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Lines on the Author's Death.1


He who of Rankine sang, lies stiff and dead,
And a green grassy hillock hides his head;
Alas! alas! a devilish change indeed.

Man was made to Mourn-A Dirge.2

WHEN chill November's surly blast
Made fields and forests bare,
One ev'ning, as I wander'd forth
Along the banks of Ayr,

I spied a man, whose aged step

Seem'd weary, worn with care;
His face was furrow'd o'er with years,
And hoary was his hair.

"Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"
Began the rev'rend sage;

"Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure's rage?

Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou hast began

To wander forth, with me to mourn
The miseries of man.

1 Only an indiscriminating piety can think these lines worth preserving.

Mr Scott Douglas dates this early lament of the Unemployed, so characteristic of Burns's tenderness and democratic sympathies, in November 1784. The tune, which inspires it, is described as "querulous."


The text is that of the Kilmarnock edition, 1786. The Common-place Book shows a number of variations, but the

only one of importance is the beginning
of verse 3 :-

"Yon sun that hangs o'er Carrick moors,
That spread so far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
The lordly Cassilis' pride.'

On this there is a note in the MS.
by "W. R.":-"The lordly Cassilis'
pride" is a line you must alter. I was
astonished to see anything so personal.

"The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Out-spreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
A haughty lordling's pride ;-
I've seen yon weary winter-sun
Twice forty times return;
And ev'ry time has added proofs,
That man was made to mourn.

"O man! while in thy early years,
How prodigal of time!
Mis-spending all thy precious hours-
Thy glorious, youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the


Licentious passions burn


Which tenfold force gives Nature's law,
That man was made to mourn.

"Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood's active might;
Man then is useful to his kind,
Supported is his right:

But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn;

Then Age and Want-oh! ill-match'd pair-
Shew man was made to mourn.

"A few seem favourites of fate,
In pleasure's lap carest;

Yet, think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest:

But oh what crowds in ev'ry land,

All wretched and forlorn,

Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
That man was made to mourn.

"Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame !

More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!


And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,-

Man's inhumanity to man

Makes countless thousands mourn!

"See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.

"If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave,
By Nature's law design'd,
Why was an independent wish

E'er planted in my mind?

If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty, or scorn?

Or why has man the will and pow'r
To make his fellow mourn?

"Yet, let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast:
This partial view of human-kind
Is surely not the last!

The poor, oppressed, honest man

Had never, sure, been born,

Had there not been some recompense

To comfort those that mourn!

"O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,

The kindest and the best!

Welcome the hour my aged limbs

Are laid with thee at rest!

The great, the wealthy fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn;

But, oh a blest relief for those
That weary-laden mourn!"

The Twa Herds; or, The Holy Tulyie."


"Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,

But fool with fool is barbarous civil war."-POPE.

O a' ye pious godly flocks,

Weel fed on pastures orthodox,

Wha now will keep you frae the fox,

Or worrying tykesb?

Or wha will tent the waifs an' crocks,

About the dykes?

The twa best herds in a' the wast,
That e'er ga'e gospel horn a blast
These five an' twenty simmers past—
Oh, doold to tell!

Hae had a bitter black out-cast

Atween themsel'.


O, Moodie, man, an' wordy Russell,
How could you raise so vile a bustle;
Ye'll see how New-Light herds will whistle,
An' think it fine!

The L-'s cause ne'er gat sic a twistle,

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1 This is one of the earliest of Burns's priest-skelping turns.' The ferment of popular hatred of John Knox (sometimes expressed orally in his lifetime), at last informs a Scotch poem. Burns says, "with a certain description of the clergy, as well as laity, it met with a roar of applause." He did not publish it. The "herds" were Mr Moodie (of Riccarton), and Mr John Russell (of Kilmarnock). The quarrel was about parish boundaries. The right of "the brutes to choose their herds" ought to have commended

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O, sirs! whae'er wad hae expeckit
Your duty ye wad sae negleckit,
Ye wha were ne'er by lairds respeckit
To wear the plaid;

But by the brutes themselves eleckit,
To be their guide.

What flock wi' Moodie's flock could rank ?— Sae hale and hearty every shank!

Nae poison'd soor Arminian stank

He let them taste;

Frae Calvin's well aye clear they drank,-
O, sic a feast!

The thummart, willcat, brock, an' tod,
Weel kend his voice thro' a' the wood,
He smell'd their ilka hole an' road,
Baith out an in;
An' weel he lik'd to shed their bluid,
An' sell their skin.

What herd like Russell tell'd his tale;
His voice was heard thro' muir and dale,
He kenn'd the L-'s sheep, ilka tail,
Owre a' the height;

An' saw gin they were sick or hale,
At the first sight.

He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
Or nobly fling the gospel club,

And New-Light herds could nicely drub


pay their skin;

Could shake them o'er the burning dub,b

Or heave them in.

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