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January, 1795. I fear for my songs; however a few may please, yet originality is a coy feature in composition, and in a multiplicity of efforts in the same style, disappears altogether. For these three thousand years, we, poetic folks, have been describing the spring, for instance; and as the spring continues the same, there must soon be a sameness in the imagery, &c. of these said rhyming folks.

A great critic, Aikin on songs, says, that love and wine are the exclusive themes for song-writing. The following is on neither subject, and consequently is no song ; but will be allowed, I think, to be two or three pretty good prose thoughts, inverted into rhyme.


Is there, for honest poverty,

That hangs his head, and a' that;
The coward-slave, we pass him by,

We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, and a' that,

Our toils obscure, and a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,

The man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,

Wear hoddin grey, and a' that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,

A man's a man for a' that!
For a' that, and a' that,

Their tinsel show, and a' that;
The honest man, though e'er sae poor,

Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord,

Wha struts and stares, and a' that ;
Though hundreds worship at his word,

He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,

His riband, star, and a' that,
The man of independent mind,

He looks and laughs at a' that.

A prince can make a belted knight,

A marquis, duke, and a' that ;
But an honest man's aboon his might,

Gude faith he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, and a' that,

Their dignities, and a' that,
The pith o' sense, and pride o' worth,

Are higher ranks than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,

As come it will for a' that,
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,

May bear the gree, and a' that.
For a' that, and a' that,

It's comin yet for a'that,
That man to man, the warld o'er,

Shall brothers be for a' that.

I do not give you the foregoing song for your book, but merely by way of vive la bagatelle ; for the piece is not really poetry. How will the following do for Craigie-burn-wood?

Sweet fa's the eve on Craigie-burn,

And blythe awakes the morrow, But a' the pride o' spring's return

Can yield me nocht but sorrow.

I see the flowers and spreading trees,

I hear the wild birds singing;

But what a weary wight can please,

And care his bosom wringing!

Fain, fain would I my griefs impart,

Yet dare na for your anger;
But secret love will break my heart,

If I conceal it langer.

If thou refuse to pity me,

If thou shalt love anither,
When yon green leaves fade frae the tree

Around my grave they'll wither".

Farewell! God bless you.



My dear sir, Edinburgh, 30th January, 1795.

I thank you heartily for Nanie's awa, as well as for Craigie-burn, which I think a very comely pair. Your observation on the difficulty of original writing in a number of efforts, in the same style, strikes me very forcibly ; and it has again and again excited my wonder to find you continually surmounting this difficulty, in the many delightful songs you have sent me. Your vive la bagatelle song. For a' that, shall undoubtedly be included in my list.

* Craigie-burn-wood is situated on the banks of the river Motfat, and about three miles distant from the village of that name, celebrated for its medicinal waters. The woods of Craigie-burn and of Dumcrief, were at one time favourite haunts of our poet. It was there he met the “ Lassie wi' the lint white locks," and that he conceived several of his beautiful lyrics. E.



February, 1798. Here is another trial at your favourite air.

Tune" Let me in this ae night."

o lassie, art thou sleeping yet,

Or art thou wakin, I would wit? For love has bound me hand and foot,

And I would fain be in, jo.

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O let me in this ae night,

This ae, ae, ae night ;
For pity's sake this ae night,

O rise and let me in, jo.

Thou hear'st the winter wind and weet,
Nae star blinks through the driving sleet;
Tak pity on my weary feet,
An' shield me frae the rain, jo.

O let me in, &c.

The bitter blast that round me blaws
Unheeded howls, unheeded fa's;
The cauldness of thy heart's the cause
Of a' my grief and pain, jo.

O let me in, &c.


O tell na me o' wind and rain,
Upbraid na me with cauld disdain,
Gae back the gate ye cam again,

Į winna let you in, jo.


I tell you now this ae night,

This ae, ae, ae night;
And ance for a' this ae night,

I winna let you in, jo.

The snellest blast, at mirkest hours,
That round the pathless wand'rer pours,
Is nocht to what poor she enduress,
That's trusted faithless man, jo.

I tell you now, 6C.

The sweetest flower that deck'd the mead,
Now trodden like the vilest weed :
Let simple maid the lesson read,
The weird may be her ain, jo.

I tell you now, O'C.

The bird that charm'd his summer-day,
Is now the cruel fowler's prey;
Let witless, trusting woman say
How aft her fate's the same, jo.

I tell you now, ác.

I do not know whether it will do.

No. LXX.


of my

Ecclefechan, 7th February, 1795. My dear Thomson,

You cannot have any idea of the predicament in which I write to you. In the course duty as a supervisor (in which capacity I have acted of late) I came yesternight to this unfortu. nate, wicked little village. I have gone forward, but snows of ten feet deep have impeded my progress: I have tried to “gae back the gate I cam

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