel kend his voice thro' a' the wood,
    He smelt their ilka hole and road,
                      Baith out and in,
    And weel he lik'd to shed their bluid,
                      And sell their skin.

    What herd like Russell tell'd his tale,
    His voice was heard thro' muir and dale,
    He kend the Lord's sheep, ilka tail,
                      O'er a' the height,
    And saw gin they were sick or hale,
                      At the first sight.

    He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
    Or nobly fling the gospel club,
    And New-Light herds could nicely drub,
                      Or pay their skin;
    Could shake them o'er the burning dub,
                      Or heave them in.

    Sic twa--O! do I live to see't,
    Sic famous twa should disagreet,
    An' names, like villain, hypocrite,
                      Ilk ither gi'en,
    While New-Light herds, wi' laughin' spite,
                      Say neither's liein'!

    An' ye wha tent the gospel fauld,
    There's Duncan, deep, and Peebles, shaul,
    But chiefly thou, apostle Auld,
                      We trust in thee,
    That thou wilt work them, hot and cauld,
                      Till they agree.

    Consider, Sirs, how we're beset;
    There's scarce a new herd that we get
    But comes frae mang that cursed set
                      I winna name;
    I hope frae heav'n to see them yet
                      In fiery flame.

    Dalrymple has been lang our fae,
    M'Gill has wrought us meikle wae,
    And that curs'd rascal call'd M'Quhae,
                      And baith the Shaws,
    That aft ha'e made us black and blae,
                      Wi' vengefu' paws.

    Auld Wodrow lang has hatch'd mischief,
    We thought ay death wad bring relief,
    But he has gotten, to our grief,
                      Ane to succeed him,
    A chield wha'll soundly buff our beef;
                      I meikle dread him.

    And mony a ane that I could tell,
    Wha fain would openly rebel,
    Forbye turn-coats amang oursel,
                      There's Smith for ane,
    I doubt he's but a grey-nick quill,
                      An' that ye'll fin'.

    O! a' ye flocks o'er a' the hills,
    By mosses, meadows, moors, and fells,
    Come, join your counsel and your skills
                      To cow the lairds,
    And get the brutes the powers themsels
                      To choose their herds;

    Then Orthodoxy yet may prance,
    And Learning in a woody dance,
    And that fell cur ca'd Common Sense,
                      That bites sae sair,
    Be banish'd o'er the sea to France:
                      Let him bark there.

    Then Shaw's and Dalrymple's eloquence,
    M'Gill's close nervous excellence,
    M'Quhae's pathetic manly sense,
                      And guid M'Math,
    Wi' Smith, wha thro' the heart can glance,
                      May a' pack aff.

       *       *       *       *       *



    "And send the godly in a pet to pray."


[Of this sarcastic and too daring poem many copies in manuscript were
circulated while the poet lived, but though not unknown or unfelt by
Currie, it continued unpublished till printed by Stewart with the
Jolly Beggars, in 1801. Holy Willie was a small farmer, leading elder
to Auld, a name well known to all lovers of Burns; austere in speech,
scrupulous in all outward observances, and, what is known by the name
of a "professing Christian." He experienced, however, a "sore fall;"
he permitted himself to be "filled fou," and in a moment when "self
got in" made free, it is said, with the money of the poor of the
parish. His name was William Fisher.]

    O thou, wha in the heavens dost dwell,
    Wha, as it pleases best thysel',
    Sends ane to heaven, and ten to hell,
                      A' for thy glory,
    And no for ony gude or ill
                      They've done afore thee!

    I bless and praise thy matchless might,
    Whan thousands thou hast left in night,
    That I am here afore thy sight,
                      For gifts and grace,
    A burnin' and a shinin' light
                      To a' this place.

    What was I, or my generation,
    That I should get sic exaltation,
    I wha deserve sic just damnation,
                      For broken laws,
    Five thousand years 'fore my creation,
                      Thro' Adam's cause.

    When frae my mither's womb I fell,
    Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
    To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
                      In burnin' lake,
    Whar damned devils roar and yell,
                      Chain'd to a stake.

    Yet I am here a chosen sample;
    To show thy grace is great and ample;
    I'm here a pillar in thy temple,
                      Strong as a rock,
    A guide, a buckler, an example,
                      To a' thy flock.

    But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
    At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust;
    And sometimes, too, wi' warldly trust,
                      Vile self gets in;
    But thou remembers we are dust,
                      Defil'd in sin.

    O Lord! yestreen thou kens, wi' Meg--
    Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
    O! may't ne'er be a livin' plague
                      To my dishonour,
    An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
                      Again upon her.

    Besides, I farther maun allow,
    Wi' Lizzie's lass, three times I trow--
    But Lord, that Friday I was fou,
                      When I came near her,
    Or else, thou kens, thy servant true
                      Wad ne'er hae steer'd her.

    Maybe thou lets this fleshly thorn,
    Beset thy servant e'en and morn,
    Lest he owre high and proud should turn,
                      'Cause he's sae gifted;
    If sae, thy han' maun e'en be borne
                      Until thou lift it.

    Lord, bless thy chosen in this place,
    For here thou hast a chosen race:
    But God confound their stubborn face,
                      And blast their name,
    Wha bring thy elders to disgrace
                      And public shame.

    Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton's deserts,
    He drinks, and swears, and plays at carts,
    Yet has sae mony takin' arts,
                      Wi' grit and sma',
    Frae God's ain priests the people's hearts
                      He steals awa.

    An' whan we chasten'd him therefore,
    Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
    As set the warld in a roar
                      O' laughin' at us;--
    Curse thou his basket and his store,
                      Kail and potatoes.

    Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray'r,
    Against the presbyt'ry of Ayr;
    Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak it bare
                      Upo' their heads,
    Lord weigh it down, and dinna spare,
                      For their misdeeds.

    O Lord my God, that glib-tongu'd Aiken,
    My very heart and saul are quakin',
    To think how we stood groanin', shakin',
                      And swat wi' dread,
    While Auld wi' hingin lips gaed sneakin'
                      And hung his head.

    Lord, in the day of vengeance try him,
    Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
    And pass not in thy mercy by 'em,
                      Nor hear their pray'r;
    But for thy people's sake destroy 'em,
                      And dinna spare.

    But, Lord, remember me an mine,
    Wi' mercies temp'ral and divine,
    That I for gear and grace may shine,
                      Excell'd by nane,
    And a' the glory shall be thine,
                      Amen, Amen!

       *       *       *       *       *



[We are informed by Richmond of Mauchline, that when he was clerk in
Gavin Hamilton's office, Burns came in one morning and said, "I have
just composed a poem, John, and if you will write it, I will repeat
it." He repeated Holy Willie's Prayer and Epitaph; Hamilton came in at
the moment, and having read them with delight, ran laughing with them
in his hand to Robert Aiken. The end of Holy Willie was other than
godly; in one of his visits to Mauchline, he drank more than was
needful, fell into a ditch on his way home, and was found dead in the

    Here Holy Willie's sair worn clay
      Takes up its last abode;
    His saul has ta'en some other way,
      I fear the left-hand road.

    Stop! there he is, as sure's a gun,
      Poor, silly body, see him;
    Nae wonder he's as black's the grun,
      Observe wha's standing wi' him.

    Your brunstane devilship I see,
      Has got him there before ye;
    But hand your nine-tail cat a wee,
      Till ance you've heard my story.

    Your pity I will not implore,
      For pity ye hae nane;
    Justice, alas! has gi'en him o'er,
      And mercy's day is gaen.

    But hear me, sir, deil as ye are,
      Look something to your credit;
    A coof like him wad stain your name,
      If it were kent ye did it.

       *       *       *       *       *





[We have heard of a poor play-actor who, by a humorous inventory of
his effects, so moved the commissioners of the income tax, that they
remitted all claim on him then and forever; we know not that this very
humorous inventory of Burns had any such effect on Mr. Aiken, the
surveyor of the taxes. It is dated "Mossgiel, February 22d, 1786," and
is remarkable for wit and sprightliness, and for the information which
it gives us of the poet's habits, household, and agricultural

    Sir, as your mandate did request,
    I send you here a faithfu' list,
    O' gudes, an' gear, an' a' my graith,
    To which I'm clear to gi'e my aith.

      _Imprimis_, then, for carriage cattle,
    I have four brutes o' gallant mettle,
    As ever drew afore a pettle.
    My lan' afore's[8] a gude auld has been,
    An' wight, an' wilfu' a' his days been.
    My lan ahin's[9] a weel gaun fillie,
    That aft has borne me hame frae Killie,[10]
    An' your auld burro' mony a time,
    In days when riding was nae crime--
    But ance, whan in my wooing pride,
    I like a blockhead boost to ride,
    The wilfu' creature sae I pat to,
    (L--d pardon a' my sins an' that too!)
    I play'd my fillie sic a shavie,
    She's a' bedevil'd with the spavie.
    My fur ahin's[11] a wordy beast,
    As e'er in tug or tow was trac'd.
    The fourth's a Highland Donald hastie,
    A d--n'd red wud Kilburnie blastie!
    Forbye a cowt o' cowt's the wale,
    As ever ran afore a tail.
    If he be spar'd to be a beast,
    He'll draw me fifteen pun' at least.--
    Wheel carriages I ha'e but few,
    Three carts, an' twa are feckly new;
    Ae auld wheelbarrow, mair for token,
    Ae leg an' baith the trams are broken;
    I made a poker o' the spin'le,
    An' my auld mither brunt the trin'le.

      For men I've three mischievous boys,
    Run de'ils for rantin' an' for noise;
    A gaudsman ane, a thrasher t'other.
    Wee Davock hauds the nowt in fother.
    I rule them as I ought, discreetly,
    An' aften labour them completely;
    An' ay on Sundays, duly, nightly,
    I on the Questions targe them tightly;
    Till, faith, wee Davock's turn'd sae gleg,
    Tho' scarcely langer than your leg,
    He'll screed you aff Effectual calling,
    As fast as ony in the dwalling.
    I've nane in female servan' station,
    (Lord keep me ay frae a' temptation!)
    I ha'e nae wife--and that my bliss is,
    An' ye have laid nae tax on misses;
    An' then, if kirk folks dinna clutch me,
    I ken the devils darena touch me.
    Wi' weans I'm mair than weel contented,
    Heav'n sent me ane mae than I wanted.
    My sonsie smirking dear-bought Bess,
    She stares the daddy in her face,
    Enough of ought ye like but grace;
    But her, my bonnie sweet wee lady,
    I've paid enough for her already,
    An' gin ye tax her or her mither,
    B' the L--d! ye'se get them a'thegither.

      And now, remember, Mr. Aiken,
    Nae kind of license out I'm takin';
    Frae this time forth, I do declare
    I'se ne'er ride horse nor hizzie mair;
    Thro' dirt and dub for life I'll paidle,
    Ere I sae dear pay for a saddle;
    My travel a' on foot I'll shank it,
    I've sturdy bearers, Gude be thankit.
    The kirk and you may tak' you that,
    It puts but little in your pat;
    Sae dinna put me in your buke.
    Nor for my ten white shillings luke.

      This list wi' my ain hand I wrote it,
    the day and date as under noted;
    Then know all ye whom it concerns,

_Subscripsi huic_                 ROBERT BURNS.


[Footnote 8: The fore-horse on the left-hand in the plough.]

[Footnote 9: The hindmost on the left-hand in the plough.]

[Footnote 10: Kilmarnock.]

[Footnote 11: The hindmost horse on the right-hand in the plough.]

       *       *       *       *       *



    A robe of seeming truth and trust
      Did crafty observation;
    And secret hung, with poison'd crust,
      The dirk of Defamation:
    A mask that like the gorget show'd,
      Dye-varying on the pigeon;
    And for a mantle large and broad,
      He wrapt him in Religion.


[The scene of this fine poem is the church-yard of Mauchline, and the
subject handled so cleverly and sharply is the laxity of manners
visible in matters so solemn and terrible as the administration of the
sacrament. "This was indeed," says Lockhart, "an extraordinary
performance: no partisan of any sect could whisper that malice had
formed its principal inspiration, or that its chief attraction lay in
the boldness with which individuals, entitled and accustomed to
respect, were held up to ridicule: it was acknowledged, amidst the
sternest mutterings of wrath, that national manners were once more in
the hands of a national poet." "It is no doubt," says Hogg, "a
reckless piece of satire, but it is a clever one, and must have cut to
the bone. But much as I admire the poem I must regret that it is
partly borrowed from Ferguson."]

    Upon a simmer Sunday morn,
      When Nature's face is fair,
    I walked forth to view the corn,
      An' snuff the caller air.
    The rising sun owre Galston muirs,
      Wi' glorious light was glintin';
    The hares were hirplin down the furs,
      The lav'rocks they were chantin'
                      Fu' sweet that day.

    As lightsomely I glowr'd abroad,
      To see a scene sae gay,
    Three hizzies, early at the road,
      Cam skelpin up the way;
    Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black,
      But ane wi' lyart lining;
    The third, that gaed a-wee a-back,
      Was in the fashion shining
                      Fu' gay that day.

    The twa appear'd like sisters twin,
      In feature, form, an' claes;
    Their visage, wither'd, lang, an' thin,
      An' sour as ony slaes:
    The third cam up, hap-step-an'-lowp,
      As light as ony lambie,
    An' wi' a curchie low did stoop,
      As soon as e'er she saw me,
                      Fu' kind that day.

    Wi' bonnet aff, quoth I, "Sweet lass,
      I think ye seem to ken me;
    I'm sure I've seen that bonnie face,
      But yet I canna name ye."
    Quo' she, an' laughin' as she spak,
      An' taks me by the hands,
    "Ye, for my sake, hae gi'en the feck,
      Of a' the ten commands
                      A screed some day.

    "My name is Fun--your cronie dear,
      The nearest friend ye hae;
    An' this is Superstition here,
      An' that's Hypocrisy.
    I'm gaun to Mauchline holy fair,
      To spend an hour in daffin:
    Gin ye'll go there, yon runkl'd pair,
      We will get famous laughin'
                      At them this day."

    Quoth I, "With a' my heart I'll do't;
      I'll get my Sunday's sark on,
    An' meet you on the holy spot;
      Faith, we'se hae fine remarkin'!"
    Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time
      An' soon I made me ready;
    For roads were clad, frae side to side,
      Wi' monie a wearie body,
                      In droves that day.

    Here farmers gash, in ridin' graith
      Gaed hoddin by their cottars;
    There, swankies young, in braw braid-claith,
      Are springin' o'er the gutters.
    The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
      In silks an' scarlets glitter;
    Wi' sweet-milk cheese, in monie a whang,
      An' farls bak'd wi' butter,
                      Fu' crump that day.

    When by the plate we set our nose,
      Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence,
    A greedy glowr Black Bonnet throws,
      An' we maun draw our tippence.
    Then in we go to see the show,
      On ev'ry side they're gath'rin',
    Some carrying dails, some chairs an' stools,
      An' some are busy blethrin'
                      Right loud that day.

    Here stands a shed to fend the show'rs,
      An' screen our countra gentry,
    There, racer Jess, and twa-three wh-res,
      Are blinkin' at the entry.
    Here sits a raw of titlin' jades,
      Wi' heaving breast and bare neck,
    An' there's a batch o' wabster lads,
      Blackguarding frae Kilmarnock
                      For fun this day.

    Here some are thinkin' on their sins,
      An' some upo' their claes;
    Ane curses feet that fyl'd his shins,
      Anither sighs an' prays:
    On this hand sits a chosen swatch,
      Wi' screw'd up grace-proud faces;
    On that a set o' chaps at watch,
      Thrang winkin' on the lasses
                      To chairs that day.

    O happy is that man an' blest!
      Nae wonder that it pride him!
    Wha's ain dear lass that he likes best,
      Comes clinkin' down beside him;
    Wi' arm repos'd on the chair back,
      He sweetly does compose him;
    Which, by degrees, slips round her neck,
      An's loof upon her bosom,
                      Unkenn'd that day.

    Now a' the congregation o'er
      Is silent expectation;
    For Moodie speeds the holy door,
      Wi' tidings o' damnation.
    Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
      'Mang sons o' God present him,
    The vera sight o' Moodie's face,
      To's ain het hame had sent him
                      Wi' fright that day.

    Hear how he clears the points o' faith
      Wi' ratlin' an' wi' thumpin'!
    Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
      He's stampin an' he's jumpin'!
    His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd-up snout,
      His eldritch squeel and gestures,
    Oh, how they fire the heart devout,
      Like cantharidian plasters,
                      On sic a day.

    But hark! the tent has chang'd its voice:
      There's peace an' rest nae langer:
    For a' the real judges rise,
      They canna sit for anger.
    Smith opens out his cauld harangues,
      On practice and on morals;
    An' aff the godly pour in thrangs,
      To gie the jars an' barrels
                      A lift that day.

    What signifies his barren shine,
      Of moral pow'rs and reason?
    His English style, an' gestures fine,
      Are a' clean out o' season.
    Like Socrates or Antonine,
      Or some auld pagan heathen,
    The moral man he does define,
      But ne'er a word o' faith in
                      That's right that day.

    In guid time comes an antidote
      Against sic poison'd nostrum;
    For Peebles, frae the water-fit,
      Ascends the holy rostrum:
    See, up he's got the word o' God,
      An' meek an' mim has view'd it,
    While Common-Sense has ta'en the road,
      An' aff, an' up the Cowgate,[12]
                      Fast, fast, that day.

    Wee Miller, neist the guard relieves,
      An' orthodoxy raibles,
    Tho' in his heart he weel believes,
      An' thinks it auld wives' fables:
    But faith! the birkie wants a manse,
      So, cannily he hums them;
    Altho' his carnal wit an' sense
      Like hafflins-ways o'ercomes him
                      At times that day.

    Now but an' ben, the Change-house fills,
      Wi' yill-caup commentators:
    Here's crying out for bakes and gills,
      An' there the pint-stowp clatters;
    While thick an' thrang, an' loud an' lang,
      Wi' logic, an' wi' scripture,
    They raise a din, that, in the end,
      Is like to breed a rupture
                      O' wrath that day.

    Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair
      Than either school or college:
    It kindles wit, it waukens lair,
      It pangs us fou' o' knowledge,
    Be't whisky gill, or penny wheep,
      Or any stronger potion,
    It never fails, on drinking deep,
      To kittle up our notion
                      By night or day.

    The lads an' lasses, blythely bent
      To mind baith saul an' body,
    Sit round the table, weel content,
      An' steer about the toddy.
    On this ane's dress, an' that ane's leuk,
      They're making observations;
    While some are cozie i' the neuk,
      An' formin' assignations
                      To meet some day.

    But now the Lord's ain trumpet touts,
      Till a' the hills are rairin',
    An' echoes back return the shouts:
      Black Russell is na' sparin':
    His piercing words, like Highlan' swords,
      Divide the joints and marrow;
    His talk o' Hell, where devils dwell,
      Our vera sauls does harrow[13]
                      Wi' fright that day.

    A vast, unbottom'd boundless pit,
      Fill'd fou o' lowin' brunstane,
    Wha's ragin' flame, an' scorchin' heat,
      Wad melt the hardest whunstane!
    The half asleep start up wi' fear,
      An' think they hear it roarin',
    When presently it does appear,
      'Twas but some neibor snorin'
                      Asleep that day.

    'Twad be owre lang a tale to tell
      How monie stories past,
    An' how they crowded to the yill,
      When they were a' dismist:
    How drink gaed round, in cogs an' caups,
      Amang the furms an' benches:
    An' cheese an' bread, frae women's laps,
      Was dealt about in lunches,
                      An' dawds that day.

    In comes a gaucie, gash guidwife,
      An' sits down by the fire,
    Syne draws her kebbuck an' her knife;
      The lasses they are shyer.
    The auld guidmen, about the grace,
      Frae side to side they bother,
    Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
      An' gi'es them't like a tether,
                      Fu' lang that day.

    Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,
      Or lasses that hae naething;
    Sma' need has he to say a grace,
      Or melvie his braw claithing!
    O wives, be mindfu' ance yoursel
      How bonnie lads ye wanted,
    An' dinna, for a kebbuck-heel,
      Let lasses be affronted
                      On sic a day!

    Now Clinkumbell, wi' ratlin tow,
      Begins to jow an' croon;
    Some swagger hame, the best they dow,
      Some wait the afternoon.
    At slaps the billies halt a blink,
      Till lasses strip their shoon:
    Wi' faith an' hope, an' love an' drink,
      They're a' in famous tune
                      For crack that day.

    How monie hearts this day converts
      O' sinners and o' lasses!
    Their hearts o' stane, gin night, are gane,
      As saft as ony flesh is.
    There's some are fou o' love divine;
      There's some are fou o' brandy;
    An' monie jobs that day begin
      May end in houghmagandie
                      Some ither day.


[Footnote 12: A street so called, which faces the tent in Mauchline.]

[Footnote 13: Shakespeare's Hamlet.]

       *       *       *       *       *



    "For sense they little owe to frugal heav'n--
    To please the mob they hide the little giv'n."

[This sarcastic sally was written on the admission of Mr. Mackinlay, as
one of the ministers to the Laigh, or parochial Kirk of Kilmarnock, on
the 6th of April, 1786. That reverend person was an Auld Light
professor, and his ordination incensed all the New Lights, hence the
bitter levity of the poem. These dissensions have long since past away:
Mackinlay, a pious and kind-hearted sincere man, lived down all the
personalities of the satire, and though unwelcome at first, he soon
learned to regard them only as a proof of the powers of the poet.]

    Kilmarnock wabsters fidge an' claw,
      An' pour your creeshie nations;
    An' ye wha leather rax an' draw,
      Of a' denominations,
    Swith to the Laigh Kirk, ane an' a',
      An' there tak up your stations;
    Then aff to Begbie's in a raw,
      An' pour divine libations
                      For joy this day.

    Curst Common-Sense, that imp o' hell,
      Cam in wi' Maggie Lauder;[14]
    But Oliphant aft made her yell,
      An' Russell sair misca'd her;
    This day Mackinlay taks the flail,
      And he's the boy will blaud her!
    He'll clap a shangan on her tail,
      An' set the bairns to daud her
                      Wi' dirt this day.

    Mak haste an' turn King David owre,
      An' lilt wi' holy clangor;
    O' double verse come gie us four,
      An' skirl up the Bangor:
    This day the Kirk kicks up a stoure,
      Nae mair the knaves shall wrang her,
    For Heresy is in her pow'r,
      And gloriously she'll whang her
                      Wi' pith this day.

    Come, let a proper text be read,
      An' touch it aff wi' vigour,
    How graceless Ham[15] leugh at his dad,
      Which made Canaan a niger;
    Or Phineas[16] drove the murdering blade,
      Wi' wh-re-abhorring rigour;
    Or Zipporah,[17] the scauldin' jad,
      Was like a bluidy tiger
                      I' th' inn that day.

    There, try his mettle on the creed,
      And bind him down wi' caution,
    That stipend is a carnal weed
      He taks but for the fashion;
    And gie him o'er the flock, to feed,
      And punish each transgression;
    Especial, rams that cross the breed,
      Gie them sufficient threshin',
                      Spare them nae day.

    Now, auld Kilmarnock, cock thy tail,
      And toss thy horns fu' canty;
    Nae mair thou'lt rowte out-owre the dale,
      Because thy pasture's scanty;
    For lapfu's large o' gospel kail
      Shall fill thy crib in plenty,
    An' runts o' grace the pick and wale,
      No gi'en by way o' dainty,
                      But ilka day.

    Nae mair by Babel's streams we'll weep,
      To think upon our Zion;
    And hing our fiddles up to sleep,
      Like baby-clouts a-dryin':
    Come, screw the pegs, wi' tunefu' cheep,
      And o'er the thairms be tryin';
    Oh, rare! to see our elbucks wheep,
      An' a' like lamb-tails flyin'
                      Fu' fast this day!

    Lang Patronage, wi' rod o' airn,
      Has shor'd the Kirk's undoin',
    As lately Fenwick, sair forfairn,
      Has proven to its ruin:
    Our patron, honest man! Glencairn,
      He saw mischief was brewin';
    And like a godly elect bairn
      He's wal'd us out a true ane,
                      And sound this day.

    Now, Robinson, harangue nae mair,
      But steek your gab for ever.
    Or try the wicked town of Ayr,
      For there they'll think you clever;
    Or, nae reflection on your lear,
      Ye may commence a shaver;
    Or to the Netherton repair,
      And turn a carpet-weaver
                      Aff-hand this day.

    Mutrie and you were just a match
      We never had sic twa drones:
    Auld Hornie did the Laigh Kirk watch,
      Just like a winkin' baudrons:
    And ay' he catch'd the tither wretch,
      To fry them in his caudrons;
    But now his honour maun detach,
      Wi' a' his brimstane squadrons,
                      Fast, fast this day.

    See, see auld Orthodoxy's faes
      She's swingein' through the city;
    Hark, how the nine-tail'd cat she plays!
      I vow it's unco pretty:
    There, Learning, with his Greekish face,
      Grunts out some Latin ditty;
    And Common Sense is gaun, she says,
      To mak to Jamie Beattie
                      Her plaint this day.

    But there's Morality himsel',
      Embracing all opinions;
    Hear, how he gies the tither yell,
      Between his twa companions;
    See, how she peels the skin an' fell.
      As ane were peelin' onions!
    Now there--they're packed aff to hell,
      And banished our dominions,
                      Henceforth this day.

    O, happy day! rejoice, rejoice!
      Come bouse about the porter!
    Morality's demure decoys
      Shall here nae mair find quarter:
    Mackinlay, Russell, are the boys,
      That Heresy can torture:
    They'll gie her on a rape a hoyse,
      And cowe her measure shorter
                      By th' head some day.

    Come, bring the tither mutchkin in,
      And here's for a conclusion,
    To every New Light[18] mother's son,
      From this time forth Confusion:
    If mair they deave us wi' their din,
      Or Patronage intrusion,
    We'll light a spunk, and ev'ry skin,
      We'll rin them aff in fusion
                      Like oil, some day.


[Footnote 14: Alluding to a scoffing ballad which was made on the
admission of the late reverend and worthy Mr. Lindsay to the Laigh

[Footnote 15: Genesis, ix. 22.]

[Footnote 16: Numbers, xxv. 8.]

[Footnote 17: Exodus, iv. 25.]

[Footnote 18: "New Light" is a cant phrase in the West of Scotland, for
those religions opinions which Dr. Taylor of Norwich has defended.]

       *       *       *       *       *




On his text, MALACHI, iv. 2--"And ye shall go forth, and grow
up as CALVES of the stall."

[The laugh which this little poem raised against Steven was a loud
one. Burns composed it during the sermon to which it relates and
repeated it to Gavin Hamilton, with whom he happened on that day to
dine. The Calf--for the name it seems stuck--came to London, where the
younger brother of Burns heard him preach in Covent Garden Chapel, in

    Right, Sir! your text I'll prove it true,
      Though Heretics may laugh;
    For instance; there's yoursel' just now,
      God knows, an unco Calf!

    And should some patron be so kind,
      As bless you wi' a kirk,
    I doubt na, Sir, but then we'll find,
      Ye're still as great a Stirk.

    But, if the lover's raptur'd hour
      Shall ever be your lot,
    Forbid it, ev'ry heavenly power,
      You e'er should be a stot!

    Tho', when some kind, connubial dear,
      Your but-and-ben adorns,
    The like has been that you may wear
      A noble head of horns.

    And in your lug, most reverend James,
      To hear you roar and rowte,
    Few men o' sense will doubt your claims
      To rank among the nowte.

    And when ye're number'd wi' the dead,
      Below a grassy hillock,
    Wi' justice they may mark your head--
      "Here lies a famous Bullock!"

       *       *       *       *       *



    "Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!
    Sweet'ner of life and solder of society!
    I owe thee much!--"


[The James Smith, to whom this epistle is addressed, was at that time
a small shop-keeper in Mauchline, and the comrade or rather follower of
the poet in all his merry expeditions with "Yill-caup commentators."
He was present in Poosie Nansie's when the Jolly Beggars first dawned
on the fancy of Burns: the comrades of the poet's heart were not
generally very successful in life: Smith left Mauchline, and
established a calico-printing manufactory at Avon near Linlithgow,
where his friend found him in all appearance prosperous in 1788; but
this was not to last; he failed in his speculations and went to the
West Indies, and died early. His wit was ready, and his manners lively
and unaffected.]

    Dear Smith, the sleest, paukie thief,
    That e'er attempted stealth or rief,
    Ye surely hae some warlock-breef
                        Owre human hearts;
    For ne'er a bosom yet was prief
                        Against your arts.

    For me, I swear by sun an' moon,
    And ev'ry star that blinks aboon,
    Ye've cost me twenty pair o' shoon
                        Just gaun to see you;
    And ev'ry ither pair that's done,
                        Mair ta'en I'm wi' you.

    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
                        She's wrote, the Man.

    Just now I've ta'en the fit o' rhyme,
    My barmie noddle's working prime,
    My fancy yerkit it up sublime
                        Wi' hasty summon:
    Hae ye a leisure-moment's time
                        To hear what's comin'?

    Some rhyme a neighbour's name to lash;
    Some rhyme (vain thought!) for needfu' cash:
    Some rhyme to court the countra 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 blest me with a random shot
                        O' countra 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 ensur'd their debtors,
                        A' future ages:
    Now moths deform in shapeless tatters,
                        Their unknown pages."

    Then farewell 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 th' 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' wrinkl'd face,
    Comes hostin', hirplin', owre the field,
                        Wi' creepin' 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,
                        Among the leaves;
    And tho' the puny wound appear,
                        Short while it grieves.

    Some, lucky, find a flow'ry spot,
    For which they never toil'd nor swat;
    They drink the sweet and eat the fat,
                        But care or pain;
    And, haply, eye the barren hut
                        With high disdain.

    With steady aim some Fortune chase;
    Keen hope does ev'ry sinew brace;
    Thro' fair, thro' foul, they urge the race,
                        And seize the prey;
    Then cannie, in some cozie place,
                        They close the day.

    And others, like your humble servan',
    Poor wights! nae rules nor roads observin';
    To right or left, eternal swervin',
                        They zig-zag on;
    'Till curst with age, obscure an' starvin',
                        They aften groan.

    Alas! what bitter toil an' straining--
    But truce with peevish, poor complaining!
    Is fortune's fickle Luna waning?
                        E'en let her gang!
    Beneath what light she has remaining,
                        Let's sing our sang.

    My pen I here fling to the door,
    And kneel, "Ye Pow'rs," and warm implore,
    "Tho' I should wander terra e'er,
                        In all her climes,
    Grant me but this, I ask no more,
                        Ay rowth o' rhymes.

    "Gie dreeping roasts to countra lairds,
    Till icicles hing frae their beards;
    Gie fine braw claes to fine life-guards,
                        And maids of honour!
    And yill an' whisky gie to cairds,
                        Until they sconner.

    "A title, Dempster merits it;
    A garter gie to Willie Pitt;
    Gie wealth to some be-ledger'd cit,
                        In cent. per cent.
    But give me real, sterling wit,
                        And I'm content.

    "While ye are pleas'd to keep me hale,
    I'll sit down o'er my scanty meal,
    Be't water-brose, or muslin-kail,
                        Wi' cheerfu' face,
    As lang's the muses dinna fail
                        To say the grace."

    An anxious e'e I never throws
    Behint my lug, or by my nose;
    I jouk beneath misfortune's blows
                        As weel's I may;
    Sworn foe to sorrow, care, and prose,
                        I rhyme away.

    O ye douce folk, that live by rule,
    Grave, tideless-blooded, calm and cool,
    Compar'd wi' you--O fool! fool! fool!
                        How much unlike!
    Your hearts are just a standing pool,
                        Your lives a dyke!

    Nae hair-brain'd, sentimental traces,
    In your unletter'd nameless faces!
    In arioso trills and graces
                        Ye never stray,
    But gravissimo, solemn basses
                        Ye hum away.

    Ye are sae grave, nae doubt ye're wise;
    Nae ferly tho' ye do despise
    The hairum-scarum, ram-stam boys,
                        The rattling squad:
    I see you upward cast your eyes--
                        Ye ken the road--

    Whilst I--but I shall haud me there--
    Wi' you I'll scarce gang ony where--
    Then, Jamie, I shall say nae mair,
                        But quat my sang,
    Content wi' you to mak a pair,
                        Whare'er I gang.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The Vision and the Briggs of Ayr, are said by Jeffrey to be "the only
pieces by Burns which can be classed under the head of pure fiction:"
but Tam O' Shanter and twenty other of his compositions have an equal
right to be classed with works of fiction. The edition of this poem
published at Kilmarnock, differs in some particulars from the edition
which followed in Edinburgh. The maiden whose foot was so handsome as
to match that of Coila, was a Bess at first, but old affection
triumphed, and Jean, for whom the honour was from the first designed,
regained her place. The robe of Coila, too, was expanded, so far
indeed that she got more cloth than she could well carry.]

    The sun had clos'd the winter day,
    The curlers quat their roaring play,
    An' hunger'd maukin ta'en her way
                      To kail-yards green,
    While faithless snaws ilk step betray
                      Whare she has been.

    The thresher's weary flingin'-tree
    The lee-lang day had tired me;
    And when the day had closed his e'e
                      Far i' the west,
    Ben i' the spence, right pensivelie,
                      I gaed to rest.

    There, lanely, by the ingle-cheek,
    I sat and ey'd the spewing reek,
    That fill'd, wi' hoast-provoking smeek,
                      The auld clay biggin';
    An' heard the restless rattons squeak
                      About the riggin'.

    All in this mottie, misty clime,
    I backward mused on wastet time,
    How I had spent my youthfu' prime,
                      An' done nae thing,
    But stringin' blethers up in rhyme,
                      For fools to sing.

    Had I to guid advice but harkit,
    I might, by this hae led a market,
    Or strutted in a bank an' clarkit
                      My cash-account:
    While here, half-mad, half-fed, half-sarkit,
                      Is a' th' amount.

    I started, mutt'ring, blockhead! coof!
    And heav'd on high my waukit loof,
    To swear by a' yon starry roof,
                      Or some rash aith,
    That I, henceforth, would be rhyme-proof
                      Till my last breath--

    When, click! the string the snick did draw:
    And, jee! the door gaed to the wa';
    An' by my ingle-lowe I saw,
                      Now bleezin' bright,
    A tight outlandish hizzie, braw
                      Come full in sight.

    Ye need na doubt, I held my wisht;
    The infant aith, half-form'd, was crusht;
    I glowr'd as eerie's I'd been dusht
                      In some wild glen;
    When sweet, like modest worth, she blusht,
                      And stepped ben.

    Green, slender, leaf-clad holly-boughs
    Were twisted, gracefu', round her brows,
    I took her for some Scottish Muse,
                      By that same token;
    An' come to stop those reckless vows,
                      Wou'd soon be broken.

    A "hair-brain'd, sentimental trace"
    Was strongly marked in her face;
    A wildly-witty, rustic grace
                      Shone full upon her:
    Her eye, ev'n turn'd on empty space,
                      Beam'd keen with honour.

    Down flow'd her robe, a tartan sheen,
    'Till half a leg was scrimply seen:
    And such a leg! my bonnie Jean
                      Could only peer it;
    Sae straught, sae taper, tight, and clean,
                      Nane else came near it.

    Her mantle large, of greenish hue,
    My gazing wonder chiefly drew;
    Deep lights and shades, bold-mingling, threw
                      A lustre grand;
    And seem'd to my astonish'd view,
                      A well-known land.

    Here, rivers in the sea were lost;
    There, mountains to the skies were tost:
    Here, tumbling billows mark'd the coast,
                      With surging foam;
    There, distant shone Art's lofty boast,
                      The lordly dome.

    Here, Doon pour'd down his far-fetch'd floods;
    There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds:
    Auld hermit Ayr staw thro' his woods,
                      On to the shore;
    And many a lesser torrent scuds,
                      With seeming roar.

    Low, in a sandy valley spread,
    An ancient borough rear'd her head;
    Still, as in Scottish story read,
                      She boasts a race,
    To ev'ry nobler virtue bred,
                      And polish'd grace.

    By stately tow'r, or palace fair,
    Or ruins pendent in the air,
    Bold stems of heroes, here and there,
                      I could discern;
    Some seem'd to muse, some seem'd to dare,
                      With feature stern.

    My heart did glowing transport feel,
    To see a race[20] heroic wheel,
    And brandish round the deep-dy'd steel
                      In sturdy blows;
    While back-recoiling seem'd to reel
                      Their southron foes.

    His Country's Saviour,[21] mark him well!
    Bold Richardton's[22] heroic swell;
    The chief on Sark[23] who glorious fell,
                      In high command;
    And He whom ruthless fates expel
                      His native land.

    There, where a sceptr'd Pictish shade[24]
    Stalk'd round his ashes lowly laid,
    I mark'd a martial race portray'd
                      In colours strong;
    Bold, soldier-featur'd, undismay'd
                      They strode along.

    Thro' many a wild romantic grove,[25]
    Near many a hermit-fancy'd cove,
    (Fit haunts for friendship or for love,)
                      In musing mood,
    An aged judge, I saw him rove,
                      Dispensing good.

    With deep-struck, reverential awe,[26]
    The learned sire and son I saw,
    To Nature's God and Nature's law,
                      They gave their lore,
    This, all its source and end to draw;
                      That, to adore.

    Brydone's brave ward[27] I well could spy,
    Beneath old Scotia's smiling eye;
    Who call'd on Fame, low standing by,
                      To hand him on,
    Where many a Patriot-name on high
                      And hero shone.

       *       *       *       *       *


    With musing-deep, astonish'd stare,
    I view'd the heavenly-seeming fair;
    A whisp'ring throb did witness bear
                      Of kindred sweet,
    When with an elder sister's air
                      She did me greet.

    "All hail! My own inspired bard!
    In me thy native Muse regard!
    Nor longer mourn thy fate is hard,
                      Thus poorly low!
    I come to give thee such reward
                      As we bestow.

    "Know, the great genius of this land,
    Has many a light aërial band,
    Who, all beneath his high command,
    As arts or arms they understand,
                      Their labours ply.

    "They Scotia's race among them share;
    Some fire the soldier on to dare;
    Some rouse the patriot up to bare
                      Corruption's heart.
    Some teach the bard, a darling care,
                      The tuneful art.

    "'Mong swelling floods of reeking gore,
    They, ardent, kindling spirits, pour;
    Or 'mid the venal senate's roar,
                      They, sightless, stand,
    To mend the honest patriot-lore,
                      And grace the hand.

    "And when the bard, or hoary sage,
    Charm or instruct the future age,
    They bind the wild, poetic rage
                      In energy,
    Or point the inconclusive page
                      Full on the eye.

    "Hence Fullarton, the brave and young;
    Hence Dempster's zeal-inspired tongue;
    Hence sweet harmonious Beattie sung
                      His 'Minstrel' lays;
    Or tore, with noble ardour stung,
                      The sceptic's bays.

    "To lower orders are assign'd
    The humbler ranks of human-kind,
    The rustic bard, the lab'ring hind,
                      The artisan;
    All choose, as various they're inclin'd
                      The various man.

    "When yellow waves the heavy grain,
    The threat'ning storm some, strongly, rein;
    Some teach to meliorate the plain,
                      With tillage-skill;
    And some instruct the shepherd-train,
                      Blythe o'er the hill.

    "Some hint the lover's harmless wile;
    Some grace the maiden's artless smile;
    Some soothe the lab'rer's weary toil,
                      For humble gains,
    And make his cottage-scenes beguile
                      His cares and pains.

    "Some, bounded to a district-space,
    Explore at large man's infant race,
    To mark the embryotic trace
                      Of rustic bard:
    And careful note each op'ning grace,
                      A guide and guard.

    "Of these am I--Coila my name;
    And this district as mine I claim,
    Where once the Campbells, chiefs of fame,
                      Held ruling pow'r:
    I mark'd thy embryo-tuneful flame,
                      Thy natal hour.

    "With future hope, I oft would gaze,
    Fond, on thy little early ways,
    Thy rudely carroll'd, chiming phrase,
                      In uncouth rhymes,
    Fir'd at the simple, artless lays
                      Of other times.

    "I saw thee seek the sounding shore,
    Delighted with the dashing roar;
    Or when the north his fleecy store
                      Drove through the sky,
    I saw grim Nature's visage hoar
                      Struck thy young eye.

    "Or when the deep green-mantled earth
    Warm cherish'd ev'ry flow'ret's birth,
    And joy and music pouring forth
                      In ev'ry grove,
    I saw thee eye the general mirth
                      With boundless love.

    "When ripen'd fields, and azure skies,
    Called forth the reaper's rustling noise,
    I saw thee leave their evening joys,
                      And lonely stalk,
    To vent thy bosom's swelling rise
                      In pensive walk.

    "When youthful love, warm-blushing, strong,
    Keen-shivering shot thy nerves along,
    Those accents, grateful to thy tongue,
                      Th' adored Name
    I taught thee how to pour in song,
                      To soothe thy flame.

    "I saw thy pulse's maddening play,
    Wild send thee pleasure's devious way,
    Misled by Fancy's meteor-ray,
                      By passion driven;
    But yet the light that led astray
                      Was light from Heaven.

    "I taught thy manners-painting strains,
    The loves, the ways of simple swains,
    Till now, o'er all my wide domains
                      Thy fame extends;
    And some, the pride of Coila's plains,
                      Become thy friends.

    "Thou canst not learn, nor can I show,
    To paint with Thomson's landscape glow;
    Or wake the bosom-melting throe,
                      With Shenstone's art;
    Or pour, with Gray, the moving flow,
                      Warm on the heart.

    "Yet, all beneath the unrivall'd rose,
    The lowly daisy sweetly blows;
    Tho' large the forest's monarch throws
                      His army shade,
    Yet green the juicy hawthorn grows,
                      Adown the glade.

    "Then never murmur nor repine;
    Strive in thy humble sphere to shine;
    And, trust me, not Potosi's mine,
                      Nor king's regard,
    Can give a bliss o'ermatching thine,
                      A rustic bard.

    "To give my counsels all in one,
    Thy tuneful flame still careful fan;
    Preserve the dignity of man,
                      With soul erect;
    And trust, the universal plan
                      Will all protect.

    "And wear thou this,"--she solemn said,
    And bound the holly round my head:
    The polish'd leaves and berries red
                      Did rustling play;
    And like a passing thought, she fled
                      In light away.


[Footnote 19: Duan, a term of Ossian's for the different divisions of a
digressive poem. See his "Cath-Loda," vol. ii. of Macpherson's

[Footnote 20: The Wallaces.]

[Footnote 21: Sir William Wallace.]

[Footnote 22: Adam Wallace, of Richardton, cousin to the immortal
preserver of Scottish independence.]

[Footnote 23: Wallace, Laird of Craigie, who was second in command
under Douglas, Earl of Ormond, at the famous battle on the banks of
Sark, fought anno 1448. That glorious victory was principally owing to
the judicious conduct and intrepid valour of the gallant laird of
Craigie, who died of his wounds after the action.]

[Footnote 24: Coilus, king of the Picts, from whom the district of Kyle
is said to take its name, lies buried, as tradition says, near the
family seat of the Montgomeries of Coilsfield, where his burial-place
is still shown.]

[Footnote 25: Barskimming, the seat of the late Lord Justice-Clerk (Sir
Thomas Miller of Glenlee, afterwards President of the Court of

[Footnote 26: Catrine, the seat of Professor Dugald Steward.]

[Footnote 27: Colonel Fullarton.]

       *       *       *       *       *



    "Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
    The simple pleasures of the lowly train;
    To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
    One native charm, than all the gloss of art."


[This Poem contains a lively and striking picture of some of the
superstitious observances of old Scotland: on Halloween the desire to
look into futurity was once all but universal in the north; and the
charms and spells which Burns describes, form but a portion of those
employed to enable the peasantry to have a peep up the dark vista of
the future. The scene is laid on the romantic shores of Ayr, at a
farmer's fireside, and the actors in the rustic drama are the whole
household, including supernumerary reapers and bandsmen about to be
discharged from the engagements of harvest. "I never can help
regarding this," says James Hogg, "as rather a trivial poem!"]

    Upon that night, when fairies light
      On Cassilis Downans[29] dance,
    Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
      On sprightly coursers prance;
    Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
      Beneath the moon's pale beams;
    There, up the Cove,[30] to stray an' rove
      Amang the rocks an' streams
                      To sport that night.

    Amang the bonnie winding banks
      Where Doon rins, wimplin', clear,
    Where Bruce[31] ance rul'd the martial ranks,
      An' shook his Carrick spear,
    Some merry, friendly, countra folks,
      Together did convene,
    To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
      An' haud their Halloween
                      Fu' blythe that night.

    The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat,
      Mair braw than when they're fine;
    Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe,
      Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin';
    The lads sae trig, wi' wooer babs,
      Weel knotted on their garten,
    Some unco blate, an' some wi' gabs,
      Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
                      Whiles fast at night.

    Then, first and foremost, thro' the kail,
      Their stocks[32] maun a' be sought ance;
    They steek their een, an' graip an' wale,
      For muckle anes an' straught anes.
    Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
      An' wander'd through the bow-kail,
    An' pou't, for want o' better shift,
      A runt was like a sow-tail,
                      Sae bow't that night.

    Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
      They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
    The vera wee-things, todlin', rin
      Wi' stocks out-owre their shouther;
    An' gif the custoc's sweet or sour,
      Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
    Syne coziely, aboon the door,
      Wi' cannie care, they've placed them
                      To lie that night.

    The lasses staw frae mang them a'
      To pou their stalks o' corn;[33]
    But Rab slips out, an' jinks about,
      Behint the muckle thorn:
    He grippet Nelly hard an' fast;
      Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
    But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
      When kiuttlin' in the fause-house[34]
                      Wi' him that night.

    The auld guidwife's weel hoordet nits[35]
    Are round an' round divided;
    An' monie lads' an' lasses' fates
    Are there that night decided:
    Some kindle, couthie, side by side,
    An' burn thegither trimly;
    Some start awa' wi' saucy pride,
    And jump out-owre the chimlie
                      Fu' high that night.

    Jean slips in twa wi' tentie e'e;
    Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
    But this is Jock, an' this is me,
    She says in to hersel':
    He bleez'd owre her, an' she owre him,
    As they wad never mair part;
    'Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
    An' Jean had e'en a sair heart
                      To see't that night.

    Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
    Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
    An' Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
    To be compar'd to Willie;
    Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
    An' her ain fit it brunt it;
    While Willie lap, and swoor, by jing,
    'Twas just the way he wanted
                      To be that night.

    Nell had the fause-house in her min',
    She pits hersel an' Rob in;
    In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
    'Till white in ase they're sobbin';
    Nell's heart, was dancin' at the view,
    She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
    Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonie mou',
    Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
                      Unseen that night.

    But Merran sat behint their backs,
    Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
    She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
    And slips out by hersel':
    She through the yard the nearest taks,
    An' to the kiln she goes then,
    An' darklins graipit for the bauks,
    And in the blue-clue[36] throws then,
                      Right fear't that night.

    An' ay she win't, an' ay she swat,
    I wat she made nae jaukin';
    'Till something held within the pat,
    Guid L--d! but she was quaukin'!
    But whether 'twas the Deil himsel',
    Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
    Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
    She did na wait on talkin'
                      To spier that night.

    Wee Jenny to her graunie says,
    "Will ye go wi' me, graunie?
    I'll eat the apple[37] at the glass,
    I gat frae uncle Johnnie:"
    She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
    In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
    She notic't na, an aizle brunt
    Her braw new worset apron
                      Out thro' that night.

    "Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
    I daur you try sic sportin',
    As seek the foul Thief onie place,
    For him to spae your fortune:
    Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
    Great cause ye hae to fear it;
    For monie a ane has gotten a fright,
    An' liv'd an' died deleeret
                      On sic a night.

    "Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
    I mind't as weel's yestreen,
    I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
    I was na past fifteen:
    The simmer had been cauld an' wat,
    An' stuff was unco green;
    An' ay a rantin' kirn we gat,
    An' just on Halloween
                      It fell that night.

    "Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
      A clever, sturdy fellow:
    He's sin gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
      That liv'd in Achmacalla:
    He gat hemp-seed,[38] I mind it weel,
      And he made unco light o't;
    But monie a day was by himsel',
      He was sae sairly frighted
                      That vera night."

    Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
      An' he swoor by his conscience,
    That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
      For it was a' but nonsense;
    The auld guidman raught down the pock,
      An' out a' handfu' gied him;
    Syne bad him slip frae 'mang the folk,
      Sometime when nae ane see'd him,
                      An' try't that night.

    He marches thro' amang the stacks,
      Tho' he was something sturtin;
    The graip he for a harrow taks,
      An' haurls at his curpin;
    An' ev'ry now an' then he says,
      "Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
    An' her that is to be my lass,
      Come after me, an' draw thee
                      As fast that night."

    He whistl'd up Lord Lennox' march,
      To keep his courage cheery;
    Altho' his hair began to arch,
      He was sae fley'd an' eerie;
    'Till presently he hears a squeak,
      An' then a grane an' gruntle;
    He by his shouther gae a keek,
      An' tumbl'd wi' a wintle
                      Out-owre that night.

    He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
      In dreadfu' desperation!
    An' young an' auld cam rinnin' out,
      An' hear the sad narration;
    He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
      Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
    'Till, stop! she trotted thro' them a';
      An' wha was it but Grumphie
                      Asteer that night!

    Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
      To win three wechts o' naething;[39]
    But for to meet the deil her lane,
      She pat but little faith in:
    She gies the herd a pickle nits,
      An' twa red cheekit apples,
    To watch, while for the barn she sets,
      In hopes to see Tam Kipples
                      That vera night.

    She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
      An' owre the threshold ventures;
    But first on Sawnie gies a ca',
      Syne bauldly in she enters:
    A ratton rattled up the wa',
      An' she cried, L--d preserve her!
    An' ran thro' midden-hole an' a',
      An' pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
                      Fu' fast that night.

    They hoy't out Will, wi sair advice;
      They hecht him some fine braw ane;
    It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice,[40]
      Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
    He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak,
      For some black, grousome carlin;
    An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
      'Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
                      Aff's nieves that night.

    A wanton widow Leezie was,
      As canty as a kittlin;
    But, och! that night, amang the shaws,
      She got a fearfu' settlin'!
    She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
      An' owre the hill gaed scrievin,
    Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn,[41]
      To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
                      Was bent that night.

    Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
      As through the glen it wimpl't;
    Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays,
      Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
    Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
      Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
    Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
      Below the spreading hazel,
                      Unseen that night.

    Amang the brackens on the brae,
      Between her an' the moon,
    The deil, or else an outler quey,
      Gat up an' gae a croon:
    Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
      Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
    But mist a fit, an' in the pool
      Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
                      Wi' a plunge that night.

    In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
      The luggies three[42] are ranged,
    And ev'ry time great care is ta'en,
      To see them duly changed:
    Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
      Sin Mar's-year did desire,
    Because he gat the toom-dish thrice,
      He heav'd them on the fire
                      In wrath that night.

    Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
      I wat they did na weary;
    An' unco tales, an' funnie jokes,
      Their sports were cheap an' cheery;
    Till butter'd so'ns[43] wi' fragrant lunt,
      Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
    Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
      They parted aff careerin'
                      Fu' blythe that night.


[Footnote 28: Is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other
mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands:
particularly those aërial people, the Fairies, are said on that night to
hold a grand anniversary.]

[Footnote 29: Certain little, romantic, rocky green hills, in the
neighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of Cassilis.]

[Footnote 30: A noted cavern near Colean-house, called the Cove of
Colean which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is famed in country story
for being a favourite haunt of fairies.]

[Footnote 31: The famous family of that name, the ancestors of Robert,
the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of Carrick.]

[Footnote 32: The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each a stock,
or plant of kail. They must go out, hand-in-hand, with eyes shut, and
pull the first they meet with: its being big or little, straight or
crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all
their spells--the husband or wife. If any yird, or earth, stick to the
root, that is tocher, or fortune; and the taste of the custoc, that
is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and
disposition. Lastly, the stems, or, to give them their ordinary
appellation, the runts, are placed somewhere above the head of the
door; and the Christian names of the people whom chance brings into
the house are, according to the priority of placing the runts, the
names in question.]

[Footnote 33: They go to the barn-yard, and pull each at three several
times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wants the top-pickle, that
is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will come
to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.]

[Footnote 34: When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being too green
or wet, the stack-builder, by means of old timber, &c., makes a large
apartment in his stack, with an opening in the side which is fairest
exposed to the wind: this he calls a fause-house.]

[Footnote 35: Burning the nuts is a famous charm. They name the lad and
lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire, and
according as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one
another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.]

[Footnote 36: Whoever would, with success, try this spell, must
strictly observe these directions: Steal out, all alone, to the kiln,
and, darkling, throw into the pot a clue of blue yarn; wind it in a
clue off the old one; and towards the latter end, something will hold
the thread; demand "wha hauds?" i.e. who holds? an answer will be
returned from the kiln-pot, naming the Christian and surname of your
future spouse.]

[Footnote 37: Take a candle, and go alone to a looking-glass; eat an
apple before it, and some traditions say, you should comb your hair
all the time; the face of your conjugal companion, to be, will be seen
in the glass, as if peeping over your shoulder.]

[Footnote 38: Steal out unperceived, and sow a handful of hemp-seed,
harrowing it with anything you can conveniently draw after you.
Repeat, now and then, "Hemp-seed, I saw thee; hemp-seed, I saw thee;
and him (or her) that is to be my true love, come after me and pou
thee." Look over your left shoulder, and you will see the appearance
of the person invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Some
traditions say, "Come after me, and shaw thee," that is, show thyself;
in which case it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing, and say,
"Come after me, and harrow thee."]

[Footnote 39: This charm must likewise be performed, unperceived, and
alone. You go to the barn, and open both doors, taking them off the
hinges, if possible; for there is danger that the being about to
appear may shut the doors and do you some mischief. Then take that
instrument used in winnowing the corn, which, in our country dialect,
we call a wecht; and go through all the attitudes of letting down corn
against the wind. Repeat it three times; and the third time, an
apparition will pass through the barn, in at the windy door, and out
at the other, having both the figure in question, and the appearance
or retinue marking the employment or station in life.]

[Footnote 40: Take an opportunity of going unnoticed, to a bean stack,
and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time, you
will catch in your arms the appearance of your future conjugal

[Footnote 41: You go out, one or more, for this is a social spell, to a
south running spring or rivulet, where "three lairds' lands meet," and
dip your left shirt-sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire, and hang
your wet sleeve before it to dry. Lie awake: and, some time near
midnight, an apparition having the exact figure of the grand object in
question, will come and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the other side
of it.]

[Footnote 42: Take three dishes: put clean water in one, foul water in
another, and leave the third empty; blindfold a person and lead him to
the hearth where the dishes are ranged; he (or she) dips the left
hand: if by chance in the clean water, the future husband or wife will
come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in
the empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage at
all. It is repeated three times, and every time the arrangement of the
dishes is altered.]

[Footnote 43: Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them, is always
the Halloween supper.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[The origin of this fine poem is alluded to by Burns in one of his
letters to Mrs. Dunlop: "I had an old grand-uncle with whom my mother
lived in her girlish years: the good old man was long blind ere he
died, during which time his highest enjoyment was to sit and cry,
while my mother would sing the simple old song of 'The Life and Age of
Man.'" From that truly venerable woman, long after the death of her
distinguished son, Cromek, in collecting the Reliques, obtained a copy
by recitation of the older strain. Though the tone and sentiment
coincide closely with "Man was made to Mourn," I agree with Lockhart,
that Burns wrote it in obedience to his own habitual feelings.]

    When chill November's surly blast
      Made fields and forests bare,
    One ev'ning as I wandered forth
      Along the banks of Ayr,
    I spy'd a man whose aged step
      Seem'd weary, worn with care;
    His face was furrow'd o'er with years,
      And hoary was his hair.

    "Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"
      Began the rev'rend sage;
    "Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
      Or youthful pleasure's rage?
    Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
      Too soon thou hast began
    To wander forth, with me to mourn
      The miseries of man.

    "The sun that overhangs yon moors,
      Out-spreading far and wide,
    Where hundreds labour to support
      A haughty lordling's pride:
    I've seen yon weary winter-sun
      Twice forty times return,
    And ev'ry time had added proofs
      That man was made to mourn.

    "O man! while in thy early years,
      How prodigal of time!
    Misspending all thy precious hours,
      Thy glorious youthful prime!
    Alternate follies take the sway;
      Licentious passions burn;
    Which tenfold force gives nature's law,
      That man was made to mourn.

    "Look not alone on youthful prime,
      Or manhood's active might;
    Man then is useful to his kind,
      Supported in his right:
    But see him on the edge of life,
      With cares and sorrows worn;
    Then age and want--oh! ill-match'd pair!--
      Show man was made to mourn.

    "A few seem favorites of fate,
      In pleasure's lap carest:
    Yet, think not all the rich and great
      Are likewise truly blest.
    But, oh! what crowds in every land,
      All wretched and forlorn!
    Thro' weary life this lesson learn--
      That man was made to mourn.

    "Many and sharp the num'rous ills
      Inwoven with our frame!
    More pointed still we make ourselves,
      Regret, remorse, and shame!
    And man, whose heaven-erected face
      The smiles of love adorn,
    Man's inhumanity to man
      Makes countless thousands mourn!

    "See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
      So abject, mean, and vile,
    Who begs a brother of the earth
      To give him leave to toil;
    And see his lordly fellow-worm
      The poor petition spurn,
    Unmindful, though a weeping wife
      And helpless offspring mourn.

    "If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave--
      By Nature's law design'd--
    Why was an independent wish
      E'er planted in my mind?
    If not, why am I subject to
      His cruelty or scorn?
    Or why has man the will and power
      To make his fellow mourn?

    "Yet, let not this too much, my son,
      Disturb thy youthful breast;
    This partial view of human-kind
      Is surely not the best!
    The poor, oppressed, honest man
      Had never, sure, been born,
    Had there not been some recompense
      To comfort those that mourn!

    "O Death! the poor man's dearest friend--
      The kindest and the best!
    Welcome the hour, my aged limbs
      Are laid with thee at rest!
    The great, the wealthy, fear thy blow,
      From pomp and pleasure torn!
    But, oh! a blest relief to those
      That weary-laden mourn."

       *       *       *       *       *



["I have been," says Burns, in his common-place book, "taking a peep
through, as Young finely says, 'The dark postern of time long
elapsed.' 'Twas a rueful prospect! What a tissue of thoughtlessness,
weakness, and folly! my life reminded me of a ruined temple. What
strength, what proportion in some parts, what unsightly gaps, what
prostrate ruins in others!" The fragment, To Ruin, seems to have had
its origin in moments such as these.]


    All hail! inexorable lord!
    At whose destruction-breathing word,
      The mightiest empires fall!
    Thy cruel, woe-delighted train,
    The ministers of grief and pain,
      A sullen welcome, all!
    With stern-resolv'd, despairing eye,
      I see each aimed dart;
    For one has cut my dearest tie,
      And quivers in my heart.
        Then low'ring and pouring,
          The storm no more I dread;
        Though thick'ning and black'ning,
          Round my devoted head.


    And thou grim pow'r, by life abhorr'd,
    While life a pleasure can afford,
      Oh! hear a wretch's prayer!
    No more I shrink appall'd, afraid;
    I court, I beg thy friendly aid,
      To close this scene of care!
    When shall my soul, in silent peace,
      Resign life's joyless day;
    My weary heart its throbbings cease,
      Cold mould'ring in the clay?
        No fear more, no tear more,
          To stain my lifeless face;
        Enclasped, and grasped
          Within thy cold embrace!

       *       *       *       *       *





[This burning commentary, by Burns, on the Essays of Goudie in the
Macgill controversy, was first published by Stewart, with the Jolly
Beggars, in 1801; it is akin in life and spirit to Holy Willie's
Prayer; and may be cited as a sample of the wit and the force which
the poet brought to the great, but now forgotten, controversy of the

    O Goudie! terror of the Whigs,
    Dread of black coats and rev'rend wigs,
    Sour Bigotry, on her last legs,
                      Girnin', looks back,
    Wishin' the ten Egyptian plagues
                      Wad seize you quick.

    Poor gapin', glowrin' Superstition,
    Waes me! she's in a sad condition:
    Fie! bring Black Jock, her state physician,
                      To see her water:
    Alas! there's ground o' great suspicion
                      She'll ne'er get better.

    Auld Orthodoxy lang did grapple,
    But now she's got an unco ripple;
    Haste, gie her name up i' the chapel,
                      Nigh unto death;
    See, how she fetches at the thrapple,
                      An' gasps for breath.

    Enthusiasm's past redemption,
    Gaen in a gallopin' consumption,
    Not a' the quacks, wi' a' their gumption,
                      Will ever mend her.
    Her feeble pulse gies strong presumption
                      Death soon will end her.

    'Tis you and Taylor[44] are the chief,
    Wha are to blame for this mischief,
    But gin the Lord's ain focks gat leave,
                      A toom tar-barrel,
    An' twa red peats wad send relief,
                      An' end the quarrel.


[Footnote 44: Dr. Taylor, of Norwich.]

       *       *       *       *       *





_April 1st, 1785._


["The epistle to John Lapraik," says Gilbert Burns, "was produced
exactly on the occasion described by the author. Rocking is a term
derived from primitive times, when our country-women employed their
spare hours in spinning on the roke or distaff. This simple instrument
is a very portable one; and well fitted to the social inclination of
meeting in a neighbour's house; hence the phrase of going a rocking,
or with the roke. As the connexion the phrase had with the implement
was forgotten when the roke gave place to the spinning-wheel, the
phrase came to be used by both sexes on social occasions, and men talk
of going with their rokes as well as women."]

    While briers an' woodbines budding green,
    An' paitricks scraichin' loud at e'en,
    An' morning poussie whidden seen,
                      Inspire my muse,
    This freedom in an unknown frien'
                      I pray excuse.

    On Fasten-een we had a rockin',
    To ca' the crack and weave our stockin',
    And there was muckle fun an' jokin',
                      Ye need na doubt;
    At length we had a hearty yokin'
                      At sang about.

    There was ae sang, amang the rest,
    Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
    That some kind husband had addrest
                      To some sweet wife;
    It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
                      A' to the life.

    I've scarce heard aught describ'd sae weel,
    What gen'rous manly bosoms feel,
    Thought I, "Can this be Pope or Steele,
                      Or Beattie's wark?"
    They told me 'twas an odd kind chiel
                      About Muirkirk.

    It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't,
    And sae about him there I spier't,
    Then a' that ken't him round declar'd
                      He had injine,
    That, nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
                      It was sae fine.

    That, set him to a pint of ale,
    An' either douce or merry tale,
    Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel',
                      Or witty catches,
    'Tween Inverness and Tiviotdale,
                      He had few matches.

    Then up I gat, an' swoor an aith,
    Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith,
    Or die a cadger pownie's death
                      At some dyke-back,
    A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith
                      To hear your crack.

    But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
    Amaist as soon as I could spell,
    I to the crambo-jingle fell,
                      Tho' rude an' rough,
    Yet crooning to a body's sel',
                      Does weel eneugh.

    I am nae poet in a sense,
    But just a rhymer, like, by chance,
    An' hae to learning nae pretence,
                      Yet what the matter?
    Whene'er my Muse does on me glance,
                      I jingle at her.

    Your critic-folk may cock their nose,
    And say, "How can you e'er propose,
    You, wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
                      To mak a sang?"
    But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
                      Ye're may-be wrang.

    What's a' your jargon o' your schools,
    Your Latin names for horns an' stools;
    If honest nature made you fools,
                      What sairs your grammars?
    Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,
                      Or knappin-hammers.

    A set o' dull, conceited hashes,
    Confuse their brains in college classes!
    They gang in stirks and come out asses,
                      Plain truth to speak;
    An' syne they think to climb Parnassus
                      By dint o' Greek!

    Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire!
    That's a' the learning I desire;
    Then though I drudge thro' dub an' mire
                      At pleugh or cart,
    My muse, though hamely in attire,
                      May touch the heart.

    O 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,
                      If I could get it.

    Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
    Tho' real friends, I b'lieve, 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 fauts to tell;
    But friends an' folk that wish me well,
                      They sometimes roose me;
    Tho' I maun own, as monie still
                      As far abuse me.

    There's ae wee faut they whiles lay to me,
    I like the lasses--Gude forgie me!
    For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,
                      At dance or fair;
    May be some ither thing they gie me
                      They weel can spare.

    But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair;
    I should be proud to meet you there!
    We'se gie ae night's discharge to care,
                      If we forgather,
    An' hae a swap o' rhymin'-ware
                      Wi' ane anither.

    The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
    An' kirsen him wi' reekin' water;
    Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,
                      To cheer our heart;
    An' faith, we'se be acquainted better,
                      Before we part.

    Awa, ye selfish, warly race,
    Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace,
    Ev'n love an' 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.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The John Lapraik to whom these epistles are addressed lived at
Dalfram in the neighbourhood of Muirkirk, and was a rustic worshipper
of the Muse: he unluckily, however, involved himself in that Western
bubble, the Ayr Bank, and consoled himself by composing in his
distress that song which moved the heart of Burns, beginning

    "When I upon thy bosom lean."

He afterwards published a volume of verse, of a quality which proved
that the inspiration in his song of domestic sorrow was no settled
power of soul.]

_April 21st_, 1785.

    While new-ca'd ky, rowte at the stake,
    An' pownies reek in pleugh 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
                      Their ten hours' bite,
    My awkart muse sair pleads and begs,
                      I would na write.

    The tapetless ramfeezl'd hizzie,
    She's saft at best, and something lazy,
    Quo' she, "Ye ken, we've been sae busy,
                      This month' an' mair,
    That trouth, my head is grown right dizzie,
                      An' something sair."

    Her dowff excuses pat me mad:
    "Conscience," says I, "ye thowless jad!
    I'll write, an' 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 show your parts,
                      An' thank him kindly?"

    Sae I gat paper in a blink
    An' down gaed stumpie in the ink:
    Quoth I, "Before I sleep a wink,
                      I vow I'll close it;
    An' 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 an' carp,
    Tho' fortune use you hard an' sharp;
    Come, kittle up your moorland-harp
                      Wi' gleesome touch!
    Ne'er mind how fortune waft an' warp;
                      She's but a b--tch.

    She's gien me monie a jirt an' fleg,
    Sin' I could striddle owre a rig;
    But, by the L--d, tho' I should beg
                      Wi' lyart pow,
    I'll laugh, an' sing, an' shake my leg,
                      As lang's I dow!

    Now comes the sax an' 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?

    Or is't the paughty, feudal Thane,
    Wi' ruffl'd sark an' glancing cane,
    Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
                      But lordly stalks,
    While caps and bonnets aff are taen,
                      As by he walks!

    "O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
    Gie me o' wit an' sense a lift,
    Then turn me, if Thou please, adrift,
                      Thro' Scotland wide;
    Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
                      In a' their pride!"

    Were this the charter of our state,
    "On pain' o' hell be rich an' great,"
    Damnation then would be our fate,
                      Beyond remead;
    But, thanks to Heav'n, that's no the gate
                      We learn our creed.

    For thus the royal mandate ran,
    When first the human race began,
    "The social, friendly, honest man,
                      Whate'er he be,
    'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
                      An' none but he!"

    O mandate, glorious and divine!
    The followers o' the ragged Nine,
    Poor thoughtless devils! yet may shine
                      In glorious light,
    While sordid sons o' Mammon's line
                      Are dark as night.

    Tho' here they scrape, an' squeeze, an' growl,
    Their worthless nievfu' of a soul
    May in some future carcase howl
                      The forest's fright;
    Or in some day-detesting owl
                      May shun the light.

    Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,
    To reach their native kindred skies,
    And sing their pleasures, hopes, an' joys,
                      In some mild sphere,
    Still closer knit in friendship's ties
                      Each passing year!

       *       *       *       *       *





[I have heard one of our most distinguished English poets recite with
a sort of ecstasy some of the verses of these epistles, and praise the
ease of the language and the happiness of the thoughts. He averred,
however, that the poet, when pinched for a word, hesitated not to coin
one, and instanced, "tapetless," "ramfeezled," and "forjesket," as
intrusions in our dialect. These words seem indeed, to some Scotchmen,
strange and uncouth, but they are true words of the west.]

_Sept._ 13th, 1785.

    Guid speed an' furder to you, Johnny,
    Guid health, hale han's, an' weather bonny;
    Now when ye're nickan down fu' canny
                      The staff o' bread,
    May ye ne'er want a stoup o' bran'y
                      To clear your head.

    May Boreas never thresh your rigs,
    Nor kick your rickles aff their legs,
    Sendin' the stuff o'er muirs an' haggs
                      Like drivin' wrack;
    But may the tapmast grain that wags
                      Come to the sack.

    I'm bizzie too, an' skelpin' at it,
    But bitter, daudin' showers hae wat it,
    Sae my auld stumpie pen I gat it
                      Wi' muckle wark,
    An' took my jocteleg an' whatt it,
                      Like ony clark.

    It's now twa month that I'm your debtor
    For your braw, nameless, dateless letter,
    Abusin' me for harsh ill nature
                      On holy men,
    While deil a hair yoursel' ye're better,
                      But mair profane.

    But let the kirk-folk ring their bells,
    Let's sing about our noble sel's;
    We'll cry nae jads frae heathen hills
                      To help, or roose us,
    But browster wives an' whiskey stills,
                      They are the muses.

    Your friendship, Sir, I winna quat it
    An' if ye mak' objections at it,
    Then han' in nieve some day we'll knot it,
                      An' witness take,
    An' when wi' Usquabae we've wat it
                      It winna break.

    But if the beast and branks be spar'd
    Till kye be gaun without the herd,
    An' a' the vittel in the yard,
                      An' theekit right,
    I mean your ingle-side to guard
                      Ae winter night.

    Then muse-inspirin' aqua-vitæ
    Shall make us baith sae blythe an' witty,
    Till ye forget ye're auld an' gatty,
                      An' be as canty,
    As ye were nine year less than thretty,
                      Sweet ane an' twenty!

    But stooks are cowpet wi' the blast,
    An' now the sin keeks in the west,
    Then I maun rin amang the rest
                      An' quat my chanter;
    Sae I subscribe myself in haste,
                      Yours, Rab the Ranter.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The person to whom this epistle is addressed, was schoolmaster of
Ochiltree, and afterwards of New Lanark: he was a writer of verses
too, like many more of the poet's comrades;--of verses which rose not
above the barren level of mediocrity: "one of his poems," says
Chambers, "was a laughable elegy on the death of the Emperor Paul." In
his verses to Burns, under the name of a Tailor, there is nothing to
laugh at, though they are intended to be laughable as well as

_May, 1785._

    I gat your letter, winsome Willie;
    Wi' gratefu' heart I thank you brawlie;
    Tho' I maun say't, I wad be silly,
                      An' unco vain,
    Should I believe, my coaxin' billie,
                      Your flatterin' strain.

    But I'se believe ye kindly meant it,
    I sud be laith to think ye hinted
    Ironic satire, sidelins sklented
                      On my poor Musie;
    Tho' in sic phraisin' terms ye've penn'd it,
                      I scarce 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;
    Or Fergusson, the writer chiel,
                      A deathless name.

    (O Fergusson! thy glorious parts
    Ill suited law's dry, musty arts!
    My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
                      Ye Enbrugh gentry!
    The tythe o' what ye waste at cartes
                      Wad stow'd his pantry!)

    Yet when a tale comes i' my head,
    Or lasses gie my heart a screed,
    As whiles they're like to be my dead
                      (O sad disease!)
    I kittle up my rustic reed,
                      It gies me ease.

    Auld Coila, now, may fidge fu' fain,
    She's gotten poets o' her ain,
    Chiels wha their chanters winna hain,
                      But tune their lays,
    Till echoes a' resound again
                      Her weel-sung praise.

    Nae poet thought her worth his while,
    To set her name in measur'd stile;
    She lay like some unkenn'd-of isle
                      Beside New-Holland,
    Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
                      Besouth Magellan.

    Ramsay an' famous Fergusson
    Gied Forth and Tay a lift aboon;
    Yarrow an' Tweed, to monie a tune,
                      Owre Scotland rings,
    While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an' Doon,
                      Nae body sings.

    Th' Ilissus, Tiber, Thames, an' Seine,
    Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line!
    But, Willie, set your fit to mine,
                      An' cock your crest,
    We'll gar our streams an' burnies shine
                      Up wi' the best.

    We'll sing auld Coila's plains an' fells,
    Her moor's red-brown wi' heather bells,
    Her banks an' braes, her dens an' dells,
                      Where glorious Wallace
    Aft bure the gree, as story tells,
                      Frae southron billies.

    At Wallace' name, what Scottish blood
    But boils up in a spring-tide flood!
    Oft have our fearless fathers strode
                      By Wallace' side,
    Still pressing onward, red-wat shod,
                      Or glorious dy'd.

    O sweet are Coila's haughs an' woods,
    When lintwhites chant amang the buds,
    And jinkin' hares, in amorous whids
                      Their loves enjoy,
    While thro' the braes the cushat croods
                      With wailfu' cry!

    Ev'n winter bleak has charms to me
    When winds rave thro' the naked tree;
    Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
                      Are hoary gray:
    Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee,
                      Dark'ning the day.

    O Nature! a' thy shews an' forms
    To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!
    Whether the summer kindly warms,
                      Wi' life an' light,
    Or winter howls, in gusty storms,
                      The lang, dark night!

