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•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 ber 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 fort;
Yet stops me o' my lawfu' prey,
Wi' his d-mn'd dirt:
‘But, hark! I'll tell you of a plot,
Tho' dinna ye be speaking o't;
I'll nail the self-conceited Scot
As dead's a herrin:
Niest time we meet, I'll wad a groat,
He gets his fairin!'
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.
INSCRIBED TO J. B*********, ESQ. AYR.
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, grey, wild-whistlingo'erthe 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 B********* befriends bis 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 gat on their winter hap, 1 And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap;
Potatoe-bings are snugged up fra 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 wi' frugal care in massive waxen piles,
Are doom'd by man, that tyrant'o'er the weak,
The death o' devils smoor'd wi’ brimstone reek :
The thundering guns are heard on every side,
The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide;
The feather'd field-mates, bound by Nature's tie,
Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
(What warm, poetic heart, but inly bleeds,
And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!)
Nae mair the flow'r in field or meadow springs;
Nae mair the grove wi' 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 noon-tide blaze,
While thick the gossamour 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 route,
And down by Simpson's' wheel'd the left about:
(Whether impell’d by all-directing Fate,
To witness what I after shall narrate;
Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
He wander'd out he knew not where nor why:)
The drowsy Dungeon clock? had number'd two,
And Wallace Tow'r 2 had sworn the fact was true:
The tide-swoln Firth, wi' sullen sounding roar,
Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore:
All else was hush'd as Nature's closed ee;
The silent moon shone high o'er tow'r and tree:
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
Crept, gently-crusting, owre the glittering stream.-
When, lo! on either hand the list’ning Bard,
The clanging sugh o'whistling wings is heard ;
Twa dusky forms dart thro' the midnight air,
Swift as the Gos 3 drives on the wheeling hare,
Ane on th' Auld Brig his airy shape uprears,
The ither flutters owre 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 o' the sp’ritual fo'k;
Fays, Spunkies, Kelpies, a', they can explain them,
And ev'n the vera deils they brawly ken them.),
Auld Brig appear'd o' ancient Pictish race,
The vera wrinkles Gothic in his face :
He seem'd as he wi' Time had warstl'd lang,
Yet teughly doure, he baide an unco bang.
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
That he, in 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 wi' anxious search,
Spying the time-worn flaws in ev'ry arch;
It chanc'd his new-come neebor took his ee,
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 doubtna, frien', ye'll think ye're niae sheepshank, Ance ye were streekit owre frae bank to bank!