Poems by Robert Tannahill
"Towser — A Tale," - was written on the death of the Poet's
dog, which used to accompany him in all his rambles on Gleniffer
Braes, in Newton Woods and around Crookston Castle.
Towser. A True Tale. 20th July, 1806.
“Dogs are honest creatures,
Ne'er fawn on any that they love not;
And I'm a friend to dogs—
They ne'er betray their masters.”
In mony an instance, without doubt,
The man may copy from the brute,
And by th' example grow much wiser;—
Then read the short memoirs of Towser.
With def'rence to our great Lavaters,
Wha judge a' mankind by their features,
There 's a mony a smiling, pleasant-fac'd cock
That wears a heart no' worth a castock;
While mony a visage, antic, droll,
O'erveils a noble, gen'rous soul.
With Towser this was just the case:
He had an ill-faur'd tawted face,
His make was something like a messin,
But big, and quite unprepossessin'.
His master coft him frae some fallows,
Wha had him doom'd unto the gallows,
Because (sae hap'd poor Towser's lot)
He wadna tear a comrade's throat;
Yet in affairs of love or honour
He 'd stand his part amang a hunner,
And where'er fighting was a merit
He never fail'd to show his spirit.
He never girn'd in neighbour's face
With wild, ill-natur'd scant of grace;
Nor e'er accosted ane with smiles,
Then, soon as turn'd, would bite his heels;
Nor ever kent the courtier art,
To fawn with rancour at his heart;
Nor aught kent he of cankert quarrelling,
Nor snarling just for sake of snarling:
Ye 'd pinch him sair afore he 'd growl,
Which shows he had a mighty soul.
But what adds maistly to his fame,
And will immortalise his name—
Thy lines are dull as darkest night,
Without ae spark o' wit or glee
To licht them through futurity.
E'en be it sae)—poor Towser's story,
Though lamely tauld, will speak his glory.
'Twas in the month o' cauld December,
When nature's fire seem'd just an ember,
And growling winter bellow'd forth
In storms and tempests frae the north,
When honest Towser's loving master,
Regardless o' the surly bluster,
Set out to the neist borough town
To buy some needments of his own,
And, case some purse-pest should waylay him,
He took his trusty servant wi' him.
His business done, 'twas near the gloaming,
And aye the king o' storms was foaming;
The doors did ring—lum-pigs down tumbl'd—
The strands gush'd big—the sinks loud rumbl'd;
Auld grannies spread their looves, and sigh'd,
Wi' “Oh, sirs! what an awfu' night!”
Poor Towser shook his sides a' draigl'd,
And 's master grudg'd that he had taigl'd;
But, wi' his merchandizing load,
Come weel, come wae, he took the road.
Now clouds drave o'er the fields like drift,
Night flung her black cloak o'er the lift,
And through the naked trees and hedges
The horrid storm, redoubled, rages;
And, to complete his piteous case,
It blew directly in his face.
Whiles 'gainst the footpath stabs he thumped,
Whiles o'er the coots in holes he plumped;
But on he gaed, and on he waded,
Till he at length turn'd faint and jaded.
To gang he could nae langer bide,
But lay down by the bare dyke-side.—
Now, wife and bairns rush'd on his soul;
He groan'd—poor Towser loud did howl,
And, mourning, cower'd down beside him;
But, oh! his master couldna heed him,
For now his senses 'gan to dozen,
His vera life-streams maist were frozen,
An 't seemed as if the cruel skies
Exulted o'er their sacrifice;
For fierce the winds did o'er him hiss,
And dashed the sleet on his cauld face.
As on a rock, far, far frae land,
Twa shipwreck'd sailors shiv'ring stand,
If chance a vessel they descry,
Their hearts exult with instant joy;
Sae was poor Towser joy'd to hear
The tread of trav'llers drawing near.
He ran, and yowl'd, and fawn'd upon 'em,
But couldna make them understand him,
Till, tugging at the foremost's coat,
He led them to the mournfu' spot,
Where, cauld and stiff, his master lay,
To the rude storm a helpless prey.
With Caledonian sympathy
They bore him kindly on the way,
Until they reach'd a cottage bien.
They tauld the case, were welcom'd in.
The rousing fire, the cordial drop,
Restor'd him soon to life and hope;
Fond raptures beam'd in Towser's eye,
And antic gambols spake his joy.
Wha reads this simple tale may see
The worth of sensibility,
And learn frae it to be humane—
In Towser's life he sav'd his ain.
Baudrons And The Hen Bird. A Fable.
Some folks there are of such behaviour,
They 'll cringe themselves into your favour,
And when you think their friendship staunch is,
They 'll tear your character to inches:
T' enforce this truth as well 's I 'm able,
Please, reader, to peruse a fable.
Deborah, an auld wealthy maiden,
With spleen, remorse, and scandal laden,
Sought out a solitary spat,
To live in quiet with her cat,
A meikle, sonsy, tabby she ane,
(For Deborah abhorr'd a he ane);
And in the house, to be a third,
She gat a wee hen chuckie bird.
Soon as our slee nocturnal ranger
Beheld the wee bit timid stranger,
She thus began, with friendly fraise:
“Come ben, puir thing, and warm your taes;
This weather's cauld, and wet, and dreary,
I 'm wae to see you look sae eerie.
Sirs! how your tail and wings are dreeping!
Ye 've surely been in piteous keeping;
See, here 's my dish, come tak' a pick o 't,
But, 'deed, I fear there 's scarce a lick o 't.”
Sic sympathising words of sense
Soon gain'd poor chuckie's confidence;
And while Deborah mools some crumbs,
Auld baudrons sits and croodling thrums:
In short, the twa soon grew sae pack,
Chuck roosted upon pussy's back!
But ere sax wee short days were gane,
When baith left in the house alane,
Then thinks the hypocritic sinner,
Now, now 's my time to ha'e a dinner:
Sae, with a squat, a spring, and squall,
She tore poor chuckie spawl frae spawl.
Then mind this maxim: Rash acquaintance
Aft leads to ruin and repentance.
The Ambitious Mite. A Fable.
When Hope persuades, and Fame inspires us,
And Pride with warm ambition fires us,
Let Reason instant seize the bridle,
And wrest us frae the passions' guidal;
Else, like the hero of our fable,
We 'll aft be plung'd into a habble.
'Twas on a bonnie simmer day,
When a' the insect tribes were gay,
Some journeying o'er the leaves of roses,
Some brushing thrang their wings and noses,
Some wallowing sweet in bramble blossom,
In Luxury's saft downy bosom;
While ithers of a lower order
Were perch'd on plantain leaf's smooth border,
Wha frae their twa-inch steeps look'd down,
And view'd the kintra far around.
Ae pridefu' elf, amang the rest,
Wha's pin-point heart bumpt 'gainst his breast,
To work some mighty deed of fame
That would immortalise his name,
Through future hours would hand him down,
The wonder of an afternoon;
(For ae short day with them appears
As lang 's our lengthen'd hunner years).
By chance, at hand, a bow'd horse hair
Stood up six inches high in air;
He plann'd to climb this lofty arch,
With philosophic deep research,
To prove (which aft perplex their heads)
What people peopled ither blades,
Or, from keen observation, show
Whether they peopled were or no.
Our tiny hero onward hies,
Quite big with daring enterprise;
Ascends the hair's curvatur'd side,
Now pale with fear, now red with pride,
Now hanging pend'lous by the claw,
Now glad at having 'scaped a fa'.
What horrid dangers he came through
Would trifling seem for man to know;
Suffice, at length he reached the top,
The summit of his pride and hope,
And on his elevated station
Had plac'd himself for observation,
When, puff—the wind did end the matter,
And dash'd him in a horse-hoof gutter.