    The muse, nae Poet ever fand her,
    'Till by himsel' he learn'd to wander,
    Adown some trotting burn's meander,
                      An' no think lang;
    O sweet, to stray an' pensive ponder
                      A heart-felt sang!

    The warly race may drudge an' drive,
    Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch an' strive,
    Let me fair Nature's face descrive,
                      And I, wi' pleasure,
    Shall let the busy, grumbling hive
                      Bum owre their treasure.

    Fareweel, my "rhyme-composing brither!"
    We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither:
    Now let us lay our heads thegither,
                      In love fraternal;
    May envy wallop in a tether,
                      Black fiend, infernal!

    While Highlandmen hate tolls an' taxes;
    While moorlan' herds like guid fat braxies;
    While terra firma, on her axes
                      Diurnal turns,
    Count on a friend, in faith an' practice,
                      In Robert Burns.


    My memory's no worth a preen:
    I had amaist forgotten clean,
    Ye bade me write you what they mean,
                      By this New Light,
    'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been,
                      Maist like to fight.

    In days when mankind were but callans,
    At grammar, logic, an' sic talents,
    They took nae pains their speech to balance,
                      Or rules to gie,
    But spak their thoughts in plain, braid Lallans,
                      Like you or me.

    In thae auld times, they thought the moon,
    Just like a sark, or pair o' shoon,
    Wore by degrees, 'till her last roon,
                      Gaed past their viewing,
    An' shortly after she was done,
                      They gat a new one.

    This past for certain--undisputed;
    It ne'er cam i' their heads to doubt it,
    'Till chiels gat up an' wad confute it,
                      An' ca'd it wrang;
    An' muckle din there was about it,
                      Baith loud an' lang.

    Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk,
    Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk;
    For 'twas the auld moon turned a neuk,
                      An' out o' sight,
    An' backlins-comin', to the leuk,
                      She grew mair bright.

    This was deny'd, it was affirm'd;
    The herds an' hissels were alarm'd:
    The rev'rend gray-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 an' aiths to clours an' nicks,
    An' monie a fallow gat his licks,
                      Wi' hearty crunt;
    An' some, to learn them for their tricks,
                      Were hang'd an' brunt.

    This game was play'd in monie lands,
    An' Auld Light caddies bure sic hands,
    That, faith, the youngsters took the sands
                      Wi' nimble shanks,
    'Till lairds forbade, by strict commands,
                      Sic bluidy pranks.

    But New Light herds gat sic a cowe,
    Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an'-stowe,
    Till now amaist on every knowe,
                      Ye'll find ane plac'd;
    An' some their New Light fair avow,
                      Just quite barefac'd.

    Nae doubt the Auld Light flocks are bleatin';
    Their zealous herds are vex'd an' sweatin':
    Mysel', I've even seen them greetin'
                      Wi' girnin' spite,
    To hear the moon sae sadly lie'd on
                      By word an' write.

    But shortly they will cowe the loons;
    Some Auld Light herds in neibor towns
    Are mind't in things they ca' balloons,
                      To tak a flight,
    An' stay ae month amang the moons
                      And see them right.

    Guid observation they will gie them:
    An' when the auld moon's gaun to lea'e them,
    The hindmost shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them,
                      Just i' their pouch,
    An' when the New Light billies see them,
                      I think they'll crouch!

    Sae, ye observe that a' this clatter
    Is naething but a "moonshine matter;"
    But tho' dull prose-folk Latin splatter
                      In logic tulzie,
    I hope we bardies ken some better
                      Than mind sic brulzie.

       *       *       *       *       *





[This hasty and not very decorous effusion, was originally entitled
"The Poet's Welcome; or, Rab the Rhymer's Address to his Bastard
Child." A copy, with the more softened, but less expressive title, was
published by Stewart, in 1801, and is alluded to by Burns himself, in
his biographical letter to Moore. "Bonnie Betty," the mother of the
"sonsie-smirking, dear-bought Bess," of the Inventory, lived in
Largieside: to support this daughter the poet made over the copyright
of his works when he proposed to go to the West Indies. She lived to
be a woman, and to marry one John Bishop, overseer at Polkemmet, where
she died in 1817. It is said she resembled Burns quite as much as any
of the rest of his children.]

    Thou's welcome, wean, mischanter fa' me,
    If ought of thee, or of thy mammy,
    Shall ever daunton me, or awe me,
                      My sweet wee lady,
    Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me
                      Tit-ta or daddy.

    Wee image of my bonny Betty,
    I, fatherly, will kiss and daut thee,
    As dear and near my heart I set thee
                      Wi' as gude will
    As a' the priests had seen me get thee
                      That's out o' hell.

    What tho' they ca' me fornicator,
    An' tease my name in kintry clatter:
    The mair they talk I'm kent the better,
                      E'en let them clash;
    An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter
                      To gie ane fash.

    Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
    My funny toil is now a' tint,
    Sin' thou came to the warl asklent,
                      Which fools may scoff at;
    In my last plack thy part's be in't
                      The better ha'f o't.

    An' if thou be what I wad hae thee,
    An' tak the counsel I sall gie thee,
    A lovin' father I'll be to thee,
                      If thou be spar'd;
    Thro' a' thy childish years I'll e'e thee,
                      An' think't weel war'd.

    Gude grant that thou may ay inherit
    Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit,
    An' thy poor worthless daddy's spirit,
                      Without his failins;
    'Twill please me mair to hear an' see it
                      Than stocket mailens.

       *       *       *       *       *




    "Great nature spoke, observant man obey'd."

[This Poem was written by Burns at Mossgiel, and "humbly inscribed to
Gavin Hamilton, Esq." It is supposed to allude to his intercourse with
Jean Armour, with the circumstances of which he seems to have made
many of his comrades acquainted. These verses were well known to many
of the admirers of the poet, but they remained in manuscript till
given to the world by Sir Harris Nicolas, in Pickering's Aldine
Edition of the British Poets.]

    Let other heroes boast their scars,
      The marks of sturt and strife;
    And other poets sing of wars,
      The plagues of human life;
    Shame fa' the fun; wi' sword and gun
      To slap mankind like lumber!
    I sing his name, and nobler fame,
      Wha multiplies our number.

    Great Nature spoke with air benign,
      "Go on, ye human race!
    This lower world I you resign;
      Be fruitful and increase.
    The liquid fire of strong desire
      I've pour'd it in each bosom;
    Here, in this hand, does mankind stand,
      And there, is beauty's blossom."

    The hero of these artless strains,
      A lowly bard was he,
    Who sung his rhymes in Coila's plains
      With meikle mirth an' glee;
    Kind Nature's care had given his share,
      Large, of the flaming current;
    And all devout, he never sought
      To stem the sacred torrent.

    He felt the powerful, high behest,
      Thrill vital through and through;
    And sought a correspondent breast,
      To give obedience due:
    Propitious Powers screen'd the young flowers,
      From mildews of abortion;
    And lo! the bard, a great reward,
      Has got a double portion!

    Auld cantie Coil may count the day,
      As annual it returns,
    The third of Libra's equal sway,
      That gave another B[urns],
    With future rhymes, an' other times,
      To emulate his sire;
    To sing auld Coil in nobler style,
      With more poetic fire.

    Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,
      Look down with gracious eyes;
    And bless auld Coila, large and long,
      With multiplying joys:
    Lang may she stand to prop the land,
      The flow'r of ancient nations;
    And B[urns's] spring, her fame to sing,
      Thro' endless generations!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Poor M'Math was at the period of this epistle assistant to Wodrow,
minister of Tarbolton: he was a good preacher, a moderate man in
matters of discipline, and an intimate of the Coilsfield Montgomerys.
His dependent condition depressed his spirits: he grew dissipated; and
finally, it is said, enlisted as a common soldier, and died in a
foreign land.]

_Sept. 17th, 1785._

    While at the stook the shearers cow'r
    To shun the bitter blaudin' show'r,
    Or in gulravage rinnin' scow'r
                      To pass the time,
    To you I dedicate the hour
                      In idle rhyme.

    My musie, tir'd wi' mony a sonnet
    On gown, an' ban', and douse black bonnet,
    Is grown right eerie now she's done it,
                      Lest they should blame her,
    An' rouse their holy thunder on it
                      And anathem her.

    I own 'twas rash, an' rather hardy,
    That I, a simple countra bardie,
    Shou'd meddle wi' a pack sae sturdy,
                      Wha, if they ken me,
    Can easy, wi' a single wordie,
                      Lowse hell upon me.

    But I gae mad at their grimaces,
    Their sighin' cantin' grace-proud faces,
    Their three-mile prayers, and hauf-mile graces,
                      Their raxin' conscience,
    Whase greed, revenge, an' pride disgraces,
                      Waur nor their nonsense.

    There's Gaun,[45] miska't waur than a beast,
    Wha has mair honour in his breast
    Than mony scores as guid's the priest
                      Wha sae abus't him.
    An' may a bard no crack his jest
                      What way they've use't him.

    See him, the poor man's friend in need,
    The gentleman in word an' deed,
    An' shall his fame an' honour bleed
                      By worthless skellums,
    An' not a muse erect her head
                      To cowe the blellums?

    O Pope, had I thy satire's darts
    To gie the rascals their deserts,
    I'd rip their rotten, hollow hearts,
                      An' tell aloud
    Their jugglin' hocus-pocus arts
                      To cheat the crowd.

    God knows, I'm no the thing I shou'd be,
    Nor am I even the thing I cou'd be,
    But twenty times, I rather wou'd be
                      An atheist clean,
    Than under gospel colours hid be
                      Just for a screen.

    An honest man may like a glass,
    An honest man may like a lass,
    But mean revenge, an' malice fause
                      He'll still disdain,
    An' then cry zeal for gospel laws,
                      Like some we ken.

    They take religion in their mouth;
    They talk o' mercy, grace, an' truth,
    For what?--to gie their malice skouth
                      On some puir wight,
    An' hunt him down, o'er right, an' ruth,
                      To ruin straight.

    All hail, Religion! maid divine!
    Pardon a muse sae mean as mine,
    Who in her rough imperfect line,
                      Thus daurs to name thee;
    To stigmatize false friends of thine
                      Can ne'er defame thee.

    Tho' blotch'd an' foul wi' mony a stain,
    An' far unworthy of thy train,
    With trembling voice I tune my strain
                      To join with those,
    Who boldly daur thy cause maintain
                      In spite o' foes:

    In spite o' crowds, in spite o' mobs,
    In spite of undermining jobs,
    In spite o' dark banditti stabs
                      At worth an' merit,
    By scoundrels, even wi' holy robes,
                      But hellish spirit.

    O Ayr! my dear, my native ground,
    Within thy presbyterial bound
    A candid lib'ral band is found
                      Of public teachers,
    As men, as Christians too, renown'd,
                      An' manly preachers.

    Sir, in that circle you are nam'd;
    Sir, in that circle you are fam'd;
    An' some, by whom your doctrine's blam'd,
                      (Which gies you honour,)
    Even Sir, by them your heart's esteem'd,
                      An' winning manner.

    Pardon this freedom I have ta'en,
    An' if impertinent I've been,
    Impute it not, good Sir, in ane
                      Whase heart ne'er wrang'd ye,
    But to his utmost would befriend
                      Ought that belang'd ye.


[Footnote 45: Gavin Hamilton, Esq.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[This beautiful poem was imagined while the poet was holding the
plough, on the farm of Mossgiel: the field is still pointed out: and a
man called Blane is still living, who says he was gaudsman to the bard
at the time, and chased the mouse with the plough-pettle, for which he
was rebuked by his young master, who inquired what harm the poor mouse
had done him. In the night that followed, Burns awoke his gaudsman,
who was in the same bed with him, recited the poem as it now stands,
and said, "What think you of our mouse now?"]

    Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
    O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
                      Wi' bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
                      Wi' murd'ring pattle!

    I'm truly sorry man's dominion
    Has broken nature's social union,
    An' justifies that ill opinion,
                      Which makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
                      An' fellow-mortal!

    I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
    What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
    A daimen icker in a thrave
                      'S a sma' request:
    I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave,
                      And never miss't!

    Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin;
    Its silly wa's the win's are strewin'!
    An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
                      O' foggage green!
    An' bleak December's winds ensuin',
                      Baith snell and keen!

    Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
    An' weary winter comin' fast,
    An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
                      Thou thought to dwell,
    'Till, crash! the cruel coulter past
                      Out thro' thy cell.

    That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
    Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
    Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
                      But house or hald,
    To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
                      An' cranreuch cauld!

    But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes o' mice an' men,
                      Gang aft a-gley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief and pain,
                      For promis'd joy.

    Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But, Och! I backward cast my e'e,
                      On prospects drear!
    An' forward, tho' I canna see,
                      I guess an' fear.

       *       *       *       *       *



    "Gie him strong drink, until he wink,
      That's sinking in despair;
    An' liquor guid to fire his bluid,
      That's prest wi' grief an' care;
    There let him bouse, an' deep carouse,
      Wi' bumpers flowing o'er,
    Till he forgets his loves or debts,
      An' minds his griefs no more."

SOLOMON'S PROVERB, xxxi. 6, 7.

["I here enclose you," said Burns, 20 March, 1786, to his friend
Kennedy, "my Scotch Drink; I hope some time before we hear the gowk,
to have the pleasure of seeing you at Kilmarnock: when I intend we
shall have a gill between us, in a mutchkin stoup."]

    Let other poets raise a fracas
    'Bout vines, an' wines, an' dru'ken Bacchus,
    An' crabbit names and stories wrack us,
                      An' grate our lug,
    I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
                      In glass or jug.

    O, thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch drink;
    Whether thro' wimplin' worms thou jink,
    Or, richly brown, ream o'er the brink,
                      In glorious faem,
    Inspire me, till I lisp an' wink,
                      To sing thy name!

    Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
    An' aits set up their awnie horn,
    An' pease an' beans, at e'en or morn,
                      Perfume the plain,
    Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
                      Thou king o' grain!

    On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
    In souple scones, the wale o' food!
    Or tumblin' in the boilin' flood
                      Wi' kail an' beef;
    But when thou pours thy strong heart's blood,
                      There thou shines chief.

    Food fills the wame an' keeps us livin';
    Tho' life's a gift no worth receivin'
    When heavy dragg'd wi' pine an' grievin';
                      But, oil'd by thee,
    The wheels o' life gae down-hill, scrievin,'
                      Wi' rattlin' glee.

    Thou clears the head o' doited Lear;
    Thou cheers the heart o' drooping Care;
    Thou strings the nerves o' Labour sair,
                      At's weary toil;
    Thou even brightens dark Despair
                      Wi' gloomy smile.

    Aft, clad in massy, siller weed,
    Wi' gentles thou erects thy head;
    Yet humbly kind in time o' need,
                      The poor man's wine,
    His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
                      Thou kitchens fine.

    Thou art the life o' public haunts;
    But thee, what were our fairs an' rants?
    Ev'n godly meetings o' the saunts,
                      By thee inspir'd,
    When gaping they besiege the tents,
                      Are doubly fir'd.

    That merry night we get the corn in,
    O sweetly then thou reams the horn in!
    Or reekin' on a new-year morning
                      In cog or dicker,
    An' just a wee drap sp'ritual burn in,
                      An' gusty sucker!

    When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
    An' ploughmen gather wi' their graith,
    O rare! to see thee fizz an' freath
                      I' th' lugget caup!
    Then Burnewin comes on like Death
                      At ev'ry chap.

    Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel;
    The brawnie, bainie, ploughman chiel,
    Brings hard owrehip, wi' sturdy wheel,
                      The strong forehammer,
    Till block an' studdie ring an' reel
                      Wi' dinsome clamour.

    When skirlin' weanies see the light,
    Thou maks the gossips clatter bright,
    How fumblin' cuifs their dearies slight;
                      Wae worth the name!
    Nae howdie gets a social night,
                      Or plack frae them.

    When neibors anger at a plea,
    An' just as wud as wud can be,
    How easy can the barley-bree
                      Cement the quarrel!
    It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
                      To taste the barrel.

    Alake! that e'er my muse has reason
    To wyte her countrymen wi' treason!
    But monie daily weet their weason
                      Wi' liquors nice,
    An' hardly, in a winter's season,
                      E'er spier her price.

    Wae worth that brandy, burning trash!
    Fell source o' monie a pain an' brash!
    Twins monie a poor, doylt, druken hash,
                      O' half his days;
    An' sends, beside, auld Scotland's cash
                      To her warst faes.

    Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well,
    Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
    Poor plackless devils like mysel',
                      It sets you ill,
    Wi' bitter, dearthfu' wines to mell,
                      Or foreign gill.

    May gravels round his blather wrench,
    An' gouts torment him inch by inch,
    Wha twists his gruntle wi' a glunch
                      O' sour disdain,
    Out owre a glass o' whiskey punch
                      Wi' honest men;

    O whiskey! soul o' plays an' pranks!
    Accept a Bardie's gratefu' thanks!
    When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
                      Are my poor verses!
    Thou comes--they rattle i' their ranks
                      At ither's a----s!

    Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
    Scotland lament frae coast to coast!
    Now colic grips, an' barkin' hoast,
                      May kill us a';
    For loyal Forbes' charter'd boast,
                      Is ta'en awa.

    Thae curst horse-leeches o' th' Excise,
    Wha mak the whiskey stells their prize!
    Haud up thy han', Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
                      There, seize the blinkers!
    An' bake them up in brunstane pies
                      For poor d--n'd drinkers.

    Fortune! if thou'll but gie me still
    Hale breeks, a scone, an' whiskey gill,
    An' rowth o' rhyme to rave at will,
                      Tak' a' the rest,
    An' deal't about as thy blind skill
                      Directs thee best.

       *       *       *       *       *








    'Dearest of distillation! last and best!----
    ------How art thou lost!--------'


["This Poem was written," says Burns, "before the act anent the
Scottish distilleries, of session 1786, for which Scotland and the
author return their most grateful thanks." Before the passing of this
lenient act, so sharp was the law in the North, that some distillers
relinquished their trade; the price of barley was affected, and
Scotland, already exasperated at the refusal of a militia, for which
she was a petitioner, began to handle her claymore, and was perhaps
only hindered from drawing it by the act mentioned by the poet. In an
early copy of the poem, he thus alludes to Colonel Hugh Montgomery,
afterwards Earl of Eglinton:--

    "Thee, sodger Hugh, my watchman stented,
    If bardies e'er are represented,
    I ken if that yere sword were wanted
                      Ye'd lend yere hand;
    But when there's aught to say anent it
                      Yere at a stand."

The poet was not sure that Montgomery would think the compliment to
his ready hand an excuse in full for the allusion to his unready
tongue, and omitted the stanza.]

    Ye Irish lords, ye knights an' squires,
    Wha represent our brughs an' shires,
    An' doucely manage our affairs
                      In Parliament,
    To you a simple Bardie's prayers
                      Are humbly sent.

    Alas! my roupet Muse is hearse!
    Your honours' hearts wi' grief 'twad pierce,
    To see her sittin' on her a--e
                      Low i' the dust,
    An' scriechin' out prosaic verse,
                      An' like to brust!

    Tell them wha hae the chief direction,
    Scotland an' me's in great affliction,
    E'er sin' they laid that curst restriction
                      On aqua-vitæ;
    An' rouse them up to strong conviction,
                      An' move their pity.

    Stand forth, an' tell yon Premier youth,
    The honest, open, naked truth:
    Tell him o' mine an' Scotland's drouth,
                      His servants humble:
    The muckie devil blaw ye south,
                      If ye dissemble!

    Does ony great man glunch an' gloom?
    Speak out, an' never fash your thumb!
    Let posts an' pensions sink or soom
                      Wi' them wha grant 'em:
    If honestly they canna come,
                      Far better want 'em.

    In gath'rin votes you were na slack;
    Now stand as tightly by your tack;
    Ne'er claw your lug, an' fidge your back,
                      An' hum an' haw;
    But raise your arm, an' tell your crack
                      Before them a'.

    Paint Scotland greetin' owre her thrizzle,
    Her mutchkin stoup as toom's a whissle:
    An' damn'd excisemen in a bussle,
                      Seizin' a stell,
    Triumphant crushin't like a mussel
                      Or lampit shell.

    Then on the tither hand present her,
    A blackguard smuggler, right behint her,
    An' cheek-for-chow, a chuffie vintner,
                      Colleaguing join,
    Picking her pouch as bare as winter
                      Of a' kind coin.

    Is there, that bears the name o' Scot,
    But feels his heart's bluid rising hot,
    To see his poor auld mither's pot
                      Thus dung in staves,
    An' plunder'd o' her hindmost groat
                      By gallows knaves?

    Alas! I'm but a nameless wight,
    Trode i' the mire out o' sight!
    But could I like Montgomeries fight,
                      Or gab like Boswell,
    There's some sark-necks I wad draw tight,
                      An' tie some hose well.

    God bless your honours, can ye see't,
    The kind, auld, canty carlin greet,
    An' no get warmly on your feet,
                      An' gar them hear it!
    An' tell them with a patriot heat,
                      Ye winna bear it?

    Some o' you nicely ken the laws,
    To round the period an' pause,
    An' wi' rhetorie clause on clause
                      To mak harangues:
    Then echo thro' Saint Stephen's wa's
                      Auld Scotland's wrangs.

    Dempster, a true blue Scot I'se warran';
    Thee, aith-detesting, chaste Kilkerran;[46]
    An' that glib-gabbet Highland baron,
                      The Laird o' Graham;[47]
    An' ane, a chap that's damn'd auldfarren,
                      Dundas his name.

    Erskine, a spunkie Norland billie;
    True Campbells, Frederick an' Hay;
    An' Livingstone, the bauld Sir Willie:
                      An' monie ithers,
    Whom auld Demosthenes or Tully
                      Might own for brithers.

    Arouse, my boys! exert your mettle,
    To get auld Scotland back her kettle:
    Or faith! I'll wad my new pleugh-pettle,
                      Ye'll see't or lang,
    She'll teach you, wi' a reekin' whittle,
                      Anither sang.

    This while she's been in crankous mood,
    Her lost militia fir'd her bluid;
    (Deil na they never mair do guid,
                      Play'd her that pliskie!)
    An' now she's like to rin red-wud
                      About her whiskey.

    An' L--d, if once they pit her till't,
    Her tartan petticoat she'll kilt,
    An' durk an' pistol at her belt,
                      She'll tak the streets,
    An' rin her whittle to the hilt,
                      I' th' first she meets!

    For God sake, sirs, then speak her fair,
    An' straik her cannie wi' the hair,
    An' to the muckle house repair,
                      Wi' instant speed,
    An' strive, wi' a' your wit and lear,
                      To get remead.

    Yon ill-tongu'd tinkler, Charlie Fox,
    May taunt you wi' his jeers an' mocks;
    But gie him't het, my hearty cocks!
                      E'en cowe the cadie!
    An' send him to his dicing box,
                      An' sportin' lady.

    Tell yon guid bluid o' auld Boconnock's
    I'll be his debt twa mashlum bonnocks,
    An' drink his health in auld Nanse Tinnock's[48]
                      Nine times a-week,
    If he some scheme, like tea an' winnocks,
                      Wad kindly seek.

    Could he some commutation broach,
    I'll pledge my aith in guid braid Scotch,
    He need na fear their foul reproach
                      Nor erudition,
    Yon mixtie-maxtie queer hotch-potch,
                      The Coalition.

    Auld Scotland has a raucle tongue;
    She's just a devil wi' a rung;
    An' if she promise auld or young
                      To tak their part,
    Tho' by the neck she should be strung,
                      She'll no desert.

    An' now, ye chosen Five-and-Forty,
    May still your mither's heart support ye,
    Then, though a minister grow dorty,
                      An' kick your place,
    Ye'll snap your fingers, poor an' hearty,
                      Before his face.

    God bless your honours a' your days,
    Wi' sowps o' kail and brats o' claise,
    In spite o' a' the thievish kaes,
                      That haunt St. Jamie's:
    Your humble Poet signs an' prays
                      While Rab his name is.


    Let half-starv'd slaves in warmer skies
    See future wines, rich clust'ring, rise;
    Their lot auld Scotland ne'er envies,
                      But blythe and frisky,
    She eyes her freeborn, martial boys,
                      Tak aff their whiskey.

    What tho' their Phoebus kinder warms,
    While fragrance blooms and beauty charms!
    When wretches range, in famish'd swarms,
                      The scented groves,
    Or hounded forth, dishonour arms
                      In hungry droves.

    Their gun's a burden on their shouther;
    They downa bide the stink o' powther;
    Their bauldest thought's a' hank'ring swither
                      To stan' or rin,
    Till skelp--a shot--they're aff, a' throther
                      To save their skin.

    But bring a Scotsman frae his hill,
    Clap in his check a Highland gill,
    Say, such is royal George's will,
                      An' there's the foe,
    He has nae thought but how to kill
                      Twa at a blow.

    Nae could faint-hearted doubtings tease him;
    Death comes, wi' fearless eye he sees him;
    Wi' bluidy han' a welcome gies him;
                      An' when he fa's,
    His latest draught o' breathin' lea'es him
                      In faint huzzas!

    Sages their solemn een may steek,
    An' raise a philosophic reek,
    An' physically causes seek,
                      In clime an' season;
    But tell me whiskey's name in Greek,
                      I'll tell the reason.

    Scotland, my auld, respected mither!
    Tho' whiles ye moistify your leather,
    Till whare ye sit, on craps o' heather
                      Ye tine your dam;
    Freedom and whiskey gang thegither!--
                      Tak aff your dram!


[Footnote 46: Sir Adam Ferguson.]

[Footnote 47: The Duke of Montrose.]

[Footnote 48: A worthy old hostess of the author's in Mauchline, where
he sometimes studies politics over a glass of guid auld Scotch drink.]

       *       *       *       *       *





    "My son, these maxims make a rule,
      And lump them ay thegither;
    The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
      The Rigid Wise anither:
    The cleanest corn that e'er was dight
      May hae some pyles o' caff in;
    So ne'er a fellow-creature slight
      For random fits o' daffin."

SOLOMON.--Eccles. ch. vii. ver. 16.

["Burns," says Hogg, in a note on this Poem, "has written more from
his own heart and his own feelings than any other poet. External
nature had few charms for him; the sublime shades and hues of heaven
and earth never excited his enthusiasm: but with the secret fountains
of passion in the human soul he was well acquainted." Burns, indeed,
was not what is called a descriptive poet: yet with what exquisite
snatches of description are some of his poems adorned, and in what
fragrant and romantic scenes he enshrines the heroes and heroines of
many of his finest songs! Who the high, exalted, virtuous dames were,
to whom the Poem refers, we are not told. How much men stand indebted
to want of opportunity to sin, and how much of their good name they
owe to the ignorance of the world, were inquiries in which the poet
found pleasure.]


    O ye wha are sae guid yoursel',
      Sae pious and sae holy,
    Ye've nought to do but mark and tell
      Your neibor's fauts and folly!
    Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
      Supply'd wi' store o' water,
    The heaped happer's ebbing still,
      And still the clap plays clatter.


    Hear me, ye venerable core,
      As counsel for poor mortals,
    That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door
      For glaikit Folly's portals;
    I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
      Would here propone defences,
    Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
      Their failings and mischances.


    Ye see your state wi' theirs compar'd,
      And shudder at the niffer,
    But cast a moment's fair regard,
      What maks the mighty differ?
    Discount what scant occasion gave,
      That purity ye pride in,
    And (what's aft mair than a' the lave)
      Your better art o' hiding.


    Think, when your castigated pulse
      Gies now and then a wallop,
    What ragings must his veins convulse,
      That still eternal gallop:
    Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail,
      Right on ye scud your sea-way;
    But in the teeth o' baith to sail,
      It makes an unco lee-way.


    See social life and glee sit down,
      All joyous and unthinking,
    'Till, quite transmugrify'd, they're grown
    Debauchery and drinking;
    O would they stay to calculate
      Th' eternal consequences;
    Or your more dreaded hell to state,
    D--mnation of expenses!


    Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
      Ty'd up in godly laces,
    Before ye gie poor frailty names,
      Suppose a change o' cases;
    A dear lov'd lad, convenience snug,
      A treacherous inclination--
    But, let me whisper, i' your lug,
      Ye're aiblins nae temptation.


    Then gently scan your brother man,
      Still gentler sister woman;
    Though they may gang a kennin' wrang,
      To step aside is human:
    One point must still be greatly dark,
      The moving why they do it:
    And just as lamely can ye mark,
      How far perhaps they rue it.


    Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
      Decidedly can try us,
    He knows each chord--its various tone,
      Each spring--its various bias:
    Then at the balance let's be mute,
      We never can adjust it;
    What's done we partly may compute,
      But know not what's resisted.

       *       *       *       *       *



    "An honest man's the noblest work of God."


[Tam Samson was a west country seedsman and sportsman, who loved a
good song, a social glass, and relished a shot so well that he
expressed a wish to die and be buried in the moors. On this hint Burns
wrote the Elegy: when Tam heard o' this he waited on the poet, caused
him to recite it, and expressed displeasure at being numbered with the
dead: the author, whose wit was as ready as his rhymes, added the Per
Contra in a moment, much to the delight of his friend. At his death
the four lines of Epitaph were cut on his gravestone. "This poem has
always," says Hogg, "been a great country favourite: it abounds with
happy expressions.

    'In vain the burns cam' down like waters,
                              An acre braid.'

What a picture of a flooded burn! any other poet would have given us a
long description: Burns dashes it down at once in a style so graphic
no one can mistake it.

    'Perhaps upon his mouldering breast
    Some spitefu' moorfowl bigs her nest.'

Match that sentence who can."]

    Has auld Kilmarnock seen the deil?
    Or great M'Kinlay[50] thrawn his heel?
    Or Robinson[51] again grown weel,
                      To preach an' read?
    "Na, waur than a'!" cries ilka chiel,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    Kilmarnock lang may grunt an' grane,
    An' sigh, an' sob, an' greet her lane,
    An' cleed her bairns, man, wife, an wean,
                      In mourning weed;
    To death, she's dearly paid the kane,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    The brethren o' the mystic level
    May hing their head in woefu' bevel,
    While by their nose the tears will revel,
                      Like ony bead;
    Death's gien the lodge an unco devel,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    When Winter muffles up his cloak,
    And binds the mire like a rock;
    When to the lochs the curlers flock,
                      Wi' gleesome speed,
    Wha will they station at the cock?
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    He was the king o' a' the core,
    To guard or draw, or wick a bore,
    Or up the rink like Jehu roar
                      In time o' need;
    But now he lags on death's hog-score,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    Now safe the stately sawmont sail,
    And trouts be-dropp'd wi' crimson hail,
    And eels weel ken'd for souple tail,
                      And geds for greed,
    Since dark in death's fish-creel we wail
                      Tam Samson dead.

    Rejoice, ye birring patricks a';
    Ye cootie moor-cocks, crousely craw;
    Ye maukins, cock your fud fu' braw,
                      Withouten dread;
    Your mortal fae is now awa'--
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    That woefu' morn be ever mourn'd
    Saw him in shootin' graith adorn'd,
    While pointers round impatient burn'd,
                      Frae couples freed;
    But, Och! he gaed and ne'er return'd!
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    In vain auld age his body batters;
    In vain the gout his ancles fetters;
    In vain the burns cam' down like waters,
                      An acre braid!
    Now ev'ry auld wife, greetin', clatters,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    Owre many a weary hag he limpit,
    An' ay the tither shot he thumpit,
    Till coward death behind him jumpit,
                      Wi' deadly feide;
    Now he proclaims, wi' tout o' trumpet,
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    When at his heart he felt the dagger,
    He reel'd his wonted bottle swagger,
    But yet he drew the mortal trigger
                      Wi' weel-aim'd heed;
    "L--d, five!" he cry'd, an' owre did stagger;
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    Ilk hoary hunter mourn'd a brither;
    Ilk sportsman youth bemoan'd a father;
    Yon auld grey stane, amang the heather,
                      Marks out his head,
    Whare Burns has wrote in rhyming blether
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    There low he lies, in lasting rest;
    Perhaps upon his mould'ring breast
    Some spitefu' muirfowl bigs her nest,
                      To hatch an' breed;
    Alas! nae mair he'll them molest!
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    When August winds the heather wave,
    And sportsmen wander by yon grave,
    Three volleys let his mem'ry crave
                      O' pouther an' lead,
    'Till echo answer frae her cave
                      Tam Samson's dead!

    Heav'n rest his soul, whare'er he be!
    Is th' wish o' mony mae than me;
    He had twa fauts, or may be three,
                      Yet what remead?
    Ae social, honest man want we:
                      Tam Samson's dead!

       *       *       *       *       *


    Tam Samson's weel-worn clay here lies,
      Ye canting zealots spare him!
    If honest worth in heaven rise,
      Ye'll mend or ye win near him.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Go, Fame, an' canter like a filly
    Thro' a' the streets an' neuks o' Killie,
    Tell ev'ry social honest billie
                      To cease his grievin',
    For yet, unskaith'd by death's gleg gullie,
                      Tam Samson's livin'.


[Footnote 49: When this worthy old sportsman went out last muirfowl
season, he supposed it was to be, in Ossian's phrase, "the last of his

[Footnote 50: A preacher, a great favourite with the million. _Vide_
the Ordination, stanza II]

[Footnote 51: Another preacher, an equal favourite with the few, who
was at that time ailing. For him see also the Ordination, stanza IX.]

       *       *       *       *       *






    "Alas! how oft does goodness wound itself!
    And sweet affection prove the spring of woe."


[The hero and heroine of this little mournful poem, were Robert Burns
and Jean Armour. "This was a most melancholy affair," says the poet in
his letter to Moore, "which I cannot yet bear to reflect on, and had
very nearly given me one or two of the principal qualifications for a
place among those who have lost the chart and mistaken the reckoning
of rationality." Hogg and Motherwell, with an ignorance which is
easier to laugh at than account for, say this Poem was "written on the
occasion of Alexander Cunningham's darling sweetheart alighting him
and marrying another:--she acted a wise part." With what care they had
read the great poet whom they jointly edited in is needless to say:
and how they could read the last two lines of the third verse and
commend the lady's wisdom for slighting her lover, seems a problem
which defies definition. This mistake was pointed out by a friend, and
corrected in a second issue of the volume.]


    O thou pale orb, that silent shines,
      While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
    Thou seest a wretch who inly pines,
      And wanders here to wail and weep!
    With woe I nightly vigils keep,
      Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam,
    And mourn, in lamentation deep,
      How life and love are all a dream.


    A joyless view thy rays adorn
      The faintly marked distant hill:
    I joyless view thy trembling horn,
      Reflected in the gurgling rill:
    My fondly-fluttering heart, be still:
      Thou busy pow'r, Remembrance, cease!
    Ah! must the agonizing thrill
      For ever bar returning peace!


    No idly-feign'd poetic pains,
      My sad, love-lorn lamentings claim;
    No shepherd's pipe--Arcadian strains;
      No fabled tortures, quaint and tame:
    The plighted faith; the mutual flame;
      The oft-attested Pow'rs above;
    The promis'd father's tender name;
      These were the pledges of my love!


    Encircled in her clasping arms,
      How have the raptur'd moments flown!
    How have I wish'd for fortune's charms,
      For her dear sake, and hers alone!
    And must I think it!--is she gone,
      My secret heart's exulting boast?
    And does she heedless hear my groan?
      And is she ever, ever lost?


    Oh! can she bear so base a heart,
      So lost to honour, lost to truth,
    As from the fondest lover part,
      The plighted husband of her youth!
    Alas! life's path may be unsmooth!
      Her way may lie thro' rough distress!
    Then, who her pangs and pains will soothe,
      Her sorrows share, and make them less?


    Ye winged hours that o'er us past,
      Enraptur'd more, the more enjoy'd,
    Your dear remembrance in my breast,
      My fondly-treasur'd thoughts employ'd,
    That breast, how dreary now, and void,
      For her too scanty once of room!
    Ev'n ev'ry ray of hope destroy'd,
      And not a wish to gild the gloom!


    The morn that warns th' approaching day,
      Awakes me up to toil and woe:
    I see the hours in long array,
      That I must suffer, lingering slow.
    Full many a pang, and many a throe,
      Keen recollection's direful train,
    Must wring my soul, ere Phoebus, low,
      Shall kiss the distant, western main.


    And when my nightly couch I try,
      Sore-harass'd out with care and grief,
    My toil-beat nerves, and tear-worn eye,
      Keep watchings with the nightly thief:
    Or if I slumber, fancy, chief,
      Reigns haggard-wild, in sore affright:
    Ev'n day, all-bitter, brings relief,
      From such a horror-breathing night.


    O! thou bright queen, who o'er th' expanse
      Now highest reign'st, with boundless sway!
    Oft has thy silent-marking glance
      Observ'd us, fondly-wand'ring, stray!
    The time, unheeded, sped away,
      While love's luxurious pulse beat high,
    Beneath thy silver-gleaming ray,
      To mark the mutual kindling eye.


    Oh! scenes in strong remembrance set!
      Scenes never, never to return!
    Scenes, if in stupor I forget,
      Again I feel, again I burn!
    From ev'ry joy and pleasure torn,
      Life's weary vale I'll wander thro';
    And hopeless, comfortless, I'll mourn
      A faithless woman's broken vow.

       *       *       *       *       *




["I think," said Burns, "it is one of the greatest pleasures attending
a poetic genius, that we can give our woes, cares, joys, and loves an
embodied form in verse, which to me is ever immediate ease." He
elsewhere says, "My passions raged like so many devils till they got
vent in rhyme." That eminent painter, Fuseli, on seeing his wife in a
passion, said composedly, "Swear my love, swear heartily: you know not
how much it will ease you!" This poem was printed in the Kilmarnock
edition, and gives a true picture of those bitter moments experienced
by the bard, when love and fortune alike deceived him.]


    Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
    A burden more than I can bear,
      I set me down and sigh:
    O life! thou art a galling load,
    Along a rough, a weary road,
      To wretches such as I!
    Dim-backward as I cast my view,
      What sick'ning scenes appear!
    What sorrows yet may pierce me thro'
      Too justly I may fear!
        Still caring, despairing,
          Must be my bitter doom;
        My woes here shall close ne'er
          But with the closing tomb!


    Happy, ye sons of busy life,
    Who, equal to the bustling strife,
      No other view regard!
    Ev'n when the wished end's deny'd,
    Yet while the busy means are ply'd,
      They bring their own reward:
    Whilst I, a hope-abandon'd wight,
      Unfitted with an aim,
    Meet ev'ry sad returning night
      And joyless morn the same;
        You, bustling, and justling,
          Forget each grief and pain;
        I, listless, yet restless,
          Find every prospect vain.


    How blest the solitary's lot,
    Who, all-forgetting, all forgot,
      Within his humble cell,
    The cavern wild with tangling roots,
    Sits o'er his newly-gather'd fruits,
      Beside his crystal well!
    Or, haply, to his ev'ning thought,
      By unfrequented stream,
    The ways of men are distant brought,
      A faint collected dream;
        While praising, and raising
          His thoughts to heav'n on high,
        As wand'ring, meand'ring,
          He views the solemn sky.


    Than I, no lonely hermit plac'd
    Where never human footstep trac'd,
      Less fit to play the part;
    The lucky moment to improve,
    And just to stop, and just to move,
      With self-respecting art:
    But, ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
      Which I too keenly taste,
    The solitary can despise,
      Can want, and yet be blest!
        He needs not, he heeds not,
          Or human love or hate,
        Whilst I here, must cry here
          At perfidy ingrate!


    Oh! enviable, early days,
    When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
      To care, to guilt unknown!
    How ill exchang'd for riper times,
    To feel the follies, or the crimes,
      Of others, or my own!
    Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
      Like linnets in the bush,
    Ye little know the ills ye court,
      When manhood is your wish!
        The losses, the crosses,
          That active man engage!
        The fears all, the tears all,
          Of dim declining age!

       *       *       *       *       *






    "Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
    Their homely joys, and destiny obscure:
    Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
    The short and simple annals of the poor."


[The house of William Burns was the scene of this fine, devout, and
tranquil drama, and William himself was the saint, the father, and the
husband, who gives life and sentiment to the whole. "Robert had
frequently remarked to me," says Gilbert Burns, "that he thought there
was something peculiarly venerable in the phrase, 'Let us worship
God!' used by a decent sober head of a family, introducing family
worship." To this sentiment of the author the world is indebted for
the "Cotter's Saturday Night." He owed some little, however, of the
inspiration to Fergusson's "Farmer's Ingle," a poem of great merit.
The calm tone and holy composure of the Cotter's Saturday Night have
been mistaken by Hogg for want of nerve and life. "It is a dull,
heavy, lifeless poem," he says, "and the only beauty it possesses, in
my estimation, is, that it is a sort of family picture of the poet's
family. The worst thing of all, it is not original, but is a decided
imitation of Fergusson's beautiful pastoral, 'The Farmer's Ingle:' I
have a perfect contempt for all plagiarisms and imitations."
Motherwell tries to qualify the censure of his brother editor, by
quoting Lockhart's opinion--at once lofty and just, of this fine
picture of domestic happiness and devotion.]


      My lov'd, my honour'd, much respected friend!
        No mercenary bard his homage pays;
      With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end:
        My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise:
      To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
        The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;
      The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
        What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
    Ah! tho' his work unknown, far happier there, I ween!


      November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
        The short'ning winter-day is near a close;
      The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh:
        The black'ning trains o' craws to their repose:
      The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,
        This night his weekly moil is at an end,
      Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
        Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
    And weary, o'er the moor, his course does homeward bend.


      At length his lonely cot appears in view,
        Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
      Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin', stacher thro'
        To meet their Dad, wi' flichterin' noise an' glee.
      His wee bit ingle, blinkin' bonnily.
        His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie Wifie's smile,
      The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
        Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
    An' makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.


      Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
        At service out amang the farmers roun':
      Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
        A cannie errand to a neebor town:
      Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown,
        In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
      Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown,
        Or deposite her sair won penny-fee,
    To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.


      With joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet,
        An' each for other's welfare kindly spiers:
      The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnotic'd, fleet;
        Each tells the unco's that he sees or hears;
      The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
        Anticipation forward points the view.
      The Mother, wi' her needle an' her shears,
        Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;
    The Father mixes a' wi' admonition due.


      Their master's an' their mistress's command,
        The younkers a' are warned to obey;
      And mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
        An' ne'er, tho' out of sight, to jauk or play:
      "And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway!
        And mind your duty, duly, morn and night!
      Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
        Implore His counsel and assisting might:
    They never sought in vain, that sought the Lord aright!"


      But, hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
        Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
      Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor,
        To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
      The wily Mother sees the conscious flame
        Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek,
      With heart-struck anxious care, inquires his name,
        While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
    Weel pleas'd the Mother hears it's nae wild, worthless rake.


      Wi' kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;
        A strappan youth; he taks the Mother's eye;
      Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;
        The Father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
      The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,
        But blate, an laithfu', scarce can weel behave;
      The Mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy
        What makes the youth sae bashfu' and sae grave;
    Weel pleas'd to think her bairn's respected like the lave.


      O happy love! Where love like this is found!
        O heart-felt raptures!--bliss beyond compare!
      I've paced much this weary, mortal round,
        And sage experience bids me this declare--
      "If heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
        One cordial in this melancholy vale,
      'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair,
        In other's arms, breathe out the tender tale,
    Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the ev'ning gale."


      Is there, in human form, that bears a heart--
        A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
      That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
        Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
      Curse on his perjur'd arts! dissembling smooth!
        Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil'd?
      Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
        Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
    Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction wild?


      But now the supper crowns their simple board,
        The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food:
      The soupe their only hawkie does afford,
        That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood:
      The dame brings forth in complimental mood,
        To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd kebbuck, fell,
      An' aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid;
        The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell,
    How 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell.


      The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
        They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
      The Sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace,
        The big ha'-Bible, ance his father's pride;
      His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
        His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare;
      Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
        He wales a portion with judicious care;
    And 'Let us worship GOD!' he says, with solemn air.


      They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
        They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
      Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise,
        Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
      Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame,
        The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
      Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
        The tickl'd ear no heart-felt raptures raise;
    Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.


      The priest-like Father reads the sacred page,
        How Abram was the friend of God on high;
      Or, Moses bade eternal warfare wage
        With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
      Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
        Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
      Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
        Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
    Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.


      Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
        How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
      How HE, who bore in Heaven the second name,
        Had not on earth whereon to lay his head:
      How His first followers and servants sped,
        The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
      How he who lone in Patmos banished,
        Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand;
    And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's command.


      Then kneeling down, to HEAVEN'S ETERNAL KING,
        The Saint, the Father, and the Husband prays:
      Hope 'springs exulting on triumphant wing,'[52]
        That thus they all shall meet in future days:
      There ever bask in uncreated rays,
        No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
      Together hymning their Creator's praise,
        In such society, yet still more dear:
    While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.


      Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride,
        In all the pomp of method and of art,
      When men display to congregations wide,
        Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!
      The Pow'r, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
        The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
      But haply, in some cottage far apart,
        May hear, well pleas'd, the language of the soul;
    And in His book of life the inmates poor enrol.


      Then homeward all take off their sev'ral way;
        The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
      Their Parent-pair their secret homage pay,
        And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,
      That HE, who stills the raven's clam'rous nest,
        And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride,
      Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
        For them and for their little ones provide;
    But, chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.


      From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs,
        That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
      Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
        "An honest man's the noblest work of GOD;"[53]
      And certes, in fair virtue's heav'nly road,
        The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
      What is a lordship's pomp? a cumbrous load,
        Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
    Studied in arts of Hell, in wickedness refin'd!


      O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
        For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent!
      Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
        Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
      And, O! may heaven their simple lives prevent
        From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
      Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
        A virtuous populace may rise the while,
    And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov'd Isle.


      O Thou! who pour'd the patriotic tide
        That stream'd through Wallace's undaunted heart:
      Who dar'd to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
        Or nobly die, the second glorious part,
      (The patriot's God, peculiarly Thou art,
        His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
      O never, never, Scotia's realm desert;
        But still the patriot, and the patriot bard,
    In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!


[Footnote 52: Pope.]

[Footnote 53: Pope.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[This version was first printed in the second edition of the poet's
work. It cannot be regarded as one of his happiest compositions: it is
inferior, not indeed in ease, but in simplicity and antique rigour of
language, to the common version used in the Kirk of Scotland. Burns
had admitted "Death and Dr. Hornbook" into Creech's edition, and
probably desired to balance it with something at which the devout
could not cavil.]

    The man, in life wherever plac'd,
      Hath happiness in store,
    Who walks not in the wicked's way,
      Nor learns their guilty lore!

    Nor from the seat of scornful pride
      Casts forth his eyes abroad,
    But with humility and awe
      Still walks before his GOD.

    That man shall flourish like the trees
      Which by the streamlets grow;
    The fruitful top is spread on high,
      And firm the root below.

    But he whose blossom buds in guilt
      Shall to the ground be cast,
    And, like the rootless stubble, tost
      Before the sweeping blast.

    For why? that GOD the good adore
      Hath giv'n them peace and rest,
    But hath decreed that wicked men
      Shall ne'er be truly blest.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The ninetieth Psalm is said to have been a favourite in the household
of William Burns: the version used by the Kirk, though unequal,
contains beautiful verses, and possesses the same strain of sentiment
and moral reasoning as the poem of "Man was made to Mourn." These
verses first appeared in the Edinburgh edition; and they might have
been spared; for in the hands of a poet ignorant of the original
language of the Psalmist, how could they be so correct in sense and
expression as in a sacred strain is not only desirable but necessary?]

    O Thou, the first, the greatest friend
      Of all the human race!
    Whose strong right hand has ever been
      Their stay and dwelling place!

    Before the mountains heav'd their heads
      Beneath Thy forming hand,
    Before this ponderous globe itself
      Arose at Thy command;

    That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds
      This universal frame,
    From countless, unbeginning time
      Was ever still the same.

    Those mighty periods of years
      Which seem to us so vast,
    Appear no more before Thy sight
      Than yesterday that's past.

    Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man,
      Is to existence brought;
    Again thou say'st, "Ye sons of men,
      Return ye into nought!"

    Thou layest them, with all their cares,
      In everlasting sleep;
    As with a flood Thou tak'st them off
      With overwhelming sweep.

    They flourish like the morning flow'r,
      In beauty's pride array'd;
    But long ere night, cut down, it lies
      All wither'd and decay'd.

       *       *       *       *       *




APRIL, 1786.

[This was not the original title of this sweet poem: I have a copy in
the handwriting of Burns entitled "The Gowan." This more natural name
he changed as he did his own, without reasonable cause; and he changed
it about the same time, for he ceased to call himself Burness and his
poem "The Gowan," in the first edition of his works. The field at
Mossgiel where he turned down the Daisy is said to be the same field
where some five months before he turned up the Mouse; but this seems
likely only to those who are little acquainted with tillage--who think
that in time and place reside the chief charms of verse; and who feel
not the beauty of "The Daisy," till they seek and find the spot on
which it grew. Sublime morality and the deepest emotions of the soul
pass for little with those who remember only what the genius loves to

    Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flow'r,
    Thou's met me in an evil hour;
    For I maun crush amang the stoure
                      Thy slender stem:
    To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
                      Thou bonnie gem.

    Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
    The bonnie lark, companion meet!
    Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
                      Wi' spreckl'd breast,
    When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
                      The purpling east.

    Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
    Upon thy early, humble birth;
    Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
                      Amid the storm,
    Scarce rear'd above the parent earth
                      Thy tender form.

    The flaunting flowers our gardens yield,
    High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield
    But thou, beneath the random bield
                      O' clod or stane,
    Adorns the histie stibble-field,
                      Unseen, alane.

    There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
    Thy snawie bosom sunward spread,
    Thou lifts thy unassuming head
                      In humble guise;
    But now the share uptears thy bed,
                      And low thou lies!

    Such is the fate of artless maid,
    Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
    By love's simplicity betray'd,
                      And guileless trust,
    'Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
                      Low i' the dust.

    Such is the fate of simple bard,
    On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
    Unskilful he to note the card
                      Of prudent lore,
    'Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
                      And whelm him o'er!

    Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
    Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
    By human pride or cunning driv'n
                      To mis'ry's brink,
    'Till wrenched of every stay but Heav'n,
                      He, ruin'd, sink!

    Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
    That fate is thine--no distant date;
    Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
                      Full on thy bloom,
    'Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight,
                      Shall be thy doom!

       *       *       *       *       *



MAY, 1786.

[Andrew Aikin, to whom this poem of good counsel is addressed, was one
of the sons of Robert Aiken, writer in Ayr, to whom the Cotter's
Saturday Night is inscribed. He became a merchant in Liverpool, with
what success we are not informed, and died at St. Petersburgh. The
poet has been charged with a desire to teach hypocrisy rather than
truth to his "Andrew dear;" but surely to conceal one's own thoughts
and discover those of others, can scarcely be called hypocritical: it
is, in fact, a version of the celebrated precept of prudence,
"Thoughts close and looks loose." Whether he profited by all the
counsel showered upon him by the muse we know not: he was much
respected--his name embalmed, like that of his father, in the poetry
of his friend, is not likely soon to perish.]


    I lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend,
      A something to have sent you,
    Though it should serve nae ither end
      Than just a kind memento;
    But how the subject-theme may gang,
      Let time and chance determine;
    Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
      Perhaps, turn out a sermon.


    Ye'll try the world soon, my lad,
      And, Andrew dear, believe me,
    Ye'll find mankind an unco squad,
      And muckle they may grieve ye:
    For care and trouble set your thought,
      Ev'n when your end's attain'd;
    And a' your views may come to nought,
      Where ev'ry nerve is strained.


    I'll no say men are villains a';
      The real, harden'd wicked,
    Wha hae nae check but human law,
      Are to a few restricked;
    But, och! mankind are unco weak,
      An' little to be trusted;
    If self the wavering balance shake,
      It's rarely right adjusted!


    Yet they wha fa' in Fortune's strife,
      Their fate we should na censure,
    For still th' important end of life
      They equally may answer;
    A man may hae an honest heart,
      Tho' poortith hourly stare him;
    A man may tak a neebor's part,
      Yet hae nae cash to spare him.


    Ay free, aff han' your story tell,
      When wi' a bosom crony;
    But still keep something to yoursel'
      Ye scarcely tell to ony.
    Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can
      Frae critical dissection;
    But keek thro' ev'ry other man,
      Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.


    The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,
      Luxuriantly indulge it;
    But never tempt th' illicit rove,
      Tho' naething should divulge it:
    I waive the quantum o' the sin,
      The hazard of concealing;
    But, och! it hardens a' within,
      And petrifies the feeling!


    To catch dame Fortune's golden smile,
      Assiduous wait upon her;
    And gather gear by ev'ry wile
      That's justified by honour;
    Not for to hide it in a hedge,
      Nor for a train-attendant;
    But for the glorious privilege
      Of being independent.


    The fear o' Hell's a hangman's whip,
      To haud the wretch in order;
    But where ye feel your honour grip,
      Let that ay be your border:
    Its slightest touches, instant pause--
      Debar a' side pretences;
    And resolutely keep its laws,
      Uncaring consequences.


    The great Creator to revere
      Must sure become the creature;
    But still the preaching cant forbear,
      And ev'n the rigid feature:
    Yet ne'er with wits profane to range,
      Be complaisance extended;
    An Atheist laugh's a poor exchange
      For Deity offended!


    When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
      Religion may be blinded;
    Or if she gie a random sting,
      It may be little minded;
    But when on life we're tempest-driv'n,
      A conscience but a canker--
    A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n
      Is sure a noble anchor!


    Adieu, dear, amiable youth!
      Your heart can ne'er be wanting!
    May prudence, fortitude, and truth
      Erect your brow undaunting!
    In ploughman phrase, 'God send you speed,'
      Still daily to grow wiser:
    And may you better reck the rede
      Than ever did th' adviser!

       *       *       *       *       *




[A Mauchline incident of a Mauchline lady is related in this poem,
which to many of the softer friends of the bard was anything but
welcome: it appeared in the Kilmarnock copy of his Poems, and
remonstrance and persuasion were alike tried in vain to keep it out of
the Edinburgh edition. Instead of regarding it as a seasonable rebuke
to pride and vanity, some of his learned commentators called it course
and vulgar--those classic persons might have remembered that Julian,
no vulgar person, but an emperor and a scholar, wore a populous beard,
and was proud of it.]

    Ha! whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie!
    Your impudence protects you sairly:
    I canna say by ye strunt rarely,
                      Owre gauze and lace;
    Tho' faith, I fear, ye dine but sparely
                      On sic a place.

    Ye ugly, creepin', blastit wonner,
    Detested, shunn'd, by saunt an' sinner,
    How dare you set your fit upon her,
                      Sae fine a lady!
    Gae somewhere else, and seek your dinner
                      On some poor body.

    Swith, in some beggar's haffet squattle;
    There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle
    Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
                      In shoals and nations;
    Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
                      Your thick plantations.

    Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
    Below the fatt'rells, snug an' tight;
    Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right
                      'Till ye've got on it,
    The vera topmost, tow'ring height
                      O' Miss's bonnet.

    My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
    As plump an' gray as onie grozet;
    O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
                      Or fell, red smeddum,
    I'd gie you sic a hearty doze o't,
                      Wad dross your droddum!

    I wad na been surpris'd to spy
    You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
    Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
                      On's wyliecoat;
    But Miss's fine Lunardi! fie!
                      How daur ye do't?

    O, Jenny, dinna toss your head,
    An' set your beauties a' abread!
    Ye little ken what cursed speed
                      The blastie's makin'!
    Thae winks and finger-ends, I dread,
                      Are notice takin'!

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
                      An' foolish notion;
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
                      And ev'n devotion!

       *       *       *       *       *




[The person to whom these verses are addressed lived at Adamhill in
Ayrshire, and merited the praise of rough and ready-witted, which the
poem bestows. The humorous dream alluded to, was related by way of
rebuke to a west country earl, who was in the habit of calling all
people of low degree "Brutes!--damned brutes." "I dreamed that I was
dead," said the rustic satirist to his superior, "and condemned for
the company I kept. When I came to hell-door, where mony of your
lordship's friends gang, I chappit, and 'Wha are ye, and where d'ye
come frae?' Satan exclaimed. I just said, that my name was Rankine,
and I came frae yere lordship's land. 'Awa wi' you,' cried Satan, ye
canna come here: hell's fou o' his lordship's damned brutes

    O rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
    The wale o' cocks for fun an' drinkin'!
    There's monie godly folks are thinkin',
                      Your dreams[54] an' tricks
    Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin'
                      Straught to auld Nick's.

    Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants,
    And in your wicked, dru'ken rants,
    Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
                      An' fill them fou;
    And then their failings, flaws, an' wants,
                      Are a' seen through.

    Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
    That holy robe, O dinna tear it!
    Spare't for their sakes wha aften wear it,
                      The lads in black!
    But your curst wit, when it comes near it,
                      Rives't aff their back.

    Think, wicked sinner, wha ye're skaithing,
    It's just the blue-gown badge and claithing
    O' saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
                      To ken them by,
    Frae ony unregenerate heathen,
                      Like you or I.

    I've sent you here some rhyming ware,
    A' that I bargain'd for, an' mair;
    Sae, when you hae an hour to spare,
                      I will expect
    Yon sang,[55] ye'll sen't wi cannie care,
                      And no neglect.

    Tho' faith, sma' heart hae I to sing!
    My muse dow scarcely spread her wing!
    I've play'd mysel' a bonnie spring,
                      An' danc'd my fill!
    I'd better gaen an' sair't the king,
                      At Bunker's Hill.

    'Twas ae night lately, in my fun,
    I gaed a roving wi' the gun,
    An' brought a paitrick to the grun',
                      A bonnie hen,
    And, as the twilight was begun,
                      Thought nane wad ken.

    The poor wee thing was little hurt;
    I straikit it a wee for sport,
    Ne'er thinkin' they wad fash me for't;
                      But, deil-ma-care!
    Somebody tells the poacher-court
                      The hale affair.

    Some auld us'd hands had taen a note,
    That sic a hen had got a shot;
    I was suspected for the plot;
                      I scorn'd to lie;
    So gat the whissle o' my groat,
                      An' pay't the fee.

    But, by my gun, o' guns the wale,
    An' by my pouther an' my hail,
    An' by my hen, an' by her tail,
                      I vow an' swear!
    The game shall pay o'er moor an' dale,
                      For this niest year.

    As soon's the clockin-time is by,
    An' the wee pouts begun to cry,
    L--d, I'se hae sportin' by an' by,
                      For my gowd guinea;
    Tho' I should herd the buckskin kye
                      For't, in Virginia.

    Trowth, they had muckle for to blame!
    'Twas neither broken wing nor limb,
    But twa-three draps about the wame
                      Scarce thro' the feathers;
    An' baith a yellow George to claim,
                      An' thole their blethers!

    It pits me ay as mad's a hare;
    So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;
    But pennyworths again is fair,
                      When time's expedient:
    Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,
                      Your most obedient.


[Footnote 54: A certain humorous dream of his was then making a noise
in the country-side.]

[Footnote 55: A song he had promised the author.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns in this Poem, as well as in others, speaks openly of his tastes
and passions: his own fortunes are dwelt on with painful minuteness,
and his errors are recorded with the accuracy, but not the seriousness
of the confessional. He seems to have been fond of taking himself to
task. It was written when "Hungry ruin had him in the wind," and
emigration to the West Indies was the only refuge which he could think
of, or his friends suggest, from the persecutions of fortune.]

    A' ye wha live by sowps o' drink,
    A' ye wha live by crambo-clink,
    A' ye wha live and never think,
                      Come, mourn wi' me!
    Our billie's gien us a' a jink,
                      An' owre the sea.

    Lament him a' ye rantin' core,
    Wha dearly like a random-splore,
    Nae mair he'll join the merry roar
                      In social key;
    For now he's taen anither shore,
                      An' owre the sea!

    The bonnie lasses weel may wiss him,
    And in their dear petitions place him;
    The widows, wives, an' a' may bless him,
                      Wi' tearfu' e'e;
    For weel I wat they'll sairly miss him
                      That's owre the sea!

    O Fortune, they hae room to grumble!
    Hadst thou taen' aff some drowsy bummle
    Wha can do nought but fyke and fumble,
                      'Twad been nae plea,
    But he was gleg as onie wumble,
                      That's owre the sea!

    Auld, cantie Kyle may weepers wear,
    An' stain them wi' the saut, saut tear;
    'Twill mak her poor auld heart, I fear,
                      In flinders flee;
    He was her laureate monie a year,
                      That's owre the sea!

    He saw Misfortune's cauld nor-west
    Lang mustering up a bitter blast;
    A jillet brak his heart at last,
                      Ill may she be!
    So, took a birth afore the mast,
                      An' owre the sea.

    To tremble under fortune's cummock,
    On scarce a bellyfu' o' drummock,
    Wi' his proud, independent stomach,
                      Could ill agree;
    So, row't his hurdies in a hammock,
                      An' owre the sea.

    He ne'er was gien to great misguiding,
    Yet coin his pouches wad na bide in;
    Wi' him it ne'er was under hiding:
                      He dealt it free;
    The muse was a' that he took pride in,
                      That's owre the sea.

    Jamaica bodies, use him weel,
    An' hap him in a cozie biel;
    Ye'll find him ay a dainty chiel,
                      And fou o' glee;
    He wad na wrang'd the vera deil,
                      That's owre the sea.

    Fareweel, my rhyme-composing billie!
    Your native soil was right ill-willie;
    But may ye flourish like a lily,
                      Now bonnilie!
    I'll toast ye in my hindmost gillie,
                      Tho' owre the sea!

       *       *       *       *       *



    "The valiant, in himself, what can he suffer?
    Or what does he regard his single woes?
    But when, alas! he multiplies himself,
    To dearer selves, to the lov'd tender fair,
    The those whose bliss, whose beings hang upon him,
    To helpless children! then, O then! he feels
    The point of misery fest'ring in his heart,
    And weakly weeps his fortune like a coward.
    Such, such am I! undone."


[In these serious stanzas, where the comic, as in the lines to the
Scottish bard, are not permitted to mingle, Burns bids farewell to all
on whom his heart had any claim. He seems to have looked on the sea as
only a place of peril, and on the West Indies as a charnel-house.]


    Farewell, old Scotia's bleak domains,
    Far dearer than the torrid plains
      Where rich ananas blow!
    Farewell, a mother's blessing dear!
    A brother's sigh! a sister's tear!
      My Jean's heart-rending throe!
    Farewell, my Bess! tho' thou'rt bereft
      Of my parental care,
    A faithful brother I have left,
      My part in him thou'lt share!
        Adieu too, to you too,
          My Smith, my bosom frien';
        When kindly you mind me,
          O then befriend my Jean!


    What bursting anguish tears my heart!
    From thee, my Jeany, must I part!
      Thou weeping answ'rest--"No!"
    Alas! misfortune stares my face,
    And points to ruin and disgrace,
      I for thy sake must go!
    Thee, Hamilton, and Aiken dear,
      A grateful, warm adieu;
    I, with a much-indebted tear,
      Shall still remember you!
        All-hail then, the gale then,
          Wafts me from thee, dear shore!
        It rustles, and whistles
          I'll never see thee more!

       *       *       *       *       *




[This is another of the poet's lamentations, at the prospect of
"torrid climes" and the roars of the Atlantic. To Burns, Scotland was
the land of promise, the west of Scotland his paradise; and the land
of dread, Jamaica! I found these lines copied by the poet into a
volume which he presented to Dr. Geddes: they were addressed, it is
thought, to the "Dear E." of his earliest correspondence.]

    Once fondly lov'd and still remember'd dear;
      Sweet early object of my youthful vows!
    Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere,--
      Friendship! 'tis all cold duty now allows.

    And when you read the simple artless rhymes,
      One friendly sigh for him--he asks no more,--
    Who distant burns in flaming torrid climes,
      Or haply lies beneath th' Atlantic roar.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The gentleman to whom these manly lines are addressed, was of good
birth, and of an open and generous nature: he was one of the first of
the gentry of the west to encourage the muse of Coila to stretch her
wings at full length. His free life, and free speech, exposed him to
the censures of that stern divine, Daddie Auld, who charged him with
the sin of absenting himself from church for three successive days;
for having, without the fear of God's servant before him, profanely
said damn it, in his presence, and far having gallopped on Sunday.
These charges were contemptuously dismissed by the presbyterial court.
Hamilton was the brother of the Charlotte to whose charms, on the
banks of Devon, Burns, it is said, paid the homage of a lover, as well
as of a poet. The poem had a place in the Kilmarnock edition, but not
as an express dedication.]

    Expect na, Sir, in this narration,
    A fleechin', fleth'rin dedication,
    To roose you up, an' ca' you guid,
    An' sprung o' great an' noble bluid,
    Because ye're surnam'd like his Grace;
    Perhaps related to the race;
    Then when I'm tir'd--and sae are ye,
    Wi' monie a fulsome, sinfu' lie,
    Set up a face, how I stop short,
    For fear your modesty be hurt.

    This may do--maun do, Sir, wi' them wha
    Maun please the great folk for a wamefou;
    For me! sae laigh I needna bow,
    For, Lord be thankit, I can plough;
    And when I downa yoke a naig,
    Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg;
    Sae I shall say, an' that's nae flatt'rin',
    It's just sic poet, an' sic patron.

    The Poet, some guid angel help him,
    Or else, I fear some ill ane skelp him,
    He may do weel for a' he's done yet,
    But only--he's no just begun yet.

    The Patron, (Sir, ye maun forgie me,
    I winna lie, come what will o' me,)
    On ev'ry hand it will allow'd be,
    He's just--nae better than he should be.

    I readily and freely grant,
    He downa see a poor man want;
    What's no his ain, he winna tak it;
    What ance he says, he winna break it;
    Ought he can lend he'll no refus't,
    'Till aft his guidness is abus'd;
    And rascals whyles that do him wrang,
    E'en that, he does na mind it lang:
    As master, landlord, husband, father,
    He does na fail his part in either.

    But then, nae thanks to him for a' that;
    Nae godly symptom ye can ca' that;
    It's naething but a milder feature,
    Of our poor sinfu', corrupt nature:
    Ye'll get the best o' moral works,
    'Mang black Gentoos and pagan Turks,
    Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
    Wha never heard of orthodoxy.

    That he's the poor man's friend in need,
    The gentleman in word and deed,
    It's no thro' terror of damnation;
    It's just a carnal inclination.

    Morality, thou deadly bane,
    Thy tens o' thousands thou hast slain!
    Vain is his hope, whose stay and trust is
    In moral mercy, truth and justice!

    No--stretch a point to catch a plack;
    Abuse a brother to his back;
    Steal thro' a winnock frae a whore,
    But point the rake that taks the door;
    Be to the poor like onie whunstane,
    And haud their noses to the grunstane,
    Ply ev'ry art o' legal thieving;
    No matter--stick to sound believing.

    Learn three-mile pray'rs an' half-mile graces,
    Wi' weel-spread looves, and lang wry faces;
    Grunt up a solemn, lengthen'd groan,
    And damn a' parties but your own;
    I'll warrant then, ye're nae deceiver,
    A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.

    O ye wha leave the springs o' Calvin,
    For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin'!
    Ye sons of heresy and error,
    Ye'll some day squeal in quaking terror!
    When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath,
    And in the fire throws the sheath;
    When Ruin, with his sweeping besom,
    Just frets 'till Heav'n commission gies him:
    While o'er the harp pale Mis'ry moans,
    And strikes the ever-deep'ning tones,
    Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans!

    Your pardon, Sir, for this digression.
    I maist forgat my dedication;
    But when divinity comes cross me
    My readers still are sure to lose me.

    So, Sir, ye see 'twas nae daft vapour,
    But I maturely thought it proper,
    When a' my works I did review,
    To dedicate them, Sir, to you:
    Because (ye need na tak it ill)
    I thought them something like yoursel'.

    Then patronize them wi' your favour,
    And your petitioner shall ever--
    I had amaist said, ever pray,
    But that's a word I need na say:
    For prayin' I hae little skill o't;
    I'm baith dead sweer, an' wretched ill o't;
    But I'se repeat each poor man's pray'r,
    That kens or hears about you, Sir--

    "May ne'er misfortune's gowling bark,
    Howl thro' the dwelling o' the Clerk!
    May ne'er his gen'rous, honest heart,
    For that same gen'rous spirit smart!
    May Kennedy's far-honour'd name
    Lang beet his hymeneal flame,
    Till Hamiltons, at least a dizen,
    Are frae their nuptial labours risen:
    Five bonnie lasses round their table,
    And seven braw fellows, stout an' able
    To serve their king and country weel,
    By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
    May health and peace, with mutual rays,
    Shine on the ev'ning o' his days;
    'Till his wee curlie John's-ier-oe,
    When ebbing life nae mair shall flow,
    The last, sad, mournful rites bestow."

    I will not wind a lang conclusion,
    With complimentary effusion:
    But whilst your wishes and endeavours
    Are blest with Fortune's smiles and favours,
    I am, dear Sir, with zeal most fervent,
    Your much indebted, humble servant.

    But if (which pow'rs above prevent)
    That iron-hearted carl, Want,
    Attended in his grim advances
    By sad mistakes and black mischances,
    While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
    Make you as poor a dog as I am,
    Your humble servant then no more;
    For who would humbly serve the poor!
    But by a poor man's hope in Heav'n!
    While recollection's pow'r is given,
    If, in the vale of humble life,
    The victim sad of fortune's strife,
    I, thro' the tender gushing tear,
    Should recognise my Master dear,
    If friendless, low, we meet together,
    Then Sir, your hand--my friend and brother.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Cromek found these verses among the loose papers of Burns, and
printed them in the Reliques. They contain a portion of the character
of the poet, record his habitual carelessness in worldly affairs, and
his desire to be distinguished.]

    Now Robin lies in his last lair,
    He'll gabble rhyme, nor sing nae mair,
    Cauld poverty, wi' hungry stare,
                      Nae mair shall fear him;
    Nor anxious fear, nor cankert care,
                      E'er mair come near him.

    To tell the truth, they seldom fash't him,
    Except the moment that they crush't him;
    For sune as chance or fate had hush't 'em,
                      Tho' e'er sae short,
    Then wi' a rhyme or song he lash't 'em,
                      And thought it sport.

    Tho' he was bred to kintra wark,
    And counted was baith wight and stark.
    Yet that was never Robin's mark
                      To mak a man;
    But tell him he was learned and clark,
                      Ye roos'd him than!

       *       *       *       *       *




[The west country farmer to whom this letter was sent was a social
man. The poet depended on his judgment in the choice of a farm, when
he resolved to quit the harp for the plough: but as Ellisland was his
choice, his skill may be questioned.]

    Auld comrade dear, and brither sinner,
    How's a' the folk about Glenconner?
    How do you this blae eastlin wind,
    That's like to blaw a body blind?
    For me, my faculties are frozen,
    My dearest member nearly dozen'd,
    I've sent you here, by Johnie Simson,
    Twa sage philosophers to glimpse on;
    Smith, wi' his sympathetic feeling,
    An' Reid, to common sense appealing.
    Philosophers have fought and wrangled,
    An' meikle Greek and Latin mangled,
    Till wi' their logic-jargon tir'd,
    An' in the depth of science mir'd,
    To common sense they now appeal,
    What wives and wabsters see and feel.
    But, hark ye, friend! I charge you strictly
    Peruse them, an' return them quickly,
    For now I'm grown sae cursed douce
    I pray and ponder butt the house,
    My shins, my lane, I there sit roastin',
    Perusing Bunyan, Brown, an' Boston;
    Till by an' by, if I haud on,
    I'll grunt a real gospel groan:
    Already I begin to try it,
    To cast my e'en up like a pyet,
    When by the gun she tumbles o'er,
    Flutt'ring an' gasping in her gore:
    Sae shortly you shall see me bright,
    A burning and a shining light.

    My heart-warm love to guid auld Glen,
    The ace an' wale of honest men:
    When bending down wi' auld gray hairs,
    Beneath the load of years and cares,
    May He who made him still support him,
    An' views beyond the grave comfort him,
    His worthy fam'ly far and near,
    God bless them a' wi' grace and gear!

    My auld schoolfellow, preacher Willie,
    The manly tar, my mason Billie,
    An' Auchenbay, I wish him joy;
    If he's a parent, lass or boy,
    May he be dad, and Meg the mither,
    Just five-and-forty years thegither!
    An' no forgetting wabster Charlie,
    I'm tauld he offers very fairly.
    An' Lord, remember singing Sannock,
    Wi' hale breeks, saxpence, an' a bannock,
    An' next my auld acquaintance, Nancy,
    Since she is fitted to her fancy;
    An' her kind stars hae airted till her
    A good chiel wi' a pickle siller.
    My kindest, best respects I sen' it,
    To cousin Kate, an' sister Janet;
    Tell them, frae me, wi' chiels be cautious,
    For, faith, they'll aiblins fin' them fashious;
    To grant a heart is fairly civil,
    But to grant the maidenhead's the devil
    An' lastly, Jamie, for yoursel',
    May guardian angels tak a spell,
    An' steer you seven miles south o' hell:
    But first, before you see heaven's glory,
    May ye get monie a merry story,
    Monie a laugh, and monie a drink,
    And aye eneugh, o' needfu' clink.

