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There, watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar;
With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears,
Fam'd heroes! had their royal home:
Wild beats my heart to trace your steps,
Haply my sires have left their shed,
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,
This freedom in an unknown frien'
On fasten-e'en we had a rockin,
To ca' the crack and weave our stockin;
Ye needna doubt;
At length we had a hearty yokin
There was ae sang, amang the rest,
To some sweet wife:
It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
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
It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't,
And sae about him there I spier't,
That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
That set him to a pint of ale,
Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,
"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,
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,
But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
What's a' your jargon o' your schools,
What sairs your grammars?
A set o' dull, conceited hashes,
Confuse their brains in college classes!
Plain truth to speak;
An' syne they think to climb Parnassus
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,
That would be lear eneugh for me,
If I could get it.
Now, Sir, if ye hae friends enow,
I'se no insist,
But gif ye want ae friend that's true,
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,
For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,
Maybe some ither thing they gie me
They weel can spare.
But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair,
An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware
Wi' ane anither.
The four-gill caup, we'se gar him clatter,
Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,
To cheer our heart;
An' faith, we'se be acquainted better
Before we part.