Poems, Literary Prose, and Journalism of Alexander Wilson
An Electronic Edition
Poems, Literary Prose, and Journalism of Alexander Wilson. Edited by Michael Ziser.
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——Sweet Poetry, thou Loveliest Maid,1.
Still first to fly, where sensual Joys invade—
Dear, charming Nymph, neglected and decry'd,3.
My shame in crouds, my solitary pride;
Thou, source of all my Bliss, and all my Woe,
Thou found'st me poor at first, and kept me so——
Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770) .
PRINTED BY J. NEILSON, FOR THE AUTHOR..
Through life, what miseries, cares, and disappointments daily occur to those on whom Fortune seems to look unpropitious! Hours, with them, are days, months seem years, and Time steals as sluggishly onward, as if he delighted in our griefs and wished to spin out our miserable existence. In such sickening circumstances, the mind eagerly engages in any pursuit that can communicate one gleam of joy, however transient, one prospect of pleasure, however remote. An attempt to beguile some of those unhappy moments, joined to an irresistible love of Poetry, gave being to the greatest number of the pieces that compose the following Collection. And, as the intention of every publication should be to instruct, or entertain, or both, I fondly hope, that having endeavoured to blend the two together; to adorn them with the colouring of poetry, and enliven them with humour and fancy, they may not be altogether unacceptable. 1.
Poetry, notwithstanding those numerous and formidable volumes that now march through the land, is, in my opinion, long since on the decline; and instead of its noble sentiments, sprightly wit, and astonishing imagery, we are of late tormented with the mere tinkling of childish rhymes. Should this miscellany be deservedly included among those insipid lumps, I shall drop my pen with a sigh, and resign the wished-for laurels to some more fortunate adventurer. Time, but neither the applause of fools, or the snarling of a ZOILUS, will fix the fate of these little pieces, whose merits, their immediate relapse into oblivion, or their honorable existence two hundred years hence, shall determine. However, as I have not a doubt, but that either from my own deficiencies, from envy, or the ignorant affectation of others, I may have enemies enough to encounter; I shall here address two species of my most formidable antagonists, of whom a certain train of stiff, upright, formal, square-and-rule critics shall have the preference. 2.
Methinks I see one of these dogmatic Pedants, poring over this book, wrying his mouth with every revolving leaf; ever and anon muttering to himself the expressive monosyallble "Stuff—!" Ten thousand pardonable faults that escape, even the judicious, his penetrating eye discovers. "See! Here an apostrophe is omitted—What a transposition of grammar!——This expression should and ought to have been, according to all the just and equitable rules of grammar, inclosed, confined, or put between two parenthesis." The Pedant possessed of such a narrow soul, may be justly likened to another of his kind, inspecting through a microscope the shining surface of a needle; to every other eye it glitters, smooth and polished, but to his, seems nothing else than a coarse rugged piece of deformity. Not that I would here be understood to depreciate that useful branch of learning, or justify a loose, incorrect mode of writing; far from it; but let those, whose deepest observations and most powerful objections, consist of misplaced commas, superfluous conjunctions, unnecessary repetitions, and such like truly important points; I say, let them, in the midst of their exclamations, consider, how little I wrong them, and how much they are indebted to my very faults. Had I never deviated from their mathematical lines, how many glorious opportunities would they have lost of displaying to the world the excellence of that deep erudition which they certainly possess. Let me however seriously ask them, Would they, for the misplacing of one dish at table, lose the enjoyment of their dinner? If not, never let the unfortunate slip of a grammatical error prejudice them against a whole piece, and let them be content if, in one instance, I have kept to their rules; for, in plain English, let me say it, Them I never did intend to please, and their applauses I would not hesitate to consider as so much ridicule. 3.
As for those, whose judgment, knowledge, taste and impartiality, justly entitle them to the appellation of Critics; to you with diffidence I submit the following pieces. To defy you would be, no doubt, to arouse the indignant lion, and seal my own destruction. Yet not think that I shall here abjectly kneel—beseech your gracious clemency—profess my own insignificancy, and tremble for your sentence. No; all I request from you, or the world, is simply this: Peruse with impartiality the following pages—Give merit its praise where you find it—And pity, rather than exult with a savage joy, over those frailties to which every mortal is liable; ever generously considering, that, 4.
"To err is human, to forgive divine."5.
July 22, 1790.
(Scene, a Barn).
My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,1.
And find no spot of all the world my own
This opening epigraph, drawn from Oliver
Goldsmith's The Traveller (1764), reflects Wilson's lifelong self-conception as an itinerant poet.
The lines leading to this couplet read: "My prime of life in wand'ring spent and care, ⁄ Impell'd, with steps unceasing, to pursue ⁄
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view; ⁄ That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, ⁄ Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies."
HAIL! ye drear shadows, willing I approach1.
Once more to join you, from my humble couch.
Welcome, ye friendly shades, ye kindred glooms!3.
More do I love you than the wealthy's rooms.
The dark, damp walls–the roof scarce cover'd o'er,
The wind wild whistling thro' the cold barn-door:
Those, like myself, are hung in ragged state;
And this seems shrilly to deplore my fate.8.
Far from a home, Fate has my lot design'd,9.
A lot inglorious, and a lot unkind;
No friend at hand to bless my list'ning ear,11.
No kind companion to dispel my care;
No coin to level round the flowing bowl,
And in dark shades, to wrap the welt'ring soul.
If that is bliss, 'twas what I never miss'd,
And were it all, I'd rather be unbless'd.16.
But, come, thou cheerer of my frowning hours,17.
Native of heav′n adorn'd with blooming flow'rs;
Thou, who oft deigns the shepherd's breast to warm,19.
As on the steep he feeds his fleecy swarm;
Sublimes his soul, thro' Nature vast to soar,
Her works to view, to wonder and adore.
Tho' Fortune frown, and writhing Envy hiss,
Be thou, O POETRY, my pride, my bliss;24.
My source of health–-Misfortune's adverse spear,
My joy hereafter, and my pleasure here.
While yet sad Night sits empress of the sky,27.
And o'er the world dark shades confus'dly lie;
Forth let me stray along the dew-wet plains,29.
While all air echoes with the lark's loud strains.
With lonely step I'll seek the gloomy shade
Of yon wide oak, half bending o'er the glade;
Here let me rest, unseen by human eye,
And sing the beauties of the dawning sky.34.
How still is all around! far on yon height35.
The new-wak'd Hind has struck a glimm'ring light;
Hush'd is the breeze, while high the clouds among37.
The early lark pours out her thrilling song,
Springs from the grassy lea, or rustling corn,
Tow'rs thro' dull night and wakes the coming morn.
And see! sweet Morning comes, far in the East,
Pale lustre shedding o'er the mountain's breast;42.
Slow is her progress, unobserv'd her pace,
She comes increasing, and she comes with grace;
The dewy landscape opens to the eye;
Far to the west the gloomy vapours fly;
Instant awake, the feather'd tribes arise,47.
Sport thro' the grove, or warble in the skies;
Blithe and exulting with refreshen'd glee,
From ev'ry bush and ev'ry dropping tree.
In sullen silence to her ancient home,51.
Where close shut up she doses all day long,
The hermit owl, slow takes her gloomy way,53.
And frets and grudges at th' approach of day.
The Bat, the busiest of the midnight train
That wing the air, or sulky tread the plain,
Sees MORNING open on each field and bow'r,
And ends her mazes in yon ruined tow'r.58.
Now is the time, while joy and song prevail,
To spurn dull sleep and brush the flow'ry dale;
To climb the height of some hill's airy brow,
Where woods shoot branching from the cliffs below;
Where some clear brook winds in the vale profound,63.
And rich the landscape spreads immense around;
While, under foot, gay crimson'd daisies peep,
And shepherd's clubs
A wild flower. [AW's note]
hang nodding o'er the steep;
There, on the downy turf, at ease reclin'd,
Invite the Muse to aid your teeming mind,68.
Then shall grim Care, with all his furies fly,
As sulky Night speeds from the dawning sky,
And your calm breast enjoy a rapt'ring glow,
Which wealth or indolence can ne'er bestow.
Let boist'rous drunkards at th' approach of day,73.
In stagg'ring herds forth from the tavern stray,
Stand, belching oaths, and nauseous streams of wine,75.
Less men resembling, than the grov'lling swine.
The Cit, with pride and sordid meanness bred,
His be the privilege to snore in bed;
No knowledge gaining from the changing skies,
But just his bed-time and his time to rise.80.
Mine be the bliss to hail the purpling dawn,81.
To mark the dew-drops glitt'ring o'er the lawn;
Thrice happy period, when amid the throng83.
Of warbling birds, I join the grateful song;
Or wand'ring, thoughtful, near the bubbling stream,
Or wrapt in fancy by the early beam;
Each gives a joy, an inward reigning bliss,
Pen can't describe, nor lab'ring tongue express.88.
O thou dread Pow'r! thou Architect divine!89.
Who bids these seasons roll–those myriads shine;
Whose smile decks Nature in her loveliest robe,91.
Whose frown shakes terror o'er th' astonish'd globe;
To thee I kneel; still deign to be a friend,
Accept my praise, and pardon where I've sinn'd;
Inspire my thoughts, make them unsullied flow,
To see thy goodness in thy works below;96.
That whether Morning gilds the sky serene,
Or golden Day beams o'er the blooming plain,
Or dewy Ev'ning chears, while Philo sings,
Or ancient Night out-spreads her raven wings;
Whether soft breezes curl along the flood,101.
Or madd'ning tempests bend the roaring wood,
Rejoic'd, adoring, I may view the change,
And, while on Fancy's airy plumes I range,
Collect calm Reason, awe-struck eye their ways,
And join the chorus, since they sound thy praise.106.
Wilson's close friend, William Witherspoon, contracted tuberculosis and, in order to protect his family from infection, moved to a small cottage on the White Cart River. Wilson spent many days with Witherspoon, who filled the last months of his life putting in a garden around his hut. While away on peddling trip in the autumn of 1788, Wilson received Witherspoon's last letter. Hastening back to Paisley, Wilson found his friend already dead and buried, his cottage torn down, and his garden uprooted by pigs. Feeling his own death foreshadowed, Wilson soon thereafter delivered his poems in manuscript to Thomas Crichton, a local publisher.
Of joys departed, never to return,
How painful the remembrance!
'TWAS where smooth CARTHA
The river that passes through Paisleyrolls in winding pride,1.
Where willows fringe young DAMON's garden side,
And o'er the rocks the boiling current roars,3.
Murm'ring to leave these peaceful, flow'ry shores;
There, sad and pensive, near an aged thorn,
Sat lone ALEXIS, friendless and forlorn.
Pale was his visage, lost to joy his ear,7.
Involv'd in grief, he shed the ceaseless tear.
Poor hapless swain, alas! he mourn'd alone,9.
His dearest friend, his kind companion gone.
Each list'ning bush forgot in air to play;
Round gaz'd the flock, mute hung the people'd spray;
Sad Silence reign'd, while thus the Youth, distrest,
Pour'd forth the sorrows of his burden'd breast:14.
O'er all the plain the mournful strains pervade,
O'er all the plain a solemn sadness spread,
Nor wak'd an echo but to murmur "dead!"
Thus sung the hapless swain, "Short is the span
Of fleeting time, allow'd to feeble Man!19.
No sooner born, he fills the air with cries,
No sooner known, than pale he droops, and dies.
To-day he laughs the dancing hours away;
To-morrow lies extended, lifeless clay.
While o'er the silent corpse, each weeping swain,24.
In anguish sigh, but sigh or weep in vain.
Such was thy fate, HORATIO! from this shore
Too sudden torn, ne'er to revisit more.
The rigid debt, alas! thou now hast paid;
Thee on the couch relentless Fever laid;29.
Thy heaving breast with dread disorder wrung,
And 'plaints, still trembling from thy feeble tongue;
And scarce a soul thy frequent wants to ease,
Or soothe each moan, or whisper to thee peace,
While I, far distant, on a foreign plain,34.
Exulting rov'd, unconscious of thy pain.
Oh! had I known the pangs that tore thy breast,
Had some kind pow'r but whisper'd, "he's distrest",
Soon had I measur'd back my lonely way,
And sought the bed where poor HORATIO lay;39.
Kiss'd from thy face the cold, damp, deadly dew,
And groan'd my last, distracted, long adieu.
"That dismal hour ne'er from my thought shall go,42.
When black appear'd the messenger of woe;
O'er all my soul a gloomy horror came,44.
And instant trembling, shook my feeble frame.
Thy dying strains I read, still yet I hear
The solemn counsel sounding in my ear;
Alluding to a Letter which he wrote to the Author a few days before he died. [AW]
Words that shall tremble on my latest breath,
And only leave me when I sink in death.49.
Frantic with grief, twice fifty miles I sped
O'er sev'ring seas and gain'd his silent bed;
Each weeping friend confirm'd my gloomy fear,
That earth had clos'd on all I held most dear!
Yes, mute he lies beneath yon rising sod,54.
While his lone cot, of Peace the late abode,
Now grim and drear, to tott'ring ruin falls,
Loud blasts, wild howling through the naked walls;
His flow'rs torn up, his garden bare and waste,
And I lone left, a solitary guest.59.
"Sad change indeed––ye once lov'd scenes! where now60.
The growing bliss I felt at each fond view?
Where all that sweetness that perfum'd each flow'r,62.
That bless'd our walks and wing'd the passing hour?
For ever fled! fled with that pride of swains,
Whose presence grac'd these now forsaken plains!
When he appear'd, each warbler rais'd his note,
Each flow'r blow'd fresher midst the peaceful spot;67.
Ev'n while sweet CARTHA pass'd the smiling scene,
She smoother flow'd, and left the place with pain.
Thrice happy times! when hid from Phoebus' beam,
From that green shade we angl'd in her stream,
Or, wanton, stript, and, from the hanging shore,72.
Exulting, plung'd her pearly depths t'explore,
Tore from their rocky homes the pregnant dames,
And to the sun display'd the glob'lous gems.
"But now no more amid the peaceful night,76.
Beneath pale Luna's azure-throned light,
We'll leave the noisy town, and slowly stray78.
Where shadowy trees branch on the moon-light way;
There wake the flute, harmonious, soft and shrill,
While Echo warbles from the distant hill.
Gone are those times, for which, alas! I mourn;
Gone are those times, nor shall they e'er return;83.
Gone is my friend, and ev'n forgot his name,
And strangers rude, his little Mansion claim;
New schemes shall tear those blooming shrubs away,
And that green sod turn down to rugged clay;
Where rich Carnations burst the pond'rous pod,88.
Where Pinks and Daisies fring'd the peebly road;
Where glowing Roses hung the bended spray,
Where crimson'd Tulips rose, neat rang'd and gay;
Where all these bloom'd beneath their guardian's eye,
Hogs shall inhabit, and foul dunghills lie.93.
Then, oh! adieu, ye now unfriendly shores,
Another Swain now claims your flow'ry stores,
A surly swain, puff'd up with pride immense,
And see! he comes, stern to command me hence.
Thou hoary Thorn, adieu, ere 'tis too late,98.
Yon lifted ax seems to announce thy fate."
Thus spoke the Youth; then rising, ceas'd his strain,100.
And, wrapt in anguish, wander'd o'er the plain.
Epistle To Mr. David Brodie,
Written On The Last Night Of The Year
First drafted in a letter to Brodie dated 31 December 1788. See Hunter 123-5. David Brodie was the other weaver at the first loomshop Wilson worked in after leaving Auchinbathie. A bookish but good-humored young man, Brodie became one of Wilson's best friends in Paisley and among the first to encourage his interest in poetry. Brodie left the looms to become a schoolmaster in 1786.
STAIN'D with the guilt of Man's continued crimes,1.
The parting Year prepares to wing its way;
To join the concourse of departed times,3.
And wait the summons of the final Day.
Its sad egress no crimson'd Clouds bewail,5.
Nor tuneful bird its parting moment cheers;
But silent, wrapt in WINTER's gloomiest veil,7.
It leaves us trembling at the load it bears.
Far distant, in an Inns, third flat uprear'd,9.
The sheet, beneath a glim'ring Taper spread;
While o'er the shadowy walls no sound is heard,11.
Save Time's slow, constant, momentary tread,
Here, lone I sit–and will you, Sir, excuse13.
My midnight strain, while (feebly as she can)
Inspiring Silence bids the serious Muse15.
Survey the transient bliss pursu'd by man?
Deluded man! for him Spring paints the fields,17.
For him warm Summer rears the rip'ning grain;
He grasps the bounty that rich Autumn yields,19.
And counts those trifles as essential gain.
For him, indeed, those lesser blessings flow,21.
Yet why so fleeting, why so short their stay?–
To teach poor Mortals, what they first should know,23.
That all is transient as the passing day.
Short is the period since green smil'd the wood,25.
And flow'rs ambrosial bath'd my morning path;
Sweet was the murm'ring of the glitt'ring flood,27.
Glad roam'd the flocks along th' empurpl'd heath.
With conscious joy I hail'd the rosy scene,29.
And join'd in concert with the woodland throng;
Stretch'd by the hazel bank, or sunny plain,31.
Where answ'ring Echo warbl'd out the Song.
Delightful times! but ah! how short their stay!33.
Stript was the foliage from each flow'r and tree;
Grim growling Winter veil'd the joyless day,35.
And roar'd imperious o'er the hail-beat lea.
Where now the fragrance of the howling wood?37.
Or what the pleasures we from morn can taste?
The snow-clad banks, the big brown roaring flood,39.
The bleak wind whistling o'er the drifted waste.
'Tis thus, dear sir, in Life's delusive dream,41.
We fondly sport, till Youth's wild act is o'er;
Till Age–till Death–steals on, in sullen stream,43.
And wordly bubbles charm the soul no more.
But, hark! the sullen midnight tempest roars;45.
Loud o'er my sireless dome it wildly howls;
Th'adjoining ocean, thro' her rocky shores,47.
Majestic groans, and swells the mingled growls.
The shiv'ring Muse has fled my frozen frame,49.
And shouts of riot strike my list'ning ear;
In sinking–mounting–sad inconstant flame,51.
My candle's ending with the ending year.
Adieu, my friend! may success, health, and peace53.
Crown your each year, and ev'ry labour too;
And sure, if virtuous worth claims human praise,55.
Fate still in keeping holds a wreath for you.
Fraught with fresh blessings be this coming year;57.
And should some fav'ring period of its reign
Admit my steps, rejoic'd I'll homeward steer,59.
And hail your mansion, and my friend again.
Address To Calder Bank
YE hoary Rocks, ye woody Cliffs, that rise1.
Unwieldy, jutting o'er the brawling Brook;
Ye louring steeps, where hid the Adder lies,3.
Where sleeps the Owl, and screams the sable Rook;
Ye rev'rend trunks, that spread your leafy arms,5.
To shield the gloom, that darkling dwells below;
Ye nameless flow'rs, ye busy-winged swarms;7.
Ye birds that warble, and ye streams that flow.–
Say, ye blest scenes of Solitude and Peace,9.
Strayed e'er a BARD along this hermit shore?
Did e'er his pencil your perfection trace?11.
Or did his Muse to sing your beauties soar?
Has oft at early Morn and silent Eve,13.
Responsive echo stole athwart the trees;
While easy laid beside the glitt'ring wave,15.
The shepherd sung, his list'ning Fair to please?
Alas! methinks the weeping Rocks around,17.
And the lone Stream, that murmurs far below,
And Trees and Caves, with solemn hollow sound,19.
Breathe out one mournful, melancholy–"No."
The Shepherdess' Dream,
Founded on a Fact
WHERE LORN 's wild hills, in lonely grandeur rise1.
From th' Atlantic shore, till lost amid the skies,
Immensely throwing, while young Morning smiles,3.
Their dark'ning shadows o'er the distant isles;
Here, near the border of a ragged wood,
The young MARIA's rural cottage stood.
Soon as the night to western skies was borne,7.
And early Cock proclaim'd the op'ning Morn,
Forth stray'd the blooming Maid, with all her train9.
Of Bleaters, nibbling o'er th' empurpl'd plain.
High on the summit's brow, or braky Glen,
Or heathy dale, or near the grassy fen,
Or on the hill, they fed, where blue bells hung
Their nodding heads; high thron'd the sweet Lark sung,14.
While Rocks around, with lows and bleatings rung.
Here stray'd the SHEPHERDESS, while blazing day
Awoke the warbling choir and flow'rets gay.
Deep in the shade she shunn'd the sultry air,
Or kept from startling sweep her milky care;19.
Till in the sea bright Phoebus' chariot roll'd,
Then, singing, wore them homewards to the Fold.
Near her lone Cottage rose the rugged shore,22.
Where foaming billows rav'd with ceaseless roar;
High, grim, and dreadful, hung the gloomy steep,24.
And tow'r'd black threat'ning o'er the low-sunk deep,
And now 'twas Night–the maid in bed reclin'd,
The following prospect open'd on her mind.
She dream'd, that careless in the noontide ray,28.
Stretch'd on a flow'ry bank, she sleeping lay,
When some kind voice, soft whisper'd in her ear,30.
"MARIA! rise, thy flock hath left thee here"–
Sudden she started, found herself alone,
Around all silent, and her Bleaters gone.
She snatch'd her Crook, flew o'er the lonely dale,
Plung'd thro' the Brook, and gaz'd adown the vale;35.
But nought appeared. Again she sought the heath,
Each creek, each hollow view'd with panting breath;
Till, toil'd and faint, the airy steep she gains,
And views enraptur'd, views them on the plains–
Cows, sheep, and goats, at once burst on her eye,40.
Some crop the herbs, while others peaceful lie,
Her little heart expands in an exulting cry.
Yet still she thought, between her and the flock,
Arose a shelvy, black, impervious rock,
Which oft she strove to pass, but strove in vain,45.
Some pow'r unseen still pull'd her back again.
With toil fatigu'd, she view'd them as they fed,
And on the rock reclin'd her heavy head.
Thus dream'd the Maid, and waking midst the Night,49.
Beheld, good gods! beheld a horrid sight.
High on a rock's dread verge, hung o'er the main,51.
Whose far-sunk surge wheel'd round her giddy brain;
Amaz'd she found herself, half-clad, alone;
Her hand laid leaning on a jutting stone,
Dark was the night, save where the shrowded Moon,
'Midst dusky clouds, shone on the waste aroun',56.
And show'd the horrid steep, a dreadful sight,
Cliff hung o'er cliff, in grim stupendous height.
Back from the threat'ning scene she headlong fled,
Lest the whole mass might yield beneath her tread:
Then raised the maid to Heav'n her streaming eyes,61.
And pour'd her grateful soul in fervent sighs,
To that kind Pow'r, who feeble mortals keeps,
Whose eye all-seeing, slumbers not nor sleeps;
To whom each being owes all that he hath,
Each pulse's throb, and each returning breath,66.
Implor'd his presence still to guard her path,
Then, rising, sought her Cot along the lonely heath.
Thoughts in a Church-Yard
Earth's highest station ends in, Here he lies;
And, dust to dust, concludes her noblest song.
AGAIN, O Sadness! soft'ning pow'r, again1.
I woo thee, thoughtful, from this letter'd stone;
And hail, thou comes! to view the dreary scene3.
Where ghastly Death has fixt his awful throne.
How lone, how solemn seems each view around?5.
I see, at distance, oh! distracting sight!
I see the Tomb–the humble grassy mound,7.
Where he now lies, once all my soul's delight!
A Youth more gen'rous, more humanely kind,9.
A Friend more loving, or a Heart more brave;
Ne'er Breath'd a Being from th' Eternal Mind,11.
Nor fell a Victim to the cruel grave.
But cease, ye tears, nor thus incessant flow,13.
And still these tumults, oh! thou bleeding heart;
Methinks his Shade soft whispers, "Wait the blow,15.
And soon we'll meet, ne'er, ne'er again to part."
Here stands the Artist's tomb, in splendour rear'd,17.
And all the pomp surviving Art can give;
But will hoar Time the pillar'd Dome regard,19.
And shall its pride to endless ages live?
No–though the marble seems to start to life,21.
Tho' firm as rock the structure rears its head,
Time's cank'ring jaws will end the daring strife,23.
And lay it level with th' unhonour'd dead.
Ye lonely heaps, ye bones, ye grim sculls, say,25.
Must I be stretch'd cold, lifeless in the dust;
Must this poor head be wrapt in putrid clay,27.
And glare like you?––Ye murmur back––"It must."
Then what avail thy fleeting joys, O Time!29.
Thy Bliss uncertain, when such truths are sure;
May these scenes teach me to contemn this clime,31.
And seek that Bliss, those Joys that shall endure.
These are thy spoils, thou grisly monarch, Death!33.
Grim pleas'd thou stalks above the low-laid train;
Each sculptur'd stone, each poor, low grassy wreath,35.
Thou eyes as trophies of thy dreadful fame.
But know, proud lord, thy reign shall have an end,37.
Tho' nought on earth can now resist its force;
Yet, shalt thou fall beneath a mightier hand,39.
And yield thy weapons, and thy meagre Horse.
In that dread day, when from the bellowing clouds,41.
The trump's loud sound shall shake th' affrighted earth,
When these, and millions, struggling from their shrouds,43.
Shall wake to mis'ry or to endless mirth:
When Time shall cease in scanty stream to flow,45.
And Earth and Stars in endless ruin sink;
Then Heaven's high KING, with one triumphant blow,47.
Shall dash thee headlong from Existence's brink.
But, see! sad Ev'ning spreads her sable veil,49.
The chilly breeze bleak ruffles o'er the lawn;
For once, adieu; ye silent heaps, farewell,51.
Perhaps I join you ere to-morrow's dawn.
Oft let me stray where these lone Captives lie,53.
And, sad and thoughtful, o'er the deep grave bend;
This is the place, Truth tells us with a sigh,55.
Where all our sorrows or our singings end.
Verses to the Memory of an Engaging Youth,
Uncommonly Attached to Learning
HERE, Stranger! pause, and, sadly, o'er this stone1.
A moment ponder on the deeds of Fate:
Snatch'd hence, in blooming Youth, here moulders one,3.
Whose life seem'd worthy of a longer date.
Mild was his temper, and his soul serene;5.
Truth warm'd his breast, and dwelt upon his tongue;
Oft would he wander, from the noisy scene,7.
To list, while Virgil, or bold Homer sung.
With such a Son, what was his Parents joy?9.
No thought can reach it, nor no tongue can tell;
Nor paint their anguish, when the lovely Boy,11.
By Death assaulted, pale and lifeless fell.
Yet they submit to Heav'n's wise-acting Pow'r;13.
And think, O Reader! as thou tread'st this sod,
He once, like thee, enjoy'd Life's glitt'ring hour;15.
Thou soon, like him, must pass Death's gloomy road.
Epistle To Mr. James Kennedy
A fellow poet through whom Wilson was exposed to Burns' verse and the possibilities of Scottish dialect poetry. He later became a manufacturer who supplied Wilson on his peddling expeditions.
AS when, by play retarded, past his hour,1.
The scampering school-boy ventures to the door
With throbbing breast, lists to the busy noise,3.
And starts to hear the master's awful voice,
Oft sighs and looks–now offers to burst in,
Now backwards shrinks, and dreads a smarting skin,
Till desp'rate grown, by fear detain'd more late,
He lifts the latch, and boldly meets his fate:8.
So I, dear sir, have oft snatch'd up the quill9.
To hail your ear, yet have been silent still.
Aw'd by superior worth my pen forgot11.
Its wonted pow'r, and trembled out a blot;
The Muse sat mute, and hung her languid head,
And Fancy crawl'd, with diffidence and dread,
Till forc'd at last, I spurn the phantom Fear,
And dare to face your dread tribunal here.16.
No flow'ry sweets I bring, tho' Summer reigns,17.
And Flocks, delighted, rove thro' painted plains;
Tho' glitt'ring Brooks flow, smooth, meand'ring by,19.
And Larks soar, warbling thro' the azure sky;
And Meads and Groves rejoice–to me unblest;
For oh! bleak WINTER raves within my breast;
Here whirls a Storm, tho' hid from human sight,
Fiercer than winds that howl thro' gloomy Night.24.
As Griefs reveal'd are robb'd of half their sting,25.
And seeming Doubts, when told, oft take to wing,
Permit me here, some mis'ries to unnest,27.
That long have harbour'd in my labo'ring breast.
Oft pale-ey'd Poverty, in sullen state,29.
Stalks round, and threatens to deform my fate;
Points to the future times, and, grinning, says,31.
"Old age and I shall curse thy Ev'ning days;
His shaking hand shall change thy locks to grey,
Thy head to baldness, and thy strength to clay;
Make thy sad Hor'zon with dark tempests roll,
And lead me forward to complete the whole:36.
To count thy groans–to hear thee hopeless mourn,
And wave these trophies o'er thy closing Urn."
Then mad Ambition revels thro' my brain,39.
And restless bids me spurn Life's grov'lling plain,
Awake the Muse, and soft enrapt'ring Lyre,41.
To G* * * * * * **'s
Presumably Goldsmithpraise, our Villa's friendly Sire;
In glowing colours paint his rural Seat,
Where Songsters warble, and where Lambkins bleat;
Where groves and plains, in sweet disorder lie,
Hills rough with woods, that tow'ring cleave the sky;46.
And darksome woody Vales, where hid from sight,
Lone CALDER brawls o'er many a rocky height;
Tell in soft strains how rich our plains appear,
What plenty crowns them each revolving year;
Till smiles approving bless my task and Fame51.
Enrol the Patriot, and the Poet's name.
But when (sad theme!) I view my feeble Rhyme,53.
And weigh my worth for such a flight sublime,
With tearful eye, survey the fate of those,55.
Whose pow'rful learning shielded not from foes;
Damp'd at the thought, Fear clogs the Muse's wing,
And Grief and Hope by turns inspire or sting.
While such sad thoughts, such grim reflections roll,59.
In dark succession, o'er my gloomy soul,
One ray from You, to chase the chearless gloom,61.
And bid fair Fancy's fields their sweets resume,
Wou'd lift my heart, light as the sweepy wind,
And deeper bind me your indebted friend.
When darkness reigns, or Ev'ning silence deep,65.
Some moments rescue from the jaws of Sleep,
Bid your sweet Muse unfold her downy wings,67.
And teach a Youth to touch the trembling strings;
Dispel his doubts, arouse his hovering flame,
And point the road that leads to bliss and Fame.
[First] Epistle To Mr. James Dobie
CLOS'D in a Garret spread wi' beuks,1.
Whare spider wabs, in dozens,
Hing mirk athort the winnock neuks,
Maist dark'ning up the lozens,
Thro' whilk the Sin, wi' beams sae braw,
Ne'er shows his face discreetly,
Save whan out owre the Misty-Law,
fluttering downward sweetly,8.
To close the day.
Here sits the Bardie, sir, his lane,10.
Right glad to rest retir'd;
His griefs an' girnin'
ill-humoured cares a' gane,12.
An' a' his fancy fir'd;
The Muses round him dancin' thrang,
Their skill fu' proud to show it;
In lively measure, thun'erin' lang,
To sing an' please the Poet17.
O' Beith, this day
O! how my heart exulting loups,
To meet a chiel like you;
Life's bitter Horn aside it coups,21.
An' fill'st wi' chearing blue;
While chaunrin' Critics grin an' growl,
An' curse whate'er they light on,
The honest, friendly, gen'rous soul
Can check, inspire, and brighten,26.
Wi' ease each day.
Yet some there are whase flinty hearts,28.
An' hollow heads (poor wretches!)
Despise the Poet's glorious parts,30.
An' ca' them daudron bitches.
Tell them a plan o' cent. per cent.
They'll glut yer words like hinee;
But mention Poetry, they'll gaunt
An' gloom, as gin't war
as if it were Sinee,35.
Or salts, that day
Anither set comes in my view,37.
A' trampin' heaven's way in.
See! how they shake their heads, an' groo39.
At ought but grace an' prayin'.
These godly fouks will tak' the qualms,
To hear a Rhyme-repeater,
An' solemnly declare the 'Salms
To be the far best metre44.
On earth this day.
Poor brainless wights! they little ken
Its charms, its soaring fire;
In ev'ry age, the best of men,48.
Have, raptur'd, tun'd the lyre.
'Tis this that breathes Job's mournful plaints,
Or aids him to adore,
And this the Seraph's mouth, and Saints,
Will fill when Time's no more,53.
But endless day.
Whan bonny Spring adorns the year,55.
An' ilka Herb is springing,
An' birds, on blossom'd branches clear,57.
Wi' lightsome hearts, are singing;
How sweet, to rove at early Morn,
Whare dewy flow'rs are ranket,
While they wha sic enjoyments scorn,
Lie snorin' in a blanket,62.
Till height o' day.
I ne'er was rich, nor ever will,64.
But ony time ye come
To our bit Town, we'se hae a gill,
a unit for measuring liquid, equal to one quarter of a pint66.
An' owr't we'se no sit dumb.
A Gill, man, spreads the Muse's wing,
Sets ilka quill in order,
compels her mount, an' soar, an' sing,
Till she maist gains the border71.
O' brightest day.
Elegy on the Death of William Witherspoon,
A Particular Friend of the Author.
SUNK was the Sun, 'midst clouds of gold,1.
Lone Night reign'd from her starry dome,
When slow I left the bleating fold,3.
And weary sought my little home.
There, sad and cheerless, near the fire,5.
I gloomy sat, to grief resign'd;
And, while down stole the silent tear,7.
These thoughts slow wand'red o'er my mind.
Alas!––my distant friend, I fear––9.
Why these woe-bodings at my heart?
What sound still tinkles in my ear,11.
Which Mirth nor Pleasure can divert?
I spoke–I sigh'd–and rais'd my head––13.
I sigh'd, I groan'd, yet knew not why,
When, strange! a voice soft breathed out, "Dead!"15.
I heard, and changed to palest clay.
Prostrate I fell, lull'd in a faint,17.
Till by degrees life on me broke;
I wak'd to mis'ry–rose pale, spent,19.
And thus in deep distraction spoke.
And art thou gone, oh! hapless Youth!21.
And shall these eyes ne'er view thee more?
Thou, in whose glowing breast dwelt truth,23.
Art thou for ever from me tore?
Ye dreary walls, list to my doom,25.
Bear witness to my heart-felt wail,
And wrap you with a darker gloom,27.
While I relate the mournful tale.
For oh! insatiate cruel death,29.
Hath torn from me my dearest friend;
Then farewell, World, and hated breath;31.
I shall not long delay behind.
Ah, see! the breathless Cor'se there lies,33.
White stretch'd along–distracting sight!
How chang'd that face! How sunk those eyes!35.
For ever sunk in endless night!
Pale is the face that wont to smile,37.
Adorn'd with charms of native red;
Cold, cold that breast, where envious Guile39.
Ne'er found a shelter for her head.
Oh! barb'rous Death,–relentless Pow'r!41.
How hast thou made my bosom bleed?
In one tremendous, awful hour,43.
Thou'st made me wretched–poor indeed.
Ye once delightful scenes, adieu!45.
Where first I drew my infant breath,
Since the sole friend this breast e'er knew,47.
Clos'd are his eyes, and sunk in death.
Farewell, ye Banks with willows tipt,49.
Where oft beneath the summer beam,
'Midst flowery grass, we've fondly stript,51.
And plung'd beneath the opening stream.
No more, while Winter rules the sky,53.
And firms pure CARTHA's icy face;
Shall he on skates, swift, bounding fly,55.
While I pursue the mazy chace.
No more, alas! we'll nightly walk57.
Beneath the silent, silver Moon;
Or pass the rapt'ring hours in talk,59.
In yonder Bow'r retired from noon.
How will that beauteous Maid bewail,61.
Whose charms first caught his youthful heart?
Who often heard his tender tale,63.
And, blushing, eas'd his wounding smart.
No more with thee he'll spend the Night,65.
Where CYNTHIA gleams athwart the grove;
Nor seize thy hand, in dear delight,67.
And tell enchanting tales of love.
Alas! he's bid a long adieu;69.
In vain we weep, in vain repine;
Ne'er shalt thou meet a swain so true,71.
And ne'er shall I a friend so kind.
How long we've been companions dear,73.
How lov'd–nor tongue nor words can tell;
But hark!–alas! methinks I hear75.
Some solemn, dreary, warning knell.
Yes–I will come–thou beck'ning Ghost;77.
I hear thy kind, thy awful call:
One green-grass sod shall wrap our dust,79.
And some sweet Muse weep o'er our fall.
The Fly and Leech:
CONTENT's the choicest bliss we can1.
E'er reach to in this mortal span,
'Tis not in grandeur, pow'r or state.3.
The Lordly dome, or Cottage neat,
Still to be found–But chief she dwells
In that calm breast that care repels;
With dauntless heart braves frowning Fate,
Nor e'er concludes that Hope's too late;8.