    Now fare ye weel, an' joy be wi' you,
    For my sake this I beg it o' you.
    Assist poor Simson a' ye can,
    Ye'll fin' him just an honest man;
    Sae I conclude, and quat my chanter,
    Your's, saint or sinner,


       *       *       *       *       *




[From letters addressed by Burns to Mrs. Dunlop, it would appear that
this "Sweet Flow'ret, pledge o' meikle love," was the only son of her
daughter, Mrs. Henri, who had married a French gentleman. The mother
soon followed the father to the grave: she died in the south of
France, whither she had gone in search of health.]

    Sweet flow'ret, pledge o' meikle love,
      And ward o' mony a pray'r,
    What heart o' stane wad thou na move,
      Sae helpless, sweet, and fair!

    November hirples o'er the lea,
      Chill on thy lovely form;
    And gane, alas! the shelt'ring tree,
      Should shield thee frae the storm.

    May He who gives the rain to pour,
      And wings the blast to blaw,
    Protect thee frae the driving show'r,
      The bitter frost and snaw!

    May He, the friend of woe and want,
      Who heals life's various stounds,
    Protect and guard the mother-plant,
      And heal her cruel wounds!

    But late she flourish'd, rooted fast,
      Fair on the summer-morn:
    Now feebly bends she in the blast,
      Unshelter'd and forlorn.

    Blest be thy bloom, thou lovely gem,
      Unscath'd by ruffian hand!
    And from thee many a parent stem
      Arise to deck our land!

       *       *       *       *       *






[The beauteous rose-bud of this poem was one of the daughters of Mr.
Cruikshank, a master in the High School of Edinburgh, at whose table
Burns was a frequent guest during the year of hope which he spent in
the northern metropolis.]

    Beauteous rose-bud, young and gay,
    Blooming in thy early May,
    Never may'st thou, lovely flow'r,
    Chilly shrink in sleety show'r!
    Never Boreas' hoary path,
    Never Eurus' poisonous breath,
    Never baleful stellar lights,
    Taint thee with untimely blights!
    Never, never reptile thief
    Riot on thy virgin leaf!
    Nor even Sol too fiercely view
    Thy bosom blushing still with dew!

    May'st thou long, sweet crimson gem,
    Richly deck thy native stem:
    'Till some evening, sober, calm,
    Dropping dews and breathing balm,
    While all around the woodland rings,
    And ev'ry bird thy requiem sings;
    Thou, amid the dirgeful sound,
    Shed thy dying honours round,
    And resign to parent earth
    The loveliest form she e'er gave birth.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Lockhart first gave this poetic curiosity to the world: he copied it
from a small manuscript volume of Poems given by Burns to Lady Harriet
Don, with an explanation in these words: "W. Chalmers, a gentleman in
Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked me to write a poetic
epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her, but was
scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows." Chalmers was a
writer in Ayr. I have not heard that the lady was influenced by this
volunteer effusion: ladies are seldom rhymed into the matrimonial


    Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride,
      And eke a braw new brechan,
    My Pegasus I'm got astride,
      And up Parnassus pechin;
    Whiles owre a bush wi' downward crush
      The doitie beastie stammers;
    Then up he gets and off he sets
      For sake o' Willie Chalmers.


    I doubt na, lass, that weel kenn'd name
      May cost a pair o' blushes;
    I am nae stranger to your fame,
      Nor his warm urged wishes.
    Your bonnie face sae mild and sweet
      His honest heart enamours,
    And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
      Tho' waired on Willie Chalmers.


    Auld Truth hersel' might swear ye're fair,
      And Honour safely back her,
    And Modesty assume your air,
      And ne'er a ane mistak' her:
    And sic twa love-inspiring een
      Might fire even holy Palmers;
    Nae wonder then they've fatal been
      To honest Willie Chalmers.


    I doubt na fortune may you shore
      Some mim-mou'd pouthered priestie,
    Fu' lifted up wi' Hebrew lore,
      And band upon his breastie:
    But Oh! what signifies to you
      His lexicons and grammars;
    The feeling heart's the royal blue,
      And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.


    Some gapin' glowrin' countra laird,
      May warstle for your favour;
    May claw his lug, and straik his beard,
      And hoast up some palaver.
    My bonnie maid, before ye wed
      Sic clumsy-witted hammers,
    Seek Heaven for help, and barefit skelp
      Awa' wi' Willie Chalmers.


    Forgive the Bard! my fond regard
      For ane that shares my bosom,
    Inspires my muse to gie 'm his dues,
      For de'il a hair I roose him.
    May powers aboon unite you soon,
      And fructify your amours,--
    And every year come in mair dear
      To you and Willie Chalmers.

       *       *       *       *       *






[Of the origin of those verses Gilbert Burns gives the following
account. "The first time Robert heard the spinet played was at the house
of Dr. Lawrie, then minister of Loudon, now in Glasgow. Dr. Lawrie has
several daughters; one of them played; the father and the mother led
down the dance; the rest of the sisters, the brother, the poet and the
other guests mixed in it. It was a delightful family scene for our poet,
then lately introduced to the world; his mind was roused to a poetic
enthusiasm, and the stanzas were left in the room where he slept."]


    O thou dread Power, who reign'st above!
      I know thou wilt me hear,
    When for this scene of peace and love
      I make my prayer sincere.


    The hoary sire--the mortal stroke,
      Long, long, be pleased to spare;
    To bless his filial little flock
      And show what good men are.


    She who her lovely offspring eyes
      With tender hopes and fears,
    O, bless her with a mother's joys,
      But spare a mother's tears!


    Their hope--their stay--their darling youth,
      In manhood's dawning blush--
    Bless him, thou GOD of love and truth,
      Up to a parent's wish!


    The beauteous, seraph sister-band,
      With earnest tears I pray,
    Thous know'st the snares on ev'ry hand--
      Guide Thou their steps alway.


    When soon or late they reach that coast,
      O'er life's rough ocean driven,
    May they rejoice, no wanderer lost,
      A family in Heaven!

       *       *       *       *       *





[Verse seems to have been the natural language of Burns. The Master
Tootie whose skill he records, lived in Mauchline, and dealt in cows:
he was an artful and contriving person, great in bargaining and
intimate with all the professional tricks by which old cows are made
to look young, and six-pint hawkies pass for those of twelve.]

_Mossgiel, May 3, 1786._


    I hold it, Sir, my bounden duty,
    To warn you how that Master Tootie,
      Alias, Laird M'Gaun,
    Was here to hire yon lad away
    'Bout whom ye spak the tither day,
      An' wad ha'e done't aff han':
    But lest he learn the callan tricks,
      As, faith, I muckle doubt him,
    Like scrapin' out auld Crummie's nicks,
      An' tellin' lies about them;
        As lieve then, I'd have then,
          Your clerkship he should sair,
        If sae be, ye may be
          Not fitted otherwhere.


    Altho' I say't, he's gleg enough,
    An' bout a house that's rude an' rough
      The boy might learn to swear;
    But then, wi' you, he'll be sae taught,
    An' get sic fair example straught,
      I havena ony fear.
    Ye'll catechize him every quirk,
      An' shore him weel wi' Hell;
    An' gar him follow to the kirk--
     --Ay when ye gang yoursel'.
        If ye then, maun be then
          Frae hame this comin' Friday;
        Then please Sir, to lea'e Sir,
          The orders wi' your lady.


    My word of honour I hae gien,
    In Paisley John's, that night at e'n,
      To meet the Warld's worm;
    To try to get the twa to gree,
    An' name the airles[56] an' the fee,
      In legal mode an' form:
    I ken he weel a snick can draw,
      When simple bodies let him;
    An' if a Devil be at a',
      In faith he's sure to get him.
        To phrase you, an' praise you,
          Ye ken your Laureat scorns:
        The pray'r still, you share still,
          Of grateful MINSTREL BURNS.


[Footnote 56: The airles--earnest money.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[It seems that Burns, delighted with the praise which the Laird of
Craigen-Gillan bestowed on his verses,--probably the Jolly Beggars,
then in the hands of Woodburn, his steward,--poured out this little
unpremeditated natural acknowledgment.]

    Sir, o'er a gill I gat your card,
      I trow it made me proud;
    See wha tak's notice o' the bard
      I lap and cry'd fu' loud.

    Now deil-ma-care about their jaw,
      The senseless, gawky million:
    I'll cock my nose aboon them a'--
      I'm roos'd by Craigen-Gillan!

    'Twas noble, Sir; 'twas like yoursel',
      To grant your high protection:
    A great man's smile, ye ken fu' well,
      Is ay a blest infection.

    Tho' by his[57] banes who in a tub
      Match'd Macedonian Sandy!
    On my ain legs thro' dirt and dub,
      I independent stand ay.--

    And when those legs to gude, warm kail,
      Wi' welcome canna bear me;
    A lee dyke-side, a sybow-tail,
      And barley-scone shall cheer me.

    Heaven spare you lang to kiss the breath
      O' many flow'ry simmers!
    And bless your bonnie lasses baith,
      I'm tauld they're loosome kimmers!

    And GOD bless young Dunaskin's laird,
      The blossom of our gentry!
    And may he wear an auld man's beard,
      A credit to his country.


[Footnote 57: Diogenes.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[The person who in the name of a Tailor took the liberty of
admonishing Burns about his errors, is generally believed to have been
William Simpson, the schoolmaster of Ochiltree: the verses seem about
the measure of his capacity, and were attributed at the time to his
hand. The natural poet took advantage of the mask in which the made
poet concealed himself, and rained such a merciless storm upon him, as
would have extinguished half the Tailors in Ayrshire, and made the
amazed dominie

    "Strangely fidge and fyke."

It was first printed in 1801, by Stewart.]

    What ails ye now, ye lousie b----h,
    To thresh my back at sic a pitch?
    Losh, man! hae mercy wi' your natch,
                      Your bodkin's bauld,
    I didna suffer ha'f sae much
                      Frae Daddie Auld.

    What tho' at times when I grow crouse,
    I gie their wames a random pouse,
    Is that enough for you to souse
                      Your servant sae?
    Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse,
                      An' jag-the-flae.

    King David o' poetic brief,
    Wrought 'mang the lasses sic mischief,
    As fill'd his after life wi' grief,
                      An' bluidy rants,
    An' yet he's rank'd amang the chief
                      O' lang-syne saunts.

    And maybe, Tam, for a' my cants,
    My wicked rhymes, an' druken rants,
    I'll gie auld cloven Clootie's haunts
                      An unco' slip yet,
    An' snugly sit among the saunts
                      At Davie's hip get.

    But fegs, the Session says I maun
    Gae fa' upo' anither plan,
    Than garrin lasses cowp the cran
                      Clean heels owre body,
    And sairly thole their mither's ban
                      Afore the howdy.

    This leads me on, to tell for sport,
    How I did wi' the Session sort,
    Auld Clinkum at the inner port
                      Cried three times--"Robin!
    Come hither, lad, an' answer for't,
                      Ye're blamed for jobbin'."

    Wi' pinch I pat a Sunday's face on,
    An' snoov'd away before the Session;
    I made an open fair confession--
                      I scorn'd to lee;
    An' syne Mess John, beyond expression,
                      Fell foul o' me.

       *       *       *       *       *



[With the Laird of Adamhill's personal character the reader is already
acquainted: the lady about whose frailties the rumour alluded to was
about to rise, has not been named, and it would neither be delicate
nor polite to guess.]

    I am a keeper of the law
    In some sma' points, altho' not a';
    Some people tell me gin I fa'
                      Ae way or ither.
    The breaking of ae point, though sma',
                      Breaks a' thegither

    I hae been in for't once or twice,
    And winna say o'er far for thrice,
    Yet never met with that surprise
                      That broke my rest,
    But now a rumour's like to rise,
                      A whaup's i' the nest.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The bank-note on which these characteristic lines were endorsed, came
into the hands of the late James Gracie, banker in Dumfries: he knew
the handwriting of Burns, and kept it as a curiosity. The concluding
lines point to the year 1786, as the date of the composition.]

      Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf,
      Fell source o' a' my woe an' grief;
      For lack o' thee I've lost my lass,
      For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass.
      I see the children of affliction
      Unaided, through thy cursed restriction
      I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile
      Amid his hapless victim's spoil:
      And for thy potence vainly wished,
      To crush the villain in the dust.
    For lack o' thee, I leave this much-lov'd shore,
    Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.

R. B.

       *       *       *       *       *



    "Thoughts, words, and deeds, the statute blames with reason;
    But surely dreams were ne'er indicted treason."

On reading, in the public papers, the "Laureate's Ode," with the other
parade of June 4th, 1786, the author was no sooner dropt asleep, than
he imagined himself transported to the birth-day levee; and, in his
dreaming fancy, made the following "Address."

[The prudent friends of the poet remonstrated with him about this
Poem, which they appeared to think would injure his fortunes and stop
the royal bounty to which he was thought entitled. Mrs. Dunlop, and
Mrs. Stewart, of Stair, solicited him in vain to omit it in the
Edinburgh edition of his poems. I know of no poem for which a claim of
being prophetic would be so successfully set up: it is full of point
as well as of the future. The allusions require no comment.]

    Guid-mornin' to your Majesty!
      May Heaven augment your blisses,
    On ev'ry new birth-day ye see,
      A humble poet wishes!
    My bardship here, at your levee,
      On sic a day as this is,
    Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
      Amang thae birth-day dresses
                      Sae fine this day.

    I see ye're complimented thrang,
      By many a lord an' lady;
    "God save the King!" 's a cuckoo sang
      That's unco easy said ay;
    The poets, too, a venal gang,
      Wi' rhymes weel-turn'd and ready,
    Wad gar you trow ye ne'er do wrang,
      But ay unerring steady,
                      On sic a day.

    For me, before a monarch's face,
      Ev'n there I winna flatter;
    For neither pension, post, nor place,
      Am I your humble debtor:
    So, nae reflection on your grace,
      Your kingship to bespatter;
    There's monie waur been o' the race,
      And aiblins ane been better
                      Than you this day.

    'Tis very true, my sov'reign king,
      My skill may weel be doubted:
    But facts are chiels that winna ding,
      An' downa be disputed:
    Your royal nest beneath your wing,
      Is e'en right reft an' clouted,
    And now the third part of the string,
      An' less, will gang about it
                      Than did ae day.

    Far be't frae me that I aspire
      To blame your legislation,
    Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire,
      To rule this mighty nation.
    But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
      Ye've trusted ministration
    To chaps, wha, in a barn or byre,
      Wad better fill'd their station
                      Than courts yon day.

    And now ye've gien auld Britain peace,
      Her broken shins to plaister;
    Your sair taxation does her fleece,
      Till she has scarce a tester;
    For me, thank God, my life's a lease,
      Nae bargain wearing faster,
    Or, faith! I fear, that, wi' the geese,
      I shortly boost to pasture
                      I' the craft some day.

    I'm no mistrusting Willie Pitt,
      When taxes he enlarges,
    (An' Will's a true guid fallow's get,
      A name not envy spairges,)
    That he intends to pay your debt,
      An' lessen a' your charges;
    But, G-d-sake! let nae saving-fit
      Abridge your bonnie barges
                      An' boats this day.

    Adieu, my Liege! may freedom geck
      Beneath your high protection;
    An' may ye rax corruption's neck,
      And gie her for dissection!
    But since I'm here, I'll no neglect,
      In loyal, true affection,
    To pay your Queen, with due respect,
      My fealty an' subjection
                      This great birth-day

    Hail, Majesty Most Excellent!
      While nobles strive to please ye,
    Will ye accept a compliment
      A simple poet gi'es ye?
    Thae bonnie bairntime, Heav'n has lent,
      Still higher may they heeze ye
    In bliss, till fate some day is sent,
      For ever to release ye
                      Frae care that day.

    For you, young potentate o' Wales,
      I tell your Highness fairly,
    Down pleasure's stream, wi' swelling sails,
      I'm tauld ye're driving rarely;
    But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
      An' curse your folly sairly,
    That e'er ye brak Diana's pales,
      Or rattl'd dice wi' Charlie,
                      By night or day.

    Yet aft a ragged cowte's been known
      To mak a noble aiver;
    So, ye may doucely fill a throne,
      For a' their clish-ma-claver:
    There, him at Agincourt wha shone,
      Few better were or braver;
    And yet, wi' funny, queer Sir John,
      He was an unco shaver
                      For monie a day.

    For you, right rev'rend Osnaburg,
      Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
    Altho' a ribbon at your lug,
      Wad been a dress completer:
    As ye disown yon paughty dog
      That bears the keys of Peter,
    Then, swith! an' get a wife to hug,
      Or, trouth! ye'll stain the mitre
                      Some luckless day.

    Young, royal Tarry Breeks, I learn,
      Ye've lately come athwart her;
    A glorious galley,[58] stem an' stern,
      Weel rigg'd for Venus' barter;
    But first hang out, that she'll discern
      Your hymeneal charter,
    Then heave aboard your grapple airn,
      An', large upon her quarter,
                      Come full that day.

    Ye, lastly, bonnie blossoms a',
      Ye royal lasses dainty,
    Heav'n mak you guid as weel as braw,
      An' gie you lads a-plenty:
    But sneer na British Boys awa',
      For kings are unco scant ay;
    An' German gentles are but sma',
      They're better just than want ay
                      On onie day.

    God bless you a'! consider now,
      Ye're unco muckle dautet;
    But ere the course o' life be thro',
      It may be bitter sautet:
    An' I hae seen their coggie fou,
      That yet hae tarrow't at it;
    But or the day was done, I trow,
      The laggen they hae clautet
                      Fu' clean that day.


[Footnote 58: Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain royal
sailor's amour]

       *       *       *       *       *



[This beautiful and affecting poem was printed in the Kilmarnock
edition: Wordsworth writes with his usual taste and feeling about it:
"Whom did the poet intend should be thought of, as occupying that
grave, over which, after modestly setting forth the moral discernment
and warm affections of the 'poor inhabitant' it is supposed to be
inscribed that

    'Thoughtless follies laid him low,
                      And stained his name!'

Who but himself--himself anticipating the but too probable termination
of his own course? Here is a sincere and solemn avowal--a confession
at once devout, poetical, and human--a history in the shape of a
prophecy! What more was required of the biographer, than to have put
his seal to the writing, testifying that the foreboding had been
realized and that the record was authentic?"]

    Is there a whim-inspired fool,
    Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
    Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool,
                      Let him draw near;
    And owre this grassy heap sing dool,
                      And drap a tear.

    Is there a bard of rustic song,
    Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
    That weekly this area throng,
                      O, pass not by!
    But with a frater-feeling strong,
                      Here heave a sigh.

    Is there a man, whose judgment clear,
    Can others teach the course to steer,
    Yet runs, himself, life's mad career,
                      Wild as the wave;
    Here pause--and, through the starting tear,
                      Survey this grave.

    The poor inhabitant below
    Was quick to learn and wise to know,
    And keenly felt the friendly glow,
                      And softer flame,
    But thoughtless follies laid him low,
                      And stain'd his name!

    Reader, attend--whether thy soul
    Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
    Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
                      In low pursuit;
    Know, prudent, cautious self-control,
                      Is wisdom's root.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Cromek, an anxious and curious inquirer, informed me, that the Twa
Dogs was in a half-finished state, when the poet consulted John
Wilson, the printer, about the Kilmarnock edition. On looking over the
manuscripts, the printer, with a sagacity common to his profession,
said, "The Address to the Deil" and "The Holy Fair" were grand things,
but it would be as well to have a calmer and sedater strain, to put at
the front of the volume. Burns was struck with the remark, and on his
way home to Mossgiel, completed the Poem, and took it next day to
Kilmarnock, much to the satisfaction of "Wee Johnnie." On the 17th
February Burns says to John Richmond, of Mauchline, "I have completed
my Poem of the Twa Dogs, but have not shown it to the world." It is
difficult to fix the dates with anything like accuracy, to
compositions which are not struck off at one heat of the fancy. "Luath
was one of the poet's dogs, which some person had wantonly killed,"
says Gilbert Burns; "but Cæsar was merely the creature of the
imagination." The Ettrick Shepherd, a judge of collies, says that
Luath is true to the life, and that many a hundred times he has seen
the dogs bark for very joy, when the cottage children were merry.]

    Twas in that place o' Scotland's isle
    That bears the name o' Auld King Coil,
    Upon a bonnie day in June,
    When wearing through the afternoon,
    Twa dogs that were na thrang at hame,
    Forgather'd ance upon a time.
    The first I'll name, they ca'd him Cæsar,
    Was keepit for his honour's pleasure;
    His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,
    Show'd he was nane o' Scotland's dogs;
    But whalpit some place far abroad,
    Where sailors gang to fish for cod.

    His locked, letter'd, braw brass collar
    Show'd him the gentleman and scholar;
    But though he was o' high degree,
    The fient a pride--nae pride had he;
    But wad hae spent an hour caressin',
    Ev'n wi' a tinkler-gypsey's messin'.
    At kirk or market, mill or smiddie,
    Nae tawted tyke, though e'er sae duddie,
    But he wad stan't, as glad to see him,
    And stroan't on stanes and hillocks wi' him.

    The tither was a ploughman's collie,
    A rhyming, ranting, raving billie,
    Wha for his friend an' comrade had him,
    And in his freaks had Luath ca'd him,
    After some dog in Highland sang,[59]
    Was made lang syne--Lord know how lang.

    He was a gash an' faithful tyke,
    As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
    His honest, sonsie, baws'nt face,
    Ay gat him friends in ilka place.
    His breast was white, his touzie back
    Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black;
    His gaucie tail, wi' upward curl,
    Hung o'er his hurdies wi' a swirl.

    Nae doubt but they were fain o' ither,
    An' unco pack an' thick thegither;
    Wi' social nose whyles snuff'd and snowkit,
    Whyles mice and moudiewarts they howkit;
    Whyles scour'd awa in lang excursion,
    An' worry'd ither in diversion;
    Until wi' daffin weary grown,
    Upon a knowe they sat them down,
    And there began a lang digression
    About the lords o' the creation.


    I've aften wonder'd, honest Luath,
    What sort o' life poor dogs like you have;
    An' when the gentry's life I saw,
    What way poor bodies liv'd ava.

    Our laird gets in his racked rents,
    His coals, his kain, and a' his stents;
    He rises when he likes himsel';
    His flunkies answer at the bell;
    He ca's his coach, he ca's his horse;
    He draws a bonnie silken purse
    As lang's my tail, whare, through the steeks,
    The yellow letter'd Geordie keeks.

    Frae morn to e'en its nought but toiling,
    At baking, roasting, frying, boiling;
    An' though the gentry first are stechin,
    Yet even the ha' folk fill their pechan
    Wi' sauce, ragouts, and sic like trashtrie,
    That's little short o' downright wastrie.
    Our whipper-in, wee, blastit wonner,
    Poor worthless elf, eats a dinner,
    Better than ony tenant man
    His honour has in a' the lan';
    An' what poor cot-folk pit their painch in,
    I own it's past my comprehension.


    Trowth, Cæsar, whyles they're fash't eneugh
    A cotter howkin in a sheugh,
    Wi' dirty stanes biggin' a dyke,
    Baring a quarry, and sic like;
    Himself, a wife, he thus sustains,
    A smytrie o' wee duddie weans,
    An' nought but his han' darg, to keep
    Them right and tight in thack an' rape.

    An' when they meet wi' sair disasters,
    Like loss o' health, or want o' masters,
    Ye maist wad think a wee touch langer
    An' they maun starve o' cauld and hunger;
    But, how it comes, I never kenn'd yet,
    They're maistly wonderfu' contented:
    An' buirdly chiels, an' clever hizzies,
    Are bred in sic a way as this is.


    But then to see how ye're negleckit,
    How huff'd, and cuff'd, and disrespeckit!
    L--d, man, our gentry care as little
    For delvers, ditchers, an' sic cattle;
    They gang as saucy by poor folk,
    As I wad by a stinking brock.

    I've notic'd, on our Laird's court-day,
    An' mony a time my heart's been wae,
    Poor tenant bodies, scant o' cash,
    How they maun thole a factor's snash:
    He'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear,
    He'll apprehend them, poind their gear;
    While they maun stan', wi' aspect humble,
    An' hear it a', an' fear an' tremble!

    I see how folk live that hae riches;
    But surely poor folk maun be wretches!


    They're no sae wretched's ane wad think;
    Tho' constantly on poortith's brink:
    They're sae accustom'd wi' the sight,
    The view o't gies them little fright.
    Then chance an' fortune are sae guided,
    They're ay in less or mair provided;
    An' tho' fatigu'd wi' close employment,
    A blink o' rest's a sweet enjoyment.

    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;
    An' whyles twalpennie worth o' nappy
    Can mak' the bodies unco happy;
    They lay aside their private cares,
    To mind the Kirk and State affairs:
    They'll talk o' patronage and priests;
    Wi' kindling fury in their breasts;
    Or tell what new taxation's comin',
    And ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.

    As bleak-fac'd 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.

    That merry day the year begins,
    They bar the door on frosty win's;
    The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,
    An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
    The luntin pipe, an sneeshin mill,
    Are handed round wi' right guid will;
    The cantie auld folks crackin' crouse,
    The young anes rantin' thro' the house,--
    My heart has been sae fain to see them,
    That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.

    Still it's owre true that ye hae said,
    Sic game is now owre aften play'd.
    There's monie a creditable stock
    O' decent, honest, fawsont folk,
    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, aye 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 mak a tour, an' tak' a whirl,
    To learn _bon ton_, an' see the worl'.

    There, at Vienna or Versailles,
    He rives his father's auld entails;
    Or by Madrid he takes the rout,
    To thrum guitars, an' fecht wi' nowt;
    Or down Italian vista startles,
    Wh--re-hunting amang 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.


    Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate
    They waste sae mony a braw estate!
    Are we sae foughten an' harass'd
    For gear to gang that gate at last!

    O, would they stay aback frae courts,
    An' please themsels wi' countra sports,
    It wad for ev'ry ane be better,
    The Laird, the Tenant, an' 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 folk.

    But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar,
    Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure?
    Nae cauld or hunger e'er can steer them,
    The vera thought o't need na fear them.


    L--d, man, were ye but whyles whare I am,
    The gentles ye wad ne'er envy 'em.

    It's true, they needna starve or sweat,
    Thro' winters cauld, or simmer's heat;
    They've nae sair wark to craze their banes,
    An' fill auld age wi' grips an' granes:
    But human bodies are sic fools,
    For a' their colleges and schools,
    That when nae real ills perplex them,
    They mak enow themsels to vex them;
    An' ay 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 country girl at her wheel,
    Her dizzen's done, she's unco weel:
    But Gentlemen, an' Ladies warst,
    Wi' ev'n down want o' wark are curst.
    They loiter, lounging, lank, an' lazy;
    Tho' deil haet ails them, yet uneasy;
    Their days insipid, dull, an' tasteless;
    Their nights unquiet, lang an' restless;
    An' even their sports, their balls an' races,
    Their galloping thro' 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 and 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 potion pretty;
    Or lee-lang nights, wi' crabbit leuks
    Pore owre the devil's pictur'd beuks;
    Stake on a chance a farmer's stack-yard,
    An' cheat like onie unhang'd blackguard.

    There's some exception, man an' woman;
    But this is Gentry's life in common.

    By this, the sun was out o' sight,
    An' darker gloaming brought the night:
    The bum-clock humm'd wi' lazy drone;
    The kye stood rowtin i' the loan;
    When up they gat, and shook their lugs,
    Rejoic'd they were na men, but dogs;
    An' each took aff his several way,
    Resolv'd to meet some ither day.


[Footnote 59: Cuchullin's dog in Ossian's Fingal.]

       *       *       *       *       *





["The first time I saw Robert Burns," says Dugald Stewart, "was on the
23rd of October, 1786, when he dined at my house in Ayrshire, together
with our common friend, John Mackenzie, surgeon in Mauchline, to whom I
am indebted for the pleasure of his acquaintance. My excellent and
much-lamented friend, the late Basil, Lord Daer, happened to arrive at
Catrine the same day, and, by the kindness and frankness of his manners,
left an impression on the mind of the poet which was never effaced. The
verses which the poet wrote on the occasion are among the most imperfect
of his pieces, but a few stanzas may perhaps be a matter of curiosity,
both on account of the character to which they relate and the light
which they throw on the situation and the feelings of the writer before
his work was known to the public." Basil, Lord Daer, the uncle of the
present Earl of Selkirk, was born in the year 1769, at the family seat
of St. Mary's Isle: he distinguished himself early at school, and at
college excelled in literature and science; he had a greater regard for
democracy than was then reckoned consistent with his birth and rank. He
was, when Burns met him, in his twenty-third year; was very tall,
something careless in his dress, and had the taste and talent common to
his distinguished family. He died in his thirty-third year.]

    This wot ye all whom it concerns,
    I, Rhymer Robin, alias Burns,
                October twenty-third,
    A ne'er-to-be-forgotten day,
    Sae far I sprachled up the brae,
                I dinner'd wi' a Lord.

    I've been at druken writers' feasts,
    Nay, been bitch-fou' 'mang godly priests,
                Wi' rev'rence be it spoken:
    I've even join'd the honour'd jorum,
    When mighty squireships of the quorum
                Their hydra drouth did sloken.

    But wi' a Lord--stand out, my shin!
    A Lord--a Peer--an Earl's son!--
                Up higher yet, my bonnet!
    And sic a Lord!--lang Scotch ells twa,
    Our Peerage he o'erlooks them a',
                As I look o'er my sonnet.

    But, oh! for Hogarth's magic pow'r!
    To show Sir Bardie's willyart glow'r,
                And how he star'd and stammer'd,
    When goavan, as if led wi' branks,
    An' stumpan on his ploughman shanks,
                He in the parlour hammer'd.

    I sidling shelter'd in a nook,
    An' at his lordship steal't a look,
                Like some portentous omen;
    Except good sense and social glee,
    An' (what surpris'd me) modesty,
                I marked nought uncommon.

    I watch'd the symptoms o' the great,
    The gentle pride, the lordly state,
                The arrogant assuming;
    The fient a pride, nae pride had he,
    Nor sauce, nor state, that I could see,
                Mair than an honest ploughman.

    Then from his lordship I shall learn,
    Henceforth to meet with unconcern
                One rank as weel's another;
    Nae honest worthy man need care
    To meet with noble youthful Daer,
                For he but meets a brother.

       *       *       *       *       *



["I enclose you two poems," said Burns to his friend Chalmers, "which
I have carded and spun since I passed Glenbuck. One blank in the
Address to Edinburgh, 'Fair B----,' is the heavenly Miss Burnet,
daughter to Lord Monboddo, at whose house I have had the honour to be
more than once. There has not been anything nearly like her, in all
the combinations of beauty, grace, and goodness the great Creator has
formed, since Milton's Eve, on the first day of her existence." Lord
Monboddo made himself ridiculous by his speculations on human nature,
and acceptable by his kindly manners and suppers in the manner of the
ancients, where his viands were spread under ambrosial lights, and his
Falernian was wreathed with flowers. At these suppers Burns sometimes
made his appearance. The "Address" was first printed in the Edinburgh
edition: the poet's hopes were then high, and his compliments, both to
town and people, were elegant and happy.]


    Edina! Scotia's darling seat!
      All hail thy palaces and tow'rs,
    Where once beneath a monarch's feet
      Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs!
    From marking wildly-scatter'd flow'rs,
      As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd,
    And singing, lone, the ling'ring hours,
      I shelter in thy honour'd shade.


    Here wealth still swells the golden tide,
      As busy Trade his labour plies;
    There Architecture's noble pride
      Bids elegance and splendour rise;
    Here Justice, from her native skies,
      High wields her balance and her rod;
    There Learning, with his eagle eyes,
      Seeks Science in her coy abode.


    Thy sons, Edina! social, kind,
      With open arms the stranger hail;
    Their views enlarg'd, their liberal mind,
      Above the narrow, rural vale;
    Attentive still to sorrow's wail,
      Or modest merit's silent claim;
    And never may their sources fail!
      And never envy blot their name!


    Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn,
      Gay as the gilded summer sky,
    Sweet as the dewy milk-white thorn,
      Dear as the raptur'd thrill of joy!
    Fair Burnet strikes th' adoring eye,
      Heav'n's beauties on my fancy shine;
    I see the Sire of Love on high,
      And own his work indeed divine!


    There, watching high the least alarms,
      Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar,
    Like some bold vet'ran, gray in arms,
      And mark'd with many a seamy scar:
    The pond'rous wall and massy bar,
      Grim-rising o'er the rugged rock,
    Have oft withstood assailing war,
      And oft repell'd th' invader's shock.


    With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears,
      I view that noble, stately dome,
    Where Scotia's kings of other years,
      Fam'd heroes! had their royal home:
    Alas, how chang'd the times to come!
      Their royal name low in the dust!
    Their hapless race wild-wand'ring roam,
      Tho' rigid law cries out, 'twas just!


    Wild beats my heart to trace your steps,
      Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
    Thro' hostile ranks and ruin'd gaps
      Old Scotia's bloody lion bore:
    Ev'n I who sing in rustic lore,
      Haply, my sires have left their shed,
    And fac'd grim danger's loudest roar,
      Bold-following where your fathers led!


    Edina! Scotia's darling seat!
      All hail thy palaces and tow'rs,
    Where once beneath a monarch's feet
      Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs!
    From marking wildly-scatter'd flow'rs,
      As on the hanks of Ayr I stray'd,
    And singing, lone, the ling'ring hours,
      I shelter in thy honour'd shade.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Major Logan, of Camlarg, lived, when this hasty Poem was written,
with his mother and sister at Parkhouse, near Ayr. He was a good
musician, a joyous companion, and something of a wit. The Epistle was
printed, for the first time, in my edition of Burns, in 1834, and
since then no other edition has wanted it.]

    Hail, thairm-inspirin', rattlin' Willie!
    Though fortune's road be rough an' hilly
    To every fiddling, rhyming billie,
                      We never heed,
    But tak' it like the unback'd filly,
                      Proud o' her speed.

    When idly goavan whyles we saunter
    Yirr, fancy barks, awa' we canter
    Uphill, down brae, till some mishanter,
                      Some black bog-hole,
    Arrests us, then the scathe an' banter
                      We're forced to thole.

    Hale be your heart! Hale be your fiddle!
    Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle,
    To cheer you through the weary widdle
                      O' this wild warl',
    Until you on a crummock driddle
                      A gray-hair'd carl.

    Come wealth, come poortith, late or soon,
    Heaven send your heart-strings ay in tune,
    And screw your temper pins aboon
                      A fifth or mair,
    The melancholious, lazy croon
                      O' cankrie care.

    May still your life from day to day
    Nae "lente largo" in the play,
    But "allegretto forte" gay
                      Harmonious flow:
    A sweeping, kindling, bauld strathspey--
                      Encore! Bravo!

    A blessing on the cheery gang
    Wha dearly like a jig or sang,
    An' never think o' right an' wrang
                      By square an' rule,
    But as the clegs o' feeling stang
                      Are wise or fool.

    My hand-waled curse keep hard in chase
    The harpy, hoodock, purse-proud race,
    Wha count on poortith as disgrace--
                      Their tuneless hearts!
    May fireside discords jar a base
                      To a' their parts!

    But come, your hand, my careless brither,
    I' th' ither warl', if there's anither,
    An' that there is I've little swither
                      About the matter;
    We check for chow shall jog thegither,
                      I'se ne'er bid better.

    We've faults and failings--granted clearly,
    We're frail backsliding mortals merely,
    Eve's bonny squad, priests wyte them sheerly
                      For our grand fa';
    But stilt, but still, I like them dearly--
                      God bless them a'!

    Ochon! for poor Castalian drinkers,
    When they fa' foul o' earthly jinkers,
    The witching curs'd delicious blinkers
                      Hae put me hyte,
    And gart me weet my waukrife winkers,
                      Wi' girnan spite.

    But by yon moon!--and that's high swearin'--
    An' every star within my hearin'!
    An' by her een wha was a dear ane!
                      I'll ne'er forget;
    I hope to gie the jads a clearin'
                      In fair play yet.

    My loss I mourn, but not repent it,
    I'll seek my pursie whare I tint it,
    Ance to the Indies I were wonted,
                      Some cantraip hour,
    By some sweet elf I'll yet be dinted,
                      Then, _vive l'amour_!

    _Faites mes baisemains respectueuse_,
    To sentimental sister Susie,
    An' honest Lucky; no to roose you,
                      Ye may be proud,
    That sic a couple fate allows ye
                      To grace your blood.

    Nae mair at present can I measure,
    An' trowth my rhymin' ware's nae treasure;
    But when in Ayr, some half-hour's leisure,
                      Be't light, be't dark,
    Sir Bard will do himself the pleasure
                      To call at Park.


_Mossgiel, 30th October_, 1786.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns took the hint of this Poem from the Planestanes and Causeway of
Fergusson, but all that lends it life and feeling belongs to his own
heart and his native Ayr: he wrote it for the second edition of his
poems, and in compliment to the patrons of his genius in the west.
Ballantyne, to whom the Poem is inscribed, was generous when the
distresses of his farming speculations pressed upon him: others of his
friends figure in the scene: Montgomery's courage, the learning of
Dugald Stewart, and condescension and kindness of Mrs. General
Stewart, of Stair, are gratefully recorded.]

    The simple Bard, rough at the rustic plough,
    Learning his tuneful trade from ev'ry bough;
    The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush,
    Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn bush:
    The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill,
    Or deep-ton'd plovers, gray, wild-whistling o'er the hill;
    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 gen'rous care he trace,
    Skill'd in the secret to bestow with grace;
    When Ballantyne befriends his humble name,
    And hands the rustic stranger up to fame,
    With heart-felt 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' flow'rs 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 ev'ry 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 flow'r 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 blaze,
    While thick the gossamer waves wanton in the rays.
    '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 rout,
    And down by Simpson's[60] 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,[61] had number'd two,
    And Wallace Tow'r[61] had sworn the fact was true:
    The tide-swol'n 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 tow'r and tree:
    The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
    Crept, gently-crusting, o'er the glittering stream.--

    When, lo! on either hand the list'ning Bard,
    The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard;
    Two dusky forms dart thro' the midnight air,
    Swift as the gos[62] 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 descry'd
    The Sprites that owre the brigs of Ayr preside.
    (That Bards are second-sighted is nae joke,
    And ken the lingo of the sp'ritual folk;
    Fays, Spunkies, Kelpies, a', they can explain them,
    And ev'n the vera deils they brawly ken them.)
    Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race,
    The very wrinkles gothic in his face:
    He seem'd as he wi' Time had warstl'd 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 ev'ry arch;--
    It chanc'd 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 guid-e'en:--


      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,
    Tho' 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 foot-path of a street,
    Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet--
    Your ruin'd formless bulk o' stane en' lime,
    Compare wi' bonnie Brigs o' modern time?
    There's men o' taste wou'd tak the Ducat-stream,[63]
    Tho' they should cast the vera sark and swim,
    Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view
    Of sic an ugly, Gothic hulk as you.


      Conceited gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride!--
    This mony a year I've stood the flood an' tide;
    And tho' 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 ye 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 Garpal[64] draws his feeble source,
    Arous'd by blust'ring winds an' spotting thowes,
    In mony a torrent down the snaw-broo rowes;
    While crashing ice born on the roaring speat,
    Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate;
    And from Glenbuck,[65] down to the Ratton-key,[66]
    Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd tumbling sea--
    Then down ye'll 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 threat'ning 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 craz'd 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.
    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 resurrection!


      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 ay;
    Ye dainty Deacons and ye douce Conveeners,
    To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners:
    Ye godly Councils wha hae blest this town;
    Ye godly Brethren o' 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, degen'rate race!
    Nae langer rev'rend 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 weel-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 spar'd:
    To liken them to your auld-warld squad,
    I must needs say, comparisons are odd.
    In Ayr, wag-wits nae mair can have 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 lib'ral views in bonds and seisins,
    If haply Knowledge, on a random tramp,
    Had shor'd 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 Spirites had blood to shed,
    No man can tell; but all before their sight,
    A fairy train appear'd in order bright:
    Adown the glitt'ring stream they featly danc'd;
    Bright to the moon their various dresses glanc'd:
    They footed owre the wat'ry 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,[67] thairm-inspiring Sage,
    Been there to hear this heavenly band engage,
    When thro' his dear strathspeys they bore with highland rage;
    Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs,
    The lover's raptur'd joys or bleeding cares;
    How would his highland lug been nobler fir'd,
    And ev'n his matchless hand with finer touch inspir'd!
    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 advanc'd 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 flow'ry hay, came Rural Joy,
    And Summer, with his fervid-beaming eye:
    All-cheering Plenty, with her flowing horn,
    Led yellow Autumn, wreath'd with nodding corn;
    Then Winter's time-bleach'd looks 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 tow'rs of Stair:
    Learning and Worth in equal measures trode
    From simple Catrine, their long-lov'd abode:
    Last, white-rob'd Peace, crown'd with a hazel wreath,
    To rustic Agriculture did bequeath
    The broken iron instruments of death;
    At sight of whom our Sprites forgat their kindling wrath.


[Footnote 60: A noted tavern at the auld Brig end.]

[Footnote 61: The two steeples.]

[Footnote 62: The gos-hawk or falcon.]

[Footnote 63: A noted ford, just above the Auld Brig.]

[Footnote 64: 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.]

[Footnote 65: The source of the river Ayr.]

[Footnote 66: A small landing-place above the large key.]

[Footnote 67: A well known performer of Scottish music on the violin.]

       *       *       *       *       *






[At the request of Advocate Hay, Burns composed this Poem, in the hope
that it might interest the powerful family of Dundas in his fortunes.
I found it inserted in the handwriting of the poet, in an interleaved
copy of his Poems, which he presented to Dr. Geddes, accompanied by
the following surly note:--"The foregoing Poem has some tolerable
lines in it, but the incurable wound of my pride will not suffer me to
correct, or even peruse it. I sent a copy of it with my best prose
letter to the son of the great man, the theme of the piece, by the
hands of one of the noblest men in God's world, Alexander Wood,
surgeon: when, behold! his solicitorship took no more notice of my
Poem, or of me, than I had been a strolling fiddler who had made free
with his lady's name, for a silly new reel. Did the fellow imagine
that I looked for any dirty gratuity?" This Robert Dundas was the
elder brother of that Lord Melville to whose hands, soon after these
lines were written, all the government patronage in Scotland was
confided, and who, when the name of Burns was mentioned, pushed the
wine to Pitt, and said nothing. The poem was first printed by me, in

    Lone on the bleaky hills the straying flocks
    Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks;
    Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains,
    The gathering floods burst o'er the distant plains;
    Beneath the blasts the leafless forests groan;
    The hollow caves return a sullen moan.

    Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests and ye caves,
    Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves!
    Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye,
    Sad to your sympathetic scenes I fly;
    Where to the whistling blast and waters' roar
    Pale Scotia's recent wound I may deplore.

    O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear!
    A loss these evil days can ne'er repair!
    Justice, the high vicegerent of her God,
    Her doubtful balance ey'd, and sway'd her rod;
    Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow
    She sunk, abandon'd to the wildest woe.

    Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den,
    Now gay in hope explore the paths of men:
    See from this cavern grim Oppression rise,
    And throw on poverty his cruel eyes;
    Keen on the helpless victim see him fly,
    And stifle, dark, the feebly-bursting cry:

    Mark ruffian Violence, distain'd with crimes,
    Rousing elate in these degenerate times;
    View unsuspecting Innocence a prey,
    As guileful Fraud points out the erring way:
    While subtile Litigation's pliant tongue
    The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong:
    Hark, injur'd Want recounts th' unlisten'd tale,
    And much-wrong'd Mis'ry pours th' unpitied wail!

    Ye dark waste hills, and brown unsightly plains,
    To you I sing my grief-inspired strains:
    Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll!
    Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul.
    Life's social haunts and pleasures I resign,
    Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine,
    To mourn the woes my country must endure,
    That wound degenerate ages cannot cure.

       *       *       *       *       *






[John M'Leod was of the ancient family of Raza, and brother to that
Isabella M'Leod, for whom Burns, in his correspondence, expressed
great regard. The little Poem, when first printed, consisted of six
verses: I found a seventh in M'Murdo Manuscripts, the fifth in this
edition, along with an intimation in prose, that the M'Leod family had
endured many unmerited misfortunes. I observe that Sir Harris Nicolas
has rejected this new verse, because, he says, it repeats the same
sentiment as the one which precedes it. I think differently, and have
retained it.]

    Sad thy tale, thou idle page,
      And rueful thy alarms:
    Death tears the brother of her love
      From Isabella's arms.

    Sweetly deck'd with pearly dew
      The morning rose may blow;
    But cold successive noontide blasts
      May lay its beauties low.

    Fair on Isabella's morn
      The sun propitious smil'd;
    But, long ere noon, succeeding clouds
      Succeeding hopes beguil'd.

    Fate oft tears the bosom chords
      That nature finest strung:
    So Isabella's heart was form'd,
      And so that heart was wrung.

    Were it in the poet's power,
      Strong as he shares the grief
    That pierces Isabella's heart,
      To give that heart relief!

    Dread Omnipotence, alone,
      Can heal the wound He gave;
    Can point the brimful grief-worn eyes
      To scenes beyond the grave.

    Virtue's blossoms there shall blow,
      And fear no withering blast;
    There Isabella's spotless worth
      Shall happy be at last.

       *       *       *       *       *




JAN. 1, 1787.

[Burns was fond of writing compliments in books, and giving them in
presents among his fair friends. Miss Logan, of Park house, was sister
to Major Logan, of Camlarg, and the "sentimental sister Susie," of the
Epistle to her brother. Both these names were early dropped out of the
poet's correspondence.]

    Again the silent wheels of time
      Their annual round have driv'n,
    And you, tho' scarce in maiden prime,
      Are so much nearer Heav'n.

    No gifts have I from Indian coasts
      The infant year to hail:
    I send you more than India boasts
      In Edwin's simple tale.

    Our sex with guile and faithless love
      Is charg'd, perhaps, too true;
    But may, dear maid, each lover prove
      An Edwin still to you!

       *       *       *       *       *




[Dr. Blair said that the politics of Burns smelt of the smithy, which,
interpreted, means, that they were unstatesman-like, and worthy of a
country ale-house, and an audience of peasants. The Poem gives us a
striking picture of the humorous and familiar way in which the hinds
and husbandmen of Scotland handle national topics: the smithy is a
favourite resort, during the winter evenings, of rustic politicians;
and national affairs and parish scandal are alike discussed. Burns was
in those days, and some time after, a vehement Tory: his admiration of
"Chatham's Boy," called down on him the dusty indignation of the
republican Ritson.]


    When Guildford good our pilot stood,
      And did our hellim thraw, man,
    Ae night, at tea, began a plea,
      Within America, man:
    Then up they gat the maskin-pat,
      And in the sea did jaw, man;
    An' did nae less in full Congress,
      Than quite refuse our law, man.


    Then thro' the lakes Montgomery takes,
      I wat he was na slaw, man;
    Down Lowrie's burn he took a turn,
      And Carleton did ca', man;
    But yet, what-reck, he, at Quebec,
      Montgomery-like did fa', man,
    Wi' sword in hand, before his band,
      Amang his en'mies a', man.


    Poor Tammy Gage, within a cage,
      Was kept at Boston ha', man;
    Till Willie Howe took o'er the knowe
      For Philadelphia, man;
    Wi' sword an' gun he thought a sin
      Guid Christian blood to draw, man:
    But at New York, wi' knife an' fork,
      Sir-loin he hacked sma', man.


    Burgoyne gaed up, like spur an' whip,
      Till Fraser brave did fa', man,
    Then lost his way, ae misty day,
      In Saratoga shaw, man.
    Cornwallis fought as lang's he dought,
      An' did the buckskins claw, man;
    But Clinton's glaive frae rust to save,
    He hung it to the wa', man.


    Then Montague, an' Guilford, too,
      Began to fear a fa', man;
    And Sackville dour, wha stood the stoure,
      The German Chief to thraw, man;
    For Paddy Burke, like ony Turk,
      Nae mercy had at a', man;
    An' Charlie Fox threw by the box,
      An' lows'd his tinkler jaw, man.


    Then Rockingham took up the game,
      Till death did on him ca', man;
    When Shelburne meek held up his cheek,
      Conform to gospel law, man;
    Saint Stephen's boys, wi' jarring noise,
      They did his measures thraw, man,
    For North an' Fox united stocks,
      An' bore him to the wa', man.


    Then clubs an' hearts were Charlie's cartes,
      He swept the stakes awa', man,
    Till the diamond's ace, of Indian race,
      Led him a sair _faux pas_, man;
    The Saxon lads, wi' loud placads,
      On Chatham's boy did ca', man;
    An' Scotland drew her pipe, an' blew,
      "Up, Willie, waur them a', man!"


    Behind the throne then Grenville's gone,
      A secret word or twa, man;
    While slee Dundas arous'd the class,
      Be-north the Roman wa', man:
    An' Chatham's wraith, in heavenly graith,
      (Inspired Bardies saw, man)
    Wi' kindling eyes cry'd "Willie, rise!
      Would I hae fear'd them a', man?"


    But, word an' blow, North, Fox, and Co.,
      Gowff'd Willie like a ba', man,
    Till Suthron raise, and coost their claise
      Behind him in a raw, man;
    An' Caledon threw by the drone,
      An' did her whittle draw, man;
    An' swoor fu' rude, thro' dirt an' blood
      To make it guid in law, man.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The Hal and Bob of these satiric lines were Henry Erskine, and Robert
Dundas: and their contention was, as the verses intimate, for the
place of Dean of the Faculty of Advocates: Erskine was successful. It
is supposed that in characterizing Dundas, the poet remembered "the
incurable wound which his pride had got" in the affair of the elegiac
verses on the death of the elder Dundas. The poem first appeared in
the Reliques of Burns.]


    Dire was the hate at old Harlaw,
      That Scot to Scot did carry;
    And dire the discord Langside saw,
      For beauteous, hapless Mary:
    But Scot with Scot ne'er met so hot,
      Or were more in fury seen, Sir,
    Than 'twixt Hal and Bob for the famous job--
      Who should be Faculty's Dean, Sir.--


    This Hal for genius, wit, and lore,
      Among the first was number'd;
    But pious Bob, 'mid learning's store,
      Commandment tenth remember'd.--
    Yet simple Bob the victory got,
      And won his heart's desire;
    Which shows that heaven can boil the pot,
      Though the devil p--s in the fire.--


    Squire Hal besides had in this case
      Pretensions rather brassy,
    For talents to deserve a place
      Are qualifications saucy;
    So, their worships of the Faculty,
      Quite sick of merit's rudeness,
    Chose one who should owe it all, d'ye see,
      To their gratis grace and goodness.--


    As once on Pisgah purg'd was the sight
      Of a son of Circumcision,
    So may be, on this Pisgah height,
      Bob's purblind, mental vision:
    Nay, Bobby's mouth may be open'd yet
      Till for eloquence you hail him,
    And swear he has the angel met
      That met the Ass of Balaam.

       *       *       *       *       *




[To Mrs. M'Lehose, of Edinburgh, the poet presented the
drinking-glasses alluded to in the verses: they are, it seems, still
preserved, and the lady on occasions of high festival, indulges, it is
said, favourite visiters with a draught from them of "The blood of
Shiraz' scorched vine."]

    Fair Empress of the Poet's soul,
      And Queen of Poetesses;
    Clarinda, take this little boon,
      This humble pair of glasses.

    And fill them high with generous juice,
      As generous as your mind;
    And pledge me in the generous toast--
      "The whole of human kind!"

    "To those who love us!"--second fill;
      But not to those whom we love;
    Lest we love those who love not us!--
      A third--"to thee and me, love!"

       *       *       *       *       *



[This is the lady of the drinking-glasses; the Mrs. Mac of many a
toast among the poet's acquaintances. She was, in those days, young
and beautiful, and we fear a little giddy, since she indulged in that
sentimental and platonic flirtation with the poet, contained in the
well-known letters to Clarinda. The letters, after the poet's death,
appeared in print without her permission: she obtained an injunction
against the publication, which still remains in force, but her anger
seems to have been less a matter of taste than of whim, for the
injunction has been allowed to slumber in the case of some editors,
though it has been enforced against others.]

    Clarinda, mistress of my soul,
      The measur'd time is run!
    The wretch beneath the dreary pole
      So marks his latest sun.

    To what dark cave of frozen night
      Shall poor Sylvander hie;
    Depriv'd of thee, his life and light,
      The sun of all his joy.

    We part--but, by these precious drops
      That fill thy lovely eyes!
    No other light shall guide my steps
      Till thy bright beams arise.

    She, the fair sun of all her sex,
      Has blest my glorious day;
    And shall a glimmering planet fix
      My worship to its ray?

       *       *       *       *       *




[Who the young lady was to whom the poet presented the portrait and
Poems of the ill-fated Fergusson, we have not been told. The verses
are dated Edinburgh, March 19th, 1787.]

    Curse on ungrateful man, that can be pleas'd,
    And yet can starve the author of the pleasure!
    O thou my elder brother in misfortune,
    By far my elder brother in the muses,
    With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!
    Why is the bard unpitied by the world,
    Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?

       *       *       *       *       *




MONDAY, 16 April, 1787.

[The Woods for whom this Prologue was written, was in those days a
popular actor in Edinburgh. He had other claims on Burns: he had been
the friend as well as comrade of poor Fergusson, and possessed some
poetical talent. He died in Edinburgh, December 14th, 1802.]

    When by a generous Public's kind acclaim,
    That dearest meed is granted--honest fame;
    When _here_ your favour is the actor's lot,
    Nor even the _man_ in _private life_ forgot;
    What breast so dead to heavenly virtue's glow,
    But heaves impassion'd with the grateful throe?

    Poor is the task to please a barbarous throng,
    It needs no Siddons' powers in Southerne's song;
    But here an ancient nation fam'd afar,
    For genius, learning high, as great in war--
    Hail, CALEDONIA, name for ever dear!
    Before whose sons I'm honoured to appear!
    Where every science--every nobler art--
    That can inform the mind, or mend the heart,
    Is known; as grateful nations oft have found
    Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound.
    Philosophy, no idle pedant dream,
    Here holds her search by heaven-taught Reason's beam;
    Here History paints, with elegance and force,
    The tide of Empires' fluctuating course;
    Here Douglas forms wild Shakspeare into plan,
    And Harley[68] rouses all the god in man.
    When well-form'd taste and sparkling wit unite,
    With manly lore, or female beauty bright,
    (Beauty, where faultless symmetry and grace,
    Can only charm as in the second place,)
    Witness my heart, how oft with panting fear,
    As on this night, I've met these judges here!
    But still the hope Experience taught to live,
    Equal to judge--you're candid to forgive.
    Nor hundred-headed Riot here we meet,
    With decency and law beneath his feet:
    Nor Insolence assumes fair Freedom's name;
    Like CALEDONIANS, you applaud or blame.

    O Thou dread Power! whose Empire-giving hand
    Has oft been stretch'd to shield the honour'd land!
    Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire:
    May every son be worthy of his sire;
    Firm may she rise with generous disdain
    At Tyranny's, or direr Pleasure's chain;
    Still self-dependent in her native shore,
    Bold may she brave grim Danger's loudest roar,
    Till Fate the curtain drop on worlds to be no more.


[Footnote 68: The Man of Feeling, by Mackenzie.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[This Sketch is a portion of a long Poem which Burns proposed to call
"The Poet's Progress." He communicated the little he had done, for he
was a courter of opinions, to Dugald Stewart. "The Fragment forms,"
said he, "the postulata, the axioms, the definition of a character,
which, if it appear at all, shall be placed in a variety of lights.
This particular part I send you, merely as a sample of my hand at
portrait-sketching." It is probable that the professor's response was
not favourable for we hear no more of the Poem.]

    A little, upright, pert, tart, tripping wight,
    And still his precious self his dear delight;
    Who loves his own smart shadow in the streets
    Better than e'er the fairest she he meets:
    A man of fashion, too, he made his tour,
    Learn'd vive la bagatelle, et vive l'amour:
    So travell'd monkeys their grimace improve,
    Polish their grin, nay, sigh for ladies' love.
    Much specious lore, but little understood;
    Veneering oft outshines the solid wood:
    His solid sense--by inches you must tell.
    But mete his cunning by the old Scots ell;
    His meddling vanity, a busy fiend,
    Still making work his selfish craft must mend.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The lady to whom this epistle is addressed was a painter and a
poetess: her pencil sketches are said to have been beautiful; and she
had a ready skill in rhyme, as the verses addressed to Burns fully
testify. Taste and poetry belonged to her family; she was the niece of
Mrs. Cockburn, authoress of a beautiful variation of The Flowers of
the Forest.]

    I mind it weel in early date,
    When I was beardless, young and blate,
      An' first could thresh the barn;
    Or hand a yokin at the pleugh;
    An' tho' forfoughten sair enough,
      Yet unco proud to learn:
    When first amang the yellow corn
      A man I reckon'd was,
    An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn
      Could rank my rig and lass,
        Still shearing, and clearing,
          The tither stooked raw,
        Wi' claivers, an' haivers,
          Wearing the day awa.

    E'en then, a wish, I mind its pow'r,
    A wish that to my latest hour
      Shall strongly heave my breast,
    That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
    Some usefu' plan or beuk could make,
      Or sing a sang at least.
    The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide
      Amang the bearded bear,
    I turn'd the weeder-clips aside,
      An' spar'd the symbol dear:
        No nation, no station,
          My envy e'er could raise,
        A Scot still, but blot still,
          I knew nae higher praise.

    But still the elements o' sang
    In formless jumble, right an' wrang,
      Wild floated in my brain;
    'Till on that har'st I said before,
    My partner in the merry core,
      She rous'd the forming strain:
    I see her yet, the sonsie quean,
      That lighted up her jingle,
    Her witching smile, her pauky een
      That gart my heart-strings tingle:
        I fired, inspired,
          At every kindling keek,
        But bashing and dashing
          I feared aye to speak.

    Health to the sex, ilk guid chiel says,
    Wi' merry dance in winter days,
      An' we to share in common:
    The gust o' joy, the balm of woe,
    The saul o' life, the heaven below,
      Is rapture-giving woman.
    Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name,
      Be mindfu' o' your mither:
    She, honest woman, may think shame
      That ye're connected with her.
        Ye're wae men, ye're nae men
          That slight the lovely dears;
        To shame ye, disclaim ye,
          Ilk honest birkie swears.

    For you, no bred to barn and byre,
    Wha sweetly tune the Scottish lyre,
      Thanks to you for your line:
    The marled plaid ye kindly spare,
    By me should gratefully be ware;
      'Twad please me to the nine.
    I'd be mair vauntie o' my hap,
      Douce hingin' owre my curple
    Than ony ermine ever lap,
      Or proud imperial purple.
        Fareweel then, lang heel then,
          An' plenty be your fa';
        May losses and crosses
          Ne'er at your hallan ca'.

       *       *       *       *       *



[A storm of rain detained Burns one day, during his border tour, at
Selkirk, and he employed his time in writing this characteristic
epistle to Creech, his bookseller. Creech was a person of education
and taste; he was not only the most popular publisher in the north,
but he was intimate with almost all the distinguished men who, in
those days, adorned Scottish literature. But though a joyous man, a
lover of sociality, and the keeper of a good table, he was close and
parsimonious, and loved to hold money to the last moment that the law

_Selkirk_, 13 _May_, 1787.

    Auld chukie Reekie's[69] sair distrest,
    Down droops her ance weel-burnisht crest,
    Nae joy her bonnie buskit nest
                      Can yield ava,
    Her darling bird that she lo'es best,
                      Willie's awa!

    O Willie was a witty wight,
    And had o' things an unco slight;
    Auld Reekie ay he keepit tight,
                      An' trig an' braw:
    But now they'll busk her like a fright,
                      Willie's awa!

    The stiffest o' them a' he bow'd;
    The bauldest o' them a' he cow'd;
    They durst nae mair than he allow'd,
                      That was a law;
    We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd,
                      Willie's awa!

    Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks, and fools,
    Frae colleges and boarding-schools,
    May sprout like simmer puddock stools
                      In glen or shaw;
    He wha could brush them down to mools,
                      Willie's awa!

    The brethren o' the Commerce-Chaumer[70]
    May mourn their loss wi' doofu' clamour;
    He was a dictionar and grammar
                      Amang them a';
    I fear they'll now mak mony a stammer,
                      Willie's awa!

    Nae mair we see his levee door
    Philosophers and poets pour,[71]
    And toothy critics by the score
                      In bloody raw!
    The adjutant o' a' the core,
                      Willie's awa!

    Now worthy Gregory's Latin face,
    Tytler's and Greenfield's modest grace;
    Mackenzie, Stewart, sic a brace
                      As Rome n'er saw;
    They a' maun meet some ither place,
                      Willie's awa!

    Poor Burns--e'en Scotch drink canna quicken,
    He cheeps like some bewilder'd chicken,
    Scar'd frae its minnie and the cleckin
                      By hoodie-craw;
    Grief's gien his heart an unco kickin',
                      Willie's awa!

    Now ev'ry sour-mou'd girnin' blellum,
    And Calvin's fock are fit to fell him;
    And self-conceited critic skellum
                      His quill may draw;
    He wha could brawlie ward their bellum,
                      Willie's awa!

    Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped,
    And Eden scenes on crystal Jed,
    And Ettrick banks now roaring red,
                      While tempests blaw;
    But every joy and pleasure's fled,
                      Willie's awa!

    May I be slander's common speech;
    A text for infamy to preach;
    And lastly, streekit out to bleach
                      In winter snaw;
    When I forget thee! Willie Creech,
                      Tho' far awa!

    May never wicked fortune touzle him!
    May never wicked man bamboozle him!
    Until a pow as auld's Methusalem
                      He canty claw!
    Then to the blessed New Jerusalem,
                      Fleet wing awa!


[Footnote 69: Edinburgh.]

[Footnote 70: The Chamber of Commerce in Edinburgh, of which Creech was

[Footnote 71: Many literary gentlemen were accustomed to meet at Mr.
Creech's house at breakfast.]

       *       *       *       *       *






[The Falls of Bruar in Athole are exceedingly beautiful and
picturesque; and their effect, when Burns visited them, was much
impaired by want of shrubs and trees. This was in 1787: the poet,
accompanied by his future biographer, Professor Walker, went, when
close on twilight, to this romantic scene: "he threw himself," said
the Professor, "on a heathy seat, and gave himself up to a tender,
abstracted, and voluptuous enthusiasm of imagination. In a few days I
received a letter from Inverness, for the poet had gone on his way,
with the Petition enclosed." His Grace of Athole obeyed the
injunction: the picturesque points are now crowned with thriving
woods, and the beauty of the Falls is much increased.]


    My Lord, I know your noble ear
      Woe ne'er assails in vain;
    Embolden'd thus, I beg you'll hear
      Your humble slave complain,
    How saucy Phoebus' scorching beams
      In flaming summer-pride,
    Dry-withering, waste my foamy streams,
      And drink my crystal tide.


    The lightly-jumpin' glowrin' trouts,
      That thro' my waters play,
    If, in their random, wanton spouts,
      They near the margin stray;
    If, hapless chance! they linger lang,
      I'm scorching up so shallow,
    They're left the whitening stanes amang,
      In gasping death to wallow.


    Last day I grat wi' spite and teen,
      As Poet Burns came by,
    That to a bard I should be seen
      Wi' half my channel dry:
    A panegyric rhyme, I ween,
      Even as I was he shor'd me;
    But had I in my glory been,
      He, kneeling, wad ador'd me.


    Here, foaming down the shelvy rocks,
      In twisting strength I rin;
    There, high my boiling torrent smokes,
      Wild-roaring o'er a linn:
    Enjoying large each spring and well,
      As Nature gave them me,
    I am, altho' I say't mysel',
      Worth gaun a mile to see.


    Would then my noble master please
      To grant my highest wishes,
    He'll shade my banks wi' tow'ring trees,
      And bonnie spreading bushes.
    Delighted doubly then, my Lord,
      You'll wander on my banks,
    And listen mony a grateful bird
      Return you tuneful thanks.


    The sober laverock, warbling wild,
      Shall to the skies aspire;
    The gowdspink, music's gayest child,
      Shall sweetly join the choir:
    The blackbird strong, the lintwhite clear,
      The mavis mild and mellow;
    The robin pensive autumn cheer,
      In all her locks of yellow.


    This, too, a covert shall insure
      To shield them from the storm;
    And coward maukin sleep secure,
      Low in her grassy form:
    Here shall the shepherd make his seat,
      To weave his crown of flow'rs;
    Or find a shelt'ring safe retreat
      From prone-descending show'rs.


    And here, by sweet, endearing stealth,
      Shall meet the loving pair,
    Despising worlds with all their wealth
      As empty idle care.
    The flow'rs shall vie in all their charms
      The hour of heav'n to grace,
    And birks extend their fragrant arms
      To screen the dear embrace.


    Here haply too, at vernal dawn,
      Some musing bard may stray,
    And eye the smoking, dewy lawn,
      And misty mountain gray;
    Or, by the reaper's nightly beam,
      Mild-chequering thro' the trees,
    Rave to my darkly-dashing stream,
      Hoarse-swelling on the breeze.


    Let lofty firs, and ashes cool,
      My lowly banks o'erspread,
    And view, deep-bending in the pool,
      Their shadows' wat'ry bed!
    Let fragrant birks in woodbines drest
      My craggy cliffs adorn;
    And, for the little songster's nest,
      The close embow'ring thorn.


    So may old Scotia's darling hope,
      Your little angel band,
    Spring, like their fathers, up to prop
      Their honour'd native land!
    So may thro' Albion's farthest ken,
      To social-flowing glasses,
    The grace be--"Athole's honest men,
      And Athole's bonnie lasses?"

       *       *       *       *       *




[When Burns wrote these touching lines, he was staying with Sir
William Murray, of Ochtertyre, during one of his Highland tours.
Loch-Turit is a wild lake among the recesses of the hills, and was
welcome from its loneliness to the heart of the poet.]

    Why, ye tenants of the lake,
    For me your wat'ry haunt forsake?
    Tell me, fellow-creatures, why
    At my presence thus you fly?

    Why disturb your social joys,
    Parent, filial, kindred ties?--
    Common friend to you and me,
    Nature's gifts to all are free:
    Peaceful keep your dimpling wave,
    Busy feed, or wanton lave:
    Or, beneath the sheltering rock,
    Bide the surging billow's shock.

    Conscious, blushing for our race,
    Soon, too soon, your fears I trace.
    Man, your proud usurping foe,
    Would be lord of all below:
    Plumes himself in Freedom's pride,
    Tyrant stern to all beside.

    The eagle, from the cliffy brow,
    Marking you his prey below,
    In his breast no pity dwells,
    Strong necessity compels:
    But man, to whom alone is giv'n
    A ray direct from pitying heav'n,
    Glories in his heart humane--
    And creatures for his pleasure slain.

    In these savage, liquid plains,
    Only known to wand'ring swains,
    Where the mossy riv'let strays,
    Far from human haunts and ways;
    All on Nature you depend,
    And life's poor season peaceful spend.

    Or, if man's superior might
    Dare invade your native right,
    On the lofty ether borne,
    Man with all his pow'rs you scorn;
    Swiftly seek, on clanging wings,
    Other lakes and other springs;
    And the foe you cannot brave,
    Scorn at least to be his slave.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The castle of Taymouth is the residence of the Earl of Breadalbane:
it is a magnificent structure, contains many fine paintings: has some
splendid old trees and romantic scenery.]

    Admiring Nature in her wildest grace,
    These northern scenes with weary feet I trace;
    O'er many a winding dale and painful steep,
    Th' abodes of covey'd grouse and timid sheep,
    My savage journey, curious I pursue,
    'Till fam'd Breadalbane opens to my view.--
    The meeting cliffs each deep-sunk glen divides,
    The woods, wild scatter'd, clothe their ample sides;
    Th' outstretching lake, embosom'd 'mong the hills,
    The eye with wonder and amazement fills;
    The Tay, meand'ring sweet in infant pride,
    The palace, rising on its verdant side;
    The lawns, wood-fring'd in Nature's native taste;
    The hillocks, dropt in Nature's careless haste;
    The arches, striding o'er the new-born stream;
    The village, glittering in the noontide beam--

       *       *       *       *       *

    Poetic ardours in my bosom swell,
    Lone wand'ring by the hermit's mossy cell:
    The sweeping theatre of hanging woods;
    Th' incessant roar of headlong tumbling floods--

       *       *       *       *       *

    Here Poesy might wake her heav'n-taught lyre,
    And look through Nature with creative fire;
    Here, to the wrongs of fate half reconcil'd,
    Misfortune's lighten'd steps might wander wild;
    And Disappointment, in these lonely bounds,
    Find balm to soothe her bitter--rankling wounds:
    Here heart-struck Grief might heav'nward stretch her scan,
    And injur'd Worth forget and pardon man.

       *       *       *       *       *





[This is one of the many fine scenes, in the Celtic Parnassus of
Ossian: but when Burns saw it, the Highland passion of the stream was
abated, for there had been no rain for some time to swell and send it
pouring down its precipices in a way worthy of the scene. The descent
of the water is about two hundred feet. There is another fall further
up the stream, very wild and savage, on which the Fyers makes three
prodigious leaps into a deep gulf where nothing can be seen for the
whirling foam and agitated mist.]

    Among the heathy hills and ragged woods
    The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;
    Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,
    Where, thro' a shapeless breach, his stream resounds,
    As high in air the bursting torrents flow,
    As deep-recoiling surges foam below,
    Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends,
    And viewless Echo's ear, astonish'd, rends.
    Dim seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show'rs,
    The hoary cavern, wide surrounding, low'rs.
    Still thro' the gap the struggling river toils,
    And still below, the horrid cauldron boils--

       *       *       *       *       *





[When these verses were written there was much stately Jacobitism
about Edinburgh, and it is likely that Tytler, who laboured to dispel
the cloud of calumny which hung over the memory of Queen Mary, had a
bearing that way. Taste and talent have now descended in the Tytlers
through three generations: an uncommon event in families. The present
edition of the Poem has been completed from the original in the poet's

    Revered defender of beauteous Stuart,
      Of Stuart, a name once respected,
    A name, which to love, was once mark of a true heart,
      But now 'tis despis'd and neglected.

    Tho' something like moisture conglobes in my eye,
      Let no one misdeem me disloyal;
    A poor friendless wand'rer may well claim a sigh,
      Still more, if that wand'rer were royal.

    My fathers that name have rever'd on a throne,
      My fathers have fallen to right it;
    Those fathers would spurn their degenerate son,
      That name should he scoffingly slight it.

    Still in prayers for King George I most heartily join,
      The Queen and the rest of the gentry,
    Be they wise, be they foolish, is nothing of mine;
      Their title's avow'd by my country.

    But why of that epocha make such a fuss,
      That gave us th' Electoral stem?
    If bringing them over was lucky for us,
      I'm sure 'twas as lucky for them.

    But loyalty truce! we're on dangerous ground,
      Who knows how the fashions may alter?
    The doctrine, to-day, that is loyalty sound,
      To-morrow may bring us a halter.

    I send you a trifle, the head of a bard,
      A trifle scarce worthy your care;
    But accept it, good Sir, as a mark of regard,
      Sincere as a saint's dying prayer.

    Now life's chilly evening dim shades on your eye,
      And ushers the long dreary night;
    But you, like the star that athwart gilds the sky,
      Your course to the latest is bright.

       *       *       *       *       *





JUNE. 1788.


[The interleaved volume presented by Burns to Dr. Geddes, has enabled
me to present the reader with the rough draught of this truly
beautiful Poem, the first-fruits perhaps of his intercourse with the
muses of Nithside.]

    Thou whom chance may hither lead,
    Be thou clad in russet weed,
    Be thou deck'd in silken stole,
    Grave these maxims on thy soul.
    Life is but a day at most,
    Sprung from night, in darkness lost;
    Day, how rapid in its flight--
    Day, how few must see the night;
    Hope not sunshine every hour,
    Fear not clouds will always lower.
    Happiness is but a name,
    Make content and ease thy aim.

    Ambition is a meteor gleam;
    Fame, a restless idle dream:
    Pleasures, insects on the wing
    Round Peace, the tenderest flower of Spring;
    Those that sip the dew alone,
    Make the butterflies thy own;
    Those that would the bloom devour,
    Crush the locusts--save the flower.
    For the future be prepar'd,
    Guard wherever thou canst guard;
    But, thy utmost duly done,
    Welcome what thou canst not shun.
    Follies past, give thou to air,
    Make their consequence thy care:
    Keep the name of man in mind,
    And dishonour not thy kind.
    Reverence with lowly heart
    Him whose wondrous work thou art;
    Keep His goodness still in view,
    Thy trust--and thy example, too.

    Stranger, go! Heaven be thy guide!
    Quod the Beadsman on Nithside.

       *       *       *       *       *






[Of this Poem Burns thought so well that he gave away many copies in
his own handwriting: I have seen three. When corrected to his mind,
and the manuscripts showed many changes and corrections, he published
it in the new edition of his Poems as it stands in this second copy.
The little Hermitage where these lines were written, stood in a lonely
plantation belonging to the estate of Friars-Carse, and close to the
march-dyke of Ellisland; a small door in the fence, of which the poet
had the key, admitted him at pleasure, and there he found seclusion
such as he liked, with flowers and shrubs all around him. The first
twelve lines of the Poem were engraved neatly on one of the
window-panes, by the diamond pencil of the Bard. On Riddel's death,
the Hermitage was allowed to go quietly to decay: I remember in 1803
turning two outlyer stots out of the interior.]