Sae let the lesson gi'en us here
Keep each within his proper sphere,
And when our fancies tak' their flight,
Think on the wee ambitious mite.
The Storm. Written In October.
Now the dark rains of autumn discolour the brook,
And the rough winds of winter the woodlands deform,
Here, lonely, I lean by the sheltering rock,
A-list'ning the voice of the loud-howling storm.
Now dreadfully furious it roars on the hill,
The deep-groaning oaks seem all writhing with pain;
Now awfully calm, for a moment 'tis still,
Then bursting it howls and it thunders again.
How cheerless and desert the fields now appear,
Which so lately in summer's rich verdure were seen,
And each sad drooping spray from its heart drops a tear,
As seeming to weep its lost mantle of green.
See, beneath the rude wall of yon ruinous pile,
From the merciless tempest the cattle have fled,
And yon poor patient steed, at the gate by the stile,
Looks wistfully home for his sheltering shed.
Ah! who would not feel for yon poor gipsy race,
Peeping out from the door of the old roofless barn;
There my wandering fancy her fortunes might trace,
And sour Discontent there a lesson might learn.
Yet oft in my bosom arises the sigh,
That prompts the warm wish distant scenes to explore;
Hope gilds the fair prospect with visions of joy,
That happiness reigns on some far distant shore.
But yon grey hermit-tree which stood lone on the moor,
By the fierce driving blast to the earth is blown down:
So the lone houseless wand'rer, unheeded and poor,
May fall unprotected, unpitied, unknown.
See! o'er the grey steep, down the deep craggy glen,
Pours the brown foaming torrent, swell'd big with the rain:
It roars through the caves of its dark wizard den,
Then, headlong, impetuous it sweeps through the plain.
Now the dark heavy clouds have unbosom'd their stores,
And far to the westward the welkin is blue,
The sullen winds hiss as they die on the moors,
And the sun faintly shines on yon bleak mountain's brow.
“Him who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.”
'Twas on a sunny Sabbath-day,
When wark-worn bodies get their play
(Thanks to the rulers o' the nation,
Wha gi'e us all a toleration,
To gang as best may please oursel's—
Some to the kirk, some to the fiel's),
I wander'd out, with serious look,
To read twa page on Nature's book;
For lang I 've thought, as little harm in
Hearing a lively out-field sermon,
Even though rowted by a stirk,
As that aft bawl'd in crowded kirk
By some proud, stern, polemic wight,
Wha cries, “My way alone is right!”
Wha lairs himself in controversy,
Then damns his neighbours without mercy,
As if the fewer that were spar'd,
These few would be the better ser'd.
Now to my tale—digression o'er—
I wander'd out by Stanely tow'r;
The lang grass on its tap did wave,
Like weeds upon a warrior's grave,
Whilk seem'd to mock the bloody braggers,
And grow on theirs as rank 's on beggars'—
But hold—I 'm frae the point again:
I wander'd up Gleniffer glen;
There, leaning 'gainst a mossy rock,
I, musing, eyed the passing brook,
That in its murmurs seem'd to say,
“'Tis thus thy life glides fast away:
Observe the bubbles on my stream;
Like them, fame is an empty dream;
They blink a moment to the sun,
Then burst, and are for ever gone.
So fame 's a bubble of the mind;
Possess'd, 'tis nought but empty wind—
No courtly gem e'er purchas'd dearer,
And ne'er can satisfy the wearer.
Let them wha ha'e a bleezing share o 't
Confess the truth, they sigh for mair o 't.
Then let contentment be thy cheer,
And never soar aboon thy sphere:
Rude storms assail the mountain's brow
That lightly skiff the vale below.”
A gaudy rose was growing near,
Proud, tow'ring on its leafy brier;
In fancy's ear it seemed to say—
“Sir, have you seen a flow'r so gay?
The poets in my praise combine,
Comparing Chloe's charms to mine;
The sunbeams for my favour sue me,
And dark-brow'd Night comes down to woo me;
But when I shrink from his request,
He draps his tears upon my breast,
And in his misty cloud sits wae,
Till chased away by rival day.
That streamlet's grov'lling grunting fires me,
Since no ane sees me, but admires me.
See yon bit violet 'neath my view.
Wee sallow thing, its nose is blue!
And that bit primrose 'side the breckan,
Puir yellow ghaist, it seems forsaken!
The sun ne'er throws ae transient glow,
Unless when passing whether or no;
But wisely spurning ane so mean,
He blinks on me from morn till e'en.”
To which the primrose calm replied:
“Poor gaudy gowk, suppress your pride,
For soon the strong flow'r-sweeping blast
Shall strew your honours in the dust;
While I, beneath my lowly bield,
Will live and bloom frae harm conceal'd;
And while the heavy raindrops pelt you,
You'll maybe think on what I 've tell't you.”
The rose, derisive, seem'd to sneer,
And wav'd upon its bonnie brier.
Now dark'ning clouds began to gather,
Presaging sudden change of weather.
I wander'd hame by Stanely green,
Deep pond'ring what I 'd heard and seen,
Firmly resolv'd to shun from hence
The dangerous steeps of eminence;
To drop this rhyming trade for ever,
And creep through life a plain, day-plodding weaver.
The Parnassiad. A Visionary view.
Come, Fancy, thou hast ever been,
In life's low vale, my ready frien',
To cheer the clouded hour;
Though unfledg'd with scholastic law,
Some visionary picture draw
With all thy magic pow'r.
Now to the intellectual eye
The glowing prospects rise,
Parnassus' lofty summits high,
Far tow'ring 'mid the skies,
Where vernally, eternally,
Rich leafy laurels grow,
With bloomy bays, through endless days,
To crown the Poet's brow.
Sure, bold is he who dares to climb
Yon awful jutting rock sublime,
Who dares Pegasus sit;
For should brain-ballast prove too light,
He 'll spurn him from his airy height,
Down to oblivion's pit,
There, to disgrace for ever doom'd,
To mourn his sick'ning woes,
And weep that ever he presum'd
Above the vale of prose.
Then, O beware! with prudent care,
Nor 'tempt the steeps of fame,
And leave behind thy peace of mind,
To gain a sounding name.
Behold!—yon ready rhyming carl,
With flatt'ry fir'd, attracts the warl',
By canker'd, pers'nal satire;
He takes th' unthinking crowd's acclaim
For sterling proofs of lasting fame,
And deals his inky spatter.
Now, see! he on Pegasus flies
With bluff, important straddle!
He bears him midway up the skies—
See! see! he 's off the saddle!
He headlong tumbles, growls and grumbles,
Down the dark abyss;
The noisy core, that prais'd before,
Now join the general hiss.
Now see another vent'rer rise,
Deep fraught with fulsome eulogies,
To win his patron's favour,—
One of those adulating things
That, dangling in the train of kings,
Give guilt a splendid cover.
He mounts, well prefac'd by “my Lord,”
Inflicts the spur's sharp wound;
Pegasus spurns the great man's word,
And won't move from the ground.
Now, mark his face, flush'd with disgrace,
Through future life to grieve on;
His wishes cross'd, his hopes all lost,
He sinks into oblivion.
Yon city scribbler thinks to scale
The cliffs of fame with Pastoral,
In worth thinks none e'er richer,
Yet never climbed the upland steep,
Nor e'er beheld a flock of sheep,
Save those driven by the butcher;
Nor ever mark'd the gurgling stream,
Except the common sewer.
On rainy days, when dirt and slime
Pour'd turbid past his door.
