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Followed a translation, or rather paraphrase:

* Vacerras, shabby son of w
Why do thy patrons keep thee poor?
Bribe-worthy service thou canst boast,
At once their bulwark and their post;
Thou art a sycophant, a traitor,
A liar, a calumniator,
Who conscience (hadst thou that) would sell,
Nay, lave the common sewer of hell,
For whisky : Eke, most precious imp,
Thou art a rhymster, gauger, pimp;
Whence comes it, then, Vacerras, that
Thou still art poor as a church-rat?'

This is a curiosity, not merely as a specimen of clerical bitterness, but as almost the only known contemporary satire on Burns which obtained the nonours of print. It will be found that our bard made a rejoinder.1

In the early part of 1795, two companies of volunteers were raised by. Dumfries, as its quota towards the stationary troops which were found necessary at that crisis, when the regular army was chiefly engaged in maintaining external warfare against France. Many a liberal who had incurred the wrath or suspicion of the government and its friends, was glad to enrol himself in these corps, in order to prove that he bore a sound heart towards his country. Syme, Dr Maxwell, and others of the Dumfries Whigs, took this step, and Burns also joined the corps, though, according

1 'It consists with my knowledge, that no publication in answer to the scurrilities of Burns ever did him so much harm in public opinion, or made Burns himself feel so sore, as Dr Muirhead's translation of Martial's epigram. When I remonstrated with the doctor against his printing and circulating that translation, I asked him how he proved that Vacerras was a gauger as well as Burns. He answered : "Martial calls him fellator, which means a sucker, or a man who drinks from the cask.”'- From a Ms., by the late Alexander Young, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh.

*[Died, May 16, 1808] at Spottes Hall, Dunscore, the Rev. Dr James Muirhead, minister of Urr, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and thirty-eighth of his ministry.' -Magazine Obituary.

2. War Office, March 24 (1795).-Dumfriesshire Corps of Volunteers. A S. De Peyster, Esq., to be Major Commandant; John Hamilton and John Finnan, Esq., Captains; David Newall and Wellwood Maxwell, gent., First Lieutenants; Francis Shortt and Thomas White, gent., Second Lieutenants.'- Gazette.

On the king's birthday, a set of colours, prepared by Mrs De Peyster, wife of the commandant, was presented in a ceremonious manner to the Dumfries Volunteers, in the square where the Duke of Queensberry's monument stands. The Rev. Mr Burnside, one of the clergymen of the town, said a prayer on the occasion, and complimented the corps on its good discipline, which he said had been mainly owing to De Peyster's assiduity in drilling. At four o'clock, the whole Volunteers, and a number of other gentlemen, were entertained at dinner in the King's Arms by the magistrates; and at five the company adjourned to the court-house, where the king's health was drunk, and other loyal and constitutional toasts suited to the oecasion. The whole day was spent in the utmost harmony,' &c. -Dumfries Journal, June 9, 1795.

SONG THE DUMFRIES VOLUNTEERS.'

151

to Allan Cunningham, not without opposition from some of the haughty Tories, who demurred about his political opinions. “I remember well,' says Cunningham, the appearance of that respectable corps; their odd, but not ungraceful dress; white kerseymere breeches and waistcoat; short blue coat, faced with red; and round hat, surmounted by a bearskin, like the helmets of our Horse-guards; and I remember the poet also—his very swarthy face, his ploughman stoop, his large dark eyes, and his indifferent dexterity in the handling of his arms.' The poet made a further and more public demonstration of his sentiments about Gallic propagandism, by penning his well-known song

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1 A high hill at the source of the Nith.-B. * A well-known mountain near the mouth of the Nith.

The wretch that wad a tyrant own,

And the wretch his true-born brother,
Wh' 'ould set the mob aboon the throne,

May they be damned together!
Who will not sing God save the King;'

Shall hang as high's the steeple;
But while we sing God save the King;'

We'll ne'er forget the People.

This ballad appears in the Dumfries Journal of 5th May, whence it was quickly transferred into other newspapers. So decided a declaration in behalf of order, joined with so guarded, yet so felicitous an assertion of popular principles, ought to have secured some share of government favour for Burns. In the same spirit, and in much the same phraseology, was an epigram which he is said to have given forth at a festive meeting to celebrate Rodney's victory of the 12th of April.

TOAST FOR THE 12TH OF APRIL.

Instead of a song, boys, I'll give you a toast-
Here's the memory of those on the twelfth that we lost !
That we lost, did I say? nay, by Heaven, that we found;
For their fame it shall last while the world goes round.
The next in succession, I'll give you—the King!
Whoe'er would betray him, on high may he swing;
And here's the grand fabric, our free Constitution,
As built on the base of the great Revolution;
And longer with politics not to be crammed,
Be Anarchy cursed, and be Tyranny damned;
And who would to Liberty e'er prove disloyal,
May his son be a hangman, and he his first trial!

