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And every time great care is ta’en,
To see them duly changed :
Sin Mar's year did desire,
In wrath that night.
I wat they dinna weary;
Their sports were cheap an' cheery, Till butter'd so'ns,* wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a’ their gabs a-steerin; Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt, They parted aff careerin
Fu’blythe that night.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me ! The present only toucheth thee: But, och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear; An’forward, though I canna see,
I guess an' fear.
And think na, my auld trusty servan', That now perhaps thou's less deservin, An' thy auld days may end in starvin,
For my last fou, A heapit stimpart, I'll reserve ane
Laid by for you. We've worn to crazy years thegither; We'll toyte about wi'ane anither: Wi’tentie care, I'll fit thy tether,
To some hain'd rig, Where ye may nobly rax your leather,
Wi' sma’ fatigue,
A WINTER'S NIGHT.
Poor, naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
TO A MOUSE.
ON TURNING HER UP IN HER NEST WITH THE
PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785.
When biting Boreas, fell and doure, Sharp shivers through the leafless bower; When Phæbus gies a short-lived glower
Far south the lift, Dim-darkening through the flaky shower,
Or whirling drift:
WEE, sleekit, cow'rin, timorous beastie, 0, what a panic's in thy breastie ! Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle ! I wad be laith to rin an'chase thee,
Which maks thee startle At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An' fellow mortal.
Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing, That, in the merry months o' spring, Delighted me to hear thee sing,
What comes o'thee? Whare wilt thou cower thy chittering wing,
An' close thy e'e ?
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste, An' weary winter comin' fast, An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell, Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out through thy cell.
E’en you on murdering errands toil'd, Lone from your savage homes exiled, The blood-stain'd roost, and sheep-cote spoil'd,
My heart forgets, While pitiless the tempest wild
Sore on you beats.
Now Phæbe, in her midnight reign Dark muffled, view'd the dreary plain ; Still crowding thoughts, a pensive trai,
Rose in my soul, When on my ear this plaintive strain,
Slow, solemn, stole
But, mousie, thou art no thy lane, In proving foresight may be vain : The best laid schemes o' mice an'men,
Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us naught but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.
“ Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust! And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost! Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows! Not all your rage, as now united, shows More hard unkindness, unrelenting,
Vengeful malice, unrepenting, Than heaven illumined man on brother man be
O life! thou art a galling load,
To wretches such as I !
What sickening scenes appear!
Must be my bitter doom;
But with the closing tomb !
See stern oppression's iron grip,
Or mad ambition's gory hand,
Wo, want, and murder, o'er a land!
Truth, weeping, tells the mournful tale,
The parasite empoisoning her ear,
Whose toil upholds the glittering show,
Some coarser substance, unrefined,
Where, where is love's fond, tender throe,
The powers you proudly own?
To bless himself alone?
To love-pretending snares, This boasted honour turns away, Shunning soft pity's rising sway, Regardless of the tears, and unavailing prayers!
Perhaps, this hour, in misery's squalid nest,
She strains your infant to her joyless breast, And with a mother's fears shrinks at the rocking
No other view regard !
They bring their own reward : Whilst I, a hope-abandon’d wight,
Unfitted with an aim, :
Forget each grief and pain :
Find every prospect vain.
“) ye! who, sunk in beds of down, Feel not a want but what yourselves create, Think, for a moment, on his wretched fate,
Whom friends and fortune quite disown! Ill satisfied keen nature's clamorous call,
Stretch'd on his straw he lays himself to sleep, While through the ragged roof and chinky wall, Chill o'er his slumbers piles the drifty heap! Think on the dungeon's grim confine, Where guilt and poor misfortune pine ! Guilt, erring man, relenting view! But shall thy legal rage pursue The wretch, already crushed low
By cruel fortune's undeserved blow? Affliction's sons are brothers in distress, A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!"
How blest the solitary's lot,
Within his humble cell,
Beside his crystal well!
By unfrequented stream.
His thoughts to heaven on high, As wandering, meandering,
He views the solemn sky.
I heard nae mair, for chanticleer
Shook off the pouthery snaw, And hail'd the morning with a cheer,
A cottage-rousing craw. But deep this truth impress'd my mind
Through all his works abroad, The heart benevolent and kind
The most resembles God.
Less fit to play the part;
With self-respecting art:
Which I too keenly taste,
Or human love or hate,
At perfidy ingrate!