Choice epithets in store he gets
From Virgil, Shenstone, Pope,
With tailor art tacks part to part,
And makes his Past'ral up.
But see, rich clad in native worth,
Yon Bard of Nature ventures forth
In simple modest tale;
Applauding millions catch the song,
The raptur'd rocks the notes prolong,
And hand them to the gale.
Pegasus kneels—he takes his seat—
Now, see! aloft he tow'rs,
To place him 'bove the reach of fate,
In Fame's ambrosial bow'rs:
To be enroll'd with bards of old
In ever-honour'd station,
The gods, well-pleas'd, see mortals rais'd
Worthy of their creation.
Now, mark what crowds of hackney scribblers,
Imitators, rhyming dabblers,
Still follow in the rear!
Pegasus spurns us one by one,
Yet still, fame-struck, we follow on,
And tempt our fate severe:
In many a dogg'rel epitaph,
And short-lin'd, mournful ditty,
Our “Ahs!—Alases!” raise the laugh,
Revert the tide of pity.
Yet still we write in nature's spite,
Our last piece aye the best;
Arraigning still, complaining still,
The world for want of taste!
Observe yon poor deluded man,
With threadbare coat and visage wan,
Ambitious of a name;
The nat'ral claims of meat and cleeding,
He reckons these not worth the heeding,
But presses on for fame!
The public voice, touchstone of worth,
Anonymous he tries,
But draws the critic's vengeance forth—
His fancied glory dies.
Neglected now, dejected now,
He gives his spleen full scope;
In solitude he chews his cud—
A downright misanthrope.
Then, brother rhymsters, O beware!
Nor tempt unscar'd the specious snare,
Which self-love often weaves;
Nor dote, with a fond father's pains,
Upon the offspring of your brains,
For fancy oft deceives.
To lighten life, a wee bit sang
Is sure a sweet illusion!
But ne'er provoke the critic's stang
By premature intrusion.
Lock up your piece, let fondness cease,
Till mem'ry fail to bear it,
With critic lore then read it o'er,
Yourself may judge its merit.
Connel And Flora. A Scottish Legend.
“The western sun shines o'er the loch,
And gilds the mountain's brow,
But what are Nature's smiles to me,
Without the smile of you?
“O, will ye go to Garnock side,
Where birks and woodbines twine?
I 've sought you oft to be my bride,
When, when will ye be mine?”
“Oft as ye sought me for your bride,
My mind spoke frae my e'e;
Then wherefore seek to win a heart
That is not mine to gi'e?
“With Connel, down the dusky dale,
Long plighted are my vows;
He won my heart before I wist
I had a heart to lose.”
The fire flash'd from his eyes of wrath,
Dark gloom'd his heavy brow,
He grasped her in his arms of strength,
And strain'd to lay her low.
She wept and cried—the rocks replied;
The echoes from their cell,
On fairy wing, swift bore her voice
To Connel of the dell.
With vengeful haste he hied him up;
But when stern Donald saw
The youth approach, deep stung with guilt,
He, shame-fac'd, fled awa'.
“Ah! stay, my Connel—sheath thy sword;
O, do not him pursue!
For mighty are his arms of strength,
And thou the fight may rue.”
“No! wait thou here—I 'll soon return—
I mark'd him from the wood;
The lion heart of jealous love
Burns for its rival's blood.
“Ho! stop thee, coward—villain vile!
With all thy boasted art,
My sword's blade soon shall dim its shine
Within thy reynard heart!”
“Ha! foolish stripling, dost thou urge
The deadly fight with me?
This arm strove hard in Flodden Field,
Dost think 'twill shrink from thee?”
“Thy frequent vaunts of Flodden Field
Were ever fraught with guile:
For honour ever marks the brave,
But thou 'rt a villain vile!”
Their broad blades glitter to the sun,
The woods resound each clash;
Young Connel sinks 'neath Donald's sword,
With deep and deadly gash.
“Ah! dearest Flora, soon our morn
Of love is overcast!
The hills look dim—Alas! my love!”
He groaned, and breathed his last.
“Stay, ruthless ruffian!—murderer!
Here glut thy savage wrath!
Be thou the baneful minister
To join us low in death!”
In wild despair she tore her hair,
Sunk speechless by his side—
Mild evening wept in dewy tears,
And, wrapt in night, she died.
“The great, the important hour is come.”
Oh, Hope! thou wily nurse!
I see bad luck behind thy back,
Dark, brooding, deep remorse.
No fancied muse will I invoke
To grace my humble strain,
But sing my song in homely phrase,
Inspir'd by what I 've seen.
Here comes a “feeder” with his charge;
'Mong friends 'tis whisper'd straight,
How long he swung him on a string,
To bring him to his weight.
The carpet's laid—pit money drawn—
All's high with expectation;
With birds bereft of Nature's garb,
The “handlers” take their station.
What roaring, betting, bawling, swearing,
Loudly assail the ear!
“Three pounds!”—“four pounds, on Phillip's cock!”
“Done! done! come on, sir! here!”
Now cast a serious eye around—
Behold the motley group,
All gamblers, swindlers, ragamuffins,
Votaries of the stoup.
(But why of it thus lightly speak?
The poor man's one best frien'—
When fortune's sky lours dark and grim,
It clears the drumly scene.)
Here sits a wretch with meagre face,
And sullen, drowsy eye;
Nor speaks he much—last night, at cards,
A gamester drained him dry.
Here bawls another vent'rous soul,
Who risks his every farthing;
What deil 's the matter!—though at home
His wife and brats are starving.
See, here 's a father 'gainst a son,
A brother 'gainst a brother,
Who e'en with more than common spite
Bark hard at one another.
But see yon fellow all in black,
His looks speak inward joy;
Mad happy since his father's death,
Sporting his legacy.
And mark that aged debauchee,
With red bepimpl'd face—
He fain would bet a crown or two,
But purse is not in case.
But hark!—what cry!—“He 's run! he 's run!”—
And loud huzzas take place—
Now mark what deep dejection sits
On every loser's face.
Observe the owner—frantic man,
With imprecations dread,
He grasps his vanquish'd idol-god,
And quick twirls off his head.
But, bliss attend their feeling souls
Who no such deeds delight in!
Brutes are but brutes—let men be men,
Nor pleasure in cock-fighting.
Prologue to the Gentle Shephard. Spoken In a Provincial Theatre.
Ye patronisers of our little party,
My heart 's e'en light to see you a' sae hearty;
I 'm fain indeed, and troth! I 've meikle cause,
Since your blithe faces half insure applause.
We come this night wi' nae new-fangl'd story
Of knave's deceit, or fop's vain blust'ring glory,
Nor harlequin's wild pranks, with skin like leopard;
We 're come to gi'e your ain auld Gentle Shepherd,
Whilk aye will charm, and will be read and acket,
Till Time himsel' turn auld, and kick the bucket.
I mind, langsyne, when I was just a callan,
That a' the kintra rang in praise o' Allan;
Ilk rising generation toots his fame,
And, hunner years to come, 'twill be the same:
For wha has read, though e'er sae lang sinsyne,
But keeps the living picture on his min';
Approves bauld Patie's clever, manly turn,
And maist think Roger cheap o' Jenny's scorn;
His dowless gait, the cause of a' his care,
For “Nane, except the brave, deserve the fair.”
Hence sweet young Peggy lo'ed her manly Pate,
And Jenny geck'd at Roger, dowf and blate.
Our gude Sir William stands a lesson leal
To lairds wha 'd ha'e their vassals lo'e them weel;
To prince and peer this maxim it imparts,
Their greatest treasures are the people's hearts.
