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Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
I'se no insist:
But, gif ye want ae friend that's true,
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,
Maybe some ither thing they gie me,
But Mauchline Race, or Mauchline Fair,
An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware
Wi' ane anither.
The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
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,
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,
But, to conclude my lang epistle,
While I can either sing or whistle,
Your friend and servant.
SECOND EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK
APRIL 21, 1785
WHILE new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake
To own I'm debtor
To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,
For his kind letter.
Forjesket sair, with weary legs,
Their ten-hours' bite,
The tapetless, ramfeezl'd hizzie,
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,
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,
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
But I shall scribble down some blether
Just clean aff-loof.
My worthy friend, ne'er grudge an' carp,
Wi' gleesome touch!
Ne'er mind how Fortune waft and warp;
She's gien me mony a jirt an' fleg,
I'll laugh an' sing, an' shake my leg,
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.
In some bit brugh to represent
A bailie's name?
Or is't the paughty, feudal thane,
Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
As by he walks?
"O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
Were this the charter of our state,
But, thanks to heaven, that's no the gate
For thus the royal mandate ran,
"Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
And none but he."
O mandate glorious and divine!
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,
Still closer knit in friendship's ties,
EPISTLE TO WILLIAM SIMSON
I GAT your letter, winsome Willie;
Should I believe, my coaxin billie
But I'se believe ye kindly meant it:
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