    Thou whom chance may hither lead,
    Be thou clad in russet weed,
    Be thou deck'd in silken stole,
    Grave these counsels on thy soul.

    Life is but a day at most,
    Sprung from night, in darkness lost;
    Hope not sunshine ev'ry hour.
    Fear not clouds will always lour.
    As Youth and Love with sprightly dance
    Beneath thy morning star advance,
    Pleasure with her siren air
    May delude the thoughtless pair:
    Let Prudence bless enjoyment's cup,
    Then raptur'd sip, and sip it up.

    As thy day grows warm and high,
    Life's meridian flaming nigh,
    Dost thou spurn the humble vale?
    Life's proud summits would'st thou scale?
    Check thy climbing step, elate,
    Evils lurk in felon wait:
    Dangers, eagle-pinion'd, bold,
    Soar around each cliffy hold,
    While cheerful peace, with linnet song,
    Chants the lowly dells among.

    As the shades of ev'ning close,
    Beck'ning thee to long repose;
    As life itself becomes disease,
    Seek the chimney-nook of ease.
    There ruminate, with sober thought,
    On all thou'st seen, and heard, and wrought;
    And teach the sportive younkers round,
    Saws of experience, sage and sound.
    Say, man's true genuine estimate,
    The grand criterion of his fate,
    Is not--Art thou high or low?
    Did thy fortune ebb or flow?
    Wast thou cottager or king?
    Peer or peasant?--no such thing!
    Did many talents gild thy span?
    Or frugal nature grudge thee one?
    Tell them, and press it on their mind,
    As thou thyself must shortly find,
    The smile or frown of awful Heav'n,
    To virtue or to vice is giv'n.
    Say, to be just, and kind, and wise,
    There solid self-enjoyment lies;
    That foolish, selfish, faithless ways
    Lead to the wretched, vile, and base.

    Thus, resign'd and quiet, creep
    To the bed of lasting sleep;
    Sleep, whence thou shalt ne'er awake,
    Night, where dawn shall never break,
    Till future life, future no more,
    To light and joy the good restore,
    To light and joy unknown before.

    Stranger, go! Hea'vn be thy guide!
    Quod the beadsman of Nithside.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Captain Riddel, the Laird of Friars-Carse, was Burns's neighbour, at
Ellisland: he was a kind, hospitable man, and a good antiquary. The
"News and Review" which he sent to the poet contained, I have heard,
some sharp strictures on his works: Burns, with his usual strong
sense, set the proper value upon all contemporary criticism; genius,
he knew, had nothing to fear from the folly or the malice of all such
nameless "chippers and hewers." He demanded trial by his peers, and
where were such to be found?]

_Ellisland, Monday Evening._

    Your news and review, Sir, I've read through and through, Sir,
      With little admiring or blaming;
    The papers are barren of home-news or foreign,
      No murders or rapes worth the naming.

    Our friends, the reviewers, those chippers and hewers,
      Are judges of mortar and stone, Sir,
    But of _meet_ or _unmeet_ in a _fabric complete_,
      I'll boldly pronounce they are none, Sir.

    My goose-quill too rude is to tell all your goodness
      Bestow'd on your servant, the Poet;
    Would to God I had one like a beam of the sun,
      And then all the world, Sir, should know it!

       *       *       *       *       *




["The Mother's Lament," says the poet, in a copy of the verses now
before me, "was composed partly with a view to Mrs. Fergusson of
Craigdarroch, and partly to the worthy patroness of my early unknown
muse, Mrs. Stewart, of Afton."]

    Fate gave the word, the arrow sped,
      And pierc'd my darling's heart;
    And with him all the joys are fled
      Life can to me impart.
    By cruel hands the sapling drops,
      In dust dishonour'd laid:
    So fell the pride of all my hopes,
      My age's future shade.

    The mother-linnet in the brake
      Bewails her ravish'd young;
    So I, for my lost darling's sake,
      Lament the live day long.
    Death, oft I've fear'd thy fatal blow,
      Now, fond I bare my breast,
    O, do thou kindly lay me low
      With him I love, at rest!

       *       *       *       *       *





[In his manuscript copy of this Epistle the poet says "accompanying a
request." What the request was the letter which enclosed it relates.
Graham was one of the leading men of the Excise in Scotland, and had
promised Burns a situation as exciseman: for this the poet had
qualified himself; and as he began to dread that farming would be
unprofitable, he wrote to remind his patron of his promise, and
requested to be appointed to a division in his own neighbourhood. He
was appointed in due time: his division was extensive, and included
ten parishes.]

    When Nature her great master-piece designed,
    And fram'd her last, best work, the human mind,
    Her eye intent on all the mazy plan,
    She form'd of various parts the various man.

    Then first she calls the useful many forth;
    Plain plodding industry, and sober worth:
    Thence peasants, farmers, native sons of earth,
    And merchandise' whole genus take their birth:
    Each prudent cit a warm existence finds,
    And all mechanics' many-apron'd kinds.
    Some other rarer sorts are wanted yet,
    The lead and buoy are needful to the net;
    The _caput mortuum_ of gross desires
    Makes a material for mere knights and squires;
    The martial phosphorus is taught to flow,
    She kneads the lumpish philosophic dough,
    Then marks th' unyielding mass with grave designs,
    Law, physic, politics, and deep divines:
    Last, she sublimes th' Aurora of the poles,
    The flashing elements of female souls.

    The order'd system fair before her stood,
    Nature, well pleas'd, pronounc'd it very good;
    But ere she gave creating labour o'er,
    Half-jest, she tried one curious labour more.
    Some spumy, fiery, _ignis fatuus_ matter,
    Such as the slightest breath of air might scatter;
    With arch alacrity and conscious glee
    (Nature may have her whim as well as we,
    Her Hogarth-art perhaps she meant to show it)
    She forms the thing, and christens it--a Poet.
    Creature, tho' oft the prey of care and sorrow,
    When blest to-day, unmindful of to-morrow.
    A being form'd t'amuse his graver friends,
    Admir'd and prais'd--and there the homage ends:
    A mortal quite unfit for fortune's strife,
    Yet oft the sport of all the ills of life;
    Prone to enjoy each pleasure riches give,
    Yet haply wanting wherewithal to live;
    Longing to wipe each tear, to heal each groan,
    Yet frequent all unheeded in his own.

    But honest Nature is not quite a Turk,
    She laugh'd at first, then felt for her poor work.
    Pitying the propless climber of mankind,
    She cast about a standard tree to find;
    And, to support his helpless woodbine state,
    Attach'd him to the generous truly great,
    A title, and the only one I claim,
    To lay strong hold for help on bounteous Graham.

    Pity the tuneful muses' hapless train,
    Weak, timid landsmen on life's stormy main!
    Their hearts no selfish stern absorbent stuff,
    That never gives--tho' humbly takes enough;
    The little fate allows, they share as soon,
    Unlike sage proverb'd wisdom's hard-wrung boon.
    The world were blest did bliss on them depend,
    Ah, that "the friendly e'er should want a friend!"
    Let prudence number o'er each sturdy son
    Who life and wisdom at one race begun,
    Who feel by reason and who give by rule,
    (Instinct's a brute, and sentiment a fool!)
    Who make poor _will do_ wait upon _I should_--
    We own they're prudent, but who feels they're good?
    Ye wise ones, hence! ye hurt the social eye!
    God's image rudely etch'd on base alloy!
    But come ye who the godlike pleasure know,
    Heaven's attribute distinguished--to bestow!
    Whose arms of love would grasp the human race:
    Come thou who giv'st with all a courtier's grace;
    Friend of my life, true patron of my rhymes!
    Prop of my dearest hopes for future times.

    Why shrinks my soul half blushing, half afraid,
    Backward, abash'd to ask thy friendly aid?
    I know my need, I know thy giving hand,
    I crave thy friendship at thy kind command;
    But there are such who court the tuneful nine--
    Heavens! should the branded character be mine!
    Whose verse in manhood's pride sublimely flows,
    Yet vilest reptiles in their begging prose.
    Mark, how their lofty independent spirit
    Soars on the spurning wing of injur'd merit!
    Seek not the proofs in private life to find;
    Pity the best of words should be but wind!
    So to heaven's gates the lark's shrill song ascends,
    But grovelling on the earth the carol ends.
    In all the clam'rous cry of starving want,
    They dun benevolence with shameless front;
    Oblige them, patronize their tinsel lays,
    They persecute you all your future days!
    Ere my poor soul such deep damnation stain,
    My horny fist assume the plough again;
    The pie-bald jacket let me patch once more;
    On eighteen-pence a week I've liv'd before.
    Tho', thanks to Heaven, I dare even that last shift!
    I trust, meantime, my boon is in thy gift:
    That, plac'd by thee upon the wish'd-for height,
    Where, man and nature fairer in her sight,
    My muse may imp her wing for some sublimer flight.

       *       *       *       *       *




[I found these lines written with a pencil in one of Burns's
memorandum-books: he said he had just composed them, and pencilled
them down lest they should escape from his memory. They differed in
nothing from the printed copy of the first Liverpool edition. That
they are by Burns there cannot be a doubt, though they were, I know
not for what reason, excluded from several editions of the Posthumous
Works of the poet.]

    The lamp of day, with ill-presaging glare,
      Dim, cloudy, sunk beneath the western wave;
    Th' inconstant blast howl'd thro' the darkening air,
      And hollow whistled in the rocky cave.

    Lone as I wander'd by each cliff and dell,
      Once the lov'd haunts of Scotia's royal train;[72]
    Or mus'd where limpid streams once hallow'd well,[73]
      Or mould'ring ruins mark the sacred fane.[74]

    Th' increasing blast roared round the beetling rocks,
      The clouds, swift-wing'd, flew o'er the starry sky,
    The groaning trees untimely shed their locks,
      And shooting meteors caught the startled eye.

    The paly moon rose in the livid east,
      And 'mong the cliffs disclos'd a stately form,
    In weeds of woe that frantic beat her breast,
      And mix'd her wailings with the raving storm.

    Wild to my heart the filial pulses glow,
      'Twas Caledonia's trophied shield I view'd:
    Her form majestic droop'd in pensive woe,
      The lightning of her eye in tears imbued.

    Revers'd that spear, redoubtable in war,
      Reclined that banner, erst in fields unfurl'd,
    That like a deathful meteor gleam'd afar,
      And brav'd the mighty monarchs of the world.--

    "My patriot son fills an untimely grave!"
      With accents wild and lifted arms--she cried;
    "Low lies the hand that oft was stretch'd to save,
      Low lies the heart that swell'd with honest pride.

    "A weeping country joins a widow's tear,
      The helpless poor mix with the orphan's cry;
    The drooping arts surround their patron's bier,
      And grateful science heaves the heart-felt sigh!

    "I saw my sons resume their ancient fire;
      I saw fair freedom's blossoms richly blow:
    But ah! how hope is born but to expire!
      Relentless fate has laid their guardian low.

    "My patriot falls, but shall he lie unsung,
      While empty greatness saves a worthless name!
    No; every muse shall join her tuneful tongue,
      And future ages hear his growing fame.

    "And I will join a mother's tender cares,
      Thro' future times to make his virtues last;
    That distant years may boast of other Blairs!"--
      She said, and vanish'd with the sweeping blast.


[Footnote 72: The King's Park, at Holyrood-house.]

[Footnote 73: St. Anthony's Well.]

[Footnote 74: St. Anthony's Chapel.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[This little lively, biting epistle was addressed to one of the poet's
Kilmarnock companions. Hugh Parker was the brother of William Parker,
one of the subscribers to the Edinburgh edition of Burns's Poems: he
has been dead many years: the Epistle was recovered, luckily, from his
papers, and printed for the first time in 1834.]

    In this strange land, this uncouth clime,
    A land unknown to prose or rhyme;
    Where words ne'er crost the muse's heckles,
    Nor limpet in poetic shackles:
    A land that prose did never view it,
    Except when drunk he stacher't thro' it,
    Here, ambush'd by the chimla cheek,
    Hid in an atmosphere of reek,
    I hear a wheel thrum i' the neuk,
    I hear it--for in vain I leuk.--
    The red peat gleams, a fiery kernel,
    Enhusked by a fog infernal:
    Here, for my wonted rhyming raptures,
    I sit and count my sins by chapters;
    For life and spunk like ither Christians,
    I'm dwindled down to mere existence,
    Wi' nae converse but Gallowa' bodies,
    Wi' nae kend face but Jenny Geddes.[75]
    Jenny, my Pegasean pride!
    Dowie she saunters down Nithside,
    And ay a westlin leuk she throws,
    While tears hap o'er her auld brown nose!
    Was it for this, wi' canny care,
    Thou bure the bard through many a shire?
    At howes or hillocks never stumbled,
    And late or early never grumbled?--
    O had I power like inclination,
    I'd heeze thee up a constellation,
    To canter with the Sagitarre,
    Or loup the ecliptic like a bar;
    Or turn the pole like any arrow;
    Or, when auld Phoebus bids good-morrow,
    Down the zodiac urge the race,
    And cast dirt on his godship's face;
    For I could lay my bread and kail
    He'd ne'er cast saut upo' thy tail.--
    Wi' a' this care and a' this grief,
    And sma,' sma' prospect of relief,
    And nought but peat reek i' my head,
    How can I write what ye can read?--
    Tarbolton, twenty-fourth o' June,
    Ye'll find me in a better tune;
    But till we meet and weet our whistle,
    Tak this excuse for nae epistle.



[Footnote 75: His mare.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns placed the portraits of Dr. Blacklock and the Earl of
Glencairn, over his parlour chimney-piece at Ellisland: beneath the
head of the latter he wrote some verses, which he sent to the Earl,
and requested leave to make public. This seems to have been refused;
and, as the verses were lost for years, it was believed they were
destroyed: a rough copy, however, is preserved, and is now in the safe
keeping of the Earl's name-son, Major James Glencairn Burns. James
Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn, died 20th January, 1791, aged 42 years;
he was succeeded by his only and childless brother, with whom this
ancient race was closed.]

    Whose is that noble dauntless brow?
      And whose that eye of fire?
    And whose that generous princely mien,
      E'en rooted foes admire?
    Stranger! to justly show that brow,
      And mark that eye of fire,
    Would take _His_ hand, whose vernal tints
      His other works inspire.

    Bright as a cloudless summer sun,
      With stately port he moves;
    His guardian seraph eyes with awe
      The noble ward he loves--
    Among th' illustrious Scottish sons
      That chief thou may'st discern;
    Mark Scotia's fond returning eye--
      It dwells upon Glencairn.

       *       *       *       *       *





[This Poem was first printed by Stewart, in 1801. The poet loved to
indulge in such sarcastic sallies: it is full of character, and
reflects a distinct image of those yeasty times.]

    For Lords or Kings I dinna mourn,
    E'en let them die--for that they're born,
    But oh! prodigious to reflec'!
    A Towmont, Sirs, is gane to wreck!
    O Eighty-eight, in thy sma' space
    What dire events ha'e taken place!
    Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!
    In what a pickle thou hast left us!

    The Spanish empire's tint a-head,
    An' my auld toothless Bawtie's dead;
    The tulzie's sair 'tween Pitt and Fox,
    And our guid wife's wee birdie cocks;
    The tane is game, a bluidie devil,
    But to the hen-birds unco civil:
    The tither's something dour o' treadin',
    But better stuff ne'er claw'd a midden--
    Ye ministers, come mount the pu'pit,
    An' cry till ye be hearse an' roupet,
    For Eighty-eight he wish'd you weel,
    An' gied you a' baith gear an' meal;
    E'en mony a plack, and mony a peck,
    Ye ken yoursels, for little feck!

    Ye bonnie lasses, dight your e'en,
    For some o' you ha'e tint a frien';
    In Eighty-eight, ye ken, was ta'en,
    What ye'll ne'er ha'e to gie again.

    Observe the very nowt an' sheep,
    How dowf and dowie now they creep;
    Nay, even the yirth itsel' does cry,
    For Embro' wells are grutten dry.
    O Eighty-nine, thou's but a bairn,
    An' no owre auld, I hope, to learn!
    Thou beardless boy, I pray tak' care,
    Thou now has got thy daddy's chair,
    Nae hand-cuff'd, mizl'd, hap-shackl'd Regent,
    But, like himsel' a full free agent.
    Be sure ye follow out the plan
    Nae waur than he did, honest man!
    As muckle better as ye can.

_January 1_, 1789.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: "THE TOOTHACHE."]



["I had intended," says Burns to Creech, 30th May, 1789, "to have
troubled you with a long letter, but at present the delightful
sensation of an omnipotent toothache so engrosses all my inner man, as
to put it out of my power even to write nonsense." The poetic Address
to the Toothache seems to belong to this period.]

    My curse upon thy venom'd stang,
    That shoots my tortur'd gums alang;
    And thro' my lugs gies mony a twang,
                      Wi' gnawing vengeance;
    Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
                      Like racking engines!

    When fevers burn, or ague freezes,
    Rheumatics gnaw, or cholic squeezes;
    Our neighbours' sympathy may ease us,
                      Wi' pitying moan;
    But thee--thou hell o' a' diseases,
                      Ay mocks our groan!

    Adown my beard the slavers trickle!
    I kick the wee stools o'er the mickle,
    As round the fire the giglets keckle,
                      To see me loup;
    While, raving mad, I wish a heckle
                      Were in their doup.

    O' a' the num'rous human dools,
    Ill har'sts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
    Or worthy friends rak'd i' the mools,
                      Sad sight to see!
    The tricks o' knaves, or fash o' fools,
                      Thou bears't the gree.

    Where'er that place be priests ca' hell,
    Whence a' the tones o' mis'ry yell,
    And ranked plagues their numbers tell,
                      In dreadfu' raw,
    Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell
                      Amang them a'!

    O thou grim mischief-making chiel,
    That gars the notes of discord squeel,
    'Till daft mankind aft dance a reel
                      In gore a shoe-thick!--
    Gie' a' the faes o' Scotland's weal
                      A towmond's Toothache.

       *       *       *       *       *






[The origin of this harsh effusion shows under what feelings Burns
sometimes wrote. He was, he says, on his way to Ayrshire, one stormy
day in January, and had made himself comfortable, in spite of the
snow-drift, over a smoking bowl, at an inn at the Sanquhar, when in
wheeled the whole funeral pageantry of Mrs. Oswald. He was obliged to
mount his horse and ride for quarters to New Cumnock, where, over a
good fire, he penned, in his very ungallant indignation, the Ode to
the lady's memory. He lived to think better of the name.]

    Dweller in yon dungeon dark,
    Hangman of creation, mark!
    Who in widow-weeds appears,
    Laden with unhonoured years,
    Noosing with care a bursting purse,
    Baited with many a deadly curse?


    View the wither'd beldam's face--
    Can thy keen inspection trace
    Aught of Humanity's sweet melting grace?
    Note that eye, 'tis rheum o'erflows,
    Pity's flood there never rose.
    See these hands, ne'er stretch'd to save,
    Hands that took--but never gave.
    Keeper of Mammon's iron chest,
    Lo, there she goes, unpitied and unblest
    She goes, but not to realms of everlasting rest!


    Plunderer of armies, lift thine eyes,
    (Awhile forbear, ye tort'ring fiends;)
    Seest thou whose step, unwilling hither bends?
    No fallen angel, hurl'd from upper skies;
    'Tis thy trusty quondam mate,
    Doom'd to share thy fiery fate,
    She, tardy, hell-ward plies.


    And are they of no more avail,
    Ten thousand glitt'ring pounds a-year?
    In other worlds can Mammon fail,
    Omnipotent as he is here?
    O, bitter mock'ry of the pompous bier,
    While down the wretched vital part is driv'n!
    The cave-lodg'd beggar, with a conscience clear,
    Expires in rags, unknown, and goes to Heav'n.

       *       *       *       *       *




[It was late in life before Burns began to think very highly of Fox:
he had hitherto spoken of him rather as a rattler of dice, and a
frequenter of soft company, than as a statesman. As his hopes from the
Tories vanished, he began to think of the Whigs: the first did
nothing, and the latter held out hopes; and as hope, he said was the
cordial of the human heart, he continued to hope on.]

    How wisdom and folly meet, mix, and unite;
    How virtue and vice blend their black and their white;
    How genius, th' illustrious father of fiction,
    Confounds rule and law, reconciles contradiction--
    I sing: if these mortals, the critics, should bustle,
    I care not, not I--let the critics go whistle!

    But now for a patron, whose name and whose glory
    At once may illustrate and honour my story.

    Thou first of our orators, first of our wits;
    Yet whose parts and acquirements seem mere lucky hits;
    With knowledge so vast, and with judgment so strong,
    No man with the half of 'em e'er went far wrong;
    With passions so potent, and fancies so bright,
    No man with the half of 'em e'er went quite right;--
    A sorry, poor misbegot son of the muses,
    For using thy name offers fifty excuses.

      Good L--d, what is man? for as simple he looks,
    Do but try to develope his hooks and his crooks;
    With his depths and his shallows, his good and his evil,
    All in all he's a problem must puzzle the devil.

    On his one ruling passion Sir Pope hugely labours,
    That, like th' old Hebrew walking-switch, eats up its neighbours;
    Mankind are his show-box--a friend, would you know him?
    Pull the string, ruling passion the picture will show him.
    What pity, in rearing so beauteous a system,
    One trifling particular, truth, should have miss'd him;
    For spite of his fine theoretic positions,
    Mankind is a science defies definitions.

    Some sort all our qualities each to its tribe,
    And think human nature they truly describe;
    Have you found this, or t'other? there's more in the wind,
    As by one drunken fellow his comrades you'll find.

    But such is the flaw, or the depth of the plan,
    In the make of that wonderful creature, call'd man,
    No two virtues, whatever relation they claim,
    Nor even two different shades of the same,
    Though like as was ever twin brother to brother,
    Possessing the one shall imply you've the other.

    But truce with abstraction, and truce with a muse,
    Whose rhymes you'll perhaps, Sir, ne'er deign to peruse:
    Will you leave your justings, your jars, and your quarrels,
    Contending with Billy for proud-nodding laurels.
    My much-honour'd Patron, believe your poor poet,
    Your courage much more than your prudence you show it;
    In vain with Squire Billy, for laurels you struggle,
    He'll have them by fair trade, if not, he will smuggle;
    Not cabinets even of kings would conceal 'em,
    He'd up the back-stairs, and by G--he would steal 'em.
    Then feats like Squire Billy's you ne'er can achieve 'em;
    It is not, outdo him, the task is, out-thieve him.

       *       *       *       *       *






[This Poem is founded on fact. A young man of the name of Thomson told
me--quite unconscious of the existence of the Poem--that while Burns
lived at Ellisland--he shot at and hurt a hare, which in the twilight
was feeding on his father's wheat-bread. The poet, on observing the
hare come bleeding past him, "was in great wrath," said Thomson, "and
cursed me, and said little hindered him from throwing me into the
Nith; and he was able enough to do it, though I was both young and
strong." The boor of Nithside did not use the hare worse than the
critical Dr. Gregory, of Edinburgh, used the Poem: when Burns read his
remarks he said, "Gregory is a good man, but he crucifies me!"]

    Inhuman man! curse on thy barb'rous art,
      And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye;
      May never pity soothe thee with a sigh,
    Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart.

    Go live, poor wanderer of the wood and field!
      The bitter little that of life remains:
      No more the thickening brakes and verdant plains
    To thee shall home, or food, or pastime yield.

    Seek, mangled wretch, some place of wonted rest,
      No more of rest, but now thy dying bed!
      The sheltering rushes whistling o'er thy head,
    The cold earth with thy bloody bosom prest.

    Oft as by winding Nith, I, musing, wait
      The sober eve, or hail the cheerful dawn;
      I'll miss thee sporting o'er the dewy lawn,
    And curse the ruffian's aim, and mourn thy hapless fate.

       *       *       *       *       *




[This blind scholar, though an indifferent Poet, was an excellent and
generous man: he was foremost of the Edinburgh literati to admire the
Poems of Burns, promote their fame, and advise that the author,
instead of shipping himself for Jamaica, should come to Edinburgh and
publish a new edition. The poet reverenced the name of Thomas
Blacklock to the last hour of his life.--Henry Mackenzie, the Earl of
Glencairn, and the Blind Bard, were his three favourites.]

_Ellisland, 21st Oct._ 1789.

    Wow, but your letter made me vauntie!
    And are ye hale, and weel, and cantie?
    I kenn'd it still your wee bit jauntie
                      Wad bring ye to:
    Lord send you ay as weel's I want ye,
                      And then ye'll do.

    The ill-thief blaw the heron south!
    And never drink be near his drouth!
    He tauld mysel' by word o' mouth,
                      He'd tak my letter:
    I lippen'd to the chief in trouth,
                      And bade nae better.

    But aiblins honest Master Heron,
    Had at the time some dainty fair one,
    To ware his theologic care on,
                      And holy study;
    And tir'd o' sauls to waste his lear on
                      E'en tried the body.

    But what dy'e think, my trusty fier,
    I'm turn'd a gauger--Peace be here!
    Parnassian queans, I fear, I fear,
                      Ye'll now disdain me!
    And then my fifty pounds a year
                      Will little gain me.

    Ye glaiket, gleesome, dainty damies,
    Wha, by Castalia's wimplin' streamies,
    Lowp, sing, and lave your pretty limbies,
                      Ye ken, ye ken,
    That strang necessity supreme is
                      'Mang sons o' men.

    I hae a wife and twa wee laddies,
    They maun hae brose and brats o' duddies;
    Ye ken yoursels my heart right proud is--
                      I need na vaunt,
    But I'll sned besoms--thraw saugh woodies,
                      Before they want.

    Lord help me thro' this warld o' care!
    I'm weary sick o't late and air!
    Not but I hae a richer share
                      Than mony ithers:
    But why should ae man better fare,
                      And a' men brithers?

    Come, firm Resolve, take then the van,
    Thou stalk o' carl-hemp in man!
    And let us mind, faint-heart ne'er wan
                      A lady fair:
    Wha does the utmost that he can,
                      Will whyles do mair.

    But to conclude my silly rhyme,
    (I'm scant o' verse, and scant o' time,)
    To make a happy fire-side clime
                      To weans and wife,
    That's the true pathos and sublime
                      Of human life.

    My compliments to sister Beckie;
    And eke the same to honest Lucky,
    I wat she is a dainty chuckie,
                      As e'er tread clay!
    And gratefully, my guid auld cockie,
                      I'm yours for ay,


       *       *       *       *       *




[These verses were first printed in the Star newspaper, in May, 1789.
It is said that one day a friend read to the poet some verses from the
Star, composed on the pattern of Pope's song, by a Person of Quality.
"These lines are beyond you," he added: "the muse of Kyle cannot match
the muse of London." Burns mused a moment, then recited "Delia, an

    Fair the face of orient day,
    Fair the tints of op'ning rose,
    But fairer still my Delia dawns,
    More lovely far her beauty blows.

    Sweet the lark's wild-warbled lay,
    Sweet the tinkling rill to hear;
    But, Delia, more delightful still
    Steal thine accents on mine ear.

    The flow'r-enamoured busy bee
    The rosy banquet loves to sip;
    Sweet the streamlet's limpid lapse
    To the sun-brown'd Arab's lip;--

    But, Delia, on thy balmy lips
    Let me, no vagrant insect, rove!
    O, let me steal one liquid kiss!
    For, oh! my soul is parch'd with love.

       *       *       *       *       *



[John M'Murdo, Esq., one of the chamberlains of the Duke of
Queensberry, lived at Drumlanrig: he was a high-minded, warm-hearted
man, and much the friend of the poet. These lines accompanied a
present of books: others were added soon afterwards on a pane of glass
in Drumlanrig castle.

    "Blest be M'Murdo to his latest day!
    No envious cloud o'ercast his evening ray;
    No wrinkle furrowed by the hand of care,
    Nor ever sorrow add one silver hair!
    O may no son the father's honour stain,
    Nor ever daughter give the mother pain."

How fully the poet's wishes were fulfilled need not be told to any one
acquainted with the family.]

    O, could I give thee India's wealth,
      As I this trifle send!
    Because thy joy in both would be
      To share them with a friend.

    But golden sands did never grace
      The Heliconian stream;
    Then take what gold could never buy--
      An honest Bard's esteem.

       *       *       *       *       *




1 JAN. 1790.

[This prologue was written in December, 1789, for Mr. Sutherland, who
recited it with applause in the little theatre of Dumfries, on
new-year's night. Sir Harris Nicolas, however, has given to Ellisland
the benefit of a theatre! and to Burns the whole barony of Dalswinton
for a farm!]

    No song nor dance I bring from yon great city
    That queens it o'er our taste--the more's the pity:
    Tho', by-the-by, abroad why will you roam?
    Good sense and taste are natives here at home:
    But not for panegyric I appear,
    I come to wish you all a good new year!
    Old Father Time deputes me here before ye,
    Not for to preach, but tell his simple story:
    The sage grave ancient cough'd, and bade me say,
    "You're one year older this important day."
    If wiser too--he hinted some suggestion,
    But 'twould be rude, you know, to ask the question;
    And with a would-be roguish leer and wink,
    He bade me on you press this one word--"think!"

      Ye sprightly youths, quite flushed with hope and spirit,
    Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
    To you the dotard has a deal to say,
    In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way;
    He bids you mind, amid your thoughtless rattle,
    That the first blow is ever half the battle:
    That tho' some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
    Yet by the forelock is the hold to catch him;
    That whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
    You may do miracles by persevering.

      Last, tho' not least in love, ye youthful fair,
    Angelic forms, high Heaven's peculiar care!
    To yon old Bald-pate smooths his wrinkled brow,
    And humbly begs you'll mind the important NOW!
    To crown your happiness he asks your leave,
    And offers bliss to give and to receive.

      For our sincere, tho' haply weak endeavours,
    With grateful pride we own your many favours,
    And howsoe'er our tongues may ill reveal it,
    Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns did not shine in prologues: he produced some vigorous lines,
but they did not come in harmony from his tongue, like the songs in
which he recorded the loveliness of the dames of Caledonia. Sutherland
was manager of the theatre, and a writer of rhymes.--Burns said his
players were a very decent set: he had seen them an evening or two.]

      What needs this din about the town o' Lon'on,
    How this new play an' that new sang is comin'?
    Why is outlandish stuff sae meikle courted?
    Does nonsense mend like whiskey, when imported?
    Is there nae poet, burning keen for fame,
    Will try to gie us songs and plays at hame?
    For comedy abroad he need nae toil,
    A fool and knave are plants of every soil;
    Nor need he hunt as far as Rome and Greece
    To gather matter for a serious piece;
    There's themes enough in Caledonian story,
    Would show the tragic muse in a' her glory.

    Is there no daring bard will rise, and tell
    How glorious Wallace stood, how hapless fell?
    Where are the muses fled that could produce
    A drama worthy o' the name o' Bruce;
    How here, even here, he first unsheath'd the sword,
    'Gainst mighty England and her guilty lord,
    And after mony a bloody, deathless doing,
    Wrench'd his dear country from the jaws of ruin?
    O for a Shakspeare or an Otway scene,
    To draw the lovely, hapless Scottish Queen!
    Vain all th' omnipotence of female charms
    'Gainst headlong, ruthless, mad Rebellion's arms.

    She fell, but fell with spirit truly Roman,
    To glut the vengeance of a rival woman;
    A woman--tho' the phrase may seem uncivil--
    As able and as cruel as the Devil!
    One Douglas lives in Home's immortal page,
    But Douglases were heroes every age:
    And tho' your fathers, prodigal of life,
    A Douglas follow'd to the martial strife,
    Perhaps if bowls row right, and right succeeds,
    Ye yet may follow where a Douglas leads!

    As ye hae generous done, if a' the land
    Would take the muses' servants by the hand;
    Not only hear, but patronize, befriend them,
    And where ye justly can commend, commend them;
    And aiblins when they winna stand the test,
    Wink hard, and say the folks hae done their best!
    Would a' the land do this, then I'll be caution
    Ye'll soon hae poets o' the Scottish nation,
    Will gar fame blaw until her trumpet crack,
    And warsle time, on' lay him on his back!
    For us and for our stage should ony spier,
    "Whose aught thae chiels maks a' this bustle here!"
    My best leg foremost, I'll set up my brow,
    We have the honour to belong to you!
    We're your ain bairns, e'en guide us as ye like,
    But like good withers, shore before ye strike.--
    And gratefu' still I hope ye'll ever find us,
    For a' the patronage and meikle kindness
    We've got frae a' professions, sets, and ranks:
    God help us! we're but poor--ye'se get but thanks.

       *       *       *       *       *





[This is a picture of the Dunlop family: it was printed from a hasty
sketch, which the poet called extempore. The major whom it mentions,
was General Andrew Dunlop, who died in 1804: Rachel Dunlop was
afterwards married to Robert Glasgow, Esq. Another of the Dunlops
served with distinction in India, where he rose to the rank of
General. They were a gallant race, and all distinguished.]

    This day, Time winds th' exhausted chain,
    To run the twelvemonth's length again:
    I see the old, bald-pated follow,
    With ardent eyes, complexion sallow,
    Adjust the unimpair'd machine,
    To wheel the equal, dull routine.

    The absent lover, minor heir,
    In vain assail him with their prayer;
    Deaf as my friend, he sees them press,
    Nor makes the hour one moment less.
    Will you (the Major's with the hounds,
    The happy tenants share his rounds;
    Coila's fair Rachel's care to-day,
    And blooming Keith's engaged with Gray)
    From housewife cares a minute borrow--
    That grandchild's cap will do to-morrow--
    And join with me a moralizing,
    This day's propitious to be wise in.

    First, what did yesternight deliver?
    "Another year is gone for ever."
    And what is this day's strong suggestion?
    "The passing moment's all we rest on!"
    Rest on--for what? what do we here?
    Or why regard the passing year?
    Will time, amus'd with proverb'd lore,
    Add to our date one minute more?
    A few days more--a few years must--
    Repose us in the silent dust.
    Then is it wise to damp our bliss?
    Yes--all such reasonings are amiss!
    The voice of nature loudly cries,
    And many a message from the skies,
    That something in us never dies:
    That on this frail, uncertain state,
    Hang matters of eternal weight:
    That future life in worlds unknown
    Must take its hue from this alone;
    Whether as heavenly glory bright,
    Or dark as misery's woeful night.--

    Since then, my honour'd, first of friends,
    On this poor being all depends,
    Let us th' important _now_ employ,
    And live as those who never die.--

    Tho' you, with days and honours crown'd,
    Witness that filial circle round,
    (A sight, life's sorrows to repulse,
    A sight, pale envy to convulse,)
    Others now claim your chief regard;
    Yourself, you wait your bright reward.

       *       *       *       *       *





[These sarcastic lines contain a too true picture of the times in
which they were written. Though great changes have taken place in
court and camp, yet Austria, Russia, and Prussia keep the tack of
Poland: nobody says a word of Denmark: emasculated Italy is still
singing; opera girls are still dancing; but Chatham Will, glaikit
Charlie, Daddie Burke, Royal George, and Geordie Wales, have all
passed to their account.]

    Kind Sir, I've read your paper through,
    And, faith, to me 'twas really new!
    How guess'd ye, Sir, what maist I wanted?
    This mony a day I've grain'd and gaunted,
    To ken what French mischief was brewin';
    Or what the drumlie Dutch were doin';
    That vile doup-skelper, Emperor Joseph,
    If Venus yet had got his nose off;
    Or how the collieshangie works
    Atween the Russians and the Turks:
    Or if the Swede, before he halt,
    Would play anither Charles the Twalt:
    If Denmark, any body spak o't;
    Or Poland, wha had now the tack o't;
    How cut-throat Prussian blades were hingin';
    How libbet Italy was singin';
    If Spaniard, Portuguese, or Swiss
    Were sayin' or takin' aught amiss:
    Or how our merry lads at hame,
    In Britain's court kept up the game:
    How royal George, the Lord leuk o'er him!
    Was managing St. Stephen's quorum;
    If sleekit Chatham Will was livin';
    Or glaikit Charlie got his nieve in:
    How daddie Burke the plea was cookin',
    If Warren Hastings' neck was yeukin;
    How cesses, stents, and fees were rax'd,
    Or if bare a--s yet were tax'd;
    The news o' princes, dukes, and earls,
    Pimps, sharpers, bawds, and opera girls;
    If that daft buckie, Geordie Wales,
    Was threshin' still at hizzies' tails;
    Or if he was grown oughtlins douser,
    And no a perfect kintra cooser.--
    A' this and mair I never heard of;
    And but for you I might despair'd of.
    So, gratefu', back your news I send you,
    And pray, a' guid things may attend you!

_Ellisland, Monday morning_, 1790.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The history of this Poem is curious. M'Gill, one of the ministers of
Ayr, long suspected of entertaining heterodox opinions concerning
original sin and the Trinity, published "A Practical Essay on the
Death of Jesus Christ," which, in the opinion of the more rigid
portion of his brethren, inclined both to Arianism and Socinianism.
This essay was denounced as heretical, by a minister of the name
Peebles, in a sermon preached November 5th, 1788, and all the west
country was in a flame. The subject was brought before the Synod, and
was warmly debated till M'Gill expressed his regret for the disquiet
he had occasioned, explained away or apologized for the challenged
passages in his Essay, and declared his adherence to the Standard
doctrines of his mother church. Burns was prevailed upon to bring his
satire to the aid of M'Gill, but he appears to have done so with

          Orthodox, orthodox,
          Wha believe in John Knox,
    Let me sound an alarm to your conscience:
          There's a heretic blast
          Has been blawn in the wast,
    That what is no sense must be nonsense.

          Dr. Mac,[77] Dr. Mac,
          You should stretch on a rack,
    To strike evil doers wi' terror;
          To join faith and sense
          Upon ony pretence,
    Is heretic, damnable error.

          Town of Ayr, town of Ayr,
          It was mad, I declare,
    To meddle wi' mischief a-brewing;
          Provost John[78] is still deaf
          To the church's relief,
    And orator Bob[79] is its ruin.

          D'rymple mild,[80] D'rymple mild,
          Thro' your heart's like a child,
    And your life like the new driven snaw,
          Yet that winna save ye,
          Auld Satan must hav ye,
    For preaching that three's ane an' twa.

          Rumble John,[81] Rumble John,
          Mount the steps wi' a groan,
    Cry the book is wi' heresy cramm'd;
          Then lug out your ladle,
          Deal brimstone like adle,
    And roar every note of the danm'd.

          Simper James,[82] Simper James,
          Leave the fair Killie dames,
    There's a holier chase in your view;
          I'll lay on your head
          That the pack ye'll soon lead.
    For puppies like you there's but few.

          Singet Sawney,[83] Singet Sawney,
          Are ye herding the penny,
    Unconscious what evil await?
          Wi' a jump, yell, and howl,
          Alarm every soul,
    For the foul thief is just at your gate.

          Daddy Auld,[84] Daddy Auld,
          There's a tod in the fauld,
    A tod meikle waur than the clerk;
          Though yo can do little skaith,
          Ye'll be in at the death,
    And gif ye canna bite, ye may bark.

          Davie Bluster,[85] Davie Bluster,
          If for a saint ye do muster,
    The corps is no nice of recruits;
          Yet to worth let's be just,
          Royal blood ye might boast,
    If the ass was the king of the brutes.

          Jamy Goose,[86] Jamy Goose,
          Ye ha'e made but toom roose,
    In hunting the wicked lieutenant;
          But the Doctor's your mark,
          For the L--d's haly ark;
    He has cooper'd and cawd a wrang pin in't.

          Poet Willie,[87] Poet Willie,
          Fie the Doctor a volley,
    Wi' your liberty's chain and your wit;
          O'er Pegasus' side
          Ye ne'er laid astride,
    Ye but smelt, man, the place where he ----.

          Andro Gouk,[88], Andro Gouk,
          Ye may slander the book,
    And the book not the waur, let me tell ye;
          Ye are rich and look big,
          But lay by hat and wig,
    And ye'll ha'e a calf's head o' sma' value.

          Barr Steenie,[89] Barr Steenie,
          What mean ye, what mean ye?
    If ye'll meddle nae mair wi' the matter,
          Ye may ha'e some pretence
          To havins and sense,
    Wi' people wha ken ye nae better.

          Irvine side,[90] Irvine side,
          Wi' your turkey-cock pride,
    Of manhood but sum' is your share,
          Ye've the figure 'tis true,
          Even your faes will allow,
    And your friends they dae grunt you nae mair.

          Muirland Jock,[91] Muirland Jock,
          When the L--d makes a rock
    To crush Common sense for her sins,
          If ill manners were wit,
          There's no mortal so fit
    To confound the poor Doctor at ance.

          Holy Will,[92] Holy Will,
          There was wit i' your skull,
    When ye pilfer'd the alms o' the poor;
          The timmer is scant,
          When ye're ta'en for a saunt,
    Wha should swing in a rape for an hour.

          Calvin's sons, Calvin's sons,
          Seize your spir'tual guns,
    Ammunition you never can need;
          Your hearts are the stuff,
          Will be powther enough,
    And your skulls are storehouses o' lead.

          Poet Burns, Poet Burns,
          Wi' your priest-skelping turns,
    Why desert ye your auld native shire?
          Your muse is a gipsie,
          E'en tho' she were tipsie,
    She could ca' us nae waur than we are.


[Footnote 76: This Poem was written a short time after the publication
of M'Gill's Essay.]

[Footnote 77: Dr. M'Gill.]

[Footnote 78: John Ballantyne.]

[Footnote 79: Robert Aiken.]

[Footnote 80: Dr. Dalrymple.]

[Footnote 81: Mr. Russell.]

[Footnote 82: Mr. M'Kinlay.]

[Footnote 83: Mr. Moody, of Riccarton.]

[Footnote 84: Mr. Auld of Mauchline.]

[Footnote 85: Mr. Grant, of Ochiltree.]

[Footnote 86: Mr. Young, of Cumnock.]

[Footnote 87: Mr. Peebles, Ayr.]

[Footnote 88: Dr. Andrew Mitchell, of Monkton.]

[Footnote 89: Mr. Stephen Young, of Barr.]

[Footnote 90: Mr. George Smith, of Galston.]

[Footnote 91: Mr. John Shepherd, Muirkirk.]

[Footnote 92: Holy Willie, alias William Fisher, Elder in Mauchline.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[This version is from the papers of Miss Logan, of Afton. The origin
of the Poem is thus related to Graham of Fintry by the poet himself:
"Though I dare say you have none of the solemn League and Covenant
fire Which shone so conspicuous in Lord George Gordon, and the
Kilmarnock weavers, yet I think you must have heard of Dr. M'Gill, one
of the clergymen of Ayr, and his heretical book, God help him, poor
man! Though one of the worthiest, as well as one of the ablest of the
whole priesthood of the Kirk of Scotland, in every sense of that
ambiguous term, yet the poor doctor and his numerous family are in
imminent danger of being thrown out (9th December, 1790) to the mercy
of the winter winds. The enclosed ballad on that business, is, I
confess too local: but I laughed myself at some conceits in it, though
I am convinced in my conscience there are a good many heavy stanzas in
it too." The Kirk's Alarm was first printed by Stewart, in 1801.
Cromek calls it, "A silly satire, on some worthy ministers of the
gospel, in Ayrshire."]


          Orthodox, orthodox,
          Who believe in John Knox,
    Let me sound an alarm to your conscience--
          There's a heretic blast,
          Has been blawn i' the wast,
    That what is not sense must be nonsense,
    That what is not sense must be nonsense.


          Doctor Mac, Doctor Mac,
          Ye should stretch on a rack,
    And strike evil doers wi' terror;
          To join faith and sense,
          Upon any pretence,
    Was heretic damnable error,
                      Doctor Mac,
    Was heretic damnable error.


          Town of Ayr, town of Ayr,
          It was rash I declare,
    To meddle wi' mischief a-brewing;
          Provost John is still deaf,
          To the church's relief,
    And orator Bob is its ruin,
                      Town Of Ayr,
    And orator Bob is its ruin.


          D'rymple mild, D'rymple mild,
          Tho' your heart's like a child,
    And your life like the new-driven snaw,
          Yet that winna save ye,
          Old Satan must have ye
    For preaching that three's are an' twa,
                      D'rymple mild,
    For preaching that three's are an' twa.


          Calvin's sons, Calvin's sons,
          Seize your spiritual guns,
    Ammunition ye never can need;
          Your hearts are the stuff,
          Will be powder enough,
    And your skulls are a storehouse of lead,
                      Calvin's sons,
    And your skulls are a storehouse of lead.


          Rumble John, Rumble John,
          Mount the steps with a groan,
    Cry the book is with heresy cramm'd;
          Then lug out your ladle,
          Deal brimstone like aidle,
    And roar every note o' the damn'd,
                      Rumble John,
    And roar every note o' the damn'd.


          Simper James, Simper James,
          Leave the fair Killie dames,
    There's a holier chase in your view;
          I'll lay on your head,
          That the pack ye'll soon lead,
    For puppies like you there's but few,
                      Simper James,
    For puppies like you there's but few.


          Singet Sawnie, Singet Sawnie,
          Are ye herding the penny,
    Unconscious what danger awaits?
          With a jump, yell, and howl,
          Alarm every soul,
    For Hannibal's just at your gates,
                      Singet Sawnie,
    For Hannibal's just at your gates.


          Andrew Gowk, Andrew Gowk,
          Ye may slander the book,
    And the book nought the waur--let me tell you;
          Tho' ye're rich and look big,
          Yet lay by hat and wig,
    And ye'll hae a calf's-head o' sma' value,
                      Andrew Gowk,
    And ye'll hae a calf's-head o' sma' value.


          Poet Willie, Poet Willie,
          Gie the doctor a volley,
    Wi' your "liberty's chain" and your wit;
          O'er Pegasus' side,
          Ye ne'er laid a stride
    Ye only stood by when he ----,
                      Poet Willie,
    Ye only stood by when he ----.


          Barr Steenie, Barr Steenie,
          What mean ye? what mean ye?
    If ye'll meddle nae mair wi' the matter,
          Ye may hae some pretence, man,
          To havins and sense, man,
    Wi' people that ken ye nae better,
                      Barr Steenie,
    Wi' people that ken ye nae better.


          Jamie Goose, Jamie Goose,
          Ye hae made but toom roose,
    O' hunting the wicked lieutenant;
          But the doctor's your mark,
          For the L--d's holy ark,
    He has cooper'd and ca'd a wrong pin in't,
                      Jamie Goose,
    He has cooper'd and ca'd a wrong pin in't.


          Davie Bluster, Davie Bluster,
          For a saunt if ye muster,
    It's a sign they're no nice o' recruits,
          Yet to worth let's be just,
          Royal blood ye might boast,
    If the ass were the king o' the brutes,
                      Davie Bluster,
    If the ass were the king o' the brutes.


          Muirland George, Muirland George,
          Whom the Lord made a scourge,
    To claw common sense for her sins;
          If ill manners were wit,
          There's no mortal so fit,
    To confound the poor doctor at ance,
                      Muirland George,
    To confound the poor doctor at ance.


          Cessnockside, Cessnockside,
          Wi' your turkey-cock pride,
    O' manhood but sma' is your share;
          Ye've the figure, it's true,
          Even our faes maun allow,
    And your friends daurna say ye hae mair,
    And your friends daurna say ye hae mair.


          Daddie Auld, Daddie Auld,
          There's a tod i' the fauld
    A tod meikle waur than the clerk;[93]
          Tho' ye downa do skaith,
          Ye'll be in at the death,
    And if ye canna bite ye can bark,
                      Daddie Auld,
    And if ye canna bite ye can bark.


          Poet Burns, Poet Burns,
          Wi' your priest-skelping turns,
    Why desert ye your auld native shire?
          Tho' your Muse is a gipsy,
          Yet were she even tipsy,
    She could ca' us nae waur than we are,
                      Poet Burns,
    She could ca' us nae waur than we are.

       *       *       *       *       *


          Afton's Laird, Afton's Laird,
          When your pen can be spar'd,
    A copy o' this I bequeath,
          On the same sicker score
          I mentioned before,
    To that trusty auld worthy Clackleith,
                      Afton's Laird,
    To that trusty auld worthy Clackleith.


[Footnote 93: Gavin Hamilton.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[These hasty verses are to be found in a letter addressed to Nicol, of
the High School of Edinburgh, by the poet, giving him on account of
the unlooked-for death of his mare, Peg Nicholson, the successor of
Jenny Geddes. She had suffered both in the employ of the joyous priest
and the thoughtless poet. She acquired her name from that frantic
virago who attempted to murder George the Third.]

    Peg Nicholson was a good bay mare,
      As ever trode on airn;
    But now she's floating down the Nith,
      And past the mouth o' Cairn.

    Peg Nicholson was a good bay mare,
      And rode thro' thick an' thin;
    But now she's floating down the Nith,
      And wanting even the skin.

    Peg Nicholson was a good bay mare,
      And ance she bore a priest;
    But now she's flouting down the Nith,
      For Solway fish a feast.

    Peg Nicholson was a good bay mare,
      And the priest he rode her sair;
    And much oppress'd and bruis'd she was;
      As priest-rid cattle are, &c. &c.

       *       *       *       *       *






    "Should the poor be flattered?"


    But now his radiant course is run,
      For Matthew's course was bright;
    His soul was like the glorious sun,
     A matchless heav'nly light!

[Captain Matthew Henderson, a gentleman of very agreeable manners and
great propriety of character, usually lived in Edinburgh, dined
constantly at Fortune's Tavern, and was a member of the Capillaire
Club, which was composed of all who desired to be thought witty or
joyous: he died in 1789: Burns, in a note to the Poem, says, "I loved
the man much, and have not flattered his memory." Henderson seems
indeed to have been universally liked. "In our travelling party," says
Sir James Campbell, of Ardkinglass, "was Matthew Henderson, then
(1759) and afterwards well known and much esteemed in the town of
Edinburgh; at that time an officer in the twenty-fifth regiment of
foot, and like myself on his way to join the army; and I may say with
truth, that in the course of a long life I have never known a more
estimable character, than Matthew Henderson." _Memoirs of Campbell, of
Ardkinglass_, p. 17.]

    O death! thou tyrant fell and bloody!
    The meikle devil wi' a woodie
    Haurl thee hame to his black smiddie,
                      O'er hurcheon hides,
    And like stock-fish come o'er his studdie
                      Wi' thy auld sides!

    He's gane! he's gane! he's frae us torn,
    The ae best fellow e'er was born!
    Thee, Matthew, Nature's sel' shall mourn
                      By wood and wild,
    Where, haply, pity strays forlorn,
                      Frae man exil'd!

    Ye hills! near neebors o' the starns,
    That proudly cock your cresting cairns!
    Ye cliffs, the haunts of sailing yearns,
                      Where echo slumbers!
    Come join, ye Nature's sturdiest bairns,
                      My wailing numbers!

    Mourn, ilka grove the cushat kens!
    Ye haz'lly shaws and briery dens!
    Ye burnies, wimplin' down your glens,
                      Wi' toddlin' din,
    Or foaming strang, wi' hasty stens,
                      Frae lin to lin!

    Mourn, little harebells o'er the lea;
    Ye stately foxgloves fair to see;
    Ye woodbines, hanging bonnilie,
                      In scented bow'rs;
    Ye roses on your thorny tree,
                      The first o' flow'rs.

    At dawn, when ev'ry grassy blade
    Droops with a diamond at its head,
    At ev'n, when beans their fragrance shed
                      I' th' rustling gale,
    Ye maukins whiddin thro' the glade,
                      Come join my wail.

    Mourn, ye wee songsters o' the wood;
    Ye grouse that crap the heather bud;
    Ye curlews calling thro' a clud;
                      Ye whistling plover;
    An' mourn, ye whirring paitrick brood!--
                      He's gane for ever!

    Mourn, sooty coots, and speckled teals;
    Ye fisher herons, watching eels:
    Ye duck and drake, wi' airy wheels
                      Circling the lake;
    Ye bitterns, till the quagmire reels,
                      Rair for his sake.

    Mourn, clam'ring craiks, at close o' day,
    'Mang fields o' flowering clover gay;
    And when ye wing your annual way
                      Frae our cauld shore,
    Tell thae far warlds, wha lies in clay,
                      Wham we deplore.

    Ye houlets, frae your ivy bow'r,
    In some auld tree, or eldritch tow'r,
    What time the moon, wi' silent glow'r,
                      Sets up her horn,
    Wail thro' the dreary midnight hour
                      'Till waukrife morn!

    O rivers, forests, hills, and plains!
    Oft have ye heard my canty strains:
    But now, what else for me remains
                      But tales of woe?
    And frae my een the drapping rains
                      Maun ever flow.

    Mourn, spring, thou darling of the year!
    Ilk cowslip cup shall kep a tear:
    Thou, simmer, while each corny spear
                      Shoots up its head,
    The gay, green, flow'ry tresses shear
                      For him that's dead!

    Thou, autumn, wi' thy yellow hair,
    In grief thy sallow mantle tear:
    Thou, winter, hurling thro' the air
                      The roaring blast,
    Wide, o'er the naked world declare
                      The worth we've lost!

    Mourn him, thou sun, great source of light!
    Mourn, empress of the silent night!
    And you, ye twinkling starnies bright,
                      My Matthew mourn!
    For through your orbs he's ta'en his flight,
                      Ne'er to return.

    O, Henderson! the man--the brother!
    And art thou gone, and gone for ever?
    And hast thou crost that unknown river
                      Life's dreary bound?
    Like thee, where shall I find another,
                      The world around?

    Go to your sculptur'd tombs, ye great,
    In a' the tinsel trash o' state!
    But by thy honest turf I'll wait,
                      Thou man of worth!
    And weep the ae best fellow's fate
                      E'er lay in earth.


    Stop, passenger!--my story's brief,
      And truth I shall relate, man;
    I tell nae common tale o' grief--
      For Matthew was a great man.

    If thou uncommon merit hast,
      Yet spurn'd at fortune's door, man,
    A look of pity hither cast--
      For Matthew was a poor man.

    If thou a noble sodger art,
      That passest by this grave, man,
    There moulders here a gallant heart--
      For Matthew was a brave man.

    If thou on men, their works and ways,
      Canst throw uncommon light, man,
    Here lies wha weel had won thy praise--
      For Matthew was a bright man.

    If thou at friendship's sacred ca'
      Wad life itself resign, man,
    Thy sympathetic tear maun fa'--
      For Matthew was a kind man!

    If thou art staunch without a stain,
      Like the unchanging blue, man,
    This was a kinsman o' thy ain--
      For Matthew was a true man.

    If thou hast wit, and fun, and fire,
      And ne'er guid wine did fear, man,
    This was thy billie, dam and sire--
      For Matthew was a queer man.

    If ony whiggish whingin sot,
      To blame poor Matthew dare, man,
    May dool and sorrow be his lot!
      For Matthew was a rare man.

       *       *       *       *       *




Tune--_Chevy Chase._

[This is a local and political Poem composed on the contest between
Miller, the younger, of Dalswinton, and Johnstone, of Westerhall, for
the representation of the Dumfries and Galloway district of Boroughs.
Each town or borough speaks and acts in character: Maggy personates
Dumfries; Marjory, Lochmaben; Bess of Solway-side, Annan; Whiskey Jean,
Kirkcudbright; and Black Joan, Sanquhar. On the part of Miller, all
the Whig interest of the Duke of Queensberry was exerted, and all the
Tory interest on the side of the Johnstone: the poet's heart was with
the latter. Annan and Lochmaben stood staunch by old names and old
affections: after a contest, bitterer than anything of the kind
remembered, the Whig interest prevailed.]

    There were five carlins in the south,
      They fell upon a scheme,
    To send a lad to London town,
      To bring them tidings hame.

    Not only bring them tidings hame,
      But do their errands there;
    And aiblins gowd and honour baith
      Might be that laddie's share.

    There was Maggy by the banks o' Nith,
      A dame wi' pride eneugh;
    And Marjory o' the mony lochs,
      A carlin auld and teugh.

    And blinkin' Bess of Annandale,
      That dwelt near Solway-side;
    And whiskey Jean, that took her gill
      In Galloway sae wide.

    And black Joan, frae Crighton-peel,
      O' gipsey kith an' kin;--
    Five wighter carlins were na found
      The south countrie within.

    To send a lad to London town,
      They met upon a day;
    And mony a knight, and mony a laird,
      This errand fain wad gae.

    O mony a knight, and mony a laird,
      This errand fain wad gae;
    But nae ane could their fancy please,
      O ne'er a ane but twae.

    The first ane was a belted knight,
      Bred of a border band;
    And he wad gae to London town,
      Might nae man him withstand.

    And he wad do their errands weel,
      And meikle he wad say;
    And ilka ane about the court
      Wad bid to him gude-day.

    The neist cam in a sodger youth,
      And spak wi' modest grace,
    And he wad gae to London town,
      If sae their pleasure was.

    He wad na hecht them courtly gifts,
      Nor meikle speech pretend;
    But he wad hecht an honest heart,
      Wad ne'er desert his friend.

    Then wham to chuse, and wham refuse,
      At strife thir carlins fell;
    For some had gentlefolks to please,
      And some wad please themsel'.

    Then out spak mim-mou'd Meg o' Nith,
      And she spak up wi' pride,
    And she wad send the sodger youth,
      Whatever might betide.

    For the auld gudeman o' London court
      She didna care a pin;
    But she wad send the sodger youth
      To greet his eldest son.

    Then slow raise Marjory o' the Lochs
      And wrinkled was her brow;
    Her ancient weed was russet gray,
      Her auld Scotch heart was true.

    "The London court set light by me--
      I set as light by them;
    And I wilt send the sodger lad
      To shaw that court the same."

    Then up sprang Bess of Annandale,
      And swore a deadly aith,
    Says, "I will send the border-knight
      Spite o' you carlins baith.

    "For far-off fowls hae feathers fair,
      And fools o' change are fain;
    But I hae try'd this border-knight,
      I'll try him yet again."

    Then whiskey Jean spak o'er her drink,
      "Ye weel ken, kimmersa',
    The auld gudeman o' London court,
      His back's been at the wa'.

    "And mony a friend that kiss'd his caup,
      Is now a fremit wight;
    But it's ne'er be sae wi' whiskey Jean,--
      We'll send the border-knight."

    Says black Joan o' Crighton-peel,
      A carlin stoor and grim,--
    "The auld gudeman, or the young gudeman,
      For me may sink or swim.

    "For fools will prate o' right and wrang,
      While knaves laugh in their sleeve;
    But wha blaws best the horn shall win,
      I'll spier nae courtier's leave."

    So how this mighty plea may end
      There's naebody can tell:
    God grant the king, and ilka man,
      May look weel to himsel'!

       *       *       *       *       *



[This short Poem was first published by Robert Chambers. It intimates
pretty strongly, how much the poet disapproved of the change which
came over the Duke of Queensberry's opinions, when he supported the
right of the Prince of Wales to assume the government, without consent
of Parliament, during the king's alarming illness, in 1788.]

    The laddies by the banks o' Nith,
      Wad trust his Grace wi' a', Jamie,
    But he'll sair them, as he sair'd the King,
      Turn tail and rin awa', Jamie.

    Up and waur them a', Jamie,
      Up and waur them a';
    The Johnstones hae the guidin' o't,
      Ye turncoat Whigs awa'.

    The day he stude his country's friend,
      Or gied her faes a claw, Jamie:
    Or frae puir man a blessin' wan,
      That day the Duke ne'er saw, Jamie.

    But wha is he, his country's boast?
      Like him there is na twa, Jamie,
    There's no a callant tents the kye,
      But kens o' Westerha', Jamie.

    To end the wark here's Whistlebirk,[94]
      Lang may his whistle blaw, Jamie;
    And Maxwell true o' sterling blue:
      And we'll be Johnstones a', Jamie.


[Footnote 94: Birkwhistle: a Galloway laird, and elector.]

       *       *       *       *       *







["I am too little a man," said Burns, in the note to Fintray, which
accompanied this poem, "to have any political attachment: I am deeply
indebted to, and have the warmest veneration for individuals of both
parties: but a man who has it in his power to be the father of a
country, and who acts like his Grace of Queensberry, is a character
that one cannot speak of with patience." This Epistle was first
printed in my edition of Burns in 1834: I had the use of the Macmurdo
and the Afton manuscripts for that purpose: to both families the poet
was much indebted for many acts of courtesy and kindness.]

    Fintray, my stay in worldly strife,
    Friend o' my muse, friend o' my life,
                      Are ye as idle's I am?
    Come then, wi' uncouth, kintra fleg,
    O'er Pegasus I'll fling my leg,
                      And ye shall see me try him.

    I'll sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears,
    Who left the all-important cares
                      Of princes and their darlings;
    And, bent on winning borough towns,
    Came shaking hands wi' wabster lowns,
                      And kissing barefit carlins.

    Combustion thro' our boroughs rode,
    Whistling his roaring pack abroad
                      Of mad unmuzzled lions;
    As Queensberry buff and blue unfurl'd,
    And Westerha' and Hopeton hurl'd
                      To every Whig defiance.

    But cautious Queensberry left the war,
    Th' unmanner'd dust might soil his star;
                      Besides, he hated bleeding:
    But left behind him heroes bright,
    Heroes in Cæsarean fight,
                      Or Ciceronian pleading.

    O! for a throat like huge Mons-meg,
    To muster o'er each ardent Whig
                      Beneath Drumlanrig's banner;
    Heroes and heroines commix,
    All in the field of politics,
                      To win immortal honour.

    M'Murdo[95] and his lovely spouse,
    (Th' enamour'd laurels kiss her brows!)
                      Led on the loves and graces:
    She won each gaping burgess' heart,
    While he, all-conquering, play'd his part
                      Among their wives and lasses.

    Craigdarroch[96] led a light-arm'd corps,
    Tropes, metaphors and figures pour,
                      Like Hecla streaming thunder:
    Glenriddel,[97] skill'd in rusty coins,
    Blew up each Tory's dark designs,
                      And bar'd the treason under.

    In either wing two champions fought,
    Redoubted Staig[98] who set at nought
                      The wildest savage Tory:
    And Welsh,[99] who ne'er yet flinch'd his ground,
    High-wav'd his magnum-bonum round
                      With Cyclopeian fury.

    Miller brought up th' artillery ranks,
    The many-pounders of the Banks,
                      Resistless desolation!
    While Maxwelton, that baron bold,
    'Mid Lawson's[100] port intrench'd his hold,
                      And threaten'd worse damnation.

    To these what Tory hosts oppos'd,
    With these what Tory warriors clos'd.
                      Surpasses my descriving:
    Squadrons extended long and large,
    With furious speed rush to the charge,
                      Like raging devils driving.

    What verse can sing, what prose narrate,
    The butcher deeds of bloody fate
                      Amid this mighty tulzie!
    Grim Horror grinn'd--pale Terror roar'd,
    As Murther at his thrapple shor'd,
                      And hell mix'd in the brulzie.

    As highland craigs by thunder cleft,
    When lightnings fire the stormy lift,
                      Hurl down with crashing rattle:
    As flames among a hundred woods;
    As headlong foam a hundred floods;
                      Such is the rage of battle!

    The stubborn Tories dare to die;
    As soon the rooted oaks would fly
                      Before the approaching fellers:
    The Whigs come on like Ocean's roar,
    When all his wintry billows pour
                      Against the Buchan Bullers.

    Lo, from the shades of Death's deep night,
    Departed Whigs enjoy the fight,
                      And think on former daring:
    The muffled murtherer[101] of Charles
    The Magna Charter flag unfurls,
                      All deadly gules it's bearing.

    Nor wanting ghosts of Tory fame.
    Bold Scrimgeour[102] follows gallant Graham,[103]
                      Auld Covenanters shiver.
    (Forgive, forgive, much-wrong'd Montrose!
    Now death and hell engulph thy foes,
                      Thou liv'st on high for ever!)

    Still o'er the field the combat burns,
    The Tories, Whigs, give way by turns;
                      But fate the word has spoken:
    For woman's wit and strength o' man,
    Alas! can do but what they can!
                      The Tory ranks are broken.

    O that my een were flowing burns,
    My voice a lioness that mourns
                      Her darling cubs' undoing!
    That I might greet, that I might cry,
    While Tories fall, while Tories fly,
                      And furious Whigs pursuing!

    What Whig but melts for good Sir James!
    Dear to his country by the names
                      Friend, patron, benefactor!
    Not Pulteney's wealth can Pulteney save!
    And Hopeton falls, the generous brave!
                      And Stewart,[104] bold as Hector.

    Thou, Pitt, shalt rue this overthrow;
    And Thurlow growl a curse of woe;
                      And Melville melt in wailing!
    How Fox and Sheridan rejoice!
    And Burke shall sing, O Prince, arise,
                      Thy power is all prevailing!

    For your poor friend, the Bard, afar
    He only hears and sees the war,
                      A cool spectator purely;
    So, when the storm the forests rends,
    The robin in the hedge descends,
                      And sober chirps securely.


[Footnote 95: John M'Murdo, Esq., of Drumlanrig.]

[Footnote 96: Fergusson of Craigdarroch.]

[Footnote 97: Riddel of Friars-Carse.]

[Footnote 98: Provost Staig of Dumfries.]

[Footnote 99: Sheriff Welsh.]

[Footnote 100: A wine merchant in Dumfries.]

[Footnote 101: The executioner of Charles I. was masked.]

[Footnote 102: Scrimgeour, Lord Dundee.]

[Footnote 103: Graham, Marquis of Montrose.]

[Footnote 104: Stewart of Hillside.]

       *       *       *       *       *







[This "fine, fat, fodgel wight" was a clever man, a skilful antiquary,
and fond of wit and wine. He was well acquainted with heraldry, and
was conversant with the weapons and the armor of his own and other
countries. He found his way to Friars-Carse, in the Vale of Nith, and
there, at the social "board of Glenriddel," for the first time saw
Burns. The Englishman heard, it is said, with wonder, the sarcastic
sallies and eloquent bursts of the inspired Scot, who, in his turn,
surveyed with wonder the remarkable corpulence, and listened with
pleasure to the independent sentiments and humourous turns of
conversation in the joyous Englishman. This Poem was the fruit of the
interview, and it is said that Grose regarded some passages as rather

    Hear, Land o' Cakes and brither Scots,
    Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's;
    If there's a hole in a' your coats,
                      I rede you tent it:
    A chiel's amang you taking notes,
                      And, faith, he'll prent it!

    If in your bounds ye chance to light
    Upon a fine, fat, fodgel wight,
    O' stature short, but genius bright,
                      That's he, mark weel--
    And wow! he has an unco slight
                      O' cauk and keel.

    By some auld, houlet-haunted biggin,
    Or kirk deserted by its riggin,
    It's ten to one ye'll find him snug in
                      Some eldritch part,
    Wi' deils, they say, L--d save's! colleaguin'
                      At some black art.

    Ilk ghaist that haunts auld ha' or chaumer,
    Ye gipsey-gang that deal in glamour,
    And you deep read in hell's black grammar,
                      Warlocks and witches;
    Ye'll quake at his conjuring hammer,
                      Ye midnight b----s!

    It's tauld he was a sodger bred,
    And ane wad rather fa'n than fled;
    But now he's quat the spurtle-blade,
                      And dog-skin wallet,
    And ta'en the--Antiquarian trade,
                      I think they call it.

    He has a fouth o' auld nick-nackets:
    Rusty airn caps and jinglin' jackets,
    Wad haud the Lothians three in tackets,
                      A towmont guid;
    And parritch-pats, and auld saut-backets,
                      Afore the flood.

    Of Eve's first fire he has a cinder;
    Auld Tubal-Cain's fire-shool and fender;
    That which distinguished the gender
                      O' Balaam's ass;
    A broom-stick o' the witch o' Endor,
                      Weel shod wi' brass.

    Forbye, he'll shape you aff, fu' gleg,
    The cut of Adam's philibeg:
    The knife that nicket Abel's craig
                      He'll prove you fully,
    It was a faulding jocteleg,
                      Or lang-kail gully.--

    But wad ye see him in his glee,
    For meikle glee and fun has he,
    Then set him down, and twa or three
                      Guid fellows wi' him;
    And port, O port! shine thou a wee,
                      And then ye'll see him!

    Now, by the pow'rs o' verse and prose!
    Thou art a dainty chiel, O Grose!--
    Whae'er o' thee shall ill suppose,
                      They sair misca' thee;
    I'd take the rascal by the nose,
                      Wad say, Shame fa' thee!

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns wrote out some antiquarian and legendary memoranda, respecting
certain ruins in Kyle, and enclosed them in a sheet of a paper to
Cardonnel, a northern antiquary. As his mind teemed with poetry he
could not, as he afterwards said, let the opportunity, pass of sending
a rhyming inquiry after his fat friend, and Cardonnel spread the
condoling inquiry over the North--

    "Is he slain by Highlan' bodies?
    And eaten like a wether-haggis?"]

    Ken ye ought o' Captain Grose?
                      Igo and ago,
    If he's amang his friends or foes?
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    Is he south or is he north?
                      Igo and ago,
    Or drowned in the river Forth?
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    Is he slain by Highlan' bodies?
                      Igo and ago,
    And eaten like a wether-haggis?
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    Is he to Abram's bosom gane?
                      Igo and ago,
    Or haudin' Sarah by the wame?
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    Where'er he be, the L--d be near him!
                      Igo and ago,
    As for the deil, he daur na steer him!
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    But please transmit the enclosed letter,
                      Igo and ago,
    Which will oblige your humble debtor,
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    So may he hae auld stanes in store,
                      Igo and ago,
    The very stanes that Adam bore,
                      Iram, coram, dago.

    So may ye get in glad possession,
                      Igo and ago,
    The coins o' Satan's coronation!
                      Iram, coram, dago.

       *       *       *       *       *




    "Of brownys and of bogilis full is this buke."


[This is a West-country legend, embellished by genius. No other Poem
in our language displays such variety of power, in the same number of
lines. It was written as an inducement to Grose to admit Alloway-Kirk
into his work on the Antiquities of Scotland; and written with such
ecstasy, that the poet shed tears in the moments of composition. The
walk in which it was conceived, on the braes of Ellisland, is held in
remembrance in the vale, and pointed out to poetic inquirers: while
the scene where the poem is laid--the crumbling ruins--the place where
the chapman perished in the snow--the tree on which the poor mother of
Mungo ended her sorrows--the cairn where the murdered child was found
by the hunters--and the old bridge over which Maggie bore her
astonished master when all hell was in pursuit, are first-rate objects
of inspection and inquiry in the "Land of Burns." "In the inimitable
tale of Tam o' Shanter," says Scott "Burns has left us sufficient
evidence of his ability to combine the ludicrous with the awful, and
even the horrible. No poet, with the exception of Shakspeare, ever
possessed the power of exciting the most varied and discordant
emotions with such rapid transitions."]

    When chapman billies leave the street,
    And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
    As market-days are wearing late,
    An' folk begin to tak' the gate;
    While we sit bousing at the nappy,
    An' gettin' fou and unco happy,
    We think na on the lang Scots miles,
    The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles,
    That lie between us and our hame,
    Where 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 night did canter,
    (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
    For honest men and bonny lasses.)
    O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
    As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
    She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
    A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
    That frae November till October,
    Ae market-day thou wasna sober;
    That ilka melder, wi' the miller,
    Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
    That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on,
    The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
    That at the Lord's house, ev'n on Sunday,
    Thou drank wi' Kirton Jean till Monday.
    She prophesy'd, that late or soon,
    Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon;
    Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk,
    By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.

    Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
    To think how mony counsels sweet,
    How mony lengthen'd sage 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 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 on wi' sangs an' clatter;
    And ay the ale was growing better:
    The landlady and Tam grew gracious;
    Wi' favors secret, sweet, and precious;
    The Souter tauld his queerest stories;
    The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:[105]
    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 the nappy!
    As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure,
    The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure:
    Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
    O'er a' the ills o' life victorious.

    But pleasures are like poppies spread,
    You seize the flow'r, 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;
    And sic a night he taks the road in
    As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.

    The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
    The rattling show'rs 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 de'il had business on his hand.

    Weel mounted on his gray mare, Meg,
    A better never lifted leg,
    Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
    Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
    Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet;
    Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
    Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares,
    Lest bogles catch him unawares;
    Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
    Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.--

    By this time he was cross the foord,
    Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor'd;
    And past the birks and meikle stane,
    Where drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane;
    And thro' the whins, and by the cairn,
    Where hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
    And near the thorn, aboon the well,
    Where Mungo's mither hang'd hersel'.
    Before him Doon pours all his floods;
    The doubling storm roars thro' the woods;
    The lightnings flash from pole to pole;
    Near and more the thunders roll;
    When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees,
    Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze;
    Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing;
    And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

    Inspiring, bold John Barleycorn!
    What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
    Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil;
    Wi' usquabae we'll face the devil!
    The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle,
    Fair play, he car'd nae deils a boddle.
    But Maggie stood right sair astonish'd,
    'Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd,
    She ventur'd forward on the light;
    And wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
    Warlocks and witches in a dance;
    Nae cotillion brent new frae France,
    But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
    Put life and mettle in their heels:
    A winnock-bunker in the east,
    There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
    A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
    To gie them music was his charge;
    He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl,
    Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.--
    Coffins stood round, like open presses;
    That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses;
    And by some devilish cantrip slight
    Each in its cauld hand held a light--
    By which heroic Tam was able
    To note upon the haly table,
    A murderer's banes in gibbet airns;
    Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns;
    A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
    Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape;
    Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red-rusted;
    Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted;
    A garter, which a babe had strangled;
    A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
    Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
    The gray hairs yet stack to the heft:[106]
    Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu',
    Which ev'n to name would be unlawfu'.