Aspires no higher than his sphere,
Nor harbours Discontentment there.
Pale Discontent! the baneful sting,
From whence unnumber'd mis'ries spring;
Ambition gazing to the skies,13.
And ever planning schemes to rise,
Till to Pow'r's dizzy peak up-whirl'd,
Fate shakes the base and down he's hurl'd;
Heart-wringing Cares, that still torment,
All flow from murm'ring Discontent.18.
Some forward look at coming ills,19.
And die long ere they thwart their wills;
Others in real mis'ry groan,21.
And think Heav'n frowns on them alone;
While many a one, mean, pining Elves,
Raise airy horrors to themselves.
Happy the man, whose views ne'er stretch25.
To things beyond his honest reach;
Who, whether doom'd to Hall or Cot,27.
Ne'er curses Fate, or mourns his lot;
If rich––despises not the poor,
Nor drives them harshly from his door;
If low in fortune––ne'er envies
The wealthy's pomp that meets his eyes;32.
For oft, within their bosom reigns
A raving group of nameless pains,
That ceaseless torture, growl and fret;
And when they fall, the ruin's great;
Sinking, they eye the humble Clown,37.
Grasp at a Spade, and spurn a Crown.
One sunny evening, calm and fair,39.
A FLY that wing'd the fragrant air,
In wheeling, past a Village-lane,41.
By chance popt thro' a broken pane.
A scene that ne'er had met his sight,
He now surveys with doubtful flight;
Around the room, with airy drone,
His curious search had circling gone.46.
He views its bounds, and yet more bold,
Pries o'er the walls, damp, moulded, cold;
Then, pertly sneering, thus began:
"How wretched are th'abodes of man!
How rank the smell!–whoe'er comes near it,51.
May guess the owner's taste and spirit."
This said, and roving round, he spies53.
An Object, that engag'd his eyes.
Within a glass a moving Being,55.
Sluggish and black; which Bizzon seeing,
Perch'd on the bottle––gaz'd with mock,
And thus the foppish flutterer spoke:
"And what art thou, poor grov'lling creature,
Of such detested hue and feature;60.
That sunk amid that putrid fluid,
So closely cramm'd––so irksome bowed,
Scarce seems to move thro' scanty water?
An ugly hulk of lifeless matter;
Shame! thus to loll, while summer hours65.
Invite thee forth, thro' blooming flow'rs
Enrapt to rove; or, where the field
Of blossom'd Beans their fragrance yield;
Or wanton in the noontide beam;
Or skim along the glitt'ring stream70.
With boundless sweep––But thou, lone wretch!
Must here remain, till Death shall fetch
Thee from this hold, with furious ire,
And tread thy carcase in the mire.
A life like this what beast could dree,75.
'Twere death and worse to aught but thee."
Thus Bizzon spoke, when from her font77.
The LEECH uprear'd her dark-brown front,
And thus reply'd, in solemn mood:79.
"Know, vainest of thy useless brood!
Thou hast my scorn–I too might rail,
But listen to my humble tale:
Ne'er make, by outward signs, thy guess,
Nor think, tho' poor, my peace is less.84.
Compos'd I live, and from my Bow'r
Survey the bustling World, secure.
Or when some stubborn, rank disease
Calls for my aid, to give men ease,
I glad obey, and suck the ill,89.
In my own breast, to save them still;
Who call me blest, while kindly filling,
From the clear brook my freshen'd dwelling,
And in my lonely mansion here,
Nor fatal bird, nor snare I fear,94.
That constant lurk to fix thy doom,
Ev'n while thou rambles thro' this Room;
As thou may feel yet ere thou leave it,
And when 'twill be too late, believe it."
"Poor Wretch (quoth Bizzon) mind thy distance,99.
Disgrace of all e'er dragged existence!
I scorn thy speech and slav'ry both,101.
Mean, ugly lump of bondag'd sloth.
Now, what thou art, I plainly spy;
Blest be the Pow'r made me a Fly."
He said–and up, exulting, springs,105.
To gain the fields with sounding wings;
But miss'd his mark, and ere aware,107.
Dash'd full into a SPIDER's snare.
He buzz'd and tugged–the Foe alarm'd,
Rush'd, gloomy, forth; with vengeance arm'd,
Fixes his fangs, with furious stride,
And darts the poison thro' his side.112.
Poor Bizzon groan'd, with quiv'ring sten,
And as Grips dragg'd him to his Den,
Thus faintly cry'd, "Ye Flies, beware,
And shun Ambition's deadly snare.
Oh! save my life!–I vain beseech:117.
I faint–I die–Oh! happy LEECH!
Groans From The Loom:
A Song, in Imitation of Colin's Complaint
The pastoral model is Nicholas Rowe's popular song "Colin's Complaint" (c1710).
DEPLORING beside an old Loom,1.
A Weaver perplexed was laid,
And, while a bad Web was his theme,3.
The Breast-beam supported his head;
The Walls, that for ages had stood,
In sympathy, wept for his pain,
And the roof, though of old rotten wood,
Remurmur'd his groans back again.8.
"Alas! simple fool that I was!"9.
(These words he roar'd out with a grin)
When I saw thee, I sure was an Ass,11.
Else I'd dy'd ere I handl'd the Pin.
Thou glanc'd, and transported I seem'd;
When I held thee, how panted my breast!
In raptures I gaz'd while thou beam'd,
And exclaim'd, Was e'er mortal so blest!16.
What a blockhead was I to aver,17.
It would work thro' a Mounting so fine;
Or, that such phantom of hair,19.
Would in a gay Handkerchief shine?
Good Gods! shall a Mortal with legs,
So slow, uncomplaining, be brought!
Go, hung, like a Scarecrow in rags,
And live o'er a Seat-tree–on nought!24.
What though I had patience to tie,25.
Till their numbers my Temples o'erspread,
Whene'er the smooth tread I apply,27.
My Shopmates deplore how I've sped.
Ah! SANDY, thy hopes are in vain;
Thy Web and thy Mounting resign;
Perhaps they may fall to a Swain,
Whose patience is greater than thine.32.
And you my proud Masters so stern,33.
Who smile o'er the wretch ye torment,
Forbear to import us such yarn,35.
Or, by JOVE, you'll have cause to repent.
Though through the wide Warehouse ye foam,
In vain shall ye threaten or mourn;
'Twas yours to distress my poor dome,
Now 'tis mine, and triumphant I'll burn.40.
If, while the poor trash I pull down,41.
They expect to regain my esteem,
Let them come with the Crouds of the Town,43.
And see how it flames from the beam.
And then the last boon I'll implore,
Is to bless us with China so tight,
And when the pure Piece you look o'er,
You will own my Petition was right.48.
Then to LONDON Nymphs let it go,49.
And deck them in dazzling array;
Be fairest at ev'ry fine show,51.
And bring us the heart-cheering Pay;
Then NOVA's dead bell we will toll,
No more to be heard of or seen,
Unless, when beside a full Bowl,
We laugh at how wretched we've been." 56.
Hard Fate has this ordain't, that I
Maun dauner thro' the warl',
The wants o' thousan's to supply,
An' heavy lades to harl:
Sae aft, whan E'ening brings the Night,
In lanely desolation,
I seek a corner, out o' sight,
To mourn my condemnation.
THE western Sun, bright to the eye,9.
Was sinking in the flood,
Adorn'd with robes of richest dye,11.
Gay crimson streak'd wi' blood;
The swallows twittert through the sky,
In jinking, sportive mood,
While, prest wi' care, poor hapless I,
Near yonder riv'let stood,16.
Thoughtful that day.
My pond'rous PACK upo' the ground,18.
I carelessly had flung;
A wallet green, wi' straps fast bound,20.
And near't a hazel rung;
The vera sight my heart did wound,
My breast wi' grief was stung;
Fir'd wi' indignance I turn'd round,
An' basht wi' mony a fung
The Pack, that day.
"Thou cursed, base, inglorious load!"27.
(Enrag'd wi' grief I cry'd)
"Shall thou along the weary road29.
Borne on my shouthers ride;
While crusht beneath I groaning nod,
An' travel far an' wide––
Hence! frae my sight, or wi' this clod,
I'll dash thy hated hide,34.
This vera day.
"Nay, no excuse––I winna hear,36.
I winna tak' a word in;
What! was these shouthers form'd to bear38.
Thee, vile, disgracefu' burden?
ears to thole
endure ilk taunt an' jeer,
That pierce me like a sword in,
Crouchin' to ev'ry wretch, to speer,
'Mem! will ye buy a bargain43.
Right cheap, the day?'"
It fires, it boils my vera blude,45.
An' sweats me at ilk pore,
To think how aft I'm putten wud,47.
Whan drawin' near a door;
Out springs the Mastiff, through the mud,
Wi' fell Cerberian roar,
An' growlin', as he really wou'd
Me instantly devore,52.
Alive, that day.
"Ye're come frae Glasco', lad, I true;"54.
(The pert Gudewife presumes;)
"Ye'll be a Malefactor too,56.
Ye'll hae yer horse and grooms;
What de'il brings siccan chaps like you,
To lea' your wabs
webs an' looms?
Wi' Beggars, Packmen, an' sic crew,
Our door it never tooms,61.
The live-lang day.
Nae doubt ye'll e'en right hungry be,63.
I see your belly's clung;
I hae some parritch here to gi'e,65.
As soon's a sang ye've sung.
sing it up wi' blithsome glee;
Ye're supple, smart an' young;
An' gin ye please our John an' me,
Ye'se get the kirnan rung
stick used to churn milk into cream and butter70.
To lick, this day."
What flesh an' blude could thole this jaw,72.
An' no start in a rage,
An' kick their heels up ane an' a',74.
E'en though he war a Sage?
Aft hae I dar't them, grit an' sma',
Gin they durst but engage,
Their noses in their a–– to thraw,
And screw't as firm's a wedge,79.
Right smart, that day.
O thou, who 'midst the Muses all,81.
Plays while they rapt'ring sing,
Attentive hear thy vot'ry's call,83.
An' view his drooping wing!
How mournfu', how forlorn I crawl,
Far frae Parnassian spring;
Oh! deign to stoop, an' from this thrall
Thy once-lov'd Bardie bring,88.
In haste, this day."
I ceas'd–and to my huge amaze,90.
That bordert maist on fear;
Upon ae end the WALLET raise,92.
Tho' cram't wi' silken gear;
While I, wild glowrt, to see its ways,
An' stood a' een an' ear,
It solemn shook its verdant claes,
Syne in tones hoarse and queer,97.
Thus spoke, that day.
"Ye proud, provokin', hair-braint ass!99.
Owre lang I've borne your bleth'ring,
I've lain a' frythin' on the grass,101.
To hear yer nonsense gath'ring.
Ye've brought me to a bonny pass,
Since your rhime-wings war feathering,
An' now, set up yer saucy jaws!––
Earth! ye deserve a leath'ring,106.
sharp this day."
Ha'e ye sae soon forgot the gude108.
Whilk I ha'e aften doon you?
Had ye no ance aneath me stood,110.
JOHN swore that he wad poon you.
Whan ye fell in the snawy flood,
tumbled frae aboon you,
Or trouth ye'd soon been flesh an' blood,
For craws to pick, and spoon you115.
Wi' their nebs, that day.
Weel may ye mind, yon night sae black,117.
Whan fearfu' winds loud gurl'd,
An' mony a lum dang down an' stack,119.
Heigh i' the air up swirl'd,
Alangst yon brae, ye clam, an' stack,
Down whiles like to be whirl'd,
Had I no slippet aff yer back,
An' ere I stoppet, hurl'd124.
To the fit, that night.
Not to relate how aft, in barns,
When Night without did bluster,
On me ye've laid yer crazy harns,
An' fixt me for a bouster.
There wad ye lie, an' sit by turns,
An' rhyme e'en in that posture,
Or through the thack
thatch survey the starns,
Till glimm'rin' Night did foster
The new-born day.134.
For me, indeed (I scorn to wheese
Ye've tholt some bits o' losses;
For me ye've waded to the knees,137.
Thro' gutters, bogs, an' mosses;
For me, adventur'd foamin' seas,
An' met wi' mony crosses;
For me, ye've tell't ten thousan' lies,
An' measurt stairs an' closses,142.
For mony a day.
But than, reflect what blissfu' gluts
O' parritch ye ha'e bury'd
Within the caverns o' yer guts,146.
While wi' me ye ha'e tarry'd;
What dawds o' cheese, frae out yer clauts,
Wi' fury ye ha'e worry'd;
How aft lain dozin out yer wits,
Disdaining to be hurry'd151.
By ought, that day.
"Gude guides! (quo' I), thou's get the gree
the best of153.
O' Wallets, De'ils, or Witches:
A speakin' PACK's owre learnt for me,155.
Or ane that steers an' fitches.
Wha kens, but thou may Master be,
An' haul me thro' the ditches,
Or may-be learn (preserves!) to flee,
An' lea' me in the clutches160.
O' rags, some day."
"Ungratefu' sinner! think how aft162.
I ve fillt yer pouch wi' catter
For gudesake whisht
be quiet! we're baith gane daft,164.
It's nonsense a' this splutter.
Come to my shouthers, warp an' waft,
Nae mair we'll flyte an' chatter;"
Sae aff I trudg'd alang the craft,
An' ended a' the clatter,169.
In peace, that day.
Character, Drawn From Life,
And Addressed To Its Owner
GREAT son of Bacchus! and of drowsy Sloth!1.
Thou human Maggot, thou insipid Moth!
Whose whole Ambition is in bed to snore,3.
Whose Life is Liquor, and whose Soul's a roar.
Through thy dark skull ne'er peept a ray of light;
'Tis black as Chaos, and eternal Night;
Confusion's dizzy seat,–the pregnant source,
Where Nonsense issues with resounding force;8.
Where floods on floods, from Morn to Ev'ning pours,
Wrapt up in Laughs and loud unchristian roars.
When Sunday summons grave religious fools,11.
To pore o'er Books, or drink the Pulpit rules,
From vulgar bounds thou bravely dares to tread,13.
And spends thy Sunday gloriously in bed.
There thinks, perhaps, or dreams of Sin and Death,
This maxim holding as a point of faith,
"To Heav'n there's many ways, and 'tis confest,
Who finds the smoothest, surely finds the best."18.
On GOD, or Temple, no respect thou puts:19.
An Inn's thy Temple, and thy God's thy guts.
A Father's precepts, or a Mother's tears,21.
His plain example, or her meddling fears,
Shall thou regard? No, 'twere past utt'rance low,23.
Such fools, as Mothers or old Sires, to know.
When at thy honour they advance their horns,
Thou d–ns her nonsense,–all his maxims scorns;
Comes home mad drunk, and, O immortal Brown!
Kicks up a dust, and knocks thy Mother down!28.
HOT Summer reign'd, and the bright Orb of day1.
High over head roll'd on his cloudless way;
No rains appear'd, to chear the parched earth,3.
Nor dewy evenings swell'd the oaten birth,
Nor cooling breezes, curl'd along the streams,
Where Youths repair'd, to shun the scorching beams;
Ten thousand Insects swarm the sultry air,
Crowd in each room, and haunt us ev'rywhere;8.
While, mute, the Warblers to the Groves retreat,
And seek the Shade, to shun the burning heat.
Two sick'ning Months had thus roll'd joyless by,11.
While heat reign'd tyrant from the vaulted sky,
Again the Sun rose in the flaming East,13.
And pour'd his rays o'er Earth and Ocean's breast;
But ere yon high Meridian he had gain'd,
Surrounding Clouds his dark'ning visage stain'd;
Clouds pil'd on clouds, in dismal huge array,
Swell from the South, and blot the face of day. 18.
O'er the bleak sky a threat'ning horror spreads;19.
The Brooks brawl hoarser from their distant beds;
The coming storm, the woodland natives view,21.
Stalk to the Caves, or seek the sheltering Yew;
There, pensive droop, and eye the streaming rain,
While light'ning sweeps, and Thunder shakes the plain.
Dire is the fate of the old wand'ring swain,25.
Who sees the storm, and hurries o'er the plain;
The plain, far waste, unknown to human tread,27.
The gloom, fast mingling, dismal o'er his head.
No cottage near, to shield his hoary age;
All earth denies him refuge from its rage.
'Tis black around! Swift from the threat'ning skies,
A sudden flash darts on his startl'd eyes.32.
Trembling he stops, but how aghast his soul,
When bursting, harsh, rebounding thunders roll!
The loud'ning roar confounds his tortur'd ear,
His distant friends call forth the briny tear;
Till (hapless swain!) the fiery bolt of death,37.
Extends him lifeless o'er the with'ring heath.
The low-hung clouds, broke by this mighty sound,39.
Pour down a deluge, o'er the gaping ground:
Each slate, each tile, teems with a streaming rill;41.
Thick falls the clattering torrent–thicker still;
While thro' the wat'ry element, the flash
Of vivid light'ning, blazes on the sash;
While follows, slow, the loud tremendous roar,
As heav'n itself was in dread fragments tore.46.
Down hurls the boiling Brook––hush'd is the breeze––
Brooks rise to Rivers–Rivers swell to Seas––
Smooth-gliding CART, theme of my infant song,
Swell'd, broad and brown, resistless pours along,
In winding majesty, where DAMON's dome,51.
Half launch'd, detains big whit'ning hills of foam;
Then raves, loud thund'ring o'er the ragged rocks,
Sweeps, headlong down, tumult'ous planks and blocks,
While crowds of Millers gaze and tear their dusty locks.
Thus foaming CARTHA swells from shore to shore,56.
While distant counties listen to her roar.
Lone, on her banks, the rain-soak'd Fisher strays,58.
Intent and mindless of th'involved rays,
Tho' the bleak heav'ns emit their wat'ry store,60.
With rapid force, and lash the foamy shore;
Calm, and undaunted, 'mongst his lines he works,
And thro' red light'ning eyes the floating corks.
Slow pass'd the day, till dreadful night o'erspread,64.
A dismal darkness o'er each mortal's head;
No moon appear'd, no star beam'd to the eye,66.
Uproar rav'd monarch thro' the affrighted sky;
Stern THUNDER storm'd imperious from his throne,
Hail furious flew, and sweepy light'ning shone.
Shrunk to the close recesses of the room,70.
Assembled neighbours sat, in solemn gloom;
All eye, to catch the frequent startling flash,72.
All ear, when roar'd the awe-impressing crash;
Fear sat on ev'ry brow, and Guilt, distrest,
Believed each bolt directed to his breast.
Kind is that Pow'r, whose dread commanding voice76.
Lulls the loud tempest's wild discordant noise.
With us he bids best blessings long delay,78.
While harsh disasters post in speed away.
Soon as young Morn gain'd on the sulky Night,80.
A beauteous prospect met th'enraptur'd sight:
The pearly dew-drops twinkl'd on the spray,82.
And Larks, ascending, welcom'd in the day;
Bright PHOEBUS, ush'ring from his wat'ry bed,
Superbly rose, and cheer'd the drooping mead;
Fleet fled the shades of Night, wak'd from the Grove,
Glad chant the Birds, soft coos the hermit Dove;87.
High from the blue expanse his glory pours,
Boundless, abroad, and dyes the glitt'ring flow'rs;
Lambs dance, and brooks, melodious, murm'ring run;
Creation smiles, and hails the glorious Sun.
Elegy on the Long Expected Death of
a Wretched Miser
John Craig of Fauldheads, a landlord and notorious miser in Auchinbathie. At the age of 75 he wed 15-year old Meg Duncan (a former servant in the Wilson household), who promptly began to steal his money and cuckold him in a scandal that remained part of local lore for several generations afterward.
Wealth he has none, who mourns his scanty store
And, midst of plenty, starves, and thinks he's poor.
WI' branchin' Birk yer winnocks
slice down the cheese owre heaps o' bread;
Roun' wi' the Blue, an' roar an' sing,3.
For camsheugh auld Fauldheads is dead
Hech! is he dead? then ilka chiel5.
May now be fear't for Death's fell nips,
Since he wha fac'd the vera De'il,7.
Has fa'n beneath the spectre's grips.
Whare will the god o' gowden
Light on a Box wi' sic a dog,
To guard by night an' day his store,11.
Since John's laid caul' below the fug
His fearsome blue Kilmarnock cowl,
white-clothedhose, an' sarks,
well-swelledsocial vermin foul–15.
I saw them a' flung to the midding.
Now, CLOOTIE, loup
jumpan' shake yer rump,17.
Nae mair ye'll need at night to watch him,
Grim glowrin' by some aul' tree-stump,19.
An' rattlin' airns
irons in vain to catch him.
Nae mair need ye in corp-like shape,21.
Aneath the midnight moon lie streeket
Nor wi' lang clauts, like ony graip,
large, metal-pronged fork sued for gardening or agricultural work23.
Wauk thro' his bield,
housean' doors a' steeket.
Whiles like a Cat, ye'd tread his skelf,
An' range amang his plates an' bannocks
round, unsweetened cakes;
Whiles rumlin' owre his box't-up pelf,27.
knocking awsome at his winnocks.
But a' your schemes, an' a' your plots,29.
An' a' the midnight frights ye lent him;
And a' the fear o' tyning
Was naething, till a Wife ye sent him.
"A Wife! a curse! (quo' John, in rage,33.
Soon as his tickling heat abated,)
A black, bare w––e, to vex my age!"35.
He said, he girn't,
moaned and complained swore, an' regretted.
His dearie, glad o' siccan routh,37.
To mill a note was aye right ready;
Aft she wad kiss his toothless mouth,39.
While JOHN keen ca'd her his ain Lady.
When in the bed, (whare a' fouks gree)41.
An' JOHN laid soun' wi' Venus' capers;
loosened frae his breeks the key,43.
slid up the lid, an' poucht
pocketed the papers.
This pass't a wee, till rous'd he ran,45.
He visited his cash,–his heav'n;
He coudna see, but trem'lin' fan'
A yearly income frae him riv'n.
Gude gods! what tortures tare his soul,
this stanza was omitted from the second edition.49.
He groan'd, he spat, he glowrt, he shor'd;
Then rais't a most tremendous growl,51.
Sunk by the box, and desperate roar'd:
"My soul–my all–my siller's
Fled wi' a base confounded limmer!
O grief o' griefs!–alake, my head!55.
My head rins
runs roun', my een grow dimmer.
Oh! Had I ta'en but RAB's advice.
By clean an' fair my daft thing stuing:
This refers to a satirical Epistle sent him by his Son, who hearing of the old Nabal's matrimonial intentions, exclaimed against his folly, recommending him to this effectual method of conquering wantonness. [AW]
It's torn my heart in mony a slice,
An' now, at last, it's been my ruin.60.
The Jade, since e'er we met, ilk night, 61.
weavers rows amang the heather,
Has born a get, an' tho' untight63.
father ca's me its father.
Wi' meikle, meikle faught an' care,
This stanza and the next two omitted from the second edition.65.
An' mony a lang night's fell vexation,
I toil'd, and watch'd to keep it there,67.
An' now I'm left in black starvation.
My meal, like snaw afore the sin, 69.
Its aye ga'n doon an' aye beginnin',
loadafter lade she orders in,71.
An' than for trash she's ever rinnin'.
A' day she'll drink an' flyte
scold an' roar73.
A' night she tears me wi' her talons,
An' gin I crawl butt frae the door,75.
I'm hunted hame wi' dogs an' callans.
My sons, wi' chan'ler
lean chafts gape roun',77.
tear my gear,
goodsmy siller frae me;
While lice an' fleas, an' vermin brown,79.
Thrangt in my sarks, eternal flae me.
Ye precious remnants! curst to me;81.
Ye dearest gifts to JOHN e'er given;
Wi' you I've liv'd, wi' you I'll die,83.
Wi' you I'll gang
goto Hell or Heav'n."
He spak'; an' on the vera spot,85.
Ramt goud and notes, wi' trem'lin' hurry,
In han'fu's down his gorged-up throat,87.
While blude lap frae his een
eyes in fury.
I saw wi' dread, an' ran my lane,89.
To clear his throat, and ease his breathing;
But ere I reach't he gied
An' lifeless lay alang the leathing.
A Morning Adventure
TO hail sweet MORN, and trace the woody shore,1.
Where foaming CALDER pours his rapid stream,
His high-hung banks, and tott'ring cliffs t'explore3.
And gloomy Caves, unknown to Sol's fair beam:
Three youthful Swains the adjoining Village left,5.
Ere from a chimney roll'd the lazy smoke,
Ere the lone street of silence was bereft,7.
Or pale-ey'd Morning to the view had broke.
Along a winding path they kept their way,9.
Where trees, embracing, hung a solemn shade;
Pass'd the old Mill, o'ergrown with shaggy hay,11.
And gain'd the summit of a rising glade.
Now, from the east, the faintly-dawning Morn,13.
With op'ning smile, adorn'd the dewy mead;
The Blackbird, whistled from the blooming thorn,15.
And early Shepherd tun'd his rural reed.
Gray mists were hov'ring round the mountain's brow;17.
Thro' the still air murmur'd the riv'let near;
The Fields were glitt'ring in the Morning's glow;19.
And sweetest Music thrill'd the ravish'd ear.
Smit with the charms of Song PHILANDER stood,21.
To hear his Art by each small throat outdone;
While DAMON view'd the Stream, grim Rocks and Wood,23.
And snatch'd the pencil to make all his own.
Beneath a rev'rend oak ALEXIS hung,25.
His drooping head half on his hand reclin'd;
Borne on the Muses' wing, his soul had sprung,27.
And left the languid, listless form behind.
Where now was Care, that gloomy, glaring Fiend,29.
The Wealthy's horror, and the poor Man's pain,
Who bids fierce passions tear the trembling Mind,31.
And wakes his gnawing, his infernal train.
Fled was the Spectre to some Statesman's breast,33.
Some raving Lover, or some Miser's cell;
Nought now appear'd, but made them inly blest,35.
And all around conspir'd their joys to swell.
Hail, happy Swains! involv'd in rapt'rous thought,37.
Oh! could I leave you thus, and truly say,
That here, in peace, fair Nature's charms you sought,39.
And thus, enrapt, you pass'd the Morn away.
But Truth compels, nor dare I hide your fate,41.
My trembling hand she guides to tell your doom,
How oft, alas! on Mirth does Mis'ry wait,43.
How oft is sunshine sunk in deepest gloom!
As on the airy steep they silent lay,45.
The murm'ring River foaming far below,
Young DAMON's dog, as round he rang'd for prey,47.
By some stern Bull insulted, seiz'd the Foe.
As when in dead of Night, on the dark Main,49.
Two en'mies meet, and awful silence keep,
Sparkles the match! then peals and cries of pain,51.
Arouse the Night, and growl along the Deep.
So burst loud roarings thro' the affrighted Sky,53.
Firm ROGER hung, fix'd by his nostrils deep;
Loud swell'd the war, till, from the margin high,55.
Both whirl'd down headlong o'er th' enormous steep.
How look'd our Youths! They heard the thund'ring sound,57.
Dash'd in the Vale they saw the Heroes laid;
Whole crowds of Rustics rudely gath'ring round,59.
Alarm'd they saw, and thro' the bushes fled.
(Scene, The Town)
NOW darkness blackens a' the streets;1.
rolling e'e nae object meets,
Save yon caul' cawsey
That has surviv'd the dreary Night,
An' lanely beams wi' blinkin' light,
Right desolate an' damp.
Fore-doors an' winnocks
windows still are steeket,7.
An' Cats, wi' silent step, and sleeket,
Watch whare the Rattons tirl
Or met in yards, like squads o' Witches,
tear ither's hair out wi' their clutches,
An' screech wi' eldritch
Now mony a ane, secure frae harm,13.
rolled in blankets snug an' warm,
Amus'd wi' gowden
While ithers scart
scratch their sides an' lugs,
Tormentet wi' infernal Bugs,
Thick swarmin' frae the seams.
Some sunk amid their kimmers'
women or wives arms,19.
Are huggin' matrimonial charms,
In bliss an' rapture deep.21.
Some turnin', curse the greetin' wight
laughing loudly a' the live-lang night,
An' keepin' them frae sleep.
Some weary Wight perhaps, like me,25.
Doom'd, Poverty's distress to dree,
Misfortune's meagre brither;27.
wanders out beneath the starns,
Wi' plans perplexing still his harns,
To keep his banes thegither.
Now lasses start, their fires to kin'le,31.
An' load the chimly
chimney wi' a tanle
O' bleezin' coals an' cin'ers:33.
Syne scowr their stoups an' tankar's clear,
An' glasses dight
wipe wi' canny care,
To grace the Gentry's dinners.
Wi' clippet feathers, kame
comb an' chirle,37.
The Gamester's Cock, frae some aul' burrel,
Proclaims the Morning near;39.
Ilk chiel now frae his hammock jumps,
The floor receives their lang bare stumps,
An' wives an' a's asteer.
smoke rows briskly out the lums
Loud thro' the street the Piper bums,
In Highlan' vigour gay.45.
Doors, hatches, winnock-brods are steerin';
An' ev'ry ane, in short's, preparin'
To meet the toils o' Day.
The Monkey and Bee:
To A Young Author)
First drafted in a letter to David Brodie, 8 April 1789. See Hunter 126-7.
THE Bard who'd wish to merit bays,1.
Should shut his ears when Asses praise,
And from the real Judge alone,3.
Expect a halter or a throne.
A MONKEY who, in leisure hours,5.
Was wondrous fond of Herbs and Flow'rs,
(For once he'd worn a GARD'NER 's chain,7.
But wander'd to his woods again),
Travers'd the Banks–the Mountain's brow,
The lonely Wilds–the Valley low,
Collecting, as along he hies,
Flow'rs of unnumber'd tint and size,12.
Till hid beneath the lovely spoil,
He onward stalk'd with cheerful toil,
Thus chatting; "Now, I'll shine alone,
I'll have a Garden of my own."
A Spot he plans, to show his parts,17.
Scratches the soil–the blooms inserts.
Here stuck a Rose, there plac'd a Pink;19.
With various flow'rs stuffs ev'ry chink;
Torn branches form his spreading Shrubs,
O'ertopt with stately Shepherds Clubs;
A species of wild Flowers. [AW]
Long ragged stones roll'd on the border,
All placed sans root, or taste, or order,24.
Around him throng'd the mimic crew,
Amaz'd at the appearance new;
Survey'd the Shrubs–the nodding Flow'rs,
And, struck with wonder at his pow'rs,
Pronounced him, with applauding gape,29.
A most expert, ingenious Ape!
"Knew Man the genius you inherit,
Unbounded fame would crown your merit."
He proudly bow'd–approv'd their taste,
And for the Town prepares in haste,34.
When now, amid the ragged ranks,
A BEE appear'd, with searching shanks;
From Bloom to Bloom she rov'd alone,
With hurrying flight, and solemn drone.
PUG saw; and proud of such a Guest,39.
Exclaim'd, "Say, Friend, did such a feast
E'er bless thy search? Here welcome stray;
Fresh sweets shall load thee ev'ry day;
'Twas I that rear'd them–all is mine;
I bore the toil, the bliss be thine."44.
"Conceited Fool! (the BEE reply'd)
These pilfer'd, rootless Blooms I've try'd,
Nor Bliss, nor Sweets, repaid my pains,
Of these as void as thou'rt of Brains."
She spoke; the scorching Noontide came,49.
The Garden with'ring, sunk his fame.
Epistle To A Brother Pedlar
THOU curious, droll, auld-farran chiel,1.
Some rhyme I'se now ha'e wi' thee,
May I gang
gohurlin' to the De'il,3.
But I'd be blythe
gladto see thee.
'Mang a' the chiels wha bear a pack,
country town, or claughan,
The fint a ane can tell a crack,
Whilk sets us aye a laughin',8.
Like thee, this day.
A snawy winter's now maist owre,10.
Since we frae other parted;
Like ony ghaist I than did glowre,
Wi' sickness broken-hearted.
But, by my sang! now gin we meet,
We'll ha'e a tramp right clever;
Since I'm now stively on my feet,
healthy an' weel as ever,17.
This blessed day.
Whiles whan I think upo' our tramp,19.
It sets me aft a sneering;
Though 'deed our conscience it shou'd damp,21.
When we ca' to a clearing,
How whiles, amang the lasses' smocks,
We rais'd an unco splutter;
On Sundays, speelt
climbed owre awfu' rocks,
Or ramt auld Grannie's butter,26.
I' the plate, yon day.
I'll ne'er forget yon dreadfu' morn,28.
That maist had prov'd our ruin;
When ye sat on a sack forlorn,30.
Ha'f dead wi' fright and spewin'.
Waves dashing down wi' blatt'rin' skyle,
Wins roarin'–Sailors flyting;
Poor wretches bockin',
vomiting rank an' file,
An' some (God knows!) maist sh–ing35.
breeches that day.
Though Conscience gab we try to steek,
gives ane whiles a tassle;
I'm cheated gin it didna speak,39.
Right smartly at Fa's Castle.
Poor Jute! she'd curse our ilka step,
When she tauld owre her siller;
But faith, she got an honest kepp,
served a decent Miller.44.
Sax years an' mair.
Lang may thou, aye right snug an' dry,46.
Frae barns be kept aback,
Whare Tinkler Wives an' Beggars ly,48.
An' rain seeps thro' the thack.
Aft may some canty
Whan hunger wrings thy painches,
Draw through her cheese the muckle knife,
An' stap thy pouch wi' lunches53.
scones that day.
Elegy on an Unfortunate Tailor
Wha, like true Brethren o' the Thumle,
Sav'd aye a remnant as his due;
And ne'er was heard to grudge or grum'le,
As lang's he fan' his belly fu'.
O SIRS! he's e'en awa' indeed,5.
Nae mair to shape or draw a thread,
Or spin a crack, or crump his bread,7.
joggle an' gigle;
Or wave the elwan owre his head
To fight the Beagle.
In mornings soon, ere sax o'clock,11.
Whan blankets hap
cover a' sober fouk,
Whan fires are out, an' shoon,
shoes an' troke
Confuse the floor,
Nae mair we'll start to hear his knock,
An' roaring stoor.
Whan days war caul, near, bit by bit,17.
Close at the glowan ribs
fire grate he'd sit,
An' ilka wee the eldin
An' gab fu' trimly;
An' aye the tither
other mouthfu' spit
Alangst the chimly.
Ye creepin' beasts, that hotch an' wheel23.
Through neuks o' breeks, an' ye that speel,
swelled gray and fat, now lift ilk heel25.
Wi' gleefu' speed;
An' up the seams in hun'ers
Since RABBY's dead.
Assemble a' yer swarmin' legions,29.
Baith jumpin' black an' creeshy
greasy sage anes,
An', rank an' file, parade your cage ance,31.
Nor needles dread;
But loud proclaim through a' yer regions,
That RABBY's dead.
Nae mair his thum's to death shall post ye;35.
Nae mair his needle-points shall toast ye;
Nor shall his horrid goose e'er roast ye,37.
For hear't o' Lice!
Death's made yer foe as caul' an' frosty,
As ony ice.
Wi' won'er aft I've seen him worry41.
a wooden dish o' kail,
broth in hungry hurry;
Grip up the cheese, in gapin' fury,43.
An' hew down slices,
Syne punds o't in his entrails bury,
In lumps an' pieces.
Twa pints o' weel-boilt solid sowins,
fine oatmeal and grain steeped in water47.
lumpso' gude ait-far'le
Synt down wi' whey, or whiskey lowins,49.
Before he'd want,
Wad scarce ha'e ser't the wretch to chew ance,
Or choke a gant.
Yet RABBY aye was dousely dautet;53.
For soon as ilka dish was clautet,
He'd lift his looves
palmsan' een, an' fa' to't,55.
Owre plates an' banes,
An' lengthen out a grace weel sautet
Wi' haly granes.
Aft ha'e I heard him tell o' frights,59.
Sad waefu' souns, and dreary sights,
He's aften got frae warlock wights,61.
An' Spunkie's bleeze,
Gaun hame thro' muirs, and eerie heights
O' black fir-trees.
Ae night auld BESSIE BAIRD him keepet,65.
Thrang cloutin' claes
clothes till twall was chappet;
But soon's he got his kyte
Wi' something stout;
An' goose in's nieve, right snugly happet,
Maist hame, he met a lang black chiel,71.
stockings stilts, an' pocks o' meal,
Wha drew a durk o' glancin' steel73.
To rob an' maul him!
RAB rais't his brod
tailor's sewing boardwi' desp'rate wheel,
An' left him sprawlin'.
Tho' aft by fiends and witches chas't,77.
An' mony a dead man's glowrin' ghaist;
Yet on his knees he ae time fac't79.
The Deil himsel';
An' sent him aff in dreadfu' haste,
Roarin' to H–ell.
But, oh! ae night prov'd his mishap!83.
Curst on the wide-moutht whiskey-cap;
Beware, beware o' sic fell sap,85.
Ye Taylor chiels!
