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1759–1796. TAM O' SHANTER. A TALE.

The Souter tauld his queerest stories ; The landlord's laugh was ready chorus ; The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whustle.

WHEN chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
As market-days are wearin' late,
An' folk begin to tak' the gate :
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, an' stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drowned himself amang the nappy. As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure, The minutes winged their way wi' pleasure. Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills of life victorious. But pleasures are like poppies spreadYou seize the flow'r. its bloom is shed ; Or like the snow falls in the riverA moment white, then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form, Evanishing amid the storm.

This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses For honest men and bonny lasses).

O Tam, hadst thou but been sae wise As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice ! She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; That frae November to October, Ae market-day thou was nae sober, That ilka melder, wi' the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller, That every naig was ca'd a shoe on, The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the Lord's house, e'en on Sunday, Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday. She prophesied that, late or soon, Thou wad be found deep drowned in Doon, Or catched wi' warlocks in the mirk, By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.

Nae man can tether time or tide : The hour approaches Tam maun ride ; That hour, o' night's black arch the key

stane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he tacks the road in, As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in. The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last ; The rattling show'rs rose on the blast; The speedy

gleams the darkness swallowed, Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed: That night a child might understand The deil had business on his hand.

Weel mounted on his grey mare Meg (A better never lifted leg), Tam skelpit on through dub and mire, Despising wind, and rain, and fire ; Whiles hauding fast his guid blue bonnet, Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots

sonnet ; Whiles glow'ring round with prudent care, Lest bogles catch him unaware: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

Ah, gentle dames, it gars me greet To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthened sage advices The husband fra the wife despises !

But to our tale. Ae market night, Tam had got planted unco right Fast by an ingle bleezing finely, Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely; And at his elbow Souter Johnny, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony: Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither ; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter, And aye the ale was growing better ; The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious ;

By this time he was cross the ford, Whare in the snaw the chapman smoored; And past the birks and meikle stane Whare drunken Charlie brak 's neck-bane; And through the whins, and by the cairn, Whare hunters fand the murdered bairn; And near the thorn aboon the well, Whare Mungo's mither hanged hersel'. Before him Doon pours all his floods ; The doubling storm roars through the

wuds ;

Now, Tam, O Tam! had they been

queans, A' plump and strappin', in their teens; Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white se'enteen-hunder linen, Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o' gude blue hair, I wad hae gi'en them aff my hurdies, For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies !

But withered beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags, wad spean a foal, Louping and flinging on a crummock, I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

The lightnings flash from pole to pole ; Near and more near the thunders roll ; When, glimmering thro' the groaning

trees, Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze ; Through ilka bore the beams were glanc.

ing, And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi' tippenny we fear nae evil ; Wi' usquebae we'll face the devil ! The swats sae reamed in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he cared na deils a bodle ; But Maggie stood right sair astonished, Till, by the heel and hand admonished, She ventured forward on the light, And wow ! Tam saw an unco sight! Warlocks and witches in a dance ! Nae cotillion, brent-new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels Put life and mettle in their heels. At winnock-bunker in the east, There sat auld Nick in shape o' beast : A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, To gie them music was his charge : He screwed his pipes, and gart them skirl Till roof an' rafters a' did dirl. Coffins stood round like open presses, That shawed the dead in their last dresses; And by some devilish cantrip sleight, Each in his cauld hand held a light, By which heroic Tam was able To note upon the haly table A murderer's bains in gibbet-airns ; Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns; A thief, new-cutted frae a rape, Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape ; Five tomahawks, wi' blude red rusted; Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted ; A garter, which a babe had strangled ; A knife a father's throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o' life bereft,The grey hairs yet stak to the heft ; Wi mair o' horrible and awfu', Which ev'n to name wad be unlawfu'.

But Tam kenned what was what fu'

brawlie. There was ae winsome wench and walie, That night enlisted in the core, (Lang after kenned on Carrick shore ; For mony a beast to dead she shot, And perished mony a bonnie boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the country-side in fear); Her cutty sark o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho' sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntieAh! little kenned thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie Wi' twa pund Scots ('t was a' her riches), Wad ever grace a dance of witches !

But here my Muse her wing maun cow'r; Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was, and strang), And how Tam stood, like ane bewitched, And thought his very een enriched ; Even Satan glow'red and fidged fu' fain, And hotched and blew wi' might and main ; Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a'thegither, And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!" And in an instant a' was dark : And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied.