Frae Glaud and Simon would we draw a moral—
“The virtuous youth-time mak's the canty carl”;
The twa auld birkies caper blithe and bauld,
Nor shaw the least regret that they 're turned auld.
Poor Bauldy! O, it 's like to split my jaws!
I think I see him under Madge's claws:
Sae may Misfortune tear him spawl and plack,
Wha 'd wrang a bonnie lass, and syne draw back.
But, Sirs, to you I maist forgat my mission:
I 'm sent to beg a truce to criticism.
We don't pretend to speak by square and rule,
Like yon wise chaps bred up in Thespian school;
And to your wishes should we not succeed,
Pray be sae kind as tak' the will for deed.
(And as our immortal Robin Burns says),
“And aiblins though they winna stand the test,
Wink hard and say, the folks ha'e done their best”;
And keep this gen'rous maxim still in min',
“To err is human, to forgive divine!”
Will MacNeil's Elegy.
“He was a man without a clag;
His heart was frank without a flaw.”
Responsive to the roaring floods,
Ye winds, howl plaintive through the woods;
Thou gloomy sky, pour down hail clouds,
His death to wail;
For bright as heaven's brightest studs,
Shin'd Will MacNeil.
He every selfish thought did scorn,
His warm heart in his looks did burn,
Ilk body own'd his kindly turn,
And gait sae leal;
A kinder saul was never born
Than Will MacNeil.
He ne'er kept up a hidlin plack
To spend ahint a comrade's back,
But on the table gar'd it whack
Wi' free gude will:
Free as the wind on winter stack
Was Will MacNeil.
He ne'er could bide a narrow saul,
To a' the social virtues caul';
He wish'd ilk sic a fiery scaul',
His shins to peel;
Nane sic durst herd in field or faul'
Wi' Will MacNeil.
He aye abhorr'd the spaniel art;
Aye when he spak' 'twas frae the heart;
An honest, open, manly part
He aye uphel';
“Guile should be develt in the dirt,”
Said Will MacNeil.
He ne'er had greed to gather gear,
Yet rigid kept his credit clear;
He ever was to Misery dear,
Her loss she 'll feel:
She aye got saxpence, or a tear,
Frae Will MacNeil.
In Scots antiquities he pridit;
Auld Hardyknute, he kent wha made it;
The bagpipe, too, he sometimes 'say'd it,
Pibroch and reel:
Our ain auld language, few could read it
Like Will MacNeil.
In wilyart glens he lik'd to stray,
By foggie rocks, or castle gray;
Yet ghaist-rid rustics ne'er did say,
They fill'd their horns wi' usquebae
To Will MacNeil.
He sail'd and trampit mony a mile,
To visit auld I-columb-kill;
He clamb the heights o' Jura's isle,
Wi' weary speil;
But siccan sights aye pay'd the toil
Wi' Will MacNeil.
He rang'd through Morven's hills and glens,
Saw some o' Ossian's moss-grown stanes,
Where rest his low-laid heroes' banes,
Deep in the hill;
He croon'd a c'ronach to their manes,—
Kind Will MacNeil!
He was deep-read in nature's book,
Explor'd ilk dark mysterious crook,
Kent a' her laws wi' antrin look,
And that right weel;
But (fate o' genius) death soon took
Aff Will MacNeil.
Of ilka rock he kent the ore,
He kent the virtues o' ilk flow'r,
Ilk banefu' plant he kent its power,
And warn'd frae ill:
A' nature's warks few could explore
Like Will MacNeil.
He kent a' creatures, clute and tail,
Down frae the lion to the snail,
Up frae the mennon to the whale,
And kraken eel;
Scarce ane could tell their gaits sae weel
As Will MacNeil.
Nor past he ought thing slightly by,
But with keen scrutinizing eye
He to its inmaist bore would pry,
Wi' wondrous skill;
And teaching ithers aye ga'e joy
To Will MacNeil.
He kent auld Archimedes' gait,
What way he burnt the Roman fleet:
“'Twas by the rays' reflected heat
Frae speculum steel;
For bare refraction ne'er could do't,”
Said Will MacNeil.
Yet fame his praise did never rair it,
For poortith's weeds obscur'd his merit,
Forby, he had a bashfu' spirit,
That sham'd to tell
His worth or wants; let envy spare it
To Will MacNeil.
O Barra, thou wast sair to blame!
I here record it to thy shame,
Thou let the brightest o' thy name
Through murky life to his lang hame,—
Poor Will MacNeil.
He ne'er did wrang to living creature,
For ill, Will hadna 't in his nature;
A warm, kind heart his leading feature,
His mainspring wheel;
Ilk virtue grew to noble stature
In Will MacNeil.
There 's no' a man that ever kent him
But wi' his tears will lang lament him;
He hasna left his match ahint him,
At hame or 'fiel';
His worth lang on our minds will print him—
Kind Will MacNeil.
But close, my sang; my hamert lays
Are far unfit to speak his praise;
Our happy nights, our happy days,
Now dowie, mute—tears speak our waes
For Will MacNeil!
Get up, my Muse, and sound thy chanter,
Nae langer wi' our feelings saunter;
Ilk true-blue Scot, get up and canter,
He 's hale and weel!
And lang may Fate keep aff mischanter
Frae Will MacNeil.
Sonnet To Sincerity.
Pure emanation of the honest soul,
Dear to my heart, manly Sincerity!
Dissimulation shrinks—a coward foul—
Before thy noble art-detesting eye.
Thou scorn'st the wretch who acts a double part,
Obsequious, servile, flatt'ring to betray,
With smiling face that veils a ranc'rous heart,
Like sunny morning of tempestuous day.
Thou spurn'st the sophist, with his guilty lore,
Whom int'rest prompts to weave the specious snare;
In independence rich, thou own'st a store
Of conscious worth, which changelings never share.
Then come, bright virtue, with thy dauntless brow,
And crush deceit, vile monster, reptile low.
The Contrast. Inscribed To James Scadlock. August, 1803.
When Love proves false, and friends betray us,
All nature seems a dismal chaos
Of wretchedness and woe;
We stamp mankind a base ingrate;
Half loathing life, we challenge fate
To strike the final blow.
Then settled grief, with wild despair,
Stares from our bloodshot eyes,
Though oft we try to hide our care,
And check our bursting sighs.
Still vexed, sae wretched,
We seek some lonely wood;
There sighing, and crying,
We pour the briny flood.
Mark the contrast—what joys we find,
With friends sincere and beauty kind,
Congenial to our wishes;
Then life appears a summer's day;
Adown Time's crystal stream we play,
As sportive's little fishes.
We see nought then but general good,
Which warm pervades all nature;
Our hearts expand with gratitude
Unto the great Creator.
Then let 's revere the virtuous fair,
The friend whose truth is tried;
For, without these, go where we please,
We 'll always find a void.
The Old Beggar.
Do you see the old beggar who sits at the gate,
With his beard silvered over like snow?
Though he smiles, as he meets the keen arrows of fate,
Still his bosom is wearied with woe.
Many years has he sat at the foot of the hill;
Many days seen the summer sun rise;
And, at evening, the passenger passes him still,
While the shadows steal over the skies.
In the bleak blasts of winter, he hobbles along
O'er the heath at the dawning of day;
And the dewdrops that freeze the rude thistles among
Are the stars that illumine his way.
The time was when this beggar, in martial trim dight,
Was as bold as the chief of his throng,
When he marched through the storms of the day or the night,
And still smiled as he journeyed along.
Then, his form was athletic,—his eye's vivid glance
Spoke the lustre of youth's glowing day;
And the village all marked, in the combat and dance,
The brave youngster—still valiant as gay.
