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As dear, and near my heart I set thee
Wi' as gude will
As a' the priests had seen me get thee
That's out o' h-ll.
Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
My funny toil is now a' tint,a
Sin' thou cam to the warl' asklent,b
Which fools may scoff at;
In my last plack thy part's be in't
The better ha'f o't.
Tho' I should be the waur bestead,d
Thou's be as braw and bienly clad,
And thy young years as nicely bred
As ony brat o' wedlock's bed,
In a' thy station.
Lord grant that thou may aye inherit
Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit,
An' thy poor, worthless daddy's spirit,
Without his failins,
"Twill please me mair to see thee heir it,
Than stockit mailens."
For if thou be what I wad hae thee,
And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee-
The cost nor shame o't,
But be a loving father to thee,
And brag the name o't.
Song-O Leave Novels.1
O LEAVE novels, ye Mauchline belles,
Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
Such witching books are baited hooks
For rakish rooks like Rob Mossgiel ;
Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,
They make your youthful fancies reel;
They heat your brains, and fire your veins,
And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.
Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung,
A heart that warmly seems to feel;
That feeling heart but acts a part—
"Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.
The frank address, the soft caress,
Are worse than poisoned darts of steel;
The frank address, and politesse,
Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.
Fragment-The Mauchline Lady.2
Tune-"I had a horse, I had nae mair."
WHEN first I came to Stewart Kyle,
My mind it was na steady;
Where'er I gaed, where'er I rade,
A mistress still I had aye :
But when I came roun' by Mauchline toun,
Not dreadin anybody,
My heart was caught, before I thought,
And by a Mauchline lady.
Fragment-My Girl she's Airy.1
My girl she's airy, she's buxom and gay;
Her breath is as sweet as the blossoms in May;
A touch of her lips it ravishes quite :
She's always good natur'd, good humor'd, and free;
She dances, she glances, she smiles upon me;
I never am happy when out of her sight.
The Belles of Mauchline.2
IN Mauchline there dwells six proper young belles,
The pride of the place and its neighbourhood a';
Their carriage and dress, a stranger would guess,
In Lon'on or Paris, they'd gotten it a'.
Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland's divine,
Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw:
There's beauty and fortune to get wi' Miss Morton,
But Armour's the jewel for me o' them a'.
Epitaph on a Noisy Polemic.
BELOW thir stanes lie Jamie's banes;
O Death, it's my opinion,
Thou ne'er took such a bleth'rin bitch
Into thy dark dominion!
1 The date is 1784, the girl may be anybody. The remaining lines of this piece have never been printed in full.
2 Their histories have been devoutly traced, and one of them, Miss Smith, was the mother of a Doctor in the Free Kirk, Dr Candlish. On the principle
usually quoted from Talleyrand, the husband of this lady, Mr James Candlish, cannot have been beautiful.
8 This fellow, one James Humphrey, used to introduce himself to strangers as "Burns's bletherin' bitch." See Keats's Letters from Scotland."
Epitaph on a henpecked Country Squire.1
As father Adam first was fool'd,
(A case that's still too common,)
Here lies a man a woman ruled,
The devil ruled the woman.
Epigram on the Said Occasion.
O DEATH, had'st thou but spar'd his life,
Whom we this day lament,
We freely wad exchanged the wife,
And a' been weel content.
Ev'n as he is, cauld in his graff,
The swap we yet will do't;
Tak thou the carlin's carcase aff,
Thou'se get the saul o' boot.b
ONE Queen Artemisia, as old stories tell,
When deprived of her husband she loved so well,
In respect for the love and affection he show'd her,
She reduc'd him to dust and she drank up the powder.
But Queen Netherplace, of a diff'rent complexion,
When called on to order the fun'ral direction,
Would have eat her dead lord, on a slender pretence,
Not to show her respect, but-to save the expence !
1 Burns actually printed these jibes on a Mr Campbell of Netherplace in his Kilmarnock edition. The last
might have appeared in the latest decadence of the Greek Anthology.
On Tam the Chapman.1
As Tam the chapman on a day,
Wi' Death forgather'd by the way,
Weel pleas'd, he greets a wight so famous,
And Death was nae less pleas'd wi' Thomas,
Wha cheerfully lays down his pack,
And there blaws up a hearty crack":
His social, friendly, honest heart
Sae tickled Death, they could na part;
Sae, after viewing knives and garters,
Death taks him hame to gie him quarters.
Epitaph on John Rankine.2
AE day, as Death, that gruesome carl,
Was driving to the tither warl'
A mixtie-maxtie motley squad,
And mony a guilt-bespotted lad-
Black gowns of each denomination,
And thieves of every rank and station,
From him that wears the star and garter,
To him that wintles in a halter:
Ashamed himself to see the wretches,
He mutters, glowrin at the bitches,
"By G-d I'll not be seen behint them,
Nor 'mang the sp'ritual core present them,
Without, at least, ae honest man,
To grace this d-d infernal clan!"
By Adamhill a glance he threw,
"L-d G―d!" quoth he, "I have it now;
There's just the man I want, i' faith!"
And quickly stoppit Rankine's breath.
1 Mr Scott Douglas describes the provenance of this piece, given to William Cobbett by one Thomas
Kennedy, a bagman, the subject of the verses.
2 Adamhill, where Rankine lived, is a farm near Lochlea.