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I stacher'd whyles, but yet took tent ay

To free the ditches;

An' hillocks, stanes, an' bushes kenn'd ay

Frae ghaists an' witches.

The rising moon began to glow'r
The distant Cumnock hills 'out-owre:
To count her horns, wi' a' my pow'r,
I set mysel;
But whether she had three or four,
I cou'd na tell.

I was come round about the hill,
And todlin down on Willie's mill,
Setting my staff wi' a' my skill,

To keep me sicker;
Tho' leeward whyles, against my will,
I took a bicker.

I there wi' Something did forgather,
That put me in an eerie swither;
An awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther,

Clear-dangling, hang;

A three-tae'd leister on the ither

Lay, large an' lang.

Its stature seem'd lang Scotch ells twa,
The queerest shape that e'er I saw,
For fient a wame it had ava!

They were as thin, as sharp an' sma'


And then, its shanks,

As cheeks o' branks.


'Guid-een,' quo' I; 'Friend! hae ye been mawin, 'When ither folk are busy sawin ?'*

It seem'd to mak a kind o' stan',

But naething spak;

At length, says I, 'Friend, whare ye gaun,

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'Will ye go back?"


It spak right howe,- My name is Death, 'But be na fley'd.'-Quoth I, Guid faith, 'Ye're may be come to stap my breath;

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'But tent me billie:

ye weel, tak care o' skaith.

'See, there's a gully!"

'Gudeman,' quo' he, 'put up your whittle, 'I'm no design'd to try its mettle;

'But if I did, I wad be kittle

To be mislear'd,

'Out-owre my beard.

'I wad na mind it, no, that spittle

'Weel, weel!' says I, ' a bargain be't;

'Come, gies your hand, an' sae we're gree't; 'We'll ease our shanks an' tak a seat,

'Come, gies your news;

'This while ye hae been mony a gate 'At mony a house.'

'Ay, ay!' quo' he, an' shook his head, 'It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed

This rencounter happened in seed-time, 1785.

+ An epidemical fever was then raging in that country.

Sin' I began to nick the thread,

'An' choke the breath:

'Folk maun do something for their bread,

'An' sae maun Death.

'Sax thousand years are near hand fled
'Sin' I was to the butching bred,
'An' mony a scheme in vain's been laid,

To stap or scar me;

'Till ane Hornbook 's* ta'en up the trade,

An' faith, he'll waur me.

'Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the Clachan,
'Deil mak his king's-hood in a spleuchan!
'He's grown sae well acquaint wi' Buchanf
An' ither chaps,

'The weans haud out their fingers laughin

'And pouk my hips.

'See, here's a scythe, and there's a dart, 'They hae pierc'd mony a gallant heart; 'But Doctor Hornbook, wi' his art

'And cursed skill,

'Has made them baith no worth a f-t,

'Damn'd haet they'll kill.

"'Twas yestreen, nae farther gaen,

"I threw a noble throw at ane;

*This gentleman, Dr. Hornbook, is, professionally, a brother of the Sovereign Order of the Ferula ; but, by intuition and inspi. gration, is at once an Apothecary, Surgeon, and Physician. +Buchan's Domestic Medicine.

'Wi' less, I'm sure, I've hundreds slain;

'But deil-ma-care,

'It just play'd dirl on the bane,

'But did nae mair.

'Hornbook was by, wi' ready art,
'And had sae fortify'd the part,
"That when I looked to my dart,

'It was sae blunt,

'Fient haet o't wad hae pierc'd the heart "Of a kail-runt.

'I drew my scythe in sic a fury,
"I nearhand cowpit wi' my hurry,
'But yet the bauld Apothecary

"Withstood the shock;

'I might as weel have try'd a quarry

'O' hard whin rock.

'Ev'n them he canna get attended,
'Altho' their face he ne'er had kend it,
in a kail-blade, and send it,


'As soon he smells't,

'Baith their disease, and what will mend it

'At once he tells't.

'And then a' doctor's saws and whittles,
"Of a' dimensions, shapes, an' mettles,
'A' kinds o' boxes, mugs, an' bottles,

'He's sure to hae;
Their Latin names as fast he rattles
'As A B C.

'Calces o' fossils, earth, and trees; True Sal-marinum o' the seas;

The Farina of beans and pease,

He has't in plenty;

Aqua-fontis, what you please,

'He can content ye.

Forbye some new, uncommon weapons,
Urinus Spiritus of capons;

Or Mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings,

Distill'd per se ;

Sal-alkali o' Midge-tail-clippings,

And mony mae.'

Waes me for Johnny Ged's Hole" now,'
Quo' I 'if that the news be true!
His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,

'Sae white and bonie,

Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew;

They'll ruin Johnie !

The creature grain'd an eldritch laugh,
And says, 'Ye need na yoke the pleugh,
Kirkyards will soon be till'd eneugh,

Tak ye nae fear:
"They'll a' be trench'd wi' mony a sheugh
In twa-three year.

Whare I kill'd ane a fair strae death,
By loss o' blood or want of breath,
This night I'm free to take my aith,

"That Hornbook's skill Has clad a score i' their last claith,

By drap an' pill.

An honest Wabster to his trade,

Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce weel bred,

* The grave-digger.

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