For RABBY drank owre deep a drap
O' JANET STEEL's.
Mirk was the night–out RABBY doitet,89.
Whiles owre big stanes, his shins he knoitet,
Alangst the Dam the Bodie stoitet,
Wi' staucherin' flounge;
Till, hale-sale, in the Lade he cloitet,
Wi' dreadfu' plunge.
Loud tho' he roart, nane was asteer,95.
His yells an' fearfu' granes to hear;
The current suckt him near an' near,97.
Till, wi' a whirl,
The big wheel crusht his guts an' gear,
Like ony Burrel.
Next morning, gin the peep o' day,101.
Alang the stanes, caul' dead he lay!
Crouds ran to hear the fatal fray;103.
Wives, weans, an' men
Lamentin', while they saw his clay,
Poor RABBY's en'.
Epistle To Mr. Andrew Clark
FROM that same spot where once a Palace stood,1.
(Now hanging drear, in tott'ring fragments, rude;
While thro' the roofless walls, the weather howls,3.
The haunt of Pigeons, and of lonely Owls.)
These lines receive–For, hark! the lashing rain,
In streaming torrents, pours along the plain:
Yet, snugly here I sit, with Quiet blest;
While my poor Pack, sits perching on a chest.8.
To him whose soul on Fancy's heights ne'er soar'd,9.
How painful Solitude, and how abhorr'd!
Time, tardy steals; we curse the lazy Sage;11.
And ling'ring moments lengthen to an age.
Not so with him on whom the Muses smile;13.
Each hour they sweeten, and each care beguile;
Yet scorn to visit, or ev'n once be kind,15.
While bustling bus'ness justles through the mind:
But, when retir'd from noise, he lonely roves,
Through flow'ry banks, or solitary groves;
Leans on the velvet turf––explores a book,
Or eyes the bubbling of the ceaseless brook;20.
The Muse descends, and swells his throbbing breast,
To joys, to raptures ne'er to be exprest.
Curst is the wretch, whom cruel fate removes23.
Far from his native, and the few he loves;
Who, ever-pensive, ponders on the past,25.
And shrinks and trembles at Misfortune's blast;
His is the fate that ev'n Infernals share;
Pain, without hope, and Mis'ry, and Despair.
There was a time (no distant date I own)29.
When such my fate was, and my ev'ry groan:
When struggling hard for base unlasting pelf,31.
I stabb'd, I tortur'd, and I rack'd myself.
And what, I pray, did all these sighs avail,33.
For ever hapless, and for ever pale?
Inglorious period! Heavens! it fires my soul,35.
When such reflections through my bosom roll;
To hang the head with sorrow and remorse,
From one poor evil raising thousands worse.
That Grief involves us in unnumbered ills,39.
That with our Courage, all our success fails,
That Heav'n abhors, and show'rs with fury dread,41.
Tormenting Ills on the Repiner's head,
You'll freely own; but list while I relate
A short Adventure of a Wretch's fate:
A wretch whom Fortune long has held in pain. [sic[
And, whose each hour some black misfortunes stain.46.
'Twas when the Fields were swept of Autumn's store,47.
And growling winds the fading foliage tore,
Behind the LOWMON hill,
A huge Mountain that rises near Falkland [AW] the short-liv'd light,49.
Descending slowly, usher'd in the night:
When from the noisy town, with mournful look,
His lonely way a meagre Pedlar took.
Deep were his frequent sighs–careless his pace,
And oft the tear stole down his cheerless face;54.
Beneath a load of silks, and sorrow bent,
Nor knew, nor wish'd to know the road he went;
Nor car'd the coming Night, or stormy air,
For all his soul was welt'ring in despair.
Dark fell the Night, a grim, increasing gloom;59.
Dark as the horrors of his fancied doom:
And nought was seen, and nought was heard around,
But lightning's gleams and thunder's roar profound;
Swell'd by the wind that howl'd along the plain,
Fierce rattling hail, and unrelenting rain,64.
While from dark thickets issued, as he past,
Wild groans of branches bending from the blast.
Deep sunk his steps, beneath the pressing load,
As down the rough declivity he trod,
And gain'd the unknown vale; there, all distrest,69.
Prone on the road himself he cursing cast.
And while the north in ceaseless rigour blew,
And lightning, mingling with the tempest flew,
Amid the dismal gloom he raging spurn'd
His load, and thus his mis'ry mourn'd.74.
"O mighty heavens! and am I forced to bear
The scourge of fate, eternally severe?
On me alone shall all thy fury roar?
Shall this determin'd vengeance ne'er be o'er?
Wretch that I am! while ev'ry village Hind,79.
Sits, in soft peace or downy sleep reclin'd,
Here, hopeless here, in grim despair I lie,
Lash'd by the fierce, the growling midnight sky;
Far from the reach of any human aid,
Here, sunk in clay, my shivering limbs are laid;84.
And here my Cares for ever will I close;
This night shall finish my long train of woes,
And some lone Trav'ller, struck with dread remorse,
Start at the sight of my pale stiffen'd Cor'se."
So said, he stretch'd him in the plashy clay,89.
Clos'd his fix'd eyes, and bade adieu to day.
"And dy'd he?" No! Fate curs'd him still with breath,91.
And ev'n withheld that gloomy blessing, Death.
He groan'd–and thrice, in agonizing strife,93.
Unlock'd his eyes, but found he still had Life.
Mean-time along the road, in swift approach,
Sudden advanc'd a furious rattling coach;
The neighing steeds, before the lashing whip,
Loud clattering, flew adown the rapid steep.98.
Our Hero heard, and starting all aghast,
Aside himself, and trailing Budget cast,
While harsh, the huge Machine shot loud re-thundering past.
Then raising up his load, in sullen state,102.
Resolved no more to curse resisting Fate;
A distant light appear'd from some lone Cot,104.
And thither joy'd, his way he plodding sought;
Was kindly welcom'd to their lonely fare;
Hung o'er the hearth, and talk'd away his care.
From this, my friend, one maxim you may glean,108.
Ne'er of misfortunes grudgingly complain;
Boldly to struggle, shows a courage bright,110.
For none but cowards sink beneath the weight,
And those who gain Fame, Fortune, or the Fair,
Rise o'er Despondence, and contemn Despair.
"The person to whom this was addressed, and the person alluded to in the last stanzas, are both dead–1810." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45]
[Second] Epistle To Mr. James Dobie
While rains are blattrin'
rattlingfrae the south,1.
An' down the lozens
An' Hens in mony a caul' closs-mouth,3.
Wi' hingin, tails are dreepin',
The Muse an' me,
Wi' frien'ly glee,
Hae laid our heads thegither,
Some rhyme to pen,8.
Auld Reekie, for this month an' mair,11.
Has held me in her bosom;
Her streets a' streamin' like a fair,13.
Wi' mony a beauteous blossom;
Their bosoms whilk,
Seen through the silk,
Heav'd up sae blest uneven,
compels me swear,18.
To tempt us here
Jove drapt them down frae heav'n.
Here, strutting wi' their glitt'rin' boots,21.
An' flutterin' a' wi' ruffles,
The Coxcomb keen, to rax his koots,
Alang the planestanes
Wi' sweet perfumes,
Like apple blooms,
He fills the air aroun';
How to enjoy
The pleasures of the town.
Fair as the gay enrapt'ring Nine,31.
That tread the fam'd Parnassus,
And rang'd in mony a glorious line,33.
Appear the bouncin' lasses;
Whase shape, adzooks!
An' killing looks,
clothes like e'ening cluds,
Wad Hermits fire38.
Wi' fond desire,
To leave their caves an' woods.
Here mony a wight, frae mony a place,41.
At mony an occupation,
Exhibits mony a groosome face,43.
In hurrying consternation;
Some shakin' bells,
Some hammerin' stells,
Some coblin' shoon
shoes in cloysters
Here coaches whirlin',48.
There fish-wives skirlin',
loud, shrill laughter
"Whay'l buy my cauler
But, see! yon dismal form that louts,
Black crawlin' owre a midding,
scratching cin'ers up, an' clouts,
That i'the awse lie hidden;
While round her lugs,
Poor starvin' dogs,
Glowre fierce, wi' hungry gurle
She wi' a clash58.
O' dirt or awse,
Begins a horrid quarrel.
Sic creatures dauner,
wanderauld an' clung,
Whan morning rises gawsey;
large and handsome
An' mony a hutch o' human dung63.
sparklingowre the cawsey:
Out-through't wat shod,
I've aften trod,
Wi' heart maist like to scunner;
irritate or disgust
Oblidg't to rin,
Least, like a lin,
Some tubfu' down might thun'er.
O shocking theme! but, Sir, to you71.
I leave the moralizing,
Ye hae the pictures in your view73.
Mair orthodox than pleasing.
Farewell a wee;
Lang may ye be
Wi' fortune blest in season,
Within your arms78.
To clasp the charms
That kings wad joy to gaze on.
BRIGHT Phoebus had left his meridian height,81.
And downwards was stealing serene,
The Meadows breath'd odour, and slowly the night83.
Was sadd'ning the midsummer scene;
When down from his Garret, where many a long day85.
Hard poverty held the poor sinner,
A pale, tatter'd Poet, pursu'd his lone way,87.
To lose thought of Care–and of dinner.
The Lark high in air warbling out her sweet notes,89.
The Cuckoo was heard from the hill;
Each thicket re-echo'd with musical throats,91.
And gay glanc'd the murmuring rill.
Enrapt with the prospect, the Bard gaz'd around,93.
Where Flora her treasures had wasted;
Thrice smote his full breast–rais'd his eyes from the ground,95.
And thus great Apollo requested:
"O thou who o'er heaven's empyrean height,97.
Swift whirls on the chariot of Day;
Thou Father of music, thou fountain of light,99.
Propitiously hear while I pray.
Let no surly clouds, I beseech thee, let none101.
The mild, lucid hemisphere rise in,
Till down to the verge of old Ocean thou'rt gone,103.
And Thetis receives thee rejoicing.
With bright'ning Ideas my fancy inspire,105.
To wing the Parnassian Mountain;
Ye thrice sacred Nine, your kind aid I require,107.
To taste of the ravishing fountain.
Breathe softer, kind Zephyrs, oh! pity my clothes109.
Nor rave so"–thus far flow'd his song,
For low'ring and dismal, the horizon rose,111.
And clouds roll'd tumultuous along.
The birds, all affrighted, shrunk mute from the spray,113.
Hoarse murm'rings were heard from the river;
A black, horrid gloom overspread the sad day,115.
And made our poor Poet to shiver.
Swift full in his face, the dread flaming ball flash'd,117.
Down rush'd a fierce torrent of rain;
And loud o'er his head grumbling thunder-bolts crash'd,119.
Re-bellowing from earth back amain;
Beneath an old hedging, for shelter he crawl'd,121.
And clung by a shooting of birch;
Crash went the weak branch, and the wretch, while he bawl'd,123.
At once tumbled squash in the ditch.
Half-drown'd with the deluge, and frozen with fear,125.
Apollo's mad vot'ry thus splutter'd;
"Thou deaf, saucy scoundrel! why did'st thou not hear127.
The kind invocation I utter'd?
And you, ye curs'd Nine! I detest your each form,
Rank cheats ye're I know, nor shall hide it;
For those who won't shield a bare Bard from the storm,
Can ne'er lend him wings to avoid it."132.
So said–to the village he scamper'd along,133.
Poor wretch, with a petrified conscience;
His prayers unanswer'd–his appetite strong,135.
And all his attempts gone to nonsense.
To the Famishing Bard,
From a Brother Skeleton
Is there no Patron to protect the Muse,
And hedge for her Parnassus' barren soil?
James Thomson, The Castle of Indolence(1748), Canto II (on the "Knight of Arts and Industry").
ALOFT to high Parnassus' hill,1.
I heard thy pray'r ascending swift;
And are the Nine propitious still3.
To grant thy wish, and send the Gift?
Has kind Apollo made a shift,
To roll down from his kitchen high
A sirloin huge–a smoking lift,
To feed thy keen devouring eye?8.
If so, O much respected Swain!9.
Thou'rt surely Phoebus' fav'rite Bard;
Thy glitt'ring blade in fatness stain,11.
No more complain thy lot is hard;
And while the juice besmears thy beard,
And plumps thy meagre corse again,
Think what's their case who ne'er have shar'd
Such bliss, but pray and yawn in vain.16.
Yet, if regardless of thy strains,17.
The Strumpets scorn to lend an ear–
Bestow upon thy caput brains,19.
But stern refuse thy belly chear;
If through thy hollow trunk thou hear,
Oft as the steam of Dinner soars,
Remurm'ring sounds of croaking fear,
And melancholy quer'lous roars.24.
If oft on cheerless Winter's morn,25.
Thou spends, with thought, the shiv'ring hour,
In solitary state forlorn;27.
Like Cruickston, or the Stanly Tow'r,
Cruickston is a ruined castle four miles from Paisley; Stanly (also "Stanelie") is a ruined tower about two miles southwest of Paisley.
While, from thy half-clad sides, the show'r
Of lashing rain, or hail rebound,
And free thy issuing toes explore
Each miry creek, and kiss the ground–32.
If ills like these, for these are mine,33.
Attend thee like thy shadow close,
Know, E–n, that the nymphs divine,35.
From whom our song continual flows,
We call them blushing as the Rose,
Endearing sweet, enrapt'ring fair;
They scorn, for nought, to take the dose,
So pay us back in Sterling air.40.
If thou must eat, ferocious Bard!41.
Elsewhere importune for a dinner;
Long thou may pray here, nor be heard,43.
And praying makes thee but the thinner.
Do like the lank, lean, ghostly sinner,
That here presumes to give advice,
Ne'er court the Muse for meat–to win her,
E'en starve, and glory in the price.48.
Apollo knows that three long weeks,49.
And pale the prospect yet appears;
On crusts of hard brown bread and leeks,51.
I've liv'd, and may for rolling years;
Yet still the Muse most kindly chears
Each craving day, and yawning night,
Soft whisp'ring ever in my ears,
"Be Fame thy belly's chief delight."56.
Through future ages, then thy name,57.
Th'immortal Goddess shall preserve;
Be this thy dear, thy envy'd claim,59.
For this extend thy ev'ry nerve;
And should that world thou strains to serve,
A ling'ring carcase food refuse,
Contemn their baseness, boldly starve,
And die a martyr for the Muse.64.
More consolation I might pour,65.
But, hark! the tempest, how it blows!
Th'inconstant blast, with thund'ring roar67.
O'er chimney-tops more furious grows.
The wintry drop, prone from my nose,
Hangs glist'ring in the candle's beam,
And Want and Sleep's uniting throes,
Here force me to forsake my theme. 72.
Epistle to Mr. Thomas Witherspoon
The younger brother of Wilson's departed friend, William Witherspoon.
FROM Fife's rugged shore, where old Ocean loud bellows,1.
And lofty Weyms' Castle
The beautiful seat of William Weyms, Esq; Member of Parliament for the County of Fife. [AW] looks down o'er the main;
From midst an old hut, of some poor fisher fellows,3.
Accept of these lines from the Pedlar again.
For never again shall he chant through the bushes,
That wave over Calder or Cartha's pure stream,
Despair and Distraction have murder'd his wishes,
And all his fond hopes are dispers'd to a dream.8.
In vain o'er old Scotia, a stranger he travels,9.
The huge smoky City or amlet's the same;
Here Ignorance dozes, or proud Grandeur revels,11.
And poets may starve, and be damn'd, now for them.
So, dear Tom, farewell! and each cheerful companion,
With sorrow, I bid you a long sad adieu;
Some far distant country, for life, I'll remain on,
Where mem'ry will weep while she hovers o'er you.16.
So kind you have been to the fortuneless Poet,17.
Through all the harsh stages of life he's been in;
That Gratitude throbs in his bosom to show it,19.
Yet where shall the Muse, to relate them, begin.
When gloomy-brow'd Want, to attack my poor dwelling,
With fury advanced and merciless glare,
Your goodness dispatch'd the Fiend loudly yelling,
And snatch'd me to Peace from the jaws of Despair?24.
When Fortune propitiously seem'd to assist me,25.
You leapt at the prospect and shar'd in my bliss;
When all these evanish'd, and horror distress'd me,27.
You lull'd every passion and sooth'd me to peace.
And shall I forget you? No, rave on, thou tempest!
Misfortune! here pour all thy rage on my head;
Though foaming with fury, around thou encampest,
'Tis friendship alone that shall force me to bleed.32.
Though joy from thy talk I will ne'er again borrow,33.
Though fond, on thy face, I shall never gaze more;
Yet Heaven, one day, will relieve us from sorrow,35.
And join us again on a happier shore.
Then, farewell, my friend, and my dearest companion,
With tears I now bid you a final adieu;
Some far distant country, for life, I'll remain on,
Where Mem'ry shall weep while she hovers o'er you. 40.
Happiness: An Ode
AH! dark and dreary low'rs the night,1.
The rocking blasts–the flashing light,
Unusual horrors form!3.
Unhappy he, who nightly braves
The fury of surrounding waves
Amid this dreadful storm.
And yet, though far remote from shore,7.
Though loud the threat'ning tempest roar,
And heave the yawning deep,9.
Hope cheers each breast, that future winds,
Shall waft them peaceful to their friends,
To comfort those that weep.
Not so with me! distrest, forlorn,13.
Still doom'd to weep, from night to morn,
My life a chain of woes.15.
The Past, regret–the Present, care;
The Future, black with grim Despair,
Till earth shall o'er me close.
How happy they, who blest with health,19.
And all the gen'rous joys that wealth,
Unstain'd with sadness, give;21.
Enjoy the bliss that hourly flows,
Nor hear their hapless groans and woes,
Who struggle hard to live!
O thou kind Pow'r! who hears my strain,25.
To whom I silently complain,
And lift my eyes in grief,27.
'Tis thine to bid the tempest roll,
'Tis thine to heal the struggling soul,
And bring the wretch relief.
Thus sung Alexis, lost to mirth,31.
While o'er the lonely joyless hearth
His mournful visage hung.33.
A silence reign'd–when, soft, and meek,
He, list'ning, heard these accents break
From an immortal tongue.
"Why droops thy head, unhappy youth?37.
Be calm, and hear the words of TRUTH,
Nor righteous Heav'n accuse.39.
To man impartial gifts are giv'n,
Themselves alone make them unev'n,
By what their pride abuse.
Thou strain'st at wealth–ah! blind to fate,43.
Thou seest not what distresses wait
On him who claims the prize;45.
A snake, it cankers in his breast,
Distorts his looks–devours his rest,
And lures him from the skies.
On wealth proportion'd cares attend,49.
Who much commands, hath much to spend,
Or are his treasures great?51.
Intemp'rance o'er them raves aloud,
They vanish, like a morning cloud,
And leave their lord to fate.
What though, by Poverty deprest,55.
Thou seeks a friend to soothe thy breast,
But seeks, alas! in vain:57.
This bane becomes a bliss at last,
For Wisdom from the miseries past,
Corrects the present pain.
Look closer, mark each seeming ill61.
That now with fear thy bosom fill,
And weigh each envy'd joy:63.
Health is a cheat, but sickness lights,
Through hopes and fears, to glorious heights,
Where Saints their songs employ.
Health, rosy as the crimson dawn,67.
Firm treads along the dewy lawn,
O'er-wrapt with flow'ry joy:69.
No ills shake his Herculean breast,
No deep-fetched groans of Pain distrest,
His pleasures e'er annoy.
While thus despising others' woe73.
He courts each faithless shade below,
And laughs at threaten'd hell!75.
Pale Sickness lifts her languid eye
From earth, and fixes in the sky,
Where all her comforts dwell.
But view health gone, the wretch low laid,79.
By stern disease, past human aid,
Rack'd on the hopeless couch:81.
His heaving breast, with anguish tore,
His eyes deep sunk–his bloom no more,
And Death in dread approach.
Where now the boasted joys of earth?85.
Will these his riches, rank or birth,
Calm the despairing soul?87.
Ah no, behold he groans, he cries:
Tears choke his mingled moans and sighs;
And terrors round him roll.
Then, favour'd youth, be thine the task,91.
For real Happiness to ask,
From Nature's bounteous God;93.
Nor think, on earth to grasp the prize,
She dwells aloft, beyond the skies,
RELIGION IS THE ROAD.
Death: A Poem
THY gloomy walks, O Death! replete with fears,1.
With 'scutcheons hung, and wet with Widows' tears,
The groans of Anguish, and of deep remorse,3.
The gloomy Coffin, and extended Corse,
Be now my theme–Hence, all ye idle dreams,
Of flow'ry Meadows, and meand'ring streams,
Of War's arousing roar–since none are brave,
Save those bold few, who triumph o'er the Grave.8.
O Thou, first Being! Thou, almighty Pow'r!
Who metes out Life, a cent'ry, or an hour;
At whose dread nod the Spectre wields his dart,
Uprears his arm, and stabs the quiv'ring heart,
Assist my feeble pen (since I and all13.
Must soon before that grisly Monarch fall)
To mark his frowns, but learn alone to dread
That awful stroke that tends to death indeed.
When God descended first to form our earth,17.
And gave each plant and ev'ry creature birth,
When trees arose, at his supreme command,19.
In order rang'd, or scatter'd o'er the land;
Then the clear brook, in murm'ring measure, flow'd,
The Zephyr whisper'd, and the cattle low'd;
The voice of Music warbl'd through each grove,
From morn to morn, and ev'ry song was love.24.
The Lamb and Tyger wanton'd o'er the green,
The Stag and Lion join'd the mirthful scene;
The Eagle thirsted not for streams of gore,
And the swift Hawk had ne'er the Warbler tore;
The meanest insect, starting from the ground,29.
At pleasure sallied to its mazy round,
Return'd at night to its abode, a flow'r,
Nor felt, nor fear'd, a mightier creature's power:
For all was peace, and harmony, and love,
Through the deep ocean, and the tuneful grove.34.
Such was the world, ere Man, its sovereign lord,
Or beauteous Woman, Paradise explor'd:
Ah! hapless pair! too soon they broke the bounds,
They sinn'd–they fell–and felt Sin's deadly wounds.
Then rush'd to being Death, and frowning dread39.
Stalk'd o'er the world, and heapt his way with dead.
The herbage wither'd, in the sun and shade;
Trees shook their leaves, and drooping flow'rs decay'd;
Each creature felt his power; and, while they pin'd,
Groan'd out their last, to the loud howling wind.44.
Yet still a following race did those succeed,
And hoar Time glutted Death with piles of dead.
Thus, for five thousand years, the world has roll'd,
Rocks now are mould'ring, ev'n the heav'ns grow old;
And soon that day shall come, when Time shall cease,49.
And usher in, eternal pain or peace.
Yet how important is that awful day,
That lays us breathless, pale, extended clay,
When from our lips the ruddy glow shall fade,
When the pulse ceases to emit its tide;54.
When, sadly, pond'ring o'er our lifeless corse,
Our weeping friends regret Death's cruel force;
Then mounts the soul to God, and there receives
Its fixed doom, and shouts for joy, or grieves
Through all eternity; prolongs the strain59.
Of endless joy–or yells in endless pain.
Death sometimes sends his cruel page, Disease,61.
To rob our nights of rest, our days of ease:
Unwelcome guest! and yet he proves no foe,63.
He weans our passions from the trash below;
Each pang of anguish urges to prepare,
Ere death approach, with stern relentless glare;
And, if unready, we are caught by Death,
He throws us, howling to the gulph beneath.68.
With sudden steps sometimes the foe appears,69.
And calls to judgment in our shudd'ring ears.
We start alarm'd–survey our guilty past;71.
Bend down to pray, and, bending, breathe our last.
Then fix'd is fate, for as we fall, we lie;
We live in Death, or sinking, doubly die.
Should these sad scenes not rouse us to concern,
Our state to weigh, and danger to discern,76.
Ere that dread period, when we leave this shore,
And time, and means are given us here no more.
Death's stare may startle ev'n the purest Saint,
And, at the change, his soul perhaps may faint;
But in that hour, these chearing words he hears81.
And this sweet promise flows upon his ears,
"I am thy friend, on me thy burden lay,
And through death's vale I'll gently pave thy way."
Thrice welcome words! rejoic'd he spurns this earth,
Where nought but sorrow reigns, and foolish mirth:86.
To life Saints usher, when on earth they die,
And when they leave us, join the song on high.
On Cartha's banks, beside a sloping dale,89.
That gently open'd to the western gale,
In homely Cot, of neat, inviting form,91.
Nigh where old Cruickston
An old fortification near Paisley [AW]braves the howling storm,
Horatio liv'd–the gen'rous and the kind,
The villain's terror, but the poor man's friend;
Each neighbour's joy he shar'd, and adverse growl,
For heav'n-born pity dwelt within his soul:96.
Well knew the poor his house; for from his door
None e'er return'd, but blest his bounteous store;
Their sad complaints he heard–sigh'd when they griev'd;
And scarce he heard them, till his hand reliev'd;
Belov'd by all he liv'd, sedate, though gay;101.
Pray'r clos'd his night, and usher'd in his day.
But nought exempts from death: pale he was laid,103.
His heaving breast by weeping friends survey'd,
Beside his couch I sat–he, sighing, took105.
My hand in his, then spoke with dying look,
His trembling hand, methinks I feel and spy,
The drops that started in his swimming eye:
"Farewell, my friend! for now the time is come,
That solemn points me to my silent tomb.110.
Oh! were my life to spend, each breath I'd prize,
For sins on sins now start before my eyes.
Yet, He who is my hope– his chearing voice,
Soft calls me hence, to share eternal joys–
Oh! seek His gen'rous aid"–Here fail'd his breath,115.
He sigh'd, and slumber'd in the arms of death.
Such was his end, and such the bliss of those
Who taste the stream that from Immanuel flows.
This chears the gloomy path, and opes the Gate
Where endless joys their glorious entrance wait,120.
Through boundless heav'ns, amid his beams to rove,
There swell the song of his redeeming love.
What though misfortunes, in this life abound,
Though ills on ills, and wants on wants surround;
Though all we hold most dear on earth, are torn125.
Harsh, from our grasp, and to a distance borne;
Tho' friends forget us, tho' our en'mies growl,
And earth and hell affright the trembling soul:
Lift up your heads, ye poor! the time draws nigh
When all these mis'ries shall at distance fly;130.
When songs of praise shall be your blest employ,
Your highest glory, your eternal joy;
Triumphant treading an immortal shore,
Where sin, and sorrow, shall assault no more.
To Mr. ―
With A Satirical Poem
WHEN curst Oppression rears his brazen crest,1.
With-holds one half, and strains to seize the rest;
When those in pow'r, disdaining shame or dread,3.
Half-starve those wretches they pretend to feed;
Then should the Muse, with honest zeal inspir'd,
With hate of guilt and vile injustice fir'd;
Disclose their crimes, and to the world display
The gloomy catalogue in deep array;8.
Till Vice confounded, hides her haggard head,
And lovely Virtue rises in her stead.
Receive th' enclosed, nor blame the daring strains,11.
Since truth confirms each period it contains;
And poor Experience, from the list'ning throng,13.
Sad shakes her head, and owns the honest song.
Hard is their fate who must on knaves depend,15.
From whose base grip no laws can e'er defend:
Plead we for justice, then their friendships o'er,17.
And, as we're honest, we're employed no more.
Ah! were we blest now with a noble few,
As just, kind, generous, and humane as you,
Our trade might then maintain its former blaze,
And Envy's self be dumb, or whisper praise.22.
Sweet is the joy, the bliss that toils afford,23.
When love unites the servant and his lord;
One common interest then the task appears,25.
And smiles, and looks, the longest labour chears.
Cheats may deceive and growling Tyrants swear,27.
Those claim our scorn and these provoke our fear;
But they who rise superior to such arts,29.
Possess, like you, our Friendship, and our Hearts.
Apollo and the Pedlar: A Tale
DARK hangs the drowsy murm'ring moonless night;31.
Clouds wrap each twinkler from the useless sight;
Hous'd is each swain, worn with the day's long toil,33.
Wielding the flail, or turning o'er the soil;
Lone now the fields, the banks, the meadows all,
Save where frogs croak, or noisome lizards crawl.
Seen from the hill, Edina's turrets glow37.
With beaming lamps, in many a glittering row,
That glad the sight; while slow-approaching near,39.
Mixt sounds and voices crowd upon the ear;
Hoarse Pye-men bawl, and shake the ceaseless bell,
Boys sport, dogs bark, and oyster wenches yell.
See! yon black form plac'd at the well-worn porch,
One arm sustains a tarry flaming torch;44.
With echoing voice and grim distorted looks,
He hoarsely roars, "An auction here of books."
The trotting chairman, and the thund'ring coach,
The blazing windows, and sly wh–'s approach,
The justling passengers, that swarm each lane,49.
Form to a stranger a surprising scene.
'Twas at this time, with keen-tooth'd hunger pin'd,
Plain Ralph, the Pedlar, wander'd in a wynd.
This Ralph ('tis storied) bore a curious pack,
With trinkets filled, and had a ready knack54.
At coining rhyme; o'er all the eastern plain
Well was he known to ev'ry village swain.
Where'er he lodg'd, on mountain, moor, or dale,
The cottage fill'd to hear his wondrous tale.
Oft, at the barn, they'd list, and hear poor Ralph,59.
In uncouth phrases, talking to himself;
Or mark him wand'ring lone, 'twixt late and soon,
With mutt'ring voice, wild gazing to the moon,
Drawn by the sight of certain skinny food,
He sally'd down and often gazing stood.64.
And such blest visions here he did descry,
That Want sat gnawing in his restless eye.
Here tripe lay smoking on the loaded board,
Piled high and thick, a most delicious hoard;
The fragrant steam, in wavy columns rose,69.
And fed incessant his enraptur'd nose.
No longer fit to bear the glorious sight,
He buys, then scampers, with exulting flight,
Resolv'd that night to soar his rank above,
Gape o'er his spoil, and feast with nectar'd Jove.74.
Here let us leave him, while with soaring flight,75.
We gain Olympus and the plains of light:
There, for his sons, see great Apollo's care,77.
How low their station or how poor soe'er,
Alike to him's the Pedlar and the Peer.
High on a throne of burnish'd gold, in state,80.
And awful pomp, the mighty Thund'rer sat.
His flowing robe, in dazzling glory shone,82.
Inferior gods hung hov'ring round his throne;
With rapt'rous songs the heav'ns resounding rung,
Sweet Echo warbling, while the Seraphs sung.
When, lo! approaching with green laurel'd brows,
Before the throne, divine Apollo bows,87.
An anxious look his glorious face oppress'd,
While, bending low, he thus the God address'd:
"Almighty Potentate! All conquering Jove!
Who form'd these heav'ns that boundless spread above,
Yon distant earth, and all the worlds that roll92.
In circling dance, whose nod sustains the whole,
Whose pow'rful arm swift hurls the tempest forth,
Whose frown strikes terror through th'astonish'd earth,
Bids yon vast sea, in swelling mountains, rise,
And uproar horrid, foaming to the skies,97.
Then smiles, and smooth the glassy surface lies.
"Oft hast thou lent me a propitious ear,99.
And made my sons thy most peculiar care.
By thee inspir'd, they soar beyond the sun,101.
And sing the wonders that thy arm hath done.
Now stoop, in pity, to the dang'rous state
Of one poor bard, born to a hapless fate.
Thou knows his danger: see, how swift he flies,
Nor know'st the snare that for his ruin lies.106.
Soon will he reach his home; and, sad to tell,
Glut the vile tripe, and revel o'er the smell:
But still there's time, still we may him retard,
Here stand I ready to obey thy word."
Jove gave consent; when down the empyrean height,111.
The cheerful god directs his rapid flight;
Swift past the stars, heav'n's regions he forsook,
Light flew behind, and darkness he o'ertook.
The num'rous lamps Edina's streets that line,
He first espies in sparkling squadrons shine.116.
A moment, dubious, o'er the scene he stops,
Then swift, unseen, in B––'s closs he drops,
Assumes a Porter's shape, conceals his wings,
And through the closs, in hurrying fury, springs;
Down hurls poor Ralph, crash went the shivered bowl,121.
And greasy streams, along the pavement roll.
As when some Tyger, to his haunt from day,
Returns, blood-foaming, with the slaughter'd prey,
Grim pleas'd that there, with undisturbed roar,
He'll glut and revel o'er the reeking gore,126.
Glares in wild fury o'er the gloomy waste,
Now growls terrific o'er its mangled breast;
Now drags, relentless, down the rugged vale,
And stains the forest with a bloody trail,
When, lo! a champion of the savage race,131.
The shaggy Lion, rushes to the place,
With roar tremendous seizes on the prey,
Exasp'rate see! the Tyger springs away,
Stops short, and maddens at the Monarch's growl,
And through his eyes darts all his furious soul,136.
Half-will'd, yet half afraid to dare a bound,
He eyes his loss, and roars and tears the ground.
So looked stern Ralphus o'er the flowing coast,
To see his hopes, his tripe and labour lost.
In rage he kick'd the fragments, when, behold!141.
Forth from the tripe a monstrous worm unroll'd
Its lazy length, then snarling wild its crest,
In accents shrill the shudd'ring youth addrest.
"I am Disease; curs'd be the unknown he
Who mark'd my purpose of destroying thee.146.
Had it succeeded, hear this, trembling hear,
Next morn had seen thee floating on a bier."
It spoke, and grinn'd, when Ralph, with vengeful speed,
A rock's huge fragment dash'd down on its head.
Deep groan'd the wretch in death, Ralph trembling stole151.
One backward glance, then fled th'accurs'd bowl.
Evening: An Ode
NOW day departing in the west,1.
With gaudy splendor lures the eye;
The sun, declining, sinks to rest,3.
And Ev'ning overshades the sky.
And is the green extended lawn,5.
The waving grove–the flow'ry mead,
The charms of hill and dale withdrawn,7.
And all their blooming beauties hid?
They are–but lift aloft thine eye,9.
Where all these sparkling glories roll;
Those mighty wonders of the sky,11.
That glad and elevate the soul.
Day's undisguis'd effulgent blaze13.
Adorns the Mead, or Mountain blue;
But Night, amid her train, displays15.
Whole worlds revolving to the view.
Lone Contemplation, musing deep,17.
This vast, stupendous vault explores;
These rolling Orbs–the roads they keep,19.
And Night's great Architect adores.
Nor mourns the absent glare of day,21.
The glitt'ring mead, or warbler's song;
For what are birds, or meadows gay,23.
To all that dazzling, starry throng.
So, when the Saint's calm Eve draws nigh,25.
With joy the voice of death he hears;
Heav'n opes upon his wond'ring eye,27.
And Earth's poor vision disappears.
Matty: A Song
Martha M'Lean, Wilson's girlfriend at the time.
WHILE Phoebus reposes in Thetis's bosom,1.
While, white thro' the branches the moonlight is seen;
Here, lonely, I rove, near the old Hawthorn's blossom,3.
To meet with my Matty, and stray o'er the green.
Nor hardship, nor care, now my bosom harasses,5.
My moments, from fame, and its nonsense are free;
Ambition I leave to the folly of Asses,7.
For Matty is Fame and Ambition to me.
The Great may exclaim, and with fury enclose me,9.
But fools, or the rabble, shall growl now in vain;
Their madness, their malice shall ne'er discompose me,11.
Since Matty commends, and delights in my strain.
And kind is the lovely, the charming young creature;13.
Sweet beauty and innocence smile in her cheek;
In raptures I wander, and gaze o'er each feature,15.
My bosom unable its transports to speak.
When lock'd arm in arm we retire from the City,17.
To stray through the meadow or shadowy grove,
How oft do I wake her compassion and pity,19.
While telling some tale of unfortunate love.
Her innocent answers delight me to hear them,21.
For art or dissembling to her are unknown;
And false protestations she knows not to fear them,23.
But thinks that each heart is as kind as her own,
And lives there a villain, who, born to dissemble,25.
Would dare an attempt to dishonour her fame,
May blackest confusion, surrounding, assemble27.
And bury the wretch in distraction and shame.
Ye Pow'rs! be my task to protect and behold her,29.
To wander delighted with her all the day;
When sadness dejects, in my arms to enfold her,31.
And kiss, in soft raptures, her sorrows away.
But, hush! who comes yonder? 'tis Matty my dearest,33.
The moon, how it brightens, while she treads the plain!
I'll welcome my beautiful nymph, by the nearest,35.
And pour my whole soul in her bosom again.
Lochwinnoch, A Descriptive Poem
A small village in Renfrewshire, about 10 miles southwest of Paisley. David Brodie persuaded Wilson to include this poem in his collection to attract patronage from William McDowell [M'Dowal], the generally beloved heir and manufacturer whose estate, the Castle Semple, was located in the town. Wilson did eventually seek M'Dowell's support, which was given with enthusiasm.
(In a Letter to a Friend)
WHEN in the western main our Orb of light,1.