As Tammie glow'red, amazed and glori.

ous, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious; The piper loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reeled, they set, they crossed, they

cleek it Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, od linket at it in her sark!

As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie's mortal foes, When, pop ! she starts before their nose ; As eager runs the market crowd, When “Catch the thief'" resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' mony an eldritch screech and hollow.

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou 'lt get thy

In hell they 'll roast thee like a herrin'!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'!
Kate soon will be a waefu' woman.
Now do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane o' the brig ;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
d running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake ;
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam with furious ettle,
But little wist she Maggie's mettle-
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail :
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother's son, tak' heed :
Whene'er to drink you are inclined,
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think, ye may buy the joys ow'r dear
Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.

"I will hope and trust in Heaven,

Nancy, Nancy;
Strength to bear it will be given,

My spouse Nancy."
Well, sir, from the silent dead

Still I'll try to daunt you;
Ever round your midnight bed

Horrid sprites shall haunt you. "I'll wed another like my dear

Nancy, Nancy; Then all ghosts will fly for fear

My spouse Nancy."





In the original Gaelic, the Lady makes pro. testations that she will not go with the Red Earl's son, until the swan shall build in the cliff, and the eagle in the lake-until one moun. tain should change places with another, and so forth. It is but fair to add, that there is no authority for supposing that she altered her mind-except the vehemence of her protesta. tions.


HEAR what Highland Nora said, -
"The Earlie's son I will not wed,
Should all the race of nature die,
And none be left but he and I.
For all the gold, for all the gear,
And all the lands both far and near,
That ever valour lost or won,
I would not wed the Earlie's son."

Tune—"To Janet." HUSBAND, husband, cease your strife,

Nor longer idly rave, sir ; Though am your wedded wife,

Yet I am not your slave, sir. “One of two must still obey,

Nancy, Nancy :
Is it man, or woman, say,

My spouse Nancy?"
If 'tis still the lordly word,

Service and obedience;
I'll desert my sovereign lord,

And so good bye, allegiance! “Sad will I be, so bereft,

Nancy, Nancy ;
Yet I 'll try to make a shift,

My spouse Nancy."
My poor heart then break it must,

My last hour I'm near it:
When you lay me in the dust,

Think, think how you will bear it.

'A maiden's vows," old Callum spoke, "Are lightly made and lightly broke. The heather on the mountain's height Begins to bloom in purple light; The frost-wind soon shall sweep away That lustre deep from glen and brae; Yet Nora, ere its bloon be gone, May blithely wed the Earlie's son. "The swan," she said, "the lake's clear

breast May barter for the eagle's nest; (turn, The Awe's fierce stream may backward Ben-Cruaichán fall, and crush Kilchurn; Our kilted clans, when blood is high, Before their foes may turn and fly;

But I, were all these marvels done, Would never wed the Earlie's son.

Still in the water-lily's shade
Her wonted nest the wild swan made;
Ben-Cruaichan stands as fast as ever,
Still downward flows the Awe's fierce river;
To shun the clash of foeman's steel
No Highland brogue has turned the heel;
But Nora's heart is lost and won,
-She's wedded to the Earlie's son!

Good lack! mine honest friend, consult the

chart, Scare not my Pegasus before I start! If Rennell has it not, you'll find, mayhap, The isle laid down in Captain Sinbad's

map, Famed mariner! whose merciless narra

tions Drove every friend and kinsman out of

patience, Till, fain to find a guest who thought them

shorter, He deigned to tell them over to a porter: The last edition see, by Long. and Co., Rees, Hurst, and Orme, our fathers in the



Oh for a glance of that gay Muse's eye,
That lightened on Bandello's laughing tale,
And twinkled with a lustre shrewd and sly,
When Gian Battista bade her vision hail !
Yet fear not, ladies, the naïve detail
Given by the natives of that land canorous;
Italian license loves to leap the pale,
We Britons have the fear of shame before

