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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 sequesterd 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 frae? the pleugh;
The blackening trains o' craws to their repose; The toil-worn Cotter frae his labor goes,
This night his weekly moils is at an end, Collects his spades, his matlocks, 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" 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
I These beautiful Unes were written in "Friars-Carse" Hermitage, on the banks of the Vith. : From. 3 Labor. 4 Little. 6 Tottering in their walk. 6 Stagger.
7 Fluttering. 8 Fire. • Shining at intervals. 10 AU. 11 Consuming. 12 By-and-by.
18 Drive. 14 Cautious 15 Kindly, dexterous. 16 Fine, handsome. 17 Sorely won.
Wi' joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet,
An each for other's weelfare kindly spiers;'
Each tells the uncos2 that he sees or hears;
Anticipation forward points the view;
Gars3 auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
An' ne'er, though out o' sight, to jauk or play:
An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' night!
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek;
While Jenny hafflins5 is afraid to speak;
A strappan? youth, he taks the mother's eye;
The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.9
But blate 10 an' laithfu','' scarce can weel behave;
What maks the youth sae bashfu' an' sae grave,
O heartfelt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
And sage experience bids me this declare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale,
A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
1 Anks. 3 News. 7 Tall and handsome. 12 The rest, the others.
6 Into the parlor 11 Reluctant.
Curse on his perjured arts ! dissembling smooth!
Are honor, virtue, conscience, all exiled?
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
The healsome parritch, chief o' Scotia's food:
That 'yonts the hallan snugly chows her cood:
To grace the lad, her weel-hain d? kebbuck,S fell,
The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell,
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They round the ingle form a circle wide;
The big Ha'-Bible, 15 ance his father's pride;
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;
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
The tickled ears no heartfelt raptures raise;
1 Mercy, kind feeling. 2 Oatmeal-pudding. 3 Sauce, milk. 4 A pet-name for a cor 6 Beyond. 6 A partition wall in a cottage. 7 Carefully preserved.
B A cheese 9 Biting to the taste. 10 Twelve months.
11 Old. 12 Since. 13 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 wora that aspect before the poet's eyes, though he died before he was threescore. "I have always con sidered 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 arolled every thing that was criminal." The following is the “Epitaph" which the son wrote for him:
O ye, whose check the tear of pity stains,
Draw near, with pious reverence, and attend I
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." 15 The great Bible kept in the hall. 16 Gray. 17 The temples, the sides of the head 18 Chooses.
19 The names of Scottish psalm-tunes.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
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: How His first followers and servants sped,
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land : How he, who lone in Patmos 3 banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand, And heard great Babylon's doom pronounced by Heaven's command. Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays: Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,"
That thus they all shall meet in future days; There ever bask in uncreated rays,
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 Power, incensed, the pageant will desert,
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 That He, who stills the raven's clamorous nest,
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. 3 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 of 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.
's Sir William Wallace, the celebrated Scottish patriola