Sinks slowly down from the advancing night,
Mute sadness hangs o'er all the lonely earth,3.
Old gloomy Night leads all her horrors forth;
Wild howls the dreary waste, where furies roam,
Harsh hated shrieks start from the ruin'd dome;
Dread darkness reigns in melancholy state,
And pensive Nature seems to mourn her fate.8.
Such was the gloom, dear Sir, that wrapt my soul,
Such were the thoughts, and such the sighs that stole
From this poor bosom, when, with tearful view,
I bade Edina, and my friend, adieu;
Bade him adieu, whose kind, engaging art,13.
Unbounded goodness, and inspiring heart,
Has chear'd my Muse, and bid her joyous soar,
While Want and Ruin thunder'd at the door.
Long was the way, the weary way to tread,17.
Stern Fortune frown'd, and ev'ry hope had fled;
How rush'd reflection on my tortur'd mind,19.
As slow I went, and sighing gaz'd behind.
Our rural walks, while the gray eastern morn,
Yet faintly breaking, deck'd the dewy thorn;
Or when link'd arm in arm, we peaceful stray'd,
The Meadows round, beneath yon leafy shade.24.
There oft the muse pursu'd her soaring flight,
While day was sunk, and reign'd the starry night.
Farewell, I cry'd; a long farewell to you;
Fate, cruel urges, happy scenes adieu.
But, blest be Heav'n! when two sad days were past,29.
I reach'd my peaceful native plains at last;
Sweet smil'd the Muse to hear the Rustics sing,31.
And fond to rise, she stretch'd her ample wing.
On ev'ry side the blooming landscape glow'd;
Here shepherds whistled, there the cascade flow'd.
Heav'ns! had I known what gay, delightful scenes,
Of woods, and groves, adorn'd these happy plains,36.
Edina's crowds and sooty turrets high,
Should ne'er have cost me one regretting sigh.
Though fair sweet Fortha's banks, tho' rich her plains,39.
Far nobler prospects claim the Muse's strains.
Fate now has led me to green-waving groves,41.
Blest scenes of innocence and rural loves;
Where cloudy smoke ne'er darkens up the sky,
Nor glaring buildings tire the sick'ning eye;
But spreading meadows wave with flow'ry hay,
And, drown'd in grass, the milky mothers stray;46.
While down each vale descends the glitt'ring rill,
And bleating flocks swarm o'er each smiling hill.
And woody vales, where deep retir'd from sight,
Lone rivers brawl o'er many a horrid height.
If scenes like these can please your roving mind,51.
Or lend one rapture to my dearest friend;
All hail! ye sacred Nine, assist my flight,53.
To spread their beauties open to his sight.
Low, at the foot of huge extended hills,55.
Whose cloudy tops pour down unnumber'd rills,
And where loud Calder, rushing from the steep,57.
Roars to the Lake, with hoarse resistless sweep,
LOCHWINNOCH stands, stretch'd on a rising groun',
In bulk, a Village, but in worth a Town.
Here lives your friend, amid as cheerful swains
As e'er trod o'er the fam'd Arcadian plains,62.
Far from the world retir'd, our only care
In silken gauze to form the flow'rets fair,
To bid beneath our hands, gay blossoms rise,
In all the colours of the changing skies.
Dispatch'd to foreign climes, our beauteous toil67.
Adorn the fair of many a distant Isle,
Shield from the scorching heat, or shiv'ring storm,69.
And fairer deck out Nature's fairest form.
Such our sweet toils, when Peace, with glad'ning smile,71.
Wraps in her wings our little busy Isle;
But when, loud bellowing, furious from afar,73.
Is heard the uproar of approaching War,
Britannia rousing, when aspiring foes
Call forth her vengeance and provoke her blows,
Then, all the Hero, in their bosom burns;
Their Country calls, and rage dull pleasure spurns.78.
Beneath the throng of many a glitt'ring spear
In marshall'd lines the fearless youths appear,
The drum resounds–they leave their native shore,
On distant coasts to swell the Battle's roar;
There quell the furious foe, or see their homes no more.83.
But these are harsh extremes; rough labour now84.
Bathes each firm Youth, and hoary Parent's brow;
Nought shews, but brisk activity around,86.
The Plough-boy's song, the tradesman's hamm'ring sound.
See! from yon Vale, in huge, enormous height,
Glitt'ring with windows on th' admiring sight,
A large Cotton Mill lately erected here. [AW] Built by M?Dowell to alleviate the economic instability created by dependence on the Paisley silk industry. swells–within, ten thousand ways
Ingenious BURNS his wondrous Art displays:91.
Wheels turning wheels, in mystic throngs appear,
To twist the thread, or tortur'd Cotton tear,
While toiling wenches' songs delight the list'ning ear.
At little distance, bord'ring on the Lake,
Where blooming shrubs, from golden branches, shake
Ambrosial sweets, midst shelt'ring coverts high,
The elegant Country Seat of the Hon. William M?Dowal, Member of Parliament for Ayrshire. [AW] glitters on the eye: 98.
As when bright Phoebus bursts some gloomy shrowd,
And glorious issues from the darksome cloud,
Superbly enters on the empyrean blue,
And shines, reveal'd, to the enraptur'd view;
So, from the trees, the beauteous structure opes,103.
Shelter'd with hills, and many a deep'ning copse.
The wond'ring stranger stops t'admire the scene;
The dazzling Mansion, and the shaven green;
The fir-top Mount, where brouze the bounding Deer,
The Lake adjoining, stretching smooth and clear;108.
The long glass Hot-house, basking in the rays,
Where nameless blossoms swell beneath the blaze;
Where India's clime, in full perfection glows,
And fruits and flowers o'ercharge the bending boughs.
These, and unnumber'd beauties, charm his sight,113.
And oft he turns, and gazes with delight.
Ye lonely Walks! now sinking from the sight,115.
Now rising easy to the distant height,
Where, o'er my head, the bending branches close,117.
And hang a solemn gloom–sedate repose!
Now gen'rous opening, welcomes in the day,
While o'er the road the shadowy branches play.
Hail! happy spots of Quiet and of Peace,
Dear fav'rite scenes, where all my sorrows cease!122.
Where calm retirement reigns in sober mood,
Lull'd by the songsters of the neighb'ring wood.
Here oft, beneath the shade, I lonely stray,125.
When Morning opes, or Evening shuts the day;
Or when, more black than night, Fate stern appears,127.
With all his train of pale despairing fears.
The winding walks, the solitary wood,
The uncouth Grotto, melancholy rude;
My refuge these, th'attending Muse to call,
Or in Pope's lofty page to lose them all.132.
But what, my friend, would all these scenes avail,133.
The walks meand'ring, or the stretching dale,
The wood-clad Mountain, or the sounding streams,135.
The harvest waving in the glowing beams;
What all the pomp of Nature or of Art,
If Heav'n had harden'd the proud Owner's heart?
And is it so ye ask? Ah, no, my friend,
Far other motives swell his generous mind.140.
He lives, he reigns, belov'd in every soul;
Our wants and hardships through his bosom roll.
Those he alleviates with a parent's care,
And these, by him spread forth, disperse in air.
When late pale Trade, wrapt up in yellow weeds,145.
With languid looks, seem'd to forsake our Meads,
When, for her sons, stern Paisley sole confin'd147.
The Web, to finish, or the woof to wind,
Thro' all the village desolation reign'd
And deep distress each cheek with sorrow stain'd:
Oh! may these eyes ne'er gaze on such a scene,
Ne'er may I listen to such woes again.152.
Here mourn'd a Father, for his labour gone,
Survey'd his Babes, and heav'd a bitter groan;
The weeping maid, tho' blest with blooming charms,
Saw now her lover forced to quit her arms,
While silence hung, and melancholy gloom,157.
Thro' each lone Shop, and o'er each useless loom.
Our mis'ries reached his ear; his manly breast159.
Felt for our woes, nor e'en the tear supprest.
He bade us hope, nor were our hopes in vain;161.
Soon welcome news surpris'd each grateful swain.
Hope smil'd propitious–ev'ry shop resum'd
New heart, and soul, tho' late to ruin doom'd.
The sounding shuttle, sweeps from side to side,
Swift o'er the beam the finish'd flow'rings glide;166.
Songs soothe our toil, and pour the grateful flame;
And ev'ry tongue reveres the Patriot's name.
From scenes like these, let Pride disdainful turn,169.
And Malice hiss, and squinting Envy burn;
Yet, when entomb'd the worthy Patriot lies,171.
And his rapt soul has gain'd her native skies,
Such deeds as these shall aggrandize his name,
While they lie buried in eternal shame.
From Clyde's fair river to the western shore,175.
Where smoky Saltcoats braves the surges' roar,
A range of Hills extend, from whose each side,177.
Unnumber'd streams, in headlong fury ride,
Aloft in air their big blue backs are lost,
Their distant shadows black'ning all the coast;
High o'er their proudest peaks, oft hid in show'rs,
The imperious MISTY-LAW superior tow'rs;182.
Spiry at top, o'erclad with purpling heath,
Wide he looks round o'er Scotia's plains beneath.
The Atlantic main, that opens on the west,
Spotted with Isles, that crowd its liquid breast;
Hills heapt on hills, support the northern sky,187.
Far to the east the Ochills hugely lie.
How vast around the boundless prospect spreads,
Blue rivers rolling through their winding beds;
Black waving Woods, Fields glowing on the eye,
And hills, whose summits hide them in the sky.192.
Still farther would I gaze with rapture blest,
But bending clouds hang down and hide the rest.
Descending from the Hill's o'erhanging head,195.
Bare moors below uncomfortably spread.
Here stray the hardy sheep, in scatter'd flocks,197.
Nibbling thro' furze, and grim projecting rocks,
Strangers to shelter from bleak Winter's form,
His loudest blasts they brave, and bitterest storm;
By human hands untouch'd save when the swain
Drives to the crowded hut the bleating train,202.
Shears off the matted fleece, with gleeful haste,
And sends them naked to the lonely waste.
Here, as the shepherd ranges o'er the heath205.
The speckled Adder sweeps across his path,
Or lies collected, in the sun's bright beams,207.
Or wriggles forward to the distant streams;
But sudden caught, in vain the felon flies,
He feels the scourging crook, and stretch'd and gaping dies.
Near the bleak border of these lonely moors,211.
Where o'er the brook the mossy margin low'rs,
'Midst clust'ring trees, and sweet surrounding dells,213.
In rural Cot, a rustic Poet dwells;
Unknown to him, the dull, elab'rate rules,
And mazy doctrines of pedantic schools:
Yet Genius warms his breast with noble fire,
And the rapt Muse seems eager to inspire.218.
High on the herby hill, while morning smiles,
And shoots her beams along the distant isles,
Chearful he sits, and gazing o'er the plain,
In native language, pours his jocund strain;
"How bonny Morning speels the eastlin lift,223.
An' waukens Lads an' Lassies to their thrift,
Gars Lavrocks sing and canty lamies loup,
And me mysel croon cheary on my doup:"
Or oft, rejoic'd, he sings how best to rear
Big swelling roots, the peasant's homely chear,228.
When drown'd with milk, amid the pot they're prest,
Or mealy, bursting, fill his brawny fist;
How the deep bog, or wat'ry marsh to drain,
And bid bare hillocks groan with bending grain.
These are the themes that oft engage his Muse,233.
Swell his full breast and stretch his wid'ning views;
While wond'ring shepherds, as they round him throng,
Survey the hoary Bard, and bless th' instructing song.
When harvest's o'er, his last, his sweetest toil,237.
And ev'ry barn contains the rustling spoil;
When winter growls along the frozen lakes,239.
And whit'ning snows descend in silent flakes;
When all without is drear, and keen-blown frost
Has each hard foot-step on the road embost,
Led by the pale-faced moon, o'er drifted plains,
From many a cottage trudge the neighb'ring swains,244.
To hear his tale, and, round his glowing hearth,
To pass the night in innocence and mirth.
Retired from Towns, from scenes of guilt and strife,247.
How blest, poor Shepherds your untroubled life!
No deep black schemes employ your jocund hour,249.
Like birds of prey, each other to devour.
The milky flocks throng nibbling o'er the steep,
The tinkling brooks, that sweetly lull to sleep.
The warbling Bank, the dewy Morn's pale light,
While mists rise slowly from each neighb'ring height,254.
The lark's shrill song, the Blackbird's wilder airs,
These are your pleasures, these your happy cares.
Down from this spreading moor, with gath'ring force,257.
Impetuous Calder leaves his marshy source,
Through deep sunk vales and rude resisting rocks259.
His furious current raves, and thundering smokes,
While swift he pours along in foamy pride,
Huge massive bulwarks rise on either side;
Rocks grimly low'ring o'er the darkened stream,
Hollow'd with Caves, where ne'er peept Phoebus beam.264.
Here in red clusters, hang the juicy Rown,
There sun-burnt nuts depress the hazel down;
High on yon rock the luscious Berries swarm,
Yet mock the efforts of the straining arm,
So when some Poet wand'ring through the street,269.
If chance a sav'ry smell his nostrils meet,
Sudden he stops–looks round on some Cook's stall,
And eager gazes–but a look's his all.
Wild scenes, my friend, now rush upon my sight,273.
Of woods hung branching from th'impending height;
Of rude romantic clifs, where, high in air,275.
The fleet-wing'd Hawk protects her clam'rous care;
Of Calder, winding through the deep-sunk vale,
'Midst trees embosom'd from the ruffling gale,
Impatient now thro' op'ning Banks to roam,
Now rushing o'er the rock a stream of foam;280.
Now stealing deep, where stretch'd from side to side,
The bellying Arch
A high dam erected for raising the water to the Cotton Mill. [AW] reclin'd arrests the tide,
While down the dizzy brink resistless fleet,
The river rolls in one wide glitt'ring sheet.
Adjoining this, midst bord'ring reeds and fens,285.
The lengthen'd Lake its glossy flood extends,
Slow stealing on, with lazy silent pace,287.
The ruins of an old fortress. [AW]lone rising from its wat'ry face.
Here stalks the Heron, gazing in the lake,
The snowy Swan, and party-colour'd Drake;
The Bittern lone, that shakes the solid ground,
While thro' still midnight groans the hollow sound;292.
The noisy Goose, the Teal, in black'ning trains,
And long-bill'd Snipe, that knows approaching rains;
Wild fowl, unnumber'd, here continual rove,
Explore the deep, or sail the waves above.
When Harvest loads the fields with shocks of grain,297.
And heaps of hay bestud the marshy plain,
Then have I seen the clouds tumultuous rise,299.
Huge, from the South, grim dark'ning all the skies.
Then howl'd the blust'ring wind, the lashing rain,
In streaming torrents, pour'd along the plain,
Down from the steep, swell'd brown from shore to shore,
O'er rocks enormous with rethund'ring roar304.
Hoarse Calder dash'd–the Lake a sea appears,
And down, at once, the bord'ring harvest bears;
Wheat, hay, and oats, float o'er the boiling tide,
And, lost for ever, down the current ride.
Plung'd to the middle in the swelling waves,309.
See Swains, half-drown'd, drag out the dripping sheaves;
While on the brink the farmer stands forlorn,
And takes his last sad look of the departing corn.
But hark! fierce Boreas blows, keen from the hills,313.
The frost severe enchains the trickling rills;
Wide o'er the Lake a glossy pavement spreads,315.
Snow robes the fields, and heaps the mountain's heads;
Scarce o'er yon southern hill the sun appears,
Feeble his rays, far from our sight he wears.
How chill the air! how vehement the storm!
Bleak Winter growls and shakes his hoary form.320.
Seasons like these, ne'er damp the glowing veins321.
Of rugged Scotia's hardy native swains;
Forth to the Ice our little Village pours,323.
In healthy sports to pass the shiv'ring hours.
On fleeting Skates some skim its glitt'ring face,
In swift excursion or meand'ring chace;
While, in black crowds, the curlers throng around,
Men, stones, and besoms, thund'ring up the sound.328.
Nor is our pleasure less when Spring appears,329.
And Sol again the changing landscape chears:
With pausing step to trace the murm'ring brook,331.
And o'er the stream display the purling hook;
While from each bush the feather'd warblers rove,
And soothe the soul to sacred peace and love.
Or as at sober silent eve we walk
With the sweet fair, engag'd in harmless talk,336.
The raptur'd heart enjoys a conscious glow,
Which care can't damp or gaudy wealth bestow.
Farewel, my friend! for me no more repine;340.
Peaceful I live, ah! were my bliss but thine.
Through these wild banks together could we stray,342.
Or range the wood, to shun the sultry day,
Nor care, nor pain could then my peace destroy,
And thy dear Muse would double ev'ry joy:
But since we're doomed far sever'd to remain,
Since murm'ring swells, but never soothes our pain;347.
Hence! ye vain wishes–Friendship, heav'nly glow,
Best, choicest bliss bestow'd on Man below,
Shall reign united, with triumphant pride,
Tho' kingdoms, seas, and half the world divide.
On Her Insisting To Know Who Was The Subject Of A Certain Panegyric
Listed as "Verses to a Young Lady" in the Table of Contents for the 1790 edition. As above in internal text.
BEAUTEOUS maid! no more enquire on1.
Who thus warms my raptur'd strain;
Here I'll strive to paint the fair one,3.
Though, alas! I strive in vain.
Tall and graceful is her stature;5.
Loose and dazzling is her dress;
Cupids sport in every feature,7.
And in ev'ry jet-black tress.
Mild she's, as the dewy morning,9.
When exulting warblers sing;
As the summer beams adorning,11.
Modest as the blushing spring.
She talks–my soul is held in capture;13.
When she smiles, 'tis matchless bliss;
She sings–and, oh! I'm all in rapture;15.
Gods! was ever joy like this?
Were my treasures high as heaven,17.
Vast as earth, and deep as hell;
Richest gems, from India riven,19.
All I'd give with her to dwell.
Would you wish to see this Venus,21.
This most sweet of all that's fair?
Ne'er with guesses rack your genius;23.
Look your glass–you'll see her there.
An Expostulatory Address
To The Ragged Spectre, Poverty
HAGGARD harlot! why thus dare
To wage with me eternal war.
Shall I bear it? no, thou strumpet!
Here I swear in voice like trumpet,
Soon's thou shows thy visage elf,5.
Meet thy fate and blame thyself.
Did I e'er invite, or wrong thee?
Did I vow e'er to belong t'thee?
Do I welcome? do I nurse thee?
No, thou ly'st–I hate, I curse thee;10.
Why then, black, presumpt'ous ghost,
Why thus stern invade my coast?
Some, thou throws but shadows o'er them,
Fly'st thyself, and all adore them.
Why thus partial? If the Muse15.
Deign, at times, to bliss my brows,
I lift the pen–prepare for study,
There thou stares, grim, ghastly, duddy,
Shakes thy rags–begins thy grieving;
Terrifies the Muse to heaven;20.
Then displays my pockets empty;
Belly worse, and all to tempt me.
Rotten stockings–soleless trampers–
Nameless torments–crowds of evils25.
Grin around like real Devils.
So disfigur'd, with thy scoffing,
Need I wonder, why so often
Friends go past, nae answer gi' me,
Look their Watch, and never see me.
The Wasp's Revenge:
BESIDE a warbling, flow'ry grove,1.
By contemplation led, or love;
Lone, in the summer noon-tide ray,3.
Young beauteous Jeanie basking lay.
Her cheeks outvy'd the rose's bloom,
Her lips the cherry–breath, perfume,
In silk apparel, loose array'd,
She beauty's ev'ry charm display'd.8.
As thus the sultry hour she spent,9.
With Phoebus' beams unnerv'd and faint,
Dull Morpheus silently did creep,11.
And ere she knew lull'd her asleep.
A roving wasp, pert, gaudy squire,13.
Struck with the fragrance of the air,
In raptur'd hurry on her lip,15.
The fancy'd rose-bud dew to sip,
Soft perch'd–and, ah! what bliss he drew!
Ne'er Wasp suck'd such mellifluous dew.
With joy his little bag he stor'd,
And ev'ry glittering creek explor'd:20.
But, cruel fate! the waking maid,
Unknowing, snapt his hapless head
With deadly crash–"Revenge," he cry'd,
Then deeply stung, and quiv'ring dy'd.
Alarm'd, she started, with a bound,25.
And shook her robes–but, ah! the wound,
Deep-rooted, gall'd with aching smart,
And pining pierc'd her to the heart.
She trembl'd–wept–but wept in vain;
Huge rose her lip–extreme the pain;30.
Till o'er her chin, with venom stung,
A monstrous sight it glist'ring hung.
'Twas then, gay, beauteous Jean, no more
Unfit to speak, she shriek'd, she tore
Her fluttering dress, and inward vow'd,
If e'er her lip could be renew'd,
No careless hour should see her laid,37.
Inglorious, in the sun, or shade.
Ye flustering Beaus, and every Rake,39.
That read or list around,
By this Wasp's fate example take,41.
Nor lag on unknown ground,
Else ye may come to mourn, too late,
And stretch your mouths, and roar,
And curse your bitter, pining fate
When ye can sting no more. 46.
The Cruelty of Revenge:
WHAT rising passions through my bosom range,1.
When beauteous Susan sings the Moor's Revenge,
Thus runs the tale–Far from the noisy court,3.
Midst lonely woods, was wealthy Don's resort;
A worthy Lady blest his gen'rous arms,
And two young boys, with all their winning charms,
Possessed of these, and of each other's hearts,
They scorn'd the world, and all its cheating arts.8.
Domestic cares, her lord, her smiling boys
Were all her pride, the source of all her joys.
His, thro' wild woods, to hunt the Leopard fleet,
Bear home the spoils, and lay them at her feet.
When morning rose, equipt he cours'd the plain,13.
And sought the chase, a Moor his only train.
Him, from dire chains, his master's bounty freed,15.
Behind his lord to curb the stately steed.
Indulg'd in sloth, the gloomy villain grew
Each day more heedless, and more haughty too.
He now ev'n dares his orders to deride;
His lord rebuk'd him, and chastis'd his pride.20.
With madd'ning rage his sparkling eye-balls roll,
And black revenge employs his furious soul.
High on a rock, amid the gloomy wood,23.
Secure from foes, their ancient castle stood;
A wide, deep moat, around the fabric soak'd,25.
And strong high walls the midnight robber mock'd;
One path alone led to its dizzy height;
By day a bridge, a bolted gate by night.
One morn, as forth they took their early road,30.
And thro' dark vales and deep'ning forests trod;
Urg'd by revenge, the Moor back sudden springs,32.
Secures the gate, and forth the children brings.
His lord alarm'd, spurs swiftly o'er the plain,
Fast finds the gate, and views with shudd'ring pain
His beauteous babes, from their fond mother tore,
Dash'd down the rock, and reeking in their gore;37.
While his poor spouse, beneath a lifted knife,
In loud lamentings, deep implor'd for life.
"Thou fury, stop!" the raving husband cries;–
"I scorn thy threats," th' infernal Moor replies;
"A blow thou gave–now for thy rashness feel;"42.
Then in her breast he plung'd the deadly steel,
And bounding headlong down the impervious rock,
His mangled cor'se in bloody fragments broke.
Epistle to James Brodie,
With Peter Pindar's Poems
Written to an unidentified friend on the poems of "Peter Pindar," the pseudonym of Dr. John Wolcott, a London-based political satirist.
WITH wond'rous delight I've now por'd o'er the pages,1.
Your goodness was pleas'd to remit me a while;
Which, tho' they have seen near a couple of ages,3.
Still flow in a simple, smooth beauty of style.
Wit here and there flashes, the reader alarming,
And Humour oft bends the pleas'd face to smile;
How sweetly he sings of his Chloe so charming;
How lofty of William's dread conquests and spoil. 8.
And, oh! how the heart with soft passion is moved,9.
While Emma pours out her fond bosom in song;
In tears I exclaim, Heav'ns! how the maid loved,11.
But ah! 'twas too cruel to try her so long.
But quickly young Laughter extirpates my mourning,
To hear the poor Doctor haranguing his wife,
Who stretch'd upon bed, lies tumultuously turning,
And pants to engage in sweet Venus's strife. 16.
In short, my good friend, I esteem him a poet,17.
Whose mem'ry will live while the Luscious can charm;
And Rochester sure had desisted to shew it,19.
If conscious that P[inda]r so keenly could warm.
So nicely he paints it, he words it so modest,
So swiftly he varies his flight in each line;
Now soaring on high, in expressions the oddest,
Now sinking, and deigning to grovel with swine. 24.
The Ladle, O raptures! what bard can exceed it?25.
"His modesty, sir, I admire him for that"–
Hans Carvel most gloriously ends when you read it,27.
But Paulo Purganti–how flaming! how fat!
Ten thousand kind thanks I return for your bounty;
For troth I'm transported whenever I think
How Fame will proclaim me aloud through each county,
For singing like P[inda]r of ladles and stink. 32.
Lines Written on a Summer Evening
NOW day's bright Orb has left our lonely sphere,33.
No more the flocks, no more the flowers appear;
But still and slow descend the balmy dew,35.
And Earth's dark surface with their moisture strew.
Night comes apace, faint gleams the western day,
Hoarse screams th' Corn-craik from the dewy hay;
Crawl'd, from yon ruins, where she shuns the light,
The flutt'ring Bat begins her mazy flight.40.
All aether's hush'd, no other sound I hear,
Save some lone stream, slow-murm'ring on my ear.
But, see! the moon, deep-flush'd, with paler light,
Of clouds disrob'd, dispels the pitchy night,
With rising splendor brightens to the view,45.
Gay, rolling onward through th' olympian blue;
The stars, surrounding, sparkle on the eye,
And Night in solemn pomp o'erspreads the sky.
My heart exults at such a scene as this,
And feels emotions words can ne'er express. 50.
Whoe'er offends at some unlucky time,
Slides into verse, and hitches in a rhyme;
Sacred to ridicule, his whole life long,
And the sad burden of some merry song.
AUSTERIO, an insipid senseless old wretch,1.
Who all the whole morn in his bed lies a-snoring,
By cheating and lying has made himself rich,3.
And spends the whole night o'er his papers a poring.
He tosses, he tumbles, and rolls in his bed,5.
Like a swine in her stye, or a door on its hinges;
When his landlady calls him, he lifts up his head,7.
D[am]ns her haste–rubs his eyes, and most lazily whinges.
Then groans out, "Bring here my warm'd breeches and shirts,"9.
And launches one dirty bare leg from the sheeting;
Cleans his jaws from a deluge of ugly brown squirts,11.
Draws a chair, and prepares, gracious heaven! for eating.
All day with a fist in each pocket he walks,13.
With the air of a goose, from one shop to another;
Of caption and horning eternally talks,15.
For he'd d[am]n to a jail and starvation his brother.
Some folk, ere they swear to the value or price,17.
Consult with their conscience, lest they prove uncivil;
But ––, when he sells (for he ne'er was too nice)19.
Confers with his rev'rend old partner–the devil,
If HORNS, with a grin, whisper into his ear,21.
"My boy, raise thy arm, or by Jove, they'll us cozen;
By the heav'ns, or earth, or by anything swear"–23.
He'll swear oath for oath for a sixpence a dozen.
A little obscure village in Fifeshire. Tune, One Bottle more. [AW]
"One Bottle More," in print since the 18th century (with a variant called "Paddy MacRory"), has been uncertainly attributed to the blind Irish harper Turlough Carolan (1670-1738).
FROM the village of Lessly, with a heart full of glee,1.
And my pack on my shoulders, I rambled out free,
Resolv'd that same ev'ning, as Luna was full,3.
To lodge ten miles distant, in old Achtertool.
Thro' many a lone cottage and farm-house I steer'd,5.
Took their money, and off with my budget I sheer'd;
The road I explor'd out, without form or rule,7.
Still asking the nearest to old Achtertool.
A clown I accosted, enquiring the road,9.
He stared like an ideot, then roar'd out, "Gude God!
Gin ye're ga'n there for quarters, ye're surely a fool,11.
For there's nought but starvation in auld Achtertool."
Unminding his nonsense, my march I pursu'd,13.
Till I came to a hill top, where joyful I view'd,
Surrounded with mountains, and many a white pool,15.
The small smoky village of old Achtertool.
At length I arriv'd at the edge of the town,17.
As Phoebus behind a high mountain went down;
The clouds gather'd dreary, and weather blew foul,19.
And I hugg'd myself safe now in old Achtertool.
An inn I enquir'd out, a lodging desir'd,21.
But the Landlady's pertness seem'd instantly fir'd;
For she saucy reply'd, as she sat carding wool,23.
"I ne'er kept sic lodgers in auld Achtertool."
With scorn I soon left her to live on her pride;25.
But, asking, was told, there was none else beside,
Except an old Weaver, who now kept a school,27.
And these were the whole that were in Achtertool.
To his mansion I scamper'd, and rapt at the door;29.
He op'd, but as soon as I dar'd to implore,
He shut it like thunder, and utter'd a howl,31.
That rung through each corner of old Achertool.
Provok'd now to fury, the Domini I curst,33.
And offer'd to cudgel the wretch, if he durst;
But the door he fast bolted, though Boreas blew cool,35.
And left me all friendless in old Achtertool.
Depriv'd of all shelter, thro' darkness I trod,37.
Till I came to a ruin'd old house by the road;
Here the night I will spend, and, inspir'd by the Owl,39.
I'll send up some prayers for old Achtertool.
Tune, Poor Laurie. [AW]
Source not identified.
COME fill up the bowl, my brave boys!1.
And round let us circle the treasure;
Huzza! my good fellows, rejoice!3.
For here is a fountain of pleasure.
And while the big Bumper doth pass,
Old Bacchus shall never confound me;
I'll drink, and, between every glass,
Loud roar of the Wits that surround me,8.
And bring their each talent to view.
Imprimis. Here sits by my side,10.
A hum'rous young son of the muses,
Who lord o'er our passions can ride,12.
And wind them wherever he chooses.
The terrible frown he can form,
Look dismally holy thereafter,
Then screw up his face to a storm,
That nigh bursts the beholder with laughter,17.
And makes ev'ry mortal his friend.
That little stout fellow in green,
"Mr. John Mitchell, dancing-master, now in London." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45].19.
Observe how accomplish'd and tight he's;
Good humour sits full in his mien,21.
And mirth his eternal delight is.
When through the wild hornpipe he sweeps,
We stare as we never had seen him,
So nimbly he capers and leaps,
You wou'd swear that some devil was in him,26.
To flourish his heels so expert.
See! handing the glass to his friend,28.
Young Jamie, polite and endearing;
"James Mitchell, brother to the above, of the same profession, now in Halifax N.S." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45].
To please he is very inclin'd,30.
Tho' sometimes harassingly jeering.
So sweetly a sonnet he sings,
He chats to the Ladies so clever,
That Cupid should sure give him wings,
And make him his Archer for ever,35.
To level the Beauties and Belles.
And there sits the Genius of song,
"A brother now in New York." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45].
Whose music so nobly can warm us,
The Fife now arousingly strong,39.
Now waking the Viol to charm us:
Yet sometimes he's mournfully mute,
And tho' we implore while we're able,
He frowning refuses the Flute,
And pensively leans on the table,44.
As if he were lull'd in a trance.
With golden locks loose to the wind,46.
Here sits a swain, kind and free hearted,
"Andrew Clark, now in the grave." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45].
To ev'ry one science inclin'd,48.
By every amusement diverted.
Philosophy, Painting, and Song,
Alternately gain his affection,
But his bliss is to store up a throng
Of Insects and Worms for dissection,53.
Of numberless sizes and kinds.
Here Wilson and Poverty sits,55.
Perpetually boxing together,
Till beat by good liquor she flits,57.
And leaves him as light as a feather.
From two most unfortunate views,
Proceeds his inconstant condition;
His Joys are the smiles of the Muse,
And his mis'ry the want of Ambition,62.
To climb to the notice of fools.
But round with the Liquor, my boys!64.
'Tis folly to languish repining;
To swell up the tide of our joys,66.
This Brimmer was sent us so shining.
Since Blockheads and Asses grow rich,
And modesty murders the wearer;
If Merit must cow'r in the ditch,
May she still have a Bumper to chear her,71.
And raise her poor head to the skies.
To the Author of a Piece Entitled
"The Sailor And Louse"
HAIL! Thou whose great aspiring soul1.
Can range, no doubt, from pole to pole,
Creation's ample house;3.
Yet deigns to memorate the name,
And roll in the records of Fame,
Thy bosom foe, a–Louse.
Transporting Bard! how didst thou light7.
On such a Tale to fire thy sight,
Such beauties to express?9.
How cou'dst thou, to our raptured view,
Discover such a scene? so new!–
Forgive me if I guess.
Perhaps in some dark, dirty den,13.
Long had'st thou pin'd and chew'd thy pen,
When (wond'rous inspiration!)15.
The grey inhabitants of hair,
That itch'd thee ceaseless here and there,
Claim'd all thy contemplation.
Impatient to be found in verse,19.
Around thy hulk, thick-throng'd and fierce,
The restless creatures hurry'd,21.
Till thou for want of nobler theme
Was forc'd t' immortalize their name,
On pain of being worry'd.
The Return of Spring: A Song
Tune, Happy Clown [AW]. Written by Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) and eventually featured in his pastoral musical, "The Gentle Shepherd" (1725). Not listed in the 1790 table of contents, but present internally.
COME, join with me, ye rural swains,1.
And wake the reed to cheerful strains;
Since Winter now has fled our plains,3.
With all his rueful store:
No more the furious [frowning], blust'ring sky,
From Greenland's dreary mountains high,
(Where worlds of ice tumultuous lie)
Extends the mighty roar. 8.
With dark'ning rage o'er yon rude Forth,9.
No more the chill, bleak-breathing North;
Grim throws the fleecy tempest forth,11.
Thick thro' the black'ning sky;
Till o'er each hill and sullen vale,
An universal white prevail,
And deep beneath the snowy veil,
The sad Creation lie. 16.
The hoary Tyrant now has fled,17.
Young blooming Spring our Fields o'erspread,
Hope, Wealth, and Joy are by her led,19.
An all-enliv'ning train.
Along yon dale, or daisied Mead,
Soon as young morn uplifts her head,
The Hind yokes in the willing steed,
Blithe whistling o'er the lawn; 24.
The stately grove and thick'ning Wood,25.
That Winter's frowning blasts withstood;
Unfold the verdant leafy brood,27.
High-waving in the air.
While o'er the Mountain's grassy steep,
Are heard the tender bleating sheep,
Around the wanton lambkins leap,
At once their joy and care. 32.
Amid the Bow'r, with wood-bines wove,33.
Throughout the flower-enamell'd grove,
The humming bees unwearied rove,35.
Gay blooming sweets among;
The chearful Birds, of varied hue,
Their sweet meand'ring notes pursue;
High soars the Lark, and lost to view,
Pours forth his grateful song. 40.
The wand'ring brook–the glitt'ring rill,41.
The Cuckoo's note heard from the hill,
The warbling Thrush and Black-bird shrill,43.
Inspire with rapt'rous glee:
Then join the Choir, each Nymph and Swain,
Thro' ev'ry grove, and flow'ry plain,
'Till hills resound the joyful strain,
Harmonious to each Tree. 48.
Verses on the Death of a Favourite Spaniel, Maliciously Poisoned
HOW soon are blessings snatch'd away!1.
Our friends around us smile to-day,
But oft ere morning's early ray,3.
Salute the shore;
We see them stretch'd, pale, lifeless clay,
To please no more!
Poor Cupid!–fondest friend I knew;7.
To me, how kind! how matchless true!
Whose frolics oft my laughter drew,9.
Tho' grief deprest,
By Death's envenomed steel pierc'd through,
Has breath'd his last.
But had the traitor, void of art,13.
Produc'd the death denouncing dart,
And calmly aim'd it at his heart,15.
Still panting warm;
One piteous look had staid the smart,
And fix'd his arm.
Yet, think not, since his debt is paid,19.
I mourn the dear departed shade;
No–'neath yon apple-tree he's laid,21.
To rise again;
Nor shall the youth or infant maid,
Escape his pain.
Each year, when Spring her reign resumes,25.
Then Cupid, from his bed of glooms,
Shall spread the scarlet-tinctur'd blooms,27.
In glorious view,
While bees, amid the rich perfumes,
Rove, murm'ring through.
When Autumn comes, serene and slow,31.
And ruddy Berries, clustering, glow,
When, with ripe fruit, the loaden'd bough,33.
Bends to the swaird;
Then Cupid swells the lov'liest show,
In JOHNNY's yard.
And though in Apples now he rise,37.
Yet swift and keen his arrow flies;
For soon as e'er your ravish'd eyes39.
Gaze on his growth,
The blushing cheek and wond'rous size,
Wou'd bless your mouth.
To A Sealed Letter
NOW, little folded pregnant leaf,1.
