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'Hornbook was by, wi' ready art,
'An' had sae fortify'd the part,
"That when I looked to my dart,
'It was sae blunt,

'Fient haeta o't wad hae pierc'd the heart
"Of a kail-runt.b

'I drew my scythe in sic a fury,
'I near-hand cowpite wi' my hurry,
'But yet the bauld Apothecary

'Withstood the shock;

'I might as weel hae tried a quarry
'O' hard whin rock.

'Ev'n them he canna get attended,

'Altho' their face he ne'er had kend it,


in a kail-blade, an' send it,

'As soon's he smells 't,

'Baith their disease, and what will mend it,
'At once he tells 't.

'And then a' doctor's saws an' whittles,
'Of a' dimensions, shapes, an' mettles,
'A' kinds o' boxes, mugs, an' bottles,
'He's sure to hae;

"Their Latin names as fast he rattles
'As A B C.

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'Forbye some new, uncommon weapons, 'Urinus spiritus of capons;

'Or mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings, 'Distill'd per se;

'Sal-alkali o' midge-tail clippings,


mony mae.'&

'Waes me for Johnie Ged's-Hole 1 now,'
Quoth I, 'if that thae news be true!
"His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,
'Sae white and bonie,


'Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew; They'll ruin Johnie !

The creature grain'd an eldritcha laugh,
And says 'Ye needna yoke the pleugh,
'Kirkyards will soon be till'd eneugh,
'Tak ye nae fear:

'They'll a' be trench'd wi' mony a sheugh,
"In twa-three year.

'Whare I kill'd ane, a fair strae-death,*
'By loss o' blood or want of breath,
"This night I'm free to tak my aith,

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"That Hornbook's skill

'Has clad a score i' their last claith, 'By drap an' pill.

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Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce weel-bred,

'Gat tippence-worth to mend her head,

" When it was sair;

'The wife slade cannie to her bed,

'But ne'er spak mair.

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'A bonie lass-ye kend her name—
'Some ill-brewn drink had hov'd her wame;
'She trusts hersel', to hide the shame,
In Hornbook's care;

'Horn sent her aff to her lang hame,
'To hide it there.

"That's just a swatch b o' Hornbook's way;
"Thus goes he on from day to day,
"Thus does he poison, kill, an' slay,

'An's weel paid for't;

'Yet stops me o' my lawfu' prey,

'Wi' his d-n'd dirt:

'But, hark! I'll tell you of a plot,
"Tho' dinna ye be speakin o't;

'I'll nail the self-conceited sot,

'As dead's a herrin;

'Neist time we meet, I'll wad a groat,
'He gets his fairin°!'

But just as he began to tell,

The auld kirk-hammer strak the bell
Some wee short hour ayont the twal',
Which rais'd us baith :

I took the way that pleas'd mysel',

And sae did Death.

young pet ewes.

b sample.

• fairing, present.

Epistle to J. Lapraik.1

WHILE briers an' woodbines budding green,
An' paitricks scraichina loud at e'en,
An' morning poussie whiddin' seen,
Inspire my muse,

This freedom, in an unknown frien',
I pray excuse.

On Fasten-e'en we had a rockin,d
To ca' the crack and weave our stockin ;
And there was muckle fun and jokin,
Ye need na doubt;

At length we had a hearty yokin'
At sang about.

There was ae sang, amang the rest,
Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
That some kind husband had addrest

To some sweet wife;

It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
A' to the life.

I've scarce heard ought describ'd sae weel,
What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel; 3
Thought I "can this be Pope, or Steele,
Or Beattie's wark?
They tauld me 'twas an odd kind chielb
About Muirkirk.

partridges crying. b hare scampering.
a friendly gathering. ⚫ hold a talk.
8 thrilled.

1 The song admired by Burns was pilfered by Lapraik from (or contributed by him to) The Weekly Magazine, Oct. 14, 1773 (Chambers). The poem here is Burns's Ars Poetica: possibly his rhymes had been censured by some collegian. Otherwise it is not easy to account for his attack on Greek, a language of which he had no more than


c night before Ash Wednesday. I set to.

h fellow.

Scott, and perhaps less than Shakspeare. Lapraik published his verses in 1788; they are collected by Burnsians.

The text is that of the Kilmarnock edition. Some variations in the Common-place Book are noted below.

2 It touch'd the feelings o' the breast."

"The style sae tastie and genteel."


It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't,
An' sae about him there I speir't";
Then a' that kent him round declar'd
He had ingine°;1

That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
It was sae fine:

That, set him to a pint of ale,
An' either douced or merry tale,
Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,
Or witty catches-

"Tween Inverness an' Teviotdale,

He had few matches.


Then up I gat, an' swoor an aith,
Tho' I should pawn my pleugh an' graith,'
Or die a cadger pownie's death,

At some dyke-back,

A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith,
To hear your crack.h

But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
Amaist as soon as I could spell,

I to the crambo-jingle1 fell;2

Tho' rude an' rough

Yet crooning to a body's sel's

Does weel enough.

I am nae poet, in a sense;

But just a rhymer like by chance,

An' hae to learning nae pretence;

Yet, what the matter?

Whene'er my inuse does on me glance,

I jingle at her.

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