Cunningham says of the invasion-song, that 'it hit the taste, and suited the feelings of the humbler classes, who added to it the Poor and Honest Sodger, the Song of Death, and Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled. Hills echoed with it; it was heard in every street, and did more to right the mind of the rustic part of the population, than all the speeches of Pitt and Dundas, or the chosen Five-and-Forty.' Assuming this to have been the case, it might well seem strange that the Scottish minister who has been named, in his abundant benevolence towards Scotland, never extended the slightest patronage towards one from whom Scotland derived more honour than from any other of her living sons.

We do not find, indeed, that from the first to last of Burns's career, any movement was made in high quarters to distinguish him by state patronage. We have no trace of his ever having

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LETTER TO MR OSWALD OF AUCHINCRUIVE.

153

attracted the slightest attention from the royal family. No minister smiled upon him. Scarcely a single Tory noble or gentleman granted him further grace than a subscription for his poems. All his active patrons among the great were of the Whig party, men destitute of the power of advancing him beyond the humble function to which the favour of one of them had condemned him. His receiving no ray of state favour is the more remarkable, since it appears that Mr Addington entertained a most earnest feeling of interest in the poetry of the Scottish ploughman, and that his strains had touched even the temperate bosom of Mr Pitt. Mr Lockhart had learned, apparently on good authority, that the latter statesman spoke thus of the productions of Burns, at the table of Lord Liverpool, not long after the death of the hapless bard: 'I can think of no verse since Shakspeare's that has so much the appearance of coming sweetly from nature.'! Allan Cunningham had learned that Mr Addington reminded Pitt of the deservings of the poet in his lifetime; but Pitt'pushed the bottle to Lord Melville, and did nothing.'2 Mr Lockhart adds very justly: 'Had Burns put forth some newspaper squibs upon Lepaux and Carnot, or a smart pamphlet “On the State of the Country,” he might have been more attended to in his lifetime. It is common to say: "What is everybody's business is nobody's business;" but one may be pardoned for thinking that, in such cases as this, that which the general voice of the country does admit to be everybody's business, comes, in fact, to be the business of those whom the nation intrusts with national concerns.'

The fact is, that no man allying himself to the Whigs could in those days be tolerated by the ministry. Burns, though practically demonstrating his attachment to the general fabric of the constitution, made no secret at the same time of his wishing to see it in other hands than those in which it now rested. This was enough. We see the earnestness of his sentiments, even in the volunteering crisis, in a letter which has come down to us without any address, but which seenis to have enveloped the election ballads to some Whig gentleman--probably Mr Oswald of Auchincruive, a young Ayrshire squire of great wealth, now living near Dumfries, and whom he had lately met :3

TO (RICHARD A. OSWALD, ESQ.]

DUMFRIES, 23d April 1795. SIR-You see the danger of patronising the rhyming tribe: you flatter the poet's vanity-a most potent ingredient in the composition of a son of rhyme-by a little notice; and he, in return, persecutes your good-nature with his acquaintance. In these days of volunteering, I have come forward with my services, as poet-laureate to a highly respectable political party, of which you are a distinguished member. The enclosed are, I hope, only a beginning to the songs of triumph which you wiil earn in that contest.- I have the honour to be, sir, your obliged and devoted humble servant,

1 Lockhart's Life of Burns, p. 227.

2 Cunningham's Life of Burns, p. 262. 3 The letter has lately been found among the papers of the Auchincrụive family.

R. BURNS. About the same time, he wrote a song upon the beautiful young wife of Mr Oswald, and sent it to Mr Syme, enclosed in the following letter :

TO JOHN SYME, ESQ. You know that, among other high dignities, you have the honour to be my supreme court of critical judicature, from which there is no appeal. I enclose you a song which I composed since I saw you, and I am going to give you the history of it. Do you know that among much that I admire in the characters and manners of those great folks whom I have now the honour to call my acquaintances, the Oswald family, there is nothing charms me more than Mr Oswald's unconcealable attachment to that incomparable wornan? Did you ever, my dear Syme, meet with a man who owed more to the Divine Giver of all good things than Mr 0.? A fine fortune; a pleasing exterior; self-evident amiable dispositions, and an ingenuous, upright mind, and that informed, too, much beyond the usual run of young fellows of his rank and fortune: and to all this, such a woman !-- but of her I shall say nothing at all, in despair of saying anything adequate. In my song, I have endeavoured to do justice to what would be his feelings, on seeing, in the scene I have drawn, the habitation of his Lucy. As I am a good deal pleased with my performance, I in my first fervour thought of sending it to Mrs Oswald, but on second thoughts, perhaps what I offer as the honest incense of genuine respect, might, from the well-known character of poverty and poetry, be construed into some modification or other of that servility which my soul abhors. Do let me know some convenient moment, ere the worthy family leave the town, that I, with propriety, may wait on them. In the circle of the fashionable herd, those who come either to shew their own consequence, or to borrow consequence from the visit-in such a mob I will not appear: mine is a different errand.-Yours,

ROBT. BURNS. The song enclosed was that which follows. It is curious that, when lately commenced, he had assigned the name Jeanie to the heroine, apparently having a totally different person in his eye. We have seen that it was no unusual thing with him to shift the devotion of verse from one person to another, or to make one poem serve as a compliment to more than one individual.

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