On thee for once my joy, my grief,
My hopes, and fears await;3.
Now shall Misfortune cease to growl,
Or black Despair assault my soul,
And fix my hapless fate.
Oh! may some Angel, (guardian aid!)7.
In robes celestial, sweet array'd,
Unknown, unseen descend;9.
And while thou opens on his eyes,
Soft whisper the poor poet's sighs,
And bid him be a friend.
Then shall the Muse outstretch her wing,13.
And, fir'd with joy, exulting sing
The bounty of the giver;15.
Yet if stern Fortune so ordain,
That all my flatt'ring hopes are vain,
Here, sorrow! dwell for ever.
On a Departed Drunkard
BORIO lies beneath this table,1.
Bacchus, view the sight and weep;
Spite of all thy art was able3.
Porter's lulled him fast asleep.
Silent now the tongue of thunder,5.
Dormant lies the arm of brass,
Every sentence sunk our wonder,7.
Every action crown'd the Ass.
Morpheus! curse on thy intruding,9.
Blest was he ere thou appear'd;
Snuff in vain 'gainst thy deluding,11.
All his fiery forces rear'd.
See! he wakes–his eye-lids glimmer–13.
He struggles, faltering, to get free;
Ah! he sinks–come, push the Brimmer,15.
Jolly god! 'twixt thee and me.
Verse Occasioned by Seeing Two Men Sawing Timber, in the Open Field,
in Defiance of a Furious Storm
MY friends, for God sake! quat yer wark,1.
Nor think to war a wind sae stark;
Your Saw-pit stoops, like wans,
twigs are shaking,3.
The vera planks and deals
pieces of sawn wood are quaking;
Ye're tempin' Providence, I swear,
To raise your graith
gear sae madly here.
Now, now ye're gone!–Anither blast
Like that, an' a' yer Sawing's past!8.
Come down, ye Sinner!–grip the Saw
Like death, or, trouth, ye'll be awa'.
Na, na, ye'll saw, tho' hail an' sleet
Wreathe owre your breast, an' freeze yer feet.
Hear how it roars, an' rings the bells;13.
The Carts are tum'lin' round themsels;
The Tile an' Thack, an' Turf up whirls;
See yon brick Lum!
chimney–down, down it hurls.–
But wha's yon staggering owre the brae,
Beneath a lade
load o' buttl't strae;18.
Be wha he will, poor luckless b–h!
His strae an' him's baith in the ditch.
The sclates are hurling down in hun'res,21.
loudly knockingdoor an' winnock
But, ho! my hat, my hat's awa'!23.
L–d help's! the Saw-pit's down an' a'!
reach me your hand–hech! how he granes,–
I fear your legs are broken banes.
I tauld you this; but deil-mak-matter!
Ye thought it a' but idle clatter;28.
Now see! ye misbelieving sinners!,
Your bloody shins–your Saw in flinners;
An' roun' about your lugs
ears the ruin,
That your demented folly drew on.
Experience ne'er sae sicker tells us,33.
As when she lifts her rung an' fells us.
The Disconsolate Wren
Be not the Muse asham'd here to bemoan
Her brothers of the Grove.––
The morn was keekin'
peeping frae the east,1.
The lav'rocks shrill, wi' dewy breast,
Were tow'ring past my ken,3.
Alang a burnie's
small stream flow'ry side,
That gurgl'd on, wi' glancin' glide,
I gain'd a bushy Glen;
The circling nets ilk Spider weaves
Bent, wi' clear dew-drops hung,8.
A' roun' amang the spreading leaves,
The cheary natives sung;
On'ts journey, the burnie,
Fell dashing down some lins,
White foaming, and roaming,13.
In rage amang the stanes.
While on the gowan turf I sat,15.
And view'd this blissfu' sylvan spat,
Amid the joyous soun';17.
Some mournfu' chirps, methought, of wae
Stole on my ear frae neath a brae
Whare, as I glinted down,
I spy'd a bonnie wee bit Wren,
Lone, on a fuggy
An' aye she tore her breast, an' than,
Poor thing, pour'd out her mane,
Sae faintive, sae plaintive;
To hear her vent her strain
Distrest me, an' prest me27.
know her cause o' pain.
Down frae a hingan
hanging hazel root,29.
Wi' easy wing, an' sadly mute,
A social Robin came;31.
Upon a trem'lin twig he perch'd,
While owre his head the craig was arch'd,
Near han' the hapless dame;
Awee he view'd her sad despair–
Her bitter chirps of wae,36.
Brought frae his e'e the pearly tear,
Whilk owre his breast did gae;
Still eyeing, and spying,
Nane near to gi'e relief;
And drooping, and stooping,41.
He thus enquir'd her grief.
What dolefu' ill, alas! what woe43.
compels thee sit mourning here below,
tear thy mirley
Has ony Whitret's
weasel direfu' jaws,
Or greedy Gled's
hawk fell squeezing claws,
Made thy wee lord a feast?
Or has some callans
boys frae the town,
While roaring through the shaw,50.
Thy wee things, nest an' a torn down,
An' borne them far awa?
My Wrannie, I canna
Rest till thy waes thou tell;
For I yet may cry yet55.
Wi' siccan griefs mysel."
"Och, Rab! my heart will brust
burst in twa–57.
Alas! I'm dizzy–O I'll fa!
My legs, my heart will fail–59.
But since ye speer sae kind, my frien',
An' love like yours is seldom seen,
I'se tell the dreadfu' tale–
Aneath yon hingin' brae, as best,
Soon as the leaves came out,64.
Ye ken we joyfu' bug
built our nest,
And clos't it a' about.
Fu' cleanly an' bienly,
We lin'd it a' wi' down;
An' neatly, an' quietly,69.
We form'd it snug an' soun'.
"The brae hung owre, in bushy height,71.
held it close frae ony's sight
wandered thro' the glen;73.
Nane e'er observ'd us jink
turn suddenly within,
Or ever there for nests did fin,
'Twas sic a lanely
An' mony a day an' night I sat,
While my wee Tam did sing,78.
Till saxteen bonny things I gat,
A' hotching 'neath each wing.
What pleasure, this treasure
Gied us, I needna' tell:
Sic pleasures, sic treasures,83.
Ye've aft enjoy'd yoursel.
"Soon as the gladsome morning rose,85.
I left them row't
rolled in warm repose,
An' thro' the warbling wood,87.
'Mang aul' tree-roots an' prickly brier,
My Tam an' me, withouten fear,
Rov'd for their wanted food;
An', oh! what transports swell'd my breast,
At night, when I survey'd92.
A' safe an' weel about our nest,
An' them quiet feath'rin' laid!–
Och! Robin–this sobbin
forgive for to the scenes
I draw now, that gnaw now,97.
My heart wi' wringing pains.
"This morn as soon as it grew light,99.
Baith thro' the glen we took our flight,
An' soon my neb
beak I fill'd;101.
Some dreadfu' hurling noise I heard,
An' pale forebodings made me fear'd,
That a' my hopes were kill'd.
I flighter't hame; but och! dread scene!
Whose horror crush'd my breath:106.
The brae had fa'n
fallen huge to the plain,
An dash'd them a' to death–
Ye heavens, my grievings
You might have ceas'd to flow,
Me crashing, and dashing111.
With them to shades below.
"Nae mair I'll thro' the valley flee,
And gather worms wi' blissfu' glee,
To feed my chirping young;
Nae mair wi' Tam himsel' I'll rove,
Nor shall e'er joy, throughout the grove,117.
Flow frae my wretched tongue;
But lanely, lanely, aye I'll hap,
'Mang auld stane-dykes an' braes; Till some ane roar down on my tap,
An' end my joyless days."
So, lowly, and slowly,122.
Araise the hapless Wren;
While crying, and sighing,
Remurmur'd through the Glen.
[Second] Epistle To Mr. Andrew Clark
TIR'D wi' tramping moors an' mosses,1.
climbing stairs, an' lifting snecks,
wanderingdown through lanes an' closses,
well the bonny sex.
home at e'ening, late I scuded,
Whare auld Reekie's turrets tow'r,
Mirk, the Lift was, drousy cluded,
An' the starns begoud
began to glow'r;
In my nieve,
fist my honest Lucky,
Soon's I reek't
smoked her ingle cheek,
Ram't yer lines–as daft's
glad as a bucky
Was I when I heard you speak.
Ben the room I ran wi' hurry,
Clos'd the door wi' unco glee,
Read, an' leugh,
laughedmaist like to worry,
Till my pow
stupid with drink
jolly fa' your Muse, my laddie!
She's a wench can mount fu' heigh,
Tho' her phraizing (far owre gaudie
compels me cock my tap fu' skeigh.
Cartha's banks, wi' flow'rets hinging,
Warbling birds, wi' tow'ring wing;
Rocks and hills, wi' music ringing,
Weel I like to hear you sing.
These are scenes of health an' quiet,
Innocence and rural bliss;
Solitude, tho' others fly it,
Towns to me are dull with this.
Distant far frae ony living,
Deep in lanely woodings
Oft my Muse, wi' ardour heaving,
Sung her woes, by fortune crost.
Stretch'd beside the bubbling burnie
Aften musing wou'd I lie,
While glad Phoebus, on his journey,
Stream'd wi' gowd
gold the eastern sky.
This, man, sets our brains a' bizzing,
This can soothe our sorrowing breasts,
Want and Care set afward whizzing,
'Till our jaded hobby reests.
While ye spoke of notes enchanting,
Dying o'er the distant plain,
All my soul, tumultuous panting,
Sprung to meet the friendly Swain.
Oh! prolong the sweet description,
Bid the Muse new-prune her wing;
Sylvan gods shall, at thy diction,
Dance around in airy ring.
Shall the youth whose pow'rs surpassing,
Melt our souls to sweet delight,
All the soul of song arising
Thro' the silent list'ning night:
Shall he, doom'd to dark oblivion,
Languish, lost to joy or fame,
Not a swain to soothe his grieving,
Not a Muse to sing his name?
Gods forbid! for yet he'll blossom,
In thy verses now he lives;
Gladly could I paint his bosom,
Gen'rous as the song he gives.
But the cluds are black'ning dreary,
Night is drawing owre her screen;
Bodies hame are daunering weary,
Dews are dribbling owre the green.
Trust me, tho' closèd in a cellar,
old stockings breeks,
breeches or sark;
Prest wi' debt, or blest wi' siller.
I'm a frien' to An'rew Clark.
Rabby's Mistake: A True Story
SHORT is the far'est fouk can see,
Yet unco wary we shou'd be,
lookbefore we loup;
Nor e'er, in huth'ron
confused haste, advance,
Or we'll rin mony a narrow chance,5.
In black mistaks to coup.
Ae ca'm, blae,
blue (from cold) bitter frosty day,
When deep the glisterin' snaw-wreathes lay
Aboon ilk moor an' fiel',
An' owre the Loch's clear frozen face,
skates thrang, in airy chace,11.
Flew mony a cheery chiel.
Far aff the Curlers' roaring rink,
Re-echo'd loud, wi' noisy clink,
O' stanes and besoms
doves flighter't thro' amang the stacks,
An' craws upo' the toll-road tracts,17.
In hungry mood were happin'.
Sic was the day, whan san'-blin' Rab,
Arm'd wi' a gun like ony stab,
An' pocks o' lead an' pouther,
Set out in eager search for game,
Resolv'd to bring a Maukin
In triumph, owre his shouther.
Nae snifterin' dog had he, I wat,
To air't him to the lanely spat
Whare ony creature lay:
Tho' scarce twa tether-length his e'en
Cou'd ken a midding by a green,29.
Yet on he push'd his way.
Alangst the drifted crumpin' knowes,
A' roun' his glimmerin' een he rowes,
For Hares, or bits o' burdies;
Aft taking ilka stane
stone he saw,
Bare rais'd aboon the glistering snaw,35.
For Pussey's crouchin' hurdies.
buttocks and hips
Down thro' the Glen between twa trees,
At length sly glowrin' Rabby sees
A Hare amang the bushes:
He chaps the flint–leans on a stump,
Aff gaed the shot wi' thunerin' thump,41.
An' after't Rabby rushes.
But when he saw (guides! how he stood!)
His ain Sow weltering in her blude,
An' sticks in anguish tearing!
dying squeels maist rung him deaf,
He hung his head in silent grief,47.
And wander'd hamewards swearing.
The title figure here has not been decisively identified.
ATTEND, ye squads o' Wabsters a',1.
Whare'er may be your byding,
Whether ye hing owre Muslins braw,3.
jollier Sacks, or Plaiding;
Ye've lost a Patriarch an' mair,
Whase crown Death's lang been cloorin',
And I'se relate the haill
Though baith my een
eyes be pourin'8.
Wi' grief this day.
There liv'd a Carle near a glen,10.
Fouk CALLAMPHITRE ca'd him,
Wha saw lang sinty year an' ten,12.
Ere ever trouble ga'd him;
He at the sowing-brod
tailor's board was bred,
An' wrought gude Serge an' Tyken,
An' mony an aul' wife's nest he clad
Fu' bra'ly to their liking,17.
An' snug that day.
Whare highlan' hills, out thro' the cluds,
Lift up their snawy rigging,
Beside a glen, atween twa wuds,21.
Stood his bit lanely bigging:
Nae pridefu' plaister't bield,
house wi' staps
Plann'd out wi' square or tether;
But stanes, rowt up in ithers' taps,
Co'ert owre wi' hardy heather,26.
And turfs, that day.
His loom, made o' stout aiken
served him saxty simmer,
Though his lang Lay, wi' fearfu' fungs,
Shook a' the roofing tim'er.
As soon's braw day-light cleart the lift,
He raise, an' waukent
Laid owre his leg, an' till't like drift,
Till moon-light thro' his winnock
Shone late at night.
His banes were like a horse's strang,37.
His tusks like Bear's or Shark;
not one a brither o' the gang,39.
beat him at his wark.
He wad ha'e roar'd like ony Nowt,
When he o' pirns
reels or bobbins for holding thread grew scanty,
Till ance the hirpling
creeping pining gout
Swall't baith his legs unhaunty,44.
Like beams, that day.
But, waes my heart! anither ill46.
On him spue't out its venom,
An' a' the Doctors' drogs, or skill,48.
Nae ease, alake! cou'd len' him;
It wrung his vera soul, poor chiel!
Wi' grips beneath his navel,
Whilk made him roar, an' girn,
moan, complain, or grumble an' squeel,
As he had seen a devil,53.
Or Ghaist, that day.
Alangst a sack, ha'f fu' o' strae,55.
Beneath an aul' gray co'ering,
Wi' face grim pale, an' lips right blae,57.
He lay, maist at the smo'ering.
found Death's fearfu' grapple-airns,
An' that he cou'dna free them,
Sae gasped out, "O bring my bairns,
That I for ance may see them,62.
This waefu' day."
Wi' yowlin' clinch aul' Jennock ran,64.
Wi' sa'r like ony brock,
To bring that remnant o' a man,66.
next of age brither Jock.
As soon's she reekt the sooty bield,
Whare labrod he sat cockin;
"Come down," she cryd, "you lump o' eild,
His vera guts he's bockan
In blude, this day."
Down gaed the wark-looms–out he struts,73.
Wi' dreadfu' fright, a' sweating,
While Mirran, wi' her shoelin'
crying out an' greeting.
As soon's they to the house came in,
An' saw that he was deean,
They stood a whyle baith deaf an' blin'
While down the tears came fleean80.
In show'rs that day!
At length aul' Callam gied a glowre,82.
An' said, "May God be wi' ye!
managed at last to ding me owre,84.
An' I'll soon ha'e to lea' ye.
Some sinfu' clues, the laft aboon,
Ye'll fin' row't
rolled in a blanket"–
Syne gied a fearfu' dreary croon,
An' aff for aye he shanket
Wi' Death that day.
sorrow! whane'er they saw him gane,91.
They rais'd a lamentation;
An' yells, an' sabs, and mony a grane,93.
Declar'd their deep vexation.
"Lord help us a'! he'll e'en be mist,"
Quo' Jock, as up they bore him.
Sae a' three streek't
stretched him on a kist,
An' waefully did co'er him[.]98.
Wi' a claith that day.
O Mirran! dinna
do not rive
tear by pulling on something yer hair,100.
And wi' sic vengeance yelp sae;
My heart is for you a' right sair,
But deed I canna help ye.
Hech, see! they've borne him to yon brae,
And aff the mortclaith
And in a hole they've let him gae,
Syne yird and stanes down hurl'd107.
Wi' spades this day.
Some said he was a camsheugh bool,
Nae yarn nor rapes could haud him,
When he got on his fleesome
But maybe they misca'd him.
While Jennock tum't
emptied the winles' blade
An' waft in lapfu's left her,
Frae's nieves the spool, like light'ning fled,
And raps cam thunerin' after,116.
Like death that day.
But now nae mair he'll bless their bield,118.
Wi' gabby cracks
gossip an' stories;
He fell a prey to runkly
And's trampit aff afore us.
Let ilka shop his praises roar,
In melancholious metre,
An' at the hin'-er-en' o' ilk bore,
the action of a weaver turning round his beam with woven cloth upon it
Mourn out, O CALLAMPHITRE!122.
Thou'rt dead this day!
An Epistle To Mr. Ebenezer Picken
Picken was a member of Wilson's literary circle in Paisley
O THOU wha 'midst lang yellow ranks1.
general name for various yellow or white field flowerson sweet Cartha's banks,
Row't in a skinklan
Souns loud the Scottish Muse's horn,
Aneath some spreadan eldren
An' maks the herdies glad;
While lads an' laughin' lasses free
squeeze in to hear thy sang,8.
Will EBEN let a chiel like me
Join wi' the chearfu' thrang?
A wee while, in auld stile,
On Pegassus I'll scrive,
observeme, an' canty
I soon sal tak my leave.
This ha'f a year yer funny tales,15.
Owre mosses, mountains, seas an' dales
I've carried i' my lingle;
leather straps of a horse's harness17.
An' scores o' times, in kintra
compelled the fouk maist rive
tear their chafts,
Whan owre a bra' peat ingle,
did let them hear droll Symon's crack,
Wi' Hodge, twa curious cronies,22.
How the queer carles sae camsheugh spake
a gathering of a young woman's hair
Young Jenny an' Nannie,
An' Meg wad laught thegither,
Sly sneeran an' swearan,27.
"Od, that's just like our father."
Whan Aul' Joanna i' the Brae,29.
Or Bonny Bell, and mony mae
They hear me try to tout;31.
Or when poor Brownie tells his tale,
How he was maist kidnapped hale,
Blude drappan frae his snout:
When Yon Spat's fearfu' fa' ye mourn,
In simple hammart
belonging to home croon,36.
Nae mair to get a needfu' turn
Aneath it's biggin'
Lordd help me! they yelp me,
Wi' laughin' near han' deaf;
While sweatin' an' greetin'41.
I turn the tither leaf.
"Preserves!" says Jean, an' stops her wheel,43.
"An' do you really ken
know the chiel!
An' whar-a'wa's his dwallin?"
"I'd gang," quo' Meg, "a simmer
To get ae glint o'm in my way,
Tho' I soud spen a shilling."
Out granes aul Grannie frae the neuk,
Whare, at the rock she's rivan,
"Vow sirs! an' did he mak the beuk
Just out his ain contrivin!
Whare-e'er he's I'm sure he's
A minister, or mair;
Sic stories, sae curious,55.
Wad tak a man o' lear."
But, EBEN, thinkna' this but clatter,57.
An' that I tell't for fau't o' matter,
To lengthen out a crack,
It's what I've heard a hun'er times
The fouk exclaim, wha read your rhymes,
Or may I burn my Pack.
Wi' chiels o' taste an' genius baith,
I aften hae forgather't;64.
An' war I to relate their breath
O' you, ye'd say I blether't.
Wi' leisure, an' pleasure,
I've seen them aft read owre,
While strokes o' wit, wi' ready hit,69.
compelled aft the reader glowre.
For me, when I begin to read71.
About aul' honest Harry dead;
Beneath the yird laid stieve in,73.
Or at the bauld brooze
contest o' wasps an' bees,
Whilk had set Allan in a bleeze, ,
Had the auld bard been livin';
Or that which scorns the bounds o' rhyme,
Fate, sung in lofty strains,78.
Owre whulk I've grutten,
wept mony a time
An' blest ye for yer pains.
Whan these an' a thousan'
Mae beauties strike my e'e,
Inspired, I'm fired83.
Wi' won'rous thoughts o' thee.
Let senseless critics roun' ye squeel,85.
An' curl like ony empron
Wi' want o' taste, or spite;87.
Nane e'er gat fame in's native spat,
The vera haly Beuk says that,
But let them girn
snarl or complain an' flyte.
While I can douk
dip in ink a quill
An' blether rhyme or prose;92.
While spoons an' ladles help to fill
belly wi' kail
broth or brose,
oatmeal seasoned with salt and butter
Believe it, while I'm fit
The right frae left to know it,
I'll reverence, while blest wi' sense,97.
The Poems and the Poet.
If ever Fortune, thrawart
Should kick me in misfortune's ditch,
A while to lie an' warsle;
Gif I yer sangs hae in my fab,
An' whiles a glass to heat my gab,
An' snuff to smart my girsle
Tho' Beagles, Hornings, an' sic graith,
equipment or tools
Glowre roun', they ne'er sal dread me:
cheery chaunt aul Harry's death,
While up the stair they lead me,108.
I'll roar than, I'll soar than,
Out thro' the vera cluds;
Tho' hung roun', an' clung roun',
Wi' stenchers an' wi' duds.
Owre highlan' hills I've rov'd this whyle,113.
Far to the north, whare mony a mile
Ye'll naething see but heather;115.
An' now-an'-than a wee bit Cot,
Bare, hunkerin' on some lanely spot,
Whare ither words they blether.
Last owk there on a winnock-sole,
I fan some aul newspaper,120.
And tho' 'twas riv'n in mony a hole,
faith it made me caper,
When scanin't, I fan in't
How nature ilk creature
Maks canty, blythe, an' bien. 125.
Ha, EBEN! hae I catcht ye here,126.
Quo' I, in unco glee an' chear,
While their nainsels
own selves a' gapet,128.
asked right droll, gin she was mine,
An' whareabouts me did her tine?
(While aff the sang I clippet)
Some bawbies bury't a' the plea,
Though they afore war sweer
Sae aff I came in clever key,
Resolv'd to let you hear o't;
Now fareweel, my braw
Lang tune the reed wi' spirit;
Let asses spit clashes,138.
Fools canker aye at merit.
Epigram Addressed To A Friend
IF cares can quench the Poet's fire,1.
And damp each chearful-rising thought,
Make Wilson drooping drop the Lyre,3.
Ere he perhaps a theme has sought;
Sure if there liv'd a friendly swain,5.
Mild, merry, generous to the poet;
Inspiring joy, expelling pain,7.
To please inclin'd, and kind to show it.
Can words tell how my heart wou'd leap,9.
How throb to meet a swain so true!
Exclaim you, with affection deep,11.
"Lives such a swain?"–he lives in you.
[First] Epistle To Mr. William Mitchell
Mitchell was a Paisley musician who led the labor unrest among the local weavers and was forced to flee from Scotland in 1793. Many contemporaries in Renfrewshire believed that Wilson's political verse was encouraged by Mitchell and his brother. Wilson crossed paths with Mitchell again in Philadelphia in 1801.
HAIL! kind, free, honest-hearted swain,1.
My ne'er forgotten frien',
Wha aft has made me, since wi' pain3.
We parted, dight
wipe my e'en;
Ance mair frae aff a lanely plain,
Whare Warlocks wauk at e'en,
An' witches dance; I'll raise my strain
Till to your bield
It sound this day.
Wide muirs that spread wi' purple sweep,10.
Beneath the sunny glowe;
Hills swell'd vast here–there dark glens deep,12.
Whare brooks embosom'd rowe;
Cots hingin' owre the woody steep,
smoking frae the howe,
Wild scenes like these, a blissfu' heap,
Has driven't in my powe17.
To write this day.
Be this thy last, my Muse, and swear19.
By a' that e'er thou sung,
'Till Mitchell's chearfu' song thou hear,21.
To chain thy tuneless tongue–
It's sworn! I saw her frowning rear
Her arm, an' while it hung
Aloft in air, glens that lay near,
An' rocks re-echoing rung26.
Consent this day.
Yet wha can, daunerin'
wandering up thir braes,
No fin' his heart a' dancin',
While herdies sing wi' huggert taes,
toes covered with stockings30.
An' wanton lam's are prancin';
Or down the spreadin' vale to gaze,
Whare glitt'rin' burns
streams are glancin',
An' sleepin' lochs,
lakes owre whase smooth face
Wild fowl sport the expanse in,35.
Ilk bonny day.
Here mountains raise their heath'ry backs,37.
Rang'd huge aboon the lift;
In whase dark bowels, for lead tracts,39.
Swarm'd miners howk
dig an' sift;
High owre my head the sheep in packs,
I see them mice-like skift;
The herd maist like ane's finger, wauks
Aboon yon fearfu' clift44.
Scarce seen this day.
Here mills rin
run thrang, wi' whilk in speed46.
They melt to bars the ore in;
Nine score o' fathoms shanks down lead,48.
To let the hammerin' core in,
Whare hun'ers for a bit o' bread
Continually are borin';
stare down a pit, you'd think, wi' dread,
That gangs o' deils war roarin'53.
Frae h– that way.
Alangst the mountain's barren side,55.
Wi' holes an' caverns digget,
In lanely raws, withouten pride,57.
Their bits o' huts are bigget;
Nae kecklin' hens about the door,
E'er glad their chearless Lucky;
They pick the pyles o' leaden ore,
Whilk to poor heedless chucky
Is death that day.
The truth of this has been often fatally experienced by the inhabitants of these wild mountains. [AW]
winding burn atween the hills,
Thro' mony a glen rins trottin',
Amang the stanes an' sunny rills
Aft bits o' gowd are gotten;
Thought I "Three yeer thro' closs
lane an' trance,68.
An' doors I've been decoy't,
Now fortune's kussen
thrown, cast me up a chance,
faith I sal
Right thrang this day."
Sae up the burn, wi' glee I gade,73.
An' down aboon some heather,
Saft on the brae my pack I laid,75.
Till twa-three lumps I'd gather;
woe be to it had I forseen
Things war to turn sae doolfu',
I ne'er had waded there sae keen,
Tho' sure to fin a shoolfu'
An' mair that day.
As thro' the stream, wi' loutin'
Thrang, stanes an' sand I threw out;
A Toop, who won'ert
wondered at my pack,
Cam down to take a view o't;
A tether-length he back did gae,86.
An' cam wi' sic a dash,
wholesale hurlan' down the brae,
It blatter't wi' a blash
I'the burn that day!
Tho' earthquakes, hail, an' thun'er's blaze
Had a' at ance surroundet,
I wudna' glowr't
gazed wi' sic amaze,
Nor been ha'f sae confoundet!
Wi' waefu' heart, before it sank,95.
I haul't it out a' clashing,
And now they're bleaching on the bank,
A melancholy washing
To me this day.
To Dr. Taylor, Paisley,
Written When Sick
WHEN dread Disease assaults our trembling breath,1.
Wrings every nerve, and paves the way for death,
Raves through our vitals, merciless to save,3.
Boils in each vein, and points us to the grave;
Rack'd with the pain, despairing at the view,
We fly for help to pitying Heaven and you.
Oft have I thought, while health flow'd in my breast,7.
Ere sleepless nights my weary heart opprest,
That should pale sickness sternly me invade9.
I'd scorn her rage if Taylor lent his aid.
Rous'd at the name, lo! disappointed Death,
In vain wild-wrenching to dislodge the breath,
Starts from the lonely couch–grasps up his dart,
And sullen-shrinking owns thy healing art. 14.
Amid those numbers that implore your care,15.
That hope, by you, sweet health again to share,
Here I unhappy stand, with sadness prest,17.
And pin'd by ills that bind my lab'ring breast;
But should these woes that now I'm forc'd to bear,
Fly from your touch, and with them ev'ry fear;
Should your blest skill expunge this threat'ning pain,
And I resume my former health again,22.
This grateful heart your goodness shall revere
Next that almighty God, whose hand you are.
THO' Florio revell'd, subtile as a fox,1.
Thrice in six weeks poor Florio caught a pox;
The next six weeks brought weeping to his door,3.
Three pregnant wenches and a brimstone whore.
Mad at the sight, and tortur'd with the evil,
He drove the black assembly to the devil.
Well, here his griefs would end? Ah! piteous tale,
Six following weeks beheld him in a Jail;8.
The next six saw him, e'er that time flew by,
Roar, curse, blaspheme, pine, mortify and die.
Blest hadst thou been, O Florio! blest indeed!
Nor yet condemn'd among the common dead,
Had Fate withheld (to lengthen out thy days)13.
Such fierce temptations from thy eager gaze,
And gracious given thee, to grasp the trick,
A longer patience?
The implied line is: "and a shorter prick"
A Real Character
I hate the man who builds his fame
On ruins of another's name.––
EUSEBUS, fond a Patriot to commence,1.
With self-conceit supplies his want of sense.
In Power an ideot, striving still to rise;3.
Tho' void of wisdom, arrogantly wise.
A slander fond from whispering lips to steal,
And fonder still those whispers to reveal.
Amid a group of tattling matrons set,
How flows his eloquence! how beams his wit!8.
With dark suspicion struck, he shakes the head,
Just hints what some folk were, what some folk did;
For nought delights him more than others' woe;
To see them fall, or strive to lay them low.
In wide extremes his judgment loves to dwell;13.
If not in heav'n, you'll find it squat in hell:
Though long each station seldom he can keep,15.
Yet, when he shifts, he does it at a leap.
If Spring, more mild than usual, sweet appear,
To wake the herbs, and bless the op'ning year,
With words like these our ears eternal ring,
"Did ever mortal see so blest a Spring!"20.
But when rude frost, or chearless rains descend,
When light'nings flash and roaring thunders rend;
He hears the storm, and pale with boding fear,
Declares that great, tremendous period near,
For storms like these no soul did ever hear. 25.
Thrice blest are they who gain him as their friend,26.
Their matchless fame shall far and near extend;
They're Saints, they're Angels; but his friendship o'er,28.
They're poor, curst, vile, a villain, or a whore.
[Second] Epistle To Mr. James Kennedy
Nae doubt ye'll glowre whane'er ye leuk,
An' see I'm maist at Scotland's neuk,
Whare owre the waves black swarms o' deuk
swim far an' near;
And laden't ships to try their luck,
For Holland steer.
And let them gang,
go for me–nae mair7.
My luck I'll try at selling ware,
I've sworn by a' aboon the air9.
quit the Pack,
Or deed I doubt baith me an' gear
Wad gang to wrack.
Three years thro' mairs an' bogs I've squattert,
ragged and dirty claes
clothes an' huggars
Sleepit in barns, an' lee't
lied an' clatter't,
Thrang sellin' claith,
An' now wi' storms I've maist been batter't
smothered to death.
Nor think this droll, when sic a clash19.
O' snaw an' sleet, and sic caul' trash,
Ilk day I hae out thro' to plash, 21.
Owre muir an' brae,
An' ablins whyles but little cash,
Whilk mak's ane wae.
'Twas just yestreen,
yesterday evening as tir'd an' slaw
I waded hame, through drifted snaw,
Nae livin' creature, house or ha',27.
Perceiv'd I cheary,
But muir an' mountain, glen an' shaw,
War sad an' dreary.
Mirk fell the night, an' frae the wast31.
Loud roar't the bitter-biting blast,
The blatterin' hail, right fell an' fast,33.
O'erscourg'd my face;
While owre the drifted heaps I past
Wi' weary pace.
As down a knowe
hillock my way I hel';37.
Nane wi' me but my lanely
Whistlin' fu' blythe; trouth, sir, to tell39.
The mournfu' truth,
Down thro' a wreathe o' snaw I fell,
Maist to the mouth.
As soon's I fan'
found I yet was livin',43.
I rais'd my e'en
eyes wi' doolfu' grieving,
faith (an exclamation) I wish I'd yet been weavin';45.
For deed I doubt,
Sae deep I'm down an' wedged sae stive in,
I'll ne'er win
But out at last I maunt
managed to speel,
Far mair than e'er I thought atweel,
Roun' for my pack I straight did feel,51.
be licked by the devil
I fan' or saw,–quo' I, farewel,
For death I'm pricket.
This is the last, the snellest
most keen lick55.
That I'll e'er get frae fortune's stick;
Now she may lift a stane, or brick,57.
An' break my back,
Since her an' Cloots has plann'd this trick
To steal my Pack!
To keep you, Sir, nae mair uneasy,61.
I'll tell ye what, may-hap, will please ye,
I gat my Pack; quo' I, I'se heeze
lift up ye,63.
Frae out the snaw,
Nae deil in a' the pit sal seize ye,
Till I'm awa'––
But I maun stop, for dull an' dozin',67.
The glimmerin' wintry evening flows in,
The short-liv'd day his reign is losin'69.
The scene to shift,
An' Nature's winnock-brods
window-boards are closin'
Across the lift.
Epitaph on Auld Janet
A Whore's a pitfal, and a Scold's a rod;
An honest Wife's a noble work of God!,
A play on lines from Pope's Essay on Man (1733-34): "A Wit's a feather, and a Chief a rod; / An honest Man the noblest work of God."
CLEAN dead an' gane–beneath this stane
Aul' Janet lies, o' Torry,
Torryburn, a small coast town at the western extremity of Fifeshire. [AW]
Life warm'd her blude, an' hale
healthy she stood5.
Till time saw her right hoary.
Weel lo'ed by a', she gaed
went fu' braw,
well-dressed an' wondrous gawsey;
more cheerful dame, or sappier
moved alangst the cawsey.
Her blythsome bield,
house to ilka chield
Wha bare a pack, was fenny,
Whare safe an' soun', they might lie down,
Syne rise an' pay their penny;
Till spitefu' Death clos'd up her breath,
An' a' our daffin
For, thro' the head he shot her dead,
An' down poor Janet tum'elt.
Ye pedlars now, O mournfu' view!19.
This stane rear'd by a brither,
And as ye pass, greet owre the grass21.
That co'ers your auld kind mither;
For me (O deer! the waefu' tear23.
Starts at the dismal story)
I'll gar ilk vale sad echoing wail,25.
That Janet's dead o' Torry.
[Second] Epistle To Mr. William Mitchell
WHILE ye nod on the weaver's thronie,
Porin' wi' sharp inspection,
Or in a freak wi' lasses bonny,3.
Skip round in supple action;
Or maybe wi' a bosom crony,
Kick up a funny faction,
Accept this as a testimony
Of my sincere affection8.
For you this day.
In fact, my frien', I wad hae writ,10.
Lang ere this time wi' pleasure,
But something touch'd aye on my fit,12.
An' bade me tak' my leisure.
Yon Callan's sic a pawky
Gif he but mak a seizure
O' ae daft
funny word, ye'll get a skit
Will wring your head, as bees war17.
In't, thick this day.
Sae aft the pen I laid aside,19.
Wi' this bugbear reflection;
As aft my heart wad fairly chide21.
Me for the harsh objection;
Till just the day, within I staid,
And band wi' baul
Tho' ye sud
should cut an' ga' my hide
Wi' critical dissection,26.
I'd write this day.
Sae paper, pen, an' ink I got,28.
An' down to wark I set me,
And soon a lengthen'd sang I wrote,30.
For mirth the lines did mete
tried anes to cast off my coat,
The thoughts o't hae sae het
But, as my brain was on the trot,
The hurry wadna let me35.
Tak time this day.
Aweel, whane'er I got it doon,37.
I took a canny view o't;
Where notes raise tow'rin' to the moon,39.
That, troth, I scarcely knew it.
'Twas set to sic a skirlin'
sounding shrilly tune,
I heartily did rue
And least ye sud e'en laugh owre soon,
Dash i' the fire I threw it44.
Wi' rage that day.
Yet still resolv'd something to sen',46.
I didna stan' to swither,
dipped i'the ink my pen,48.
An' so began anither.
Nae poetry, but just the ken
O' Scotland, my auld mither,
In hopes I wadna you offen',
By jinglin' it thegither
In rhyme this day.
Ye ken ye sung auld Harry's fate,55.
An' deed it was e'en curious,
Whan at the fire he hunker't
An' croon'd a Prayer spurious;
As "Lord sen' us aye garse
grass an' meat,
Till ance Thou skin an' bury us;"
Syne turn'd his fish, or sent a sklate
Out thro' the winnock,
At chiels, that night.
I ne'er cou'd gab prodigious pert,64.
An' flatterin' phrazing gi'e you,
An' laugh, an' sing, an' crack
talk, boast, or brag sae smart,66.
Syne wi' dame Fortune lea' you.
But cou'd you keek
peep into this heart,
That jumps aye when I see you,
Ye'd fin' a saul
soul could gladly part
round, unsweetened cake wi' ye71.