When the prize was proposed, how his footsteps would bound
While the maid of his heart led the throng;
While the ribbons that circled the Maypole around
Waved the trophies of garlands among.
See him now; white with age, and with sorrow oppressed,
He the gate opens slowly, and sighs.
See him drop the big tears on the woe-withered breast—
The big tears that fall fast from his eyes.
See, his habit all tattered, his shrivelled cheek pale!
See, his locks waving thin in the air!
See, his lip is half froze with the sharp-cutting gale,
And his head, o'er the temples, all bare!
Now, the eyebeam no longer in lustre displays
The warm sunshine that visits his breast;
For deep sunk in its orbit, and darkened its rays,
And he sighs for the grave's silent rest!
And his voice is grown feeble, his accent is slow,
And he sees not the distant hill-side;
And he hears not the breezes of morn as they blow,
Nor the streams that soft-murmuring glide.
To him, all is silent and mournful and dim,
Even the seasons pass dreary and slow,—
For affliction has placed its cold fetters on him,
And his soul is enamoured of woe.
See the tear which—imploring—is fearful to roll,
Though in silence he bows, as you stray:
'Tis the eloquent silence that speaks to the soul;
'Tis the star of his slow-setting day!
Perchance, ere the May blossoms cheerfully wave,—
Ere the zephyrs of summer soft sigh,—
The sunbeams shall dance o'er the grass on his grave,
And his journey be marked—to the sky.
On Alexander Wilson's Emigration To America.
O Death! it 's no thy deed I mourn,
Though oft my heart-strings thou hast torn;
'Tis worth and merit left forlorn,
Life's ills to dree,
Gars now the pearly, brackish burn
Gush frae my e'e.
Is there who feels the melting glow
Of sympathy for ithers' woe?
Come let our tears thegither flow;
O join my mane!
For Wilson, worthiest of us a',
For aye is gane.
He bravely strove 'gainst fortune's stream,
While hope held forth ae distant gleam;
Till dash'd and dash'd, time after time,
On life's rough sea,
He wept his thankless native clime,
And sail'd away.
The patriot bauld, the social brither,
In him were sweetly join'd thegither;
He knaves reprov'd, without a swither,
In keenest satire,
And taught what mankind owe each ither
As sons of nature.
If thou hast heard his wee bit “Wren”
Wail forth its sorrow through the glen,
Tell how his warm, descriptive pen
Has thrill'd thy soul:
His sensibility sae keen,
He felt for all.
Since now he 's gane, and Burns is deid,
Ah! wha will tune the Scottish reed?
Her thistle, dowie, hangs its head;
Her harp's unstrung;
While mountain, river, loch, and mead,
Fareweel, thou much neglected bard!
These lines will speak my warm regard;
While strangers on a foreign sward
Thy worth hold dear,
Still some kind heart thy name shall guard
Eild. A Fragment.
The rough hail rattles through the trees,
The sullen lift low'rs gloomy gray,
The trav'ller sees the swelling storm,
And seeks the ale-house by the way.
But, wae 's me! for yon widow'd wretch,
Borne down with years and heavy care,
Her sapless fingers scarce can nip
The wither'd twigs to beet her fire.
Thus youth and vigour fends itsel';
Its help, reciprocal, is sure,
While dowless Eild, in poortith cauld,
Is lonely left to stand the stoure.
The Poor Bowlman's Remonstrance.
Through winter's cold and summer's heat,
I earn my scanty fare;
From morn till night, along the street,
I cry my earthen ware.
Then, O let pity sway your souls!
And mock not that decrepitude
Which draws me from my solitude
To cry my plates and bowls!
From thoughtless youth I often brook
The trick and taunt of scorn,
And though indiff'rence marks my look,
My heart with grief is torn.
Then, O let pity sway your souls!
Nor sneer contempt in passing by;
Nor mock, derisive, while I cry,
“Come, buy my plates and bowls.”
The potter moulds the passive clay
To all the forms you see;
And that same Pow'r that formèd you
Hath likewise fashion'd me.
Then, O let pity sway your souls!—
Though needy, poor as poor can be,
I stoop not to your charity,
But cry my plates and bowls.
The Plunkin Weddin'.
Plunkin kens a queer auld cock they ca' Rab,
Wha has hoarded his hugger in coppers;
Hauf his house is filled up wi' his wab,
While the ither hauf looks like a broker's.
Auld Rab had seen bonnie Ann Auchencloss
Washin' claes at the Marshall's Lane dippin',
Sae, he reckoned the profit an' loss
If his house to a wife he should lippin.
Syne he trysted a blue coat at the Cross,—
It was Symington's best, wi' brass buttons;
Wi' Wright's wig, that his gran'faither Rab Ross
Had bequeathed, wi' shoe buckles an' stockin's.
Rab took up the want, dressed, in the mirk,
Creeping near Ann's backdoor in a hover,—
“Look,” quoth the faither, “What ails that daft stirk?”
Quo' the mither, “Come in for a bother.”
But she guessed by the sheen o' his e'e,
An' the queer way Rab aye glintet at her;
So, “Gudeman, wheesht, lea' this wooin' wi' me,
An' I 'll fix 't in a five minute's clatter,”—
For she weel kent Rabbie's gear wasna sma'.
Puir Ann gloomed; says her mam, “What's the matter?”
“Mither, in this warl' I 'll ne'er wed ava,
If my choice is confined to that creature.”
But Rabbie wheetlit her out in the dark,
Wi' his beard he was ne'er owre particular,
Ettlin', if Ann gaed him a squeeze or a smirk,
The jags o' his bristles would tickle her.
They brocht hame braws for the bride, quite a load;
Puir Ann wrocht, an' her mither sae wrocht her,
That, before Martinmas morn, Abbey Boog
Had united auld Rab to her dochter.
They sent for yill in abundance frae Mair,
An' a dram frae Lochheid's roun' the corner,
Widow Rule's winnock gleamit like a fair
Wi' pies, puddin's, and haggis extraord'nar'.
They had drank Rab and Ann's health in ae glass,
Sung, danced, feasted, and fuddled till mornin';
When Annie's haun' (out o' sicht) got a press,
An' a whisper—“It 's time for adjournin'.”
Then she reeled out o' the door in a jig,
Wi' auld Rabbie hip-steppin' behint her;
But the daunert bodie's gran'faither's wig
Was pu'd aff on the door by a splinter.
Rab reached hame saft and sair out o' breath,
Through a hole at the foot o' his steadin',
Crying—“Annie, fix the latch,—I fear scaith;
I 've been bothert for days 'bout our beddin'.”
Annie creeped into her bed like a lamb,
An' was saftly asleep in a twinklin';
Tremblin', Rab ahint the door took his stan',
Lest the rascals should burst up the fast'nin'.
Wi' peep o' day, Ann flew up like a lark,
Fried twa eggs wi' the ham she had skirlin'.
“Is a breakfast to be first o' your wark,
Ye young, wasterfu' jade?” Rab cried, snarlin'.
“Hear ye,” says Ann, “I 'll tak' nane o' your snash”;
“Deed,” quoth Rab, “I 'll ha'e nane o' yours either.”
“Daft coof,—as sure's I 'm a maid an' a lass,
I 'll gae scamperin' hame to my faither.
Ye silly gouk, I think mair o' mysel'
Than be deeved the day long wi' your havers,
For your bald head 's aye covered wi' kell,
An' your birsie beard 's dreepin' wi' slavers.”
But noo, the racket frae less gaed to mair;
Auld Rab lifted his hauns for correction,
When young Ann whamelt him owre on the flair,
An' flew hame for her faither's protection.