    As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious,
    The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
    The piper loud and louder blew;
    The dancers quick and quicker flew;
    They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit,
    'Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
    And coost her duddies to the wark,
    And linket at it in her sark!

    Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans
    A' plump and strapping, in their teens;
    Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen,
    Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen,
    Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair,
    That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair,
    I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies,
    For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies!

    But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
    Rigwoodie hags, wad spean a foal,
    Lowping an' flinging on a cummock,
    I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

    But Tam kenn'd what was what fu' brawlie,
    There was a winsome wench and walie,
    That night enlisted in the core,
    (Lang after kenn'd on Carrick shore;
    For mony a beast to dead she shot,
    And perish'd mony a bonnie boat,
    And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
    And kept the country-side in fear.)
    Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn,
    That, while a lassie, she had worn,
    In longitude tho' sorely scanty,
    It was her best, and she was vauntie--

    Ah! little kenn'd the reverend grannie,
    That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
    Wi' twa pund Scots ('twas a' her riches),
    Wad ever grac'd a dance of witches!
    But here my muse her wing maun cour;
    Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r;
    To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
    (A souple jade she was and strung,)
    And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch'd;
    And thought his very een enrich'd;
    Even Satan glowr'd, and fidg'd fu' fain,
    And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main:
    'Till first ae caper, syne anither,
    Tam tint his reason a' thegither,
    And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!"
    And in an instant all was dark:
    And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
    When out the hellish legion sallied.

    As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
    When plundering herds assail their byke;
    As open pussie's mortal foes,
    When, pop! she starts before their nose;
    As eager runs the market-crowd,
    When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud;
    So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
    Wi' mony an eldritch screech and hollow.

    Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin'!
    In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
    In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'!
    Kate soon will be a woefu' woman!
    Now do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
    And win the key-stane[107] of the brig;
    There at them thou thy tail may toss,
    A running stream they darena cross!
    But ere the key-stane she could make,
    The fient a tail she had to shake!
    For Nannie, far before the rest,
    Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
    And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;
    But little wist she Maggie's mettle--
    Ae spring brought off her master hale,
    But left behind her ain gray tail:
    The carlin claught her by the rump,
    And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

    Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
    Ilk man and mother's son, take heed:
    Whene'er to drink you are inclin'd,
    Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
    Think! ye may buy the joys o'er dear--
    Remember Tam O' Shanter's mare.


[Footnote 105: VARIATION.

    The cricket raised its cheering cry,
    The kitten chas'd its tail in joy.]

[Footnote 106: VARIATION.

    Three lawyers' tongues turn'd inside out,
    Wi' lies seem'd like a beggar's clout;
    And priests' hearts rotten black as muck,
    Lay stinking vile, in every neuk.]

[Footnote 107: It is a well-known fact that witches, or any evil
spirits, have no power to follow a poor wight any further than the
middle of the next running stream. It may be proper likewise to
mention to the benighted traveller, that when he falls in with
_bogles_, whatever danger there may be in his going forward, there is
much more hazard in turning back.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[This Poem made its first appearance, as I was assured by my friend
the late Thomas Pringle, in the Scots Magazine, for February, 1818,
and was printed from the original in the handwriting of Burns. It was
headed thus, "To the Right honorable the Earl of Brendalbyne,
President of the Right Honourable and Honourable the Highland Society,
which met on the 23d of May last, at the Shakspeare, Covent Garden, to
concert ways and means to frustrate the designs of four hundred
Highlanders, who, as the Society were informed by Mr. M. ----, of A----s,
were so audacious as to attempt an escape from their lawful lairds
and masters, whose property they were, by emigrating from the lands of
Mr. Macdonald, of Glengarry, to the wilds of Canada, in search of that
fantastic thing--LIBERTY." The Poem was communicated by Burns
to his friend Rankine of Adam Hill, in Ayrshire.]

    Long life, my Lord, an' health be yours,
    Unskaith'd by hunger'd Highland boors;
    Lord grant mae duddie desperate beggar,
    Wi' dirk, claymore, or rusty trigger,
    May twin auld Scotland o' a life
    She likes--as lambkins like a knife.
    Faith, you and A----s were right
    To keep the Highland hounds in sight;
    I doubt na! they wad bid nae better
    Than let them ance out owre the water;
    Then up among the lakes and seas
    They'll mak' what rules and laws they please;
    Some daring Hancock, or a Franklin';
    May set their Highland bluid a ranklin';
    Some Washington again may head them,
    Or some Montgomery fearless lead them,
    Till God knows what may be effected
    When by such heads and hearts directed--
    Poor dunghill sons of dirt and mire
    May to Patrician rights aspire!
    Nae sage North, now, nor sager Sackville,
    To watch and premier o'er the pack vile,
    An' whare will ye get Howes and Clintons
    To bring them to a right repentance,
    To cowe the rebel generation,
    An' save the honour o' the nation?
    They an' be d----d! what right hae they
    To meat or sleep, or light o' day?
    Far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom,
    But what your lordship likes to gie them?

    But hear, my lord! Glengarry, hear!
    Your hand's owre light on them, I fear;
    Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies,
    I canna' say but they do gaylies;
    They lay aside a' tender mercies,
    An' tirl the hallions to the birses;
    Yet while they're only poind't and herriet,
    They'll keep their stubborn Highland spirit;
    But smash them! crash them a' to spails!
    An' rot the dyvors i' the jails!
    The young dogs, swinge them to the labour;
    Let wark an' hunger mak' them sober!
    The hizzies, if they're aughtlins fawsont,
    Let them in Drury-lane be lesson'd!
    An' if the wives an' dirty brats
    E'en thigger at your doors an' yetts,
    Flaffan wi' duds an' grey wi' beas',
    Frightin' awa your deuks an' geese,
    Get out a horsewhip or a jowler,
    The langest thong, the fiercest growler,
    An' gar the tattered gypsies pack
    Wi' a' their bastards on their back!
    Go on, my Lord! I lang to meet you,
    An' in my house at hame to greet you;
    Wi' common lords ye shanna mingle,
    The benmost neuk beside the ingle,
    At my right han' assigned your seat
    'Tween Herod's hip an Polycrate,--
    Or if you on your station tarrow,
    Between Almagro and Pizarro,
    A seat I'm sure ye're weel deservin't;
    An' till ye come--Your humble rervant,


_June 1st, Anno Mundi 5790._

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns, it appears, was, in one of his excursions in revenue matters,
likely to be detained at Wanlockhead: the roads were slippery with
ice, his mare kept her feet with difficulty, and all the blacksmiths
of the village were pre-engaged. To Mr. Taylor, a person of influence
in the place, the poet, in despair, addressed this little Poem,
begging his interference: Taylor spoke to a smith; the smith flew to
his tools, sharpened or frosted the shoes, and it is said lived for
thirty years to boast that he had "never been well paid but ance, and
that was by a poet, who paid him in money, paid him in drink, and paid
him in verse."]

    With Pegasus upon a day,
      Apollo weary flying,
    Through frosty hills the journey lay,
      On foot the way was plying,

    Poor slip-shod giddy Pegasus
      Was but a sorry walker;
    To Vulcan then Apollo goes,
      To get a frosty calker.

    Obliging Vulcan fell to work,
      Threw by his coat and bonnet,
    And did Sol's business in a crack;
      Sol paid him with a sonnet.

    Ye Vulcan's sons of Wanlockhead,
      Pity my sad disaster;
    My Pegasus is poorly shod--
      I'll pay you like my master.


_Ramages_, _3 o'clock_, (_no date._)

       *       *       *       *       *






[The poet communicated this "Lament" to his friend, Dr. Moore, in
February, 1791, but it was composed about the close of the preceding
year, at the request of Lady Winifred Maxwell Constable, of
Terreagles, the last in direct descent of the noble and ancient house
of Maxwell, of Nithsdale. Burns expressed himself more than commonly
pleased with this composition; nor was he unrewarded, for Lady
Winifred gave him a valuable snuff-box, with the portrait of the
unfortunate Mary on the lid. The bed still keeps its place in
Terreagles, on which the queen slept as she was on her way to take
refuge with her cruel and treacherous cousin, Elizabeth; and a letter
from her no less unfortunate grandson, Charles the First, calling the
Maxwells to arm in his cause, is preserved in the family archives.]


    Now Nature hangs her mantle green
      On every blooming tree,
    And spreads her sheets o' daisies white
      Out o'er the grassy lea:
    Now Phoebus cheers the crystal streams,
      And glads the azure skies;
    But nought can glad the weary wight
      That fast in durance lies.


    Now lav'rocks wake the merry morn,
      Aloft on dewy wing;
    The merle, in his noontide bow'r,
      Makes woodland echoes ring;
    The mavis wild wi' mony a note,
      Sings drowsy day to rest:
    In love and freedom they rejoice,
      Wi' care nor thrall opprest.


    Now blooms the lily by the bank,
      The primrose down the brae;
    The hawthorn's budding in the glen,
      And milk-white is the slae;
    The meanest hind in fair Scotland
      May rove their sweets amang;
    But I, the Queen of a' Scotland,
      Maun lie in prison strang!


    I was the Queen o' bonnie France,
      Where happy I hae been;
    Fu' lightly rase I in the morn,
      As blythe lay down at e'en:
    And I'm the sov'reign o' Scotland,
      And mony a traitor there;
    Yet here I lie in foreign bands
      And never-ending care.


    But as for thee, thou false woman!
      My sister and my fae,
    Grim vengeance yet shall whet a sword
      That thro' thy soul shall gae!
    The weeping blood in woman's breast
      Was never known to thee;
    Nor th' balm that draps on wounds of woe
      Frae woman's pitying e'e.


    My son! my son! may kinder stars
      Upon thy fortune shine;
    And may those pleasures gild thy reign,
      That ne'er wad blink on mine!
    God keep thee frae thy mother's faes,
      Or turn their hearts to thee:
    And where thou meet'st thy mother's friend
      Remember him for me!


    O! soon, to me, may summer suns
      Nae mair light up the morn!
    Nae mair, to me, the autumn winds
      Wave o'er the yellow corn!
    And in the narrow house o' death
      Let winter round me rave;
    And the next flow'rs that deck the spring
      Bloom on my peaceful grave!

       *       *       *       *       *



["As the authentic prose history," says Burns, "of the 'Whistle' is
curious, I shall here give it. In the train of Anne of Denmark, when
she came to Scotland with our James the Sixth, there came over also a
Danish gentleman of gigantic stature and great prowess, and a
matchless champion of Bacchus. He had a little ebony whistle, which at
the commencement of the orgies, he laid on the table, and whoever was
the last able to blow it, everybody else being disabled by the potency
of the bottle, was to carry off the whistle as a trophy of victory.
The Dane produced credentials of his victories, without a single
defeat, at the courts of Copenhagen, Stockholm, Moscow, Warsaw, and
several of the petty courts in Germany; and challenged the Scotch
Bacchanalians to the alternative of trying his prowess, or else of
acknowledging their inferiority. After man overthrows on the part of
the Scots, the Dane was encountered by Sir Robert Lawrie, of
Maxwelton, ancestor of the present worthy baronet of that name; who,
after three days and three nights' hard contest, left the Scandinavian
under the table,

    'And blew on the whistle his requiem shrill.'

"Sir Walter, son to Sir Robert before mentioned, afterwards lost the
whistle to Walter Riddel, of Glenriddel, who had married a sister of
Sir Walter's.--On Friday, the 16th of October, 1790, at Friars-Carse,
the whistle was once more contended for, as related in the ballad, by
the present Sir Robert of Maxwelton; Robert Riddel, Esq., of
Glenriddel, lineal descendant and representative of Walter Riddel, who
won the whistle, and in whose family it had continued; and Alexander
Fergusson, Esq., of Craigdarroch, likewise descended of the great Sir
Robert; which last gentleman carried off the hard-won honours of the

The jovial contest took place in the dining-room of Friars-Carse, in
the presence of the Bard, who drank bottle and bottle about with them,
and seemed quite disposed to take up the conqueror when the day

    I sing of a whistle, a whistle of worth,
    I sing of a whistle, the pride of the North,
    Was brought to the court of our good Scottish king,
    And long with this whistle all Scotland shall ring.

    Old Loda,[108] still rueing the arm of Fingal,
    The god of the bottle sends down from his hall--
    "This whistle's your challenge--to Scotland get o'er,
    And drink them to hell, Sir! or ne'er see me more!"

    Old poets have sung, and old chronicles tell,
    What champions ventur'd, what champions fell;
    The son of great Loda was conqueror still,
    And blew on his whistle his requiem shrill.

    Till Robert, the Lord of the Cairn and the Scaur,
    Unmatch'd at the bottle, unconquer'd in war,
    He drank his poor godship as deep as the sea,
    No tide of the Baltic e'er drunker than he.

    Thus Robert, victorious, the trophy has gain'd;
    Which now in his house has for ages remain'd;
    Till three noble chieftains, and all of his blood,
    The jovial contest again have renew'd.

    Three joyous good fellows, with hearts clear of flaw;
    Craigdarroch, so famous for wit, worth, and law;
    And trusty Glenriddel, so skill'd in old coins;
    And gallant Sir Robert, deep-read in old wines.

    Craigdarroch began, with a tongue smooth as oil,
    Desiring Glenriddel to yield up the spoil;
    Or else he would muster the heads of the clan,
    And once more, in claret, try which was the man.

    "By the gods of the ancients!" Glenriddel replies,
    "Before I surrender so glorious a prize,
    I'll conjure the ghost of the great Rorie More,[109]
    And bumper his horn with him twenty times o'er."

    Sir Robert, a soldier, no speech would pretend,
    But he ne'er turn'd his back on his foe--or his friend,
    Said, toss down the whistle, the prize of the field,
    And, knee-deep in claret, he'd die or he'd yield.

    To the board of Glenriddel our heroes repair,
    So noted for drowning of sorrow and care;
    Bur for wine and for welcome not more known to fame
    Than the sense, wit, and taste of a sweet lovely dame.

    A bard was selected to witness the fray,
    And tell future ages the feats of the day;
    A bard who detested all sadness and spleen,
    And wish'd that Parnassus a vineyard had been.

    The dinner being over, the claret they ply,
    And ev'ry new cork is a new spring of joy;
    In the bands of old friendship and kindred so set,
    And the bands grew the tighter the more they were wet.

    Gay Pleasure ran riot as bumpers ran o'er;
    Bright Phoebus ne'er witness'd so joyous a core,
    And vow'd that to leave them he was quite forlorn,
    Till Cynthia hinted he'd find them next morn.

    Six bottles a-piece had well wore out the night,
    When gallant Sir Robert, to finish the fight,
    Turn'd o'er in one bumper a bottle of red,
    And swore 'twas the way that their ancestor did.

    Then worthy Glenriddel, so cautions and sage,
    No longer the warfare, ungodly, would wage;
    A high-ruling Elder to wallow in wine!
    He left the foul business to folks less divine.

    The gallant Sir Robert fought hard to the end;
    But who can with fate and quart-bumpers contend?
    Though fate said--a hero shall perish in light;
    So up rose bright Phoebus--and down fell the knight.

    Next up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink;--
    "Craigdarroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall sink;
    But if thou would flourish immortal in rhyme,
    Come--one bottle more--and have at the sublime!

    "Thy line, that have struggled for freedom with Bruce,
    Shall heroes and patriots ever produce:
    So thine be the laurel, and mine be the bay;
    The field thou hast won, by yon bright god of day!"


[Footnote 108: See Ossian's Carie-thura.]

[Footnote 109: See Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides]

       *       *       *       *       *






[This beautiful and accomplished lady, the heavenly Burnet, as Burns
loved to call her, was daughter to the odd and the elegant, the clever
and the whimsical Lord Monboddo. "In domestic circumstances," says
Robert Chambers, "Monboddo was particularly unfortunate. His wife, a
very beautiful woman, died in child-bed. His son, a promising boy, in
whose education he took great delight, was likewise snatched from his
affections by a premature death; and his second daughter, in personal
loveliness one of the first women of the age, was cut off by
consumption, when only twenty-five years old." Her name was

    Life ne'er exulted in so rich a prize
    As Burnet, lovely from her native skies;
    Nor envious death so triumph'd in a blow,
    As that which laid th' accomplish'd Burnet low.

    Thy form and mind, sweet maid, can I forget?
    In richest ore the brightest jewel set!
    In thee, high Heaven above was truest shown,
    As by his noblest work, the Godhead best is known.

    In vain ye flaunt in summer's pride, ye groves;
      Thou crystal streamlet with thy flowery shore,
    Ye woodland choir that chant your idle loves,
      Ye cease to charm--Eliza is no more!

    Ye heathy wastes, immix'd with reedy fens;
      Ye mossy streams, with sedge and rushes stor'd;
    Ye rugged cliffs, o'erhanging dreary glens,
      To you I fly, ye with my soul accord.

    Princes, whose cumb'rous pride was all their worth,
      Shall venal lays their pompous exit hail?
    And thou, sweet excellence! forsake our earth,
      And not a muse in honest grief bewail?

    We saw thee shine in youth and beauty's pride,
      And virtue's light, that beams beyond the spheres;
    But like the sun eclips'd at morning tide,
      Thou left'st us darkling in a world of tears.

    The parent's heart that nestled fond in thee,
      That heart how sunk, a prey to grief and care;
    So leck'd the woodbine sweet yon aged tree;
      So from it ravish'd, leaves it bleak and bare.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns lamented the death of this kind and accomplished nobleman with
melancholy sincerity: he moreover named one of his sons for him: he
went into mourning when he heard of his death, and he sung of his
merits in a strain not destined soon to lose the place it has taken
among the verses which record the names of the noble and the generous.
He died January 30, 1791, in the forty-second year of his age. James
Cunningham was succeeded in his title by his brother, and with him
expired, in 1796, the last of a race, whose name is intimately
connected with the History of Scotland, from the days of Malcolm


    The wind blew hollow frae the hills,
      By fits the sun's departing beam
    Look'd on the fading yellow woods
      That wav'd o'er Lugar's winding stream:
    Beneath a craggy steep, a bard,
      Laden with years and meikle pain,
    In loud lament bewail'd his lord,
      Whom death had all untimely ta'en.


    He lean'd him to an ancient aik,
      Whose trunk was mould'ring down with years;
    His locks were bleached white with time,
      His hoary cheek was wet wi' tears;
    And as he touch'd his trembling harp,
      And as he tun'd his doleful sang,
    The winds, lamenting thro' their caves,
      To echo bore the notes alang.


    "Ye scattered birds that faintly sing,
      The reliques of the vernal quire!
    Ye woods that shed on a' the winds
      The honours of the aged year!
    A few short months, and glad and gay,
      Again ye'll charm the ear and e'e;
    But nocht in all revolving time
      Can gladness bring again to me.


    "I am a bending aged tree,
      That long has stood the wind and rain;
    But now has come a cruel blast,
      And my last hold of earth is gane:
    Nae leaf o' mine shall greet the spring,
      Nae simmer sun exalt my bloom;
    But I maun lie before the storm,
      And ithers plant them in my room.


    "I've seen sae mony changefu' years,
      On earth I am a stranger grown;
    I wander in the ways of men,
      Alike unknowing and unknown:
    Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved,
      I bear alane my lade o' care,
    For silent, low, on beds of dust,
      Lie a' that would my sorrows share.


    "And last (the sum of a' my griefs!)
      My noble master lies in clay;
    The flow'r amang our barons bold,
      His country's pride! his country's stay--
    In weary being now I pine,
      For a' the life of life is dead,
    And hope has left my aged ken,
      On forward wing for ever fled.


    "Awake thy last sad voice, my harp!
      The voice of woe and wild despair;
    Awake! resound thy latest lay--
      Then sleep in silence evermair!
    And thou, my last, best, only friend,
      That fillest an untimely tomb,
    Accept this tribute from the bard
      Though brought from fortune's mirkest gloom.


    "In poverty's low barren vale
      Thick mists, obscure, involve me round;
    Though oft I turn'd the wistful eye,
      Nae ray of fame was to be found:
    Thou found'st me, like the morning sun,
      That melts the fogs in limpid air,
    The friendless bard and rustic song
      Became alike thy fostering care.


    "O! why has worth so short a date?
      While villains ripen fray with time;
    Must thou, the noble, gen'rous, great,
      Fall in bold manhood's hardy prime!
    Why did I live to see that day?
      A day to me so full of woe!--
    O had I met the mortal shaft
      Which laid my benefactor low.


    "The bridegroom may forget the bride
      Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
    The monarch may forget the crown
      That on his head an hour has been;
    The mother may forget the child
      That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
    But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
      And a' that thou hast done for me!"

       *       *       *       *       *







[Sir John Whitefoord, a name of old standing in Ayrshire, inherited
the love of his family for literature, and interested himself early in
the fame and fortunes of Burns.]

    Thou, who thy honour as thy God rever'st,
    Who, save thy mind's reproach, nought earthly fear'st,
    To thee this votive offering I impart,
    The tearful tribute of a broken heart.
    The friend thou valuedst, I, the patron, lov'd;
    His worth, his honour, all the world approv'd,
    We'll mourn till we too go as he has gone,
    And tread the dreary path to that dark world unknown.

       *       *       *       *       *






["Lord Buchan has the pleasure to invite Mr. Burns to make one at the
coronation of the bust of Thomson, on Ednam Hill, on the 22d of
September: for which day perhaps his muse may inspire an ode suited to
the occasion. Suppose Mr. Burns should, leaving the Nith, go across
the country, and meet the Tweed at the nearest point from his farm,
and, wandering along the pastoral banks of Thomson's pure parent
stream, catch inspiration in the devious walk, till he finds Lord
Buchan sitting on the ruins of Dryburgh. There the Commendator will
give him a hearty welcome, and try to light his lamp at the pure flame
of native genius, upon the altar of Caledonian virtue." Such was the
invitation of the Earl of Buchan to Burns. To request the poet to lay
down his sickle when his harvest was half reaped, and traverse one of
the wildest and most untrodden ways in Scotland, for the purpose of
looking at the fantastic coronation of the bad bust of on excellent
poet, was worthy of Lord Buchan. The poor bard made answer, that a
week's absence in the middle of his harvest was a step he durst not
venture upon--but he sent this Poem.

The poet's manuscript affords the following interesting variations:--

    "While cold-eyed Spring, a virgin coy,
      Unfolds her verdant mantle sweet,
    Or pranks the sod in frolic joy,
      A carpet for her youthful feet:

    "While Summer, with a matron's grace,
      Walks stately in the cooling shade,
    And oft delighted loves to trace
      The progress of the spiky blade:

    "While Autumn, benefactor kind,
      With age's hoary honours clad,
    Surveys, with self-approving mind,
      Each creature on his bounty fed."]

    While virgin Spring, by Eden's flood,
      Unfolds her tender mantle green,
    Or pranks the sod in frolic mood,
      Or tunes Æolian strains between:

    While Summer, with a matron grace,
      Retreats to Dryburgh's cooling shade,
    Yet oft, delighted, stops to trace
      The progress of the spiky blade:

    While Autumn, benefactor kind,
      By Tweed erects his aged head,
    And sees, with self-approving mind,
      Each creature on his bounty fed:

    While maniac Winter rages o'er
      The hills whence classic Yarrow flows,
    Rousing the turbid torrent's roar,
      Or sweeping, wild, a waste of snows:

    So long, sweet Poet of the year!
      Shall bloom that wreath thou well hast won;
    While Scotia, with exulting tear,
      Proclaims that Thomson was her son.

       *       *       *       *       *





[By this Poem Burns prepared the way for his humble request to be
removed to a district more moderate in its bounds than one which
extended over ten country parishes, and exposed him both to fatigue
and expense. This wish was expressed in prose, and was in due time
attended to, for Fintray was a gentleman at once kind and

    Late crippl'd of an arm, and now a leg,
    About to beg a pass for leave to beg:
    Dull, listless, teas'd, dejected, and deprest,
    (Nature is adverse to a cripple's rest;)
    Will generous Graham list to his Poet's wail?
    (It soothes poor misery, hearkening to her tale,)
    And hear him curse the light he first survey'd,
    And doubly curse the luckless rhyming trade?

    Thou, Nature, partial Nature! I arraign;
    Of thy caprice maternal I complain:
    The lion and the bull thy care have found,
    One shakes the forests, and one spurns the ground:
    Thou giv'st the ass his hide, the snail his shell,
    Th' envenom'd wasp, victorious, guards his cell;
    Thy minions, kings, defend, control, devour,
    In all th' omnipotence of rule and power;
    Foxes and statesmen, subtile wiles insure;
    The cit and polecat stink, and are secure;
    Toads with their poison, doctors with their drug,
    The priest and hedgehog in their robes are snug;
    Ev'n silly woman has her warlike arts,
    Her tongue and eyes, her dreaded spear and darts;--
    But, oh! thou bitter stepmother and hard,
    To thy poor fenceless, naked child--the Bard!
    A thing unteachable in world's skill,
    And half an idiot too, more helpless still;
    No heels to bear him from the op'ning dun;
    No claws to dig, his hated sight to shun;
    No horns, but those by luckless Hymen worn,
    And those, alas! not Amalthea's horn:
    No nerves olfact'ry, Mammon's trusty cur,
    Clad in rich dullness' comfortable fur;--
    In naked feeling, and in aching pride,
    He bears the unbroken blast from every side.
    Vampyre booksellers drain him to the heart,
    And scorpion critics cureless venom dart.

    Critics!--appall'd I venture on the name,
    Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame.
    Bloody dissectors, worse than ten Monroes!
    He hacks to teach, they mangle to expose.

    His heart by causeless wanton malice wrung,
    By blockheads' daring into madness stung;
    His well-won bays, than life itself more dear,
    By miscreants torn, who ne'er one sprig must wear:
    Foil'd, bleeding, tortur'd, in the unequal strife,
    The hapless poet flounders on through life;
    Till, fled each hope that once his bosom fir'd,
    And fled each muse that glorious once inspir'd,
    Low sunk in squalid, unprotected age,
    Dead, even resentment, for his injur'd page,
    He heeds or feels no more the ruthless critic's rage!

    So, by some hedge, the gen'rous steed deceas'd,
    For half-starv'd snarling curs a dainty feast:
    By toil and famine wore to skin and bone,
    Lies senseless of each tugging bitch's son.

    O dullness! portion of the truly blest!
    Calm sheltered haven of eternal rest!
    Thy sons ne'er madden in the fierce extremes
    Of fortune's polar frost, or torrid beams.
    If mantling high she fills the golden cup,
    With sober selfish ease they sip it up;
    Conscious the bounteous meed they well deserve,
    They only wonder "some folks" do not starve.
    The grave sage hern thus easy picks his frog,
    And thinks the mallard a sad worthless dog.
    When disappointment snaps the clue of hope,
    And thro' disastrous night they darkling grope,
    With deaf endurance sluggishly they bear,
    And just conclude that "fools are fortune's care."
    So, heavy, passive to the tempest's shocks,
    Strong on the sign-post stands the stupid ox.

    Not so the idle muses' mad-cap train,
    Not such the workings of their moon-struck brain;
    In equanimity they never dwell,
    By turns in soaring heav'n or vaulted hell
    I dread thee, fate, relentless and severe,
    With all a poet's, husband's, father's fear!
    Already one strong hold of hope is lost,
    Glencairn, the truly noble, lies in dust;
    (Fled, like the sun eclips'd as noon appears,
    And left us darkling in a world of tears:)
    O! hear my ardent, grateful, selfish pray'r!--
    Fintray, my other stay, long bless and spare!
    Thro' a long life his hopes and wishes crown;
    And bright in cloudless skies his sun go down!
    May bliss domestic smooth his private path;
    Give energy to life; and soothe his latest breath,
    With many a filial tear circling the bed of death!

       *       *       *       *       *






[Graham of Fintray not only obtained for the poet the appointment in
Excise, which, while he lived in Edinburgh, he desired, but he also
removed him, as he wished, to a better district; and when imputations
were thrown out against his loyalty, he defended him with obstinate
and successful eloquence. Fintray did all that was done to raise Burns
out of the toiling humility of his condition, and enable him to serve
the muse without fear of want.]

    I call no goddess to inspire my strains,
    A fabled muse may suit a bard that feigns;
    Friend of my life! my ardent spirit burns,
    And all the tribute of my heart returns,
    For boons accorded, goodness ever new,
    The gift still dearer, as the giver, you.

    Thou orb of day! thou other paler light!
    And all ye many sparkling stars of night;
    If aught that giver from my mind efface;
    If I that giver's bounty e'er disgrace;
    Then roll to me, along your wandering spheres,
    Only to number out a villain's years!

       *       *       *       *       *



[This Vision of Liberty descended on Burns among the magnificent ruins
of the College of Lincluden, which stand on the junction of the Cluden
and the Nith, a short mile above Dumfries. He gave us the Vision;
perhaps, he dared not in those yeasty times venture on the song, which
his secret visitant poured from her lips. The scene is chiefly copied
from nature: the swellings of the Nith, the howling of the fox on the
hill, and the cry of the owl, unite at times with the natural beauty
of the spot, and give it life and voice. These ruins were a favourite
haunt of the poet.]

    As I stood by yon roofless tower,
      Where the wa'-flower scents the dewy air,
    Where th' howlet mourns in her ivy bower
      And tells the midnight moon her care;

    The winds were laid, the air was still,
      The Stars they shot along the sky;
    The fox was howling on the hill,
      And the distant echoing glens reply.

    The stream, adown its hazelly path,
      Was rushing by the ruin'd wa's,
    Hasting to join the sweeping Nith,[109A]
      Whose distant roaring swells and fa's.

    The cauld blue north was streaming forth
      Her lights, wi' hissing eerie din;
    Athort the lift they start and shift,
      Like fortune's favours, tint as win.

    By heedless chance I turn'd mine eyes,
      And, by the moon-beam, shook to see
    A stern and stalwart ghaist arise,
      Attir'd as minstrels wont to be.[109B]

    Had I a statue been o' stane,
      His darin' look had daunted me;
    And on his bonnet grav'd was plain,
      The sacred posy--'Libertie!'

    And frae his harp sic strains did flow,
      Might rous'd the slumb'ring dead to hear;
    But, oh! it was a tale of woe,
      As ever met a Briton's ear.

    He sang wi' joy the former day,
      He weeping wail'd his latter times;
    But what he said it was nae play,--
      I winna ventur't in my rhymes.

[Footnote 109A: VARIATIONS.

    To join yon river on the Strath.]

[Footnote 109B: VARIATIONS.

    Now looking over firth and fauld,
      Her horn the pale-fac'd Cynthia rear'd;
    When, lo, in form of minstrel auld,
      A storm and stalwart ghaist appear'd.]

       *       *       *       *       *





[John Maxwell of Terraughty and Munshes, to whom these verses are
addressed, though descended from the Earls of Nithsdale, cared little
about lineage, and claimed merit only from a judgment sound and
clear--a knowledge of business which penetrated into all the concerns
of life, and a skill in handling the most difficult subjects, which
was considered unrivalled. Under an austere manner, he hid much
kindness of heart, and was in a fair way of doing an act of gentleness
when giving a refusal. He loved to meet Burns: not that he either
cared for or comprehended poetry; but he was pleased with his
knowledge of human nature, and with the keen and piercing remarks in
which he indulged. He was seventy-one years old when these verses were
written, and survived the poet twenty years.]

    Health to the Maxwell's vet'ran chief!
    Health, ay unsour'd by care or grief:
    Inspir'd, I turn'd Fate's sybil leaf
                      This natal morn;
    I see thy life is stuff o' prief,
                      Scarce quite half worn.

    This day thou metes three score eleven,
    And I can tell that bounteous Heaven
    (The second sight, ye ken, is given
                      To ilka Poet)
    On thee a tack o' seven times seven
                      Will yet bestow it.

    If envious buckies view wi' sorrow
    Thy lengthen'd days on this blest morrow,
    May desolation's lang teeth'd harrow,
                      Nine miles an hour,
    Rake them like Sodom and Gomorrah,
                      In brunstane stoure--

    But for thy friends, and they are mony,
    Baith honest men and lasses bonnie,
    May couthie fortune, kind and cannie,
                      In social glee,
    Wi' mornings blythe and e'enings funny
                      Bless them and thee!

    Fareweel, auld birkie! Lord be near ye,
    And then the Deil he daur na steer ye;
    Your friends ay love, your faes ay fear ye;
                      For me, shame fa' me,
    If neist my heart I dinna wear ye
                      While BURNS they ca' me!

_Dumfries, 18 Feb. 1792._

       *       *       *       *       *





Nov. 26, 1792.

[Miss Fontenelle was one of the actresses whom Williamson, the
manager, brought for several seasons to Dumfries: she was young and
pretty, indulged in little levities of speech, and rumour added,
perhaps maliciously, levities of action. The Rights of Man had been
advocated by Paine, the Rights of Woman by Mary Wolstonecroft, and
nought was talked of, but the moral and political regeneration of the
world. The line

    "But truce with kings and truce with constitutions,"

got an uncivil twist in recitation, from some of the audience. The
words were eagerly caught up, and had some hisses bestowed on them.]

    While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
    The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
    While quacks of state must each produce his plan,
    And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
    Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
    The Rights of Woman merit some attention.

    First on the sexes' intermix'd connexion,
    One sacred Right of Woman is protection.
    The tender flower that lifts its head, elate,
    Helpless, must fall before the blasts of fate,
    Sunk on the earth, defac'd its lovely form,
    Unless your shelter ward th' impending storm.

    Our second Right--but needless here is caution,
    To keep that right inviolate's the fashion,
    Each man of sense has it so full before him,
    He'd die before he'd wrong it--'tis decorum.--
    There was, indeed, in far less polish'd days,
    A time, when rough, rude man had haughty ways;
    Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
    Nay, even thus invade a lady's quiet.

    Now, thank our stars! these Gothic times are fled;
    Now, well-bred men--and you are all well-bred--
    Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
    Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.

    For Right the third, our last, our best, our dearest,
    That right to fluttering female hearts the nearest,
    Which even the Rights of Kings in low prostration
    Most humbly own--'tis dear, dear admiration!
    In that blest sphere alone we live and move;
    There taste that life of life--immortal love.--
    Smiles, glances, sighs, tears, fits, flirtations, airs,
    'Gainst such an host what flinty savage dares--
    When awful Beauty joins with all her charms,
    Who is so rash as rise in rebel arms?

    But truce with kings and truce with constitutions,
    With bloody armaments and revolutions,
    Let majesty your first attention summon,
    Ah! ça ira! the majesty of woman!

       *       *       *       *       *




[The heroine Of this rough lampoon was Mrs. Riddel of Woodleigh Park:
a lady young and gay, much of a wit, and something of a poetess, and
till the hour of his death the friend of Burns himself. She pulled his
displeasure on her, it is said, by smiling more sweetly than he liked
on some "epauletted coxcombs," for so he sometimes designated
commissioned officers: the lady soon laughed him out of his mood. We
owe to her pen an account of her last interview with the poet, written
with great beauty and feeling.]

    How cold is that bosom which folly once fired,
      How pale is that cheek where the rouge lately glisten'd!
    How silent that tongue which the echoes oft tired,
      How dull is that ear which to flattery so listen'd!

    If sorrow and anguish their exit await,
      From friendship and dearest affection remov'd;
    How doubly severer, Maria, thy fate,
      Thou diest unwept as thou livedst unlov'd.

    Loves, Graces, and Virtues, I call not on you;
      So shy, grave, and distant, ye shed not a tear:
    But come, all ye offspring of Folly so true,
      And flowers let us cull for Maria's cold bier.

    We'll search through the garden for each silly flower,
      We'll roam through the forest for each idle weed;
    But chiefly the nettle, so typical, shower,
      For none e'er approach'd her but rued the rash deed.

    We'll sculpture the marble, we'll measure the lay;
      Here Vanity strums on her idiot lyre;
    There keen indignation shall dart on her prey,
      Which spurning Contempt shall redeem from his ire.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Here lies, now a prey to insulting neglect,
      What once was a butterfly, gay in life's beam:
    Want only of wisdom denied her respect,
      Want only of goodness denied her esteem

       *       *       *       *       *





[Williamson, the actor, Colonel Macdouall, Captain Gillespie, and Mrs.
Riddel, are the characters which pass over the stage in this strange
composition: it is printed from the Poet's own manuscript, and seems a
sort of outpouring of wrath and contempt, on persons who, in his eyes,
gave themselves airs beyond their condition, or their merits. The
verse of the lady is held up to contempt and laughter: the satirist
celebrates her

    "Motley foundling fancies, stolen or strayed;"

and has a passing hit at her

    "Still matchless tongue that conquers all reply."]

    From those drear solitudes and frowsy cells,
    Where infamy with sad repentance dwells;
    Where turnkeys make the jealous portal fast,
    And deal from iron hands the spare repast;
    Where truant 'prentices, yet young in sin,
    Blush at the curious stranger peeping in;
    Where strumpets, relics of the drunken roar,
    Resolve to drink, nay, half to whore, no more;
    Where tiny thieves not destin'd yet to swing,
    Beat hemp for others, riper for the string:
    From these dire scenes my wretched lines I date,
    To tell Maria her Esopus' fate.

    "Alas! I feel I am no actor here!"
    'Tis real hangmen, real scourges bear!
    Prepare, Maria, for a horrid tale
    Will turn thy very rouge to deadly pale;
    Will make they hair, tho' erst from gipsy polled,
    By barber woven, and by barber sold,
    Though twisted smooth with Harry's nicest care,
    Like hoary bristles to erect and stare.
    The hero of the mimic scene, no more
    I start in Hamlet, in Othello roar;
    Or haughty Chieftain, 'mid the din of arms,
    In Highland bonnet woo Malvina's charms;
    While sans culottes stoop up the mountain high,
    And steal from me Maria's prying eye.
    Blest Highland bonnet! Once my proudest dress,
    Now prouder still, Maria's temples press.
    I see her wave thy towering plumes afar,
    And call each coxcomb to the wordy war.
    I see her face the first of Ireland's sons,[110]
    And even out-Irish his Hibernian bronze;
    The crafty colonel[111] leaves the tartan'd lines,
    For other wars, where he a hero shines;
    The hopeful youth, in Scottish senate bred,
    Who owns a Bushby's heart without the head;
    Comes, 'mid a string of coxcombs to display
    That veni, vidi, vici, is his way;
    The shrinking bard adown the alley skulks,
    And dreads a meeting worse than Woolwich hulks;
    Though there, his heresies in church and state
    Might well award him Muir and Palmer's fate:
    Still she undaunted reels and rattles on,
    And dares the public like a noontide sun.
    (What scandal call'd Maria's janty stagger
    The ricket reeling of a crooked swagger,
    Whose spleen e'en worse than Burns' venom when
    He dips in gall unmix'd his eager pen,--
    And pours his vengeance in the burning line,
    Who christen'd thus Maria's lyre divine;
    The idiot strum of vanity bemused,
    And even th' abuse of poesy abused!
    Who call'd her verse, a parish workhouse made
    For motley foundling fancies, stolen or stray'd?)

    A workhouse! ah, that sound awakes my woes,
    And pillows on the thorn my rack'd repose!
    In durance vile here must I wake and weep,
    And all my frowsy couch in sorrow steep;
    That straw where many a rogue has lain of yore,
    And vermin'd gipsies litter'd heretofore.

    Why, Lonsdale, thus thy wrath on vagrants pour?
    Must earth no rascal save thyself endure?
    Must thou alone in guilt immortal swell,
    And make a vast monopoly of hell?
    Thou know'st, the virtues cannot hate thee worse,
    The vices also, must they club their curse?
    Or must no tiny sin to others fall,
    Because thy guilt's supreme enough for all?

    Maria, send me too thy griefs and cares;
    In all of thee sure thy Esopus shares.
    As thou at all mankind the flag unfurls,
    Who on my fair one satire's vengeance hurls?
    Who calls thee, pert, affected, vain coquette,
    A wit in folly, and a fool in wit?
    Who says, that fool alone is not thy due,
    And quotes thy treacheries to prove it true?
    Our force united on thy foes we'll turn,
    And dare the war with all of woman born:
    For who can write and speak as thou and I?
    My periods that deciphering defy,
    And thy still matchless tongue that conquers all reply.


[Footnote 110: Captain Gillespie.]

[Footnote 111: Col. Macdouall.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[Though Gilbert Burns says there is some doubt of this Poem being by
his brother, and though Robert Chambers declares that he "has scarcely
a doubt that it is not by the Ayrshire Bard," I must print it as his,
for I have no doubt on the subject. It was found among the papers of
the poet, in his own handwriting: the second, the fourth, and the
concluding verses bear the Burns' stamp, which no one has been
successful in counterfeiting: they resemble the verses of Beattie, to
which Chambers has compared them, as little as the cry of the eagle
resembles the chirp of the wren.]

    Hail Poesie! thou Nymph reserv'd!
    In chase o' thee, what crowds hae swerv'd
    Frae common sense, or sunk enerv'd
                      'Mang heaps o' clavers;
    And och! o'er aft thy joes hae starv'd
                      Mid a' thy favours!

    Say, Lassie, why thy train amang,
    While loud the trump's heroic clang,
    And sock or buskin skelp alang,
                      To death or marriage;
    Scarce ane has tried the shepherd-sang
                      But wi' miscarriage?

    In Homer's craft Jock Milton thrives;
    Eschylus' pen Will Shakspeare drives;
    Wee Pope, the knurlin, 'till him rives
                      Horatian fame;
    In thy sweet sang, Barbauld, survives
                      Even Sappho's flame.

    But thee, Theocritus, wha matches?
    They're no herd's ballats, Maro's catches;
    Squire Pope but busks his skinklin patches
                      O' heathen tatters;
    I pass by hunders, nameless wretches,
                      That ape their betters.

    In this braw age o' wit and lear,
    Will nane the Shepherd's whistle mair
    Blaw sweetly in its native air
                      And rural grace;
    And wi' the far-fam'd Grecian share
                      A rival place?

    Yes! there is ane; a Scottish callan--
    There's ane; come forrit, honest Allan!
    Thou need na jouk behint the hallan,
                      A chiel sae clever;
    The teeth o' time may gnaw Tantallan,
                      But thou's for ever!

    Thou paints auld nature to the nines,
    In thy sweet Caledonian lines;
    Nae gowden stream thro' myrtles twines,
                      Where Philomel,
    While nightly breezes sweep the vines,
                      Her griefs will tell!

    In gowany glens thy burnie strays,
    Where bonnie lasses bleach their claes;
    Or trots by hazelly shaws and braes,
                      Wi' hawthorns gray,
    Where blackbirds join the shepherd's lays
                      At close o' day.

    Thy rural loves are nature's sel';
    Nae bombast spates o' nonsense swell;
    Nae snap conceits, but that sweet spell
                      O' witchin' love;
    That charm that can the strongest quell,
                      The sternest move.

       *       *       *       *       *






[Burns was fond of a saunter in a leafless wood, when the winter storm
howled among the branches. These characteristic lines were composed on
the morning of his birthday, with the Nith at his feet, and the ruins
of Lincluden at his side: he is willing to accept the unlooked-for
song of the thrush as a fortunate omen.]

    Sing on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough,
      Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain:
      See, aged Winter, 'mid his surly reign,
    At thy blythe carol clears his furrow'd brow.

    So, in lone Poverty's dominion drear,
      Sits meek Content with light unanxious heart,
      Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,
    Nor asks if they bring aught to hope or fear.

    I thank Thee, Author of this opening day!
      Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies!
      Riches denied, Thy boon was purer joys,
    What wealth could never give nor take away.

    Yet come, thou child of poverty and care,
    The mite high Heaven bestow'd, that mite with thee I'll share.

       *       *       *       *       *






APRIL, 1794.

[The death of Glencairn, who was his patron, and the death of
Glenriddel, who was his friend, and had, while he lived at Ellisland,
been his neighbor, weighed hard on the mind of Burns, who, about this
time, began to regard his own future fortune with more of dismay than
of hope. Riddel united antiquarian pursuits with those of literature,
and experienced all the vulgar prejudices entertained by the peasantry
against those who indulge in such researches. His collection of what
the rustics of the vale called "queer quairns and swine-troughs," is
now scattered or neglected: I have heard a competent judge say, that
they threw light on both the public and domestic history of Scotland.]

    No more, ye warblers of the wood--no more!
      Nor pour your descant, grating, on my soul;
      Thou young-eyed Spring, gay in thy verdant stole,
    More welcome were to me grim Winter's wildest roar.

    How can ye charm, ye flow'rs, with all your dyes?
      Ye blow upon the sod that wraps my friend:
      How can I to the tuneful strain attend?
    That strain flows round th' untimely tomb where Riddel lies.

    Yes, pour, ye warblers, pour the notes of woe!
      And soothe the Virtues weeping on this bier:
      The Man of Worth, who has not left his peer,
    Is in his "narrow house" for ever darkly low.

    Thee, Spring, again with joy shall others greet,
    Me, mem'ry of my loss will only meet.

       *       *       *       *       *




[By compliments such as these lines contain, Burns soothed the smart
which his verses "On a lady famed for her caprice" inflicted on the
accomplished Mrs. Riddel.]

    Old Winter, with his frosty beard,
    Thus once to Jove his prayer preferr'd,--
    What have I done of all the year,
    To bear this hated doom severe?
    My cheerless suns no pleasure know;
    Night's horrid car drags, dreary, slow:
    My dismal months no joys are crowning,
    But spleeny English, hanging, drowning.

    Now, Jove, for once be mighty civil,
    To counterbalance all this evil;
    Give me, and I've no more to say,
    Give me Maria's natal day!
    That brilliant gift shall so enrich me,
    Spring, Summer, Autumn, cannot match me;
    'Tis done! says Jove; so ends my story,
    And Winter once rejoiced in glory.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Fragment of verse were numerous, Dr. Currie said, among the loose
papers of the poet. These lines formed the commencement of an ode
commemorating the achievement of liberty for America under the
directing genius of Washington and Franklin.]

    Thee, Caledonia, thy wild heaths among,
    Thee, fam'd for martial deed and sacred song,
      To thee I turn with swimming eyes;
    Where is that soul of freedom fled?
    Immingled with the mighty dead!
      Beneath the hallow'd turf where Wallace lies!
    Hear it not, Wallace, in thy bed of death!
      Ye babbling winds, in silence sweep;
      Disturb not ye the hero's sleep,
    Nor give the coward secret breath.
      Is this the power in freedom's war,
      That wont to bid the battle rage?
    Behold that eye which shot immortal hate,
      Crushing the despot's proudest bearing!

       *       *       *       *       *




[This young lady was the daughter of the poet's friend, Graham of
Fintray; and the gift alluded to was a copy of George Thomson's
Select Scottish Songs: a work which owes many attractions to the lyric
genius of Burns.]

    Here, where the Scottish muse immortal lives,
      In sacred strains and tuneful numbers join'd,
    Accept the gift;--tho' humble he who gives,
      Rich is the tribute of the grateful mind.

    So may no ruffian feeling in thy breast,
      Discordant jar thy bosom-chords among;
    But peace attune thy gentle soul to rest,
      Or love ecstatic wake his seraph song.

    Or pity's notes in luxury of tears,
      As modest want the tale of woe reveals;
    While conscious virtue all the strain endears,
      And heaven-born piety her sanction seals.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns admired genius adorned by learning; but mere learning without
genius he always regarded as pedantry. Those critics who scrupled too
much about words he called eunuchs of literature, and to one, who
taxed him with writing obscure language in questionable grammar, he
said, "Thou art but a Gretna-green match-maker between vowels and

    'Twas where the birch and sounding thong are ply'd,
    The noisy domicile of pedant pride;
    Where ignorance her darkening vapour throws,
    And cruelty directs the thickening blows;
    upon a time, Sir Abece the great,
    In all his pedagogic powers elate,
    His awful chair of state resolves to mount,
    And call the trembling vowels to account.--

    First enter'd A, a grave, broad, solemn wight,
    But, ah! deform'd, dishonest to the sight!
    His twisted head look'd backward on the way,
    And flagrant from the scourge he grunted, _ai!_

    Reluctant, E stalk'd in; with piteous race
    The justling tears ran down his honest face!
    That name! that well-worn name, and all his own,
    Pale he surrenders at the tyrant's throne!
    The pedant stifles keen the Roman sound
    Not all his mongrel diphthongs can compound;
    And next the title following close behind,
    He to the nameless, ghastly wretch assign'd.

    The cobweb'd gothic dome resounded Y!
    In sullen vengeance, I, disdain'd reply:
    The pedant swung his felon cudgel round,
    And knock'd the groaning vowel to the ground!

    In rueful apprehension enter'd O,
    The wailing minstrel of despairing woe;
    Th' Inquisitor of Spain the most expert
    Might there have learnt new mysteries of his art;
    So grim, deform'd, with horrors entering U,
    His dearest friend and brother scarcely knew!

    As trembling U stood staring all aghast,
    The pedant in his left hand clutched him fast,
    In helpless infants' tears he dipp'd his right,
    Baptiz'd him _eu_, and kick'd him from his sight.

       *       *       *       *       *




[With the "rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine," of Adamhill, in
Ayrshire, Burns kept up a will o'-wispish sort of a correspondence in
rhyme, till the day of his death: these communications, of which this
is one, were sometimes graceless, but always witty. It is supposed,
that those lines were suggested by Falstaff's account of his ragged

    "I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat!"]

    Ae day, as Death, that grusome carl,
    Was driving to the tither warl'
    A mixtie-maxtie motley squad,
    And mony a guilt-bespotted lad;
    Black gowns of each denomination,
    And thieves of every rank and station,
    From him that wears the star and garter,
    To him that wintles in a halter:
    Asham'd himsel' to see the wretches,
    He mutters, glowrin' at the bitches,
    "By G--d, I'll not be seen behint them,
    Nor 'mang the sp'ritual core present them,
    Without, at least, ae honest man,
    To grace this d--d infernal clan."
    By Adamhill a glance he threw,
    "L--d G--d!" quoth he, "I have it now,
    There's just the man I want, i' faith!"
    And quickly stoppit Rankine's breath.

       *       *       *       *       *






[These verses were occasioned, it is said, by some sentiments
contained in a communication from Mrs. Dunlop. That excellent lady was
sorely tried with domestic afflictions for a time, and to these he
appears to allude; but he deadened the effect of his sympathy, when he
printed the stanzas in the Museum, changing the fourth line to,

    "Dearest Nancy, thou canst tell!"

and so transferring the whole to another heroine.]

    Sensibility how charming,
      Thou, my friend, canst truly tell:
    But distress with horrors arming,
      Thou host also known too well.

    Fairest flower, behold the lily,
      Blooming in the sunny ray:
    Let the blast sweep o'er the valley,
      See it prostrate on the clay.

    Hear the woodlark charm the forest,
      Telling o'er his little joys:
    Hapless bird! a prey the surest,
      To each pirate of the skies.

    Dearly bought, the hidden treasure,
      Finer feeling can bestow;
    Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure,
      Thrill the deepest notes of woe.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The too hospitable board of Mrs. Riddel occasioned these repentant
strains: they were accepted as they were meant by the party. The poet
had, it seems, not only spoken of mere titles and rank with
disrespect, but had allowed his tongue unbridled license of speech, on
the claim of political importance, and domestic equality, which Mary
Wolstonecroft and her followers patronized, at which Mrs. Riddel
affected to be grievously offended.]

    The friend whom wild from wisdom's way,
      The fumes of wine infuriate send;
    (Not moony madness more astray;)
      Who but deplores that hapless friend?

    Mine was th' insensate frenzied part,
      Ah, why should I such scenes outlive
    Scenes so abhorrent to my heart!
      'Tis thine to pity and forgive.

       *       *       *       *       *





[This address was spoken by Miss Fontenelle, at the Dumfries theatre,
on the 4th of December, 1795.]

    Still anxious to secure your partial favour,
    And not less anxious, sure, this night than ever,
    A Prologue, Epilogue, or some such matter,
    'Twould vamp my bill, said I, if nothing better;
    So sought a Poet, roosted near the skies,
    Told him I came to feast my curious eyes;
    Said nothing like his works was ever printed;
    And last, my Prologue-business slyly hinted!
    "Ma'am, let me tell you," quoth my man of rhymes,
    "I know your bent--these are no laughing times:
    Can you--but, Miss, I own I have my fears,
    Dissolve in pause--and sentimental tears;
    With laden sighs, and solemn-rounded sentence,
    Rouse from his sluggish slumbers, fell Repentance;
    Paint Vengeance as he takes his horrid stand,
    Waving on high the desolating brand,
    Calling the storms to bear him o'er a guilty land?"

    I could no more--askance the creature eyeing,
    D'ye think, said I, this face was made for crying?
    I'll laugh, that's poz--nay more, the world shall know it;
    And so your servant: gloomy Master Poet!
    Firm as my creed, Sirs, 'tis my fix'd belief,
    That Misery's another word for Grief;
    I also think--so may I be a bride!
    That so much laughter, so much life enjoy'd.

    Thou man of crazy care and ceaseless sigh,
    Still under bleak Misfortune's blasting eye;
    Doom'd to that sorest task of man alive--
    To make three guineas do the work of five:
    Laugh in Misfortune's face--the beldam witch!
    Say, you'll be merry, tho' you can't be rich.

    Thou other man of care, the wretch in love,
    Who long with jiltish arts and airs hast strove;
    Who, us the boughs all temptingly project,
    Measur'st in desperate thought--a rope--thy neck--
    Or, where the beetling cliff o'erhangs the deep,
    Peerest to meditate the healing leap:
    Would'st thou be cur'd, thou silly, moping elf?
    Laugh at their follies--laugh e'en at thyself:
    Learn to despise those frowns now so terrific,
    And love a kinder--that's your grand specific.

    To sum up all, be merry, I advise;
    And as we're merry, may we still be wise.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The good looks and the natural acting of Miss Fontenelle pleased
others as well as Burns. I know not to what character in the range of
her personations he alludes: she was a favourite on the Dumfries

    Sweet naiveté of feature,
      Simple, wild, enchanting elf,
    Not to thee, but thanks to nature,
      Thou art acting but thyself.

    Wert thou awkward, stiff, affected,
      Spurning nature, torturing art;
    Loves and graces all rejected,
      Then indeed thou'dst act a part.

R. B.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Chloris was a Nithsdale beauty. Love and sorrow were strongly mingled
in her early history: that she did not look so lovely in other eyes as
she did in those of Burns is well known: but he had much of the taste
of an artist, and admired the elegance of her form, and the harmony of
her motion, as much as he did her blooming face and sweet voice.]

    'Tis Friendship's pledge, my young, fair friend,
      Nor thou the gift refuse,
    Nor with unwilling ear attend
      The moralizing muse.

    Since thou in all thy youth and charms,
      Must bid the world adieu,
    (A world 'gainst peace in constant arms)
      To join the friendly few.

    Since, thy gay morn of life o'ercast,
      Chill came the tempest's lower;
    (And ne'er misfortune's eastern blast
      Did nip a fairer flower.)

    Since life's gay scenes must charm no more,
      Still much is left behind;
    Still nobler wealth hast thou in store--
      The comforts of the mind!

    Thine is the self-approving glow,
      On conscious honour's part;
    And, dearest gift of heaven below,
      Thine friendship's truest heart.

    The joys refin'd of sense and taste,
      With every muse to rove:
    And doubly were the poet blest,
      These joys could he improve.

       *       *       *       *       *




[It was the fashion of the feverish times of the French Revolution to
plant trees of Liberty, and raise altars to Independence. Heron of
Kerroughtree, a gentleman widely esteemed in Galloway, was about to
engage in an election contest, and these noble lines served the
purpose of announcing the candidate's sentiments on freedom.]

    Thou of an independent mind,
    With soul resolv'd, with soul resign'd;
    Prepar'd Power's proudest frown to brave,
    Who wilt not be, nor have a slave;
    Virtue alone who dost revere,
    Thy own reproach alone dost fear,
    Approach this shrine, and worship here.

       *       *       *       *       *




[This is the first of several party ballads which Burns wrote to serve
Patrick Heron, of Kerroughtree, in two elections for the Stewartry of
Kirkcudbright, in which he was opposed, first, by Gordon of Balmaghie,
and secondly, by the Hon. Montgomery Stewart. There is a personal
bitterness in these lampoons, which did not mingle with the strains in
which the poet recorded the contest between Miller and Johnstone. They
are printed here as matters of poetry, and I feel sure that none will
be displeased, and some will smile.]


    Whom will you send to London town,
      To Parliament and a' that?
    Or wha in a' the country round
      The best deserves to fa' that?
            For a' that, and a' that;
            Thro Galloway and a' that;
            Where is the laird or belted knight
            That best deserves to fa' that?


    Wha sees Kerroughtree's open yett,
      And wha is't never saw that?
    Wha ever wi' Kerroughtree meets
      And has a doubt of a' that?
            For a' that, and a' that,
            Here's Heron yet for a' that,
            The independent patriot,
            The honest man, an' a' that.


    Tho' wit and worth in either sex,
      St. Mary's Isle can shaw that;
    Wi' dukes and lords let Selkirk mix,
      And weel does Selkirk fa' that.
            For a' that, and a' that,
            Here's Heron yet for a' that!
            The independent commoner
            Shall be the man for a' that.


    But why should we to nobles jouk,
      And it's against the law that;
    For why, a lord may be a gouk,
      Wi' ribbon, star, an' a' that.
            For a' that, an' a' that,
            Here's Heron yet for a' that!
            A lord may be a lousy loun,
            Wi' ribbon, star, an' a' that.


    A beardless boy comes o'er the hills,
      Wi' uncle's purse an' a' that;
    But we'll hae ane frae 'mang oursels,
      A man we ken, an' a' that.
            For a' that, an' a' that,
            Here's Heron yet for a' that!
            For we're not to be bought an' sold
            Like naigs, an' nowt, an' a' that.


    Then let us drink the Stewartry,
      Kerroughtree's laird, an' a' that,
    Our representative to be,
      For weel he's worthy a' that.
            For a' that, an' a' that,
            Here's Heron yet for a' that,
            A House of Commons such as he,
            They would be blest that saw that.

       *       *       *       *       *




[In this ballad the poet gathers together, after the manner of "Fy!
let us a' to the bridal," all the leading electors of the Stewartry,
who befriended Heron, or opposed him; and draws their portraits in the
colours of light or darkness, according to the complexion of their
politics. He is too severe in most instances, and in some he is
venomous. On the Earl of Galloway's family, and on the Murrays of
Broughton and Caillie, as well as on Bushby of Tinwaldowns, he pours
his hottest satire. But words which are unjust, or undeserved, fall
off their victims like rain-drops from a wild-duck's wing. The Murrays
of Broughton and Caillie have long borne, from the vulgar, the stigma
of treachery to the cause of Prince Charles Stewart: from such infamy
the family is wholly free: the traitor, Murray, was of a race now
extinct; and while he was betraying the cause in which so much noble
and gallant blood was shed, Murray of Broughton and Caillie was
performing the duties of an honourable and loyal man: he was, like his
great-grandson now, representing his native district in parliament.]



    Fy, let us a' to Kirkcudbright,
      For there will be bickerin' there;
    For Murray's[112] light horse are to muster,
      And O, how the heroes will swear!
    An' there will be Murray commander,
      And Gordon[113] the battle to win;
    Like brothers they'll stand by each other,
      Sae knit in alliance an' kin.


    An' there will be black-lippit Johnnie,[114]
      The tongue o' the trump to them a';
    And he get na hell for his haddin'
      The deil gets na justice ava';
    And there will Kempleton's birkie,
      A boy no sae black at the bane,
    But, as for his fine nabob fortune,
      We'll e'en let the subject alane.


    An' there will be Wigton's new sheriff,
      Dame Justice fu' brawlie has sped,
    She's gotten the heart of a Bushby,
      But, Lord, what's become o' the head?
    An' there will be Cardoness,[115] Esquire,
      Sae mighty in Cardoness' eyes;
    A wight that will weather damnation,
      For the devil the prey will despise.


    An' there will be Douglasses[116] doughty,
      New christ'ning towns far and near;
    Abjuring their democrat doings,
      By kissing the ---- o' a peer;
    An' there will be Kenmure[117] sae gen'rous,
      Whose honour is proof to the storm,
    To save them from stark reprobation,
      He lent them his name to the firm.


    But we winna mention Redcastle,[118]
      The body, e'en let him escape!
    He'd venture the gallows for siller,
      An' 'twere na the cost o' the rape.
    An' where is our king's lord lieutenant,
      Sae fam'd for his gratefu' return?
    The billie is gettin' his questions,
      To say in St. Stephen's the morn.


    An' there will be lads o' the gospel,
      Muirhead,[119] wha's as gude as he's true;
    An' there will be Buittle's[120] apostle,
      Wha's more o' the black than the blue;
    An' there will be folk from St. Mary's,[121]
      A house o' great merit and note,
    The deil ane but honours them highly,--
      The deil ane will gie them his vote!


    An' there will be wealthy young Richard,[122]
      Dame Fortune should hing by the neck;
    For prodigal, thriftless, bestowing,
      His merit had won him respect:
    An' there will be rich brother nabobs,
      Tho' nabobs, yet men of the first,
    An' there will be Collieston's[123] whiskers,
      An' Quintin, o' lads not the worst.


    An' there will be stamp-office Johnnie,[124]
      Tak' tent how ye purchase a dram;
    An' there will be gay Cassencarrie,
      An' there will be gleg Colonel Tam;
    An' there will be trusty Kerroughtree,[125]
      Whose honour was ever his law,
    If the virtues were pack'd in a parcel,
      His worth might be sample for a'.


    An' can we forget the auld major,
      Wha'll ne'er be forgot in the Greys,
    Our flatt'ry we'll keep for some other,
      Him only 'tis justice to praise.
    An' there will be maiden Kilkerran,
      And also Barskimming's gude knight,
    An' there will be roarin' Birtwhistle,
      Wha luckily roars in the right.


    An' there, frae the Niddisdale borders,
      Will mingle the Maxwells in droves;
    Teugh Johnnie, staunch Geordie, an' Walie,
      That griens for the fishes an' loaves;
    An' there will be Logan Mac Douall,[126]
      Sculdudd'ry an' he will be there,
    An' also the wild Scot of Galloway,
      Sodgerin', gunpowder Blair.


    Then hey the chaste interest o' Broughton,
      An' hey for the blessings 'twill bring?
    It may send Balmaghie to the Commons,
      In Sodom 'twould make him a king;
    An' hey for the sanctified M----y,
      Our land who wi' chapels has stor'd;
    He founder'd his horse among harlots,
      But gied the auld naig to the Lord.


[Footnote 112: Murray, of Broughton and Caillie.]

[Footnote 113: Gordon of Balmaghie.]

[Footnote 114: Bushby, of Tinwald-Downs.]

[Footnote 115: Maxwell, of Cardoness.]

[Footnote 116: The Douglasses, of Orchardtown and Castle-Douglas.]

[Footnote 117: Gordon, afterwards Viscount Kenmore.]

[Footnote 118: Laurie, of Redcastle.]

[Footnote 119: Morehead, Minister of Urr.]

[Footnote 120: The Minister of Buittle.]

[Footnote 121: Earl of Selkirk's family.]

[Footnote 122: Oswald, of Auchuncruive.]

[Footnote 123: Copland, of Collieston and Blackwood.]

[Footnote 124: John Syme, of the Stamp-office.]

[Footnote 125: Heron, of Kerroughtree.]

[Footnote 126: Colonel Macdouall, of Logan.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[This third and last ballad was written on the contest between Heron
and Stewart, which followed close on that with Gordon. Heron carried
the election, but was unseated by the decision of a Committee of the
House of Commons: a decision which it is said he took so much to heart
that it affected his health, and shortened his life.]


Tune.--"_Buy broom besoms._"

    Wha will buy my troggin,
      Fine election ware;
    Broken trade o' Broughton,
      A' in high repair.
                Buy braw troggin,
                  Frae the banks o' Dee;
                Wha wants troggin
                  Let him come to me.

    There's a noble Earl's[127]
      Fame and high renown
    For an auld sang--
      It's thought the gudes were stown.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's the worth o' Broughton[128]
      In a needle's ee;
    Here's a reputation
      Tint by Balmaghie.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's an honest conscience
      Might a prince adorn;
    Frae the downs o' Tinwald--[129]
      So was never worn.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's its stuff and lining,
      Cardoness'[130] head;
    Fine for a sodger
      A' the wale o' lead.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's a little wadset
      Buittle's[131] scrap o' truth,
    Pawn'd in a gin-shop
      Quenching holy drouth.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's armorial bearings
      Frae the manse o' Urr;[132]
    The crest, an auld crab-apple
      Rotten at the core.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here is Satan's picture,
      Like a bizzard gled,
    Pouncing poor Redcastle,[133]
      Sprawlin' as a taed.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here's the worth and wisdom
      Collieston[134] can boast;
    By a thievish midge
      They had been nearly lost.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Here is Murray's fragments
      O' the ten commands;
    Gifted by black Jock[135]
      To get them aff his hands.
                Buy braw troggin, &c.

    Saw ye e'er sic troggin?
      If to buy ye're slack,
    Hornie's turnin' chapman,
      He'll buy a' the pack.
                Buy braw troggin,
                  Frae the banks o' Dee;
                Wha wants troggin
                  Let him come to me.


[Footnote 127: The Earl of Galloway.]

[Footnote 128: Murray, of Broughton and Caillie.]

[Footnote 129: Bushby, of Tinwald-downs.]

[Footnote 130: Maxwell, of Cardoness.]

[Footnote 131: The Minister of Buittle.]

[Footnote 132: Morehead, of Urr.]

[Footnote 133: Laurie, of Redcastle.]

[Footnote 134: Copland, of Collieston and Blackwood.]

[Footnote 135: John Bushby, of Tinwald-downs.]

       *       *       *       *       *






[The gentlemen to whom this very modest, and, under the circumstances,
most affecting application for his salary was made, filled the office
of Collector of Excise for the district, and was of a kind and
generous nature: but few were aware that the poet was suffering both
from ill-health and poverty.]

    Friend of the Poet, tried and leal,
    Wha, wanting thee, might beg or steal;
    Alake, alake, the meikle deil
                      Wi' a' his witches
    Are at it, skelpin' jig and reel,
                      In my poor pouches!

    I modestly fu' fain wad hint it,
    That one pound one, I sairly want it,
    If wi' the hizzie down ye sent it,
                      It would be kind;
    And while my heart wi' life-blood dunted
                      I'd bear't in mind.

    So may the auld year gang out moaning
    To see the new come laden, groaning,
    Wi' double plenty o'er the loanin
                      To thee and thine;
    Domestic peace and comforts crowning
                      The hale design.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Ye've heard this while how I've been licket,
    And by felt death was nearly nicket;
    Grim loon! he got me by the fecket,
                      And sair me sheuk;
    But by guid luck I lap a wicket,
                      And turn'd a neuk.

    But by that health, I've got a share o't,
    And by that life, I'm promised mair o't,
    My hale and weel I'll tak a care o't,
                      A tentier way:
    Then farewell folly, hide and hair o't,
                      For ance and aye!

       *       *       *       *       *






[Miss Jessy Lewars watched over the declining days of the poet, with
the affectionate reverence of a daughter: for this she has the silent
gratitude of all who admire the genius of Burns; she has received
more, the thanks of the poet himself, expressed in verses not destined
soon to die.]

    Thine be the volumes, Jessy fair,
    And with them take the Poet's prayer;
    That fate may in her fairest page,
    With every kindliest, best presage
    Of future bliss, enrol thy name:
    With native worth and spotless fame,
    And wakeful caution still aware
    Of ill--but chief, man's felon snare;
    All blameless joys on earth we find,
    And all the treasures of the mind--
    These be thy guardian and reward;
    So prays thy faithful friend, The Bard.

_June_ 26, 1796.

       *       *       *       *       *






[This is supposed to be the last Poem written by the hand, or
conceived by the muse of Burns. The person to whom it is addressed was
Colonel of the gentlemen Volunteers of Dumfries, in whose ranks Burns
was a private: he was a Canadian by birth, and prided himself on
having defended Detroit, against the united efforts of the French and
Americans. He was rough and austere, and thought the science of war
the noblest of all sciences: he affected a taste for literature, and
wrote verses.]

    My honoured colonel, deep I feel
    Your interest in the Poet's weal;
    Ah! now sma' heart hae I to speel
                      The steep Parnassus,
    Surrounded thus by bolus, pill,
                      And potion glasses.

    O what a canty warld were it,
    Would pain and care and sickness spare it;
    And fortune favour worth and merit,
                      As they deserve!
    (And aye a rowth, roast beef and claret;
                      Syne, wha wad starve?)

    Dame Life, tho' fiction out may trick her,
    And in paste gems and frippery deck her;
    Oh! flickering, feeble, and unsicker
                      I've found her still,
    Ay wavering like the willow-wicker,
                      'Tween good and ill.

    Then that curst carmagnole, auld Satan,
    Watches, like baudrons by a rattan,
    Our sinfu' saul to get a claut on
                      Wi' felon ire;
    Syne, whip! his tail ye'll ne'er cast saut on--
                      He's aff like fire.

    Ah Nick! ah Nick! it is na fair,
    First shewing us the tempting ware,
    Bright wines and bonnie lasses rare,
                      To put us daft;
    Syne, weave, unseen, thy spider snare
                      O' hell's damn'd waft.

    Poor man, the flie, aft bizzes bye,
    And aft as chance he comes thee nigh,
    Thy auld danm'd elbow yeuks wi' joy,
                      And hellish pleasure;
    Already in thy fancy's eye,
                      Thy sicker treasure!

    Soon heels-o'er gowdie! in he gangs,
    And like a sheep head on a tangs,
    Thy girning laugh enjoys his pangs
                      And murd'ring wrestle,
    As, dangling in the wind, he hangs
                      A gibbet's tassel.

    But lest you think I am uncivil,
    To plague you with this draunting drivel,
    Abjuring a' intentions evil,
                      I quat my pen:
    The Lord preserve us frae the devil,
                      Amen! amen!

       *       *       *       *       *





[William Burness merited his son's eulogiums: he was an example of
piety, patience, and fortitude.]

    O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
      Draw near with pious rev'rence and attend!
    Here lie the loving husband's dear remains,
      The tender father and the gen'rous friend.
    The pitying heart that felt for human woe;
      The dauntless heart that feared no human pride;
    The friend of man, to vice alone a foe;
      "For ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side."

       *       *       *       *       *



[Robert Aiken, Esq., to whom "The Cotter's Saturday Night" is
addressed: a kind and generous man.]

    Know thou, O stranger to the fame
    Of this much lov'd, much honour'd name!
    (For none that knew him need be told)
    A warmer heart death ne'er made cold.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The name of this friend is neither mentioned nor alluded to in any of
the poet's productions.]

    An honest man here lies at rest
    As e'er God with his image blest!
    The friend of man, the friend of truth;
    The friend of age, and guide of youth;
    Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,
    Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:
    If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
    If there is none, he made the best of this.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These lines allude to the persecution which Hamilton endured for
presuming to ride on Sunday, and say, "damn it," in the presence of
the minister of Mauchline.]

    The poor man weeps--here Gavin sleeps,
      Whom canting wretches blam'd:
    But with such as he, where'er he be,
      May I be sav'd or damn'd!

       *       *       *       *       *




[Wee Johnny was John Wilson, printer of the Kilmarnock edition of
Burns's Poems: he doubted the success of the speculation, and the poet
punished him in these lines, which he printed unaware of their

    Whoe'er thou art, O reader, know,
      That death has murder'd Johnny!
    An' here his body lies fu' low--
      For saul he ne'er had ony.

       *       *       *       *       *




[John Dove kept the Whitefoord Arms in Mauchline: his religion is made
to consist of a comparative appreciation of the liquors he kept.]

    Here lies Johnny Pidgeon;
    What was his religion?
      Wha e'er desires to ken,
    To some other warl'
    Maun follow the carl,
      For here Johnny Pidgeon had nane!

    Strong ale was ablution--
    Small beer, persecution,
      A dram was _memento mori_;
    But a full flowing bowl
    Was the saving his soul,
      And port was celestial glory.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This laborious and useful wag was the "Dear Smith, thou sleest pawkie
thief," of one of the poet's finest epistles: he died in the West

    Lament him, Mauchline husbands a',
      He aften did assist ye;
    For had ye staid whole weeks awa,
      Your wives they ne'er had missed ye.
    Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press
      To school in bands thegither,
    O tread ye lightly on his grass,--
      Perhaps he was your father.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Souter Hood obtained the distinction of this Epigram by his
impertinent inquiries into what he called the moral delinquencies of

    Here souter Hood in death does sleep;--
      To h--ll, if he's gane thither,
    Satan, gie him thy gear to keep,
      He'll haud it weel thegither.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This noisy polemic was a mason of the name of James Humphrey: he
astonished Cromek by an eloquent dissertation on free grace,
effectual-calling, and predestination.]

