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But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar, Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure ? Nae cauld nor hunger e'er can steer them, The vera thought o't need na fear them.
That merry day the year begins,
Still it's owre true that ye hae said,
Haith, lad, ye little ken about it; For Britain's guid! gnid faith! I doubt it, Say rather, gaun as premiers lead him, An' saying ay or no’s they bid him, At operas an' plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading; Or may be, in a frolic daft, To Hague or Calais takes a waft, To make a tour, an' tak a whirl, To learn bon ton, an' see the warl'.
L4d, man, were ye but whyles where I am, The gentles ye wad ne'er envy 'em.
It's true they need na starve or sweat, Through winter's cauid, or simmer's heat; They've nae sair wark to craze their banes, An' fill auld age wi' gripes and granes : But human bodies are sic fools, For a' their colleges and schools, That when nae real ills perplex them, They make enow themselves to vex them; An'aye the less they hae to sturt them, In like proportion less will hurt them. A country fellow at the pleugh, His acres till’d, he's right eneugh; A kintra lassic at hier wheel, Her dizzens done, she's unco weel: But gentlemen, an' ladies warst, Wi' ev’ndown want o'wark are curst. They loiter, lounging, lank, an' lazy ; Though deil haet ails them, yet uneasy ; Their days, insipid, dull, an' tasteless ; Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless ; An' e'en their sports, their balls an' races, Their galloping through public places. There's sic parade, sic pomp, an' art, The joy can scarcely reach the heart. The men cast out in party matches, Then sowther a' in deep debauches; Ae night they're mad wi' drink an' wh-ring, Niest day their life is past enduring. The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters, As great and gracious a'as sisters; But hear their absent thoughts o'ither, They're a' run deils an' jads thegither. Whyles o'er the wee bit cup an' platie, They sip the scandal portion pretty ; Or lee-lang nights, wi'crabbit leuks Pore owre the devil's pictured beuks; Stake on a chance a farmer's stackyard, An' cheat like onie unhang'd blackguard.
There's some exception, man an’ woman; But this is gentry's life in common.
There, at Vienna or Versailles He rives his father's auld entails; Or by Madrid he takes the rout, To thrum guitars, and fecht wi' nowt; Or down Italian vista startles, Wh-re-hunting among groves o' myrtles ; Then bouses drumly German water, To mak himsel look fair and fatter, An'clear the consequential sorrows, Love-gifts of carnival signoras. For Britain's guid! for her destruction ! Wi' dissipation, feud, an' faction.
By this, the sun was out o'sight,
It spak right howe,-“ My name is Death, An' darker gloaming brought the night!
But be na fley'd.”—Quoth I, “Guid faith, The bum-clock humm'd wi' lazy drone ;
Ye're may be come to stap my breath ; The kye stood rowtin i' the loan ;
But tent me, billie : When up they gat, and shook their lugs,
I red ye weel, tak care o' skaith, Rejoiced they were na men but dogs ;
See, there's a gully!"
“ Guidman,” quo' he,“ put up your whittle,
To be mislear'd,
I wad na mind it, no, that spittle
Out-owre my beard."
“ Well, weel!” says I,“ a bargain be't; SOME books are lies frae end to end,
Come, gies your hand, an' sae we're greet; And some great lies were never penn's,
We'll ease our shanks; an' tak a seat, E'en ministers, they hae been kenn'd
Come, gies your news; In holy rapture,
This while* ye hae been monie a gate
At monie a house.
“Ay, ay !” quo' he, an' shook his head, Which lately on a night befell,
“ It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed
Sin' I began to nick the thread, Is just as true's the deil's in h-11
An' choke the breath: Or Dublin city: That e'er he nearer comes oursel
Folk maun do something for their bread,
An' sae maun Death. 'S a muckle pity. The Clachan yill had made me canty,
“ Sax thousand years are near hand fled I was na fou, but just had plenty ;
Sin' I was to the butching bred,
An' monie a scheme in vain's been laid,
To stap or scar me;
An' faith, he'll waur me. The rising moon began to glow'r
“ Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the Clachan, The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
Deil mak his king's-hood in a spleuchan !
He's grown sae well acquaint wi’ Buchant
An' ither chaps,
That weans haud out their fingers laughin
And pouk my hips.
