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And sic a night he taks the road in,
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last,
The rattlin show'rs rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd:
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 thire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire ;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares :
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.--
By this time he was cross the ford,
Whare in the spaw the chapman smoor'd;
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 murder'd bairo;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel.
Before him Doon pours all his floods;
The doubling storm roars through the woods ;
The lightnings flash from pole to pole ;
Near and more near the thunders roll;
When, glinum’ring through the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze;
Through ilka bore the beams were glancing;
And.loud resounded mirth and daucing.-
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' tippenny, we fear na evil,
Wi' usquebae, we'll face the devil!
The swats sae ream'd in 1 ammie's noddle,
Fair play, he car'd pa deils a boddle.
But Maggie stood right sair astonishid,
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'a,
She ventur'd forward on the light :
And, vow! Tam saw an upco 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,
A 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 screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.-
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses ;
And by some dev’lish cantrip slight,
Each in its cauld hand held a light ;
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns ;
Twa span lang, wee, unchristen'd 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 maogled,
Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
The gray heirs yet stack to the heft;
Wi’ mair o' horrible and awfu',
Which ev'n to name wad be unlawfu'.
As Tammie glowr'd amaz'd and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious : The piper loud and louder blew; The dances quick and quicker flew; They reeld, they set, they cross'd, they cleekita Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linket at it in her sark !
Now Tam, o Tam! had thae been queans,
A’ plump and strapping in their teens ;
Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen,
Been snaw-white seventeen under linen!
Thir breeks o’mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o'gude blue hair,
I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies,
For ae blink o'the bonnie burdies !
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,
Lowping an' flinging on a crummock,
I wonder did na turn thy stomach.
But Tam ken’d what was what fu' brawlie,
There was ae winsome wench and wawlie,
That night enlisted in the core,
(Lang after kend on Carrick shore ;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perish'd 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 vauntie.
Ah! little kend thy rev’rend grannie,
That sark she coft for her weo Nannie,
Wi’ twa pund Scots, ('twas a' her riches,)
Wad ever grac'd a dance of witches !
But bere my Muse her wing maun cour,
Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r;
To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
(A souple jade she was and strang,)
and how Tan stood like ane bewitch’d,
And thought his very een enrich'd ;
Even Satan glowr'd and fidg'd fu' fain,
And hotch'd and blew wi' might an' main :
Till first ae caper, syne abither,
Tam tiot his reason a' thegither,
Aud roars out, “Weel done, Cutty sark!
And in an instant all was dark :
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
When plund'ring 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 skreech and hollow.
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam ! thou'll get thy fairin!
In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin ;
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu' woman !
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane* of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A rupning stream they dare na cross,
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fiènt a tail she bad to shake!
For Nanniè, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam’ wi' furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie's inettle-
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 of truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother's son, take heed :
Whene'er to drink you are inclin'd,
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think, ye may buy the joys o'er dear,-
Remember Tam o Shanter's mare.
• It is a well-kuown tradition that witches, or any evil spirits have no power to follow a poor wight any farther than the middle of the next running stream.It may be proper
likewise to mention to the benighted traveller, that, when he falls in with bogles, whatever danger may be in his going forward, there is much more hazard in turning back,
ON A CELEBRATED RULING ELDER.
HERE sowter **** in death does sleep;
To hell if he's gane thither, Satan, gie him thy gear to keep,
He'll haud it weel thegither.
ON A NOISY POLEMIC.!
Below thir stanes lie Jamie's banes :
O Death, its my opinion,
Thou neer took such a bleth'ren b-tch
Into thy dark dominion !
WHOE'ER thou art, 0 reader, know
That death has murder'd Johnnie ! An' here his body lies fu' low
For saul be pe'er had ony.
Is there a whim-inspired fool,
Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool,