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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, 'tis 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 banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the ling'ring hours, I shelter in thy honour'd shade.

EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK,

AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD.

April 1st, 1785.

WHILE briers an' woodbines budding green,

An' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en,

An' morning poussie whiddin seen,
Inspire my muse,

This freedom in an unknown frien'

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On fasten-e'en we had a rockin,

To ca' the crack and weave our stockin;
And there was muckle fun and jokin,

Ye needna 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 ought describ'd sae weel, What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel; Thought I, 'Can this be Pope, or Steele, Or Beattie's wark!'

They tald 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 ingine,

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 maybe 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 tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire

At pleugh or cart,

My Muse, tho' 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, and folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me;

Tho' I maun own, as monie still

As sair abuse me.

There's ae wee faut they whyles lay to me,
I like the lasses-Gude forgie me!

For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,
At dance or fair;

Maybe 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 caup, 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.

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