    Below thir stanes lie Jamie's banes:
      O Death, it's my opinion,
    Thou ne'er took such a blethrin' b--ch
      Into thy dark dominion!

       *       *       *       *       *



[The heroine of these complimentary lines lived in Ayr, and cheered
the poet with her sweet voice, as well as her sweet looks.]

    Oh! had each Scot of ancient times,
      Been Jeany Scott, as thou art,
    The bravest heart on English ground
      Had yielded like a coward!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Though satisfied with the severe satire of these lines, the poet made
a second attempt.]

    As father Adam first was fool'd,
      A case that's still too common,
    Here lies a man a woman rul'd,
      The devil rul'd the woman.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The second attempt did not in Burns's fancy exhaust this fruitful
subject: he tried his hand again.]

    O Death, hadst thou but spared his life,
      Whom we this day lament,
    We freely wad exchang'd the wife,
      And a' been weel content!

    Ev'n as he is, cauld in his graff,
      The swap we yet will do't;
    Take thou the carlin's carcase aff,
      Thou'se get the soul to boot.

       *       *       *       *       *



[In these lines he bade farewell to the sordid dame, who lived, it is
said, in Netherplace, near Mauchline.]

    One Queen Artemisia, as old stories tell,
    When depriv'd of her husband she loved so well,
    In respect for the love and affection he'd show'd her,
    She reduc'd him to dust and she drank up the powder.
    But Queen Netherplace, of a diff'rent complexion,
    When call'd on to order the fun'ral direction,
    Would have eat her dear lord, on a slender pretence,
    Not to show her respect, but to save the expense.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns took farewell of the hospitalities of the Scottish Highlands in
these happy lines.]

    When Death's dark stream I ferry o'er,
      A time that surely shall come;
    In Heaven itself I'll ask no more
      Than just a Highland welcome.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Smellie, author of the Philosophy of History; a singular person, of
ready wit, and negligent in nothing save his dress.]

    Shrewd Willie Smellie to Crochallan came,
    The old cock'd hat, the gray surtout, the same;
    His bristling beard just rising in its might,
    'Twas four long nights and days to shaving night:

    His uncomb'd grizzly locks wild staring, thatch'd
    A head for thought profound and clear, unmatch'd:
    Yet tho' his caustic wit was biting, rude,
    His heart was warm, benevolent, and good.

       *       *       *       *       *




[These lines were written on receiving what the poet considered an
uncivil refusal to look at the works of the celebrated Carron

    We came na here to view your warks
      In hopes to be mair wise,
    But only, lest we gang to hell,
      It may be nae surprise:

    For whan we tirl'd at your door,
      Your porter dought na hear us;
    Sae may, shou'd we to hell's yetts come
      Your billy Satan sair us!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns wrote this reproof in a Shakspeare, which he found splendidly
bound and gilt, but unread and worm-eaten, in a noble person's

    Through and through the inspir'd leaves,
      Ye maggots, make your windings;
    But oh! respect his lordship's taste,
      And spare his golden bindings.

       *       *       *       *       *



[On visiting Stirling, Burns was stung at beholding nothing but
desolation in the palaces of our princes and our halls of legislation,
and vented his indignation in those unloyal lines: some one has said
that they were written by his companion, Nicol, but this wants

    Here Stuarts once in glory reign'd,
    And laws for Scotland's weal ordain'd;
    But now unroof'd their palace stands,
    Their sceptre's sway'd by other hands;
    The injured Stuart line is gone,
    A race outlandish fills their throne;
    An idiot race, to honour lost;
    Who know them best despise them most.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The imprudence of making the lines written at Stirling public was
hinted to Burns by a friend; he said, "Oh, but I mean to reprove
myself for it," which he did in these words.]

    Rash mortal, and slanderous Poet, thy name
    Shall no longer appear in the records of fame;
    Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible,
    Says the more 'tis a truth, Sir, the more 'tis a libel?

       *       *       *       *       *



[The minister of Gladsmuir wrote a censure on the Stirling lines,
intimating, as a priest, that Burns's race was nigh run, and as a
prophet, that oblivion awaited his muse. The poet replied to the

    Like Esop's lion, Burns says, sore I feel
    All others' scorn--but damn that ass's heel.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The Miss Burns of these lines was well known in those days to the
bucks of the Scottish metropolis: there is still a letter by the poet,
claiming from the magistrates of Edinburgh a liberal interpretation of
the laws of social morality, in belief of his fair namesake.]

    Cease, ye prudes, your envious railings,
      Lovely Burns has charms--confess:
    True it is, she had one failing--
      Had a woman ever less?

       *       *       *       *       *



[These portraits are strongly coloured with the partialities of the
poet: Dundas had offended his pride, Erskine had pleased his vanity;
and as he felt he spoke.]


    He clench'd his pamphlets in his fist,
      He quoted and he hinted,
    'Till in a declamation-mist
      His argument he tint it:
    He gaped for't, he grap'd for't,
      He fand it was awa, man;
    But what his common sense came short
      He eked out wi' law, man.


    Collected Harry stood awee,
      Then open'd out his arm, man:
    His lordship sat wi' rueful e'e,
      And ey'd the gathering storm, man;
    Like wind-driv'n hail it did assail,
      Or torrents owre a linn, man;
    The Bench sae wise lift up their eyes,
      Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man.

       *       *       *       *       *



[A lady who expressed herself with incivility about her husband's
potations with Burns, was rewarded by these sharp lines.]

    Curs'd be the man, the poorest wretch in life,
    The crouching vassal to the tyrant wife!
    Who has no will but by her high permission;
    Who has not sixpence but in her possession;
    Who must to her his dear friend's secret tell;
    Who dreads a curtain lecture worse than hell!
    Were such the wife had fallen to my part,
    I'd break her spirit, or I'd break her heart;
    I'd charm her with the magic of a switch,
    I'd kiss her maids, and kick the perverse b----h.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Neglected at the inn of Inverary, on account of the presence of some
northern chiefs, and overlooked by his Grace of Argyll, the poet let
loose his wrath and his rhyme: tradition speaks of a pursuit which
took place on the part of the Campbell, when he was told of his
mistake, and of a resolution not to be soothed on the part of the

    Whoe'er he be that sojourns here,
      I pity much his case,
    Unless he's come to wait upon
      The Lord their God, his Grace.

    There's naething here but Highland pride
      And Highland cauld and hunger;
    If Providence has sent me here,
      T'was surely in his anger.

       *       *       *       *       *





[Burns thus relates the origin of this sally:--"Stopping at a
merchant's shop in Edinburgh, a friend of mine one day put
Elphinston's Translation of Martial into my hand, and desired my
opinion of it. I asked permission to write my opinion on a blank leaf
of the book; which being granted, I wrote this epigram."]

    O thou, whom poesy abhors,
    Whom prose has turned out of doors,
    Heard'st thou that groan? proceed no further;
    'Twas laurell'd Martial roaring murther!

       *       *       *       *       *




[Some social friends, whose good feelings were better than their
taste, have ornamented with supplemental iron work the headstone which
Burns erected, with this inscription to the memory of his brother
bard, Fergusson.]

                     Here lies
               ROBERT FERGUSSON, Poet.
              Born, September 5, 1751;
                Died, Oct. 15, 1774.

    No sculptured marble here, nor pompous lay,
      "No storied urn nor animated bust;"
    This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way
      To pour her sorrows o'er her poet's dust.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The Willie Michie of this epigram was, it is said, schoolmaster of
the parish of Cleish, in Fifeshire: he met Burns during his first
visit to Edinburgh.]

    Here lie Willie Michie's banes;
      O, Satan! when ye tak' him,
    Gi' him the schoolin' o' your weans,
      For clever de'ils he'll mak' them.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This was an extempore grace, pronounced by the poet at a
dinner-table, in Dumfries: he was ever ready to contribute the small
change of rhyme, for either the use or amusement of a company.]

    O thou, who kindly dost provide
      For every creature's want!
    We bless thee, God of Nature wide,
      For all thy goodness lent:
    And if it please thee, Heavenly Guide,
      May never worse be sent;
    But, whether granted or denied,
      Lord bless us with content!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Pronounced, tradition says, at the table of Mrs. Riddel, of

    O thou in whom we live and move,
      Who mad'st the sea and shore,
    Thy goodness constantly we prove,
      And grateful would adore.
    And if it please thee, Power above,
      Still grant us with such store,
    The friend we trust, the fair we love,
      And we desire no more.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The name of the object of this fierce epigram might be found, but in
gratifying curiosity, some pain would be inflicted.]

    Sic a reptile was Wat,
      Sic a miscreant slave,
    That the very worms damn'd him
      When laid in his grave.
    "In his flesh there's a famine,"
      A starv'd reptile cries;
    "An' his heart is rank poison,"
      Another replies.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This was a festive sally: it is said that Grose, who was very fat,
though he joined in the laugh, did not relish it.]

    The devil got notice that Grose was a-dying,
    So whip! at the summons, old Satan came flying;
    But when he approach'd where poor Francis lay moaning,
    And saw each bed-post with its burden a-groaning,
    Astonish'd! confounded! cry'd Satan, "By ----,
    I'll want him, ere I take such a damnable load!"

       *       *       *       *       *




[These lines were occasioned by a sermon on sin, to which the poet and
Miss Ainslie of Berrywell had listened, during his visit to the

    Fair maid, you need not take the hint,
      Nor idle texts pursue:--
    'Twas guilty sinners that he meant,
      Not angels such as you!

       *       *       *       *       *



[One rough, cold day, Burns listened to a sermon, so little to his
liking, in the kirk of Lamington, in Clydesdale, that he left this
protest on the seat where he sat.]

    As cauld a wind as ever blew,
    As caulder kirk, and in't but few;
    As cauld a minister's e'er spak,
    Ye'se a' be het ere I come back.

       *       *       *       *       *



[In answer to a gentleman, who called the solemn League and Covenant
ridiculous and fanatical.]

    The solemn League and Covenant
      Cost Scotland blood--cost Scotland tears;
    But it sealed freedom's sacred cause--
      If thou'rt a slave, indulge thy sneers.

       *       *       *       *       *




[A friend asked the poet why God made Miss Davies so little, and a
lady who was with her, so large: before the ladies, who had just
passed the window, were out of sight, the following answer was
recorded on a pane of glass.]

    Ask why God made the gem so small,
      And why so huge the granite?
    Because God meant mankind should set
      The higher value on it.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns took no pleasure in the name of gauger: the situation was
unworthy of him, and he seldom hesitated to say so.]

    Searching auld wives' barrels,
      Och--hon! the day!
    That clarty barm should stain my laurels;
      But--what'll ye say!
    These movin' things ca'd wives and weans
    Wad move the very hearts o' stanes!

       *       *       *       *       *



[The poet wrote these lines in Mrs. Riddel's box in the Dumfries
Theatre, in the winter of 1794: he was much moved by Mrs. Kemble's
noble and pathetic acting.]

    Kemble, thou cur'st my unbelief
      Of Moses and his rod;
    At Yarico's sweet notes of grief
      The rock with tears had flow'd.

       *       *       *       *       *



[John Syme, of Ryedale, a rhymer, a wit, and a gentleman of education
and intelligence, was, while Burns resided in Dumfries, his chief
companion: he was bred to the law.]

    No more of your guests, be they titled or not,
      And cook'ry the first in the nation;
    Who is proof to thy personal converse and wit,
      Is proof to all other temptation.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The tavern where these lines were written was kept by a wandering
mortal of the name of Smith; who, having visited in some capacity or
other the Holy Land, put on his sign, "John Smith, from Jerusalem." He
was commonly known by the name of Jerusalem John.]

    O, had the malt thy strength of mind,
      Or hops the flavour of thy wit,
    'Twere drink for first of human kind,
      A gift that e'en for Syme were fit.

_Jerusalem Tavern, Dumfries._

       *       *       *       *       *



[This Grace was spoken at the table of Ryedale, where to the best
cookery was added the richest wine, as well as the rarest wit: Hyslop
was a distiller.]

    Lord, we thank and thee adore,
      For temp'ral gifts we little merit;
    At present we will ask no more,
      Let William Hyslop give the spirit.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Written on a dinner-goblet by the hand of Burns. Syme, exasperated at
having his set of crystal defaced, threw the goblet under the grate:
it was taken up by his clerk, and it is still preserved as a

    There's death in the cup--sae beware!
      Nay, more--there is danger in touching;
    But wha can avoid the fell snare?
      The man and his wine's sae bewitching!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns had a happy knack in acknowledging civilities. These lines were
written with a pencil on the paper in which Mrs. Hyslop, of
Lochrutton, enclosed an invitation to dinner.]

    The King's most humble servant I,
      Can scarcely spare a minute;
    But I am yours at dinner-time,
      Or else the devil's in it.

       *       *       *       *       *



[When the commissioners of Excise told Burns that he was to act, and
not to think; he took out his pencil and wrote "The Creed of

    In politics if thou would'st mix,
      And mean thy fortunes be;
    Bear this in mind--be deaf and blind;
      Let great folks hear and see.

       *       *       *       *       *



[That Burns loved liberty and sympathized with those who were warring
in its cause, these lines, and hundreds more, sufficiently testify.]

    Grant me, indulgent Heav'n, that I may live
    To see the miscreants feel the pains they give,
    Deal Freedom's sacred treasures free as air,
    Till slave and despot be but things which were.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Some sarcastic person said, in Burns's hearing, that there was
falsehood in the Reverend Dr. Burnside's looks: the poet mused for a
moment, and replied in lines which have less of truth than point.]

    That there is falsehood in his looks
      I must and will deny;
    They say their master is a knave--
      And sure they do not lie.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This reproof was administered extempore to one of the guests at the
table of Maxwell, of Terraughty, whose whole talk was of Dukes with
whom he had dined, and of earls with whom he had supped.]

    What of earls with whom you have supt,
      And of dukes that you dined with yestreen?
    Lord! a louse, Sir, is still but a louse,
      Though it crawl on the curl of a queen.

       *       *       *       *       *



[I copied these lines from a pane of glass in the Friars-Carse
Hermitage, on which they had been traced with the diamond of Burns.]

    To Riddel, much-lamented man,
      This ivied cot was dear;
    Reader, dost value matchless worth?
      This ivied cot revere.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns being called on for a song, by his brother volunteers, on a
festive occasion, gave the following Toast.]

    Instead of a song, boys, I'll give you a toast--
    Here's the memory of those on the twelfth that we lost!--
    That we lost, did I say? nay, by Heav'n, that we found;
    For their fame it shall last while the world goes round.
    The next in succession, I'll give you--the King!
    Whoe'er would betray him, on high may he swing;
    And here's the grand fabric, our free Constitution,
    As built on the base of the great Revolution;
    And longer with politics not to be cramm'd,
    Be Anarchy curs'd, and be Tyranny damn'd;
    And who would to Liberty e'er prove disloyal,
    May his son be a hangman, and he his first trial.

       *       *       *       *       *




[In a moment when vanity prevailed against prudence, this person, who
kept a respectable public-house in Dumfries, desired Burns, to write
his epitaph.]

    Here lies a mock Marquis, whose titles were shamm'd;
    If ever he rise, it will be to be damn'd.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns traced these words with a diamond, on the window of the King's
Arms Tavern, Dumfries, as a reply, or reproof, to one who had been
witty on excisemen.]

    Ye men of wit and wealth, why all this sneering
    'Gainst poor Excisemen? give the cause a hearing;
    What are you, landlords' rent-rolls? teasing ledgers:
    What premiers--what? even monarchs' mighty gaugers:
    Nay, what are priests, those seeming godly wise men?
    What are they, pray, but spiritual Excisemen?

       *       *       *       *       *




[The Globe Tavern was Burne's favourite "Howff," as he called it. It
had other attractions than good liquor; there lived "Anna, with the
golden locks."]

    The greybeard, old Wisdom, may boast of his treasures,
      Give me with gay Folly to live;
    I grant him his calm-blooded, time-settled pleasures,
      But Folly has raptures to give.

       *       *       *       *       *



[On a visit to St. Mary's Isle, Burns was requested by the noble owner
to say grace to dinner; he obeyed in these lines, now known in
Galloway by the name of "The Selkirk Grace."]

    Some hae meat and canna eat,
      And some wad eat that want it;
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
      And sae the Lord be thanket.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Maxwell was a skilful physician; and Jessie Staig, the Provost's
oldest daughter, was a young lady of great beauty: she died early.]

    Maxwell, if merit here you crave
      That merit I deny,
    You save fair Jessie from the grave--
      An angel could not die.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These lines were traced by the hand of Burns on a goblet belonging to
Gabriel Richardson, brewer, in Dumfries: it is carefully preserved in
the family.]

    Here brewer Gabriel's fire's extinct,
      And empty all his barrels:
    He's blest--if, as he brew'd, he drink--
      In upright virtuous morals.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Nicol was a scholar, of ready and rough wit, who loved a joke and a

    Ye maggots, feast on Nicol's brain,
      For few sic feasts ye've gotten;
    And fix your claws in Nicol's heart,
      For deil a bit o't's rotten.

       *       *       *       *       *




[When visiting with Syme at Kenmore Castle, Burns wrote this Epitaph,
rather reluctantly, it is said, at the request of the lady of the
house, in honour of her lap dog.]

    In wood and wild, ye warbling throng,
      Your heavy loss deplore;
    Now half extinct your powers of song,
      Sweet Echo is no more.

    Ye jarring, screeching things around,
      Scream your discordant joys;
    Now half your din of tuneless sound
      With Echo silent lies.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Neither Ayr, Edinburgh, nor Dumfries have contested the honour of
producing the person on whom these lines were written:--coxcombs are
the growth of all districts.]

    Light lay the earth on Willy's breast,
      His chicken-heart so tender;
    But build a castle on his head,
      His skull will prop it under.

       *       *       *       *       *




[This, and the three succeeding Epigrams, are hasty squibs thrown amid
the tumult of a contested election, and must not be taken as the fixed
and deliberate sentiments of the poet, regarding an ancient and noble

    What dost thou in that mansion fair?--
      Flit, Galloway, and find
    Some narrow, dirty, dungeon cave,
      The picture of thy mind!

       *       *       *       *       *



    No Stewart art thou, Galloway,
      The Stewarts all were brave;
    Besides, the Stewarts were but fools,
      Not one of them a knave.

       *       *       *       *       *



    Bright ran thy line, O Galloway,
      Thro' many a far-fam'd sire!
    So ran the far-fam'd Roman way,
      So ended in a mire.

       *       *       *       *       *





    Spare me thy vengeance, Galloway,
      In quiet let me live:
    I ask no kindness at thy hand,
      For thou hast none to give.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Mr. Maxwell, of Cardoness, afterwards Sir David, exposed himself to
the rhyming wrath of Burns, by his activity in the contested elections
of Heron.]

    Bless Jesus Christ, O Cardoness,
      With grateful lifted eyes,
    Who said that not the soul alone
      But body too, must rise:
    For had he said, "the soul alone
      From death I will deliver;"
    Alas! alas! O Cardoness,
      Then thou hadst slept for ever.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns, in his harshest lampoons, always admitted the talents of
Bushby: the peasantry, who hate all clever attorneys, loved to handle
his character with unsparing severity.]

    Here lies John Bushby, honest man!
    Cheat him, Devil, gin ye can.

       *       *       *       *       *



[At a dinner-party, where politics ran high, lines signed by men who
called themselves the true loyal natives of Dumfries, were handed to
Burns: he took a pencil, and at once wrote this reply.]

    Ye true "Loyal Natives," attend to my song,
    In uproar and riot rejoice the night long;
    From envy or hatred your corps is exempt,
    But where is your shield from the darts of contempt?

       *       *       *       *       *



[Burns was observed by my friend, Dr. Copland Hutchinson, to fix, one
morning, a bit of paper on the grave of a person who had committed
suicide: on the paper these lines were pencilled.]

    Earth'd up here lies an imp o' hell,
      Planted by Satan's dibble--
    Poor silly wretch, he's damn'd himsel'
      To save the Lord the trouble.

       *       *       *       *       *




["Printed," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "from a copy in Burns's
handwriting," a slight alteration in the last line is made from an
oral version.]

    If you rattle along like your mistress's tongue,
      Your speed will outrival the dart:
    But, a fly for your load, you'll break down on the road
      If your stuff has the rot, like her heart.

       *       *       *       *       *




[These lines were said to have been written by the poet to Rankine, of
Adamhill, with orders to forward them when he died.]

    He who of Rankine sang lies stiff and dead,
    And a green grassy hillock hides his head;
    Alas! alas! a devilish change indeed.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Written on the blank side of a list of wild beasts, exhibiting in
Dumfries. "Now," said the poet, who was then very ill, "it is fit to
be presented to a lady."]

    Talk not to me of savages
      From Afric's burning sun,
    No savage e'er could rend my heart
      As, Jessy, thou hast done.
    But Jessy's lovely hand in mine,
      A mutual faith to plight,
    Not even to view the heavenly choir
      Would be so blest a sight.

       *       *       *       *       *



[One day, when Burns was ill and seemed in slumber, he observed Jessy
Lewars moving about the house with a light step lest she should
disturb him. He took a crystal goblet containing wine-and-water for
moistening his lips, wrote these words upon it with a diamond, and
presented it to her.]

    Fill me with the rosy-wine,
    Call a toast--a toast divine;
    Give the Poet's darling flame,
    Lovely Jessy be the name;
    Then thou mayest freely boast,
    Thou hast given a peerless toast.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The constancy of her attendance on the poet's sick-bed and anxiety of
mind brought a slight illness upon Jessy Lewars. "You must not die
yet," said the poet: "give me that goblet, and I shall prepare you for
the worst." He traced these lines with his diamond, and said, "That
will be a companion to 'The Toast.'"]

    Say, sages, what's the charm on earth
      Can turn Death's dart aside?
    It is not purity and worth,
      Else Jessy had not died.

R. B.

       *       *       *       *       *




[A little repose brought health to the young lady. "I knew you would
not die," observed the poet, with a smile: "there is a poetic reason
for your recovery;" he wrote, and with a feeble hand, the following

    But rarely seen since Nature's birth,
      The natives of the sky;
    Yet still one seraph's left on earth,
      For Jessy did not die.

R. B.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Tam, the chapman, is said by the late William Cobbett, who knew him,
to have been a Thomas Kennedy, a native of Ayrshire, agent to a
mercantile house in the west of Scotland. Sir Harris Nicolas confounds
him with the Kennedy to whom Burns addressed several letters and
verses, which I printed in my edition of the poet in 1834: it is
perhaps enough to say that the name of the one was Thomas and the name
of the other John.]

    As Tam the Chapman on a day,
    Wi' Death forgather'd by the way,
    Weel pleas'd he greets a wight so famous,
    And Death was nae less pleas'd wi' Thomas,
    Wha cheerfully lays down the pack,
    And there blaws up a hearty crack;
    His social, friendly, honest heart,
    Sae tickled Death they could na part:
    Sac after viewing knives and garters,
    Death takes him hame to gie him quarters.

       *       *       *       *       *


[These lines seem to owe their origin to the precept of Mickle.

    "The present moment is our ain,
    The next we never saw."]

    Here's a bottle and an honest friend!
      What wad you wish for mair, man?
    Wha kens before his life may end,
      What his share may be o' care, man?
    Then catch the moments as they fly,
      And use them as ye ought, man?
    Believe me, happiness is shy,
      And comes not ay when sought, man.

       *       *       *       *       *


[The sentiment which these lines express, was one familiar to Burns,
in the early, as well as concluding days of his life.]

    Though fickle Fortune has deceived me,
      She promis'd fair and perform'd but ill;
    Of mistress, friends, and wealth bereav'd me,
      Yet I bear a heart shall support me still.--

    I'll act with prudence as far's I'm able,
      But if success I must never find,
    Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,
      I'll meet thee with an undaunted mind.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The John Kennedy to whom these verses and the succeeding lines were
addressed, lived, in 1796, at Dumfries-house, and his taste was so
much esteemed by the poet, that he submitted his "Cotter's Saturday
Night" and the "Mountain Daisy" to his judgment: he seems to have been
of a social disposition.]

    Now, Kennedy, if foot or horse
    E'er bring you in by Mauchline Cross,
    L--d, man, there's lasses there wad force
                      A hermit's fancy.
    And down the gate in faith they're worse
                      And mair unchancy.

    But as I'm sayin', please step to Dow's,
    And taste sic gear as Johnnie brews,
    Till some bit callan bring me news
                      That ye are there,
    And if we dinna hae a bouze
                      I'se ne'er drink mair.

    It's no I like to sit an' swallow,
    Then like a swine to puke and wallow,
    But gie me just a true good fellow,
                      Wi' right ingine,
    And spunkie ance to make us mellow,
                      And then we'll shine.

    Now if ye're ane o' warl's folk,
    Wha rate the wearer by the cloak,
    An' sklent on poverty their joke
                      Wi' bitter sneer,
    Wi' you nae friendship I will troke,
                      Nor cheap nor dear.

    But if, as I'm informed weel,
    Ye hate as ill's the very deil
    The flinty heart that canna feel--
                      Come, Sir, here's tae you!
    Hae, there's my haun, I wiss you weel,
                      And gude be wi' you.


_Mossgiel, 3 March, 1786._

       *       *       *       *       *



    Farewell, dear friend! may guid luck hit you,
    And 'mang her favourites admit you!
    If e'er Detraction shore to smit you,
                        May nane believe him!
    And ony deil that thinks to get you,
                        Good Lord deceive him!

R. B.

_Kilmarnock, August, 1786_

       *       *       *       *       *


[Cromek found these characteristic lines among the poet's papers.]

    There's naethin like the honest nappy!
    Whaur'll ye e'er see men sae happy,
    Or women, sonsie, saft an' sappy,
                      'Tween morn an' morn
    As them wha like to taste the drappie
                      In glass or horn?

    I've seen me daezt upon a time;
    I scarce could wink or see a styme;
    Just ae hauf muchkin does me prime,
                      Ought less is little,
    Then back I rattle on the rhyme,
                      As gleg's a whittle.

       *       *       *       *       *






    Thou flattering work of friendship kind,
    Still may thy pages call to mind
        The dear, the beauteous donor;
    Though sweetly female every part,
    Yet such a head, and more the heart,
        Does both the sexes honour.
    She showed her taste refined and just,
        When she selected thee,
    Yet deviating, own I must,
        For so approving me!
          But kind still, I'll mind still
            The giver in the gift;
          I'll bless her, and wiss her
            A Friend above the Lift.

_Mossgiel, April_, 1786.

       *       *       *       *       *





    Within your dear mansion may wayward contention
      Or withering envy ne'er enter:
    May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
      And brotherly love be the centre.

_Edinburgh_, 23 _August_, 1787.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The tumbler on which these verses are inscribed by the diamond of
Burns, found its way to the hands of Sir Walter Scott, and is now
among the treasures of Abbotsford.]

    You're welcome, Willie Stewart,
    You're welcome, Willie Stewart;
    There's ne'er a flower that blooms in May,
    That's half sae welcome's thou art.

    Come bumpers high, express your joy,
      The bowl we maun renew it;
    The tappit-hen, gae bring her ben,
      To welcome Willie Stewart.

    My foes be strang, and friends be slack,
      Ilk action may he rue it,
    May woman on him turn her back,
      That wrongs thee, Willie Stewart.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The origin of this prayer is curious. In 1785, the maid-servant of an
innkeeper at Mauchline, having been caught in what old ballad-makers
delicately call "the deed of shame," Adam Armour, the brother of the
poet's bonnie Jean, with one or two more of his comrades, executed a
rustic act of justice upon her, by parading her perforce through the
village, placed on a rough, unpruned piece of wood: an unpleasant
ceremony, vulgarly called "Riding the Stang." This was resented by
Geordie and Nanse, the girl's master and mistress; law was restored
to, and as Adam had to hide till the matter was settled, he durst not
venture home till late on the Saturday nights. In one of these
home-comings he met Burns who laughed when he heard the story, and
said, "You have need of some one to pray for you." "No one can do that
better than yourself," was the reply, and this humorous intercession
was made on the instant, and, as it is said, "clean off loof." From
Adam Armour I obtained the verses, and when he wrote them out, he told
the story in which the prayer originated.]

    Lord, pity me, for I am little,
    An elf of mischief and of mettle,
    That can like ony wabster's shuttle,
                      Jink there or here,
    Though scarce as lang's a gude kale-whittle,
                      I'm unco queer.

    Lord pity now our waefu' case,
    For Geordie's Jurr we're in disgrace,
    Because we stang'd her through the place,
                      'Mang hundreds laughin',
    For which we daurna show our face
                      Within the clachan.

    And now we're dern'd in glens and hallows,
    And hunted as was William Wallace,
    By constables, those blackguard fellows,
                      And bailies baith,
    O Lord, preserve us frae the gallows!
                      That cursed death.

    Auld, grim, black-bearded Geordie's sel',
    O shake him ewre the mouth o' hell,
    And let him hing and roar and yell,
                      Wi' hideous din,
    And if he offers to rebel
                      Just heave him in.

    When Death comes in wi' glimmering blink,
    And tips auld drunken Nanse the wink'
    Gaur Satan gie her a--e a clink
                      Behint his yett,
    And fill her up wi' brimstone drink,
                      Red reeking het!

    There's Jockie and the hav'rel Jenny,
    Some devil seize them in a hurry,
    And waft them in th' infernal wherry,
                      Straught through the lake,
    And gie their hides a noble curry,
                      Wi' oil of aik.

    As for the lass, lascivious body,
    She's had mischief enough already,
    Weel stang'd by market, mill, and smiddie,
                      She's suffer'd sair;
    But may she wintle in a widdie,
                      If she wh--re mair.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: HANDSOME NELL.]



Tune.--"_I am a man unmarried."_

["This composition," says Burns in his "Common-place Book," "was the
first of my performances, and done at an early period in life, when my
heart glowed with honest, warm simplicity; unacquainted and
uncorrupted with the ways of a wicked world. The subject of it was a
young girl who really deserved all the praises I have bestowed on


    O once I lov'd a bonnie lass,
      Ay, and I love her still;
    And whilst that honour warms my breast,
      I'll love my handsome Nell.


    As bonnie lasses I hae seen,
      And mony full as braw;
    But for a modest gracefu' mien
      The like I never saw.


    A bonnie lass, I will confess,
      Is pleasant to the e'e,
    But without some better qualities
      She's no a lass for me.


    But Nelly's looks are blithe and sweet,
      And what is best of a',
    Her reputation is complete,
      And fair without a flaw.


    She dresses ay sae clean and neat,
      Both decent and genteel:
    And then there's something in her gait
      Gars ony dress look weel.


    A gaudy dress and gentle air
      May slightly touch the heart;
    But it's innocence and modesty
      That polishes the dart.


    'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
      'Tis this enchants my soul;
    For absolutely in my breast
      She reigns without control

       *       *       *       *       *



[Those lines, as Burns informs us, were written to a tune of his own
composing, consisting of three parts, and the words were the echo of
the air.]

    O raging fortune's withering blast
      Has laid my leaf full low, O!
    O raging fortune's withering blast
      Has laid my leaf full low, O!
    My stem was fair, my bud was green,
      My blossom sweet did blow, O;
    The dew fell fresh, the sun rose mild,
      And made my branches grow, O.
    But luckless fortune's northern storms
      Laid a' my blossoms low, O;
    But luckless fortune's northern storms
      Laid a' my blossoms low, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These melancholy verses were written when the poet was some seventeen
years old: his early days were typical of his latter.]


    I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing
      Gaily in the sunny beam;
    List'ning to the wild birds singing,
      By a falling crystal stream:
    Straight the sky grew black and daring;
      Thro' the woods the whirlwinds rave;
    Trees with aged arms were warring.
      O'er the swelling drumlie wave.


    Such was my life's deceitful morning,
      Such the pleasure I enjoy'd:
    But lang or noon, loud tempests storming,
      A' my flowery bliss destroy'd.
    Tho' fickle fortune has deceiv'd me,
      She promis'd fair, and perform'd but ill;
    Of mony a joy and hope bereav'd me,
      I bear a heart shall support me still.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Invercald's Reel._"

[The Tibbie who "spak na, but gaed by like stoure," was, it is said,
the daughter of a man who was laird of three acres of peatmoss, and
thought it became her to put on airs in consequence.]


    O Tibbie, I hae seen the day,
      Ye wad na been sae shy;
    For lack o' gear ye lightly me,
      But, trowth, I care na by.


    Yestreen I met you on the moor,
    Ye spak na, but gaed by like stoure;
    Ye geck at me because I'm poor,
      But fient a hair care I.


    I doubt na, lass, but ye may think,
    Because ye hae the name o' clink,
    That ye can please me at a wink,
      Whene'er ye like to try.


    But sorrow tak him that's sae mean,
    Altho' his pouch o' coin were clean,
    Wha follows ony saucy quean,
      That looks sae proud and high.


    Altho' a lad were e'er sae smart,
    If that he want the yellow dirt,
    Ye'll cast your head anither airt,
      And answer him fu' dry.


    But if he hae the name o' gear,
    Ye'll fasten to him like a brier,
    Tho' hardly he, for sense or lear,
      Be better than the kye.


    But, Tibbie, lass, tak my advice,
    Your daddie's gear maks you sae nice;
    The deil a ane wad spier your price,
      Were ye as poor as I.


    There lives a lass in yonder park,
    I would nae gie her in her sark,
    For thee, wi' a' thy thousan' mark;
      Ye need na look sae high.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Weaver and his Shuttle, O._"

["The following song," says the poet, "is a wild rhapsody, miserably
deficient in versification, but as the sentiments are the genuine
feelings of my heart, for that reason I have a particular pleasure in
conning it over."]


    My father was a farmer
      Upon the Carrick border, O,
    And carefully he bred me,
      In decency and order, O;
    He bade me act a manly part,
      Though I had ne'er a farthing, O;
    For without an honest manly heart,
      No man was worth regarding, O.


    Then out into the world
      My course I did determine, O;
    Tho' to be rich was not my wish,
      yet to be great was charming, O:
    My talents they were not the worst,
      Nor yet my education, O;
    Resolv'd was I, at least to try,
      To mend my situation, O.


    In many a way, and vain essay,
      I courted fortune's favour, O;
    Some cause unseen still stept between,
      To frustrate each endeavour, O:
    Sometimes by foes I was o'erpower'd,
      Sometimes by friends forsaken, O,
    And when my hope was at the top,
      I still was worst mistaken, O.


    Then sore harass'd, and tir'd at last,
      With fortune's vain delusion, O,
    I dropt my schemes, like idle dreams,
      And came to this conclusion, O:
    The past was bad, and the future hid;
      Its good or ill untried, O;
    But the present hour, was in my pow'r
      And so I would enjoy it, O.


    No help, nor hope, nor view had I,
      Nor person to befriend me, O;
    So I must toil, and sweat and broil,
      And labour to sustain me, O:
    To plough and sow, to reap and mow,
      My father bred me early, O;
    For one, he said, to labour bred,
      Was a match for fortune fairly, O.


    Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor,
      Thro' life I'm doom'd to wander, O,
    Till down my weary bones I lay,
      In everlasting slumber, O.
    No view nor care, but shun whate'er
      Might breed me pain or sorrow, O:
    I live to-day as well's I may,
      Regardless of to-morrow, O.


    But cheerful still, I am as well,
      As a monarch in a palace, O,
    Tho' Fortune's frown still hunts me down,
      With all her wonted malice, O:
    I make indeed my daily bread,
      But ne'er can make it farther, O;
    But, as daily bread is all I need,
      I do not much regard her, O.


    When sometimes by my labour
      I earn a little money, O,
    Some unforeseen misfortune
      Comes gen'rally upon me, O:
    Mischance, mistake, or by neglect,
      Or my goodnatur'd folly, O;
    But come what will, I've sworn it still,
      I'll ne'er be melancholy, O.


    All you who follow wealth and power,
      With unremitting ardour, O,
    The more in this you look for bliss,
      You leave your view the farther, O:
    Had you the wealth Potosi boasts,
      Or nations to adorn you, O,
    A cheerful honest-hearted clown
      I will prefer before you, O.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Composed on the plan of an old song, of which David Laing has given
an authentic version in his very curious volume of Metrical Tales.]


    There were three kings into the east,
      Three kings both great and high;
    And they hae sworn a solemn oath
      John Barleycorn should die.


    They took a plough and plough'd him down,
      Put clods upon his head;
    And they ha'e sworn a solemn oath
      John Barleycorn was dead.


    But the cheerful spring came kindly on,
      And show'rs began to fall;
    John Barleycorn got up again,
      And sore surpris'd them all.


    The sultry suns of summer came,
      And he grew thick and strong;
    His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears
      That no one should him wrong.


    The sober autumn enter'd mild,
      When he grew wan and pale;
    His beading joints and drooping head
      Show'd he began to fail.


    His colour sicken'd more and more,
      He faded into age;
    And then his enemies began
      To show their deadly rage.


    They've ta'en a weapon, long and sharp,
      And cut him by the knee;
    Then ty'd him fast upon a cart,
      Like a rogue for forgerie.


    They laid him down upon his back,
      And cudgell'd him full sore;
    They hung him up before the storm.
      And turn'd him o'er and o'er.


    They filled up a darksome pit
      With water to the brim;
    They heaved in John Barleycorn,
      There let him sink or swim.


    They laid him out upon the floor,
      To work him farther woe;
    And still, as signs of life appear'd,
      They toss'd him to and fro.


    They wasted o'er a scorching flame
      The marrow of his bones;
    But a miller us'd him worst of all--
      He crush'd him 'tween the stones.


    And they ha'e ta'en his very heart's blood,
      And drank it round and round;
    And still the more and more they drank,
      Their joy did more abound.


    John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
      Of noble enterprise;
    For if you do but taste his blood,
      'Twill make your courage rise.


    'Twill make a man forget his woe;
      'Twill heighten all his joy:
    'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
      Tho' the tear were in her eye.


    Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
      Each man a glass in hand;
    And may his great posterity
      Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Corn rigs are bonnie."_

[Two young women of the west, Anne Ronald and Anne Blair, have each,
by the district traditions, been claimed as the heroine of this early


    It was upon a Lammas night,
      When corn rigs are bonnie,
    Beneath the moon's unclouded light,
      I held awa to Annie:
    The time flew by wi' tentless heed,
      'Till 'tween the late and early,
    Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed,
      To see me through the barley.


    The sky was blue, the wind was still,
      The moon was shining clearly;
    I set her down wi' right good will,
      Amang the rigs o' barley:
    I ken't her heart was a' my ain;
      I lov'd her most sincerely;
    I kiss'd her owre and owre again,
      Amang the rigs o' barley.


    I lock'd her in my fond embrace!
      Her heart was beating rarely:
    My blessings on that happy place.
      Amang the rigs o' barley!
    But by the moon and stars so bright.
      That shone that hour so clearly?
    She ay shall bless that happy night,
      Amang the rigs o' barley!


    I hae been blithe wi' comrades dear;
      I hae been merry drinkin';
    I hae been joyfu' gath'rin' gear;
      I hae been happy thinkin':
    But a' the pleasures e'er I saw,
      Tho' three times doubled fairly,
    That happy night was worth them a',
      Amang the rigs o' barley.


    Corn rigs, an' barley rigs,
      An' corn rigs are bonnie:
    I'll ne'er forget that happy night,
      Amang the rigs wi' Annie.

       *       *       *       *       *




["My Montgomery's Peggy," says Burns, "was my deity for six or eight
months: she had been bred in a style of life rather elegant: it cost
me some heart-aches to get rid of the affair." The young lady listened
to the eloquence of the poet, poured out in many an interview, and
then quietly told him that she stood unalterably engaged to another.]


    Altho' my bed were in yon muir,
      Amang the heather, in my plaidie,
    Yet happy, happy would I be,
      Had I my dear Montgomery's Peggy.


    When o'er the hill beat surly storms,
      And winter nights were dark and rainy;
    I'd seek some dell, and in my arms
      I'd shelter dear Montgomery's Peggy.


    Were I a baron proud and high,
      And horse and servants waiting ready,
    Then a' 'twad gie o' joy to me,
      The sharin't with Montgomery's Peggy.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I had a horse, I had nae mair._"

[The Mauchline lady who won the poet's heart was Jean Armour: she
loved to relate how the bard made her acquaintance: his dog run across
some linen webs which she was bleaching among Mauchline gowans, and he
apologized so handsomely that she took another look at him. To this
interview the world owes some of our most impassioned strains.]

    When first I came to Stewart Kyle,
      My mind it was nae steady;
    Where'er I gaed, where'er I rade,
      A mistress still I had ay:
    But when I came roun' by Mauchline town,
      Not dreadin' any body,
    My heart was caught before I thought,
      And by a Mauchline lady.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The deuks dang o'er my daddy_!"

["The Highland Lassie" was Mary Campbell, whose too early death the
poet sung in strains that will endure while the language lasts. "She
was," says Burns, "a warm-hearted, charming young creature as ever
blessed a man with generous love."]


    Nae gentle dames, tho' e'er sae fair,
    Shall ever be my muse's care:
    Their titles a' are empty show;
    Gie me my Highland lassie, O.
        Within the glen sae bushy, O,
        Aboon the plains sae rushy, O,
        I set me down wi' right good-will,
        To sing my Highland lassie, O.


    Oh, were yon hills and valleys mine,
    Yon palace and yon gardens fine,
    The world then the love should know
    I bear my Highland lassie, O.


    But fickle fortune frowns on me,
    And I maun cross the raging sea;
    But while my crimson currents flow,
    I'll love my Highland lassie, O.


    Altho' thro' foreign climes I range,
    I know her heart will never change,
    For her bosom burns with honour's glow,
    My faithful Highland lassie, O.


    For her I'll dare the billows' roar,
    For her I'll trace a distant shore,
    That Indian wealth may lustre throw
    Around my Highland lassie, O.


    She has my heart, she has my hand,
    by sacred truth and honour's band!
    'Till the mortal stroke shall lay me low,
    I'm thine, my Highland lassie, O.
        Farewell the glen sae bushy, O!
        Farewell the plain sae rushy, O!
        To other lands I now must go,
        To sing my Highland lassie, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



[The heroine of this song is said to have been "Montgomery's Peggy."]

Tune--"_I had a horse, I had nae mair._"


    Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns
      Bring autumn's pleasant weather;
    The moor-cock springs, on whirring wings,
      Amang the blooming heather:
    Now waving grain, wide o'er the plain,
      Delights the weary farmer;
    And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night
      To muse upon my charmer.


    The partridge loves the fruitful fells;
      The plover loves the mountains;
    The woodcock haunts the lonely dells;
      The soaring hern the fountains;
    Thro' lofty groves the cushat roves
      The path of man to shun it;
    The hazel bush o'erhangs the thrush,
      The spreading thorn the linnet.


    Thus ev'ry kind their pleasure find,
      The savage and the tender;
    Some social join, and leagues combine;
      Some solitary wander:
    Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,
      Tyrannic man's dominion;
    The sportsman's joy, the murd'ring cry,
      The flutt'ring, gory pinion.


    But Peggy, dear, the ev'ning's clear,
      Thick flies the skimming swallow;
    The sky is blue, the fields in view,
      All fading-green and yellow:
    Come, let us stray our gladsome way,
      And view the charms of nature;
    The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,
      And every happy creature.


    We'll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
      Till the silent moon shine clearly;
    I'll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,
      Swear how I love thee dearly:
    Not vernal show'rs to budding flow'rs,
      Not autumn to the farmer,
    So dear can be as thou to me,
      My fair, my lovely charmer!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_East nook o' Fife._"

[The heroine of this humorous ditty was the mother of "Sonsie,
smirking, dear-bought Bess," a person whom the poet regarded, as he
says, both for her form and her grace.]


    O wha my babie-clouts will buy?
    O wha will tent me when I cry?
    Wha will kiss me where I lie?--
      The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.


    O wha will own he did the fau't?
    O wha will buy the groanin' maut?
    O wha will tell me how to ca't?
      The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.


    When I mount the creepie chair,
    Wha will sit beside me there?
    Gie me Rob, I'll seek nae mair,
      The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.


    Wha will crack to me my lane?
    Wha will make me fidgin' fain?
    Wha will kiss me o'er again?--
      The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_To the weavers gin ye go._"

["The chorus of this song," says Burns, in his note to the Museum, "is
old, the rest is mine." The "bonnie, westlin weaver lad" is said to
have been one of the rivals of the poet in the affection of a west


    My heart was ance as blythe and free
      As simmer days were lang,
    But a bonnie, westlin weaver lad
      Has gart me change my sang.
        To the weavers gin ye go, fair maids,
          To the weavers gin ye go;
        I rede you right gang ne'er at night,
          To the weavers gin ye go.


    My mither sent me to the town,
      To warp a plaiden wab;
    But the weary, weary warpin o't
      Has gart me sigh and sab.


    A bonnie westlin weaver lad,
      Sat working at his loom;
    He took my heart as wi' a net,
      In every knot and thrum.


    I sat beside my warpin-wheel,
      And ay I ca'd it roun';
    But every shot and every knock,
      My heart it gae a stoun.


    The moon was sinking in the west
      Wi' visage pale and wan,
    As my bonnie westlin weaver lad
      Convoy'd me thro' the glen.


    But what was said, or what was done,
      Shame fa' me gin I tell;
    But, oh! I fear the kintra soon
      Will ken as weel's mysel.
        To the weavers gin ye go, fair maids,
          To the weavers gin ye go;
        I rede you right gang ne'er at night,
          To the weavers gin ye go.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_My Nannie, O._"

[Agnes Fleming, servant at Calcothill, inspired this fine song: she
died at an advanced age, and was more remarkable for the beauty of her
form than face. When questioned about the love of Burns, she smiled
and said, "Aye, atweel he made a great wark about me."]


    Behind yon hills, where Lugar flows,
      'Mang moors an' mosses many, O,
    The wintry sun the day has closed,
      And I'll awa to Nannie, O.


    The westlin wind blaws loud an' shrill;
      The night's baith mirk and rainy, O;
    But I'll get my plaid, an' out I'll steal,
      An' owre the hills to Nannie, O.


    My Nannie's charming, sweet, an' young;
      Nae artfu' wiles to win ye, O:
    May ill befa' the flattering tongue
      That wad beguile my Nannie, O.


    Her face is fair, her heart is true,
      As spotless as she's bonnie, O:
    The op'ning gowan, wat wi' dew,
      Nae purer is than Nannie, O.


    A country lad is my degree,
      An' few there be that ken me, O;
    But what care I how few they be?
      I'm welcome ay to Nannie, O.


    My riches a's my penny-fee,
      An' I maun guide it cannie, O;
    But warl's gear ne'er troubles me,
      My thoughts are a' my Nannie, O.


    Our auld guidman delights to view
      His sheep an' kye thrive bonnie, O;
    But I'm as blythe that hauds his pleugh,
      An' has nae care but Nannie, O.


    Come weel, come woe, I care na by,
      I'll tak what Heav'n will sen' me, O:
    Nae ither care in life have I,
      But live, an' love my Nannie, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_John Anderson my jo._"

[This verse, written early, and probably intended for the starting
verse of a song, was found among the papers of the poet.]

    One night as I did wander,
      When corn begins to shoot,
    I sat me down to ponder,
      Upon an auld tree root:
    Auld Ayr ran by before me,
      And bicker'd to the seas;
    A cushat crooded o'er me,
      That echoed thro' the braes.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Braes o' Balquihidder._"

[On those whom Burns loved, he poured out songs without limit. Peggy
Alison is said, by a western tradition, to be Montgomery's Peggy, but
this seems doubtful.]


    I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
      An' I'll kiss thee o'er again;
    An' I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
      My bonnie Peggy Alison!


    Ilk care and fear, when thou art near,
      I ever mair defy them, O;
    Young kings upon their hansel throne
      Are no sae blest as I am, O!


    When in my arms, wi' a' thy charms,
      I clasp my countless treasure, O,
    I seek nae mair o' Heaven to share
      Than sic a moment's pleasure, O!


    And by thy een, sae bonnie blue,
      I swear, I'm thine for ever, O!--
    And on thy lips I seal my vow,
        And break it shall I never, O!
          I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
            An' I'll kiss thee o'er again;
          An' I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
            My bonnie Peggy Alison!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Green grow the rashes._"

["Man was made when nature was but an apprentice; but woman is the
last and most perfect work of nature," says an old writer, in a rare
old book: a passage which expresses the sentiment of Burns; yet it is
all but certain, that the Ploughman Bard was unacquainted with
"Cupid's Whirlygig," where these words are to be found.]


    Green grow the rashes, O!
      Green grow the rashes, O!
    The sweetest hours that e'er I spend
      Are spent amang the lasses, O.


    There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
      In every hour that passes, O:
    What signifies the life o' man,
      An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.


    The warly race may riches chase,
      An' riches still may fly them, O;
    An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
      Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.


    But gie me a canny hour at e'en,
      My arms about my dearie, O;
    An' warly cares, an' warly men,
      May a' gae tapsalteerie, O.


    For you sae douce, ye sneer at this,
      Ye're nought but senseless asses, O:
    The wisest man the warl' e'er saw,
      He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.


    Auld Nature swears the lovely dears
      Her noblest work she classes, O:
    Her 'prentice han' she try'd on man,
      An' then she made the lasses, O.
        Green grow the rashes, O!
          Green grow the rashes, O!
        The sweetest hours that e'er I spend
          Are spent amang the lasses, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Northern Lass._"

[The lady on whom this passionate verse was written was Jean Armour.]

    Though cruel fate should bid us part,
      Far as the pole and line,
    Her dear idea round my heart,
      Should tenderly entwine.
    Though mountains rise, and deserts howl,
      And oceans roar between;
    Yet, dearer than my deathless soul,
      I still would love my Jean

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Daintie Davie._"

[Stothard painted a clever little picture from this characteristic
ditty: the cannie wife, it was evident, saw in Robin's palm something
which tickled her, and a curious intelligence sparkled in the eyes of
her gossips.]


    There was a lad was born in Kyle,
    But whatna day o' whatna style
    I doubt it's hardly worth the while
      To be sae nice wi' Robin.
        Robin was a rovin' boy,
          Rantin' rovin', rantin' rovin';
        Robin was a rovin' boy,
          Rantin' rovin' Robin!


    Our monarch's hindmost year but ane
    Was five-and-twenty days begun,
    Twas then a blast o' Janwar win'
      Blew hansel in on Robin.


    The gossip keekit in his loof,
    Quo' she, wha lives will see the proof.
    This waly boy will be nae coof,
      I think we'll ca' him Robin


    He'll hae misfortunes great and sma',
    But ay a heart aboon them a';
    He'll be a credit to us a',
      We'll a' be proud o' Robin.


    But sure as three times three mak nine,
    I see by ilka score and line,
    This chap will dearly like our kin',
      So leeze me on thee, Robin.


    Guid faith, quo' she, I doubt you gar,
    The bonnie lasses lie aspar,
    But twenty fauts ye may hae waur,
      So blessin's on thee, Robin!
        Robin was a rovin' boy,
          Rantin' rovin', rantin' rovin';
        Robin was a rovin' boy,
          Rantin' rovin' Robin!

       *       *       *       *       *




[One day--it is tradition that speaks--Burns had his foot in the
stirrup to return from Ayr to Mauchline, when a young lady of great
beauty rode up to the inn, and ordered refreshments for her servants;
he made these lines at the moment, to keep, he said, so much beauty in
his memory.]

    Her flowing locks, the raven's wing,
    Adown her neck and bosom hing;
    How sweet unto that breast to cling,
      And round that neck entwine her!
    Her lips are roses wat wi' dew,
    O, what a feast her bonnie mou'!
    Her cheeks a mair celestial hue,
      A crimson still diviner.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_ Mauchline belles._"

[Who these Mauchline belles were the bard in other verse informs us:--

    "Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland's divine,
      Miss Smith, she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw;
    There's beauty and fortune to get with Miss Morton,
      But Armour's the jewel for me o' them a'."]


    O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,
      Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
    Such witching books are baited hooks
      For rakish rooks, like Rob Mossgiel.


    Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,
      They make your youthful fancies reel;
    They heat your brains, and fire your veins,
      And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.


    Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung,
      A heart that warmly seems to feel;
    That feeling heart but acts a part--
      'Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.


    The frank address, the soft caress,
      Are worse than poison'd darts of steel;
    The frank address and politesse
      Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Last time I cam o'er the muir._"

[In these verses Burns, it is said, bade farewell to one on whom he
had, according to his own account, wasted eights months of courtship.
We hear no more of Montgomery's Peggy.]


    Young Peggy blooms our bonniest lass,
      Her blush is like the morning,
    The rosy dawn, the springing grass,
      With early gems adorning:
    Her eyes outshone the radiant beams
      That gild the passing shower,
    And glitter o'er the crystal streams,
      And cheer each fresh'ning flower.


    Her lips, more than the cherries bright,
      A richer dye has graced them;
    They charm th' admiring gazer's sight,
      And sweetly tempt to taste them:
    Her smile is, as the evening mild,
      When feather'd tribes are courting,
    And little lambkins wanton wild,
      In playful bands disporting.


    Were fortune lovely Peggy's foe,
      Such sweetness would relent her,
    As blooming spring unbends the brow
      Of surly, savage winter.
    Detraction's eye no aim can gain,
      Her winning powers to lessen;
    And fretful envy grins in vain
      The poison'd tooth to fasten.


    Ye powers of honour, love, and truth,
      From every ill defend her;
    Inspire the highly-favour'd youth,
      The destinies intend her:
    Still fan the sweet connubial flame
      Responsive in each bosom,
    And bless the dear parental name
      With many a filial blossom.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Prepare, my dear brethren, to the tavern_ _let's fly._"

[Tarbolton Lodge, of which the poet was a member, was noted for its
socialities. Masonic lyrics are all of a dark and mystic order; and
those of Burns are scarcely an exception.]


    No churchman am I for to rail and to write,
    No statesman nor soldier to plot or to fight,
    No sly man of business, contriving to snare--
    For a big-bellied bottle's the whole of my care.


    The peer I don't envy, I give him his bow;
    I scorn not the peasant, tho' ever so low;
    But a club of good fellows, like those that are here,
    And a bottle like this, are my glory and care.


    Here passes the squire on his brother--his horse;
    There centum per centum, the cit with his purse;
    But see you The Crown, how it waves in the air!
    There a big-bellied bottle still eases my care.


    The wife of my bosom, alas! she did die;
    For sweet consolation to church I did fly;
    I found that old Solomon proved it fair,
    That a big-bellied bottle's a cure for all care.


    I once was persuaded a venture to make;
    A letter inform'd me that all was to wreck;--
    But the pursy old landlord just waddled up stairs,
    With a glorious bottle that ended my cares.


    "Life's cares they are comforts,"[136]--a maxim laid down
    By the bard, what d'ye call him, that wore the black gown;
    And faith I agree with th' old prig to a hair;
    For a big-bellied bottle's a heav'n of care.



    Then fill up a bumper and make it o'erflow.
    The honours masonic prepare for to throw;
    May every true brother of the compass and square
    Have a big-bellied bottle when harass'd with care!


[Footnote 136: Young's Night Thoughts.]

       *       *       *       *       *




[My late excellent friend, John Galt, informed me that the Eliza of
this song was his relative, and that her name was Elizabeth Barbour.]


    From thee, Eliza, I must go,
      And from my native shore;
    The cruel Fates between us throw
      A boundless ocean's roar:
    But boundless oceans roaring wide
      Between my love and me,
    They never, never can divide
      My heart and soul from thee!


    Farewell, farewell, Eliza dear,
      The maid that I adore!
    A boding voice is in mine ear,
      We part to meet no more!
    The latest throb that leaves my heart,
      While death stands victor by,
    That throb, Eliza, is thy part,
      And thine that latest sigh!

       *       *       *       *       *




["This song, wrote by Mr. Burns, was sung by him in the
Kilmarnock-Kilwinning Lodge, in 1786, and given by him to Mr. Parker,
who was Master of the Lodge." These interesting words are on the
original, in the poet's handwriting, in the possession of Mr. Gabriel
Neil, of Glasgow.]


    Ye sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
      To follow the noble vocation;
    Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
      To sit in that honoured station.
    I've little to say, but only to pray,
      As praying's the ton of your fashion;
    A prayer from the muse you well may excuse,
      'Tis seldom her favourite passion.


    Ye powers who preside o'er the wind and the tide,
      Who marked each element's border;
    Who formed this frame with beneficent aim,
      Whose sovereign statute is order;
    Within this dear mansion, may wayward contention
      Or withered envy ne'er enter;
    May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
      And brotherly love be the centre.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune.--"_Johnny's grey breeks._"

[Of the lady who inspired this song no one has given any account: It
first appeared in the second edition of the poet's works, and as the
chorus was written by an Edinburgh gentleman, it has been surmised
that the song was a matter of friendship rather than of the heart.]


    Again rejoicing nature sees
      Her robe assume its vernal hues,
    Her leafy locks wave in the breeze,
      All freshly steep'd in morning dews.
        And maun I still on Menie doat,
          And bear the scorn that's in her e'e?
        For it's jet, jet black, an' it's like a hawk,
          An' it winna let a body be.


    In vain to me the cowslips blaw,
      In vain to me the vi'lets spring;
    In vain to me, in glen or shaw,
      The mavis and the lintwhite sing.


    The merry plough-boy cheers his team,
      Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks;
    But life to me's a weary dream,
      A dream of ane that never wauks.


    The wanton coot the water skims,
      Amang the reeds the ducklings cry,
    The stately swan majestic swims,
      And every thing is blest but I.


    The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap,
      And owre the moorland whistles shrill;
    Wi' wild, unequal, wand'ring step,
      I meet him on the dewy hill.


    And when the lark, 'tween light and dark,
      Blythe waukens by the daisy's side,
    And mounts and sings on flittering wings,
      A woe-worn ghaist I hameward glide.


    Come, Winter, with thine angry howl,
      And raging bend the naked tree:
    Thy gloom will sooth my cheerless soul,
      When nature all is sad like me!
        And maun I still on Menie doat,
          And bear the scorn that's in her e'e?
        For it's jet, jet black, an' it's like a hawk,
          An' it winna let a body be.

       *       *       *       *       *






Tune--"_Good-night, and joy be wi' you a'._"

[Burns, it is said, sung this song in the St. James's Lodge of
Tarbolton, when his chest was on the way to Greenock: men are yet
living who had the honour of hearing him--the concluding verse
affected the whole lodge.]


    Adieu! a heart-warm, fond adieu!
      Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
    Ye favour'd, ye enlighten'd few,
      Companions of my social joy!
    Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
      Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba',
    With melting heart, and brimful eye,
      I'll mind you still, tho' far awa'.


    Oft have I met your social band,
      And spent the cheerful, festive night;
    Oft honour'd with supreme command,
      Presided o'er the sons of light:
    And by that hieroglyphic bright,
      Which none but craftsmen ever saw!
    Strong mem'ry on my heart shall write
      Those happy scenes when far awa'.


    May freedom, harmony, and love
      Unite you in the grand design,
    Beneath th' Omniscient Eye above,
      The glorious architect divine!
    That you may keep th' unerring line,
      Still rising by the plummet's law,
    Till order bright completely shine,
      Shall be my pray'r when far awa'.


    And you farewell! whose merits claim,
      Justly, that highest badge to wear!
    Heav'n bless your honour'd, noble name,
      To masonry and Scotia dear!
    A last request permit me here,
      When yearly ye assemble a',
    One round--I ask it with a tear,--
      To him, the Bard that's far awa'.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_If he be a butcher neat and trim._"

[There are many variations of this song, which was first printed by
Cromek from the oral communication of a Glasgow Lady, on whose charms,
the poet, in early life, composed it.]


    On Cessnock banks a lassie dwells;
      Could I describe her shape and mien;
    Our lasses a' she far excels,
      An she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    She's sweeter than the morning dawn
      When rising Phoebus first is seen,
    And dew-drops twinkle o'er the lawn;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een


    She's stately like yon youthful ash,
      That grows the cowslip braes between,
    And drinks the stream with vigour fresh;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    She's spotless like the flow'ring thorn,
      With flow'rs so white and leaves so green,
    When purest in the dewy morn;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her looks are like the vernal May,
      When evening Phoebus shines serene,
    While birds rejoice on every spray--
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her hair is like the curling mist
      That climbs the mountain-sides at e'en,
    When flow'r-reviving rains are past;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her forehead's like the show'ry bow,
      When gleaming sunbeams intervene,
    And gild the distant mountain's brow;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her cheeks are like yon crimson gem,
      The pride of all the flow'ry scene,
    Just opening on its thorny stem;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her teeth are like the nightly snow
      When pale the morning rises keen,
    While hid the murmuring streamlets flow;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een


    Her lips are like yon cherries ripe,
      That sunny walls from Boreas screen--
    They tempt the taste and charm the sight;
      An' she has twa, sparkling roguish een.


    Her teeth are like a flock of sheep,
      With fleeces newly washen clean,
    That slowly mount the rising steep;
      An' she has twa glancin' roguish een.


    Her breath is like the fragrant breeze
      That gently stirs the blossom'd bean,
    When Phoebus sinks behind the seas;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    Her voice is like the ev'ning thrush
      That sings on Cessnock banks unseen,
    While his mate sits nestling in the bush;
      An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.


    But it's not her air, her form, her face,
      Tho' matching beauty's fabled queen,
    'Tis the mind that shines in ev'ry grace,
      An' chiefly in her roguish een.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Blue Bonnets._"

[In the original manuscript Burns calls this song "A Prayer for Mary;"
his Highland Mary is supposed to be the inspirer.]


    Powers celestial! whose protection
      Ever guards the virtuous fair,
    While in distant climes I wander,
      Let my Mary be your care:
    Let her form sae fair and faultless,
      Fair and faultless as your own,
    Let my Mary's kindred spirit
      Draw your choicest influence down.


    Make the gales you waft around her
      Soft and peaceful as her breast;
    Breathing in the breeze that fans her,
      Soothe her bosom into rest:
    Guardian angels! O protect her,
      When in distant lands I roam;
    To realms unknown while fate exiles me,
      Make her bosom still my home.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Miss Forbes's Farewell to Banff._"

[Miss Alexander, of Ballochmyle, as the poet tells her in a letter,
dated November, 1786, inspired this popular song. He chanced to meet
her in one of his favourite walks on the banks of the Ayr, and the
fine scene and the lovely lady set the muse to work. Miss Alexander,
perhaps unaccustomed to this forward wooing of the muse, allowed the
offering to remain unnoticed for a time: it is now in a costly frame,
and hung in her chamber--as it deserves to be.]


    'Twas even--the dewy fields were green,
      On every blade the pearls hang,
    The zephyr wanton'd round the bean,
      And bore its fragrant sweets alang:
    In ev'ry glen the mavis sang,
      All nature listening seem'd the while,
    Except where greenwood echoes rang
      Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle!


    With careless step I onward stray'd,
      My heart rejoic'd in nature's joy,
    When musing in a lonely glade,
      A maiden fair I chanc'd to spy;
    Her look was like the morning's eye,
      Her air like nature's vernal smile,
    Perfection whisper'd passing by,
      Behold the lass o' Ballochmyle!


    Fair is the morn in flow'ry May,
      And sweet is night in autumn mild
    When roving thro' the garden gay,
      Or wand'ring in the lonely wild;
    But woman, nature's darling child!
      There all her charms she does compile;
    Even there her other works are foil'd
      By the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.


    O, had she been a country maid,
      And I the happy country swain,
    Tho' shelter'd in the lowest shed
      That ever rose on Scotland's plain,
    Thro' weary winter's wind and rain,
      With joy, with rapture, I would toil;
    And nightly to my bosom strain
      The bonnie lass of Ballochmyle.


    Then pride might climb the slippery steep,
      Where fame and honours lofty shine:
    And thirst of gold might tempt the deep
      Or downward seek the Indian mine;
    Give me the cot below the pine,
      To tend the flocks, or till the soil,
    And ev'ry day have joys divine
      With the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Roslin Castle._"

["I had taken," says Burns, "the last farewell of my friends, my chest
was on the road to Greenock, and I had composed the last song I should
ever measure in Caledonia--

    'The gloomy night is gathering fast.'"]


    The gloomy night is gath'ring fast,
    Loud roars the wild inconstant blast;
    Yon murky cloud is foul with rain,
    I see it driving o'er the plain;
    The hunter now has left the moor,
    The scatter'd coveys meet secure;
    While here I wander, prest with care,
    Along the lonely banks of Ayr.


    The Autumn mourns her rip'ning corn,
    By early Winter's ravage torn;
    Across her placid, azure sky,
    She sees the scowling tempest fly:
    Chill runs my blood to hear it rave--
    I think upon the stormy wave,
    Where many a danger I must dare,
    Far from the bonnie banks of Ayr.


    'Tis not the surging billow's roar,
    'Tis not that fatal deadly shore;
    Tho' death in ev'ry shape appear,
    The wretched have no more to fear!
    But round my heart the ties are bound,
    That heart transpierc'd with many a wound;
    These bleed afresh, those ties I tear,
    To leave the bonnie banks of Ayr.


    Farewell old Coila's hills and dales,
    Her heathy moors and winding vales;
    The scenes where wretched fancy roves,
    Pursuing past, unhappy loves!
    Farewell, my friends! farewell, my foes!
    My peace with these, my love with those--
    The bursting tears my heart declare;
    Farewell, the bonnie banks of Ayr!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bonnie Dundee._"

[This is one of the first songs which Burns communicated to Johnson's
Musical Museum: the starting verse is partly old and partly new: the
second is wholly by his hand.]


    O, whar did ye get that hauver meal bannock?
      O silly blind body, O dinna ye see?
    I gat it frae a young brisk sodger laddie,
      Between Saint Johnston and bonnie Dundee.
    O gin I saw the laddie that gae me't!
      Aft has he doudl'd me up on his knee;
    May Heaven protect my bonnie Scots laddie,
      And send him safe hame to his babie and me!


    My blessin's upon thy sweet wee lippie,
      My blessin's upon thy bonnie e'e brie!
    Thy smiles are sae like my blythe sodger laddie,
      Thou's ay the dearer and dearer to me!
    But I'll big a bower on yon bonnie banks,
      Where Tay rins wimplin' by sae clear;
    And I'll cleed thee in the tartan sae fine,
      And mak thee a man like thy daddie dear.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Maggy Lauder._"

[Most of this song is by Burns: his fancy was fierce with images of
matrimonial joy or infelicity, and he had them ever ready at the call
of the muse. It was first printed in the Musical Museum.]


    I married with a scolding wife
      The fourteenth of November;
    She made me weary of my life,
      By one unruly member.
    Long did I bear the heavy yoke,
      And many griefs attended;
    But to my comfort be it spoke,
      Now, now her life is ended.


    We liv'd full one-and-twenty years
      A man and wife together;
    At length from me her course she steer'd,
      And gone I know not whither:
    Would I could guess, I do profess,
      I speak, and do not flatter,
    Of all the woman in the world,
      I never could come at her.


    Her body is bestowed well,
      A handsome grave does hide her;
    But sure her soul is not in hell,
      The deil would ne'er abide her.
    I rather think she is aloft,
      And imitating thunder;
    For why,--methinks I hear her voice
      Tearing the clouds asunder.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad._"

[The air of this song was composed by John Bruce, a Dumfries fiddler.
Burns gave another and happier version to the work of Thomson: this
was written for the Museum of Johnson, where it was first published.]


    O whistle, and I'll come
      To you, my lad;
    O whistle, and I'll come
      To you, my lad:
    Tho' father and mither
      Should baith gae mad,
    O whistle, and I'll come
      To you, my lad.

    Come down the back stairs
      When ye come to court me;
    Come down the back stairs
      When ye come to court me;
    Come down the back stairs,
      And let naebody see,
    And come as ye were na
      Coming to me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I'm o'er young to marry yet._"

[The title, and part of the chorus only of this song, are old; the
rest is by Burns, and was written for Johnson.]


    I am my mammy's ae bairn,
      Wi' unco folk I weary, Sir;
    And lying in a man's bed,
      I'm fley'd it make me eerie, Sir.
          I'm o'er young to marry yet;
            I'm o'er young to marry yet;
          I'm o'er young--'twad be a sin
            To tak' me frae my mammy yet.


    Hallowmas is come and gane,
      The nights are lang in winter, Sir;
    And you an' I in ae bed,
      In trouth, I dare na venture, Sir.


    Fu' loud and shrill the frosty wind,
      Blaws through the leafless timmer, Sir;
    But, if ye come this gate again,
      I'll aulder be gin simmer, Sir.
          I'm o'er young to marry yet;
            I'm o'er young to marry yet;
          I'm o'er young, 'twad be a sin
            To tak me frae my mammy yet.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The birks of Aberfeldy._"

[An old strain, called "The Birks of Abergeldie," was the forerunner
of this sweet song: it was written, the poet says, standing under the
Falls of Aberfeldy, near Moness, in Perthshire, during one of the
tours which he made to the north, in the year 1787.]


    Bonnie lassie, will ye go,
    Will ye go, will ye go;
    Bonnie lassie, will ye go
      To the birks of Aberfeldy?


    Now simmer blinks on flowery braes,
    And o'er the crystal streamlet plays;
    Come let us spend the lightsome days
      In the birks of Aberfeldy.


    The little birdies blithely sing,
    While o'er their heads the hazels hing,
    Or lightly flit on wanton wing
      In the birks of Aberfeldy.


    The braes ascend, like lofty wa's,
    The foamy stream deep-roaring fa's,
    O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws,
      The birks of Aberfeldy.


    The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers,
    White o'er the linns the burnie pours,
    And rising, weets wi' misty showers
      The birks of Aberfeldy.


    Let Fortune's gifts at random flee,
    They ne'er shall draw a wish frae me,
    Supremely blest wi' love and thee,
      In the birks of Aberfeldy.
          Bonnie lassie, will ye go,
          Will ye go, will ye go;
          Bonnie lassie, will ye go
            To the birks of Aberfeldy?

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_M'Pherson's Rant._"

[This vehement and daring song had its origin in an older and inferior
strain, recording the feelings of a noted freebooter when brought to
"justify his deeds on the gallows-tree" at Inverness.]


    Farewell, ye dungeons dark and strong,
      The wretch's destinie!
    Macpherson's time will not be long
      On yonder gallows-tree.
          Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
            Sae dauntingly gaed he;
          He play'd a spring, and danc'd it round,
            Below the gallows-tree.


    Oh, what is death but parting breath?
      On many a bloody plain
    I've dar'd his face, and in this place
      I scorn him yet again!


    Untie these bands from off my hands,
      And bring to me my sword;
    And there's no a man in all Scotland,
      But I'll brave him at a word.


    I've liv'd a life of sturt and strife;
      I die by treacherie:
    It burns my heart I must depart,
      And not avenged be.


    Now farewell light--thou sunshine bright,
      And all beneath the sky!
    May coward shame distain his name,
      The wretch that dares not die!
          Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
            Sae dauntingly gaed he;
          He play'd a spring, and danc'd it round,
            Below the gallows-tree.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Galla Water._"

[Burns found this song in the collection of Herd; added the first
verse, made other but not material emendations, and published it in
Johnson: in 1793 he wrote another version for Thomson.]


    Braw, braw lads of Galla Water;
      O braw lads of Galla Water:
    I'll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
      And follow my love thro' the water.


    Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow,
      Sae bonny blue her een, my dearie;
    Sae white her teeth, sae sweet her mou',
      The mair I kiss she's ay my dearie.


    O'er yon bank and o'er yon brae,
      O'er yon moss amang the heather;
    I'll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
      And follow my love thro' the water.


    Down amang the broom, the broom,
      Down amang the broom, my dearie,
    The lassie lost a silken snood,
      That cost her mony a blirt and bleary.
          Braw, braw lads of Galla Water;
            O braw lads of Galla-Water:
          I'll kilt my coats aboon my knee,
            And follow my love thro' the water.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune-"_An Gille dubh ciar dhubh._"

[The air of this song was picked up by the poet in one of his northern
tours: his Highland excursions coloured many of his lyric


    Stay, my charmer, can you leave me?
    Cruel, cruel, to deceive me!
    Well you know how much you grieve me;
      Cruel charmer, can you go?
      Cruel charmer, can you go?


    By my love so ill requited;
    By the faith you fondly plighted;
    By the pangs of lovers slighted;
      Do not, do not leave me so!
      Do not, do not leave me so!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Strathallan's Lament._"

[The Viscount Strathallan, whom this song commemorates, was William
Drummond: he was slain at the carnage of Culloden. It was long
believed that he escaped to France and died in exile.]


    Thickest night, surround my dwelling!
      Howling tempests, o'er me rave!
    Turbid torrents, wintry swelling,
      Roaring by my lonely cave!


    Crystal streamlets gently flowing,
      Busy haunts of base mankind,
    Western breezes softly blowing,
      Suit not my distracted mind.


    In the cause of Right engaged,
      Wrongs injurious to redress,
    Honour's war we strongly waged,
      But the heavens denied success.


