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By heedless chance I turned mine eyes,
And, by the moonbeam, shook to see
Attired as minstrels wont to be 1
Had I a statue been o'stane,
His darin' look had daunted me;
The sacred posy – Libertie!'
And frae his harp sic strains did flow,
Might roused the slumb’ring dead to hear;
As ever met a Briton's ear.
He sang wi' joy the former day,
He weeping wailed his latter times;
I winna ventur't in my rhymes.
A favourite walk of Burns during his residence in Dumfries was one along the right bank of the river above the town, terminating at the ruins of Lincluden Abbey and Church, which occupy a romantic situation on a piece of rising-ground in the angle at the junction of the Cluden Water with the Nith. These ruins include many fine fragments of ancient decorative architecture, and are enshrined in a natural scene of the utmost beauty. Burns, according to his eldest son, often mused amidst the Lin cluden ruins. There is one position on a little mount, to the south of the church, where a couple of landscapes of witching loveliness are obtained, set, as it were, in two of the windows of the ancient building. It was probably the ‘Calvary' of the ancient church precinct. This the younger Burns remembers to have been a favourite resting-place of the poet.
Such is the locality of the grand and thrilling ode, entitled A Vision, in which he hints-for more than a hint could not be ventured upon-his sense of the degradation of the ancient manly spirit of his country under the conservative terrors of the passing era.
i Var.-Now looking over firth and fauld
Her horn the pale-faced Cynthia reared; When, lol in form of minstrel auld,
A stern and stalwart ghaist appeared.
SONGS IN JOHNSON'S FIFTH VOLUME.
OUT OVER THE FORTH.
TUNE-Charlie Gordon's welcome Hame.
Out over the Forth I look to the north,
But what is the north and its Highlands to me?
The far foreign land, or the wild rolling sea.
That happy my dreams and my slumbers may be;
The lad that is dear to my babie and me.
LOUIS, WHAT RECKI BY THE E?
TUNE-Louis, what reck I by thee ?
Or Geordie on his ocean?
I reign in Jeanie's bosom.
And in her breast enthrone me:
Reif randies, I disown ye !
My heart is sair for somebody;
Oh-hon ! for somebody!
Oh-hey! for somebody!
For the sake o' somebody!
O sweetly smile on somebody!
Oh-hon! for somebody!
Oh-hey! for somebody!
For the sake oʻsomebody! [*The whole of this song was written by Burns, except the third and fourth linen of stanza first, which are taken from Ramsay's song to the same tune.'-Stenhouse.]
WILT THOU BE MY DEARIE !
AIR-The Sutor's Dochler.
Wilt thou be my dearie ?
LOVELY POLLY STEWART.
TUNE-Ye're welcome, Charlie Stewart.
O charming Polly Stewart !
That's half so fair as thou art.
And art can ne'er renew it;
Will give to Polly Stewart.
Possess a leal and true heart;
He grasps in Polly Stewart.
O charming Polly Stewart !
That's half so sweet as thou art.
[Polly Stewart was the daughter of a certain Willie Stewart, on whom Burns wrote some impromptu stanzas. She was reared in comfortable circumstances, a few miles from Burns's residence at Ellisland, and was married to a gentleman of large property. Sad to relate of one for whom Burns promised that worth and truth would give her eternal youth, this poor woman fell aside from the path of honour, and sunk into the most humble circumstances in her old age. It was stated a few years ago, that she lived as "a poor lavender' (to use a phrase of Barbour's) in Maxwelltown. She is believed to have subsequently died in France.j
Wae is my heart, and the tear's in my ee;
Love, thou hast pleasures, and deep hae I loved :
Oh, if I were happy, where happy I hae been,
1 The air to which Burns wrote this song, was the production of Dr Samuel Howard, organist of St Clement's Danes in the middle of the last century.
It was composed for Ramsay's song, At Setting Day and Rising Morn, and in this connection attained some popularity.
HERE'S TO THY HEALTH, MY BONNIE LASS.
Guid-night, and joy be wi' thee;
To tell thee that I loe thee.
But I can live without thee:
How lang ye look about ye.
Thou hast nae mind to marry;
Nae time hae I to tarry.
Frae wedlock to delay thee;
But fortune may betray thee.
But that does never grieve me;
Sma’ siller will relieve me.
Sae long as I'll enjoy it:
As lang’s I get employment.
And aye until ye try them:
They may prove waur than I am.
My dear, I'll come and see thee;
Nae travel makes him weary. Of the songs which appeared in Johnson's fifth volume, there are others which Burns had to some extent amended as they passed through his hands; but as the songs themselves are of no great merit, and the improvements by Burns make no conspicuous appearance amidst their rough, and often indelicate stanzas, they are postponed to subordinate place in this work.
After all, the fifth volume of Johnson did not apparently exhaust the contributions of the poet, for in a sixth, published in 1803, there are a few pieces undoubtedly by him.