Page images

But gie them guid cow-milk their fill,
Till they be fit to fend themsel;
An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn,
Wi' teats o' hay an' rips o' eorn.

"An' may they never learn the gaets Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets!

To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal,,
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail.
So may they, like their great forbears,
For monie a year come thro' the sheers:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.
"My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,
O, bid him breed him up wi' care!
An', if he live to be a beast,

To pit some havins in his breast!
An' warn him, what I winna name,
To stay content wi' yowes at hame;
An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,
Like ither mensless, graceless brutes.
"An' niest my yowie, silly thing,
Gude keep thee frae a tether string!
O, may thou ne'er forgather up
Wi' ony blastit, moorland toop;
But aye keep mind to moop an' mell,
Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel!

"And now, my bairns, wi' my last breath, I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:

An' when you think upo' your mither,
Mind to be kin' to ane anither.

Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail

To tell my master a' my tale;
An' bid him burn this cursed tether,

An', for thy pains, thou'se get my blether."

This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head,

An' clos'd her een amang the dead."



Lament in rhyme, lament in prose, Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose; Our bardie's fate is at a close,

Past a' remead;

The last sad cape-stane of his woes;

Poor Mailie's dead!

It's no the loss o' warl's gear, That could sae bitter draw the tear, Or mak our bardie, dowie, wear

The mourning weed? He's lost a friend and neebor dear, In Mailie dead.

Thro' a' the toun she trotted by him; A lang half-mile she could descry him; Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him, She ran wi' speed:

A friend mair faithfu' ne'er eam nigh him, Than Mailie dead.

I wat she was a sheep o' sense, An' could behave hersel wi' mense: I'll say't, she never brak a fence,

Thro' thievish greeda

Our bardie, lanely, keeps the spence

Sin' Mailie's dead.

Or, if he wanders up the howe, Her living image, in her yowe,

Comes bleating to him, owre the knowe

For bits o' bread;

An' down the briny pearls rowe

For Mailie dead.

She was nae get o' moorland tips, Wawted ket, an' hairy hips;

For her forbears were brought in ships

Frae yont the Tweed:

A bonier fleesh ne'er cross'd the clips

Than Mailie's dead.

Wae worth the man wha first did shape
That vile, wanchancie thing-a rape!
It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,

Wi' chokin dread;

An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape,
For Mailie dead.

O, a' ye bards on bonie Doon!
An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune!
Come, join the melancholious croon

O' Robin's reed!

His heart will never get aboon!

His Mailie dead.

TO J. S****

Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!
Sweet'ner of life, and solder of society!

I owe thee much.

Dear S****, the sleest, paukie thief,
That e'er attempted stealth or rief,
Ye surely hae some warlock-breef

Owre human hearts;

For ne'er a bosom yet was prief

Against your arts.

For me, I swear by sun an' moon, And ev'ry star that blinks aboon, Ye've cost me twenty pair o' shoon

Just gaun to see you;

And ev'ry ither pair that's done,

Mair taen I'm wi' you.


That auld capricious carlin, nature, To mak amends for scrimpit stature, She's turn'd you off, a human creature On her first plan,

And in her freaks, on ev'ry feature,

She's wrote, the man.

Just now I've taen the fit o' rhyme, My barmie noddle's working prime, My fancy yerkit up sublime

Wi' hasty summon :

Hae ye a leisure-moment's time

To hear what's comin?

Some rhyme a neebor's name to lash; Some rhyme (vain thought ') for needfu' cash; Some rhyme to court the countra clash,

An' raise a din;

For me, an aim I never fash;

I rhyme for fun.

The star that rules my luckless lot,

Has fated me the russet coat,

An' damn'd my fortune to the groat;

But in requit,

Has blest me wi' a random shot

O' countra wit.

This while my notion's taen a sklent, To try my fate in guid, black prent; But still the mair I'm that way bent,

Something cries, "Hoolie!

I red you, honest man, tak tent!

Ye'll shaw your folly.

"There's ither poets, much your betters, Far seen in Greek, deep men o' letters, Hae thought they had ensur'd their debtors, A' future ages;

Now moths deform in shapeless tetters,

Their unknown pages."

Then farewel hopes o' laurel-boughs, To garland my poetic brows!

Henceforth I'll rove where busy ploughs

Are whistling thrang,

An' teach the lanely heights an' howes

My rustic sang.

I'll wander on, with tentless heed, How never-halting moments speed, Till fate shall snap the brittle thread;

Then, all unknown,

I'll lay me with th' inglorious dead,

Forgot and gone!

But why o' death begin a tale? Just now we're living sound and hale, Then top and maintop croud the sail,

Heave care o'er side!

And large, before enjoyment's gale,

Let's tak the tide.

This life, sae far's I understand,

Is a' enchanted fairy land,

Where pleasure is the magic wand,

That, wielded right,

Maks hours like minutes, hand in hand,
Dance by fu' light.

The magic-wand then let us wield; For, ance that five-an'-forty's speel'd, See crazy, weary, joyless eild,

Wi' wrinkl'd face,

Wi' creepin pace.

Comes hostin, hirplin owre the field,

When ance life's day draws near the gloamin,

Then fareweel vacant careless roamin;

An' fareweel chearfu' tankards foamin,

An' social noise;

An' fareweel dear, deluding woman,

The joy of joys!

« PreviousContinue »