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Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
Tho' real friends, I b'lieve, are few;
Yet, if your catalogue be fu',

I'se no insist:

But, gif ye want ae friend that's true,
I'm on your list.

I winna blaw about mysel,

As ill I like my fauts to tell;

But friends, an' folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me;

Tho' I maun own, as mony still

As far abuse me.

There's ae wee faut they whiles lay to me,
I like the lasses-Gude forgie me!
For mony a plack they wheedle frae me
At dance or fair;

Maybe some ither thing they gie me,
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,
An' kirsen him wi' reekin water;

Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,

To cheer our heart;

An' faith, we'se be acquainted better

Before we part.

Awa ye selfish, war'ly race,

Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace,
Ev'n love an' friendship should give place
To catch-the-plack!

I dinna like to see your face,

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,
As my auld pen's worn to the gristle,
Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,
Who am, most fervent,

While I can either sing or whistle,

Your friend and servant.


APRIL 21, 1785

WHILE new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake
An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik,
This hour on e'enin's edge I take,

To own I'm debtor

To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,

For his kind letter.

Forjesket sair, with weary legs,
Rattlin the corn out-owre the rigs,
Or dealing thro' amang the naigs

Their ten-hours' bite,
My awkart Muse sair pleads and begs
I would na write.

The tapetless, ramfeezl'd hizzie,
She's saft at best an' something lazy:

Quo' she, "Ye ken we've been sae busy

This month an' mair,

That trowth, my head is grown right dizzie, An' something sair."

Her dowff excuses pat me mad;

"Conscience," says I, “ye thowless jade!

I'll write, an' that a hearty blaud,
This vera night;

So dinna ye affront your trade,

But rhyme it right.

"Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o' hearts, Tho' mankind were a pack o' cartes, Roose you sae weel for your deserts,

In terms sae friendly;

Yet ye'll neglect to shaw your parts

An' thank him kindly?"

Sae I gat paper in a blink,

An' down gaed stumpie in the ink:

Quoth I, "Before I sleep a wink,

An' if

I vow I'll close it;

ye winna mak it clink,

By Jove, I'll prose it!"

Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether
In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither;
Or some hotch-potch that's rightly neither,
Let time mak proof;

But I shall scribble down some blether

Just clean aff-loof.

My worthy friend, ne'er grudge an' carp,
Tho' fortune use you hard an' sharp;
Come, kittle up your moorland harp

Wi' gleesome touch!

Ne'er mind how Fortune waft and warp;
She's but a bitch.

She's gien me mony a jirt an' fleg,
Sin' I could striddle owre a rig;
But, by the Lord, tho' I should beg
Wi' lyart pow,

I'll laugh an' sing, an' shake my leg,
As lang's I dow!

Now comes the sax-an'-twentieth simmer I've seen the bud upon the timmer,

Still persecuted by the limmer

Frae year to year;

But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,

I, Rob, am here.

Do ye envy the city gent,

Behint a kist to lie an' sklent;

Or purse-proud, big wi' cent. per cent.
An' muckle wame,

In some bit brugh to represent

A bailie's name?

Or is't the paughty, feudal thane,
Wi' ruffl'd sark an' glancing cane,

Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
But lordly stalks;
While and bonnets aff are taen,


As by he walks?

"O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
Gie me o' wit an' sense a lift,
Then turn me, if thou please, adrift,
Thro' Scotland wide;

Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
In a' their pride!"

Were this the charter of our state,
"On pain o' hell be rich an' great,"
Damnation then would be our fate,
Beyond remead;

But, thanks to heaven, that's no the gate
We learn our creed.

For thus the royal mandate ran,
When first the human race began;
"The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be-

"Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,

And none but he."

O mandate glorious and divine!
The ragged followers o' the Nine,
Poor, thoughtless devils! yet may shine
In glorious light,

While sordid sons o' Mammon's line

Are dark as night!

Tho' here they scrape, an' squeeze, an' growl,

Their worthless nievefu' of a soul

May in some future carcase howl,

The forest's fright;

Or in some day-detesting owl

May shun the light.

Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,
To reach their native, kindred skies,
And sing their pleasures, hopes an' joys,
In some mild sphere;

Still closer knit in friendship's ties,
Each passing year!


I GAT your letter, winsome Willie;
Wi' gratefu' heart I thank you brawlie;
Tho' I maun say't, I wad be silly,
And unco vain,

Should I believe, my coaxin billie
Your flatterin strain.

But I'se believe ye kindly meant it:
I sud be laith to think ye hinted
Ironic satire, sidelins sklented

On my poor Musie;

Tho' in sic phraisin terms ye've penn'd it,

I scarce excuse ye.

My senses wad be in a creel,

Should I but dare a hope to speel

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