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The tide-swoln Firth, with sullen sounding roar, Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the
All else was hush'd as nature's closed e'e;
The silent moon shone high o'er tow'r and tree;
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
Crept gently-crusting, o'er the glittering stream.-
When, lo! on either hand the list'ning bard,
The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard;
Two dusky forms dart thro' the midnight air,
Swift as the gos* drives on the wheeling hare;
Ane on th' Auld Brig his airy shape uprears,
The ither flutters o'er the rising piers ;
Our warlock rhymer instantly descry'd
The sprites that owre the Brigs of Ayr preside.
(That bards are second-sighted is nae joke,
And ken the lingo of the sp'ritual folk;
Fays, spunkies, kelpies, a', they can explain them,
And ev'n the vera deils they brawly ken them.)
Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race,
The very wrinkles Gothic in his face:
He seem'd as he wi' Time had warstl'd lang,
Yet teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams, got;
In's hand five taper staves as smooth's a bead,
Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
The Goth was stalking round with anxious search,
Spying the time-worn flaws in ev'ry arch;
It chane'd his new-come neebor took his e'e,
And e'en a vex'd and angry heart had he!
Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mein,
He, down the water, gies him this guideen-
I doubt na, frien', ye'll think y'ere nae sheep
Ance ye were streekit o'er frae bank to bank!
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me,
Tho' faith that day I doubt ye'll never see;
There'll be, if that date come, I'll wad a boddle, Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle.
Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense, Just much about it wi' your scanty sense; Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin'd, formless bulk, o' stane an' lime, Compare wi' bonie Brigs o' modern time? There's men o' taste wou'd tak the Ducat-stream*, Tho' they should cast the vera sark and swim, E'er they would grate their feelings wi' the view Of sie an ugly, Gothic hulk as you.
Conceited gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride! This mony a year I've stood the flood an' tide; And tho' wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn, I'll be a Brig, when ye're a shapeless cairn! As yet ye little ken about the matter, But twa-three winters will inform ye better. When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains, Wi' deepening deluges o'erflow the plains; When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil,
Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course,
Or haunted Garpalt draws his feeble source,
Arous'd by blust'ring winds an' spotting thowes,
In mony a torrent down his sna-broo rowes;
While crashing ice, borne on the roaring speat,
Sweep dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate;
* A noted ford, just above the Auld Brig.
†The banks of Garpal Water is one of the few places in the west of Scotland, where those fancy scaring beings, known by the name of ghaists, still continue pertinaciously to inhabit,
And from Glenbuck*, down to the Ratton-key†,
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea;
Then down ye'll hurl, deil nor ye never rise!
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies.
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost,
That architecture's noble art is lost!
Fine architecture, trowth, I needs must say't o't!
The L-d be thankit that we've tint the gate o't!
Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices,
Hanging with threat'ning jut, like precipices;
O'er arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves,
Supporting roofs fantastic, stony groves :
Windows and doors, in nameless sculpture drest,
With order, symmetry, or taste unblest;
Forms like some bedlam statuary's dream,
The craz'd creations of misguided whim;
Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended
And still the second dread command be free,
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste Of any mason reptile, bird or beast;
Fit only for a doited monkish race,
Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
Or cuifs of latter times, wha held the notion
That sullen gloom was sterling true devotion;
Fancies that our guid brugh denies protection!
And soon may they expire, unblest with resurrec-
O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings! Ye worthy proveses, an' mony a bailie, Wha in the paths of righteousness did toil aye;
* The source of the river Ayr.
A small landing place above the large key.
Ye dainty deacons, an' ye
To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners;
Ye godly councils wha hae blest this town;
Ye godly brethren of the sacred gown,
Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters ;
And (what would now be strange) ye godly writers:
A' ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo,
Were ye but here, what would ye say or do!
How would your spirits groan in deep vexation,
To see each melancholy alteration;
And agonizing, curse the time and place
When ye begat the base, degen'rate race!
Na langer rev'rend men, their country's glory,
In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story!
Nae langer thrifty citizens, an' douce,
Meet owre a pint, or in the Council-house;
But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless gentry,
The herryment and ruin of the country;
Men, three-parts made by taylors and by barbers,
Wha waste your weel-hain'd gear on d-d new
Brigs and Harbours!
Now haud you there! for faith ye've said
And muckle mair than ye can mak to through,
As for your priesthood, I shall say but little,
Corbies and clergy are a shot right kittle;
But, under favour o' your langer beard,
Abuse o' magistrates might weel be spar'd:
To liken them to your auld-warld squad,
I must needs say, comparisons are odd.
In Ayr, wag-wits nae mair can hae a handle
To mouth" a citizen," a term o' scandal:
Nae mair the council waddles down the street,
In all the pomp of ignorant conceit;
Men wha grow wise priggin owre hops an' raisins,
Or gather'd lib'ral views in bonds and seisins.
If, haply, Knowledge, on a random tramp,
Had shord them with a glimmer of his lamp,
And would to Common-sense for once betray'd them,
Plain, dull Stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
What farther clishmaclaver might been said,
What bloody wars, if sprites had blood to shed,
No man can tell; but all before their sight,
A fairy train appear'd in order bright:
Adown the glittering stream they featly danc'd;
Bright to the moon their various dresses glanc'd:
They footed o'er the wat'ry glass so neat,
The infant ice scarce bent beneath their feet;
While arts of minstrelsy among them rung,
And soul-ennobling bards heroic ditties sung.
O had M'Lauchlan*, thairm-inspiring sage,
Been there to hear this heavenly band engage,
When thro' his dear strathspeys they bore
with Highland rage;
Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs,
The lover's raptur'd joys or bleeding cares;
How would his Highland lug been nobler fir'd,
And ev'n his matchless hand with finer touch in-
No guess could tell what instrument appear'd,
But all the soul of music's self was heard;
Harmonious concert rung in every part,
While simple melody pour'd moving on the heart.
The genius of the stream in front appears,
A venerable chief advanc'd in years;
His hoary head with water-lilies crown'd,
His manly leg with garter tangle bound.
Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring,
Sweet Female Beauty hand in hand with Spring;
Then, crown'd with flow'ry hay, came Rural Joy,
And Summer, with his fervid-beaming eye :
* A well known performer of Scottish music on the violin.