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THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.

Inscribed to R. A****, Esq.

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,

The short but simple annals of the poor.

Gray,

My loved, 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 A**** in a cottage would have been; Ah ! though his worth 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 hame

ward 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 carking cares beguile,
An' maks him quite forget his labour an' 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 ee, Comes hame, perhaps, to shew a braw new

gown,

Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee, To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.

Wi' joy unfeign'd brothers and sisters meet,

An' each for other's weelfare kindly spiers : The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnoticed fleet;

Each tells the uncos 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 nixes a' wi' admonition due.

Their master's an' their mistress's command,

The younkers a’ are warned to obey; * An' mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,

Au'ne'er, though out o'sight, to jauk or play : An' O! be sure to fear the Lord alway!

An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' 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 ee, and flush her cheek; Wi' heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his

name,

While Jenny haflins is afraid to speak; Weel pleased the mother hears it 's nae wild, worth

less rake.

Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben;

A strappan youth; he taks the mother's eye ; Blithe 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 and laithfu', scarce can weel behave;
The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy
What maks the youth sae bashfu' an' sae

grave; Weel pleased 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 even

ing 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 perjured arts ! dissembling smooth !

Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exiled ? 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 o' 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,

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bell.

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,

They, round the ingle, form a circle wide ;
The sire turns o'er, wi' 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 heavenward flame,

The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays : Compared with these, Italian thrills are tame;

The tickled ears 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.

CA

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