“ See, here's a sithe, and there's a dart, And toddlin down on Willie's mill,
They hae pierced mony a gallant heart;
But Doctor Hornbook, wi' his art,
And cursed skill,
Has made them baith not worth a f-t,
Damn'd haet they'll kill.
“ 'Twas but yestreen, nae further gaen, An awfu' sithe, out-owre ae showther,
I threw a noble throw at ane;
It just play'd dirl on the bane,
But did nae mair.
“ Hornbook was by, wi' ready art, For fient a wame it had ava!
And had sae fortified the part,
It was sae blunt,
Fient haet o't wad hae pierced the heart
Of a kail-runt.
* An epidemical fever was then raging in that country. But naething spak;
+ This gentleman, Dr. Hornbook, is professionally, a At length, says I,“ Friend, whare ye gaun, brother of the sovereign order of the serula; but, by Will ye go back?”
intuition and inspiration, is at once an apothecary, sur.
geon, and physician. * This rencounter happened in seed-time, 1785. Buchan's Domestic Medicine.
“ Waes me for Johnny Ged's Hole* now,”
Sae white and bonnie,
They'll ruin Johnie !"
Tak ye nae fear:
In twa-three year.
That Hornbook's skill
By drap an' pill. « An honest wabster to his trade, Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce wee bred, Gat tippence-worth to mend her head
When it was sair ;
But ne'er spak mair.
An' pays him well.
Was laird himsel.
The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill,
'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 grave-digger.
The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils,
Ance ye were streekit o'er frae bank to bank; The death o' devils smoor'd wi' brimstone reek:
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me, The thundering guns are heard on every side,
Though faith that day, I doubt, ye'll never see, The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide ;
There'll be, if that date come, I'll wad a boddle, The feather'd field-mates, bound by nature's tie,
Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle. Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
NEW BRIG. (What warm, poetic heart, but inly bleeds, And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds !)
Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense, Nae mair the flower in field or meadow springs ;
Just much about it wi' your scanty sense ; Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings,
Will your poor, narrow footpath of a street, Except, perhaps, the robin's whistling glee,
Where twa wheelbarrows tremble when they meet, Proud o' the height o’some bit half-lang tree :
Your ruin'd, formless bulk o'stane an’lime, The boary morns precede the sunny days,
Compare wi' bonnie brigs o' modern time? Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide
There's men o'taste would tak the Ducat-stream," blaze,
Though they should cast the very sark an' swim, While thick the gossamer waves wanton in the rays. Of sic an ugly Gothic hulk as you.
Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view '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 ;
Conceited gowk! puffd up wi' windy pride! He left his bed, and took his wayward route,
This monie a year I've stood the flood an' tide ; And down by Simpson's* wheel'd the left about :
And though wi'crazy eild I'm sair forfairn, (Whether impell’d by all-directing fate,
I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn ! To witness what I after shall narrate;
As yet ye little ken about the matter, Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
But twa-three winters will inform you better, He wander'd out, he knew not where nor why ;)
When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains, The drowsy dungeon-clockt had number'd two,
Wi' deepening deluges o’erflow the plains; And Wallace towert had sworn the fact was true:
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil, The tide-swoln Firth with sullen sounding roar,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil,
Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course, Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore: All else was hush'd as nature's closed e'e ;
Or haunted Garpalt draws his feeble source, The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree :
Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes, The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
In mony a torrent down his sna-broo rowes ; Crept, gently crusting, o'er the glittering stream. While crashing ice, borne on the roaring speat, When, lo! on either hand the listening bard,
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate ; The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard ;
And from Glenbuck, down to the Rotton-key, Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air,
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea ; Swift as the gost drives on the wheeling hare;
Then down ye hurl, deil nor ye never rise ! Ane on th' auld brig his airy shape uprears,
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies: The ither flutters o'er the rising piers :
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost,
That architecture's noble art is lost !
Fine architecture ! trowth, I needs must say't o't,
Hanging with threatening jut, like precipices, The vera wrinkles Gothic in his face :
O’er arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves, He seem'd as he wi' time had warstled lang,
Supporting roofs fantastic, stony groves : Yet teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
Windows and doors, in nameless sculpture drest, New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
With order, symmetry, or taste unblest; That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams got :
Forms like some bedlam statuary's dream, In's hand five taper staves as smooth's a bead,
The crazed creations of misguided whim; Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended knee, The Goth was stalking round with anxious search,
And still the second dread command be free; Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch;
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea. It chanced his new-come neebor took his e'e, And e'en a vex'd and angry heart had he!