On ony day.
Blyth wad I be to shake your han',73.
Gif matters wad allow me,
But Fortune's ta'en a slippery stan',75.
looks right sullen to me.
Yet aftentimes the morning's dawn,
Hangs cloudy, dull and gloomy;
Till Sol dispels the misty ban',
An' shines bright, warm an' roomy,80.
A bonny day.
My compliments I'll hope ye'll gie82.
To garrulous Rab G––y;
Tell him, I trust he bears the gree,
Aye dadlin' poor an' hearty;
Altho' I fear the barley bree,
An' roving blades sae quirty;
compel him speed his wings an' flee,
An' lea' his nest right dirty,89.
Like mae yon day.
Now gi'es yer hand, and fare-ye-weel,91.
Kind, honest-hearted Willy!
Aye whan I meet a canty
It minds me o' the billy,
Wha aften us'd, wi' heart fu' leel,
To show his wondrous skillie,
An' made our vera hearts to reel,
Whan owre a pint or gillie,
gill, or quarter-pint98.
For joy that day.
Lang may thou weather't out-an'-in100.
Without a drog
drug or plaister,
An' may thou tune the violin,102.
Aye sweeter an' aye faster;
An' swell an' sink the notes sae keen,
Wi' gracefu' air an' gesture,
Till An'rew lift his hands an' een,
An' own that Will's his master107.
By night or day.
To The Curious
WHAT Samson embrac'd, when revenge for his eyes,
Provok'd the huge warrior to tumble down legions,
What oft, thro' the night, from some ruin'd church cries,
Harsh-voiced as a native of Pluto's pale regions;
The Female whose folly all mankind impeach,5.
That e'er she was form'd to embitter enjoyment,
The little emphatical main-spring of Speech,
Whose pleasure is toil, and whose ease is employment;
Pick out the initials of each of their names,
Add his who destroy'd, and then bowed down to Witches;10.
Which done, a known title your notice then claims,
Of a parcel of poor, insignificant wretches.
[Third] Epistle To Mr. William Mitchell
DEAR Willy, now I've ta'en the pen,
Wi' lightsome heart, to let you ken
I'm livin' yet and weel;
Tho' cuft and dauded
dashed or knocked gayan sair,
Since last I left that luckless Ayr,5.
Thro' mony a moor an' fiel'.
Misfortunes, on ilk ithers' backs,
Come roaring whyles aroun' me;
For comfort to the blue I rax,
Or ablins they might drown me.10.
What sights, man, what frights, man,
Are pedlars doom'd to thole,
Aye chaunerin' an' daunerin'
In eager search for cole
A cant word for money [AW].
But let us cease this heartless sang,
An', gin ye binna
be not unco thrang,
I'll here lay down my pack,
Tho' miles in scores atween us lie,
An' hills an' seas, yet haith we'll try19.
Out owre them a' to crack.
Dame Fortune, thou may hing thy brow,
grin wi' threat'nin' een;
care not a' thy spite, since now,
At last, I've fun a frien'.24.
Let misers owre treasures,
gold an' siller
A blessing like this ane
goes never, never doon.
While youth and health inspires our blood,
In innocent and sprightly mood,
We'll cheat the cares of life;
By friendship sowthert
soldered into ane,
We'll be as firm, as stark again,33.
To stan' the warly strife;
An' when slee
sly Love's endearing dart
Inflames our glowan veins,
We'll thowe the bonny Lasses' heart
In saft complaining strains;38.
Nae sorrows, before us,
shall drive us to despair,
Tho' carefu', yet chearfu',
We'll hug the smiling Fair.
But, if alas! it hap that e'er
A flaw in friendship shou'd appear,
Thro' Passion or mistake,
Oh! never, never let us part,
Wi' hate or envy in our heart,47.
Curst, base revenge to take;
But strive, wi' kind relenting speech,
Upo' the very spot,
To men' the mournfu' luckless breach,
An' firm the slacken'd knot:52.
Then langer, an' stranger,
Our friendship will remain,
Aye dowin' an' glowin'
Without a crack or stain.
An' when frail eild (if e'er we see't)
Sal gi'e us stilts instead o' feet,
An' shake our hingan pows,
We'll hotch awa' wi' friendly grane,
fall with a heavy impact down on yon sinny
Amang the broomy
broom-clad knoll knows;
An' soon's our hechs
faith an' heys are by,
An' baith our rungs
sticks or cudgels laid down,
An' we twa streekit,
Auld, runkly-fac'd an' brown,66.
The sporting, the courting,
We had, when we war young,
An' wonders, in hunders,
Sal gallop frae our tongue.
Perhaps Rab G––y's auld gray pate,
Of dark unfathom'd sense the seat,
May join the social gab;
Nae common stilt maun fill his nieve,
But, by his honour's size an' leave,75.
I'd here propose a stab,
His vera height, an' on the hilt,
A gawsy mason's mell,
To puzzle fouk, whilk is the stilt,
Or whilk is Rab himself,80.
The Carle, I'm sure he'll
No hae his tale to seek,
Aye puffin, or stuffin,
Wi' ugsome chews, his cheek.
An epitaph I ance had made,
To put on Rab, whan he was dead,
But war't to do again,
His pardon begging, for sic fun,
This motto I'd hae neatly done,89.
Upon the waefu' stane:
"Here lies a corpse, that ance could say,
(What seldom carcase can)
Tho' here I rot, pale stinking clay,
I ance contain'd a man,94.
Sae stern-ey'd, sae learnèd,
That Death's arm switherin' hung;
Till chance by, he lanc'd my
unhurt or healthy saul
soul frae out my tongue."
My frien', tho' fortune, partial slut!99.
Still holds you in a toilsome hut,
Yet, if I don't mistake,101.
Your modest merit will you raise,
An' Fortune smile yet in your face,
Your tuneful pow'rs to wake.
How often hae I at yer feet,
In deepest silence lain;106.
While from the strings, harmonious sweet,
You sent the warbling strain;
Ev'n now man, I vow man,
I think I hear you singing,
wonder sae rarely,111.
Sets baith my ears a ringing.
Adieu, my kind, my wordy chield;113.
Lang may ye hae a cozie bield
To screen frae Winter's cauld;115.
May time yet see ye wi' a wame,
As fat as J––'s sonsy
thirty year thrice tauld;
An' gin we live to see that date,
faith (exclamation) I hope we will,120.
Tho' ye to gang, hae tint
lost the gate,
Yet we sal hae a gill.
Fu' cheary, I'll rear ye,
And 'neath my burden bend,
And show fouk, without joke,125.
What its to hae a friend.
Verses To A Stationer,
With An Empty Ink-Glass
A present, perhaps, you'll conclude this to be,
But open't, and keek
peep down the brink–
Surpris'd ye're nae doubt at a message sae wee,
dirty bit bottlie
bottle for ink.
Yet sma' tho' it seem, 'tis a manifest truth,5.
That castles frae out o't hae risen,
villages an' mountains, maun start frae its mouth,7.
An' Critics in mony a stern dozen.
Then since sic a terrible squad's to be drawn,9.
Sican thrangs o' corruption an' evil;
Let the liquor, gude Sir, that ye sen' owre the lawn,11.
Be as smooth an' as black as the devil.
Ode ["Loud roaring Winter now is o'er"]
Spring returns, but youth no more.––
LOUD roaring Winter now is o'er,
And Spring returns with fragrance sweet;
The bee sips nectar from each flow'r,
And frisking lambs on hillocks bleat;
The little birds chant on each bough,
And warbling Larks, ascending, sing,
Chearful, amid the sun's bright glow,
They sweep around on sportive wing.
How pleasant, now, abroad to rove,
To view the fruit-trees as they bloom;
To pluck the flow'rs that deck each grove,
Or wander thro' the yellow broom.
Yet midst the pleasures we enjoy,
What painful cares harass our breast,
Ah! were we freed from this annoy,
How peaceful calm our minds would rest.
The shady bow'rs, the waving woods,
With seeming joy we may explore,
Stand listening to the falling floods,
Yet still the weight increaseth more.
Oh! when will come that happy day,
When all-perplexing care will fly?
Ne'er till we pass the narrow way,
And dart triumphant thro' the sky.
Ode ["Now Night, her star-enamell'd robe"]
NOW Night, her star-enamell'd robe,
O'er half the dreary, darken'd globe,
In solemn state has hung;
Lone now the distant murm'ring flood,
And lone the thicket, grove and wood,5.
Where warblers lately sung.
The distant town, behind yon steep,
Now silent lies, and sunk in sleep,
Dark, solitary, sad;
No voice, no sound, can reach my ear,
Save shepherd's dogs, who haply hear11.
The Midnight traveller's tread.
Amid this calm, this silence deep,
I wander forth to sigh, to weep,
And breathe my hopeless flame;
To rocks and woods I still complain,
To woods and rocks, alas! in vain17.
I sigh Matilda's name.
O Love! thou dear, distracting bliss,
Assist my bosom to express
Those pains, those joys I feel;
Joy, that enraptures while I gaze,
And pain, that tortures, while the blaze23.
Of love I must conceal.
Sweet is her form, her features meek,
And bright the crimson of her cheek
Beyond the rose's glow.
Hers is the heart, with softness blest,
And hers each worth that warms the breast29.
Of innocence below.
But ah! for ever we must part!
Forget her then, thou throbbing heart,
Nor idly thus complain.
Truth, prudence, reason, all can teach
That, Happiness, which mocks our reach,35.
But aggravates our pain.
–––– Dreadful attempt!
Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage
To rush into the presence of our Judge;
As if we challeng'd him to do His worst,
And matter'd not His wrath––5.
Robert Blair, The Grave (1743)
YE hapless sons of misr'y and of woe,
Whose days are spent with heart-distressing care,
Who seem the sport of ruthless fate below,
Still lab'ring hard, and still, as winter, bare;
Tho' rough the path, tho' weighty be the share5.
Of nameless ills, that press you ever down;
Oh! never, never yield to dire despair,
Or think your griefs intolerable grown:
Each has his secret load, and each must feel his own.
Is pale Disease, is Poverty your lot?
Or, are you doom'd to some obscure employ?
Does mankind rate your merits by your coat;
Or burns your breast by Love's distracting Boy?
Yet still reflect what blessings you enjoy;14.
Returning health again may flush your face,
Glad Plenty smile–your toils forget to cloy,
And Celia blush amid your chaste embrace;
Then men shall see you deck'd with every worth and grace.
Be wisely calm, and brave the adverse storm;
Let Hope to happier times direct your sight;
Tho' mis'ries stare in many a threat'ning form,
Hope slacks their jaws, and mitigates their bite:
And though the present scene be black as night,23.
Trust me, your hopes shall not be long in vain;
For oft, tho' Pain put Pleasure to the flight,
Yet Pleasure still dethrones the tyrant Pain,
And soothes the weary soul to peace and joy again.
Unhappy they whose each returning morn
Is fill'd with sad complaints and curses dire;
Fate ever frowns, and still they are forlorn,
If each thing move not with their wild desire.
'Gainst righteous Heav'n, with furious looks of fire,32.
They rave, blaspheme, and roll in blackest sin,
Till driv'n by mad Despair and hopeless ire,
To poison, dagger, or th'engulphing lin,
Unworthy heav'n or earth, hell yawns to take them in.
Lone Night had lull'd the drowsy world asleep,
And cloudy darkness wrapt the midnight sky,
Scarce thro' the gloom the stars were seen to peep,
This moment bright, then muffled from the eye;
The distant Bittern's solemn-sounding cry,41.
The breeze, that sigh'd along the rustling grove,
The hasty brook, that ceaseless murmur'd by,
Compos'd my thought, as forth I went to rove,
To sing Matilda's charms, and mourn my hopeless love.
As near a thicket's shade I pensive stood,
The black trees waving solemnly around,
Sudden I heard a rushing thro' the wood,
And near me pass'd, along the dew-wet ground,
A human form; its head with white was bound,50.
While loose its ruffled hair flew in the breeze;
A dagger fast it grasp'd; and, at each sound,
Would start, and stop, then glide among the trees,
While slow I trac'd its steps, tho' trembl'd both my knees.
Deep thro' the turnings of a darksome vale,
Where blasted trunks hung from th'impending steep,
Where oft was heard the Owl's wild dreary wail,
Its course I follow'd, wrapt in silence deep.
At length it paus'd; fear thro' my frame did creep,59.
While still I look'd, and softly stealing near,
Heard mournful groans, as if it seem'd to weep;
And intervening sighs, and moaning drear,
Till thro' the night's sad gloom these words broke on my ear.
"Curst be the hour that to existence brought
Me, wretched me! to war with endless woe!
Curst be the wretch! and curst the barb'rous thought
That bade me stretch the bleeding beauty low!
Still from her breast the purple torrents flow;68.
Still, still I hear her loud for mercy crave–
See!–hark; she groans, alas! some pity shew!
For love, for heav'n, for mercy's sake! oh save!
No; see her mangled corse floats o'er the midnight wave.
"O earth! O darkness! hide her from my sight:
Shall hell, shall furies rack me ere I die?
No, this shall sink me in eternal night,
To meet those torments that I ne'er can fly.
Ye yelling fiends that now around me hie,77.
Exult and triumph in th'accursed deed;
Soon in your flaming gulphs ye shall me spy,
Despair! attend, the gloomy way to lead;
For what I now endure no hell can e'er exceed."
He said; and, gazing furiously around,
Plung'd in his heart, the dagger's deadly blade;
Deep, deep he groan'd; and, reeling to the ground,
I rush'd to rescue thro' the entangling shade;
Flat on the mossy sod I found him laid,86.
And oft I call'd, and wept, and trembl'd sore;
But life was fled, too late all human aid:
And while his grasp the shining dagger bore,
His lifeless head lay sunk in blood and clotted gore.
Hardyknute; or, The Battle Of Largs,
of the 1719 ballad upon which this poem is based is not perfectly clear, but the consensus view is that its authorship can be traced to Elizabeth,
Lady Wardlaw (1677-1727). She claimed to have discovered it on a piece of scrap that was to be used for "the bottoms of clues"
(the starting core of a ball of yarn) but actually composed it herself, perhaps faintly based on personal recollections of an oral original. Allan
Ramsay produced a slightly expanded and deliberately antiquated version for inclusion in his The Ever Green, Being a Collection
of Scots Poems Written Before 1600 (1724). For an exhaustive account of the precursor, see the headnote in Scottish Ballads and Songs, Historical
and Traditionary, volume one, ed. James Maidment (Edinburgh: William Patterson, 1868) 1-13. For a more recent assessment of "Hardyknute" and its
contexts, see M. Kersey's "Ballads, Britishness and Hardyknute, 1719-1859," Scottish Studies Review 5.1 (2004) 40-56.
Wilson probably encountered the ballad in Thomas Percy's influential Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765).
Attempted In English Verse
ALONG the front of his high-wall'd abode,
Deep-wrapt in thought, the stately Hero strode,
Thro' his bold breast revolving those alarms
That oft had rous'd and rush'd him on to arms;
That thro' long seventy years would scarce allow5.
Seven years of peace, to calm his aged brow.
In times he liv'd, when Briton's breach of faith,
Fill'd Scotia's plains with tumult and with death;
Nor fail'd his sword, still to their cost to show,
He stood their deadly, their determin'd foe.10.
High on a hill's steep top his Castle stood,
Hung round with rocks, that frown'd above the wood,
The spiry turrets tow'ring thro' the sky;
The glittering halls, that caught the distant eye,
The wall's huge strength, that war could ne'er annoy,15.
Foes view'd with terror, but each friend with joy;
For oft, when night her murky shades o'ercast,
And lash'd the rain, and roar'd the howling blast,
The wand'ring Knight here found a welcome home,
Forgot his woes, and blest the friendly dome.20.
Bold was the Chief, brave HARDYKNUTE his name,
And kind and courteous his endearing dame.
Peerless she shone, for chastity and charms,
When favouring Fate first gave her to his arms.
Round all our sea-beat coasts no Fair was seen,25.
To vie with her, save Emergard the Queen.
Full thirteen sons their nuptial blessings crown'd,
All heroes stout, for strength of arm renown'd;
Rear'd to the field, how did their bosom glow,
Thro' War's loud uproar, to pursue the foe;30.
Till arm'd with death, and raging o'er the plain,
Nine nobly sunk amid th'illustrious slain.
Four still remain–long may they fearless wield
The burnish'd sword, and shake the glitt'ring shield.
And since their names, from shore to shore extend,35.
Since high their might, and mighty their command,
Still may their courage prove their bright reward,
Their sov'reign's glory, and their country's guard.
Tho' warlike deeds employ'd their youthful care,
Great was the love they bore to Fairly Fair.
Their sister she; all softness, all delight;
Mild as the morn, and beautiful as light.
Her girdle, circling round her slender waist,43.
Reveal'd a shape with fair proportion blest.
Adown her breast the golden ringlets stray'd,
And every grace adorn'd the blooming maid.
But, ah! what griefs her fatal beauty bred!
What streams of tears have for these charms been shed.48.
To young and old, to ev'ry friend unbless'd,
And sad as hist'ry's page has e'er express'd.
Bright summer now roll'd on in splendid blaze,
And o'er the fields diffus'd his genial rays,
When Norway's King, stern, insolent, and vain,
Proud of his pow'r, and haughty with disdain,
Reach'd Scotia's shores with many a hardy knight,55.
Resolv'd for war, and burning for the fight.
The rumour spreading wide on wings of fame,
Soon to our Sov'reign's ear the tidings came,
As round the sumpt'ous board, in regal state
With noble Chiefs, in brave array, he sat,
Circling, in glitt'ring cups, the wines' deep red,61.
Red as the blood these heroes oft had shed,
"To horse, to horse, my royal Liege! to horse!
Your daring foes, led by th' insulting Norse,
Croud all the strand; full twenty thousand strong,
Pointing their spears, in many a warlike throng."66.
"Bring me my Mage, my dapple gray, in haste,"
Exclaim'd our King, while starting from the feast,
"A steed more trusty, 'gainst attacks more steel'd,
Ne'er bore Scot's Chief, or Monarch, to the field."
And go, my Page, tell HARDYKNUTE, our prop,71.
Whose castle crowns yon rugged mountain's top,
To draw his sword, that sword foes dread to see,
Call up his men, and haste and follow me."
Swift flew the little Page, fleet as the dart
Flung from an arm to pierce some warrior's heart,
Till reach'd the ancient Dome's surrounding walls,
Loud from the gate thus to the Chief he calls:
"Come down, great HARDYKNUTE! 'tis WAR I bring,79.
Come down, my lord, assist your injured king."
Fierce rose the warrior's soul–a fiery glow
O'erspread his cheeks, and dy'd his dark brown brow;
And keen his looks, and stern his visage grew,
As still they wont in dangers great to do.
Loose from his side a grass-green horn he drew,85.
And five shrill sounds forth from its circle blew.
Wild shook the woods, the startled herds stood still,
And the loud echoes rang around each hill.
In manly sports his sons had spent the morn,
When in a vale, faint on the breezes borne,
They heard their father's war arousing horn.
"That Horn," they solemn said, "ne'er sounds in peace;
Some nobler deeds demand our sports to cease."93.
Then up the hill they sped, with hostile fire,
Rush'd through the gate, and join'd their warlike sire.
The hoary Chief survey'd each dauntless face,
And thus address'd, with majesty and grace,
"Last night, my sons, I hop'd that free from strife,98.
In peace and rest I'd close my eve of life.
Well might my age this weary arm acquit
From martial feats, for years like yours more fit.
But now, since Norse, in haughty fury boasts
T' enslave our land, and dares t'insult our coasts,103.
Fame ne'er shall say, that HARDYKNUTE, at call,
E'er feared to fight, or gloriously to fall.
"Robin of Rothsay, bend thy trusty bow,
Unerring still thy whistling arrows go;
Full many a daring eye, and visage gay,
They've shut in death, and chang'd to palest clay.
Bold Thomas, take thy lance, no weapon more110.
Thy arm requires to swell the tide of gore.
If thro' the ranks its fury thou display,
As on that great, that memorable day,
When Westmoreland's fierce heir thy rage did feel,
And, trembling, own'd the terrors of thy steel.115.
Malcolm, dispatch! thy path thou canst pursue,
Swift as the Stag, that flies the forest through;
My fearless forces, summon to the field,
Three thousand men, well train'd to sword and shield.
Bring me my Courser, harnessing and blade;120.
(With dauntless look the aged Hero said)
Knew foes the hand that bears it to the fight,
Soon would the boldest seek inglorious flight.
Farewell, my dame! for peerless good thou art;
Farewell! he said, and prest her to his heart;125.
To me more fair, in age, you now appear
Than maids whose beauty oft hath reach'd my ear.
My youngest son shall with you here remain
To guard our tow'rs, and ease your anxious pain;
Each night to shut the silver bolts, that keep130.
Your painted rooms, and watch you while asleep."
So spake the Chief, and, mounting, seized the reins,
While his broad army mov'd along the plains.
O'erwhelmed with grief and sad foreboding woe,
Stood his fair spouse, to see the Warrior go;
The gushing tears, a melancholy scene!
Bedew'd her comely cheeks and bodice green
Fast streaming down, uncheck'd and unconfin'd;138.
Her silken cords, with glitt'ring silver twin'd,
And apron sew'd with curious diceings rare,
The beauteous work of her own Fairly Fair.
Mean time his march th' undaunted chief pursued,
O'er moors and hills, thro' vales and many a wood,
Till to a grove he came, where, near the way,
A wounded Knight in lonely sorrow lay,
Stretched on the grass; forlorn he seem'd and faint,146.
And, moaning deep, thus pour'd his sad complaint:
"Here must I lie, alas! here must I die
By cruel treachery's false beguiling eye.
Fool that I was, a woman to believe,
Whose faithless smiles were formed but to deceive."151.
Him HARDYKNUTE surveying, thus addrest,
(For pity still found shelter in his breast:)
"Ah, hapless Knight! were you my hall within,
On softer silk your weary head to lean,
My Lady's care would sooth that piteous moan;156.
For deadly hate was still to her unknown;
With kind regard she'd watch you all the day,
Her maids thro' midnight would your grief allay,
And Fairly Fair, with soft endearing art,
Delight your eye, and chear your drooping heart.161.
Arise, young Knight, and mount your stately steed,
The beauteous day beams bright o'er hill and mead.
Choose whom you please, from midst my faithful train,
To guide your steps along the pathless plain."
With languid look and cheeks in sorrow dy'd,166.
The wounded Knight thus mournfully reply'd:
"Kind, generous Chieftain! your intent pursue,
Here must I stay, here bid the world adieu.
To me no future day, however bright,
Can e'er be sweet, or fair the mildest night;171.
But soon, beneath some tree's cold dropping shade,
My cares in death for ever shall be laid."
In vain he sought to soothe the stranger's wail,174.
With him nor tears, nor pleading cou'd prevail:
With fairest words brave HARDYKNUTE to gain,176.
And reason strong strove courteously in vain.
Onward again he march'd his hostile band,178.
Far o'er Lord Chattan's wide extended land;
When, fir'd by foes, to draw his deadly sword,180.
Immortal deeds still mark'd that worthy lord.
Of Pictish race, by mother's side, he came,
A race long glorious in the lists of Fame,
When Picts ruled Caledon, and sought his aid,
Lord Chattan saved their crown and claimed the princely maid.185.
Now, with his fierce and formidable train,186.
A hill he reach'd that overlook'd the plain,
Where wide encamped on the dale, for fight,188.
Norse' glitt'ring army hugely lay in sight.
"Yonder, my valiant sons! in haughty state,
Those raging Robbers our arrival wait,
On Scotia's old, unconquer'd plains to try
With us their fate–be victors now or die!193.
Implore that mighty Pow'r, with pious faith,
Who on the Cross redeem'd our souls from death,
Then bravely shew, amid the war's fierce flood,
Your veins still glow with Caledonian blood."
He said, and forth his shining broad-sword drew,198.
While thousands round unsheath'd in glorious view
Blaz'd to the sun, a bright, refulgent throng,
While loud, from wing to wing, war horns resounding rung.
Adown the hill, in martial pomp array'd,202.
To meet his King, in haste his march he made.
Wilson's version ends here, slightly more than halfway through the ballad. An appended note reads: "☞As the Author, formerly, proposed to publish this Poem by itself, he only inserts part of it here as a Specimen of the whole, which he hopes, in a short time, to present to the public." No full version has been located. Wilson jotted in his personal copy: "I have left the right of my translation–no great matter.–A.W." [from Brown I:46]
A Midnight Adventure
"All pretty near truth, except bagpipes.–A.W." [AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:46].
Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears1.
The sound of something purring at his heels––
MAN toils a Pilgrim through this weary wild,1.
This land of serpents, this abode of cares.
And ah! what past, what future horrors dire,3.
In grim succession start upon his view!
Ills, that surveyed by Fancy's staring eye,
Swell to a size enormous, while the soul,
O'ercome and fainting at their dread approach,
Shrinks from herself–anticipates their pangs,8.
And sinks beneath imaginary woes.
Thrice happy he! beyond expression blest!10.
Who though by fate condemned to ceaseless toils,
Beneath hard Fortune's bleak inclement sky,12.
Feels but this moment's pain! and tho' he sees
Advancing clouds of ills, yet still enjoys
The present sunshine; hopeful that the storm,
Though hung in blackest frowns, may soon disperse,
Or roll, unbroken, o'er his peaceful head.17.
Late through a far extended lonely moor18.
(Whose gloomy sides and dark recesses, oft
Had prov'd the haunt of midnight ruffians fierce)20.
Old Ralph, benighted, trod. A Pedlar he,
Of honest fame; unlike those ragged swarms,
That ceaseless pouring from a neighb'ring isle,
On Scotia's shores intrude with baggage, base
And undeserving as the backs that bear them:25.
But sober he and grave, and large the load
That lay unwieldy on his shoulders wide,
And stoop'd him half to earth. A Goat's rough skin
Inwrapt the costly stores. Scissars and combs,
And knives, and laces long; sharp-pointed awls,30.
And pins, arrang'd in many a glitt'ring row;
Strong Shetland hose, and woollen night-caps warm;
Clasps, bonnets, razors, spectacles and rings,
With nameless more, that here the Muse forbears
To crowd into her strain. But what avail'd35.
This world of wealth? That fail'd alas! to purchase
A bed of straw, for its neglected owner.
From farm to farm, from cot to cot he strays,
Imploring shelter from th'approaching night,
And black suspended storm. Full oft he vow'd to leave40.
Whole rows of pins, nor crave one scanty meal.
Vain were his vows, and sad he trudg'd, till night
Descending dreary o'er the dark'ning waste,
Conceal'd each human dwelling from his view,
Nor ought of sound assail'd his listening ear,45.
Save the wild shrieks of moor-cock from the hill;
Or breeze that whistled mournful o'er the heath.
The dreadful tales of Robbers' bloody deeds,48.
That oft had swell'd his theme, while nightly stretch'd
Beside the list'ning Peasant's blazing hearth,50.
Now crowded on his mind in all their rage
Of pistols, purses, stand! deliver! death!
Trembling he stumbled on, and ever rolled
His jealous eyes around. Each waving shrub
Doubl'd his fears, till, horrible to thought!55.
The sound of hasty steps alarm'd his ear,
Fast hurrying up behind. Sudden he stopt,
And stooping, could discern, with terror struck,
Between him and the welkin's scanty light,
A black gigantic form of human shape,60.
And formidably arm'd. Ah! who can tell
The horrors dread that at this instant struck
Ralph's frozen frame. His few gray rev'rend hairs
Rose bristling up, and from his aged scalp,
Up-bore the affrighted bonnet. Down he dropt65.
Beneath th'oppressive load, but gath'ring soon
A little strength, in desperation crawl'd
To reach some neighb'ring shrubs' concealing shade.
So speeds the hurrying Crab, when eager boys69.
Uprear th'incumbent stone, and bare expose
Himself and haunt unto the open day.71.
Approaching nearer to the bushes' gloom,72.
Along the heath, upon his breast, he stole,
With arms expanded, grasping for his hold:74.
As when to gain some Herb's inviting leaf,
The weary snail, supporting her own shell,
And stretching forth her horns, with searching care
Moves cautious on. Mean time, scarce had he reach'd
The o'erhanging furze, when to his startled view79.
The stalking form advanc'd. Huge, huge it seem'd,
And in its brawny grasp held something black;
A bloody sword, no doubt, of dreadful size.
Before the gloomy spot where Ralphus lay,
Frowning it stood; and look'd, and stood, and look'd;84.
And look'd, and stood!––––––
As if it sought but one directing glance
To thunder through his heart the deadly shot.
With horror petrify'd the Pedlar lay,88.
Squat on the heath, and shook through every nerve,
Till nature giving way, with one deep groan,90.
At once his senses sunk into a swoon.
Happy for Ralph, I ween, that at this time
The soul deserted her endanger'd clay,
Ere mighty cries for mercy had reveal'd
The spot he held, and forc'd him to resign95.
His purse, his budget, or his precious life.
How long he lay entranc'd can ne'er be told97.
By human tongue; yet this we know, that life
Again revisited his wan, cold corpse,99.
And trembled on his lip. The purple tide
Resum'd its wonted course, and to the night
Again he op'd his weary, languid eyes,
While Recollection, settling on her throne,
Inform'd him where he was. Around he threw104.
His fearful look upon the dreary waste,
Where nought was seen to stir except the bent
That idly bended on the sighing blast,
While safe, and resting on his bruised back,
The bulky budget press'd him to the earth.109.
"Good heav'n be praised!" with lifted eyes he said,
"That here my budget lies, and I am safe!"
So said, he rose, but with him also rose
Some doubts about his safety. O'er the heath,
With throbbing breast, he bent his pathless way,114.
And long he trod, and oft he gaz'd around,
For some kind hut to shield him from the night.
At length, descending a rough, rocky steep,
A glimmering light from some lone cottage near,
Beam'd on his gladdened view. Soon to the door119.
His way he found, and, entering, could perceive
A group assembled round the ruddy hearth–
Bent o'er the fire a hoary Rustic hung,122.
Wrinkled with age, and seemed as if he'd been
The last survivor of the former age.124.
Upon the floor, engag'd in sportive play,
Three prattling infants sat; while, wrapt in peace,
Their frugal mother plyed the murm'ring wheel.
To her Ralph straight apply'd, and wishing peace,128.
Besought the shelter of their humble roof,
To rest till dawn of day his weary limbs,130.
For far, far distant from each friend he stray'd,
And cold and dreary was the gloomy night.
The jealous Matron for a while survey'd133.
His decent form, then, pointing to a chest,
While kind Compassion melted in her eye–135.
"Repose (she said) your load, and freely share
That fare and shelter we ourselves enjoy."
Scarce had poor Ralph obey'd, and scarce sat down,138.
To ponder pensive on the danger past,
When noise announc'd some wanderer at the door,140.
Soft rose the latch, and instant usher'd in
A feeble, shiv'ring, small, decrepid thing;
One drooping hand sustain'd the pond'rous Goose,
Whose level, burning basis, oft, alas!
Unpitying, scorches the gray wand'ring brood145.
That, num'rous, lurk amid th' enclosing seams.
A rod the other grasp'd that serv'd to explore
His darksome path along the midnight mud,
Nor fail'd to act a useful part by day.
A sound of joy now through the cottage rose;150.
Each laughing infant ran to meet his sire
With shouts of joy. Aside the matron put152.
Her well-worn wheel, and anxiously enquir'd
From him the cause of his unusual stay.
A fear-betokening, wild, expressive look
He just return'd the partner of his cares,
When seated softly in his rev'rend chair,157.
With solemn voice, and sighing thus began:
"If ever Satan visited this earth,
This night, this dreadful night I have him seen."
"Heav'n be our guide!" exclaim'd the trembling wife,
The children crowded nearer to the hearth162.
And while the hoary Swain star'd in his face,
The ghostly Taylor thus his tale renew'd.
"Dark was the night ere thro' the rustling wood,165.
Groping my way, I gain'd the level moor;
There, as I trod along, methought I heard167.
Some rumbling noise before me on the heath,
As stones confin'd within a coffin make.
Approaching nearer, plainly I beheld
(If e'er these eyes were capable of sight)
A monstrous rolling bulk, three times as large172.
As any ox that ever graz'd the hill;
Within my view it kept, till vent'ring near,
And stopping short to guess what it might be,
With two deep groans it vanish'd from my sight.
"Feeble as death I fled, and soon I reach'd
The Cottage on the hill; but ere my tongue
Could tell the sad disaster, flat I fell
For dead upon the floor. With much kind care
They brought me back to life; these last two hours181.
There pale I sat, my vigour to regain.
But never, never, shall I e'er dispute
The dread existence of those wandering fiends,
This night these eyes have witnessed such horrors,
As would have terrify'd, and put to flight186.
The Priest himself, and boldest man on earth."
He ceas'd, and Ralph, with looks that sparkl'd joy,
Explain'd the mystery dread. A burst of mirth,
In laughter loud, convuls'd their ev'ry nerve,
Forth from his shaggy budget Ralphus drew,
In gleesome mood, his pipes; the swelling bag192.
Awoke the warlike yell and sounding drone,
The hoary swain sat smiling in his chair,
Up sprung the host, and flung around the floor,
The wondering yonksters laugh'd to see their sire,
And mirth and music echoed thro' the Cot.197.
Matilda: A Song ["Ye dark, rugged rocks, that recline o'er the deep"]
Tune, Her Sheep all in clusters[AW].
Wilson's song is among the first to refer to this unusual English air (with 11 bars per measure), though it eventually became very popular in the British isles and the United States. It was originally a setting of John Cunningham's erotic "Corydon and Phillis" from his Poems, Chiefly Pastoral (1766). Originally published simply as "A Song."
YE dark, rugged rocks, that recline o'er the deep,1.
Ye breezes that sigh o'er the main,
Here shelter me under your cliffs, while I weep,3.
And cease, while ye hear me complain;
For distant, alas! from my native dear shores,
And far from each friend now I be;
And wide is the merciless ocean, that roars
Between my Matilda and me.8.
How blest were the times when together we stray'd,9.
While Phoebe shone silent above;
Or lean'd by the border of Cartha's green side,11.
And talk'd the whole evening of love;
Around us all nature lay wrapt up in peace,
No noise could our pleasures annoy,
Save Cartha's hoarse brawling, convey'd by the breeze,
That sooth'd us to love and to joy.16.
If haply some youth had his passion exprest,17.
And prais'd the bright charms of her face,
What horrors, unceasing, revolv'd thro' my breast,19.
While sighing I stole from the place.
For where is the eye that could view her alone,
The ear that could list to her strain,
Nor wish the adorable Nymph for his own,
Nor double the pangs I sustain?24.
Thou moon! that now brightens those regions above,25.
How oft hast thou witness'd my bliss!
While breathing my tender expressions of love,27.
I seal'd each kind vow with a kiss.
Ah! then, how I joy'd, while I gaz'd on her charms!
What transports flew swift through my heart!
I press'd the dear beautiful maid in my arms,
Nor dream'd that we ever would part.32.
But now from the dear, from the tenderest maid,33.
By Fortune unfeelingly torn;
'Midst strangers, who wonder to see me so sad,35.
In secret I wander forlorn;
And oft when drear midnight assembles her shades,
And silence pours sleep from her throne,
Pale, lonely, and pensive, I steal thro' the glades,
And sigh 'midst the darkness my moan.40.
In vain to the town I retreat for relief;41.
In vain to the groves I complain;
Belles, coxcombs, and uproar, can ne'er soothe my grief,43.
And solitude nurses my pain.
Still absent from her whom my bosom loves best,
I languish in mis'ry and care;
Her presence could banish each woe from my breast,
But her absence, alas! is despair.48.
Ye dark, rugged rocks, that recline o'er the deep;49.
Ye breezes that sigh o'er the main;
Oh, shelter me under your cliffs, while I weep,51.
And cease, while ye hear me complain.
For distant, alas! from my native dear shores,
And far from each friend now I be;
And wide is the merciless ocean, that roars
Between my Matilda and me.56.
How blest were the times when together we stray'd,57.
While Phoebe shone silent above;
Or lean'd by the border of Cartha's green side,59.
And talk'd the whole evening of love;
Around us all nature lay wrapt up in peace,
No noise could our pleasures annoy,
Save Cartha's hoarse brawling, convey'd by the breeze,
That sooth'd us to love and to joy.64.
If haply some youth had his passion exprest,65.
And prais'd the bright charms of her face,
What horrors, unceasing, revolv'd thro' my breast,67.
While sighing I stole from the place.
For where is the eye that could view her alone,
The ear that could list to her strain,
Nor wish the adorable Nymph for his own,
Nor double the pangs I sustain?72.
Thou moon! that now brightens those regions above,73.
How oft hast thou witness'd my bliss!
