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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;
The short but simple annals of the poor.
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,
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
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
To meet their dad, wi'flichterin noise an’glee.
Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
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
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
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
While Jenny haflins is afraid to speak; Weel pleased the mother hears it 's nae wild, worth
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.
But blate and laithfu', scarce can weel behave;
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-
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale, Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the even
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
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,
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide ;
His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare ;
He wales a portion with judicious care ; And . Let us worship God !' he says, with solemn
They chant their artless notes in simple guise ;
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 rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;