* A noted ford, just above the auld brig. Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien,
+ The banks of Garpal Water is one of the few places He, down the water, gies him this guideen:
in the west of Scotland, where those fancy-scaring beings, known by the name of ghaists, still continue pertina.
ciously to inhabit. • A noted lavern at the auld brig end.
The source of the river Ayr. + The two steeples. # The gos-hawk, or falcon. SA small landing place above the large kev.
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste O had M‘Lauchlan,* thairm-inspiring sage,
Been there to hear this heavenly band engage, Fit only for a doited monkish race,
When through his dear strathspeys they bore with Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
highland rage ; Or cuifs of later times, wha held the notion Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs, That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion ; The lover's raptured joys or bleeding cares ; Fancies that our guid brugh denies protection, How would his highland lug been nobler fired, And soon may they expire, unblest with resurrec- And e'en his matchless hand with finer touch intion!
spired! AULD BRIG.
No guess could tell what instrument appear'd, Oye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, But all the soul of music's self was heard ; Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings ! Harmonious concert rung in every part, Ye worthy proveses, an'mony a bailie,
While simple melody pour’d moving on the heart. Wha in the paths o’righteousness did toil aye;
The genius of the stream in front appears, Ye dainty deacons, and ye douce conveners,
A venerable chief advanced in years ; To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners ;
His hoary head with water-lilies crown'd, Ye godly councils wha hae blest this town,
His manly leg with garter tangle bound. Ye godly brethren of the sacred gown,
Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring, Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters ; And (what would now be strange) ye godly writers: Then, crown'd with flowery hay, came rural joy,
Sweet female beauty hand in hand with spring; A' ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo,
And summer, with his fervid-beaming eye : Were ye but here, what would ye say or do?
All-cheering plenty, with her flowing horn, How would your spirits groan in deep vexation,
Led yellow autumn wreathed with nodding corn ; To see each melancholy alteration ;
Then winter's time-bleach'd locks did hoary show, And, agonizing, curse the time and place
By hospitality with cloudless brow. When ye begat the base, degenerate race!
Next follow'd courage with his martial stride, Nae langer reverend men, their country's glory, In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story; Benevolence, with mild, benignant air,
From where the feal wild-woody coverts hide ; Nae langer thrifty citizens, an' douce,
A female form, came from the towers of Stair : Meet owre a pint, or in the council-house ;
Learning and worth in equal measures trode But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless gentry,
From simple Catrine, their long-loved abode : The herryment and ruin of the country ;
Last, white-robed peace, crownd with a hazel Men, three parts made by tailors and by barbers,
wreath, Wha waste your well-hain'd gear on d-d new
To rustic agriculture did bequeath brigs and harbours !
The broken iron instruments of death,
At sight of whom our sprites forgat their kindling Now haud you there! for faith ye’ve said enough,
THE DEATH AND DYING WORDS OF POOR But under favour o' your langer beard,
THE AUTHOR'S ONLY PET YOWE.
AN UNCO MOURNFU' TALE,
As Mailie an' her lambs thegither
Were ae day nibbling on the tether, In all the pomp of ignorant conceit;
Upon her cloot she coost a hitch, Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops an' raisins,
An' owre she warsl'd in the ditch. Or gather'd liberal views in bonds and seisins, There, groaning, dying, she did lie, If haply knowledge, on a random tramp,
When Hughoct he cam doytin by. Had shored them with a glimmer of his lamp,
Wi' glowrin een, and lifted hans, Andwould to common sense for once betray'd them,
Poor Hughoc like a statue stans; Plain, dull stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, waes my heart! he could na mend it!
“ thou, whase lamentable face A fairy train appear'd in order bright:
Appears to mourn my woefu' case! Adown the glittering stream they featly danced,
My dying words attentive hear,
An' bear them to my master dear.
* A well known performer of Scottish music on the While arts of minstrelsy among them rung,
violin. And soul-ennobling bards heroic ditties sung.
† A ncebor herd-callan.