Noo, the haill toun resounds wi' the clish-clash,
Talk that 's bad baith for Rabbie and Annie;
Tongue ne'er tell't, if, instead o' the young lass,
Rab had cocket his wig for her grannie.
The Recruiting Service Drum.
I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round and round and round;
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glitt'ring arms,
And, when Ambition's voice commands,
March, fight, and fall in foreign lands.
I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round and round and round;
To me it talks of ravaged plains,
And burning towns, and ruined swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans,
And all that Misery's hand bestows
To swell the list of human woes.
Prayer Under Affliction.
Almighty Power, who wing'st the storm,
And calm'st the raging wind,
Restore health to my wasted form,
And tranquillise my mind.
For, ah! how poignant is the grief
Which self-misconduct brings,
When racking pains find no relief,
And injur'd conscience stings.
Let penitence forgiveness plead,
Hear lenient mercy's claims,
Thy justice let be satisfied,
And blotted out my crimes.
But should thy sacred law of right
Seek life, a sacrifice,
O! haste that awful, solemn night,
When death shall veil mine eyes.
The Filial Vow.
Why heaves my mother oft the deep-drawn sigh?
Why starts the big tear glist'ning in her eye?
Why oft retire to hide her bursting grief?
Why seeks she not, nor seems to wish relief?
'Tis for my father, mould'ring with the dead,
My brother, in bold manhood, lowly laid,
And for the pains which age is doom'd to bear,
She heaves the deep-drawn sigh, and drops the secret tear.
Yes, partly these her gloomy thoughts employ,
But mostly this o'erclouds her every joy:
She grieves to think she may be burdensome,
Now feeble, old, and tott'ring to the tomb.
O hear me, Heaven! and record my vow;
Its non-performance let Thy wrath pursue!
I swear—Of what Thy providence may give,
My mother shall her due maintenance have.
'Twas hers to guide me through life's early day,
To point out virtue's path, and lead the way:
Now, while her powers in frigid languor sleep,
'Tis mine to hand her down life's rugged steep,
With all her little weaknesses to bear,
Attentive, kind, to soothe her every care.
'Tis Nature bids, and truest pleasure flows
From lessening an aged parent's woes.
Ode To Jealousy.
Mark what demon hither bends,
Gnawing still his finger-ends,
Wrapt in contemplation deep,
Wrathful, yet inclin'd to weep.
Thy wizard gait, thy breath-check'd broken sigh,
Thy burning cheeks, thy lips, black, wither'd, dry;
Thy side-thrown glance, with wild malignant eye,
Betray thy foul intent, infernal Jealousy.
Hence, thou self-tormenting fiend,
To thy spleen-dug cave descend,
Fancying wrongs that never were,
Rend thy bosom, tear thy hair;
Brood, fell hate, within thy den,
Come not near the haunts of men.
Let man be faithful to his brother man,
Nor, guileful, still revert kind Heaven's plan;
Then slavish fear and mean distrust shall cease,
And confidence confirm a lasting mental peace.
The Trifler's Sabbath-Day.
Loud sounds the deep-mouthed parish bell,
Religion kirkward hies,
John lies in bed and counts each knell,
And thinks 'tis time to rise.
But, O how weak are man's resolves!
His projects ill to keep,
John thrusts his nose beneath the clothes,
And dozes o'er asleep.
Now fairy fancy plays her freaks
Upon his sleep-swell'd brain;
He dreams—he starts—he mutt'ring speaks,
And waukens wi' a grane.
He rubs his een—the clock strikes twelve—
Impell'd by hunger's grup,
One mighty effort backs resolve—
He 's up—at last he 's up!
Hunger appeased, his cutty pipe
Employs his time till two,—
And now he saunters through the house,
And knows not what to do.
He baits the trap—catches a mouse—
He sports it round the floor;
He swims it in a water tub—
Gets glorious fun till our!
And now of cats, and mice, and rats,
He tells a thousand tricks,
Till even dulness tires herself,
For hark—the clock strikes six!
Now view him in his easy chair
Recline his pond'rous head;
'Tis eight—now Bessie rakes the fire,
And John must go to bed!
Stanzas. Written With A Pencil On The Gravestone Of A Departed Friend.
Stop, passenger—here muse a while:
Think on his darksome, lone abode,
Who late, like thee, did jocund smile,
Now lies beneath this cold green sod.
Art thou to vicious ways inclin'd,
Pursuing pleasure's flow'ry road?
Know—fell remorse shall rack thy mind,
When tott'ring to thy cold green sod.
If thou a friend to virtue art,
Oft pitying burden'd misery's load;
Like thee, he had a feeling heart
Who lies beneath this cold green sod.
With studious, philosophic eye
He look'd through Nature up to God;
His future hope his greatest joy,
Who lies beneath this cold green sod.
Go, passenger—revere this truth:
A life well spent in doing good
Soothes joyless age, and sprightly youth,
When drooping o'er the cold green sod.
The Hauntet Wud. In Imitation Of John Barbour, An Old Scots Poet.
Quhy screim the crowis owr yonder wud,
Witht loude and clamourynge dynne,
Haf deifenynge the torrentis roare,
Quhilk dashis owr yon linne?
Quhy straye the flokis far outowr,
Alang the stanery lee,
And wil nocht graze anear the wud,
Thof ryche the pasturis be?
And quhy dis oft the sheipherdis dug,
Gif that ane lamikyne straye,
Ay yamf and yowl besyde the wud,
Nae farthir yn wil gaye?
“Marvil thee nocht at quhat thou seist,”
The tremblynge rusticke sayde,
“For yn that feindis-hauntet wud
Hath guyltlesse blude been sched.
“Thou seist far doun yon buschye howe,
An eldrin castil greye,
Witht teth of tyme, and weir of wyndis,
Fast mouldiryng yn decaye.
“'Twas ther the jealous Barrone livit,
Witht Lady Anne hys wyfe;
He fleichit hyr neatht that wudis dark glume,
And revit hyr ther of lyffe.
“And eir hyr fayre bodye was founde,
The flesch cam fra the bane,
The snailis sat, feistyng onne hyr cheikis,
The spydiris velit hyr ein.
“And evir syne nae beist nor byrde
Will byde twa nichtis thair,
For fearful yellis and screichis wylde
Are heird throuch nicht sae dreir.”
Ode. In Imitation of Peter Pindar (Dr. Wolcot).
The simile 's a very useful thing—
This, priests and poets needs must own;
For when the clockwork of their brain runs down,
A simile winds up the mental spring.
For instance, when a priest does scan
The fall of man,
And all its consequences dire,
He makes him first a little sportive pig,—
So clean, so innocent, so trig,—
And then an aged sow, deep wallowing in the mire!
Yes, sure the simile's a useful thing;
Another instance I will bring.
Thou'st seen a cork tost on the rain-swell'd stream,
Now up, now down, now whirl'd round and round,
Yet still 'twould swim,
And all the torrent's fury could not drown 't:
So have I seen a forward, empty fop
Tost in Wit's blanket, ridicul'd, et cetera;
Yet, after all the banter, off he 'd hop,
Quite confident in self-sufficiency.
Ah! had kind Heaven,
For a defence,
Allow'd me half the brazen confidence
That she to many a cork-brain'd fool hath given!
Come a' ye friendly, social pack,
Wha meet with glee to club your plack,
Attend while I rehearse a fact,
That winna fail;
Nae drink can raise a canty crack
Like Allan's ale.
It waukens wit, and makes as merry
As England's far-famed Canterbury;
Rich wines, frae Lisbon, or Canary,
Let gentles hail,
But we can be as brisk and airy
Wi' Allan's ale.