While breathing my tender expressions of love,75.
I seal'd each kind vow with a kiss.
Ah! then, how I joy'd, while I gaz'd on her charms!
What transports flew swift through my heart!
I press'd the dear beautiful maid in my arms,
Nor dream'd that we ever would part.80.
But now from the dear, from the tenderest maid,81.
By Fortune unfeelingly torn;
'Midst strangers, who wonder to see me so sad,83.
In secret I wander forlorn;
And oft when drear midnight assembles her shades,
And silence pours sleep from her throne,
Pale, lonely, and pensive, I steal thro' the glades,
And sigh 'midst the darkness my moan.88.
In vain to the town I retreat for relief;89.
In vain to the groves I complain;
Belles, coxcombs, and uproar, can ne'er soothe my grief,91.
And solitude nurses my pain.
Still absent from her whom my bosom loves best,
I languish in mis'ry and care;
Her presence could banish each woe from my breast,
But her absence, alas! is despair.96.
Ye dark, rugged rocks, that recline o'er the deep;97.
Ye breezes that sigh o'er the main;
Oh, shelter me under your cliffs, while I weep,99.
And cease, while ye hear me complain.
For distant, alas! from my native dear shores,
And far from each friend now I be;
And wide is the merciless ocean, that roars
Between my Matilda and me.104.
Poems, Humorous, Satirical and Serious (1791)
Wilson's own copy of this "second edition" (1791) bears the inscription:
"I published these poems when only twenty-two, an age more abundant in sail than ballast.
Reader, let this soften the rigour of criticism a little. Alex. Wilson, Gray's Ferry, July 6th, 1804." From Brown I:45.
Ode on the Birthday of Our Immortal Scottish Poet
Set To Music by a Bacchanalian Club
YE sons of bright Phoebus, ye bards of the plough,1.
Shout aloud! and let gladness sublime every brow;
See the young rosy morning rejoicing returns,3.
That blest our fair isle with the rare Robin Burns!
Let the pure aquavitæ now inspire ev'ry soul,
Since whisky can waft us at once to the pole;6.
Let us laugh down the priest and the devil by turns,
And roar out the praise of the rare Robin Burns.8.
Hail blest "Ordination"! all hail "Holy Fair"!9.
Ye glorious effusions! ye thrice-sacred pair!
Your pages the rake on his death-bed o;erturns,11.
And mixes a damn with "O rare Robin Burns!"
By Babel no more let us languish forlorn,13.
Come twitch up the strings to great "John Barleycorn";
Be our friendship eternal, and laid in our urns,15.
If we roar let us roar with the rare Robin Burns.
Ye nymphs of old Colia, who exult in his art,17.
And have felt the warm raptures glide home to your heart,
Leave your raw, lifeless clodpoles, your cows and your churns,19.
And encore the great sportsman, "O rare Robin Burns!"
Clear the road, ye dull churchmen! make way for our bard,21.
To whose tow;ring genius no task is too hard;
Your glories, your precepts, your nonsense he spurns,23.
And Europe loud echoes, "O rare Robin Burns!"
Rejoice ye Excisemen! resound the huzza!25.
Nor tremble, by piecemeal in brimstone to gnaw;
Though horrors surround, he's a coward that mourns,27.
All hell will befriend you for rare Robin Burns.
Hark, hark! what an uproar! every ghost is afoot,29.
How they brandish their fire-brands ;mid darkness and soot!
See legion on legion tumultuous adjourns,31.
To swell the loud strain of "O rare Robin Burns!"
Ye "heav;n-taught" rhymers, ye bards of the plough,33.
Shout aloud! and let gladness sublime every brow;
While the young rosy morning rejoicing returns,35.
That blest our fair isle with the rare Robin Burns.
From Grosart; listed as from 1816 edition but not present in extant versions.
Lean not on Earth, 'twill pierce thee to the heart,1.
A broken reed at best, but oft a spear,
On its sharp point Peace bleeds and Hope expires.3.
BENEATH a range of elms, whose branches throw1.
A gloomy shade upon the path below;
There, scarcely shelter'd from the evening wind,3.
A youth, slow-wandering, pensively reclin'd;
Sunk were his eyes, his visage deadly wan,
Deep, deep, he groan'd, and thus in grief began:
Blest were those times that now, alas! are fled,7.
When health and plenty wanton'd round my head;
When all my griefs were sunk in downy rest,9.
And peace and pleasure dwelt within my breast;
Then smiling swains assembled in my train,
Hung on my arm, delighted with my strain;
Prest, when I spoke, with eager warmth my hand,
And begg'd the blessing but to be my friend,14.
Extoll'd my worth and pointed to a store
Of wealth and joy when all my toils were o'er;
My verse, they said, would cease not to inspire
While time remain'd, or mortals to admire.
Dear, dear to me were Friendship's clasping arms,19.
But dearer far the young Lavinia's charms.
Friendship, if real, our distress may share,21.
But Love can soothe, can sweeten every care.
Sweet were the hours that fann'd our mutual flame,
And soft the strain that breath'd her charming name.
Her face, her form as Beauty's self were fair,
For every grace and every charm were there.26.
Our thoughts were guileless, pure our growing flame,
Our minds, our wishes, and our hearts the same.
No fears could damp, no foes our hopes destroy,
But each young moment brought an age of joy.
These were the times that promis'd bliss in store,31.
But these, alas! will visit me no more.
Ah, why should beings frail as bark can be,33.
Trust the smooth calm of Life's uncertain sea,
That, rising, roars around the helpless crew,
And whelms their hopes for ever from their view.
Death, whose dread frown can chill the boldest heart,
Spread his cold horrors o'er my dearest part;38.
Thrice pale Lavinia, panting by my side,
Moan'd out my name in accents faint, and dy'd!
O where shall anguish fit expression find
To paint the woes of my distracted mind,
When all I lov'd, and all I wish'd to have,43.
Sunk from my arms into the yawning grave.
Kind is the world and eager to befriend45.
While health and success on our steps attend;
But let the tempest of Misfortune roar,47.
We hear its offers and its vows no more.
'Twas now, while ruin growl'd around my head,
That all my worth and all my prospects fled;
Health, comfort, peace, and with them every friend,
Whose heart could soothe, or pity, or defend;52.
Ev'n hope itself, Fate calls me to forego,
And nought remains but a whole world of woe.
O Death! thou friend, thou sovereign cure indeed,55.
When wilt thou bid this bosom cease to bleed.
To thee I look, to thee distrest and wan,57.
To seal those sorrows that thy arm began;
Life wrings my soul with agonising care,
And earth can give no comfort but despair.
Here ceas'd he sad, and heav'd the deep-felt sigh,61.
While fast the tears stole down from either eye;
Bleak blew the wind, the darkness blacker grew,63.
And slow the youth with feeble pace withdrew.
Eppie And The Deil
AULD Eppie was a thrifty wife,1.
An' she had spun maist a' her life,
For threescore yeer row't
rolledin her cloak,3.
She sat, an' rugged at the rock.
As Eppie's life had lang been single,5.
sometimes span by a neibor's ingle,
An' when the sin slade out o' sight,7.
She dauner't hamewards owre the height,
Lamenting aft that poortith
For her to spin wha scarce could crawl.
As Eppie wi' her wheel gaed hame,11.
empty hunger crackin' in her wame,
Made her regret wi' mony a grane,13.
That she sae far a-fiel' had gaen;
The wind whyles whirlin' roun' the rock,
Aft lent her on the lug a stroke;
Right cankry to hersel' she crackit,
"That wheel o' mine—the devil take it—"18.
Nae sooner had she said the word
Than Clootie, shapet like a burd,
Flew down, as big's a twomont ca',
An' clinket Eppie's wheel awa',22.
Ha'f dead wi' fright, up to the lift
She glowr't, an' saw him spur like drift,24.
As fast as ony bleeze o' pouther,
Out through the cluds wi't owre his shouther.
"Aye, aye," quo Epps, "an' so it's you,27.
Ye aul', confounded, thief-like sow!
Nae doubt ye're keen to try yer han'29.
Amang yer hairy, blackguard
Ye maybe think that spinning's naething,
An' that it wastes na sap nor breathing?
Ye're new-fangl't now, but wait a wee
Till ance ye've spun as lang as me,34.
I'll wad a dollar, Mr. Deil,
Ye'll gladly gie me back my wheel."
Cloots heard, and though he was the devil,37.
For ance he acted vera civil,
For laughin' at poor Eppie's crack,
He threw the wheel down on her back.
Whan ill luck comes, be't mair or less,41.
It's aye best then to acquiesce,
And rather laugh, though gear
goods sud lea' us,43.
whine whene'er its harl't
dragged frae us.
This taks the stang frae ilka cross,
compels us rise aboon the loss;
Gars Fortune whiles gie owre to hiss us,
And smiling, turn about and bless us.48.
To The Hon. William M'Dowal, Of Garthland, On His Return From Parliament
The people of Lochwinnoch, in economic distress at the sharp downturn in silk-weaving piecework, had sent a petition to their parliamentarian M'Dowell in London. His response was to send money to alleviate immediate hardships and to initiate plans for a cotton mill on the Calder, which became the basis for some measure of security for the town. Although Wilson certainly did not know it at the time, M'Dowell was himself in deepening financial trouble. In 1810, after the collapse of his family business and the end of his political career, William M'Dowell committed suicide in the study where he had received Wilson's first call.
WELCOME once more, from scenes of pomp and noise,1.
To rural peace and undisturbèd joys;
Welcome! the blessings of the poor to share,3.
That smiles and tears of gratitude declare.
Smiles, from the soul that undissembled dart,
And tears, warm-streaming from th'o'erflowing heart.
Blest be the arm! when Famine from his den,7.
Led on by fools and deep-designing men,
Advanc'd, grim-threat'ning, to deform those plains,9.
Where wealth and peace and boundless commerce reigns;
Blest be the arm that scourg'd him from our shore,
And bade our hopes to blossom as before.
The warrior sheath'd in steel and drench'd in blood,13.
May scatter death where towns and hamlets stood;
May see around the flaming horrors rise,15.
And hear, well-pleased, expiring wretches' cries;
These to his savage bosom may convey
A short-liv'd joy that darkens with the day;
But he, whose gracious and assisting hand
Spreads wealth and pleasure o'er a smiling land;20.
Bids cities rise, internal troubles cease,
And pours the balm of liberty and peace;
To him the peasant, whistling o'er the soil;
The yellow fields, the reapers' rustling toil;
The noisy bustling town, the crowded port,25.
Where mingling nations with their stores resort;
These to his heart a tide of rapture roll,
That warms, sublimes, and dignifies the soul.
To you, M'Dowal, whose unbounded heart29.
Exults, to all those blessings to impart;
To you each bosom heaves with grateful sighs,31.
For you the warmest of our wishes rise;
That Heaven, indulgent, may for ever shed
Health, peace, and pleasure round your honor'd head,
Long, long, to rise amid your humble swains,
The hope, the guard, and glory of our plains.36.
I ASK'D a poor fav'rite of Phoebus t'other night,1.
Whom to see, I had toil'd seven proud stories' height;
If his wit could inform me what cause can be for it,3.
That poets incline so to live in a garret?
'There are many,' quoth he, 'don't you know that sly reynard5.
When trac'd from the hen-roost, the fold or the vineyard,
How by turnings and doubling he endeavors to fleece7.
Each hound of its aim, then repose him in peace?
So we, (such you see are the terms of Apollo)
Still in dread of the Bailiff or Dun's horrid hollo;
Mount, winding and circling through a labyrinth of stairs,
To our own airy regions of hunger and cares.12.
'Another, moreover, might likewise be given—13.
We're nearer Apollo, the Muses, and Heaven;
From whence, when the patch from its pane is unfurl'd,15.
We can spit with contempt on the rest of the world;
And, living on air, sure 'tis well understood,
That the higher the garret the purer the food.'
A Pastoral Ode in the Manner of Shenstone
AH! where can the comfortless fly?1.
(Young Damon disconsolate said,
The tears starting fast from his eye,3.
As reclining he sat in the shade.)
Ah! where can the comfortless fly?
To whom shall the wretched repair?
Who hoping for happiness nigh,
Are met by approaching despair!8.
I hop'd, but alas! 'twas in vain,9.
When forward through fate I explor'd,
That Fame would take wing with my strain,11.
And Plenty still smile at my board:
And oh! how my bosom did glow
To see that my sorrows would end!
That Fate would its blessings bestow,
To gladden my fair one and friend!16.
O then, when the woods were all mute,17.
And groves by the evening embrown'd,
How I'd wake the slow mellow-ton'd flute,19.
While shepherds stood list'ning around;
They prais'd the soft ravishing air,
That warbl'd so pleasing and free;
But a smile or a look from my fair,
Was more than their praises to me.24.
Blest prospects! far hence ye have fled,25.
And left me all friendless and poor;
Stern Poverty stalks round my shed,27.
And Ruin glares grim at the door.
Ah! where can the comfortless fly?
To whom shall the wretched repair?
Who hoping for happiness nigh,
Are met by approaching despair!32.
Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland (1760) allegedly translated the work of Fenian bard Ossian.
The authenticity and provenance of the Ossian poems was immediately disputed and has not been fully settled. Wilson prefaced the poem with this note: "This Poem
is inserted at the repeated solicitations of several gentlemen, who, having favoured the Author with a volume of these beautiful pieces, requested him to attempt the
versification of any one of them he thought most interesting. The following was therefore chosen by the Author, as it cannot fail to affect every feeling mind.
Those who are acquainted with that immortal Bard's works will see that the original thoughts are strictly retained."
HARD by a rock that from the mountain rose,1.
Where aged trees hung o'er their withered boughs;
Low on the moss, long lost to joy and peace,3.
Old Ossian sat, the last of Fingal's race;
Sightless his aged eyes, his visage pale,
And white his beard flow'd in the waving gale;
Silent he list'ned to the northern breeze
That chearless whistled thro' the leafless trees;8.
Grief in his soul began afresh to bleed,
And thus he mourn'd in deepest woe the dead.
"How, like the monarch of the waving wood,11.
Long beat by winds and lash'd by tempests rude;
How hast thou fall'n before the roaring gust,13.
With all thy branches round thee in the dust!
Where now is Fingal the renownèd king?
Where Oscar brave, my son, young, fresh as Spring?
Where all my race so fearless once and gay?
All, all alas! lie mouldering in the clay.18.
Here as I sit, to wail their hapless doom,
Around I grope and feel each warrior's tomb;
While, far below, the river's rushing sweep
Pours hoarsely roaring down each rocky steep.
"Ah! while thy once-known currents past me roll,23.
What, O lone river! say'st thou to my soul?
Back to my mind, worn with Misfortune's blast,25.
Thou bring'st the sad remembrance of the past.
"Rang'd on thy banks the race of Fingal stood,27.
Strong as the lofty, black, aspiring wood;
Keen glanc'd their steely spears with fiery rage,29.
And bold was he who durst that wrath engage;
Amid the chiefs great Fillan did appear,
And Oscar! thou my noble son was there;
There Fingal stood, unknown to trembling fears,
Strong in the white, the hoary locks of years;34.
Full rose his sinewy limbs, firm fell his tread,
And wide and fair his ample shoulders spread;
Soon as the terrors of his wrath arose,
Beneath his arm how sunk his dying foes!
"Gaul, son of Morny, came forth from his place,39.
The tallest, hugest of the human race;
High as an oak upon the hill he stood,41.
His voice loud-roaring like the roaring flood;
'Why reigns (he cries in proud contempt) alone
The mighty Corval's feeble, tim'rous son?
Unfit is Fingal's slender arm to save,
He ne'er support to his poor people gave;46.
But here I stand enthron'd in terrors now,
Fierce as a whirlwind on the mountain's brow;
Strong as a storm that roars amid the sea,
Yield son of Corval, coward, yield to me!'
"Forth Oscar stood, his breast with rage did glow,51.
(My son, my noble son would meet the foe!)
But Fingal came, high-moving thro' the host,53.
And smil'd to hear the haughty vaunter's boast;
Around each other hard their arms they threw,
And fierce the fight, and dread the combat grew;
Madly they struggled o'er the trembling ground,
And deep their heels plough'd up the earth around;58.
Loud crack'd their bones. As where white billows rave,
The boat leaps light from dashing wave to wave;
Long toil'd the chiefs the doubtful field to gain,
And fell, with night upon the sounding plain.
"Thus two huge oaks before the tempest's sweep,63.
With mingled boughs, roll crashing down the steep;
Bound was the son of Morny, mute with shame;65.
The hoary, agèd hero overcame.
"Fair, with her golden locks of glossy show,67.
Her polish'd neck and rising breasts of snow;
Fair, as the spirits of the hill appear69.
When from the cliffs they charm the list'ning ear;
Or when to view, light as the morning's breath,
At silent noon they glide along the heath;
Fair as the arch o'er heav'n's wide dome displayed,
So fair came Minvane the delightful maid.74.
'Fingal,' she softly said in accents sweet,
Loose me my brother from his conqueror's feet.
Oh loose my Gaul,—-my race's hope alone!
For all but Fingal tremble at his frown.'
'Shall I (reply'd the King) thy suit deny,79.
Thou lovely daughter of the mountain high?
No, free thy brother take, and welcome go.81.
Sweet Minvane! fairer than the northern snow.'
"Such, Fingal, were thy words, sweet in my ear,83.
But now no more shall I these accents hear;
To wail my friends, and mourn their hapless doom,85.
Here sit I, sightless, by the dreary tomb;
Wild thro' the wood I hear the tempest roar,
But see my friends and hear their voice no more;
Ceas'd is the cry of hunters from afar,
And hush'd, for ever, the loud voice of War."90.
The Laurel Disputed;
Or, The Merits Of Allan Ramsay And Robert Fergusson Contrasted
?Delivered in the Pantheon, at Edinburgh, on Thursday, 14th April, 1790, on the Question—?Whether have the exertions of Allan Ramsay or Robert Fergusson done more hounour to Scottish poetry?" Wilson defended Robert Fergusson (1750-1774), the herald (along with Burns) of the vernacular revival in Scotland. Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), also dedicated to vernacular Scottish poetry, was of an earlier and more decorous generation. Wilson's reading of the poem was met with wild enthusiasm, and he was denied first prize only because the house had been packed with the aristocratic friends of Robert Cumming, who declaimed in favor of Ramsay. Cheered by his reception, Wilson resolved to reissue his 1790 collection of poetry with several omissions and additions. The poem was also published in 1791 as a pamphlet (Edinburgh: for J. Guthrie) alongside Ebenezer Picken's contribution. Wilson's ?Elegy Addressed to a Young Lady" was also inserted in the back, giving some indication of Wilson's own assessment of his poetic profile.
To Merit's brow this garland gives the Muse,1.
For who to Merit would a wreath deny?
Tho' base Neglect the due deserts refuse, 3.
Fair Fame forbids the poet's name to die.
The source of this epigraph has not been located.
BEFORE ye a' hae done, I'd humbly crave,1.
To speak twa words or three amang the lave;
No for mysel', but for an honest carl,3.
Wha's seen right mony changes i' the warl',
But is sae blate,
bashful down here he durstna
dared not come,
Lest, as he said, his fears might ding
knock him dumb;
And then he's frail—-sae begg'd me to repeat
His simple thoughts about this fell
gave me this lang
long scroll; 'tis e'en right brown;
I'se let you hear't as he has't set down.
week our Elpsa wi' some creels
baskets o' eggs,11.
And three fat eerocks
chickens fassent by the legs,
Gaed down to Embrugh; caft
brought a new bane-kame,13.
An' brought a warl' o' news and clashes hame:
For she's scarce out a day, an' gets a text,
But I'm dung
beat deaf wi' clatter a' the next;
She'll tell a' what she heard frae en' to en',
Her cracks to wives, wives cracks to her again;18.
Till wi' quo' I's, quo' she's, an' so's, her skirle
Sets my twa lugs
ears a ringing like a gir'le.
'Mang ither ferlies
wonders whilk my kimmer
Was your prent paper batter't on the wa';
She said she kentna
did not know rightly what it meant,23.
But saw some words o' goud
gold an' poets in't!
compelled me glour; sae aff sets I my lane
To Daniel Reid's, an auld frien' o' my ain;
He gets the News, and tauld me that ye'd hecht
large piece o' goud, on this same Fursday night,28.
To him wha'd show, in clinking verses drest,
Gin Ramsay's sangs or Fergusson's war best.
Trouth I was glad to hear ye war sae kind,31.
As keep our slee-tongu'd billies in your mind;
An' tho' our Elpsa ca'd me mony a gouk,
To think to speak amang sae mony fouk;
I gat my staff, pat on my bonnet braid,
An' best blue breeks, that war but fern-year made;
A saxpence too, to let me in bedeen,
An' thir auld spentacles to help my een;38.
Sae I'm come here, in houps ye'll a' agree,
To hear a frank auld kintra
country man like me.
In days whan Dryden sang ilk bonny morn,41.
An' Sandy Pope began to tune his horn;
Whan chiels round Lon'on chanted a' fu' thrang,43.
But poor auld Scotlan' sat without a sang;
Droll Will Dunbar, frae Flyting than was freed,
An' Douglas too, an' Kennedy were dead;
And nane were left, in hamely
homely cracks to praise
Our ain sweet lasses, or our ain green braes;
Far aff our gentles for their poets flew,
An' scorn'd to own that Lallan sangs they knew;
Till Ramsay raise: O blythsome hearty days!
Whan Allan tun'd his chaunter
musical instrument on the braes!
Auld Reekie than, frae blackest, darkest wa's53.
To richest rooms resounded his applause;
An' whan the nights were dreary, lang an' dark,
The beasts a' fothert, an' the lads frae wark;
The lasses' wheels thrang birring round the ingle,
The ploughman, borin' wi' his brogs an' lingel,58.
The herd's wires clicking owr the ha'f-wrought hose,
The auld gudeman's een ha'flins like to close;
The "Gentle Shepherd" frae the bole was ta'en,—
Than sleep I trow was banished frae their een;
The crankiest than was kittled up to daffin',
ticked into having fun63.
An' sides and chafts
chops maist riven
tearing war wi' laughin'.
Sic war the joys his cracks cou'd eith afford65.
To peer an' ploughman, barrowman, or lord;
In ilka clachan, wife, man, wean, an' callan,67.
Cracket an' sang frae morn to e'en o' Allan.
Learn'd fouk, that lang in colleges an' schools,69.
sucked learning to the vera hools,
An' think that naething charms the heart sae weel's71.
Lang cracks o' gods, Greeks, Paradise, and deils;
Their pows are cram't
filled full sae fu' o' lear an' art,
Plain simple nature canna reach their heart;
But whare's the rustic that can, readin', see
Sweet Peggy skiffin' ow'r the dewy lee;76.
Or, wishfu' stealing up the sunny howe
To gaze on Pate, laid sleeping on the knowe;
Or hear how Bauldy ventur'd to the deil,
How thrawn auld carlines skelpit
whipped him afiel',
How Jude wi's hawk met Satan i' the moss,81.
How Skin-flint grain't his pocks o' goud to loss;
How bloody snouts an' bloody beards war gi'en
To smith's and clowns at "Christ's kirk on the Green;"
How twa daft herds, wi' little sense or havings,
Din'd by the road, on honest Hawkie's leavings;86.
How Hab maist brak the priest's back wi' a rung,
How deathless Addie died, an' how he sung;
Whae'er can thae (o' mae I needna speak)
Read tenty ow'r, at his ain ingle-cheek;
An' no fin' something glowan thro' his blood,91.
That gars his een glowr thro' a siller
May close the beuk,
book poor coof!
foolish fellow and lift his spoon;
His heart's as hard's the tackets
nails in his shoon.
Lang saxty years ha'e whiten't ow'r this powe,95.
An' mony a height I've seen, an' mony a howe;
But aye whan Elspa flate,
scolded or things gaed wrang,97.
Next to my pipe was Allie's sleekit
I thought him blyther ilka time I read,
An' mony a time, wi' unco glee I've said,
That ne'er in Scotland, wad a chiel
Sae droll, sae hearty, sae confoundet queer,102.
quick-witted or sae bauld
I said, I swor't—but deed I was mistaen:
Up frae Auld Reekie Fergusson begoud,
In fell auld phrase that pleases aye the crowd,
To chear their hearts whiles wi' an antrin
Whilk far an' near round a' the kintry rang.
At first I thought the swankie
youth didna ill,109.
Again, I glowrt to hear him better still;
sly and sweet, his lines mair glorious grew,111.
Glow'd round the heart, and glanc'd the soul out-thro;
But whan I saw the freaks o' Hallow Fair,
Brought a' to view as plain as I'd been there;
An' heard, wi' teeth 'maist chatterin i' my head,
churchyard ghaists rais'd goustly frae the dead;116.
Dais'd Sandy greetan
weeping for his thriftless wife;
How camscheuch Samy sud been fed in Fife;
Poor Will an' Geordy mourning for their frien';
The Farmer's Ingle, an' the cracks at e'en;
My heart cry'd out, while tears war drappan fast,121.
O Ramsay, Ramsay, art thou beat at last?
Ae night,—the lift was skinklan
sparkling a' wi' starns,—
I cross'd the burn
stream an' dauner't
wandered thro' the cairns,
Down to auld Andrew Ralston's o' Craig-neuk,125.
To hear his thoughts, as he had seen the beuk:
(Andrew's a gay droll haun—ye'll aiblins ken him?—
does not matter I had hecht some sangs to len' him,)
"Aweel," quo' I, as soon's I reek't the hallan,
"What think ye now o' our bit Embrugh callan?"130.
"Saf's man," quo' Andrew, "yon's an unco chiel!
He surely has some dealings wi' the deil!
There's no a turn that ony o' us can work at,
At hame, or yet a-fiel', at kirk or market;
But he describ'st as paukily
slyly an' fell,
As gin he'd been a kintra man himsel'.
Yestreen I'm sure, beside our auld gudewife,
I never leugh as meikle a' my life,
To read the King's Birth-day's fell hurry-burry,
How draigl't pussey flies about like fury;140.
Faith, I ken that's a fact.—The last birth-day,
As I stood glouring up an' down the way,
A dead cat's guts, before I cou'd suspect,
Harl't thro the dirt, cam clash about my neck;
An' while wi' baith my hauns, frae 'bout I tok it,145.
Wi' perfect stink, I thought I wad a bocket.
"His stories, too, are tell't sae sleek an' baul',147.
Ilk oily word rins jinking thro' the saul;
What he describes, before your een
eyes ye see't,149.
As plain an' lively as ye see that peat.
It's my opinion, John, that this young fallow,
Excels them a', an' beats auld Allan hallow;
An' shows at twenty-twa, as great a giftie
For painting just, as Allan did at fifty."154.
You, Mr. President, ken weel yersel',155.
Better by far than kintra-fouks can tell,
That they wha reach the gleg,
quick auld-farrant art,157.
In verse to melt, an' soothe, an' mend the heart;
To raise up joy, or rage, or courage keen,
compel ilk passion sparkle in our een;
Sic chiels (whare'er they hae their ha' or hame),
Are true blue-bards, and wordy o' the name.162.
Sud ane o' thae, by lang experience, man
To spin out tales frae mony a pawky plan,
An' sets a' laughing at his blauds o' rhyme,
Wi' sangs aft polish'd by the haun o' Time;
And should some stripling, still mair light o' heart,167.
A livelier humour to his cracks impart;
Wi' careless pencil draw, yet gar us stare
To see our ain fire-sides and meadows there;
To see our thoughts, our hearts, our follies drawn,
And nature's sel' fresh starting frae his haun;172.
Wad mony words, or speeches lang, be needed
To tell whase rhymes war best, wha clearest-headed?
Sits there within the four wa's o' this house,175.
young person o' taste, droll, reprobate, or douse;
Whase blessed lugs hae heard young Rob himsel',177.
(Light as the lamb that dances on the dell)
Lay aff his auld Scots crack wi' pawky glee,
And seen the fire that darted frae his ee?
O let him speak! O let him try t'impart
The joys that than gush'd headlang on his heart,182.
Whan ilka line, and ilka lang-syne glowr,
Set faes an' friends and Pantheons in a roar!
Did e'er auld Scotland fin' a nobler pride
Through a' her veins, and glowan bosom glide,
Than when her Muses' dear young fav'rite bard,187.
Wi' her hale strength o' wit and fancy fir'd,
Raise frae the thrang, and kin'ling at the sound,
Spread mirth, conviction, truth and rapture round?
To set Rob's youth and inexperience by,—191.
His lines are sweeter, and his flights mair high;
Allan, I own, may show far mair o' art,193.
Rob pours at once his raptures on the heart;
The first, by labour mans our breast to move,
The last exalts to ecstasy and love;
In Allan's verse, sage sleeness we admire,
In Rob's, the glow of fancy and of fire,198.
And genius bauld, that nought but deep distress,
And base neglect, and want, could e'er suppress.
O hard, hard fate!—but cease, thou friendly tear,201.
I darna mourn my dear lo'ed Bardie here,
Else I might tell how his great soul had soar'd,203.
And nameless ages wonder'd and ador'd;
Had friends been kind, and had not his young breath
And rising glory, been eclipsed by Death.206.
But lest owre lang I lengthen out my crack,207.
An' Epps be wearying for my coming-back;
Let ane an' a' here, vote as they incline,209.
Frae heart and saul Rob Fergusson has mine.
Addressed To A Young Lady
First published separately, with "The Laurel Disputed," in 1791.
Added to the second edition (1791). "This was written in the prospect of death, and retains all the marks of sincerity about it yet."
[AW's handwritten note, from Brown I:45]. Reprinted by Wilson in The Literary Magazine, and American Register,
April 1806, 318-19. It is signed "A. W―N." and dated "Gray's Ferry, April 25, 1806."
THOU dearest object of my soul on earth,1.
Thou kind young sharer of my joys and woe,
Forgive, while here I pour my sorrows forth,3.
Ere life's last current from its fountain flow.
The hour arrives with Heaven's supreme behest,5.
Advancing death in awful pomp I see,
Disease slow writhes within my troubled breast,7.
And past are all the joys of life with me.
Farewell, ye pleasing scenes of fond delight;9.
Farewell, ye hopes that promised once so well,
Ye charms that shot through my enraptur'd sight,11.
Ye days of peace, ye nights of bliss, farewell.
No more with thee the drowsy town I'll leave,13.
To tread the dews, and breathe the sweets of morn,
Or fondly wish the dear return of eve,15.
To meet thee blushing near the lonely thorn.
The eyes that gaz'd, unwearied, on thy charms,17.
The heart that wont, at sight of thee, to leap,
A few sad hours will finish its alarms,19.
And seal their orbs in everlasting sleep.
When this weak pulse hath number'd out its date,21.
When all my hopes, and all my fears are o'er;
When each young friend shall pensive tell my fate,23.
And Death's black train stand mournful at my door;
Then, O Lavinia, while thou dost survey25.
The pale chang'd features once to thee well known,
The limbs that flew thy dictates to obey,27.
The arms that oft enclasp'd thee as their own,
Check not the tear that trembles in thine eye,29.
Nor stop the sigh that struggles from thy heart;
These are the rites for which I'd rather die,31.
Than all the pomp of marble and of art.
Lavinia! O thou dear, thou precious name,33.
That opes each wound, and tears my trembling heart,
Wilt thou vouchsafe one poor request I claim,35.
To breathe one wish, one prayer ere we part.
O round thy head may Heaven its blessings strew;37.
May angels waft each comfort to thy cell;
Pure be thy peace; thy tears, thy troubles few;39.
Thou kindest, dearest, fondest friend, farewell!
Belfast: John Henderson, 1847. No copy of the first and only printing of this collection survives. Because of this nested series of poems' late and limited publication, its complete absence in surviving correspondence, and its numerous subtle discrepancies from Wilson's style, its provenance must remain in some doubt. There are certainly many allusions in the poem that appear to link it to Wilson, most significantly those to his poems "Hogmenae," "Eppie an' the Deil," and "Rabbie's Mistake," all from Wilson's 1792-3 period of dialect comedic verse. The setting, with Stanly Castle, Auchinbathie, the Cart and Calder rivers, are all closely associated with Wilson. But Grosart, who accepts these poems as Wilson's, mentions in his headnote to the section "Poems Ascribed to Wilson" that he finds other "newly discovered" specimens to have "a look of forgeries adapted to familiar circumstances of Wilson's life" and it is possible that The Spouter itself is one such forgery (2:407). Internally, there are a few unusual spellings and choices of diction that are not attested elsewhere in Wilson's work: jaud, shuttle, noo, gyan, wonnerin', scraichin', forret, puir, grumphy, stauchrin', thocht/thoucht, etc. The epigraph from Shakespeare is unique. No previous editor of Wilson has suggested that these may not belong to him, but in the eyes of the current editor there are grounds for suspicion but no definitive proof. As Wilson's reputation rose posthumously in Scotland, there would have been a financial inducement to passing off forgeries as from his hand.
———All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women only players;
They have their exits, and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
WHERE is the place that mair o' life ye'll learn,1.
Than 'hint the scenes in some auld kintra barn,
Where two-three hungry, ragged, Spouter blades,3.
—Wha'd better stuck through life to spools or spades,—
Driven by stern want, the fell remorseless jaud;
Mang kintra folk do ply their kittle trade?
There ye may see a lang horn shottle chiel,7.
On whose pale face, hunger is painted weel,
As Dick the Third shout for "a horse! a horse!"9.
To meet young Richmond, an' the invading force:
Or else some sniftering, snivelling, ill-clad loon,
Wha wadna hae the heart a cat to droon;
As stern Macbeth, rampauging through his part,
An' for his crown stab Duncan to the heart.14.
Anither chiel, wha ilk day thumps his wife,
There, on the stage, acts Romeo to the life;
While whimpering Juliet for a maid is ta'en,
Although last week she bore a bastard wean,
And couldna tell, though it wad saved her life,19.
Wha her a mother made before she was a wife.
Or turn to Comedy: wha e'er wad think,21.
The chiels were hovering on starvation's brink;
Wha e'er wad think, to hear their ready joke,23.
That they were suffering 'neath affliction's stroke;
Or wha wad think yon funny, tumbling clown,
Wha raises laughter to the auld and young,
Beneath the fun and humour o' his part,
Concealed crushed spirits, and a breaking heart:28.
Yet sae it is, for down his pen he laid,
Fired by ambition for to try the trade,
At whilk great Garrick had got sic a name,
And whilk he thoucht wad lead even him to fame;
But noo he tumbles, to a score or twa33.
O' kintra bumpkins, in some aul' barn wa',
And sees himsel' gaun to an early grave,
Fell want and dissipation's ready slave.
A' that, and mair, hae I richt aften seen,37.
When through the kintra wi' my pack I've been;
But what has brought it now just to my min',39.
Is an affair that happened here short-syne:
Upo' ae caul', bleak, blustry winter-day,
A Spouter blade, to our town took his way;
A lang ill-leukin' vagabond, I trow,
Dressed in a ragged coat that had been blue;44.
And wi' a bundle owre his shouther hung,
Tied to the en' o' a thick knotty rung;
While, by his side, trampèd a wee bit laddie,
Whose claes were like his master's, gyan duddie.
And as they slowly trudged along the street,49.
Plashing through dirt an' wat, wi' ill-shod feet;
Ilk aul' wife left her wheel, to rin and see
Wha that lang raggy ne'er-do-weel could be;
And as in twas and threes they gathered roun',
Wonnerin' what broucht sic gangrels to the town,54.
Some shook their heads, an' said— "Eh! sirs, I fear
It's for nae guid, as we owre soon will hear."
While ithers said that— "We should thankfu' be
We ne'er had been broucht to sic misery;
But aye had haen a shelter owre our head,59.
An' ne'er could say that we hae wantit bread;
While some puir creatures haena where to lay
Their heads, nor yet as much as for a meal would pay."
After the Spouter had gaen out o' sight,63.
An' the auld wives had settled a' things right,
In a short time I had forgot him clean,65.
The same as if he never here had been;
When, leukin' frae the winnock, there I saw
His raggy callan, batterin' on the wa'
Big prentit bills—an' rinnin' out wi' speed
That I might his "announcement" quickly read,70.
I saw them headed "Wondrous novelty!"
In twa-inch letters, an' then "Come an' see!"
He then set forth his name was Mr. Main,
An' he had come direct frae Drury Lane,
Where baith their Majesties, the king an' queen,75.
Had aft wi' his performance pleasèd been;
And that he now was on his kintra tour,
That he might show the warl' his great power,—
Whilk was allowèd in the acting line,
By every ane, to be great an' sublime.80.
He then on the "Nobility! " did call,
"Gentry" an' "Public," too, "in general;"
To come that night to William Watson's barn,
(This was in writing) where that they would learn
From certain pieces that he would recite85.
