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Thus resign'd and quiet, creep
Stranger, go! Heaven be thy guide!
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
Inscribed to Robert Aiken, Esq. My loved, my honor'd, much respected friend!
No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride I scorn each selfish end ;
My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise : To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
What Aiken in a cottage would have been; Ah! though his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The shortening winter-day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae2 the pleugh;
The blackening trains o' craws to their repose; The toil-worn Cotter frae his labor goes,
This night his weekly moil 3 is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
To meet their dad, wi' flicterin’noise an' glee.
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a'10 his weary carking 11 cares beguile,
At service out, amang the farmers roun';
A cannie 15 errand to a neebor town:
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Or deposit her sair-won 17 penny-fee, 18
1 These beautiful lines were written in “Friars-Carse" Hermitage, on the banks of the Nith. 2 From. 8 Labor. 4 Little. 6 Tottering in their walk. 6 Stagger. 7 Fluttering. 8 Fire. 9 Shining at intervals. 10 All. 11 Consuming. 12 By-and-by. 18 Drive. 14 Cautious. 15 Kindly, dexterous. 16 Fine, handsome. 17 Sorely won. 18 Wages.
6 Into the pariur.
Curse on his perjured arts ! dissembling smooth!
Are honor, virtue, conscience, all exiled ? Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child? Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction wild? But now the supper crowns their simple board!
The healsome parritch, chief o’Scotia's food : The soupe3 their only hawkie4 does afford,
That 'yonts the hallan 6 snugly chows her cood : The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
To grace the lad, her weel-hain’d? kebbuck, fell,9 An' aft he's press'd, an' aft he ca's it good;
The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell, How 'twas a towmond 10 auld, 11 sin 12 lint was i' the bell.13 The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They round the ingle form a circle wide; The sire 14 turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
The big Ha'-Bible, 15 ance his father's pride; His bonnet reverently is laid aside,
His lyart 16 haffets 17 wearin' thin an' bare;
He wales 18 a portion with judicious care;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Or plaintive Martyrs, 19 worthy of the name; Or noble Elgin 19 beats the heavenward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays : Compared with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickled ears no heartfelt raptures raise; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
1 Mercy, kind feeling. 2 Oatmeal-pudding. 8 Sauce, milk. 4 A pet-name for a cow 6 Beyond. 6 A partition wall in a cottage. 7 Carefully preserved.
8 A cheese 9 Biting to the taste. 10 Twelve months. 11 Old. 12 Since. 18 Flax was in blossom.
14 This picture, as all the world knows, he drew from his father. He was himself, in imagination, again one of the “wee things" that ran to meet him; and “the priest-like father” had long worn that aspect before the poet's eyes, though he died before he was threescore. "I have always considered William Burns," (the father,) says Murdoch, “as by far the best of the human race that I ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with, and many a worthy character I have known. He was a tender and affectionate father, and took pleasure in leading his children in the paths of virtue. I must not pretend to give you a description of all the manly qualities, the rational and Christian virtues of the venerable Burns. I shall only add, that he practised every known duty, and avoided every thing that was criminal." The following is the “Epitaph" which the son wrote for him:
O ye, whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near, with pious reverence, and attend !
The tender father, and the generous friend :
The dauntless heart that fear'd no human pride;
“For e'en his failings lean'd to virtue's side." 16 The great Bible kept in the hall. 16 Gray. 17 The temples, the sides of the head 18 Chooses.
10 The names of Scottish psalm-tunes.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or, rapt Isaiah's wild seraphic fire;
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
Had not on earth whereon to lay his head :
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land :
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
That thus they all shall meet in future days;
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
In such society, yet still more dear,
In all the pomp of method and of art,
Devotion's every grace, except the heart!
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole; 4
May hear, well-pleased, the language of the soul;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest;
And proffer up to Heaven the warm request
And decks the lily fair in flowery pride,
For them and for their little ones provide;
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad;
“An honest man's the noblest work of God;"
2 Saint John. 8 An island in the Archipelago, where John is supposed to have written the book of Revelation, 4 Priestly vestment.
And certes, in fair virtue's heavenly road,
The cottage leaves the palace far behind: What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load,
Disguising oft the wretch of human-kind, Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refined !
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent! Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content! And, O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
That stream'd through Wallace's 2 undaunted heart.
Or nobly die, the second glorious part, (The patriot's God peculiarly Thou art,
His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
But still the patriot, and the patriot bard,
MAN WAS MADE TO MOURN.
When chill November's surly blast
Made fields and forests bare,
Along the banks of Ayr,
Seem'd weary, worn with care;
And hoary was his hair.
(Began the reverend sage ;)
Or youthful pleasures rage?
Too soon thou hast began,
The miseries of man!
Out-spreading far and wide,
A haughty lordling's pride;
Twice forty times return;
That man was made to mourn.
% Sir William Wallace, the celebrated Scottish patriote