    Ruin's wheel has driven o'er us,
      Not a hope that dare attend,
    The wild world is all before us--
      But a world without a friend.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_What will I do gin my Hoggie die?_"

[Burns was struck with the pastoral wildness of this Liddesdale air,
and wrote these words to it for the Museum: the first line only is

    What will I do gin my Hoggie die?
      My joy, my pride, my Hoggie!
    My only beast, I had nae mae,
      And vow but I was vogie!
    The lee-lang night we watch'd the fauld,
      Me and my faithfu' doggie;
    We heard nought but the roaring linn,
      Amang the braes sae scroggie;
    But the houlet cry'd frae the castle wa',
      The blitter frae the boggie,
    The tod reply'd upon the hill,
      I trembled for my Hoggie.
    When day did daw, and cocks did craw,
      The morning it was foggie;
    An' unco tyke lap o'er the dyke,
      And maist has kill'd my Hoggie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Jumpin' John._"

[This is one of the old songs which Ritson accuses Burns of amending
for the Museum: little of it, however, is his, save a touch here and
there--but they are Burns's touches.]


    Her daddie forbad, her minnie forbad;
      Forbidden she wadna be:
    She wadna trow't, the browst she brew'd
      Wad taste sae bitterlie.
          The lang lad they ca' jumpin' John
            Beguiled the bonnie lassie,
          The lang lad they ca' Jumpin' John
            Beguiled the bonnie lassie.


    A cow and a cauf, a yowe and a hauf,
      And thretty gude shillin's and three;
    A vera gude tocher, a cotter-man's dochter,
      The lass wi' the bonnie black e'e.
          The lang lad they ca' Jumpin' John
            Beguiled the bonnie lassie,
          The lang lad they ca' Jumpin' John
            Beguiled the bonnie lassie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Cold blows the wind._"

["The chorus of this song," says the poet, in his notes on the
Scottish Lyrics, "is old, the two stanzas are mine." The air is
ancient, and was a favourite of Mary Stuart, the queen of William the


    Up in the morning's no for me,
      Up in the morning early;
    When a' the hills are cover'd wi' snaw,
      I'm sure it's winter fairly.


    Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
      The drift is driving sairly;
    Sae loud and shill I hear the blast,
      I'm sure it's winter fairly.


    The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
      A' day they fare but sparely;
    And lang's the night frae e'en to morn--
      I'm sure it's winter fairly.
        Up in the morning's no for me,
          Up in the morning early;
        When a' the hills are cover'd wi' snaw,
          I'm sure it's winter fairly.

       *       *       *       *       *





[The Young Highland Rover of this strain is supposed by some to be the
Chevalier, and with more probability by others, to be a Gordon, as the
song was composed in consequence of the poet's visit to "bonnie
Castle-Gordon," in September, 1787.]


    Loud blaw the frosty breezes,
      The snaws the mountains cover;
    Like winter on me seizes,
      Since my young Highland rover
      Far wanders nations over.
    Where'er he go, where'er he stray.
      May Heaven be his warden:
    Return him safe to fair Strathspey,
      And bonnie Castle-Gordon!


    The trees now naked groaning,
      Shall Soon wi' leaves be hinging.
    The birdies dowie moaning,
      Shall a' be blithely singing,
      And every flower be springing.
    Sae I'll rejoice the lee-lang day
      When by his mighty Warden
    My youth's returned to fair Strathspey,
      And bonnie Castle-Gordon.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Dusty Miller._"

[The Dusty Miller is an old strain, modified for the Museum by Burns:
it is a happy specimen of his taste and skill in making the new look
like the old.]


    Hey, the dusty miller,
      And his dusty coat;
    He will win a shilling,
      Or he spend a groat.
          Dusty was the coat,
            Dusty was the colour,
          Dusty was the kiss
            That I got frae the miller.


    Hey, the dusty miller,
      And his dusty sack;
    Leeze me on the calling
      Fills the dusty peck.
          Fills the dusty peck,
            Brings the dusty siller;
          I wad gie my coatie
            For the dusty miller.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Duncan Davison._"

[There are several other versions of Duncan Davison, which it is more
delicate to allude to than to quote: this one is in the Museum.]


    There was a lass, they ca'd her Meg,
      And she held o'er the moors to spin;
    There was a lad that follow'd her,
      They ca'd him Duncan Davison.
    The moor was driegh, and Meg was skiegh,
      Her favour Duncan could na win;
    For wi' the roke she wad him knock.
      And ay she shook the temper-pin.


    As o'er the moor they lightly foor,
      A burn was clear, a glen was green,
    Upon the banks they eas'd-their shanks,
      And ay she set the wheel between:
    But Duncan swore a haly aith,
      That Meg should be a bride the morn,
    Then Meg took up her spinnin' graith,
      And flang them a' out o'er the burn.


    We'll big a house,--a wee, wee house,
      And we will live like king and queen,
    Sae blythe and merry we will be
      When ye set by the wheel at e'en.
    A man may drink and no be drunk;
      A man may fight and no be slain;
    A man may kiss a bonnie lass,
      And ay be welcome back again.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune.--"_The Ruffian's Rant._"

[Burns, it is believed, wrote this song during his first Highland
tour, when he danced among the northern dames, to the tune of "Bab at
the Bowster," till the morning sun rose and reproved them from the top
of Ben Lomond.]


    In coming by the brig o' Dye,
      At Darlet we a blink did tarry;
    As day was dawin in the sky,
      We drank a health to bonnie Mary.
          Theniel Menzies' bonnie Mary;
            Theniel Menzies' bonnie Mary;
          Charlie Gregor tint his plaidie,
            Kissin' Theniel's bonnie Mary.


    Her een sae bright, her brow sae white,
      Her haffet locks as brown's a berry;
    And ay, they dimpl't wi' a smile,
      The rosy checks o' bonnie Mary.


    We lap and danced the lee lang day,
      Till piper lads were wae and weary;
    But Charlie gat the spring to pay,
      For kissin' Theniel's bonnie Mary.
          Theniel Menzies' bonnie Mary;
            Theniel Menzies' bonnie Mary;
          Charlie Gregor tint his plaidie,
            Kissin' Theniel's bonnie Mary.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune.--"_Bhannerach dhon na chri._"

[These verses were composed on a charming young lady, Charlotte
Hamilton, sister to the poet's friend, Gavin Hamilton of Mauchline,
residing, when the song was written, at Harvieston, on the banks of
the Devon, in the county of Clackmannan.]


    How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon,
      With green spreading bushes, and flowers blooming fair!
    But the bonniest flower on the banks of the Devon
      Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr.
    Mild be the sun on this sweet blushing flower,
      In the gay rosy morn, as it bathes in the dew;
    And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower,
      That steals on the evening each leaf to renew.


    O spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes,
      With chill hoary wing, as ye usher the dawn;
    And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizes
      The verdure and pride of the garden and lawn!
    Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded Lilies,
      And England, triumphant, display her proud Rose:
    A fairer than either adorns the green valleys,
      Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Duncan Gray._"

[The original Duncan Gray, out of which the present strain was
extracted for Johnson, had no right to be called a lad of grace:
another version, and in a happier mood, was written for Thomson.]


    Weary fa' you, Duncan Gray--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    Wae gae by you, Duncan Gray--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    When a' the lave gae to their play,
    Then I maun sit the lee lang day,
    And jog the cradle wi' my tae,
      And a' for the girdin o't!


    Bonnie was the Lammas moon--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    Glowrin' a' the hills aboon--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    The girdin brak, the beast cam down,
    I tint my curch, and baith my shoon;
    Ah! Duncan, ye're an unco loon--
      Wae on the bad girdin o't!


    But, Duncan, gin ye'll keep your aith--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    I'se bless you wi' my hindmost breath--
      Ha, ha, the girdin o't!
    Duncan, gin ye'll keep your aith,
    The beast again can bear us baith,
    And auld Mess John will mend the skaith,
      And clout the bad girdin o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Up wi' the ploughman._"

[The old words, of which these in the Museum are an altered and
amended version, are in the collection of Herd.]


    The ploughman he's a bonnie lad,
      His mind is ever true, jo,
    His garters knit below his knee,
      His bonnet it is blue, jo.
          Then up wi' him my ploughman lad,
            And hey my merry ploughman!
          Of a' the trades that I do ken,
            Commend me to the ploughman.


    My ploughman he comes hame at e'en,
      He's aften wat and weary;
    Cast off the wat, put on the dry,
      And gae to bed, my dearie!


    I will wash my ploughman's hose,
      And I will dress his o'erlay;
    I will mak my ploughman's bed,
      And cheer him late and early.


    I hae been east, I hae been west,
      I hae been at Saint Johnston;
    The bonniest sight that e'er I saw
      Was the ploughman laddie dancin'.


    Snaw-white stockins on his legs,
      And siller buckles glancin';
    A gude blue bonnet on his head--
      And O, but he was handsome!


    Commend me to the barn-yard,
      And the corn-mou, man;
    I never gat my coggie fou,
      Till I met wi' the ploughman.
          Up wi' him my ploughman lad,
            And hey my merry ploughman!
          Of a' the trades that I do ken,
            Commend me to the ploughman.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Hey tutti, taiti._"

[Of this song, the first and second verses are by Burns: the closing
verse belongs to a strain threatening Britain with an invasion from
the iron-handed Charles XII. of Sweden, to avenge his own wrongs and
restore the line of the Stuarts.]


    Landlady, count the lawin,
    The day is near the dawin;
    Ye're a' blind drunk, boys,
      And I'm but jolly fou,
          Hey tutti, taiti,
          How tutti, taiti--
          Wha's fou now?


    Cog an' ye were ay fou,
    Cog an' ye were ay fou,
    I wad sit and sing to you
      If ye were ay fou.


    Weel may ye a' be!
    Ill may we never see!
    God bless the king,
      And the companie!
          Hey tutti, taiti,
          How tutti, taiti--
          Wha's fou now?

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Macgregor of Rura's Lament._"

["I composed these verses," says Burns, "on Miss Isabella M'Leod, of
Raza, alluding to her feelings on the death of her sister, and the
still more melancholy death of her sister's husband, the late Earl of
Loudon, in 1796."]


    Raving winds around her blowing,
    Yellow leaves the woodlands strowing,
    By a river hoarsely roaring,
    Isabella stray'd deploring--
    "Farewell hours that late did measure
    Sunshine days of joy and pleasure;
    Hail, thou gloomy night of sorrow,
    Cheerless night that knows no morrow!


    "O'er the past too fondly wandering,
    On the hopeless future pondering;
    Chilly grief my life-blood freezes,
    Fell despair my fancy seizes.
    Life, thou soul of every blessing,
    Load to misery most distressing,
    Gladly how would I resign thee,
    And to dark oblivion join thee!"

       *       *       *       *       *



_To a Gaelic air._

[Composed for the Museum: the air of this affecting strain is true
Highland: Burns, though not a musician, had a fine natural taste in
the matter of national melodies.]


    How long and dreary is the night
      When I am frae my dearie!
    I sleepless lie frae e'en to morn,
      Tho' I were ne'er sae weary.
    I sleepless lie frae e'en to morn,
      Tho' I were ne'er sae weary.


    When I think on the happy days
      I spent wi' you, my dearie,
    And now what lands between us lie,
      How can I but be eerie!
    And now what lands between us lie,
      How can I be but eerie!


    How slow ye move, ye heavy hours,
      As ye were wae and weary!
    It was na sae ye glinted by,
      When I was wi' my dearie.
    It was na sae ye glinted by,
      When I was wi' my dearie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Druimion dubh._"

[The air of this song is from the Highlands: the verses were written
in compliment to the feelings of Mrs. M'Lauchlan, whose husband was an
officer serving in the East Indies.]


    Musing on the roaring ocean,
      Which divides my love and me;
    Wearying heaven in warm devotion,
      For his weal where'er he be.


    Hope and fear's alternate billow
      Yielding late to nature's law,
    Whisp'ring spirits round my pillow
      Talk of him that's far awa.


    Ye whom sorrow never wounded,
      Ye who never shed a tear,
    Care-untroubled, joy-surrounded,
      Gaudy day to you is dear.


    Gentle night, do thou befriend me;
      Downy sleep, the curtain draw;
    Spirits kind, again attend me,
      Talk of him that's far awa!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Andro and his cutty gun._"

[The heroine of this song, Euphemia Murray, of Lintrose was justly
called the "Flower of Strathmore:" she is now widow of Lord Methven,
one of the Scottish judges, and mother of a fine family. The song was
written at Ochtertyre, in June 1787.]


    Blithe, blithe and merry was she,
      Blithe was she but and ben:
    Blithe by the banks of Ern,
      And blithe in Glenturit glen.


    By Auchtertyre grows the aik,
      On Yarrow banks the birken shaw;
    But Phemie was a bonnier lass
      Than braes of Yarrow ever saw.


    Her looks were like a flow'r in May,
      Her smile was like a simmer morn;
    She tripped by the banks of Ern,
      As light's a bird upon a thorn.


    Her bonnie face it was as meek
      As any lamb upon a lea;
    The evening sun was ne'er sae sweet,
      As was the blink o' Phemie's ee.


    The Highland hills I've wander'd wide,
      And o'er the Lowlands I hae been;
    But Phemie was the blithest lass
      That ever trod the dewy green.
          Blithe, blithe and merry was she,
            Blithe was she but and ben:
          Blithe by the banks of Ern.
            And blithe in Glenturit glen.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_To daunton me._"

[The Jacobite strain of "To daunton me," must have been in the mind of
the poet when he wrote this pithy lyric for the Museum.]


    The blude red rose at Yule may blaw,
    The simmer lilies bloom in snaw,
    The frost may freeze the deepest sea;
    But an auld man shall never daunton me.
        To daunton me, and me so young,
        Wi' his fause heart and flatt'ring tongue.
        That is the thing you ne'er shall see;
        For an auld man shall never daunton me.


    For a' his meal and a' his maut,
    For a' his fresh beef and his saut,
    For a' his gold and white monie,
    An auld man shall never daunton me.


    His gear may buy him kye and yowes,
    His gear may buy him glens and knowes;
    But me he shall not buy nor fee,
    For an auld man shall never daunton me.


    He hirples twa fauld as he dow,
    Wi' his teethless gab and Ma auld beld pow,
    And the rain rains down frae his red bleer'd ee--
    That auld man shall never daunton me.
        To daunton me, and me sae young,
        Wi' his fause heart and flatt'ring tongue,
        That is the thing you ne'er shall see;
        For an auld man shall never daunton me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_O'er the water to Charlie._"

[The second stanza of this song, and nearly all the third, are by
Burns. Many songs, some of merit, on the same subject, and to the same
air, were in other days current in Scotland.]


    Come boat me o'er, come row me o'er,
      Come boat me o'er to Charlie;
    I'll gie John Ross another bawbee,
      To boat me o'er to Charlie.
          We'll o'er the water and o'er the sea,
            We'll o'er the water to Charlie;
          Come weal, come woe, we'll gather and go,
            And live or die wi' Charlie.


    I lo'e weel my Charlie's name,
      Tho' some there be abhor him:
    But O, to see auld Nick gaun hame,
      And Charlie's faes before him!


    I swear and vow by moon and stars,
      And sun that shines so early,
    If I had twenty thousand lives,
      I'd die as aft for Charlie.
          We'll o'er the water and o'er the sea,
            We'll o'er the water to Charlie;
          Come weal, come woe, we'll gather and go,
            And live or die wi' Charlie!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Rose-bud._"

[The "Rose-bud" of these sweet verses was Miss Jean Cruikshank,
afterwards Mrs. Henderson, daughter of William Cruikshank, of St.
James's Square, one of the masters of the High School of Edinburgh:
she is also the subject of a poem equally sweet.]


    A rose-bud by my early walk,
    Adown a corn-enclosed bawk,
    Sae gently bent its thorny stalk,
      All on a dewy morning.
    Ere twice the shades o' dawn are fled,
    In a' its crimson glory spread,
    And drooping rich the dewy head,
      It scents the early morning.


    Within the bush, her covert nest
    A little linnet fondly prest,
    The dew sat chilly on her breast
      Sae early in the morning.
    She soon shall see her tender brood,
    The pride, the pleasure o' the wood,
    Amang the fresh green leaves bedew'd,
      Awake the early morning.


    So thou, dear bird, young Jeany fair,
    On trembling string or vocal air,
    Shall sweetly pay the tender care
      That tends thy early morning.
    So thou, sweet rose-bud, young and gay,
    Shalt beauteous blaze upon the day,
    And bless the parent's evening ray
      That watch'd thy early morning.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Rattlin', roarin' Willie._"

["The hero of this chant," says Burns "was one of the worthiest
fellows in the world--William Dunbar, Esq., Write to the Signet,
Edinburgh, and Colonel of the Crochallan corps--a club of wits, who
took that title at the time of raising the fencible regiments."]


    O rattlin', roarin' Willie,
      O, he held to the fair,
    An' for to sell his fiddle,
      An' buy some other ware;
    But parting wi' his fiddle,
      The saut tear blint his ee;
    And rattlin', roarin' Willie,
      Ye're welcome hame to me!


    O Willie, come sell your fiddle,
      O sell your fiddle sae fine;
    O Willie, come sell your fiddle,
      And buy a pint o' wine!
    If I should sell my fiddle,
      The warl' would think I was mad;
    For mony a rantin' day
      My fiddle and I hae had.


    As I cam by Crochallan,
      I cannily keekit ben--
    Rattlin', roarin' Willie
      Was sittin' at yon board en';
    Sitting at yon board en',
      And amang good companie;
    Rattlin', roarin' Willie,
      Ye're welcome hame to me I

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Neil Gow's Lamentations for Abercairny._"

["This song," says the poet, "I composed on one of the most
accomplished of women, Miss Peggy Chalmers that was, now Mrs. Lewis
Hay, of Forbes and Co.'s bank, Edinburgh." She now lives at Pau, in
the south of France.]


    Where, braving angry winter's storms,
      The lofty Ochels rise,
    Far in their shade my Peggy's charms
      First blest my wondering eyes;
    As one who by some savage stream,
      A lonely gem surveys,
    Astonish'd, doubly marks its beam,
      With art's most polish'd blaze.


    Blest be the wild, sequester'd shade,
      And blest the day and hour,
    Where Peggy's charms I first survey'd,
      When first I felt their power!
    The tyrant Death, with grim control,
      May seize my fleeting breath;
    But tearing Peggy from my soul
      Must be a stronger death.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Johnny M'Gill._"

[We owe the air of this song to one Johnny M'Gill, a fiddler of
Girvan, who bestowed his own name on it: and the song itself partly to
Burns and partly to some unknown minstrel. They are both in the


    O, Wilt thou go wi' me,
      Sweet Tibbie Dunbar?
    O, wilt thou go wi' me,
      Sweet Tibbie Dunbar?
    Wilt thou ride on a horse,
      Or be drawn in a car,
    Or walk by my side,
      O, sweet Tibbie Dunbar?


    I care na thy daddie,
      His lands and his money,
    I care na thy kindred,
      Sae high and sae lordly:
    But say thou wilt hae me
      For better for waur--
    And come in thy coatie,
      Sweet Tibbie Dunbar!

       *       *       *       *       *




[We owe these verses to the too brief visit which the poet, in 1787,
made to Gordon Castle: he was hurried away, much against his will, by
his moody and obstinate friend William Nicol.]


    Streams that glide in orient plains,
    Never bound by winter's chains;
      Glowing here on golden sands,
    There commix'd with foulest stains
      From tyranny's empurpled bands;
    These, their richly gleaming waves,
    I leave to tyrants and their slaves;
    Give me the stream that sweetly laves
      The banks by Castle-Gordon.


    Spicy forests, ever gay,
    Shading from the burning ray,
      Hapless wretches sold to toil,
      Or the ruthless native's way,
        Bent on slaughter, blood, and spoil:
    Woods that ever verdant wave,
    I leave the tyrant and the slave,
    Give me the groves that lofty brave
      The storms by Castle-Gordon.


    Wildly here without control,
    Nature reigns and rules the whole;
      In that sober pensive mood,
    Dearest to the feeling soul,
      She plants the forest, pours the flood;
    Life's poor day I'll musing rave,
    And find at night a sheltering cave,
    Where waters flow and wild woods wave,
        By bonnie Castle-Gordon.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Highland's Lament._"

["The chorus," says Burns, "I picked up from an old woman in Dumblane:
the rest of the song is mine." He composed it for Johnson: the tone is


    My Harry was a gallant gay,
      Fu' stately strode he on the plain:
    But now he's banish'd far away,
      I'll never see him back again,
          O for him back again!
            O for him back again!
          I wad gie a' Knockhaspie's land
            For Highland Harry back again.


    When a' the lave gae to their bed,
      I wander dowie up the glen;
    I set me down and greet my fill,
      And ay I wish him back again.


    O were some villains hangit high.
      And ilka body had their ain!
    Then I might see the joyfu' sight,
      My Highland Harry back again.
          O for him back again!
            O for him back again!
          I wad gie a' Knockhaspie's land
            For Highland Harry back again.

       *       *       *       *       *



    Tune--"_The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimbles an' a'._"

[The second and fourth verses are by Burns, the rest is very old, the
air is also very old, and is played at trade festivals and processions
by the Corporation of Tailors.]


    The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimbles an' a',
    The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimbles an' a';
    The blankets were thin, and the sheets they were sma',
    The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimbles an' a'.


    The sleepy bit lassie, she dreaded nae ill,
    The sleepy bit lassie, she dreaded nae ill;
    The weather was cauld, and the lassie lay still,
    She thought that a tailor could do her nae ill.


    Gie me the groat again, canny young man;
    Gie me the groat again, canny young man;
    The day it is short, and the night it is lang,
    The dearest siller that ever I wan!


    There's somebody weary wi' lying her lane;
    There's somebody weary wi' lying her lane;
    There's some that are dowie, I trow would be fain
    To see the bit tailor come skippin' again.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Ay waukin o'._"

[Tytler and Ritson unite in considering the air of these words as one
of our most ancient melodies. The first verse of the song is from the
hand of Burns; the rest had the benefit of his emendations: it is to
be found in the Museum.]


    Simmer's a pleasant time,
      Flow'rs of ev'ry colour;
    The water rins o'er the heugh,
      And I long for my true lover.
          Ay waukin O,
            Waukin still and wearie:
          Sleep I can get nane
            For thinking on my dearie.


    When I sleep I dream,
      When I wauk I'm eerie;
    Sleep I can get nane
      For thinking on my dearie.


    Lanely night comes on,
      A' the lave are sleeping;
    I think on my bonnie lad
      And I bleer my een with greetin'.
          Ay waukin O,
            Waukin still and wearie:
          Sleep I can get nane
            For thinking on my dearie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Ye gallants bright._"

[Burns wrote this song in honour of Ann Masterton, daughter of Allan
Masterton, author of the air of Strathallan's Lament: she is now Mrs.
Derbishire, and resides in London.]


    Ye gallants bright, I red ye right,
      Beware o' bonnie Ann;
    Her comely face sae fu' o' grace,
      Your heart she will trepan.
    Her een sae bright, like stars by night,
      Her skin is like the swan;
    Sae jimply lac'd her genty waist,
      That sweetly ye might span.


    Youth, grace, and love attendant move,
      And pleasure leads the van:
    In a' their charms, and conquering arms,
      They wait on bonnie Ann.
    The captive bands may chain the hands,
      But love enclaves the man;
    Ye Gallants braw, I red you a',
      Beware of bonnie Ann!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The gardener wi' his paidle._"

[The air of this song is played annually at the precession of the
Gardeners: the title only is old; the rest is the work of Burns. Every
trade had, in other days, an air of its own, and songs to correspond;
but toil and sweat came in harder measures, and drove melodies out of
working-men's heads.]


    When rosy May comes in wi' flowers,
    To deck her gay green-spreading bowers,
    Then busy, busy are his hours--
      The gard'ner wi' his paidle
    The crystal waters gently fa';
    The merry birds are lovers a';
    The scented breezes round him blaw--
      The gard'ner wi' his paidle.


    When purple morning starts the hare
    To steal upon her early fare,
    Then thro' the dews he maun repair--
      The gard'ner wi' his paidle.
    When day, expiring in the west,
    The curtain draws of nature's rest,
    He flies to her arms he lo'es best--
      The gard'ner wi' his paidle.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_On a bank of flowers._"

[One of the lyrics of Allan Ramsay's collection seems to have been in
the mind of Burns when he wrote this: the words and air are in the


    On a bank of flowers, in a summer day,
      For summer lightly drest,
    The youthful blooming Nelly lay,
      With love and sleep opprest;
    When Willie wand'ring thro' the wood,
      Who for her favour oft had sued,
    He gaz'd, he wish'd, he fear'd, he blush'd,
      And trembled where he stood.


    Her closed eyes like weapons sheath'd,
      Were seal'd in soft repose;
    Her lips still as she fragrant breath'd,
      It richer dy'd the rose.
    The springing lilies sweetly prest,
      Wild--wanton, kiss'd her rival breast;
    He gaz'd, he wish'd, he fear'd, he blush'd--
      His bosom ill at rest.


    Her robes light waving in the breeze
      Her tender limbs embrace;
    Her lovely form, her native ease,
      All harmony and grace:
    Tumultuous tides his pulses roll,
      A faltering, ardent kiss he stole;
    He gaz'd, he wish'd, he fear'd, he blush'd,
      And sigh'd his very soul.


    As flies the partridge from the brake,
      On fear-inspired wings,
    So Nelly, starting, half awake,
      Away affrighted springs:
    But Willie follow'd, as he should,
      He overtook her in a wood;
    He vow'd, he pray'd, he found the maid
      Forgiving all and good.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Seventh of November._"

[The seventh of November was the anniversary of the marriage of Mr.
and Mrs. Riddel, of Friars-Carse, and these verses were composed in
compliment to the day.]


    The day returns, my bosom burns,
      The blissful day we twa did meet,
    Tho' winter wild in tempest toil'd,
      Ne'er summer-sun was half sae sweet.
    Than a' the pride that loads the tide,
      And crosses o'er the sultry line;
    Than kingly robes, than crowns and globes,
      Heaven gave me more--it made thee mine!


    While day and night can bring delight,
      Or nature aught of pleasure give,
    While joys above my mind can move,
      For thee, and thee alone I live.
    When that grim foe of life below,
      Comes in between to make us part,
    The iron hand that breaks our band,
      It breaks my bliss--it breaks my heart.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Lady Bandinscoth's Reel._"

[These verses had their origin in an olden strain, equally lively and
less delicate: some of the old lines keep their place: the title is
old. Both words and all are in the Musical Museum.]


    My love she's but a lassie yet,
      My love she's but a lassie yet,
    We'll let her stand a year or twa,
      Shell no be half so saucy yet.
    I rue the day I sought her, O;
      I rue the day I sought her, O;
    Wha gets her needs na say he's woo'd,
      But he may say he's bought her, O!


    Come, draw a drap o' the best o't yet;
      Come, draw a drap o' the best o't yet;
    Gae seek for pleasure where ye will,
      But here I never miss'd it yet.
    We're a' dry wi' drinking o't;
      We're a' dry wi' drinking o't;
    The minister kiss'd the fiddler's wife,
      An' could na preach for thinkin' o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Jamy, come try me._"

[Burns in these verses caught up the starting note of an old song, of
which little more than the starting words deserve to be remembered:
the word and air are in the Musical Museum.]


    Jamie, come try me,
    Jamie, come try me;
    If thou would win my love,
    Jamie, come try me.


    If thou should ask my love,
      Could I deny thee?
    If thou would win my love,
      Jamie, come try me.


    If thou should kiss me, love,
      Wha could espy thee?
    If thou wad be my love,
      Jamie, come try me.
        Jamie, come try me,
        Jamie, come try me;
        If thou would win my love,
        Jamie, come try me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Go fetch to me a pint o' wine._"

[Concerning this fine song, Burns in his notes says, "This air is
Oswald's: the first half-stanza of the song is old, the rest is mine."
It is believed, however, that the whole of the song is from his hand:
in Hogg and Motherwell's edition of Burns, the starting lines are
supplied from an olden strain: but some of the old strains in that
work are to be regarded with suspicion.]


    Go fetch to me a pint o' wine,
      An' fill it in a silver tassie;
    That I may drink, before I go,
      A service to my bonnie lassie;
    The boat rocks at the pier o' Leith;
      Fu' loud the wind blaws frae the ferry;
    The ship rides by the Berwick-law,
      And I maun leave my bonnie Mary.


    The trumpets sound, the banners fly,
      The glittering spears are ranked ready;
    The shouts o' war are heard afar,
      The battle closes thick and bloody;
    It's not the roar o' sea or shore
      Wad make me langer wish to tarry;
    Nor shouts o' war that's heard afar--
      It's leaving thee, my bonnie Mary.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The lazy mist._"

[All that Burns says about the authorship of The Lazy Mist, is, "This
song is mine." The air, which is by Oswald, together with the words,
is in the Musical Museum.]


    The lazy mist hangs from the brow of the hill,
    Concealing the course of the dark winding rill;
    How languid the scenes, late so sprightly, appear!
    As Autumn to Winter resigns the pale year.
    The forests are leafless, the meadows are brown,
    And all the gay foppery of summer is flown:
    Apart let me wander, apart let me muse,
    How quick Time is flying, how keen Fate pursues!


    How long have I liv'd, but how much liv'd in vain!
    How little of life's scanty span may remain!
    What aspects, old Time, in his progress, has worn!
    What ties cruel Fate in my bosom has torn!
    How foolish, or worse, till our summit is gain'd!
    And downward, how weaken'd, how darken'd, how pain'd!
    Life is not worth having with all it can give--
    For something beyond it poor man sure must live.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_O mount and go._"

[Part of this song belongs to an old maritime strain, with the same
title: it was communicated, along with many other songs, made or
amended by Burns, to the Musical Museum.]


    O mount and go,
      Mount and make you ready;
    O mount and go,
      And be the Captain's Lady.


    When the drums do beat,
      And the cannons rattle,
    Thou shall sit in state,
      And see thy love in battle.


    When the vanquish'd foe
      Sues for peace and quiet,
    To the shades we'll go,
      And in love enjoy it.
          O mount and go,
            Mount and make you ready;
          O mount and go,
            And be the Captain's Lady.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey._"

[Bums wrote this charming song in honour of Joan Armour: he archly
says in his notes, "P.S. it was during the honeymoon." Other
versions are abroad; this one is from the manuscripts of the poet.]


    Of a' the airts the wind can blaw,
      I dearly like the west,
    For there the bonnie lassie lives,
      The lassie I lo'e best:
    There wild-woods grow, and rivers row,
      And mony a hill between;
    But day and night my fancy's flight
      Is ever wi' my Jean.


    I see her in the dewy flowers,
      I see her sweet and fair:
    I hear her in the tunefu' birds,
      I hear her charm the air:
    There's not a bonnie flower that springs
      By fountain, shaw, or green,
    There's not a bonnie bird that sings,
      But minds me o' my Jean.


    O blaw, ye westlin winds, blaw saft
      Among the leafy trees,
    Wi' balmy gale, frae hill and dale
      Bring hame the laden bees;
    And bring the lassie back to me
      That's aye sae neat and clean;
    Ae smile o' her wad banish care,
      Sae charming is my Jean.


    What sighs and vows amang the knowes
      Hae passed atween us twa!
    How fond to meet, how wae to part,
      That night she gaed awa!
    The powers aboon can only ken,
      To whom the heart is seen,
    That nane can be sae dear to me
      As my sweet lovely Jean!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Whistle o'er the lave o't."_

[The air of this song was composed by John Bruce, of Dumfries,
musician: the words, though originating in an olden strain, are wholly
by Burns, and right bitter ones they are. The words and air are in the


    First when Maggy was my care,
    Heaven, I thought, was in her air;
    Now we're married--spier nae mair--
      Whistle o'er the lave o't.--
    Meg was meek, and Meg was mild,
    Bonnie Meg was nature's child;
    Wiser men than me's beguil'd--
      Whistle o'er the lave o't.


    How we live, my Meg and me,
    How we love, and how we 'gree,
    I care na by how few may see;
      Whistle o'er the lave o't.--
    Wha I wish were maggot's meat,
    Dish'd up in her winding sheet,
    I could write--but Meg maun see't--
      Whistle o'er the lave o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_My love is lost to me._"

[The poet welcomed with this exquisite song his wife to Nithsdale: the
air is one of Oswald's.]


    O, were I on Parnassus' hill!
    Or had of Helicon my fill;
    That I might catch poetic skill,
      To sing how dear I love thee.
    But Nith maun be my Muse's well;
    My Muse maun be thy bonnie sel':
    On Corsincon I'll glow'r and spell,
      And write how dear I love thee.


    Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my lay!
    For a' the lee-lang simmer's day
    I coudna sing, I coudna say,
      How much, how dear, I love thee.
    I see thee dancing o'er the green,
    Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean,
    Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een--
      By heaven and earth I love thee!


    By night, by day, a-field, at hame,
    The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame;
    And aye I muse and sing thy name--
      I only live to love thee.
    Tho' I were doom'd to wander on
    Beyond the sea, beyond the sun,
    Till my last weary sand was run;
      Till then--and then I love thee.

       *       *       *       *       *



_To a Gaelic Air._

["This air," says Burns, "is claimed by Neil Gow, who calls it a
Lament for his Brother. The first half-stanza of the song is old: the
rest is mine." They are both in the Museum.]


          There's a youth in this city,
          It were a great pity
    That he frae our lasses shou'd wander awa:
          For he's bonnie an' braw,
          Weel-favour'd an' a',
    And his hair has a natural buckle an' a'.
          His coat is the hue
          Of his bonnet sae blue;
    His feck it is white as the new-driven snaw;
          His hose they are blae,
          And his shoon like the slae.
    And his clear siller buckles they dazzle us a'.


          For beauty and fortune
          The laddie's been courtin';
    Weel-featured, weel-tocher'd, weel-mounted and braw;
          But chiefly the siller,
          That gars him gang till her,
    The pennie's the jewel that beautifies a'.
          There's Meg wi' the mailen
          That fain wad a haen him;
    And Susie, whose daddy was laird o' the ha';
          There's lang-tocher'd Nancy
          Maist fetters his fancy--
    But the laddie's dear sel' he lo'es dearest of a'.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Failte na Miosg._"

[The words and the air are in the Museum, to which they were
contributed by Burns. He says, in his notes on that collection, "The
first half-stanza of this song is old; the rest mine." Of the old
strain no one has recorded any remembrance.]


    My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
    My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
    A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe--
    My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
    Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
    The birth-place of valour, the country of worth;
    Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
    The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.


    Farewell to the mountains high cover'd with snow;
    Farewell to the straths and green valleys below:
    Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
    Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
    My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
    My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
    Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe--
    My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

       *       *       *       *       *




Tune--"_John Anderson, my jo._"

[Soon after the death of Burns, the very handsome Miscellanies of
Brash and Reid, of Glasgow, contained what was called an improved John
Anderson, from the pen of the Ayrshire bard; but, save the second
stanza, none of the new matter looked like his hand.

    "John Anderson, my jo, John,
      When nature first began
    To try her cannie hand, John,
      Her master-piece was man;
    And you amang them a', John,
      Sae trig frae tap to toe,
    She proved to be nae journey-work,
      John Anderson, my jo."]


    "John Anderson, my jo, John,
      When we were first acquent,
    Your locks were like the raven,
      Your bonnie brow was brent;
    But now your brow is beld, John,
      Your locks are like the snaw;
    But blessings on your frosty pow,
      John Anderson, my jo.


    John Anderson, my jo, John,
      We clamb the hill thegither;
    And mony a canty day, John,
      We've had wi' ane anither:
    Now we maun totter down, John,
      But hand in hand we'll go;
    And sleep thegither at the foot,
      John Anderson, my jo.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Awa Whigs, awa._"

[Burns trimmed up this old Jacobite ditty for the Museum, and added
some of the bitterest bits: the second and fourth verses are wholly


    Awa Whigs, awa!
      Awa Whigs, awa!
    Ye're but a pack o' traitor louns,
      Ye'll do nae good at a'.


    Our thrissles flourish'd fresh and fair,
      And bonnie bloom'd our roses;
    But Whigs came like a frost in June,
      And wither'd a' our posies.


    Our ancient crown's fa'n in the dust--
      Deil blin' them wi' the stoure o't;
    And write their names in his black beuk,
      Wha gae the Whigs the power o't.


    Our sad decay in Church and State
      Surpasses my descriving:
    The Whigs came o'er us for a curse,
      And we hae done wi' thriving.


    Grim vengeance lang ha's taen a nap,
      But we may see him wauken;
    Gude help the day when royal heads
      Are hunted like a maukin.
          Awa Whigs, awa!
            Awa Whigs, awa!
          Ye're but a pack o' traitor louns,
            Ye'll do nae gude at a'.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Ca' the ewes to the knowes._"

[Most of this sweet pastoral is of other days: Burns made several
emendations, and added the concluding verse. He afterwards, it will be
observed, wrote for Thomson a second version of the subject and the


    Ca' the ewes to the knowes,
    Ca' them whare the heather grows,
    Ca' them whare the burnie rowes,
      My bonnie dearie!


    As I gaed down the water-side,
    There I met my shepherd lad,
    He row'd me sweetly in his plaid,
      An' he ca'd me his dearie.


    Will ye gang down the water-side,
    And see the waves sae sweetly glide,
    Beneath the hazels spreading wide?
      The moon it shines fu' clearly.


    I was bred up at nae sic school,
    My shepherd lad, to play the fool,
    And a' the day to sit in dool,
      And naebody to see me.


    Ye sall get gowns and ribbons meet,
    Cauf-leather shoon upon your feet,
    And in my arms ye'se lie and sleep,
      And ye shall be my dearie.


    If ye'll but stand to what ye've said,
    I'se gang wi' you, my shepherd lad,
    And ye may rowe me in your plaid,
      And I shall be your dearie.


    While waters wimple to the sea;
    While day blinks in the lift sae hie;
    'Till clay-cauld death sall blin' my e'e,
      Ye sall be my dearie.
          Ca' the ewes to the knowes,
          Ca' them whare the heather grows,
          Ca' them whare the burnie rowes,
            My bonnie dearie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Lord Breadalbone's March._"

[Part of this song is old: Sir Harris Nicolas says it does not appear
to be in the Museum: let him look again.]


    O merry hae I been teethin' a heckle,
      And merry hae I been shapin' a spoon;
    O merry hae I been cloutin a kettle,
      And kissin' my Katie when a' was done.
    O a' the lang day I ca' at my hammer,
      An' a' the lang day I whistle and sing,
    A' the lang night I cuddle my kimmer,
      An' a' the lang night as happy's a king.


    Bitter in dool I lickit my winnins,
      O' marrying Bess to gie her a slave:
    Blest be the hour she cool'd in her linens,
      And blythe be the bird that sings on her grave.
    Come to my arms, my Katie, my Katie,
      An' come to my arms and kiss me again!
    Drunken or sober, here's to thee, Katie!
      And blest be the day I did it again.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Braes o' Ballochmyle._"

[Mary Whitefoord, eldest daughter of Sir John Whitefoord, was the
heroine of this song: it was written when that ancient family left
their ancient inheritance. It is in the Museum, with an air by Allan


    The Catrine woods were yellow seen,
      The flowers decay'd on Catrine lea,
    Nae lav'rock sang on hillock green,
      But nature sicken'd on the e'e.
    Thro' faded groves Maria sang,
      Hersel' in beauty's bloom the while,
    And ay the wild-wood echoes rang,
      Fareweel the Braes o' Ballochmyle!


    Low in your wintry beds, ye flowers,
      Again ye'll nourish fresh and fair;
    Ye birdies dumb, in withering bowers,
      Again ye'll charm the vocal air.
    But here, alas! for me nae mair
      Shall birdie charm, or floweret smile;
    Fareweel the bonnie banks of Ayr,
      Fareweel, fareweel! sweet Ballochmyle!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Death of Captain Cook._"

[This sublime and affecting Ode was composed by Burns in one of his
fits of melancholy, on the anniversary of Highland Mary's death. All
the day he had been thoughtful, and at evening he went out, threw
himself down by the side of one of his corn-ricks, and with his eyes
fixed on "a bright, particular star," was found by his wife, who with
difficulty brought him in from the chill midnight air. The song was
already composed, and he had only to commit it to paper. It first
appeared in the Museum.]


    Thou lingering star, with less'ning ray,
      That lov'st to greet the early morn,
    Again thou usherest in the day
      My Mary from my soul was torn.
    O Mary! dear departed shade!
      Where is thy place of blissful rest?
    Seest thou thy lover lowly laid?
      Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?


    That sacred hour can I forget,
      Can I forget the hallow'd grove,
    Where by the winding Ayr we met,
      To live one day of parting love!
    Eternity cannot efface
      Those records dear of transports past;
    Thy image at our last embrace;
      Ah! little thought we 'twas our last!


    Ayr, gurgling, kiss'd his pebbled shore,
      O'erhung with wild woods, thick'ning green;
    The fragrant birch, and hawthorn, hoar,
      Twin'd am'rous round the raptured scene;
    The flow'rs sprang wanton to be prest,
      The birds sang love on every spray--
    Till too, too soon, the glowing west
      Proclaim'd the speed of winged day.


    Still o'er these scenes my mem'ry wakes,
      And fondly broods with miser care!
    Time but th' impression stronger makes,
      As streams their channels deeper wear.
    My Mary, dear departed shade!
      Where is thy place of blissful rest?
    Seest thou thy lover lowly laid?
      Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_My Eppie._"

["This song," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "which has been ascribed to
Burns by some of his editors, is in the Musical Museum without any
name." It is partly an old strain, corrected by Burns: he communicated
it to the Museum.]


    An' O! my Eppie,
    My jewel, my Eppie!
    Wha wadna be happy
      Wi' Eppie Adair?
    By love, and by beauty,
    By law, and by duty,
    I swear to be true to
      My Eppie Adair!


    An' O! my Eppie,
    My jewel, my Eppie!
    Wha wadna be happy
      Wi' Eppie Adair?
    A' pleasure exile me,
    Dishonour defile me,
    If e'er I beguile thee,
      My Eppie Adair!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Cameronian Rant._"

[One Barclay, a dissenting clergyman in Edinburgh, wrote a rhyming
dialogue between two rustics, on the battle of Sheriff-muir: Burns was
in nowise pleased with the way in which the reverend rhymer handled
the Highland clans, and wrote this modified and improved version.]


      "O cam ye here the fight to shun,
      Or herd the sheep wi' me, man?
    Or were ye at the Sherra-muir,
      And did the battle see, man?"
    I saw the battle, sair and tough,
    And reekin' red ran mony a sheugh.
    My heart, for fear, gaed sough for sough,
    To hear the thuds, and see the cluds,
    O' clans frae woods, in tartan duds,
      Wha glaum'd at kingdoms three, man.


    The red-coat lads, wi' black cockades,
      To meet them were na slaw, man;
    They rush'd and push'd, and blude outgush'd,
      And mony a bouk did fa', man:
    The great Argyll led on his files,
    I wat they glanc'd for twenty miles:
    They hough'd the clans like nine-pin kyles,
    They hack'd and hash'd, while broad-swords clash'd,
    And thro' they dash'd, and hew'd, and smash'd,
      'Till fey men died awa, man.


    But had you seen the philibegs,
      And skyrin tartan trews, man;
    When in the teeth they dar'd our Whigs
      And covenant true blues, man;
    In lines extended lang and large,
    When bayonets opposed the targe,
    And thousands hasten'd to the charge,
    Wi' Highland wrath they frae the sheath,
    Drew blades o' death, 'till, out o' breath,
      They fled like frighted doos, man.


    "O how deil, Tam, can that be true?
      The chase gaed frae the north, man;
    I saw myself, they did pursue
      The horsemen back to Forth, man;
    And at Dumblane, in my ain sight,
    They took the brig wi' a' their might,
    And straught to Stirling winged their flight;
    But, cursed lot! the gates were shut;
    And mony a huntit, poor red-coat,
      For fear amaist did swarf, man!"


    My sister Kate cam up the gate
      Wi' crowdie unto me, man;
    She swore she saw some rebels run
      Frae Perth unto Dundee, man:
    Their left-hand general had nae skill,
    The Angus lads had nae good-will
    That day their neebors' blood to spill;
    For fear, by foes, that they should lose
    Their cogs o' brose--they scar'd at blows.
      And so it goes, you see, man.


    They've lost some gallant gentlemen,
      Amang the Highland clans, man!
    I fear my Lord Panmure is slain,
      Or fallen in Whiggish hands, man:
    Now wad ye sing this double fight,
    Some fell for wrang, and some for right;
    And mony bade the world guid-night;
    Then ye may tell, how pell and mell,
    By red claymores, and muskets' knell,
    Wi' dying yell, the Tories fell,
      And Whigs to hell did flee, man.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Young Jockey._"

[With the exception of three or four lines, this song, though marked
in the Museum as an old song with additions, is the work of Burns. He
often seems to have sat down to amend or modify old verses, and found
it easier to make verses wholly new.]


    Young Jockey was the blythest lad
      In a' our town or here awa:
    Fu' blythe he whistled at the gaud,
      Fu' lightly danced he in the ha'.
    He roosed my een, sae bonnie blue,
      He roos'd my waist sae genty sma',
    And ay my heart came to my mou'
      When ne'er a body heard or saw.


    My Jockey toils upon the plain,
      Thro' wind and weet, thro' frost and snaw;
    And o'er the lea I leuk fu' fain,
      When Jockey's owsen hameward ca'.
    An' ay the night comes round again,
      When in his arms he takes me a',
    An' ay he vows he'll be my ain,
      As lang's he has a breath to draw.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Willie brew'd a peck o' maut._"

[The scene of this song is Laggan, in Nithsdale, a small estate which
Nicol bought by the advice of the poet. It was composed in memory of
the house-heating. "We had such a joyous meeting," says Burns, "that
Masterton and I agreed, each in our own way, to celebrate the
business." The Willie who made the browst was, therefore, William
Nicol; the Allan who composed the air, Allan Masterton; and he who
wrote this choicest of convivial songs, Robert Burns.]


    O, Willie brew'd a peck o' maut,
      And Rob and Allan came to see:
    Three blither hearts, that lee-lang night
      Ye wad na find in Christendie.
          We are na fou, we're no that fou,
            But just a drappie in our e'e;
          The cock may craw, the day may daw,
            And aye we'll taste the barley bree.


    Here are we met, three merry boys,
      Three merry boys, I trow, are we;
    And mony a night we've merry been,
      And mony mae we hope to be!


    It is the moon--I ken her horn,
      That's blinkin in the lift sae hie;
    She shines sae bright to wyle us hame,
      But, by my sooth, she'll wait a wee!


    Wha first shall rise to gang awa',
      A cuckold, coward loon is he!
    Wha last beside his chair shall fa',
      He is the king amang us three!
          We are na fou, we're no that fou,
            But just a drappie in our e'e;
          The cock may craw, the day may daw,
            And aye we'll taste the barley bree.

       *       *       *       *       *




["This song," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "is in the Museum without
Burns's name." It was composed by Burns on the battle of
Killiecrankie, and sent in his own handwriting to Johnson; he puts it
in the mouth of a Whig.]


    Whare hae ye been sae braw, lad?
      Whare hae ye been sae brankie, O?
    O, whare hae ye been sae braw, lad?
      Cam ye by Killiecrankie, O?
    An' ye had been whare I hae been,
      Ye wad na been so cantie, O;
    An' ye had seen what I hae seen,
      On the braes o' Killiecrankie, O.


    I fought at land, I fought at sea;
      At hame I fought my auntie, O;
    But I met the Devil an' Dundee,
      On the braes o' Killiecrankie, O.
    The bauld Pitcur fell in a furr,
      An' Clavers got a clankie, O;
    Or I had fed on Athole gled,
      On the braes o' Killiecrankie, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



Air--"_The blue-eyed lass."_

[This blue-eyed lass was Jean Jeffry, daughter to the minister of
Lochmaben: she was then a rosy girl of seventeen, with winning manners
and laughing blue eyes. She is now Mrs. Renwick, and lives in New


    I gaed a waefu' gate yestreen,
      A gate, I fear, I'll dearlie rue;
    I gat my death frae twa sweet een,
      Twa lovely een o' bonnie blue.
    'Twas not her golden ringlets bright;
      Her lips, like roses, wat wi' dew,
    Her heaving bosom, lily-white--
      It was her een sae bonnie blue.


    She talk'd, she smil'd, my heart she wyl'd;
      She charm'd my soul--I wist na how:
    And ay the stound, the deadly wound,
      Cam frae her een sae bonnie blue.
    But spare to speak, and spare to speed;
      She'll aiblins listen to my vow:
    Should she refuse, I'll lay my dead
      To her twa een sae bonnie blue.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Robie donna Gorach._"

[The command which the Comyns held on the Nith was lost to the
Douglasses: the Nithsdale power, on the downfall of that proud name,
was divided; part went to the Charteris's and the better portion to
the Maxwells: the Johnstones afterwards came in for a share, and now
the Scots prevail.]


    The Thames flows proudly to the sea,
      Where royal cities stately stand;
    But sweeter flows the Nith, to me,
      Where Comyns ance had high command:
    When shall I see that honour'd land,
      That winding stream I love so dear!
    Must wayward Fortune's adverse hand
      For ever, ever keep me here?


    How lovely, Nith, thy fruitful vales,
      Where spreading hawthorns gaily bloom!
    How sweetly wind thy sloping dales,
      Where lambkins wanton thro' the broom!
    Tho' wandering now, must be my doom,
      Far from thy bonnie banks and braes,
    May there my latest hours consume,
      Amang the friends of early days!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Tam Glen._"

[Tam Glen is the title of an old Scottish song, and older air: of the
former all that remains is a portion of the chorus. Burns when he
wrote it sent it to the Museum.]


    My heart is a-breaking, dear Tittie!
      Some counsel unto me come len',
    To anger them a' is a pity,
      But what will I do wi' Tam Glen?


    I'm thinking wi' sic a braw fellow,
      In poortith I might make a fen';
    What care I in riches to wallow,
      If I maunna marry Tam Glen?


    There's Lowrie the laird o' Dumeller,
      "Gude day to you, brute!" he comes ben:
    He brags and he blaws o' his siller,
      But when will he dance like Tam Glen?


    My minnie does constantly deave me,
      And bids me beware o' young men;
    They flatter, she says, to deceive me,
      But wha can think so o' Tam Glen?


    My daddie says, gin I'll forsake him,
      He'll gie me guid hunder marks ten:
    But, if it's ordain'd I maun take him,
      O wha will I get but Tam Glen?


    Yestreen at the Valentine's dealing,
      My heart to my mou' gied a sten;
    For thrice I drew ane without failing,
      And thrice it was written--Tam Glen.


    The last Halloween I was waukin
      My droukit sark-sleeve, as ye ken;
    His likeness cam up the house staukin,
      And the very grey breeks o' Tam Glen!


    Come counsel, dear Tittie! don't tarry--
      I'll gie you my bonnie black hen,
    Gif ye will advise me to marry
      The lad that I lo'e dearly, Tam Glen.

       *       *       *       *       *



Air--"_Carron Side._"

[Burns says, "I added the four last lines, by way of giving a turn to
the theme of the poem, such as it is." The rest of the song is
supposed to be from the same hand: the lines are not to be found in
earlier collections.]


    Frae the friends and land I love,
      Driv'n by fortune's felly spite,
    Frae my best belov'd I rove,
      Never mair to taste delight;
    Never mair maun hope to find,
      Ease frae toil, relief frae care:
    When remembrance wracks the mind,
      Pleasures but unveil despair.


    Brightest climes shall mirk appear,
      Desert ilka blooming shore,
    Till the Fates, nae mair severe,
      Friendship, love, and peace restore;
    Till Revenge, wi' laurell'd head,
      Bring our banish'd hame again;
    And ilka loyal bonnie lad
      Cross the seas and win his ain.

       *       *       *       *       *




[This is one of several fine songs in honour of Jean Lorimer, of
Kemmis-hall, Kirkmahoe, who for some time lived on the banks of the
Craigie-burn, near Moffat. It was composed in aid of the eloquence of
a Mr. Gillespie, who was in love with her: but it did not prevail, for
she married an officer of the name of Whelpdale, lived with him for a
month or so: reasons arose on both sides which rendered separation
necessary; she then took up her residence in Dumfries, where she had
many opportunities of seeing the poet. She lived till lately.]


    Beyond thee, dearie, beyond thee, dearie,
      And O, to be lying beyond thee;
    O sweetly, soundly, weel may he sleep
      That's laid in the bed beyond thee!


    Sweet closes the evening on Craigie-burn-wood,
      And blithely awaukens the morrow;
    But the pride of the spring in the Craigie-burn-wood
      Can yield to me nothing but sorrow.


    I see the spreading leaves and flowers,
      I hear the wild birds singing;
    But pleasure they hae nane for me,
      While care my heart is wringing.


    I canna tell, I maunna tell,
      I darena for your anger;
    But secret love will break my heart,
      If I conceal it langer.


    I see thee gracefu', straight, and tall,
      I see thee sweet and bonnie;
    But oh! what will my torments be,
      If thou refuse thy Johnnie!


    To see thee in anither's arms,
      In love to lie and languish,
    'Twad be my dead, that will be seen,
      My heart wad burst wi' anguish.


    But, Jeanie, say thou wilt be mine,
      Say, thou lo'es nane before me;
    And a' my days o' life to come
      I'll gratefully adore thee.
          Beyond thee, dearie, beyond thee, dearie,
            And O, to be lying beyond thee;
          O sweetly, soundly, weel may he sleep
            That's laid in the bed beyond thee!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Cock up your beaver._"

["Printed," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "in the Musical Museum, but not
with Burns's name." It is an old song, eked out and amended by the
poet: all the last verse, save the last line, is his; several of the
lines too of the first verse, have felt his amending hand: he
communicated it to the Museum.]


    When first my brave Johnnie lad
      Came to this town,
    He had a blue bonnet
      That wanted the crown;
    But now he has gotten
      A hat and a feather,--
    Hey, brave Johnnie lad,
      Cock up your beaver!


    Cock up your beaver,
      And cock it fu' sprush,
    We'll over the border
      And gie them a brush;
    There's somebody there
      We'll teach better behaviour--
    Hey, brave Johnnie lad,
      Cock up your beaver!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_My tocher's the jewel._"

[These verses were written by Burns for the Museum, to an air by
Oswald: but he wished them to be sung to a tune called "Lord Elcho's
favourite," of which he was an admirer.]


    O Meikle thinks my luve o' my beauty,
      And meikle thinks my luve o' my kin;
    But little thinks my luve I ken brawlie
      My tocher's the jewel has charms for him.
    It's a' for the apple he'll nourish the tree;
      It's a' for the hiney he'll cherish the bee;
    My laddie's sae meikle in luve wi' the siller,
      He canna hae lure to spare for me.


    Your proffer o' luve's an airl-penny,
      My tocher's the bargain ye wad buy;
    But an ye be crafty, I am cunnin',
      Sae ye wi' anither your fortune maun try.
    Ye're like to the timmer o' yon rotten tree,
      Ye'll slip frae me like a knotless thread,
    And ye'll crack your credit wi' mae nor me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Gudewife count the lawin._"

[The air as well as words of this song were furnished to the Museum by
Burns. "The chorus," he says, "is part of an old song."]


    Gane is the day, and mirk's the night,
    But we'll ne'er stray for fau't o' light,
    For ale and brandy's stars and moon,
    And blude-red wine's the rising sun.
        Then gudewife count the lawin,
          The lawin, the lawin;
        Then gudewife count the lawin,
          And bring a coggie mair!


    There's wealth and ease for gentlemen,
    And simple folk maun fight and fen;
    But here we're a' in ae accord,
    For ilka man that's drunk's a lord.


    My coggie is a haly pool,
    That heals the wounds o' care and dool;
    And pleasure is a wanton trout,
    An' ye drink but deep ye'll find him out.
        Then gudewife count the lawin;
          The lawin, the lawin,
        Then gudewife count the lawin,
          And bring a coggie mair!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_There art few gude fellows when Willie's awa._"

[The bard was in one of his Jacobitical moods when he wrote this song.
The air is a well known one, called "There's few gude fellows when
Willie's awa." But of the words none, it is supposed, are


    By yon castle wa', at the close of the day,
    I heard a man sing, though his head it was gray;
    And as he was singing the tears down came,
    There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.
    The church is in ruins, the state is in jars;
    Delusions, oppressions, and murderous wars:
    We darena weel say't, though we ken wha's to blame,
    There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame!


    My seven braw sons for Jamie drew sword,
    And now I greet round their green beds in the yerd.
    It brak the sweet heart of my faithfu' auld dame--
    There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.
    Now life is a burthen that bows me down,
    Since I tint my bairns, and he tint his crown;
    But till my last moments my words are the same--
    There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The bonnie lad that's far awa._"

[This lamentation was written, it is said, in allusion to the
sufferings of Jean Armour, when her correspondence with Burns was
discovered by her family.]


    O how can I be blythe and glad,
      Or how can I gang brisk and braw,
    When the bonnie lad that I lo'e best
      Is o'er the hills and far awa?
    When the bonnie lad that I lo'e best
      Is o'er the hills and far awa.


    It's no the frosty winter wind,
      It's no the driving drift and snaw;
    But ay the tear comes in my e'e,
      To think on him that's far awa.
    But ay the tear comes in my e'e,
      To think on him that's far awa.


    My father pat me frae his door,
      My friends they line disown'd me a',
    But I hae ane will tak' my part,
      The bonnie lad that's far awa.
    But I hae ane will tak' my part,
      The bonnie lad that's far awa.


    A pair o' gloves he gae to me,
      And silken snoods he gae me twa;
    And I will wear them for his sake,
      The bonnie lad that's far awa.
    And I will wear them for his sake,
      The bonnie lad that's far awa.


    O weary Winter soon will pass,
      And spring will cleed the birken shaw;
    And my young babie will be born,
      And he'll be hame that's far awa.
    And my young babie will be born,
      And he'll be hame that's far awa.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I do confess thou art sae fair._"

["I do think," says Burns, in allusion to this song, "that I have
improved the simplicity of the sentiments by giving them a Scottish
dress." The original song is of great elegance and beauty: it was
written by Sir Robert Aytoun, secretary to Anne of Denmark, Queen of
James I.]


    I do confess thou art sae fair,
      I wad been o'er the lugs in love,
    Had I na found the slightest prayer
      That lips could speak thy heart could muve.
    I do confess thee sweet, but find
      Thou art sae thriftless o' thy sweets,
    Thy favours are the silly wind,
      That kisses ilka thing it meets.


    See yonder rose-bud, rich in dew,
      Amang its native briers sae coy;
    How sune it tines its scent and hue
      When pou'd and worn a common toy!
    Sic fate, ere lang, shall thee betide,
      Tho' thou may gaily bloom awhile;
    Yet sune thou shalt be thrown aside
      Like ony common weed and vile.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Yon wild mossy mountains._"

["This song alludes to a part of my private history, which is of no
consequence to the world to know." These are the words of Burns: he
sent the song to the Musical Museum; the heroine is supposed to be the
"Nannie," who dwelt near the Lugar.]


    Yon wild mossy mountains sae lofty and wide,
    That nurse in their bosom the youth o' the Clyde,
    Where the grouse lead their coveys thro' the heather to feed,
    And the shepherd tents his flock as he pipes on his reed.
      Where the grouse lead their coveys thro' the heather to feed,
      And the shepherd tents his flock as he pipes on his reed.


    Not Gowrie's rich valleys, nor Forth's sunny shores,
    To me hae the charms o' yon wild, mossy moors;
    For there, by a lanely and sequester'd stream,
    Resides a sweet lassie, my thought and my dream.
      For there, by a lanely and sequester'd stream,
      Resides a sweet lassie, my thought and my dream.


    Amang thae wild mountains shall still be my path,
    Ilk stream foaming down its ain green, narrow strath;
    For there, wi' my lassie, the day lang I rove,
    While o'er us unheeded flee the swift hours o' love.
      For there wi' my lassie, the day lang I rove,
      While o'er us unheeded flee the swift hours o' love.


    She is not the fairest, altho' she is fair;
    O' nice education but sma' is her share;
    Her parentage humble as humble can be;
    But I lo'e the dear lassie because she lo'es me.
      Her parentage humble as humble can be;
      But I lo'e the dear lassie because she lo'es me.


    To beauty what man but maun yield him a prize,
    In her armour of glances, and blushes, and sighs?
    And when wit and refinement hae polish'd her darts,
    They dazzle our een as they flee to our hearts.
      And when wit and refinement hae polish'd her darts,
      They dazzle our een, as they flee to our hearts.


    But kindness, sweet kindness, in the fond sparkling e'e,
    Has lustre outshining the diamond to me:
    And the heart beating love as I'm clasp'd in her arms,
    O, these are my lassie's all-conquering charms!
      And the heart beating love as I'm clasp'd in her arms,
      O, these are my lassie's all-conquering charms!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Maid's Complaint._"

[Burns found this song in English attire, bestowed a Scottish dress
upon it, and published it in the Museum, together with the air by
Oswald, which is one of his best.]


    It is na, Jean, thy bonnie face,
      Nor shape that I admire,
    Altho' thy beauty and thy grace
      Might weel awake desire.
    Something in ilka part o' thee,
      To praise, to love, I find;
    But dear as is thy form to me,
      Still dearer is thy mind.


    Nae mair ungen'rous wish I hae,
      Nor stronger in my breast,
    Than, if I canna mak thee sae,
      at least to see thee blest.
    Content am I, if heaven shall give
      But happiness to thee:
    And as wi' thee I'd wish to live,
      For thee I'd bear to die.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These verses were in latter years expanded by Burns into a song, for
the collection of Thomson: the song will be found in its place: the
variations are worthy of preservation.]


    When I think on the happy days
      I spent wi' you, my dearie;
    And now what lands between us lie,
      How can I be but eerie!


    How slow ye move, ye heavy hours,
      As ye were wae and weary!
    It was na sae ye glinted by,
      When I was wi' my dearie.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This presents another version of song LXV. Variations are to a poet
what changes are in the thoughts of a painter, and speak of fertility
of sentiment in both.]


    Whan I sleep I dream,
      Whan I wauk I'm eerie,
    Sleep I canna get,
      For thinkin' o' my dearie.


    Lanely night comes on,
      A' the house are sleeping,
    I think on the bonnie lad
      That has my heart a keeping.
        Ay waukin O, waukin ay and wearie,
          Sleep I canna get, for thinkin' o' my dearie.


    Lanely nights come on,
      A' the house are sleeping,
    I think on my bonnie lad,
      An' I blear my een wi' greetin'!
        Ay waukin, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These verses are to be found in a volume which may be alluded to
without being named, in which many of Burns's strains, some looser
than these, are to be found.]


    I murder hate by field or flood,
      Tho' glory's name may screen us:
    In wars at hame I'll spend my blood,
      Life-giving wars of Venus.


    The deities that I adore
      Are social Peace and Plenty,
    I'm better pleas'd to make one more,
      Than be the death of twenty.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These verses are in the museum; the first two are old, the concluding
one is by Burns.]


    O gude ale comes, and gude ale goes,
    Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
    Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon,
    Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.


    I had sax owsen in a pleugh,
    They drew a' weel eneugh,
    I sell'd them a' just ane by ane;
    Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.


    Gude ale hands me bare and busy,
    Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie,
    Stand i' the stool when I hae done,
    Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.
        O gude ale comes, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This is an old chaunt, out of which Burns brushed some loose
expressions, added the third and fourth verses, and sent it to the


    Robin shure in hairst,
      I shure wi' him,
    Fient a heuk had I,
      Yet I stack by him.


    I gaed up to Dunse,
      To warp a wab o' plaiden,
    At his daddie's yett,
      Wha met me but Robin.


    Was na Robin bauld,
      Tho' I was a cotter,
    Play'd me sic a trick,
      And me the eller's dochter?
          Robin share in hairst, &c.


    Robin promis'd me
      A' my winter vittle;
    Fient haet he had but three
      Goose feathers and a whittle.
          Robin share in hairst, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *



[A fourth verse makes the moon a witness to the endearments of these
lovers; but that planet sees more indiscreet matters than it is right
to describe.]


    As I came in by our gate end,
      As day was waxin' weary,
    O wha came tripping down the street,
      But Bonnie Peg my dearie!


    Her air sae sweet, and shape complete,
      Wi' nae proportion wanting;
    The Queen of Love did never move
      Wi' motion mair enchanting.


    Wi' linked hands, we took the sands
      A-down yon winding river;
    And, oh! that hour and broomy bower,
      Can I forget it ever?

       *       *       *       *       *



[This song in other days was a controversial one, and continued some
sarcastic allusions to Mother Rome and her brood of seven sacraments,
five of whom were illegitimate. Burns changed the meaning, and
published his altered version in the Museum.]


    Gudeen to you, Kimmer,
      And how do ye do?
    Hiccup, quo' Kimmer,
      The better that I'm fou.
        We're a' noddin, nid nid noddin,
        We're a' noddin, at our house at hame.


    Kate sits i' the neuk,
      Suppin hen broo;
    Deil tak Kate
      An' she be na noddin too!
        We're a' noddin, &c.


    How's a' wi' you, Kimmer,
      And how do ye fare?
    A pint o' the best o't,
      And twa pints mair.
        We're a' noddin, &c.


    How's a' wi' you, Kimmer,
      And how do ye thrive;
    How many bairns hae ye?
      Quo' Kimmer, I hae five.
        We're a' noddin, &c.


    Are they a' Johnie's?
      Eh! atweel no:
    Twa o' them were gotten
      When Johnie was awa.
        We're a noddin, &c.


    Cats like milk,
      And dogs like broo;
    Lads like lasses weel,
      And lasses lads too.
        We're a' noddin, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Major Graham._"

[Sir Harris Nicolas found these lines on Chloris among the papers of
Burns, and printed them in his late edition of the poet's works.]


    Ah, Chloris, since it may na be,
      That thou of love wilt hear;
    If from the lover thou maun flee,
      Yet let the friend be dear.


    Altho' I love my Chloris mair
      Than ever tongue could tell;
    My passion I will ne'er declare,
      I'll say, I wish thee well.


    Tho' a' my daily care thou art,
      And a' my nightly dream,
    I'll hide the struggle in my heart,
      And say it is esteem.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Eppie Macnab._"

["Published in the Museum," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "without any
name." Burns corrected some lines in the old song, which had more wit,
he said, than decency, and added others, and sent his amended version
to Johnson.]


    O saw ye my dearie, my Eppie M'Nab?
    O saw ye my dearie, my Eppie M'Nab?
    She's down in the yard, she's kissin' the laird,
    She winna come hame to her ain Jock Rab.
    O come thy ways to me, my Eppie M'Nab!
    O come thy ways to me, my Eppie M'Nab!
    Whate'er thou hast done, be it late, be it soon,
    Thou's welcome again to thy ain Jock Rab.


    What says she, my dearie, my Eppie M'Nab?
    What says she, my dearie, my Eppie M'Nab?
    She lets thee to wit, that she has thee forgot,
    And for ever disowns thee, her ain Jock Rab.
    O had I ne'er seen thee, my Eppie M'Nab!
    O had I ne'er seen thee, my Eppie M'Nab!
    As light as the air, and fause as thou's fair,
    Thou's broken the heart o' thy ain Jock Rab.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Lass an I come near thee._"

[The "Auld man and the Widow," in Ramsay's collection is said, by
Gilbert Burns, to have suggested this song to his brother: it first
appeared in the Museum.]


    Wha is that at my bower door?
      O, wha is it but Findlay?
    Then gae your gate, ye'se nae be here!--
      Indeed, maun I, quo' Findlay.
    What mak ye sae like a thief?
      O come and see, quo' Findlay;
    Before the morn ye'll work mischief;
      Indeed will I, quo' Findlay.


    Gif I rise and let you in?
      Let me in, quo' Findlay;
    Ye'll keep me waukin wi' your din;
      Indeed will I, quo' Findlay.
    In my bower if you should stay?
      Let me stay, quo' Findlay;
    I fear ye'll bide till break o' day;
      Indeed will I, quo' Findlay.


    Here this night if ye remain;--
      I'll remain, quo' Findlay;
    I dread ye'll learn the gate again;
      Indeed will I, quo' Findlay.
    What may pass within this bower,--
      Let it pass, quo' Findlay;
    Ye maun conceal till your last hour;
      Indeed will I, quo' Findlay!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_What can a young lassie do wi' an auld man._"

[In the old strain, which partly suggested this song, the heroine
threatens only to adorn her husband's brows: Burns proposes a system
of domestic annoyance to break his heart.]


    What can a young lassie, what shall a young lassie,
      What can a young lassie do wi' an auld man?
    Bad luck on the pennie that tempted my minnie
      To sell her poor Jenny for siller an' lan'!
    Bad luck on the pennie that tempted my minnie
      To sell her poor Jenny for siller an' lan'!


    He's always compleenin' frae mornin' to e'enin',
      He hosts and he hirples the weary day lang;
    He's doyl't and he's dozin', his bluid it is frozen,
      O, dreary's the night wi' a crazy auld man!
    He's doyl't and he's dozin', his bluid it is frozen,
      O, dreary's the night wi' a crazy auld man!


    He hums and he hankers, he frets and he cankers,
      I never can please him, do a' that I can;
    He's peevish and jealous of a' the young fellows:
      O, dool on the day I met wi' an auld man!
    He's peevish and jealous of a' the young fellows:
      O, dool on the day I met wi' an auld man!


    My auld auntie Katie upon me takes pity,
      I'll do my endeavour to follow her plan;
    I'll cross him, and wrack him, until I heart-break him,
      And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan.
    I'll cross him, and wrack him, until I heart-break him,
    And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bonnie wee thing._"

["Composed," says the poet, "on my little idol, the charming, lovely


    Bonnie wee thing, cannie wee thing,
      Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine,
    I wad wear thee in my bosom,
      Lest my jewel I should tine.
    Wishfully I look and languish
      In that bonnie face o' thine;
    And my heart it stounds wi' anguish,
      Lest my wee thing be na mine.


    Wit, and grace, and love, and beauty
      In ae constellation shine;
    To adore thee is my duty,
      Goddess o' this soul o' mine!
    Bonnie wee thing, cannie wee thing.
      Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine,
    I wad wear thee in my bosom,
      Lest my jewel I should tine!

       *       *       *       *       *



_To a Highland Air._

["The tune of this song," says Burns, "is originally from the
Highlands. I have heard a Gaelic song to it, which was not by any
means a lady's song." "It occurs," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "in the
Museum, without the name of Burns." It was sent in the poet's own
handwriting to Johnson, and is believed to be his composition.]


          The tither morn,
          When I forlorn,
    Aneath an oak sat moaning,
          I did na trow
          I'd see my Jo,
    Beside me, gain the gloaming.
          But he sae trig,
          Lap o'er the rig.
    And dawtingly did cheer me,
          When I, what reck,
          Did least expec',
    To see my lad so near me.


          His bonnet he,
          A thought ajee,
    Cock'd sprush when first he clasp'd me;
          And I, I wat,
          Wi' fainness grat,
    While in his grips be press'd me.
          Deil tak' the war!
          I late and air
    Hae wish'd since Jock departed;
          But now as glad
          I'm wi' my lad,
    As short syne broken-hearted.


          Fu' aft at e'en
          Wi' dancing keen,
    When a' were blythe and merry,
          I car'd na by,
          Sae sad was I
    In absence o' my dearie.
          But praise be blest,
          My mind's at rest,
    I'm happy wi' my Johnny:
          At kirk and fair,
          I'se ay be there,
    And be as canty's ony.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Rory Dall's Port._"

[Believed to relate to the poet's parting with Clarinda. "These
exquisitely affecting stanzas," says Scott, "contain the essence of a
thousand love-tales." They are in the Museum.]


    Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
    Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
    Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
    Who shall say that fortune grieves him
    While the star of hope she leaves him?
    Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me;
    Dark despair around benights me.


    I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
    Naething could resist my Nancy;
    But to see her, was to love her;
    Love but her, and love for ever.--
    Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
    Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
    Never met--or never parted,
    We had ne'er been broken hearted.


    Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
    Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
    Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
    Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
    Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae farewell, alas! for ever!
    Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
    Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Miss Muir._"

[Written for the Museum, in honour of the witty, the handsome, the
lovely, and unfortunate Miss Davies.]


    O how shall I, unskilfu', try
      The poet's occupation,
    The tunefu' powers, in happy hours,
      That whispers inspiration?
    Even they maun dare an effort mair,
      Than aught they ever gave us,
    Or they rehearse, in equal verse,
      The charms o' lovely Davies.
    Each eye it cheers, when she appears,
      Like Phoebus in the morning.
    When past the shower, and ev'ry flower
      The garden is adorning.
    As the wretch looks o'er Siberia's shore,
      When winter-bound the wave is;
    Sae droops our heart when we maun part
      Frae charming lovely Davies.


    Her smile's a gift, frae 'boon the lift,
      That maks us mair than princes;
    A scepter'd hand, a king's command,
      Is in her darting glances:
    The man in arms, 'gainst female charms,
      Even he her willing slave is;
    He hugs his chain, and owns the reign
      Of conquering, lovely Davies.
    My muse to dream of such a theme,
      Her feeble pow'rs surrender:
    The eagle's gaze alone surveys
      The sun's meridian splendour:
    I wad in vain essay the strain,
      The deed too daring brave is!
    I'll drap the lyre, and mute admire
      The charms o' lovely Davies.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The weary Pund o' Tow._"

["This song," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "is in the Musical Museum; but
it is not attributed to Burns. Mr. Allan Cunningham does not state
upon what authority he has assigned it to Burns." The critical knight
might have, if he had pleased, stated similar objections to many songs
which he took without scruple from my edition, where they were claimed
for Burns, for the first time, and on good authority. I, however, as
it happens, did not claim the song wholly for the poet: I said "the
idea of the song is old, and perhaps some of the words." It was sent
by Burns to the Museum, and in his own handwriting.]


