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The bitter blast that round me blaws
Of a' my grief and pain, jo.
O tell na me o' wind and rain,
I winna let ye in, jo!
I tell you now this ae night,
This ae, ae, ae night;
I winna let you in, jo!
The snellest blast, at mirkest hours,
That's trusted faithless man, jo.
The sweetest flower that decked the mead,
The weird may be her ain, jo.
The bird that charmed his summer-day,
How aft her fate's the same, jo!
I do not know whether it will do.
MR THOMSON TO BURNS.
25th February 1795. I have to thank you, my dear sir, for two epistles—one containing Let me in this ae Night; and the other from Ecclefechan, proving that, drunk or sober, your mind is never muddy. You have displayed great address in the above song. Her answer is excellent, and at the same time takes away the indelicacy that otherwise would have attached to his entreaties. I like the song, as it now stands, very much.
THE KIRKCUDBRIGHT ELECTION, 1795.
141 I had hopes you would be arrested some days at Ecclefeohan, and be obliged to beguile the tedious forenoons by song-making. It will give me pleasure to receive the verses you intend for wat ye wha's in yon Town?
Amongst other things snowed up by the storm of February '95, was a Scotch county election. The death of General Stewart in January had created a vacancy in the representation of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright -- a district so closely adjoining to Dumfries, that all its concerns are there deeply felt. A writ had been issued and intrusted to Lord Garlies, M.P., son of the Earl of Galloway; but his lordship kept it back for several weeks, for the ostensible reason, that it was impossible for the electors at such a season to meet for the recording of their votes. Meanwhile, public feeling was strongly excited, the vacant seat being contested between a Tory, under the Galloway influence, and an independent country gentleman of Whig politics. The latter was the same Mr Heron of Kerroughtree whom Burns had visited in June of the past year, soon after his melancholy rencontre with David M'Culloch. He was a benevolent and most respectable man. The candidate in the Tory interest was Mr Gordon of Balmaghie, himself a man of moderate property and influence, but greatly fortified by the favour of his uncle, Mr Murray of Broughton, one of the wealthiest proprietors in the south of Scotland, as well as by the interest of the Earl of Galloway.
It was certainly most unsuitable for Burns to take any part in this conflict, as, while no public duty was neglected by his silence, his partisanship was ten times more likely to do him harm than good. He saw, however, some of his favourite aversions, such as the Earl of Galloway and John Bushby of Tinwald Downs, on the one side, while on the other stood a really worthy man, who had shewn him some kindness, and whose political prepossessions accorded with his own. With his characteristic recklessness, he threw off several ballads, and even caused them to be circulated in print; effusions which must now be deemed of secondary importance in the roll of his works, but which yet are well worthy of preservation for the traits of a keen satiric spirit which mingle with their local and scarcely intelligible allusions :
BALLADS ON MR HERON'S ELECTION, 1795.
Whom will you send to London town,
To Parliament and a' that?
The best deserves to fa' that?
1 The vituperation in this stanza refers, not to the Selkirk family, for which Burns had a respect, as shewn in the preceding verse, but to the Earl of Galloway.
KIRKCUDBRIGHT ELECTION BALLADS.
For a' that, and a' that,
Fy, let us a' to Kirkcudbright,
For there will be bickering there; For Murray's light horse are to muster,
And oh, how the heroes will swear !1
Whase honour was ever his law;
His worth might be sample for a'.
The maist o' the lairds wi' him stand; Nae gipsy-like nominal barons,
Whase property's paper, but lands.3
The Maxwells will gather in droves,
That griens for the fishes and loaves.
Wha'll ne'er be forgot in the Greys;
Him only 'tis justice to praise.
And also Barskimming's gude knight;9
Wha luckily roars i' the right.
1 This ballad is composed in imitation of a rough but most amusing specimen of the old ballad literature of Scotland, descriptive of the company attending a country wedding
Fy, let us a' to the wedding,
For there'll be lilting there,' &c. 2 Mr Heron of Kerroughtree, the Whig candidate.
3 Many of the county electors were, previous to the Reform Act of 1832, possessors of fictitious votes only-often called paper voters.
4 Mr Maxwell of Terraughty, the venerable gentleman on whose birthday Burns wrote some verses. See vol. iii., p. 204.
5 George Maxwell of Carruchan. 6 Mr Wellwood Maxwell. 7 Major Heron, brother of the Whig candidate. 8 Sir Adam Ferguson of Kilkerran. 9 Sir William Miller of Barskimming; afterwards a judge under the designation of Lord Glenlee.
10 Mr Birtwhistle of Kirkcudbright.
Next there will be wealthy young,
His merit had won him respect.
And there will be rich brother nabobs,
Though nabobs, yet men of the first ;2
And Quintin, o'lads not the warst.4
And there will be Stamp-office Johnnie 5_
Take care how ye purchase a dram;
And there will be gleg Colonel Tam.?
A house of great merit and note;8
The deil's few will gie them a vote.
And there'll be Murray commander,9
And Gordon the battle to win; 10
Sae knit in alliance and sin.
And there will be black-lippit Johnnie,
The tongue o' the trump to them a';
The deil gets nae justice ava.
A chiel no sae black at the bane;
We'll e'en let that subject alane.13
1 Richard Oswald of Auchincruive.
9 Mr Murray of Broughton. This gentleman had left his wife, and eloped with a lady of rank. Large fortune had allowed him to do this with comparative impunity, and even without forfeiting the alliance of his wife's relations, one of whom he was supporting in this election.
10 Mr Gordon of Balmaghie, the government candidate. 11 Mr John Bushby.
12 William Bushby of Kempleton, brother of John. He had been involved in the ruinous affair of Douglas, Heron, & Co.'s Bank, and had subsequently gone to India, where he realised a fortune. 13 Var.-For now what he wan in the Indies,
Kes scoured up the laddie fu' clean.