• us, And, if not wise in mirth, at least must be


Serendib found, deem not my talea fiction: This Sultan, whether lacking contradic

tion (A sort of stimulant which hath its uses, To raise the spirits and reform the juices, -Sovereign specific for all sorts of cures In my wife's practice, and perhapsin yours), The Sultan lacking this same wholesome

bitter, Or cordial smooth for prince's palate fitterOr if some Mollah had hag-rid his dreams With Degial, Ginnistan, and such wild

themes Belonging to the Mollah's subtle craft, I wot not-but the Sultan never laughed, Scarce ate or drank, and took a melancholy, That scorned all remedy-profane or holy; In his long list of melancholies, mad, Or mazed, or dumb, hath Burton none so

bad. *

In the far Eastern clime, no great while since, Lived Sultan Solimaun, a mighty prince, Whose eyes, as oft as they performed their

round, Beheld all others fixed upon the ground; Whose ears received the same unvaried

phrase, "Sultan ! thy vassal hears, and he obeys !" All have their tastes—this may the fancy

strike Of such grave folks as pomp and grandeur

like; For me, I love the honest heart and warm Of monarch who can amble round his farm, Or, when the toil of state no more annoys, In chimney-corner seek domestic joys; I love a prince will bid the bottle pass, Exchanging with his subjects glance and

glass; In fitting time can, gayest of the gay, Keep up the jest and mingle in the lay: Such monarchs best our free-born humours

suit, But despots must be stately, stern, and

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"His Majesty is very far from well." Then each to work with his specific fell: The Hakim Ibrahim instanter brought His unguent Mahazzim al Zerdukkaut, While Roompot, a practioner more wily. Relied on his Munaskif al fillfily.

. * See Burton, “Anatomy of Melancholy:"

imaun, Serendib had in swayre's Serendib? may some critic










Or as the whiskered vermin fear the

mousers, Each fumbled in the pocket of his trousers.

* Their remedies to reinforce and vary, Came surgeon eke, and eke apothecary; Till the tired monarch, though of words

grown chary, Yet dropt, to recompense their fruitless

labour, Some hint about a bowstring or a sabre. There lacked, I promise you, no longer

speeches To rid the palace of those learned leeches. Then was the council called-by their ad

vice (They deemed the matter ticklish all, and

nice, And sought to shift it off from their own

shoulders), Tartars and couriers in all speed were sent To call a sort of Eastern Parliament

Of feudatory chieftains and freeholdersSuch have the Persians at this very day, My gallant Malcolm calls them couroultai; I'm not prepared to show in this slight

song That to Serendib the same forms belong,– E'en let the learned go search, and tell me

if I'm wrong The Omrahs, each with hand on scymitar, Gave, like Sempronius, still their voice for

warThe sabre of the Sultan in its sheath Too long has slept, nor owned the work of

death; Let the Tambourgi bid his signal rattle, Bang the loud gong, and raise the shout of

battle! This dreary cloud that dims our sovereign's

day Shall from his kindled bosom flit away, When the bold Lootie wheels his courser

round, And the armed elephant shall shake the

ground. Each noble pants to own the glorious sum.

mons; And for the charges-Lo! your faithful

Commons !"
The Riots who attended in their places

(Serendib language calls a farmer Riot) Looked ruefully in one another's faces, From this oration auguring much dis

quiet, Double assessment, forage, and free quar

ters; And fearing these as Chinamen the Tartars,

And next came forth the reverend Convo

cation, Bald heads, white beards, and many a

turban green, Imaum and Mollah there of every station,

Santon, Fakir, and Calendar were seen. Their votes were various—some advised a

mosque With fitting revenues should be erected, With seemly gardensand with gay kiosque,

To recreate a band of priests selected ; Others opined that through the realms a

dole Be made to holy men, whose prayers

might profit The Sultan's weal in body and in soul. But their long-headed chief, the Sheik

Ul-Sofit, More closely touched the point:—“Thy

studious mood," Quoth he, “O prince ! hath thickened all

thy blood, And dulled thy brain with labour beyond

measure ; Wherefore relax a space and. take thy

pleasure, And toy with beauty, or tell o'er thy

treasure ! From all the cares of state, my liege, en

large thee, And leave the burden to thy faithful clergy."

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These councils sage availèd not a whit,

And so the patient (as is not uncommon Where grave physicians lose their time and

wit) Resolved to take advice of an old woman; His mother she, a dame who once was

beauteous, And still was called so by each subject

duteous. Now, whether Fatima was witch in earnest,

Or only made believe, I cannot sayBut she professed to cure disease the

sternest By dint of magic amulet or lay; And, when all other skill in vain was shown, She deemed it fitting time to use her own.

"Sympathia magica hath wonders done," (Thus did old Fatima bespeak her son), " It works upon the fibres and the pores And thus, insensibly, our health restores,

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