OPPRESS'd with grief, oppress’d with care, A burden more than I can bear,
I sit me down and sigh:
0! enviable, early days,
To care, to guilt unknown!
Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
Like linnets in the bush, Ye little know the ills ye court, When manhood is your wish. The losses, the crosses,
That active man engage! The fears all, the tears all,
Of dim-declining age.
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The shortening winter day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh,
The blackening 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 hareward bend.
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
To meet their dad, wi' flichterin noise an'glee. His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonnily,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary, carking cares beguile, An' makes him quite forget his labour an' his toil.
The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
The blinding sleet and snaw:
And roars frae bank to brae; And bird and beast in covert rest, And pass the heartless day.
The joyless winter day,
Than all the pride of May:
My griefs it seems to join,
These woes of mine fulfil,
Because they are thy will!
This one request of mine !)
Assist me to resign.
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 e'e, Comes hame, perhaps, to show a braw new gown,
Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee,
An' each for others' 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 sheers,
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new: The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.
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.
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,
Their master's an' their mistress's command,
The younkers a'are warned to obey ; “ An’mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
An'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 !”
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e’e, and flush her cheek; With heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his
name, While Jenny haflins is afraid to speak; Weel pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild,
XIV. Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben; The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
A strappan youth; he taks the mother's eye; How Abram was the friend of God on high ; Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;
Or, Moses bade eternal warfare wage The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye. With Amalek's ungracious progeny ; The youngster's artless heart o’erflows wi' joy. Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
But blathe and laithfu', scarce can weel behave; Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire ; The mother, wi'a woman's wiles, can spy
Or, Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry; What makes the youth sae bashfu’an'sae grave; Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire ; Weel pleased to think her bairn's respected like or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre. the lave.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme, O happy love! where love like this is found !
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; O heartfelt raptures ! bliss beyond compare !
How He, who bore in heaven the second name, I've paced much this weary mortal round,
Had not on earth whereon to lay his head: And sage experience bids me this declare
How his first followers and servants sped; If heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land: One cordial in this melancholy vale,
How he, who lone in Patmos banished, 'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand; In other's arms breathe out the tender tale, And heard great Babylon's doom pronounced by Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the even
Heaven's command. ing gale.”
Then kneeling down, to Heaven's Eternal King, Is there, in human form, that bears a heart
The saint, the father, and the husband prays : A wretch ! a villain ! lost to love and truth!
Hope “ springs exulting on triumphant wing, "* That can, with studied, sly, insnaring art,
That thus they all shall meet in future days : Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth ?
There ever bask in uncreated rays, Curse on his perjured arts ! dissembling smooth!
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear, Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exiled ?
Together hymning their Creator's praise, Is there no pity, no relenting truth,
In such society, yet still more dear ; [sphere. Points to the parents fondling o'er their child ? | While circling time moves round in an eternal Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction
Compared with this, how poor religion's pride, But now the supper crowns their simple board,
In all the pomp of method, and of art, The halesome parritch, chief o' Scotia's food :
When men display, to congregations wide,
Devotion's every grace, except the heart ! The soupe their only hawkie does afford,
The Power, incensed, the pageant will desert, That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood : |
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole ; The dame brings forth in complimental mood,
But haply, in some cottage far apart, To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd kebbuck, fell,
May hear, well pleased, the language of the soul; An'aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid;
And in his book of life the inmates poor enrol. The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell, Hou 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell.
Then homeward all take off their several way; XII.
The yougling cottagers retire to rest : The cheerfu' supper done, wi’ serious face, The parent pair their secret homage pay, They round the ingle form a circle wide;
And proffer up to Heaven the warm request The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
That He who stills the raven's clamorous nest, The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride :
And decks the lily fair in flowery pride, His bonnet reverently is laid aside,
Would, in the way his wisdom sees the best, His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare ;
For them and for their little ones provide; Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide, But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside. He wales a portion with judicious care;
XIX. And “Let us worship God !” he says, with solemn
From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur air. XIII.
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad : They chant their artless notes in simple guise ;
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings, They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
" An honest man's the noblest work of God :" Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling measures rise,
And certes, in fair virtue's heavenly road, Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name:
The cottage leaves the palace far behind; Or noble Elgin beets the heavenward flame,
What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load, The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays :
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind, Compared with these, Italian trills are tame;
Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refined ! The tickled ears no heartfelt raptures raise ; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
* Pope's Windsor Forest.