It bears the gree, I'se gi'e my aith,
Of Widow Dunn's and Ralston's baith,
Wha may cast by their brewing graith,
Baith pat and pail,
Since Paisley wisely puts mair faith
In Allan's ale.
Unlike the poor, sma' penny-wheep
Whilk worthless, petty change-folk keep,
O'er whilk mirth never deigned to peep,
Sae sour and stale,
I 've seen men joyous, frisk and leap,
Wi' Allan's ale.
Whether a friendly, social meeting,
Or politicians thrang debating,
Or benders blest your wizzens weeting,
Mark well my tale,
Ye 'll find nae drink half worth your getting
Like Allan's ale.
When bleak December's blasts do blaw,
And Nature's face is co'er'd wi' snaw,
Poor bodies scarce do work at a',
The cauld's sae snell,
But meet and drink their cares awa'
Wi' Allan's ale.
Let auld Kilmarnock make a fraise
What she has done in better days,
Her “threepenny” ance her fame could raise
O'er muir and dale;
But Paisley now may claim the praise
Wi' Allan's ale.
Let selfish wights impose their notions,
And damn the man won't take their lessons,
I scorn their threats, I scorn their cautions,
Say what they will;
Let friendship crown our best devotions
Wi' Allan's ale.
While sun, and moon, and stars endure,
And aid wi' light “a random splore,”
Still let each future social core
Its praises tell:
Adored aye, and for evermore,
Be Allan's ale!
Assumed Sanctity. To W. ---.
What need'st thou dread the end of sin,
The dire reward of evil;
Keep but that black infernal grin,
'Twill scar the very devil.
Let ither bards exhaust their stock
Of heav'nly names, on heav'nly folk,
And god and goddesses invoke
To guide the pen,
While, just as well, a barber's block
Would ser' their en'.
Nae muse ha'e I, like guide Scotch drink,
It mak's the dormant saul to think,
Gars wit and rhyme thegither clink
In canty measure,
And, even though half fou we wink,
Inspires wi' pleasure.
Whiles dulness stands for modest merit,
And impudence for manly spirit;
To ken what worth each does inherit,
Just try the bottle,
Send round the glass, and dinna spare it,
Ye 'll see their mettle.
O would the gods but grant my wish!
My constant prayer would be for this:
That love sincere, with health and peace,
My lot they 'd clink in,
With now and then the social joys
Of friendly drinkin'.
And when youth's rattlin' days are done,
And age brings on life's afternoon,
Then, like a simmer's setting sun,
Smiling, look back, and slidder down
To rise again.
Encircled in a cloud of smoke
Sat the convivial core,
Like lightning flashed the merry joke,
The thundering laugh did roar.
Blithe Bacchus pierced his favourite hoard,
The sparkling glasses shine:
“'Tis this,” they cry, “come, sweep the board,
Which makes us all divine!”
Apollo tuned the vocal shell,
With song, with catch, and glee:
The sonorous hall the notes did swell,
And echoed merrily.
Each sordid, selfish, little thought,
For shame itself did drown;
And social love, with every draught,
Approved them for her own.
“Come, fill another bumper up,
And drink in Bacchus' praise,
Who sent the kind, congenial cup,
Such heavenly joys to raise!”
Great Jove, quite mad to see such fun,
At Bacchus 'gan to curse,
And to remind them they were but men,
Sent down the fiend Remorse.
Rich Grip-us pretends he 's my patron and friend,
That at all times to serve me he 's willing;
But he looks down so sour on the suppliant poor,
That I 'd starve ere I 'd ask him one shilling.
Mode For Attaining A Character.
If thou on earth wouldst live respected,
In few words, here 's the way to make it:
Get dog-thick with the parish priest,
To all his foibles mould thy taste;
What he condemns, do thou condemn,
What he approves, do thou the same;
Cant Scripture words in every case,
“Salvashion, saunt, redemshion, grace”;
But controverted points forbear,
For thou mayst shew thy weakness there;
Look grave, demure as any owl—
A cheerful look might damn the whole;
Gang rigid to the kirk on Sunday,
With face as lang's a gothic window;
But from these maxims shouldst thou sever,
Poor profligate! thou 'rt lost for ever.
The Guinea Note. Written On The Back Of A Guinea Note.
Thou little badge of independence,
Thou mak'st e'en pride dance mean attendance;
Thou sure hast magic in thy looks;
Gives poets taste for tasteless books;
Makes lawyers lie, makes courtiers flatter;
And wily statesmen patriots clatter;
Makes ancient maids seem young again,
At sixty, beauteous as sixteen;
Makes foes turn friends, and friends turn foes,
And drugmen brew the pois'ning dose,
And ev'n as common say prevails,
Thou mak'st e'en Justice tip the scales.
The Man Of Character.
Wee A--- ---, self-sainted wight,
If e'er he won to heaven,
The veriest wretch, though black as pitch,
May rest he 'll be forgiven:
With holy pride he cocks his nose,
And talks of honest dealings,
For when our webs are at the close,
He nips off two three shillings.
I scorn the selfish, purse-proud—,
Who piques himself on being rich
With two-score pounds, late legacied,
Saved by his half-starved father's greed—
To former neighbours not one word!
He bows obsequious to my Lord.
In public see him—how he capers!
Looks big—stops short—pulls out his papers,
And from a silly, puppish dunce,
Commences the great man at once.
Siller Stands For Sense. Written By Tannahill, When Resident In England, On A Country Justice.
What gars yon gentry gang wi' Jock,
And ca' him Sir and Master?
The greatest dunce, the biggest block,
That ever Nature cuist her;
Yet see, they 've placed this human stock
Strict justice to dispense:
Which plainly shows yon meikle folk
Think siller stands for sense.
Ye vot'ries of pleasure and ease,
Proud, wasting in riot the day,
Drive on your career as ye please,
Let me follow a different way.
The woodland, the mountain, and hill,
With the birds singing sweet from the tree,
The soul with serenity fill,
And have pleasures more pleasing to me.
When I see you parade through the streets,
With affected, unnatural airs,
I smile at your low, trifling gaits,
And could heartily lend you my prayers.
Great Jove! was it ever designed
That man should his reason lay down,
And barter the peace of his mind
For the follies and fashions of town?
I 'll retire to yon broom-covered fields,
On the green mossy turf I 'll recline,
The pleasures that solitude yields,
Composure and peace shall be mine.
There Thomson or Shenstone I 'll read,
Well-pleased with each well-managed theme,
With nothing to trouble my head,
But ambition to imitate them.
Successor To Old Charon.
When the devil got notice old Charon was dead,
He wished for some blockhead to row in his stead;
For he feared one with intellect discoveries might make,
Of his tortures and racks, t'other side of the lake;
So for true native dulness and want of discernment,
He sought the whole world, and gave John the preferment.
“Barbarous!” cried John; in humanising mood,
To Will, who 'd shot a blackbird in the wood;
“The savage Indian pleads necessity,
But thou, barbarian wretch! hast no such plea.”
Hark!—click the alehouse door—his wife comes in:
“Dear, help's man, John!—preserve me, what d 'ye mean?
Six helpless bairns—the de'il confound your drouth!—
Without ae bit to stop a single mouth.”
“Get hame,” cried John, “else, jade! I'll kick your ---!”
Sure such humanity is all a farce.
Parody On “Lullaby.” Written On Seeing Thomas Willoughby, Tragedian, Rather Below Himself.
Peaceful, slumb'ring in the ale-house,
See the god-like Rollo lie;
Drink outwits the best of fellows:
Here lies poor Tom Willoughby.
Where is stern King Richard's fury?
Where is Osmond's blood-flushed eye?
