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EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK,
AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD.
April 1st, 1785.
WHILE briers and woodbines budding green,
Inspire my muse,
I pray excuse.
On fasten-e'en we had a rockin,
Ye need na doubt ;
At sang about.
There was ae sang, amang the rest, Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best, That some kind husband had addrest
To some sweet wife : It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
A' to the life.
I've scarce heard ought describes sae weel, What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel; Thought I, Can this be Pope or Steele,
• Or Beattie's wark ! They tald me 'twas an odd kind chiel
It pat me fidgin-fain to hear 't,
He had ingine,
It was sae fine.
That set him to a pint of ale,
Or witty catches, "Tween Inverness and Tiviotdale,
He had few matches.
Then up I gat, an' swoor an aith, Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith, Or die a cadger pownie's death,
At some dyke-back, A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith
To hear your crack.
But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
Tho’rude an' rough, Yet crooning to a body's sel,
Does weel enough.
I am na poet, in a sense,
Yet, what the matter Whene'er my muse does on me glance,
I jingle at her. Vol. XXXVIII.
Your critic-folk may cock their nose, And say, “How can you e'er propose, * You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
To mak a sang? But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
Ye're may be wrang.
What's a' your jargon o’your schools, Your Latin names for horns an' stools ; If honest nature made you fools,
What sairs your grammars? Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,
A set o' dull, conceited hashes, Confuse their brains in college classes ! They gang in stirks, and come out asses,
Plain truth to speak; An' syne they think to climb Parnassus
By dint of Greek!
Gie me ae spark o’ Nature's fire,
At pleugh or cart,
May touch the heart:
O for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
If I can hit it!
If I could get it.
Now, Sir, if ye hae friends enow, Tho' real friends, I b’lieve, are few, Yet, if your catalogue be fou,
I'se no insist, But gif ye want a friend that's true,
I'm on your list.
I winna blaw about mysel;
They sometimes roose me, Tho' I maun own, as monie still
As far abuse me.
There's ae wee faut they wbyles lay to me,
At dance or fair;
They weel can spare.
But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair, I should be proud to meet you there; We’se gie ae night's discharge to care,
If we forgather, An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware
Wi' ane anither.
The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
To cheer our heart;
Before we part.
Awa, ye selfish warly race,
To catch-the-plack !
Nor hear your crack.
But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the terms,
Each aid the others,' Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
My friends, my brothers!
But to conclude my lang epistle,
Who am, most fervent, While I can either sing, or whissle,
Your friend and servant.
TO THE SAME.
April 21st, 1785.
Wale new-ca'd kye rout at the stake,
To own I'm debtor
For his kind letter.