    The weary pund, the weary pund,
      The weary pund o' tow:
    I think my wife will end her life
      Before she spin her tow.
    I bought my wife a stane o' lint
      As gude as e'er did grow;
    And a' that she has made o' that,
      Is ae poor pund o' tow.


    There sat a bottle in a bole,
      Beyont the ingle low,
    And ay she took the tither souk,
      To drouk the stowrie tow.


    Quoth I, for shame, ye dirty dame,
      Gae spin your tap o' tow!
    She took the rock, and wi' a knock
      She brak it o'er my pow.


    At last her feet--I sang to see't--
      Gaed foremost o'er the knowe;
    And or I wad anither jad,
      I'll wallop in a tow.
          The weary pund, the weary pund,
            The weary pund o' tow!
          I think my wife will end her life
            Before she spin her tow.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Burns had built his house at Ellisland, sowed his first crop, the
woman he loved was at his side, and hope was high; no wonder that he
indulged in this independent strain.]


    I hae a wife o' my ain--
      I'll partake wi' naebody;
    I'll tak cuckold frae nane,
      I'll gie cuckold to naebody.
    I hae a penny to spend,
      There--thanks to naebody;
    I hae naething to lend,
      I'll borrow frae naebody.


    I am naebody's lord--
      I'll be slave to naebody;
    I hae a guid braid sword,
      I'll tak dunts frae naebody.
    I'll be merry and free,
      I'll be sad for naebody;
    Naebody cares for me,
      I'll care for naebody.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Moudiewort._"

[In his memoranda on this song in the Museum, Burns says simply, "This
song is mine." The air for a century before had to bear the burthen of
very ordinary words.]


    An O, for ane-and-twenty, Tam,
      An' hey, sweet ane-and-twenty, Tam,
    I'll learn my kin a rattlin' sang,
      An I saw ane-and-twenty, Tam.


    They snool me sair, and haud me down,
      And gar me look like bluntie, Tam!
    But three short years will soon wheel roun'--
      And then comes ane-and-twenty, Tam.


    A gleib o' lan', a claut o' gear,
      Was left me by my auntie, Tam,
    At kith or kin I need na spier,
      An I saw ane-and-twenty, Tam.


    They'll hae me wed a wealthy coof,
      Tho' I mysel' hae plenty, Tam;
    But hear'st thou, laddie--there's my loof--
      I'm thine at ane-and-twenty, Tam.
        An O, for ane-and-twenty, Tam!
          An hey, sweet ane-and-twenty, Tam!
        I'll learn my kin a rattlin' song,
          An I saw ane-and-twenty, Tam.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_O Kenmure's on and awa, Willie._"

[The second and third, and concluding verses of this Jacobite strain,
were written by Burns: the whole was sent in his own handwriting to
the Museum.]


    O Kenmure's on and awa, Willie!
      O Kenmure's on and awa!
    And Kenmure's lord's the bravest lord,
      That ever Galloway saw.


    Success to Kenmure's band, Willie!
      Success to Kenmure's band;
    There's no a heart that fears a Whig,
      That rides by Kenmure's hand.


    Here's Kenmure's health in wine, Willie!
      Here's Kenmure's health in wine;
    There ne'er was a coward o' Kenmure's blude,
      Nor yet o' Gordon's line.


    O Kenmure's lads are men, Willie!
      O Kenmure's lads are men;
    Their hearts and swords are metal true--
      And that their faes shall ken.


    They'll live or die wi' fame, Willie!
      They'll live or die wi' fame;
    But soon wi' sounding victorie,
      May Kenmure's lord come hame.


    Here's him that's far awa, Willie,
      Here's him that's far awa;
    And here's the flower that I love best--
      The rose that's like the snaw!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Collier Laddie._"

[The Collier Laddie was communicated by Burns, and in his handwriting,
to the Museum: it is chiefly his own composition, though coloured by
an older strain.]


    Where live ye, my bonnie lass?
      An' tell me what they ca' ye;
    My name, she says, is Mistress Jean,
      And I follow the Collier Laddie.
    My name she says, is Mistress Jean,
      And I follow the Collier Laddie.


    See you not yon hills and dales,
      The sun shines on sae brawlie!
    They a' are mine, and they shall be thine,
      Gin ye'll leave your Collier Laddie.
    They a' are mine, and they shall be thine,
      Gin ye'll leave your Collier Laddie.


    Ye shall gang in gay attire,
      Weel buskit up sae gaudy;
    And ane to wait on every hand,
      Gin ye'll leave your Collier Laddie.
    And ane to wait on every hand,
      Gin ye'll leave your Collier Laddie.


    Tho' ye had a' the sun shines on,
      And the earth conceals sae lowly;
    I wad turn my back on you and it a',
      And embrace my Collier Laddie.
    I wad turn my back on you and it a',
      And embrace my Collier Laddie.


    I can win my five pennies a day,
      And spen't at night fu' brawlie;
    And make my bed in the Collier's neuk,
      And lie down wi' my Collier Laddie.
    And make my bed in the Collier's neuk,
      And lie down wi' my Collier Laddie.


    Luve for luve is the bargain for me,
      Tho' the wee cot-house should haud me;
    And the world before me to win my bread,
      And fair fa' my Collier Laddie.
    And the world before me to win my bread,
      And fair fa' my Collier Laddie.

       *       *       *       *       *



[These verses were written by Burns for the Museum: the Maxwells of
Terreagles are the lineal descendants of the Earls of Nithsdale.]


    The noble Maxwells and their powers
      Are coming o'er the border,
    And they'll gae bigg Terreagle's towers,
      An' set them a' in order.
    And they declare Terreagles fair,
      For their abode they chuse it;
    There's no a heart in a' the land,
      But's lighter at the news o't.


    Tho' stars in skies may disappear,
      And angry tempests gather;
    The happy hour may soon be near
      That brings us pleasant weather:
    The weary night o' care and grief
      May hae a joyful morrow;
    So dawning day has brought relief--
      Fareweel our night o' sorrow!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Rinn Meudial mo Mhealladh._"

[The original song in the Gaelic language was translated for Burns by
an Inverness-shire lady; he turned it into verse, and sent it to the


    As I was a-wand'ring ae midsummer e'enin',
      The pipers and youngsters were making their game;
    Amang them I spied my faithless fause lover,
      Which bled a' the wound o' my dolour again.
    Weel, since he has left me, may pleasure gae wi' him;
      I may be distress'd, but I winna complain;
    I flatter my fancy I may get anither,
      My heart it shall never be broken for ane.


    I could na get sleeping till dawin for greetin',
      The tears trickled down like the hail and the rain:
    Had I na got greetin', my heart wad a broken,
      For, oh! luve forsaken's a tormenting pain.


    Although he has left me for greed o' the siller,
      I dinna envy him the gains he can win;
    I rather wad bear a' the lade o' my sorrow
      Than ever hae acted sae faithless to him.
    Weel, since he has left me, may pleasure gae wi' him,
      I may be distress'd, but I winna complain;
    I flatter my fancy I may get anither,
      My heart it shall never be broken for ane.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The sweet lass that lo'es me._"

[There are several variations of this song, but they neither affect
the sentiment, nor afford matter for quotation.]


    O leeze me on my spinning-wheel,
    O leeze me on the rock and reel;
    Frae tap to tae that cleeds me bien,
    And haps me fiel and warm at e'en!
    I'll set me down and sing and spin,
    While laigh descends the simmer sun,
    Blest wi' content, and milk and meal--
    O leeze me on my spinning-wheel!


    On ilka hand the burnies trot,
    And meet below my theekit cot;
    The scented birk and hawthorn white,
    Across the pool their arms unite,
    Alike to screen the birdie's nest,
    And little fishes' caller rest:
    The sun blinks kindly in the biel',
    Where blithe I turn my spinning-wheel.


    On lofty aiks the cushats wail,
    And Echo cons the doolfu' tale;
    The lintwhites in the hazel braes,
    Delighted, rival ither's lays:
    The craik amang the clover hay,
    The paitrick whirrin o'er the ley,
    The swallow jinkin round my shiel,
    Amuse me at my spinning-wheel.


    Wi' sma' to sell, and less to buy,
    Aboon distress, below envy,
    O wha wad leave this humble state,
    For a' the pride of a' the great?
    Amid their flaring, idle toys,
    Amid their cumbrous, dinsome joys,
    Can they the peace and pleasure feel
    Of Bessy at her spinning-wheel?

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Posie._"

["The Posie is my composition," says Burns, in a letter to Thomson.
"The air was taken down from Mrs. Burns's voice." It was first printed
in the Museum.]


    O luve will venture in
      Where it daurna weel be seen;
    O luve will venture in
      Where wisdom ance has been.
    But I will down yon river rove,
      Among the wood sae green--
    And a' to pu' a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    The primrose I will pu',
      The firstling o' the year,
    And I will pu' the pink,
      The emblem o' my dear,
    For she's the pink o' womankind,
      And blooms without a peer--
    And a' to be a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    I'll pu' the budding rose,
      When Phoebus peeps in view,
    For it's like a baumy kiss
      O' her sweet bonnie mou';
    The hyacinth's for constancy,
      Wi' its unchanging blue--
    And a' to be a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    The lily it is pure,
      And the lily it is fair,
    And in her lovely bosom
      I'll place the lily there;
    The daisy's for simplicity,
      And unaffected air--
    And a' to be a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    The hawthorn I will pu'
      Wi' its locks o' siller gray,
    Where, like an aged man,
      It stands at break of day.
    But the songster's nest within the bush
      I winna tak away--
    And a' to be a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    The woodbine I will pu'
      When the e'ening star is near,
    And the diamond drops o' dew
      Shall be her e'en sae clear;
    The violet's for modesty,
      Which weel she fa's to wear,
    And a' to be a posie
      To my ain dear May.


    I'll tie the posie round,
      Wi' the silken band o' luve,
    And I'll place it in her breast,
      And I'll swear by a' above,
    That to my latest draught of life
      The band shall ne'er remove,
    And this will be a posie
      To my ain dear May.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Country Lass._"

[A manuscript copy before me, in the poet's handwriting, presents two
or three immaterial variations of this dramatic song.]


    In simmer, when the hay was mawn,
      And corn wav'd green in ilka field,
    While claver blooms white o'er the lea,
      And roses blaw in ilka bield;
    Blithe Bessie in the milking shiel,
      Says--I'll be wed, come o't what will;
    Out spak a dame in wrinkled eild--
      O' guid advisement comes nae ill.


    It's ye hae wooers mony ane,
      And, lassie, ye're but young ye ken;
    Then wait a wee, and cannie wale,
      A routhie butt, a routhie ben:
    There's Johnie o' the Buskie-glen,
      Fu' is his burn, fu' is his byre;
    Tak this frae me, my bonnie hen,
      It's plenty beets the luver's fire.


    For Johnie o' the Buskie-glen,
      I dinna care a single flie;
    He lo'es sae weel his craps and kye,
      He has nae luve to spare for me:
    But blithe's the blink o' Robie's e'e,
      And weel I wat he lo'es me dear:
    Ae blink o' him I wad nae gie
      For Buskie-glen and a' his gear.


    O thoughtless lassie, life's a faught;
      The canniest gate, the strife is sair;
    But ay fu' han't is fechtin best,
      An hungry care's an unco care:
    But some will spend, and some will spare,
      An' wilfu' folk maun hae their will;
    Syne as ye brew, my maiden fair,
      Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill.


    O, gear will buy me rigs o' land,
      And gear will buy me sheep and kye;
    But the tender heart o' leesome luve,
      The gowd and siller canna buy;
    We may be poor--Robie and I,
      Light is the burden luve lays on;
    Content and luve brings peace and joy--
      What mair hae queens upon a throne?

       *       *       *       *       *



_A Gaelic Air._

[The name of the heroine of this song was at first Rabina: but
Johnson, the publisher, alarmed at admitting something new into verse,
caused Eliza to be substituted; which was a positive fraud; for Rabina
was a real lady, and a lovely one, and Eliza one of air.]


    Turn again, thou fair Eliza,
      Ae kind blink before we part,
    Rue on thy despairing lover!
      Canst thou break his faithfu' heart?
    Turn again, thou fair Eliza;
      If to love thy heart denies,
    For pity hide the cruel sentence
      Under friendship's kind disguise!


    Thee, dear maid, hae I offended?
      The offence is loving thee:
    Canst thou wreck his peace for ever,
      Wha for time wad gladly die?
    While the life beats in my bosom,
      Thou shalt mix in ilka throe;
    Turn again, thou lovely maiden.
      Ae sweet smile on me bestow.


    Not the bee upon the blossom,
      In the pride o' sunny noon;
    Not the little sporting fairy,
      All beneath the simmer moon;
    Not the poet, in the moment
      Fancy lightens in his e'e,
    Kens the pleasure, feels the rapture,
      That thy presence gies to me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Ye Jacobites by name._"

["Ye Jacobites by name," appeared for the first time in the Museum: it
was sent in the handwriting of Burns.]


    Ye Jacobites by name, give and ear, give an ear;
      Ye Jacobites by name, give an ear;
        Ye Jacobites by name,
          Your fautes I will proclaim,
            Your doctrines I maun blame--
              You shall hear.


    What is right, and what is wrang, by the law, by the law?
      What is right and what is wrang, by the law?
        What is right and what is wrang?
          A short sword, and a lang,
            A weak arm, and a strang
              For to draw.


    What makes heroic strife, fam'd afar, fam'd afar?
      What makes heroic strife, fam'd afar?
        What makes heroic strife?
          To whet th' assassin's knife,
            Or hunt a parent's life
              Wi' bluidie war.


    Then let your schemes alone, in the state, in the state;
      Then let your schemes alone in the state;
        Then let your schemes alone,
          Adore the rising sun,
            And leave a man undone
              To his fate.

       *       *       *       *       *




[An Ayrshire legend says the heroine of this affecting song was Miss
Kennedy, of Dalgarrock, a young creature, beautiful and accomplished,
who fell a victim to her love for her kinsman, McDoual, of Logan.]


    Ye flowery banks o' bonnie Doon,
      How can ye bloom sae fair;
    How can ye chant, ye little birds,
      And I sae fu' o' care!


    Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird,
      That sings upon the bough;
    Thou minds me o' the happy days
      When my fause love was true.


    Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird,
      That sings beside thy mate;
    For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
      And wist na o' my fate.


    Aft hae I rov'd by bonnie Doon,
      To see the woodbine twine,
    And ilka bird sang o' its love;
      And sae did I o' mine.


    Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
      Frae aff its thorny tree:
    And my fause luver staw the rose,
      But left the thorn wi' me.

       *       *       *       *       *




Tune--"_Caledonian Hunt's Delight._"

[Burns injured somewhat the simplicity of the song by adapting it to a
new air, accidentally composed by an amateur who was directed, if he
desired to create a Scottish air, to keep his fingers to the black
keys of the harpsichord and preserve rhythm.]


    Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
      How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair;
    How can ye chant, ye little birds,
      And I sae weary, fu' o' care!
    Thou'lt break my heart, thou warbling bird,
      That wantons thro' the flowering thorn:
    Thou minds me o' departed joys,
      Departed--never to return!


    Aft hae I rov'd by bonnie Doon,
      To see the rose and woodbine twine;
    And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
      And fondly sae did I o' mine.
    Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
      Fu' sweet upon its thorny tree;
    And my fause luver stole my rose,
      But, ah! he left the thorn wi' me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The eight men of Moidart._"

[The person who is raised to the disagreeable elevation of heroine of
this song, was, it is said, a farmer's wife of the old school of
domestic care and uncleanness, who lived nigh the poet, at Ellisland.]


    Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed,
      The spot they call'd it Linkum-doddie.
    Willie was a wabster guid,
      Cou'd stown a clue wi' onie bodie;
    He had a wife was dour and din,
      O Tinkler Madgie was her mither;
    Sic a wife as Willie had,
      I wad nae gie a button for her.


    She has an e'e--she has but ane,
      The cat has twa the very colour;
    Five rusty teeth, forbye a stump,
      A clapper-tongue wad deave a miller:
    A whiskin' beard about her mou',
      Her nose and chin they threaten ither--
    Sic a wife as Willie had,
      I wad nae gie a button for her.


    She's bow hough'd, she's hem shinn'd,
      A limpin' leg, a hand-breed shorter;
    She's twisted right, she's twisted left,
      To balance fair in ilka quarter:
    She has a hump upon her breast,
      The twin o' that upon her shouther--
    Sic a wife as Willie had,
      I wad nae gie a button for her.


    Auld baudrans by the ingle sits,
      An' wi' her loof her face a-washin';
    But Willie's wife is nae sae trig,
      She dights her grunzie wi' a hushion.
    Her walie nieves like midden-creels,
      Her face wad fyle the Logan-Water--
    Sic a wife as Willie had,
      I wad nae gie a button for her.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Craigtown's growing._"

[The poet sent this song to the Museum, in his own handwriting: yet
part of it is believed to be old; how much cannot be well known, with
such skill has he made his interpolations and changes.]


    O, Lady Mary Ann
      Looks o'er the castle wa',
    She saw three bonnie boys
      Playing at the ba';
    The youngest he was
      The flower amang them a'--
    My bonnie laddie's young,
      But he's growin' yet.


    O father! O father!
      An' ye think it fit,
    We'll send him a year
      To the college yet:
    We'll sew a green ribbon
      Round about his hat,
    And that will let them ken
      He's to marry yet.


    Lady Mary Ann
      Was a flower i' the dew,
    Sweet was its smell,
      And bonnie was its hue;
    And the langer it blossom'd
      The sweeter it grew;
    For the lily in the bud
      Will be bonnier yet.


    Young Charlie Cochran
      Was the sprout of an aik;
    Bonnie and bloomin'
      And straught was its make:
    The sun took delight
      To shine for its sake,
    And it will be the brag
      O' the forest yet.


    The simmer is gane,
      When the leaves they were green,
    And the days are awa,
      That we hae seen;
    But far better days
      I trust will come again,
    For my bonnie laddie's young,
      But he's growin' yet.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune.--"_A parcel of rogues in a nation._"

[This song was written by Burns in a moment of honest indignation at
the northern scoundrels who sold to those of the south the
independence of Scotland, at the time of the Union.]


    Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
      Fareweel our ancient glory,
    Fareweel even to the Scottish name,
      Sae fam'd in martial story.
    Now Sark rins o'er the Solway sands,
      And Tweed rins to the ocean,
    To mark where England's province stands--
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.


    What force or guile could not subdue,
      Thro' many warlike ages,
    Is wrought now by a coward few
      For hireling traitor's wages.
    The English steel we could disdain;
      Secure in valour's station;
    But English gold has been our bane--
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.


    O would, or I had seen the day
      That treason thus could sell us,
    My auld gray head had lien in clay,
      Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
    But pith and power, till my last hour,
      I'll mak' this declaration;
    We've bought and sold for English gold--
      Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Kellyburn Braes._"

[Of this song Mrs. Burns said to Cromek, when running her finger over
the long list of lyrics which her husband had written or amended for
the Museum, "Robert gae this one a terrible brushing." A considerable
portion of the old still remains.]


    There lived a carle on Kellyburn braes,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    And he had a wife was the plague o' his days;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    Ae day as the carle gaed up the lang glen,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    He met wi' the devil; says, "How do yow fen?"
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    "I've got a bad wife, sir; that's a' my complaint;
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    For, saving your presence, to her ye're a saint;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime."


    "It's neither your stot nor your staig I shall crave,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    But gie me your wife, man, for her I must have,
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime."


    "O welcome, most kindly," the blythe carle said,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    "But if ye can match her, ye're waur nor ye're ca'd,
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime."


    The devil has got the auld wife on his back;
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    And, like a poor pedlar, he's carried his pack;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    He's carried her hame to his ain hallan-door;
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme).
    Syne bade her gae in, for a b--h and a w--e,
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    Then straight he makes fifty, the pick o' his band,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    Turn out on her guard in the clap of a hand;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    The carlin gaed thro' them like ony wud bear,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    Whate'er she gat hands on cam near her nae mair;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    A reekit wee devil looks over the wa';
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    "O, help, master, help, or she'll ruin us a',
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime."


    The devil he swore by the edge o' his knife,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    He pitied the man that was tied to a wife;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    The devil he swore by the kirk and the bell,
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    He was not in wedlock, thank heav'n, but in hell;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    Then Satan has travelled again wi' his pack;
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    And to her auld husband he's carried her back:
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime.


    "I hae been a devil the feck o' my life;
      (Hey, and the rue grows bonnie wi' thyme),
    But ne'er was in hell, till I met wi' a wife;
      And the thyme it is wither'd, and rue is in prime."

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Jockey's ta'en the parting kiss._"

[Burns, when he sent this song to the Museum, said nothing of its
origin: and he is silent about it in his memoranda.]


    Jockey's ta'en the parting kiss,
      O'er the mountains he is gane;
    And with him is a' my bliss,
      Nought but griefs with me remain.
    Spare my luve, ye winds that blaw,
      Plashy sleets and beating rain!
    Spare my luve, thou feathery snaw,
      Drifting o'er the frozen plain.


    When the shades of evening creep
      O'er the day's fair, gladsome e'e,
    Sound and safely may he sleep,
      Sweetly blithe his waukening be!
    He will think on her he loves,
      Fondly he'll repeat her name;
    For where'er he distant roves,
      Jockey's heart is still at hame.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Ruffian's Rant._"

[Communicated to the Museum in the handwriting of Burns: part, but not
much, is believed to be old.]


    A' the lads o' Thornie-bank,
      When they gae to the shore o' Bucky,
    They'll step in an' tak' a pint
      Wi' Lady Onlie, honest Lucky!
        Lady Onlie, honest Lucky!
          Brews good ale at shore o' Bucky;
        I wish her sale for her gude ale,
          The best on a' the shore o' Bucky.


    Her house sae bien, her curch sae clean,
      I wat she is a dainty chucky;
    And cheerlie blinks the ingle-gleed
      Of Lady Onlie, honest Lucky!
        Lady Onlie, honest Lucky,
          Brews good ale at shore o' Bucky
        I wish her sale for her gude ale,
          The best on a' the shore o' Bucky.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Captain O'Kean._"

["Composed," says Burns to M'Murdo, "at the desire of a friend who had
an equal enthusiasm for the air and subject." The friend alluded to is
supposed to be Robert Cleghorn: he loved the air much, and he was much
of a Jacobite.]


    The small birds rejoice in the green leaves returning,
      The murmuring streamlet winds clear thro' the vale;
    The hawthorn trees blow in the dew of the morning,
      And wild scatter'd cowslips bedeck the green dale:
    But what can give pleasure, or what can seem fair,
      While the lingering moments are number'd by care?
    No flow'rs gaily springing, nor birds sweetly singing,
      Can soothe the sad bosom of joyless despair.


    The deed that I dared, could it merit their malice,
      A king and a father to place on his throne?
    His right are these hills, and his right are these valleys,
      Where the wild beasts find shelter, but I can find none;
    But 'tis not my sufferings thus wretched, forlorn:
      My brave gallant friends! 'tis your ruin I mourn;
    Your deeds proved so loyal in hot-bloody trial--
      Alas! I can make you no sweeter return!

       *       *       *       *       *



Air--"_Oran an Aoig._"

["I have just finished the following song," says Burns to Mrs. Dunlop,
"which to a lady, the descendant of Wallace, and herself the mother of
several soldiers, needs neither preface nor apology."]

_Scene_--A field of battle. Time of the day, evening. The wounded and
dying of the victorious army are supposed to join in the following


    Farewell, thou fair day, thou green earth, and ye skies,
      Now gay with the bright setting sun;
    Farewell loves and friendships, ye dear tender ties--
      Our race of existence is run!


    Thou grim king of terrors, thou life's gloomy foe!
      Go frighten the coward and slave;
    Go, teach them to tremble, fell tyrant! but know,
      No terrors hast thou to the brave!


    Thou strik'st the dull peasant--he sinks in the dark,
      Nor saves e'en the wreck of a name;
    Thou strik'st the young hero--a glorious mark!
      He falls in the blaze of his fame!


    In the field of proud honour--our swords in our hands,
      Our king and our country to save--
    While victory shines on life's last ebbing sands,
      Oh! who would not die with the brave!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Afton Water._"

[The scenes on Afton Water are beautiful, and the poet felt them, as
well as the generous kindness of his earliest patroness, Mrs. General
Stewart, of Afton-lodge, when he wrote this sweet pastoral.]


    Flow gently, sweet Afton! among thy green braes,
    Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
    My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream--
    Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.


    Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds thro' the glen;
    Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den;
    Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear--
    I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.


    How lofty, sweet Afton! thy neighbouring hills,
    Far mark'd with the courses of clear, winding rills;
    There daily I wander as noon rises high,
    My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.


    How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
    Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow!
    There, oft as mild evening weeps over the lea,
    The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.


    Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
    And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
    How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
    As gathering sweet flow'rets she stems thy clear wave.


    Flow gently, sweet Afton! among thy green braes,
    Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays!
    My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream--
    Flow gently, sweet Afton! disturb not her dream.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Bonnie Bell._"

["Bonnie Bell," was first printed in the Museum: who the heroine was
the poet has neglected to tell us, and it is a pity.]


    The smiling Spring comes in rejoicing,
      And surly Winter grimly flies;
    Now crystal clear are the falling waters,
      And bonnie blue are the sunny skies;
    Fresh o'er the mountains breaks forth the morning,
      The ev'ning gilds the ocean's swell;
    All creatures joy in the sun's returning,
      And I rejoice in my bonnie Bell.


    The flowery Spring leads sunny Summer,
      And yellow Autumn presses near,
    Then in his turn comes gloomy Winter,
      Till smiling Spring again appear.
    Thus Seasons dancing, life advancing,
      Old Time and Nature their changes tell,
    But never ranging, still unchanging,
      I adore my bonnie Bell.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Hey ca' thro'._"

[Communicated to the Museum by Burns in his own handwriting: part of
it is his composition, and some believe the whole.]


    Up wi' the carles o' Dysart,
      And the lads o' Buckhaven,
    And the kimmers o' Largo,
      And the lasses o' Leven.
          Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',
            For we hae mickle ado;
          Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',
            For we hae mickle ado.


    We hae tales to tell,
      And we hae sangs to sing;
    We hae pennies to spend,
      And we hae pints to bring.


    We'll live a' our days,
      And them that come behin',
    Let them do the like,
      And spend the gear they win.
          Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',
            For we hae mickle ado,
          Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',
            For we hae mickle ado.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Weavers' March._"

[Sent by the poet to the Museum. Neither tradition nor criticism has
noticed it, but the song is popular among the looms, in the west of


    Where Cart rins rowin to the sea,
    By mony a flow'r and spreading tree,
    There lives a lad, the lad for me,
        He is a gallant weaver.
    Oh, I had wooers aught or nine,
    They gied me rings and ribbons fine;
    And I was fear'd my heart would tine,
        And I gied it to the weaver.


    My daddie sign'd my tocher-band,
    To gie the lad that has the land;
    But to my heart I'll add my hand,
        And gie it to the weaver.
    While birds rejoice in leafy bowers;
    While bees delight in op'ning flowers;
    While corn grows green in simmer showers,
        I'll love my gallant weaver.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The deuks dang o'er my daddie._"

[Burns found some of the sentiments and a few of the words of this
song in a strain, rather rough and home-spun, of Scotland's elder day.
He communicated it to the Museum.]


    The bairns gat out wi' an unco shout,
      The deuks dang o'er my daddie, O!
    The fien'-ma-care, quo' the feirrie auld wife,
      He was but a paidlin body, O!
    He paidles out, an' he paidles in,
      An' he paidles late an' early, O!
    This seven lang years I hae lien by his side,
      An' he is but a fusionless carlie, O!


    O, hand your tongue, my feirrie auld wife,
      O, haud your tongue, now Nansie, O!
    I've seen the day, and sae hae ye,
      Ye wadna been sae donsie, O!
    I've seen the day ye butter'd my brose,
      And cuddled me late and early, O!
    But downa do's come o'er me now,
      And, oh! I feel it sairly, O!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_She's fair and fause._"

[One of the happiest as well as the most sarcastic of the songs of the
North: the air is almost as happy as the words.]


    She's fair and fause that causes my smart,
      I lo'ed her meikle and lang;
    She's broken her vow, she's broken my heart,
      And I may e'en gae hang.
    A coof cam in wi' routh o' gear,
    And I hae tint my dearest dear;
    But woman is but warld's gear,
      Sae let the bonnie lass gang.


    Whae'er ye be that woman love,
      To this be never blind,
    Nae ferlie 'tis tho' fickle she prove,
      A woman has't by kind.
    O woman, lovely woman fair!
    An angel form's fa'n to thy share,
    'Twad been o'er meikle to gien thee mair--
      I mean an angel mind.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Deil cam' fiddling through the town._"

[Composed and sung by the poet at a festive meeting of the excisemen
of the Dumfries district.]


    The deil cam' fiddling through the town,
      And danced awa wi' the Exciseman,
    And ilka wife cries--"Auld Mahoun,
      I wish you luck o' the prize, man!"
        The deil's awa, the deil's awa,
          The deil's awa wi' the Exciseman;
        He's danc'd awa, he's danc'd awa,
          He's danc'd awa wi' the Exciseman!


    We'll mak our maut, we'll brew our drink,
      We'll dance, and sing, and rejoice, man;
    And mony braw thanks to the meikle black deil
      That danc'd awa wi' the Exciseman.


    There's threesome reels, there's foursome reels,
      There's hornpipes and strathspeys, man;
    But the ae best dance e'er cam to the land
      Was--the deil's awa wi' the Exciseman.
        The deil's awa, the deil's awa,
          The deil's awa wi' the Exciseman:
        He's danc'd awa, he's danc'd awa,
          He's danc'd awa wi' the Exciseman.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Lass of Inverness._"

[As Burns passed slowly over the moor of Culloden, in one of his
Highland tours, the lament of the Lass of Inverness, it is said, rose
on his fancy: the first four lines are partly old.]


    The lovely lass o' Inverness,
      Nae joy nor pleasure can she see;
    For e'en and morn, she cries, alas!
      And ay the saut tear blin's her e'e:
    Drumossie moor--Drumossie day--
      A waefu' day it was to me!
    For there I lost my father dear,
      My father dear, and brethren three.


    Their winding sheet the bluidy clay,
      Their graves are growing green to see:
    And by them lies the dearest lad
      That ever blest a woman's e'e!
    Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord,
      A bluidy man I trow thou be;
    For mony a heart thou host made sair,
      That ne'er did wrong to thine or thee.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Graham's Strathspey._"

[Some editors have pleased themselves with tracing the sentiments of
this song in certain street ballads: it resembles them as much as a
sour sloe resembles a drop-ripe damson.]


    O, my luve's like a red, red rose,
      That's newly sprung in June:
    O, my luve's like the melodie,
      That's sweetly play'd in tune.


    As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
      So deep in luve am I:
    And I will luve thee still, my dear,
      'Till a' the seas gang dry.


    'Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
      And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
    I will luve thee still, my dear,
      While the sands o' life shall run.


    And fare thee weel, my only luve!
      And fare thee weel a-while!
    And I will come again, my luve,
      Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

       *       *       *       *       *


LOUIS, WHAT RECK I BY THEE. Tune--"_Louis, what reck I by thee._"

[The Jeannie of this very short, but very clever song, is Mrs. Burns.
Her name has no chance of passing from the earth if impassioned verse
can preserve it.]


    Louis, what reck I by thee,
      Or Geordie on his ocean?
    Dyvor, beggar loons to me--
      I reign in Jeannie's bosom.


    Let her crown my love her law,
      And in her breast enthrone me.
    Kings and nations--swith, awa!
      Reif randies, I disown ye!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Had I the wyte she bade me._"

[Burns in evoking this song out of the old verses did not cast wholly
out the spirit of ancient license in which our minstrels indulged. He
sent it to the Museum.]


    Had I the wyte, had I the wyte,
      Had I the wyte she bade me;
    She watch'd me by the hie-gate side.
      And up the loan she shaw'd me;
    And when I wadna venture in,
      A coward loon she ca'd me;
    Had kirk and state been in the gate,
      I lighted when she bade me.


    Sae craftilie she took me ben,
      And bade me make nae clatter;
    "For our ramgunshoch glum gudeman
      Is out and owre the water:"
    Whae'er shall say I wanted grace
      When I did kiss and dawte her,
    Let him be planted in my place,
      Syne say I was the fautor.


    Could I for shame, could I for shame,
      Could I for shame refused her?
    And wadna manhood been to blame,
      Had I unkindly used her?
    He claw'd her wi' the ripplin-kame,
      And blue and bluidy bruised her;
    When sic a husband was frae hame,
      What wife but had excused her?


    I dighted ay her een sae blue,
      And bann'd the cruel randy;
    And weel I wat her willing mou',
      Was e'en like sugar-candy.
    A gloamin-shot it was I wot,
      I lighted on the Monday;
    But I cam through the Tysday's dew,
      To wanton Willie's brandy.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Coming through the rye._"

[The poet in this song removed some of the coarse chaff, from the old
chant, and fitted it for the Museum, when it was first printed.]


    Coming through the rye, poor body,
      Coming through the rye,
    She draiglet a' her petticoatie,
      Coming through the rye.
    Jenny's a' wat, poor body,
      Jenny's seldom dry;
    She draiglet a' her petticoatie,
      Coming through the rye.


    Gin a body meet a body--
      Coming through the rye,
    Gin a body kiss a body--
      Need a body cry?


    Gin a body meet a body
      Coming through the glen,
    Gin a body kiss a body--
      Need the world ken?
    Jenny's a' wat, poor body;
      Jenny's seldom dry;
    She draiglet a' her petticoatie,
      Coming through the rye.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The carlin o' the glen._"

[Sent to the Museum by Burns in his own handwriting: part only is
thought to be his]


    Young Jamie, pride of a' the plain,
    Sae gallant and sae gay a swain;
    Thro' a' our lasses he did rove,
    And reign'd resistless king of love:
    But now wi' sighs and starting tears,
    He strays amang the woods and briers;
    Or in the glens and rocky caves
    His sad complaining dowie raves.


    I wha sae late did range and rove,
    And chang'd with every moon my love,
    I little thought the time was near,
    Repentance I should buy sae dear:
    The slighted maids my torment see,
    And laugh at a' the pangs I dree;
    While she, my cruel, scornfu' fair,
    Forbids me e'er to see her mair!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Charlie Gordon's welcome hame._"

[In one of his letters to Cunningham, dated 11th March 1791, Burns
quoted the four last lines of this tender and gentle lyric, and
inquires how he likes them.]


    Out over the Forth I look to the north,
      But what is the north and its Highlands to me?
    The south nor the east gie ease to my breast,
      The far foreign land, or the wild rolling sea.


    But I look to the west, when I gae to rest,
      That happy my dreams and my slumbers may be;
    For far in the west lives he I Io'e best,
      The lad that is dear to my babie and me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Jacky Latin._"

[Burns in one of his professional visits to Ecclefechan was amused
with a rough old district song, which some one sung: he rendered, at a
leisure moment, the language more delicate and the sentiments less
warm, and sent it to the Museum.]


    Gat ye me, O gat ye me,
      O gat ye me wi' naething?
    Rock and reel, and spinnin' wheel,
      A mickle quarter basin.
    Bye attour, my gutcher has
      A hich house and a laigh ane,
    A' for bye, my bonnie sel',
      The toss of Ecclefechan.


    O haud your tongue now, Luckie Laing,
      O hand your tongue and jauner;
    I held the gate till you I met,
      Syne I began to wander:
    I tint my whistle and my sang,
      I tint my peace and pleasure:
    But your green graff, now, Luckie Laing,
      Wad airt me to my treasure.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bab at the bowster._"

[The wit of this song is better than its delicacy: it is printed in
the Museum, with the name of Burns attached.]


    The cooper o' Cuddie cam' here awa,
    And ca'd the girrs out owre us a'--
    And our gudewife has gotten a ca'
      That anger'd the silly gude-man, O.
    We'll hide the cooper behind the door;
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We'll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.


    He sought them out, he sought them in,
    Wi', deil hae her! and, deil hae him!
    But the body was sae doited and blin',
      He wist na where he was gaun, O.


    They cooper'd at e'en, they cooper'd at morn,
    'Till our gude-man has gotten the scorn;
    On ilka brow she's planted a horn,
      And swears that they shall stan', O.
    We'll hide the cooper behind the door,
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We'll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_For the sake of somebody._"

[Burns seems to have borrowed two or three lines of this lyric from
Ramsay: he sent it to the Museum.]


    My heart is sair--I dare na tell--
      My heart is sair for somebody;
    I could wake a winter night
      For the sake o' somebody.
        Oh-hon! for somebody!
        Oh-hey! for somebody!
    I could range the world around,
      For the sake o' somebody!


    Ye powers that smile on virtuous love,
      O, sweetly smile on somebody!
    Frae ilka danger keep him free,
      And send me safe my somebody.
        Oh-hon! for somebody!
        Oh-hey! for somebody!
    I wad do--what wad I not?
      For the sake o' somebody!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Salt-fish and dumplings._"

["This song," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "is in the Musical Museum, but
not with Burns's name to it." It was given by Burns to Johnson in his
own handwriting.]


    I coft a stane o' haslock woo',
      To make a wat to Johnny o't;
    For Johnny is my only jo,
      I lo'e him best of ony yet.
          The cardin' o't, the spinnin' o't,
            The warpin' o't, the winnin' o't;
          When ilka ell cost me a groat,
            The tailor staw the lynin o't.


    For though his locks be lyart gray,
      And tho' his brow be beld aboon;
    Yet I hae seen him on a day,
      The pride of a' the parishen.
          The cardin' o't, the spinnin' o't,
            The warpin' o't, the winnin' o't;
          When ilka ell cost me a groat,
            The tailor staw the lynin o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The lass that made the bed for me._"

[Burns found an old, clever, but not very decorous strain, recording
an adventure which Charles the Second, while under Presbyterian rule
in Scotland, had with a young lady of the house of Port Letham, and
exercising his taste and skill upon it, produced the present--still
too free song, for the Museum.]


    When Januar' wind was blawing cauld,
      As to the north I took my way,
    The mirksome night did me enfauld,
      I knew na where to lodge till day.


    By my good luck a maid I met,
      Just in the middle o' my care;
    And kindly she did me invite
      To walk into a chamber fair.


    I bow'd fu' low unto this maid,
      And thank'd her for her courtesie;
    I bow'd fu' low unto this maid,
      And bade her mak a bed to me.


    She made the bed baith large and wide,
      Wi' twa white hands she spread it down;
    She put the cup to her rosy lips,
      And drank, "Young man, now sleep ye soun'."


    She snatch'd the candle in her hand,
      And frae my chamber went wi' speed;
    But I call'd her quickly back again
      To lay some mair below my head.


    A cod she laid below my head,
      And served me wi' due respect;
    And to salute her wi' a kiss,
      I put my arms about her neck.


    "Haud aff your hands, young man," she says,
      "And dinna sae uncivil be:
    If ye hae onto love for me,
      O wrang na my virginitie!"


    Her hair was like the links o' gowd,
      Her teeth were like the ivorie;
    Her cheeks like lilies dipt in wine,
      The lass that made the bed to me.


    Her bosom was the driven snaw,
      Twa drifted heaps sae fair to see;
    Her limbs the polish'd marble stane,
      The lass that made the bed to me.


    I kiss'd her owre and owre again,
      And ay she wist na what to say;
    I laid her between me and the wa'--
      The lassie thought na lang till day.


    Upon the morrow when we rose,
      I thank'd her for her courtesie;
    But aye she blush'd, and aye she sigh'd,
      And said, "Alas! ye've ruin'd me."


    I clasp'd her waist, and kiss'd her syne,
      While the tear stood twinklin' in her e'e;
    I said, "My lassie, dinna cry,
      For ye ay shall mak the bed to me."


    She took her mither's Holland sheets,
      And made them a' in sarks to me:
    Blythe and merry may she be,
      The lass that made the bed to me.


    The bonnie lass made the bed to me,
      The braw lass made the bed to me:
    I'll ne'er forget till the day I die,
      The lass that made the bed to me!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Dalkeith Maiden Bridge._"

[This song was sent to the Museum by Burns, in his own handwriting.]


    O, sad and heavy should I part,
      But for her sake sae far awa;
    Unknowing what my way may thwart,
      My native land sae far awa.
    Thou that of a' things Maker art,
      That form'd this fair sae far awa,
    Gie body strength, then I'll ne'er start
      At this my way sae far awa.


    How true is love to pure desert,
      So love to her, sae far awa:
    And nocht can heal my bosom's smart,
      While, oh! she is sae far awa.
    Nane other love, nane other dart,
      I feel but hers, sae far awa;
    But fairer never touch'd a heart
      Than hers, the fair sae far awa.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I'll gae nae mair to yon town._"

[Jean Armour inspired this very sweet song. Sir Harris Nicolas says it
is printed in Cromek's Reliques: it was first printed in the Museum.]


    I'll ay ca' in by yon town,
      And by yon garden green, again;
    I'll ay ca' in by yon town,
      And see my bonnie Jean again.
    There's nane sall ken, there's nane sall guess,
      What brings me back the gate again;
    But she my fairest faithfu' lass,
      And stownlins we sall meet again.


    She'll wander by the aiken tree,
      When trystin-time draws near again;
    And when her lovely form I see,
      O haith, she's doubly dear again!
    I'll ay ca' in by yon town,
      And by yon garden green, again;
    I'll ay ca' in by yon town,
      And see my bonnie Jean again.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I'll ay ca' in by yon town._"

[The beautiful Lucy Johnstone, married to Oswald, of Auchencruive, was
the heroine of this song: it was not, however, composed expressly in
honour of her charms. "As I was a good deal pleased," he says in a
letter to Syme, "with my performance, I, in my first fervour, thought
of sending it to Mrs. Oswald." He sent it to the Museum, perhaps also
to the lady.]


    O, wat ye wha's in yon town,
      Ye see the e'enin sun upon?
    The fairest dame's in yon town,
      That e'enin sun is shining on.


    Now haply down yon gay green shaw,
      She wanders by yon spreading tree;
    How blest ye flow'rs that round her blaw,
      Ye catch the glances o' her e'e!


    How blest ye birds that round her sing,
      And welcome in the blooming year!
    And doubly welcome be the spring,
      The season to my Lucy dear.


    The sun blinks blithe on yon town,
      And on yon bonnie braes of Ayr;
    But my delight in yon town,
      And dearest bliss, is Lucy fair.


    Without my love, not a' the charms
      O' Paradise could yield me joy;
    But gie me Lucy in my arms,
      And welcome Lapland's dreary sky!


    My cave wad be a lover's bower,
      Tho' raging winter rent the air;
    And she a lovely little flower,
      That I wad tent and shelter there.


    O sweet is she in yon town,
      Yon sinkin sun's gane down upon;
    A fairer than's in you town
      His setting beam ne'er shone upon.


    If angry fate is sworn my foe,
      And suffering I am doom'd to bear;
    I careless quit aught else below,
      But spare me--spare me, Lucy dear!


    For while life's dearest blood is warm,
      Ae thought frae her shall ne'er depart,
    And she--as fairest is her form!
      She has the truest, kindest heart!
          O, wat ye wha's in yon town,
            Ye see the e'enin sun upon?
          The fairest dame's in yon town
            That e'enin sun is shining on.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--_"May, thy morn."_

[Our lyrical legends assign the inspiration of this strain to the
accomplished Clarinda. It has been omitted by Chambers in his
"People's Edition" of Burns.]


    O May, thy morn was ne'er sae sweet
      As the mirk night o' December;
    For sparkling was the rosy wine,
      And private was the chamber:
    And dear was she I dare na name,
      But I will ay remember.
    And dear was she I dare na name,
      But I will ay remember.


    And here's to them, that, like oursel,
      Can push about the jorum;
    And here's to them that wish us weel,
      May a' that's guid watch o'er them,
    And here's to them we dare na tell,
      The dearest o' the quorum.
    Ami here's to them we dare na tell,
      The dearest o' the quorum!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--_"Ye're welcome, Charlie Stewart."_

[The poet's eye was on Polly Stewart, but his mind seems to have been
with Charlie Stewart, and the Jacobite ballads, when he penned these
words;--they are in the Museum.]


    O lovely Polly Stewart!
      O charming Polly Stewart!
    There's not a flower that blooms in May
      That's half so fair as thou art.
    The flower it blaws, it fades and fa's,
      And art can ne'er renew it;
    But worth and truth eternal youth
      Will give to Polly Stewart.


    May he whose arms shall fauld thy charms
      Possess a leal and true heart;
    To him be given to ken the heaven
      He grasps in Polly Stewart.
    O lovely Polly Stewart!
      O charming Polly Stewart!
    There's ne'er a flower that blooms in May
      That's half so sweet as thou art.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--_"If thou'lt play me fair play."_

[A long and wearisome ditty, called "The Highland Lad and Lowland
Lassie," which Burns compressed into these stanzas, for Johnson's


    The bonniest lad that e'er I saw,
      Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie,
    Wore a plaid, and was fu' braw,
      Bonnie Highland laddie.
    On his head a bonnet blue,
      Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie;
    His royal heart was firm and true,
      Bonnie Highland laddie.


    Trumpets sound, and cannons roar,
      Bonnie lassie; Lowland lassie;
    And a' the hills wi' echoes roar,
      Bonnie Lowland lassie.
    Glory, honour, now invite,
      Bonnie lassie, Lowland lassie,
    For freedom and my king to fight,
      Bonnie Lowland lassie.


    The sun a backward course shall take,
      Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie,
    Ere aught thy manly courage shake,
      Bonnie Highland laddie.
    Go, for yourself procure renown,
      Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie;
    And for your lawful king, his crown,
      Bonnie Highland laddie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bonnie Mary._"

[The heroine of this short, sweet song is unknown: it was inserted in
the third edition of his Poems.]

    Anna, thy charms my bosom fire,
      And waste my soul with care;
    But ah! how bootless to admire,
      When fated to despair!
    Yet in thy presence, lovely fair,
      To hope may be forgiv'n;
    For sure 'twere impious to despair,
      So much in sight of Heav'n.

       *       *       *       *       *




[It is supposed that "Highland Mary," who lived sometime on
Cassillis's banks, is the heroine of these verses.]


    Now bank an' brae are claith'd in green,
      An' scattered cowslips sweetly spring;
    By Girvan's fairy-haunted stream,
      The birdies flit on wanton wing.
    To Cassillis' banks when e'ening fa's,
      There wi' my Mary let me flee,
    There catch her ilka glance of love,
      The bonnie blink o' Mary's e'e!


    The chield wha boasts o' warld's walth
      Is aften laird o' meikle care;
    But Mary she is a' my ain--
      Ah! fortune canna gie me mair.
    Then let me range by Cassillis' banks,
      Wi' her, the lassie dear to me,
    And catch her ilka glance o' love,
      The bonnie blink o' Mary's e'e!

       *       *       *       *       *




[There are several variations extant of these verses, and among others
one which transfers the praise from the Nith to the Dee: but to the
Dee, if the poet spoke in his own person, no such influences could


    To thee, lov'd Nith, thy gladsome plains,
      Where late wi' careless thought I rang'd,
    Though prest wi' care and sunk in woe,
      To thee I bring a heart unchang'd.


    I love thee, Nith, thy banks and braes,
      Tho' mem'ry there my bosom tear;
    For there he rov'd that brake my heart,
      Yet to that heart, ah! still how dear!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Killogie._"

["This song is in the Museum," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "but without
Burns's name." Burns took up an old song, and letting some of the old
words stand, infused a Jacobite spirit into it, wrote it out, and sent
it to the Museum.]


    Bannocks o' bear meal,
      Bannocks o' barley;
    Here's to the Highlandman's
      Bannocks o' barley.
    Wha in a brulzie
      Will first cry a parley?
    Never the lads wi'
      The bannocks o' barley.


    Bannocks o' bear meal,
      Bannocks o' barley;
    Here's to the lads wi'
      The bannocks o' barley.
    Wha in his wae-days
      Were loyal to Charlie?
    Wha but the lads wi'
      The bannocks o' barley?

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The Highland Balou._"

["Published in the Musical Museum," says Sir Harris Nicolas, "but
without the name of the author." It is an old strain, eked out and
amended by Burns, and sent to the Museum in his own handwriting.]


    Hee balou! my sweet wee Donald,
    Picture o' the great Clanronald;
    Brawlie kens our wanton chief
    Wha got my young Highland thief.


    Leeze me on thy bonnie craigie,
    An' thou live, thou'll steal a naigie:
    Travel the country thro' and thro',
    And bring hame a Carlisle cow.


    Thro' the Lawlands, o'er the border,
    Weel, my babie, may thou furder:
    Herry the louns o' the laigh countree,
    Syne to the Highlands hame to me.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Wae is my heart._"

[Composed, it is said, at the request of Clarke, the musician, who
felt, or imagined he felt, some pangs of heart for one of the
loveliest young ladies in Nithsdale, Phillis M'Murdo.]


    Wae is my heart, and the tear's in my e'e;
    Lang, lang, joy's been a stranger to me;
    Forsaken and friendless, my burden I bear,
    And the sweet voice of pity ne'er sounds in my ear.


    Love, thou hast pleasures, and deep hae I loved;
    Love, thou hast sorrows, and sair hae I proved;
    But this bruised heart that now bleeds in my breast,
    I can feel by its throbbings will soon be at rest.


    O, if I were happy, where happy I hae been,
    Down by yon stream, and yon bonnie castle green;
    For there he is wand'ring, and musing on me,
    Wha wad soon dry the tear frae his Phillis's e'e.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The job of journey-work._"

[Burns took the hint of this song from an older and less decorous
strain, and wrote these words, it has been said, in humorous allusion
to the condition in which Jean Armour found herself before marriage;
as if Burns could be capable of anything so insulting. The words are
in the Museum.]

    Altho' my back be at the wa',
      An' tho' he be the fautor;
    Altho' my back be at the wa',
      Yet here's his health in water!
    O! wae gae by his wanton sides,
      Sae brawlie he could flatter;
    Till for his sake I'm slighted sair,
      And dree the kintra clatter.
    But tho' my back be at the wa',
      And tho' he be the fautor;
    But tho' my back be at the wa',
      Yet here's his health in water!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_My Peggy's Face._"

[Composed in honour of Miss Margaret Chalmers, afterwards Mrs. Lewis
Hay, one of the wisest, and, it is said, the wittiest of all the
poet's lady correspondents. Burns, in the note in which he
communicated it to Johnson, said he had a strong private reason for
wishing it to appear in the second volume of the Museum.]


    My Peggy's face, my Peggy's form,
    The frost of hermit age might warm;
    My Peggy's worth, my Peggy's mind,
    Might charm the first of human kind.
    I love my Peggy's angel air,
    Her face so truly, heav'nly fair,
    Her native grace so void of art,
    But I adore my Peggy's heart.


    The lily's hue, the rose's dye,
    The kindling lustre of an eye;
    Who but owns their magic sway?
    Who but knows they all decay!
    The tender thrill, the pitying tear,
    The gen'rous purpose, nobly dear,
    The gentle look, that rage disarms--
    These are all immortal charms.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Wandering Willie._"

[These verses were, it is said, inspired by Clarinda, and must be
taken as a record of his feelings at parting with one dear to him in
the last moment of existence--the Mrs. Mac of many a toast, both in
serious and festive hours.]


    Ance mair I hail thee, thou gloomy December!
      Ance mair I hail thee wi' sorrow and care:
    Sad was the parting thou makes me remember,
      Parting wi' Nancy, oh! ne'er to meet mair.
    Fond lovers' parting is sweet painful pleasure,
      Hope beaming mild on the soft parting hour;
    But the dire feeling, O farewell for ever!
      Is anguish unmingled, and agony pure.


    Wild as the winter now tearing the forest,
      'Till the last leaf o' the summer is flown,
    Such is the tempest has shaken my bosom,
      Since my last hope and last comfort is gone!
    Still as I hail thee, thou gloomy December,
      Still shall I hail thee wi' sorrow and care;
    For sad was the parting thou makes me remember,
      Parting wi' Nancy, oh! ne'er to meet mair.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Gregg's Pipes._"

[Most of this song is from the pen of Burns: he corrected the
improprieties, and infused some of his own lyric genius into the old
strain, and printed the result in the Museum.]


    My lady's gown, there's gairs upon't,
    And gowden flowers sae rare upon't;
    But Jenny's jimps and jirkinet,
    My lord thinks meikle mair upon't.
    My lord a-hunting he is gane,
    But hounds or hawks wi' him are nane;
    By Colin's cottage lies his game,
    If Colin's Jenny be at hame.


    My lady's white, my lady's red,
    And kith and kin o' Cassillis' blude;
    But her ten-pund lands o' tocher guid
    Were a' the charms his lordship lo'ed.


    Out o'er yon muir, out o'er yon moss,
    Whare gor-cocks thro' the heather pass,
    There wons auld Colin's bonnie lass,
    A lily in a wilderness.


    Sae sweetly move her genty limbs,
    Like music notes o' lovers' hymns:
    The diamond dew is her een sae blue,
    Where laughing love sae wanton swims.


    My lady's dink, my lady's drest,
    The flower and fancy o' the west;
    But the lassie that a man lo'es best,
    O that's the lass to make him blest.
    My lady's gown, there's gairs upon't,
    And gowden flowers sae rare upon't;
    But Jenny's jimps and jirkinet,
    My lord thinks meikle mair upon't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_The King of France, he rade a race._"

[Burns wrote these verses in scorn of those, and they are many, who

    "The capon craws and queer ha ha's!"

of emasculated Italy to the original and delicious airs, Highland and
Lowland, of old Caledonia: the song is a fragment--the more's the


    Amang the trees, where humming bees
      At buds and flowers were hinging, O,
    Auld Caledon drew out her drone,
      And to her pipe was singing, O;
    'Twas pibroch, sang, strathspey, or reels,
      She dirl'd them aff fu' clearly, O,
    When there cam a yell o' foreign squeels,
      That dang her tapsalteerie, O.


    Their capon craws and queer ha ha's,
      They made our lugs grow eerie, O;
    The hungry bike did scrape and pike,
      'Till we were wae and weary, O;
    But a royal ghaist wha ance was cas'd
      A prisoner aughteen year awa,
    He fir'd a fiddler in the north
      That dang them tapsalteerie, O.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Banks of Banna._"

["Anne with the golden locks," one of the attendant maidens in Burns's
Howff, in Dumfries, was very fair and very tractable, and, as may be
surmised from the song, had other pretty ways to render herself
agreeable to the customers than the serving of wine. Burns recommended
this song to Thomson; and one of his editors makes him say, "I think
this is one of the best love-songs I ever composed," but these are not
the words of Burns; this contradiction is made openly, lest it should
be thought that the bard had the bad taste to prefer this strain to
dozens of others more simple, more impassioned, and more natural.]


    Yestreen I had a pint o' wine,
      A place where body saw na';
    Yestreen lay on this breast o' mine
      The gowden locks of Anna.
    The hungry Jew in wilderness
      Rejoicing o'er his manna,
    Was naething to my hinny bliss
      Upon the lips of Anna.


    Ye monarchs tak the east and west,
      Frae Indus to Savannah!
    Gie me within my straining grasp
      The melting form of Anna.
    There I'll despise imperial charms,
      An empress or sultana,
    While dying raptures in her arms
      I give and take with Anna!


    Awa, thou flaunting god o' day!
      Awa, thou pale Diana!
    Ilk star gae hide thy twinkling ray,
      When I'm to meet my Anna.
    Come, in thy raven plumage, night!
      Sun, moon, and stars withdrawn a';
    And bring an angel pen to write
      My transports wi' my Anna!


    The kirk an' state may join and tell--
      To do sic things I maunna:
    The kirk and state may gang to hell,
      And I'll gae to my Anna.
    She is the sunshine of my e'e,
      To live but her I canna:
    Had I on earth but wishes three,
      The first should be my Anna.

       *       *       *       *       *



[This is the first song composed by Burns for the national collection
of Thomson: it was written in October, 1792. "On reading over the
Lea-rig," he says, "I immediately set about trying my hand on it, and,
after all, I could make nothing more of it than the following." The
first and second verses were only sent: Burns added the third and last
verse in December.]


    When o'er the hill the eastern star
      Tells bughtin-time is near, my jo;
    And owsen frae the furrow'd field
      Return sae dowf and weary, O!
    Down by the burn, where scented birks[137]
      Wi' dew are hanging clear, my jo;
    I'll meet thee on the lea-rig,
      My ain kind dearie O!


    In mirkest glen, at midnight hour,
      I'd rove, and ne'er be eerie, O;
    If thro' that glen I gaed to thee,
      My ain kind dearie O!
    Altho' the night were ne'er sae wild,
      And I were ne'er sae wearie, O,
    I'd meet thee on the lea-rig,
      My ain kind dearie O!


    The hunter lo'es the morning sun,
      To rouse the mountain deer, my jo;
    At noon the fisher seeks the glen,
      Alang the burn to steer, my jo;
    Gie me the hour o' gloamin gray,
      It maks my heart sae cheery, O,
    To meet thee on the lea-ring,
      My ain kind dearie O!


[Footnote 137: For "scented birks," in some copies, "birken buds."]

       *       *       *       *       *



["In my very early years," says Burns to Thomson "when I was thinking
of going to the West Indies, I took the following farewell of a dear
girl. You must know that all my earlier love-songs were the breathings
of ardent passion, and though it might have been easy in after times
to have given them a polish, yet that polish, to me, would have
defaced the legend of my heart, so faithfully inscribed on them.
Their uncouth simplicity was, as they say of wines, their race." The
heroine of this early composition was Highland Mary.]


    Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
      And leave old Scotia's shore?
    Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
      Across th' Atlantic's roar?


    O sweet grows the lime and the orange,
      And the apple on the pine;
    But a' the charms o' the Indies
      Can never equal thine.


    I hae sworn by the Heavens to my Mary,
      I hae sworn by the Heavens to be true;
    And sae may the Heavens forget me
      When I forget my vow!


    O plight me your faith, my Mary,
      And plight me your lily white hand;
    O plight me your faith, my Mary,
      Before I leave Scotia's strand.


    We hae plighted our troth, my Mary,
      In mutual affection to join;
    And curst be the cause that shall part us!
      The hour and the moment o' time!

       *       *       *       *       *



[These words were written for Thomson: or rather made extempore. "I
might give you something more profound," says the poet, "yet it might
not suit the light-horse gallop of the air, so well as this random


    She is a winsome wee thing,
    She is a handsome wee thing,
    She is a bonnie wee thing,
      This sweet wee wife o' mine.


    I never saw a fairer,
    I never lo'ed a dearer;
    And niest my heart I'll wear her,
      For fear my jewel tine.


    She is a winsome wee thing,
    She is a handsome wee thing,
    She is a bonnie wee thing,
      This sweet wee wife o' mine.


    The warld's wrack we share o't,
    The warstle and the care o't;
    Wi' her I'll blythely bear it,
      And think my lot divine.

       *       *       *       *       *



["I have just," says Burns to Thomson, "been looking over the
'Collier's bonnie Daughter,' and if the following rhapsody, which I
composed the other day, on a charming Ayrshire girl, Miss Leslie
Baillie, as she passed through this place to England, will suit your
taste better than the Collier Lassie, fall on and welcome." This lady
was soon afterwards married to Mr. Cuming, of Logie.]


    O saw ye bonnie Lesley
      As she ga'ed o'er the border?
    She's gane, like Alexander,
      To spread her conquests farther.


    To see her is to love her,
      And love but her for ever;
    For Nature made her what she is,
      And never made anither!


    Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
      Thy subjects we, before thee:
    Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
      The hearts o' men adore thee.


    The deil he could na scaith thee,
      Or aught that wad belang thee;
    He'd look into thy bonnie face,
      And say, "I canna wrang thee."


    The powers aboon will tent thee;
      Misfortune sha' na steer thee:
    Thou'rt like themselves so lovely,
      That ill they'll ne'er let near thee.


    Return again, fair Lesley,
      Return to Caledonie;
    That we may brag, we hae a lass
      There's nane again sae bonnie.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Katherine Ogie._"

[Mary Campbell, of whose worth and beauty Burns has sung with such
deep feeling, was the daughter of a mariner, who lived in Greenock.
She became acquainted with the poet while on service at the castle of
Montgomery, and their strolls in the woods and their roaming trysts
only served to deepen and settle their affections. Their love had much
of the solemn as well as of the romantic: on the day of their
separation they plighted their mutual faith by the exchange of Bibles:
they stood with a running-stream between them, and lifting up water in
their hands vowed love while woods grew and waters ran. The Bible
which the poet gave was elegantly bound: 'Ye shall not swear by my
name falsely,' was written in the bold Mauchline hand of Burns, and
underneath was his name, and his mark as a freemason. They parted to
meet no more: Mary Campbell was carried off suddenly by a burning
fever, and the first intimation which the poet had of her fate, was
when, it is said, he visited her friends to meet her on her return
from Cowal, whither she had gone to make arrangements for her
marriage. The Bible is in the keeping of her relations: we have seen a
lock of her hair; it was very long and very bright, and of a hue
deeper than the flaxen. The song was written for Thomson's work.]


    Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
      The castle o' Montgomery,
    Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
      Your waters never drumlie!
    There Simmer first unfauld her robes,
      And there the langest tarry;
    For there I took the last farewell
      O' my sweet Highland Mary.


    How sweetly bloom'd the gay green birk,
      How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
    As underneath their fragrant shade
      I clasp'd her to my bosom!
    The golden hours, on angel wings,
      Flew o'er me and my dearie;
    For dear to me, as light and life,
      Was my sweet Highland Mary!


    Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
      Our parting was fu' tender;
    And, pledging aft to meet again,
      We tore oursels asunder;
    But oh! fell death's untimely frost,
      That nipt my flower sae early!--
    Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay,
      That wraps my Highland Mary!


    O pale, pale now, those rosy lips
      I aft hae kissed sae fondly!
    And clos'd for ay the sparkling glance
      That dwelt on me sae kindly!
    And mouldering now in silent dust,
      That heart that lo'ed me dearly--
    But still within my bosom's core
      Shall live my Highland Mary!

       *       *       *       *       *



[The starting lines of this song are from one of no little merit in
Ramsey's collection: the old strain is sarcastic; the new strain is
tender: it was written for Thomson.]


    There's auld Rob Morris that wons in yon glen,
    He's the king o' guid fellows and wale of auld men;
    He has gowd in his coffers, he has owsen and kine,
    And ae bonnie lassie, his darling and mine.


    She's fresh as the morning, the fairest in May;
    She's sweet as the ev'ning amang the new hay;
    As blythe and as artless as the lamb on the lea,
    And dear to my heart as the light to my e'e.


    But oh! she's an heiress,--auld Robin's a laird,
    And my daddie has nought but a cot-house and yard;
    A wooer like me mamma hope to come speed;
    The wounds I must hide that will soon be my dead.


    The day comes to me, but delight brings me nane;
    The night comes to me, but my rest it is gane:
    I wander my lane like a night-troubled ghaist,
    And I sigh as my heart it wad burst in my breast.


    O had she but been of a lower degree,
    I then might hae hop'd she wad smil'd upon me!
    O, how past descriving had then been my bliss,
    As now my distraction no words can express!

       *       *       *       *       *



[This Duncan Gray of Burns, has nothing in common with the wild old
song of that name, save the first line, and a part of the third,
neither has it any share in the sentiments of an earlier strain, with
the same title, by the same hand. It was written for the work of


    Duncan Gray cam here to woo,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
    On blythe yule night when we were fou,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.
    Maggie coost her head fu' high,
    Look'd asklent and unco skeigh,
    Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh;
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.


    Duncan fleech'd, and Duncan pray'd,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
    Meg was deaf as Ailsa Craig,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.
    Duncan sigh'd baith out and in,
    Grat his een baith bleer't and blin',
    Spak o' lowpin o'er a linn;
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.


    Time and chance are but a tide,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
    Slighted love is sair to bide,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.
    Shall I, like a fool, quoth he,
    For a haughty hizzie die?
    She may gae to--France for me!
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.


    How it comes let doctors tell,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
    Meg grew sick--as he grew heal,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.
    Something in her bosom wrings,
    For relief a sigh she brings:
    And O, her een, they spak sic things!
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.


    Duncan was a lad o' grace.
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
    Maggie's was a piteous case,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.
    Duncan could na be her death,
    Swelling pity smoor'd his wrath;
    Now they're crouse and canty baith,
      Ha, ha, the wooing o't.

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_I had a horse._"

[Jean Lorimer, the Chloris and the "Lassie with the lint-white locks"
of Burns, was the heroine of this exquisite lyric: she was at that
time very young; her shape was fine, and her "dimpled cheek and cherry
mou" will be long remembered in Nithsdale.]


    O poortith cauld, and restless love,
      Ye wreck my peace between ye;
    Yet poortith a' I could forgive,
        An' twere na' for my Jeanie.
          O why should fate sic pleasure have,
            Life's dearest bands untwining?
          Or why sae sweet a flower as love
            Depend on fortune's shining?


    This warld's wealth when I think on,
      It's pride, and a' the lave o't--
    Fie, fie on silly coward man,
      That he should be the slave o't!


    Her een sae bonnie blue betray
      How she repays my passion;
    But prudence is her o'erword ay,
      She talks of rank and fashion.


    O wha can prudence think upon,
      And sic a lassie by him?
    O wha can prudence think upon,
      And sae in love as I am?


    How blest the humble cotter's fate![138]
      He wooes his simple dearie;
    The silly bogles, wealth and state,
      Can never make them eerie.
          O why should Fate sic pleasure have,
            Life's dearest bands untwining?
          Or why sae sweet a flower as love
            Depend on Fortune's shining?


[Footnote 138: "The wild-wood Indian's Fate," in the original MS.]

       *       *       *       *       *



["Galla Water" is an improved version of an earlier song by Burns: but
both songs owe some of their attractions to an older strain, which the
exquisite air has made popular over the world. It was written for


    There's braw, braw lads on Yarrow braes,
      That wander thro' the blooming heather;
    But Yarrow braes nor Ettrick shaws
      Can match the lads o' Galla Water.


    But there is ane, a secret ane,
      Aboon them a' I lo'e him better;
    And I'll be his, and he'll be mine,
      The bonnie lad o' Galla Water.


    Altho' his daddie was nae laird,
      And tho' I hae nae meikle tocher;
    Yet rich in kindest, truest love,
      We'll tent our flocks by Galla Water.


    It ne'er was wealth, it ne'er was wealth,
      That coft contentment, peace, or pleasure;
    The bands and bliss o' mutual love,
      O that's the chiefest warld's treasure!

       *       *       *       *       *



[Dr. Wolcot wrote a Lord Gregory for Thomson's collection, in
imitation of which Burns wrote his, and the Englishman complained,
with an oath, that the Scotchman sought to rob him of the merit of his
composition. Wolcot's song was, indeed, written first, but they are
both but imitations of that most exquisite old ballad, "Fair Annie of
Lochryan," which neither Wolcot nor Burns valued as it deserved: it
far surpasses both their songs.]


    O mirk, mirk is this midnight hour,
      And loud the tempest's roar;
    A waefu' wanderer seeks thy tow'r,
      Lord Gregory, ope thy door!


    An exile frae her father's ha',
      And a' for loving thee;
    At least some pity on me shaw,
      If love it may na be.


    Lord Gregory, mind'st thou not the grove
      By bonnie Irwin-side,
    Where first I own'd that virgin-love
      I lang, lang had denied?


    How often didst thou pledge and vow
      Thou wad for ay be mine;
    And my fond heart, itsel' sae true,
      It ne'er mistrusted thine.


    Hard is thy heart, Lord Gregory,
      And flinty is thy breast--
    Thou dart of heaven that flashest by,
      O wilt thou give me rest!


    Ye mustering thunders from above,
      Your willing victim see!
    But spare and pardon my fause love,
      His wrangs to heaven and me!

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bide ye yet._"

["The song prefixed," observes Burns to Thomson, "is one of my
juvenile works. I leave it in your hands. I do not think it very
remarkable either for its merits or its demerits." "Of all the
productions of Burns," says Hazlitt, "the pathetic and serious
love-songs which he has left behind him, in the manner of the old
ballads, are, perhaps, those which take the deepest and most lasting
hold of the mind. Such are the lines to Mary Morison." The song is
supposed to have been written on one of a family of Morisons at


    O Mary, at thy window be,
      It is the wish'd, the trysted hour!
    Those smiles and glances let me see
      That make the miser's treasure poor:
    How blithely wad I bide the stoure,
      A weary slave frae sun to sun;
    Could I the rich reward secure,
      The lovely Mary Morison!


    Yestreen, when to the trembling string
      The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha',
    To thee my fancy took its wing,
      I sat, but neither heard or saw:
    Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
      And yon the toast of a' the town,
    I sigh'd, and said amang them a',
      "Ye are na Mary Morison."


    O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,
      Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?
    Or canst thou break that heart of his,
      Whase only faut is loving thee?
    If love for love thou wilt na gie,
      At least be pity to me shown;
    A thought ungentle canna be
      The thought o' Mary Morison.

       *       *       *       *       *




[The idea of this song is taken from verses of the same name published
by Herd: the heroine is supposed to have been the accomplished Mrs.
Riddel. Erskine and Thomson sat in judgment upon it, and, like true
critics, squeezed much of the natural and original spirit out of it.
Burns approved of their alterations; but he approved, no doubt, in
bitterness of spirit.]


    Here awa, there awa, wandering Willie,
      Now tired with wandering, haud awa hame;
    Come to my bosom, my ae only dearie,
      And tell me thou bring'st me my Willie the same.


    Loud blew the cauld winter winds at our parting;
      It was na the blast brought the tear in my e'e;
    Now welcome the simmer, and welcome my Willie,
      The simmer to nature, my Willie to me.


    Ye hurricanes, rest in the cave o' your slumbers!
      O how your wild horrors a lover alarms!
    Awaken, ye breezes, row gently, ye billows,
      And waft my dear laddie ance mair to my arms.


    But if he's forgotten his faithfulest Nannie,
      O still flow between us, thou wide roaring main;
    May I never see it, may I never trow it,
      But, dying, believe that my Willie's my ain.

       *       *       *       *       *




[This is the "Wandering Willie" as altered by Erskine and Thomson, and
approved by Burns, after rejecting several of their emendations. The
changes were made chiefly with the view of harmonizing the words with
the music--an Italian mode of mending the harmony of the human voice.]


    Here awa, there awa, wandering Willie,
      Here awa, there awa, haud awa hame;
    Come to my bosom, my ain only dearie,
      Tell me thou bring'st me my Willie the same.


    Winter winds blew loud and cauld at our parting,
      Fears for my Willie brought tears in my e'e;
    Welcome now simmer, and welcome my Willie,
      The simmer to nature, my Willie to me.


    Rest, ye wild storms, in the cave of your slumbers,
      How your dread howling a lover alarms!
    Wauken, ye breezes, row gently, ye billows,
      And waft my dear laddie ance mair to my arms.


    But oh, if he's faithless, and minds na his Nannie,
      Flow still between us, thou wide roaring main;
    May I never see it, may I never trow it,
      But, dying, believe that my Willie's my ain.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Written for Thomson's collection: the first version which he wrote
was not happy in its harmony: Burns altered and corrected it as it now
stands, and then said, "I do not know if this song be really mended."]


    Oh, open the door, some pity to show,
      Oh, open the door to me, Oh![139]
    Tho' thou has been false, I'll ever prove true,
      Oh, open the door to me, Oh!


    Cauld is the blast upon my pale cheek,
      But caulder thy love for me, Oh!
    The frost that freezes the life at my heart,
      Is nought to my pains frae thee, Oh!


    The wan moon is setting behind the white wave,
      And time is setting with me, Oh!
    False friends, false love, farewell! for mair
      I'll ne'er trouble them, nor thee, Oh!


    She has open'd the door, she has open'd it wide;
      She sees his pale corse on the plain, Oh!
    My true love! she cried, and sank down by his side,
      Never to rise again, Oh!


[Footnote 139: This second line was originally--"If love it may na be,

       *       *       *       *       *



Tune--"_Bonnie Dundee._"

[Jessie Staig, the eldest daughter of the provost of Dumfries, was
the heroine of this song. She became a wife and a mother, but died
early in life: she is still affectionately remembered in her native


    True hearted was he, the sad swain o' the Yarrow,
      And fair are the maids on the banks o' the Ayr,
    But by the sweet side o' the Nith's winding river,
      Are lovers as faithful, and maidens as fair:
    To equal young Jessie seek Scotland all over;
      To equal young Jessie you seek it in vain;
    Grace, beauty, and elegance fetter her lover,
      And maidenly modesty fixes the chain.


    O, fresh is the rose in the gay, dewy morning,
      And sweet is the lily at evening close;
    But in the fair presence o' lovely young Jessie
      Unseen is the lily, unheeded the rose.
    Love sits in her smile, a wizard ensnaring;
      Enthron'd in her een he delivers his law:
    And still to her cha