See these mighty men before ye,
Sunk to poor Tom Willoughby.
Pity 'tis that men of merit
Thus such sterling worth destroy:
O ye gods! did I inherit
Half the pow'rs of Willoughby!
The Portrait Of Guilt: In Imitation Of M.G.Lewis.
'Twas night, and the winds through the dark forest roar'd,
From Heaven's wide cat'racts the torrents down pour'd,
And blue lightnings flash'd on the eye;
Demoniac howlings were heard in the air,
With groans of deep anguish, and shrieks of despair,
And hoarse thunders growl'd through the sky.
Pale, breathless, and trembling, the dark villain stood,
His hands and his clothes all bespotted with blood,
His eyes wild with terror did stare;
The earth yawned around him, and sulphurous blue,
From the flame-boiling gaps, did expose to his view
A gibbet and skeleton bare.
With horror he shrunk from a prospect so dread,
The blast swung the clanking chains over his head,
The rattling bones sung in the wind;
The lone bird of night from the abbey did cry,
He look'd o'er his shoulder intending to fly,
But a spectre stood ghastly behind.
“Stop, deep hell-taught villain!” the ghost did exclaim,
“With thy brother of guilt here to expiate thy crime,
And atone for thy treacherous vow:
'Tis here thou shalt hang, to the vultures a prey,
Till piece-meal they tear thee and bear thee away,
And thy bones rot unburied below.”
Now, closing all round him, fierce demons did throng,
In sounds all unholy they howled their death-song,
And the vultures around them did scream;
Now clenching their claws in his fear-bristled hair,
Loud yelling they bore him aloft in the air,
And the murd'rer awoke—'twas a dream!
Quoth gobbin Tom of Lancashire,
To northern Jock, a lowland drover,
“Those are foin kaise thai'rt driving there,
They 've zure been fed on English clover.”
“Foin kaise!” quoth Jock, “ye bleth'ring hash,
De'il draw your nose as lang 's a sow's!
That talk o' yours is queer-like trash;
Foin kaise! poor gowk!—their names are koose.”
The very fault which I in others see,
Like kind, or worse, perhaps is seen in me.
A Resolve. Written On Hearing A Fellow Tell Some Stories To The Hurt Of His Best Friends.
As secret 's the grave be the man whom I trust;
What friendship imparts still let honour conceal:
A plague on those babblers, their names be accurs'd!
Still first to inquire, and the first to reveal.
As open as day let me be with the man
Who tells me my failings from motives upright;
But when of those gossiping fools I meet one,
Let me fold in my soul and be close as the night.
Lines Written On Reading “Campbell's Pleasures Of Hope.”
How seldom 'tis the Poet's happy lot
T' inspire his readers with the fire he wrote;
To strike those chords that wake the latent thrill,
And wind the willing passions to his will.
Yes, Campbell, sure that happy lot is thine,
With fit expression, rich from Nature's mine,
Like old Timotheus, skilful plac'd on high,
To rouse revenge, or soothe to sympathy.
Blest Bard! who chose no paltry, local theme,—
Kind Hope through wide creation is the same.
Yes, Afric's sons shall one day burst their chains,
Will read thy lines, and bless thee for thy pains;
Fame yet shall waft thy name to India's shore,
Where next to Brahma thee they will adore;
And hist'ry's page, exulting in thy praise,
Will proudly hand thee down to future days:
Detraction foil'd, reluctant quits her grip,
And carping Envy silent bites her lip.
On A Flatterer.
I hate a flatt'rer as I hate the devil,
But Tom's a very, very pleasing dog;
Of course, let 's speak of him in terms more civil—
I hate a flatt'rer as I hate a hog:
Not but applause is music to mine ears—
He is a knave who says he says he likes it not;
But when, in friendship's guise, deceit appears,
'Twould fret a Stoic's frigid temper hot.
Written On Seeing A Spider Dart Out Upon A Fly.
Let gang your grip, ye auld grim devil!
Else with ae crush I 'll mak' you civil:
Like debtor-bard in merchant's claw,
The fient o' mercy ye 've at a'!
Sae spite and malice (hard to ken 'em)
Sit spewing out their secret venom:—
Ah, hear!—poor buzzard 's roaring “Murder!”
Let gang!—Na, faith!—Thou scorn'st my order!—
Weel, tak' thou that!—vile, ruthless creature!
For who but hates a savage nature?—
Sic fate to ilk unsocial kebar
Who lays a snare to wrang his neighbour.
On Seeing A Fop Pass An Old Beggar.
He who, unmov'd, can hear the suppliant cry
Of pallid wretch, plac'd on the pathway side,
Nor deigns one pitying look, but passes by
In all the pomp of self-adoring pride—
So may some great man vex his little soul,
When he, obsequious, makes his lowest bow;
Turn from him with a look that says, “Vain fool,”
And speak to some poor man whom he would shame to know.
Written With A Pencil In A Tap-Room.
This warld 's a tap-room owre and owre,
Where ilk ane tak's his caper;
Some taste the sweet, some drink the sour,
As waiter Fate sees proper.
Let mankind live, ae social core,
And drap a' selfish quarr'lling,
And when the Landlord ca's his score,
May ilk ane's clink be sterling.
A Rhyming Riddle. Written When At School.
My colour's brown, my shape 's uncouth,
On ilka side I ha'e a mouth,
And, strange to tell, I will devour
My bulk of meat in half-an-hour.
Epitaphs. On A Farthing-Gatherer.
Here lies Jamie Wight, who was wealthy and proud—
Few shar'd his regard, and far fewer his goud;
He lived unesteemed, and he died unlamented—
The Kirk gat his gear, and auld Jamie is sainted!
On Thomas Bissland. A Gentleman Whom Indigence Never Solicited In Vain.
Ever green be the sod o'er kind Tom of the Wood,
For the poor man he ever supplied;
We may weel say, alas! for our ain scant of grace,
That we reck'd not his worth till he died:
Though no rich marble bust mimics grief o'er his dust,
Yet fond memory his virtue will save;
Oft, at lone twilight hour, sad remembrance shall pour
Her sorrows, unfeigned, o'er his grave.
On A Crabbed Old Maid.
Here slaethorn Mary's hurcheon bouk
Resigns its fretful bristles:
And is she dead? No—reader, look,
Her grave 's o'ergrown wi' thistles.
On Seeing a Once Worthy Character Lying Inebriated On The Street.
If loss of worth may draw the pitying tear,
Stop, passenger, and pay that tribute here—
Here lies, whom all with justice did commend,
The rich man's pattern, and the poor man's friend;
He cheer'd pale Indigence's bleak abode,
He oft remov'd Misfortune's galling load;
Nor was his bounty to one sect confin'd,
His goodness beam'd alike on all mankind:
Now, lost in folly, all his virtues sleep—
Let 's mind his former worth, and o'er his frailties weep.
Epigrams. Dick To Bob.
Cried Dick to Bob, “Great news to-day!”
“Great news,” quoth Bob; “what great news, pray?”
Said Dick, “Our gallant tars at sea
Have gain'd a brilliant victory.”
“Indeed!” cried Bob; “it may be true,
But that, you know, is nothing new.”
“French threats of invasion let Britons defy,
And spike the proud frogs if our coast they should crawl on.”
Yes, statesmen know well that our spirits are high—
The financier has rais'd them two shillings per gallon.
Nature, impartial in her ends,
When she made man the strongest,
For scrimpet pith, to make amends,
Made woman's tongue the longest.
Ha! Doctor, your powders and potions give o'er,
Nor boast of your knowledge in healing;
For plainly we see all your skill is a fee,
Since you'll lame any man for a shilling.