In the said barn, at eight o'clock that night,
The various passions of the human mind;
An' that a' those who might be sae inclined,
Would likewise hear some sangs, divinely sung
By Master Sprat; whase praises had been rung90.
Through a' the lan'; (a great deal mair was said,
Whilk noo has slippet clean out o' my head:)
Then ended wi' "The charge is just a penny,
So be in time, for the place wont hold many."
Ye wad hae thought the whole folk i' the town,95.
By this time 'bout the bills were gathered roun';
An' as in crowds, they stood, an' at them read,97.
'Twas odd to hear the droll remarks they made.
Ane said he "wonnert the great Mr. Main,
Should lea sae gran' a place as Drury lane;
That he, an' a bit raggy chiel, thegither
Might wanner through the lan' in sic like weather:"102.
While an auld wife said, "Bairns, tak' my advice,
An' gang na near the place, gif ye be wise;
For I can tell you wha ere sets a fit,
Within the barn, is bookit for the pit
Whilk has nae boddam; whare the wicked's soul,107.
'Mang burning brumstane lies, to roar an' howl,—
As Reverend Mr. Thump-the-Deil did say
In his discourse the tither Sabbath day.
Ye needna giggle, callans, it's as true
As I'm this precious minute telling you;112.
An' mair than that, ye'll maybe hae heard tell
What happened to a lad ca'd Andrew Bell,
Wha ance to Glasgow, to the warehouse gaed
(The chiel being a weaver to his trade).
Weel, in that town I trow he saw a sicht117.
That filled him mony a day wi' muckle fricht.
Some freens had gat him to gae to the Play,
In place o' doucely in the house to stay;
When in the nicht he waukent wi' the smell
O' brumstane, as I've heard him aften tell;122.
An' turnin' roun', what think ye that he saw?
Just the black Devil stan'in' at the wa',
Haudin' out in his han' a muckle book;
On whilk puir Andro did nae sooner look,
Than Clootie gied the puir lad a bit wink,127.
And pointed to his name—written wi' red ink;
As muckle as to say, "at last, my chiel,
Ye hae been fairly gruppit by the Deil."
She then gaed on to tell us, that if we
Gaed to the barn this nicht, we'd maybe see132.
Some o' her words ere lang wad come to pass:
An' then she shook her head, an' said— "Alas!
Sic unbelievin' times were never seen,
They werena like the guid aul' times that ance had been."
But, faith, to me her lecture was in vain,137.
It didna keep me back frae Mr. Main;
For aff I set, an' comin' near the door,139.
There stood the Spouter, wha did loudly roar
To "Be in time, an' come right quickly in,
For I am just a-going to begin;
An' if you do not soon secure your places,
The door, ere long, will be shut in your faces.144.
An' if ye miss this opportunity,
The like of it ye ne'er again may see;
For I can tell you, 'tis not every day
Such a famed actor will a visit pay
Unto your town, for—" here I stopped his speech149.
By haudin' out a penny in his reach;
An', walkin' in, sat down before a screen
That in its day had ance a bed-mat been;
Although wi' dirt an' patches 'twas sae covered,
What it had been could scarcely be discovered.154.
As soon as I had cast aroun' my een155.
I scarcely could believe what there was seen,
For that whilk had been made for to appear,157.
When in the bill, a "brilliant chandelier,"
Was just a girr, that frae the laft hung down
Wi' cannels here an' there stuck on't a' roun';
An' in place o' the instrumental ban',
Whilk was to have been unequalled in the lan',162.
Before the screen, wi' a bit fiddle, sat
His raggy laddie, ca'd Adolphus Sprat;
An' scruntit "Owre the hills an' far awa,"
In tones far waur than sharpenin' a saw;
An' I but tell the truth, whan I allege,167.
Ere lang he had set a' our teeth on edge.
"Stop that damn'd fiddle! " roared a kintra lout,
"Or by the Lord! ye'll hae to let me out;
I never heard sic scraichin' a' my life,
The soun' gangs through an' through ane, like a knife."172.
"Up wi' the hippen!" cried anither chap,
An' then wi' feet and hands began to rap.
"What are ye chirtin' at?" anither cries,
"I want you to sit up, " the first replies;
"Ye hae as muckle room as ony twa177.
In that place there—between you an' the wa'."
But "Silence, silence," ilka ane did roar
As Mr. Main cam' in, an' shut the door;
An', loutin' down, creeped in behind the screen,
Whare he was hid frae the spectators' een.182.
Ere lang the tingle o' a bell was heard,183.
An' when the screen was drawn up, there appeared
The Spouter, wi' his arms on his breast crossed,185.
As if in deep reflection he was lost.
An' coming forret, he made a low bow,
Saying—'Gentlemen an' ladies, I will now
Begin the night's performance with some rhymes
Made on a circumstance of bye-past times;190.
Where an attempt is made, for once, to show
What dire effects of misery an' woe,
Such bloody feuds oft brought upon the Land."
So saying, the Spouter rais'd up his hand;
An' while he towards the audience took a lamp,195.
Broucht down his richt foot wi' an awfu' stamp,
And thus began:—
"To horse! to horse! my merry men,1.
Why sit you feasting there?
When, from within yon dungeon's wall,3.
Your captive friends for vengeance call
In accents of despair."
"What mean those words," bold Stanley said;6.
"What mean those words I hear?
What mean those words you now have said?8.
Where be those friends who call for aid,
While we sit idling here?"
"Within the cursed castle walls,11.
Of your fierce enemy;
Full fifty of your bravest men,13.
Are lying—who this day were ta'en,
And I alone got free."
Up started brave Lord Stanley then,16.
Saying, "By the blessed rood,
He for this deed shall sorely pay,18.
Ere yonder sun has set to-day,
With his heart's dearest blood.
"And now my friends, to arms! to arms;21.
And let us quick to horse;"
And soon five hundred men amain,23.
Were hurrying onwards o'er the plain;
In sooth a goodly force.
And coming to the castle strong,26.
Lord Stanley loudly calls:
"Deliver up to me those men28.
Which you took prisoners, and then
Shut up within these walls."
The warder answered him with scorn:31.
"Your men you ne'er will see;
For ere the sun has reached his height,33.
All those ta'en prisoners in the fight
Their punishment shall dree."
"Archers, advance!" Lord Stanley cried;36.
And from each ready bow
The arrows speedily were sent,38.
Rattling against the battlement,
Then dropping down below.
Those in the castle now began,41.
From loopholes in the wall,
To shoot on the invading force;43.
And soon from off his gallant horse,
Many a brave knight did fall.
"Attack the gate!" again he cried,46.
And soon each willing hand
Made the blows rattle thick as hail;48.
To force the gate they could not fail,
Nought might such force withstand.
When from the castle's lofty top—51.
Oh! horrible to view!—
The gory heads and mangled limbs53.
Of those who'd prisoners been within,
Down on the foe they threw!
Who, struck with horror at the sight,56.
Turned round, and fled away;
And long and grievously did mourn58.
At their disconsolate return,
And what they'd seen that day.
As soon's the Spouter had got through his piece,61.
Some cried hurra! an' ithers hissed like geese.
"Saves! that's an awfu' bluidy tale," says ane,63.
"Do ye think ere sic cruelty was done?"
"Aye was't, man" said his neebour, "mony a time
I've heard it tell't though ne'er before in rhyme.
It happened, man, no far frae whare we are:
But guidsake! what's the matter wi' the girr,68.
That it's gaun up an' down at sic a rate?
I see it's that wee blastit sinner Pate.
I say, Pate, keep yer fingers aff that string,
An' silence there, the callan's gaun to sing."
As Master Sprat, began fu' loud to roar,73.
A sang nane o' us e'er had heard before,
About "Young Jeannie," when— "Oh! damn young Jeannie,"
A fellow cried, "come gie us something funny;"
Anither said, "Man, Jock, let him alane;
I say, my laddie, just begin again,78.
An' pick as short a ane, as e'er ye can;
For I can tell ye what it is, my man,
Gif that yer singing be ought like yer fiddling,
The best that we can say o't, is—it's middling."
YOUNG JEANNIE: A SONG
Young Jeannie, when the owlets flew,1.
Oft went to meet her lover;
Where bonnie flowers were bathed in dew,3.
And timorous cowered the plover.
As roun' gaed time, young Jeannie hied5.
To hear young Johnnie's story;
An' aft her tender heart it sighed7.
O'er tales o' love an' glory.
But far frae her young Johnnie's gane,9.
Forsaking his young dearie;
And now she wanders out alane—11.
Heartbroken, sad, an' eerie.
Ahint yon clouds the wan moon peeps,
A-chasing o' the gloamin';
An' casts dark shadows o'er the steeps
Where beauteous Jeannie's roamin'.16.
When Master Sprat had squeakit owre his sang,17.
Wi' cheers an' ruffin' the aul' barn-wa's rang.
An' down he sat, an' up his fiddle took,19.
And—while he owre his shouther cast a look—
Began "The Weaver's March" wi' a' his micht;
When some cried out—"Man! ye're no playin' richt,
That's near about as like 'God Save the King,'
I'll tak' my aith, as ony ither thing."24.
While ithers took his part, saying— "Stop yer bletherin',
The callan's doing unco weel, considerin';
But, wheesht, ye bitches, there's the Spouter's bell!
An' let us hear what he's now got to tell."
When, in he cam', an' screwin' up his face29.
Began an' tell't the weaver's waefu' case;
To be a warning to a' love-born chiels
Never to lea their wark to grunt amang the fiel's:—
THE FORLORN WEAVER
On Cartha's fair banks, 'neath a tree,1.
That threw its broad branches around,
A weaver, most piteous to see,3.
Disconsolate lay on the ground:
He sighed for his Sally so fair,
Who off with another had gone,
And left the poor swain in despair,
At his cruel fortune to mourn.8.
"Ah, why should I live now!" he cried;9.
"Ah, what signifies life now to me!
When she, who should have been my bride,11.
Is married to Willie M'Gee:
I'm sure if the weather was hot,
I would end all my woes in the Linn;
So I'll e'en muse upon my sad lot,
Till ance that the summer comes in.16.
"Then down to the river I'll go,17.
With my pockets well filled with old leads;
And hurried on by my woe,19.
Soon lie a cold corse 'mang the reeds.
Then will the false fair one sad mourn
That her cruelty drove me that road;
And shed bitter tears, as I'm borne
Along to be laid 'neath the sod."24.
So saying, he chanced to look round,25.
And, seeing his faither draw nigh,
He raisèd himself from the ground,27.
And heaved up a heart-bursting sigh,—
Saying, "Ah! he is bringing a stick
To drive me away to the shop;
So I'd better myself take off quick—
'Twould be folly here longer to stop."32.
And then the poor swain said,—"Alas!"33.
And ran swiftly along Cartha's side;
When, stumbling among the long grass,35.
He fell headlong into the deep tide.
When, in accents of horror, he cried—
"Help! help! or I'll quickly be drowned!"
And hurrying down to the side
We drew the poor mortal on ground.40.
Where—streaming with water—his head41.
He hung like a penitent thief;
And, shaking and shivering, thus said43.
In a voice of deep sorrow and grief—
"From this day, a promise I make
That I'll ne'er talk of drowning again;"
And then, giving his head a guid shake,
He scamperèd home o'er the plain.48.
While he was rantin' owre the weaver's woes,49.
Loud roars of laughter aftentimes arose:
An' when the waefu' tale was a' gane through,51.
An aul' man near me said "Think ye that's true?"
"I dinna ken, what do you think yoursel'?"
Said I, as down the screen before us fell.
"I think it's true," quo' he, "for weel I min'
Something gae like it, that I saw langsyne.56.
A tailor chiel (I'll ca' him Willie Goose,
To tell his richt name wad be o' no use)
Had been sair slichted by a bonnie lass;
An' soon as e'er he heard o't, the puir ass
Baith said and swore that he wad tak' his life,61.
Either by hanging, drowning, or a knife.
Sae up he jumpit, on his bonnet pat,
An' hurried aff to a bit nice quait spat;
Whare, neath some sauchs, the water ran fu' deep,
The banks at that place being gayen steep;66.
An' jumpit in, thinkin' he was his lane,
But twa three o' us after him had gane;
Partly to see the fun, partly to save
The silly callan frae a watery grave.
Weel, soon as ever he had jumpit in71.
(I'm sure the water scarce had wat his skin),
He roared for help as loud as he could shout,
An' struggled hard's he could for to win out.
An' down we gaed, an' made him promise fair
That he wad do the like o' that nae mair;76.
An' then I helped to draw him out mysel'—
But isna that the ringin' o' the bell?
Sae I will tell you a' the rest again,—
We'll stop an' hearken, now, to Mr. Main."
Weel, up the screen was haurlet in a crack,81.
An' in he cam' an' gied "Rabbie's Mistak'."
An, Lord! sic laughin' ran frae wa' to wa',
To hear how Rabbie doitert through the snaw
Armed wi' a muckle gun, out ower his shouther,
An' loaded weel wi' pocks o' lead an' pouther;86.
An' how at last the puir unfort'nate tumphy,
Wi' a lead bullet, murdered his ain grumphy,—
The bodie being sae blin', he didna ken
His ain sow frae a maukin in the glen.
Then Master Sprat got up again to sing91.
Some verses made on the return o' Spring;
(An' while he sang, he played upon the fiddle),
But had to stop ere he got to the middle;
For sic a hissing soon was raised at him—
I ne'er in a' my life heard sic a din.96.
Whistlin' through fingers, yells, an' awfu' squeels,
Maist made ane think they were a core o' deils
Let loose frae Hell, the laddie to torment,—
Sae aff the stage by them he soon was sent.
"A stage to let!" then out a fellow cried,101.
An' in cam' Mr. Main, wi' warlike stride;
As if he'd been some auld grim mail-clad knight,
Ready to join his faes in deadly fight;
An' makin' us a bow, began to gie
This waefu' tale o' woe an' cruelty:—106.
Lone, on the side of a high towering hill,1.
From whose mist-shrouded top pours many a rill;
Near where fierce Calder, down the craggy steep,3.
Brawls to the Loch, with wild impetuous sweep;
There, safely sheltered from the howling storm,
Stood a neat cottage of inviting form;
Where lived a soldier, home from war's alarms,
With his fair daughter, rich in beauty's charms.8.
Round her fair form her golden ringlets strayed,9.
And every grace adorned this charming maid;
But, oh! sad grief her matchless beauty bred,11.
And streams of blood in deadly strife was shed!
For though she lived retired, her only care
To please her father, and his love to share.
Yet many a fierce encounter oft was fought
By fiery rivals, who her hand had sought.16.
The Lord of Semple loved this blooming flower,17.
And oft had wished he had her in his power
Safe in the Peel, his stronghold on the lake,19.
Where he would her his wife by force soon make,—
Although he knew, she'd said she'd share the board
Of Fulton, Authenbathie's noble lord;
Who oft in secret wooed the mountain maid,
And of his hand, an offer oft had made.24.
One night, when the moon shone o'er hill and glade,25.
The Lord of Semple, in full pomp arrayed,
Passed quickly round yon distant murmuring flood,27.
Intent to burn the cottage in the wood.
And when he orders gave his men to burn
The cot, he swiftly o'er the plain did spurn
With the two bravest of his valiant men,
And onwards hurrièd by Calder glen;32.
To where the maid her lover ofttimes met33.
When the bright sun far in the west had set;
And there alone, retirèd in the shade,35.
He found her waiting, and thus to her said—
"Oft have I stooped to woo thee for my bride,
Yet thou my love and passion didst deride;
But, now, I come to woo and win by force!"
So saying, he bound her fast upon a horse:40.
And said—"My gallant men, the path is wide;41.
Be quick, and gain the river's western side!"
Quick flew the horses o'er the distant plain,43.
Then crossed the bridge, and the loch side they gain.
There, from the beach a fisher's boat they take.
And speedily crossed the calm and placid lake;
And in the Peel secure the maiden bound,
Where nought but water did the place surround.48.
When Fulton came and found the cottage burned,49.
He swiftly o'er the plain his charger spurned;
And, madly dashing past yon glittering rill,51.
Quickly attained the summit of the hill:
When, looking to the Peel, there met his view
His bride, and off in swift pursuit he flew,—
And quickly found a boat, and crossed the lake,
To conquer or to die for his love's sake.56.
Young Fulton's boat had scarcely crossed the flood57.
When Castle Semple's lord before him stood,
And drawing near him, in derision said—59.
"Come ye, young man, to claim yon beauteous maid?"
Then forth he drew his sword, a glittering sight,
And in a posture stood, prepared for fight;
Then rose young Fulton's wrath; a fiery glow
O'er-spread his face, and crimson dyed his brow.64.
When from the Peel, a wild and dismal cry65.
Shot on their ears, and rung along the sky;
Then swift as lightning, Fulton drew his blade,67.
And cried, "I come! I come unto thy aid!"
Then fierce the warriors fought in deadly strife,
Each in his turn aimed at his rival's life;
Till both their footing missed, and, with a shock,
Plunged headlong o'er the black and rugged rock72.
Into the dark, deep, wide encircling flood,
Dying the lake's clear surface with their blood;
The maid this seeing from the tower on high,
Threw herself down as quick as arrows fly;
For in dire madness, she had ta'en a leap77.
O'er the blood-stained rock, and rugged steep,
Into the blood-dyed water of the lake:
And thus she perished for her lover's sake.
To cheer us up, after this tale o' wae,81.
Master Sprat cam' an' gied us "Hogmenae,"—
A funny sang made on some cheery blades,83.
Wha for ae nicht had left their noisy trades
To hae a spree, an' drink the auld year out;
An' faith they had richt sport, ye needna doubt:
For ane ca'd Brodie, cryin' out "Nae clash,"
Fell aff his seat wi' a most awfu' crash;88.
An' ane ca'd Andrew sang wi' a' his micht
"Hummle dum tweedle," an' "Blythe was the nicht,"—
Till ilka ane, wi' drink an' fun grown weary,
Gaed stauchrin' hame, richt blithe an' unco cheery.
"Encore! encore!" then roun' the auld barn rang93.
As soon as Master Sprat got owre his sang;
An' some began to cry for Mr. Main,95.
While ithers roared "Come, gie's that sang again!"
Till, forced wi' cheers an' ruffin' to come back,
He rattled owre this new sang in a crack:—
OWRE STEEP ROCKY MOUNTAINS:
Owre steep rocky mountains, bleak, barren, an' wild,1.
Sae wearied, I dannert alane;
When a bonnie young lassie, wha saw my sad wae,3.
Conveyed me awa to her hame.
Wi' bonnie green heather her cottage was thatched,
Green thrashes were strewed on the floor;
While the wild honeysuckle her winnock crept roun',
An' shaded the seat at her door.8.
We sat ourselves down to a rural repast,—9.
Fresh fruits frae the wood richly dressed,—
While frae her black e'e sweet glances she cast,11.
Love slyly crept into my breast.
I tauld her I loved her; she modestly said,
In accents both sweet and divine,
"I hae rich anes rejected, an' great anes denied,
Yet tak' me, dear laddie, I'm thine."16.
Her air was sae modest, her voice was sae sweet,17.
An' rural, yet sweet were her charms;
I kissed the red blushes that glowed owre her face,19.
An' clasped the dear maid in my arms.
Now blithely together we watch our ain sheep,
By the side o' yon clear wimplin' stream;
An' resting on each other's bosom we sleep,
In cheerfu' bless'd, happy, sweet dreams.24.
Together we stray owre yon green heathery braes,25.
An' range through the wild grassy fen;
Or rest by the side o' some clear gushing rill,27.
That rins down to wild Calder glen.
To pomp an' great riches she ne'er was inclined,
But is glad in her humble descent;
So cheerfu' we live in our ain rural cot,
Bless'd, happy, an' always content.32.
This second sang was scarcely at a close,33.
When frae his seat a kintra fellow rose;
But hardly had he oped his mouth to speak,35.
When a boss turnip rattled owre his cheek.
"Wha threw that turnip! curse yer blood!" he cries.
"Sit down, ye bitch!" anither ane replies;
"For, gi he dinna keep out o' my licht,
I'm damn'd, my man, but I'll gie you a fricht."40.
"Come, stop your bletherin' there, ye graceless loon,
For, see! the Spouter's coming: quick, sit down!"
The folk aroun' them cried; as Mr. Main
Cam' walkin' in, to gie a tale again.
THE BENIGHTED PEDLAR:
Cauld blew the blast, an' on the plain1.
In torrents fell the blatterin' rain,
As a puir packman chiel,3.
Wha on the muir had tynt his road,
Gaed trudgin' 'neath his heavy load,
In search o' some bit biel,
Whare he micht shelter frae the wet,7.
Or aiblins a nicht's lodgin' get;
For since the break o' day,9.
Bendin' aneath his heavy pack,
He'd trampit on wi' wearied back
Alang his lanesome way.
When, standing in a dreary spot,13.
An auld half-ruined shepherd's cot
The weary pedlar saw,15.
Whilk had fac'd mony a windy blast
Since it had haen a traveller last
Within its totterin' wa's.
For aff its rugged rafters black,19.
Mony a fierce storm had tirred the thack
An' left them stanin' bare;21.
While the auld, broken, shattered door,
Torn aff its hinges, on the floor
Kept out the blast nae mair.
The wearied pedlar hurried in,25.
A' wat an' drookit to the skin,
Syne threw his burden down;27.
An' having quickly struck a licht,
Ere lang a bleezin' fire shone bricht,
On the black wa's a' roun'.
When having dried his dreepin' claise,31.
The broken door he up did raise,
Syne laid him down to rest;33.
When he fan' something awfu' caul,
That seemed to freeze his verra saul,
Pressin' upo' his breast.
He started up in awfu' fricht,37.
An' by the fading fire's dull licht,
He saw near whare he lay:39.
A fleesome-looking spectre stan',
Haudin' an ell-wan' in his han'
Wi' face a' pale as clay.
Its throat was cut frae ear to ear,43.
An', as the pedlar glowered wi' fear,
It fixed on him its e'e;45.
Syne pointed to the cottage door;
When out the frichted chiel did roar—
"In Gude's name, wha are ye?"
It answered—"I'm a packman's ghost.49.
I on this muir my road ance lost,
An' soucht a lodgin' here;51.
When i' the nicht, withouten dread,
They took my life—a bloody deed!—
That they micht get my gear.
"Sae rise, my frien', an' fallow me,55.
An' I will let you the place see
Whare they my banes hae laid."57.
"I'm much obliged to you, indeed;
But I wad just as soon no heed,"
The tremblin' pedlar said:
"For, sir, ye see I'm wearied sair61.
Wi' trampin' a' day owre the muir,
Carryin' a heavy pack."63.
But, seeing that the ghost looked glum,
He added—"Weel a weel, I'll come
Gif ye'll let me soon back."
The ghost then glided to the door,67.
An' silently moved on before
The frichted pedlar chap;69.
Wha trudged behin', cursin' his lot
That had brought him to sic a spot,
To meet wi' this mishap.
At length, they reach'd a rocky height,73.
'Neath whilk the water, shining bright,
Clear in the moonbeams lay;75.
When the ghost said—"Amang these stanes
Down at the bottom, lye my banes,
Jump down for them, I say."
"Lord!" quo' the pedlar, turning round,79.
"If I did that I wad be drowned,
I wad, I do declare."81.
"What's that to me!" the ghost replies;
"Jump down this moment, damn your eyes!
An' don't stan' chatterin' there.
Do ye think I've nae mair ado,85.
Than stan' a' nicht listening to you,
Ye thievish neer-do-weel?87.
I winna swear; but, by the Lord,
Gif ye don't jump down, tak' my word,
My vengeance ye will feel."
The pedlar then for mercy cried,91.
An' then, to melt the ghost's heart tried;
But it was labour lost:93.
For liftin' him up by the hair,
He whirlèd him roun' in the air;
Syne in the hole him tossed.
When he set up an awfu' yell97.
As through the air he downward fell:
An' waukened wi' a scream.99.
When he was lyin' in the cot,
For he had never left the spot:
It had been but a dream.
As soon as Mr. Main got through this tale103.
O' dreams, an' packman, an' a spectre pale,
Young Master Sprat got up again an' sang,105.
And faith he routed at it loud an' lang,—
But what it was about I dinna min',
For twa three fellows had kicked up a shine,
An', wi' their dinsome swearin' loud an' lang,
No ane cou'd hear a word o' the bit sang.110.
Then in the Spouter cam' upo' the board,111.
An' in an instant, quietness was restored.
When he soon gied us "Eppie an' the Deil,"—113.
A tale about an auld wife an' her wheel;
Wha, ae nicht daunerin' hame out owre the heicht,
Gat frae aul' Clootie a most awfu' fricht:
For, in her wrath, she said—"I wish the Deil
Wou'd flee awa' wi' this aul' cursèd wheel;"118.
And faith, nae sooner had she said the word,
Than frae the clouds the Devil downwards spurred,
An' whuppit Eppie's wheel awa wi' speed,
Whilk made the auld wife stan' an' stare wi' dread:
"Gie's back my wheel!" she cried; and, as she spak',123.
The Devil flung it down upo' her back.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" the Spouter said125.
When he an end o' Eppie's tale had made:
"Allow me to express my gratitude127.
In a few words, before that I conclude;
For the great kindness you have shown to me
In coming my performances to see."
Ruffin' an' cheers now owre the audience rang
As he continued,—"I will, with a song,132.
This night's performance close, ere it be late;
When Master Sprat, to heighten up the treat,
Will sing the chorus." He then made a bow,
An', turnin' round to Master Sprat, said—"Now,
We will begin." Then Master Sprat upsprang,137.
An' syne they both began the followin' sang:—
THE SPIRIT OF THE LAKE'S SONG
I sport amidst the storm,1.
As o'er the lake it sweeps;
And raise in glee my elfin form,3.
Frae the wide-spreading deeps;
In mist and spray,
At dawning day
When the sun gives place to evening grey.
Then hark! hark! hark!
To my fairy song;10.
As I dart like a spark
The clouds among;
In sovereign sway,
Till break of day
Chanting with glee my wild war song.15.
I glory in the yelling breeze,16.
The lightning's vivid light—
As it darts among the rending trees18.
In the dark lonely night;
In flashing fire,
O'er tower and spire,
Telling, with vengeance, Heaven's dread ire.
Then hark! hark! hark!23.
To my fairy song, &c.
I dance upon the rainbow's rim25.
As o'er the lake it hings;
And sweep along in shadows dim,27.
Waking the echo's rings;
With my wild song,
In numbers strong,
As it rings through the valley so loud and long.
Then hark! hark! hark!32.
To my fairy song, &c.
In fearless speed, I cleave the sky34.
In wild majestic liberty,
And, in freedom, I spring on high36.
A thing of dread and mystery;
Who, when is seen,
Is like a dream,
Or a passing breeze o'er a valley green!
Then hark! hark! hark!41.
To my fairy song, &c.
When Luna sheds her silver light43.
Over yon rugged steep;
'Tis then I take my airy flight,45.
And o'er the valley sweep;
And spring on high
With cheery cry,
Till I the dark blue ocean spy.
Then hark! hark! hark!50.
To my fairy song, &c.
Oh! when the thunders ring along,52.
And lightnings fierce descend;
'Tis then, with glee, I raise my song,54.
As the forest trees loud rend;
And mount on high
'Midst the revelry,
And fly with glee through the dark'ning sky!
Then hark! hark! hark!59.
To my fairy song, &c.
O! how I love to hear!—but hark!61.
What's that towers o'er yon height?
I see! see! 'tis the early lark63.
Hailing the morning's light;
So I cannot stay,
But must hie away,
For see! how fast comes the sun's bright ray!
Then hark! hark! hark!68.
To my fairy song, &c.
As soon as they had finishèd the sang,70.
We a' got up, an' hurried aff fu' thrang;
An' as we trudged alang, many a remark72.
Ane to anither made 'bout the night's wark.
Some said they thocht that it was gyen queer
To hear a dead man's ghost baith curse and swear;
And that they didna think that it was fair
To lift the frichted packman by the hair,77.
An' syne to fling him o'er into the stream.
"Hoot!" quo' anither, "wasna it a dream?
An' weel ye ken that, aftimes i' the nicht,
Folk dream o' things that whyles gie them a fricht;
'Twas but the tither nicht I dreamed mysel'82.
The Deevil haurlet me awa to hell."
This raised a laugh; an' ilk took his ain way,
Determined for to hear a full account next day.
Next day arrived; but ah! the nest had flown,1.
For Mr. Main and Sprat had left the town,
An' (in their hurry) had forgot to pay3.
The debt they had contracted yesterday.
An' Willie Watson swore like any Turk
That it had been a thievish piece o' wark;
An' if he could the Spouter get, that he
The inside o' a jail wad let him see.8.
Although puir Willie said to us,— "I trow,
To sic a rascal 'twad be nothing new;
For weel-a-wat it isna his first trick,
Nor yet the first time he has 'cut his stick.'
But aff o' this, there's ae thing that I'll learn,13.
An' that's I'll ken again wha gets my barn;
An' mak' them always pay the cash before
They ever set a nose in at the door."
An' then poor Will began an' swore again,
What he wad do when he got Mr. Main;18.
When some auld wives said, "Man, ye should think shame,
For ye hae nae ane but yersel to blame,
For they wha mak' an' meddle wi' sic crew,
Aye meet with something they hae cause to rue. "
An' Willie clawed his head an' said, "Atweel,23.
They wad need a lang spoon wha sup kail wi' the deil."
Uncollected Scottish Poems
Written on the back of Wilson's indenture papers.
"The hazel oil" is a reference to beatings administered with a hazel switch. Text taken from Hunter 23.
Be't kent to a' the warld, in rhyme,1.
That wi' right meikle wark an' toil,
For three lang years I've ser't my time.3.
Whiles feasted wi' the hazel oil.
Tune—"." [AW] From Grosart's transcription of the Paisley MSS.
A lad wha ne'er made love to ane,1.
Had spent lang weary nights his lane,
Had rowth o' gear, and house o's ain,3.
And beef laid in an a',
Lived at his ease, quite free from strife,
Yet, tired to live a single life,
Resolved at last to get a wife
To sleep wi'm, niest the wa'.8.
Ale-cap wi' lass he ne'er had kis't,9.
Nor road ere t'her mou' had mis't,
Nae blackfoot he sought to assist11.
To let him ken the way.
Yet hoo to seek, or whar to gang
To be soon ser'd, and no gang wrang,
Took up his thoughts; he thoughtna lang—
He had nae time to stay.16.
Sae down he sits wi' pen and ink,17.
And twenty names writes in a blink,
The best aye first, as he did think;19.
Then aff gaes wi' his list
T' the first; then tells his story o'er.—
Says he, I hae got names a score,
And your's is placed them a' before,
Say, will you mak' me blest?24.
Giff ye'll agree to be my nain,25.
I'll risk wi' you my purse and fame;
Gin ye refuse, out through your name27.
My pen gaes wi' a dash.
But first I'll hae your "No" or "I,"
Some ane o' the score will not deny;
Will ye accept, or sall I try?
Quo' she—"Ye needna fash!"32.
Epitaph on John Allan
On a malingering fellow weaver in the shop at Lochwinnoch.
First listed in the missing 1814 edition. This text drawn from American Ornithology.
BELOW this stane John Allen rests;1.
An honest soul, though plain;
He sought hale Sabbath days for nests,3.
But always sought in vain!
Rab And Ringan:
Likely first composed and performed in 1791 or 1792. Earliest surviving source published by Brash & Reid, Glasgow, 1795. Present text from 1816 edition (Crichton). Wilson's note: "The following tale was recited by the Author at the Pantheon, Edinburgh, in a debate on the question—"Whether is Diffidence or the Allurements of Pleasure the greatest bar to Progress in Knowledge!" Reprinted in US newspapers beginning 1801. Earliest version, which differs in some spellings with the original version, is Farmers' Museum, or Literary Gazette (Walpole, New Hampshire), vol. IX, issue 446 (20 October 1801) 4. Another version published in the Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer (Virginia), vol I, issue 290 (14 November 1801) 2. It is difficult to tell whether or not these reprintings, in venues not usually associated with Wilson, came at Wilson's request. Most likely, Wilson did supervise publication in a now-lost Philadelphia or New Jersey newspaper, which was then picked up elsewhere.
Hech! but 'tis awfu'-like to rise up here,
Where sic a sight o' learn'd folks' pows
Sae mony piercing een a' fix'd on ane,
Is maist enough to freeze me to a stane!5.
But 'tis a mercy—mony thanks to Fate,
Pedlars are poor, but unco seldom blate.
(Speaking to the President.)8.
This question, Sir, has been right weel disputet,
And meikle, weel-a-wat's been said about it;10.
Chiels, that precisely to the point can speak,
And gallop o'er lang blauds of kittle
Ha'e sent frae ilka side their sharp opinion,
And peeled it up as ane wad peel an ingon.
I winna plague you lang wi' my poor spale,
spell (of words)15.
But only crave your patience to a Tale;
By which ye'll ken on whatna side I'm stinnin',
As I perceive your hindmost minute's rinnin'.
There liv'd in Fife, an auld, stout, warldly chiel,
Wha's stomach kend
knew nae fare but milk and meal;21.
A wife he had, I think they ca'd her Bell,
And twa big sons, amaist as heigh's himsel':
Rab was a gleg,
quick smart cock, with powder'd pash:
Ringan, a slow, fear'd, bashfu', simple hash.
Baith to the College gaed. At first spruce Rab,26.
At Greek and Latin, grew a very dab;
He beat a' round about him, fair and clean,28.
And ilk ane courted him to be their frien';
Frae house to house they harl'd
dragged him to dinner,
But curs'd poor Ringan for a hum-drum sinner.
Rab talkèd now in sic a lofty strain,32.
As tho' braid Scotland had been a' his ain;
He ca'd the Kirk the Church, the Yirth the Globe,34.
And chang'd his name, forsooth, frae Rab to Bob;
Whare'er ye met him, flourishing his rung,
The haill discourse was murder'd wi' his tongue;
On friends and faes wi' impudence he set,
And ramm'd his nose in ev'ry thing he met.39.
The College now, to Rab, grew douf and dull,40.
He scorn'd wi' books to stupify his skull;
But whirl'd to Plays and Balls, and sic like places,42.
And roar'd awa' at Fairs and Kintra Races;
Sent hame for siller frae his mother Bell,
bought a horse, and rade a race himsel';
Drank night and day, and syne, when mortal fu',
Row'd on the floor, and snor'd like ony sow;47.
Lost a' his siller wi' some gambling sparks,
And pawn'd, for punch, his Bible and his sarks
Till, driven at last to own he had eneugh,
Gaed hame a' rags to haud his father's pleugh.
Poor hum-drum Ringan play'd anither part,52.
For Ringan wanted neither wit nor art;
Of mony a far-aff place he kent the gate;54.
Was deep, deep learn'd, but unco unco blate;
He kend how mony mile 'twas to the moon,
How mony rake wad lave the ocean toom;
Where a' the swallows gaed in time of snaw,
compels the thunders roar, and tempests blaw;59.
Where lumps o' siller grow aneath the grun',
How a' this yirth rows round about the sun;
In short, on books sae meikle time he spent,
Ye cou'dna speak o' aught, but Ringan kent.
Sae meikle learning wi' sae little pride,64.
Soon gain'd the love o' a' the kintra side;
And Death, at that time, happ'ning to nip aff66.
The Parish Minister—-a poor dull ca'f,—-
Ringan was sought; he cou'dna' say them Nay,
And there he's preaching at this very day.
Now, Mr. President, I think 'tis plain,70.
That youthfu' diffidence is certain gain;
Instead of blocking up the road to Knowledge,72.
It guides alike, in Commerce or at College;
Struggles the bursts of passion to controul;
Feeds all the finer feelings of the soul;
Defies the deep-laid stratagems of guile,
And gives even Innocence a sweeter smile;77.
Ennobles all the little worth we have,
And shields our virtue even to the grave.
How vast the diff'rence, then, between the twain!80.
Since Pleasure ever is pursu'd by Pain.
Pleasure's a syren, with inviting arms,82.
Sweet is her voice, and powerful are her charms;
Lur'd by her call we tread her flow'ry ground,
Joy wings our steps and music warbles round;
Lull'd in her arms we lose the flying hours,
And lie embosom'd 'midst her blooming bow'rs,87.
Till—arm'd with death, she watches our undoing,
Stabs while she sings, and triumphs in our ruin.
The Hollander; or, Light Weight
Another of Wilson's indictments of local swindlers. Likely first printed in small quanities by J. Neilson in 1791/2, though no copies of the first edition survive. Taken from Clark Hunter (416), who prints his text from the court documents relating to Wilson's libel trail.
— Unheard of tortures1.
Must be reserv'd for such: these herd together;
The common damn'd shun their society,3.
And look upon themselves as fiends less foul.
ATTEND a' ye wha on the loom,1.
Survey the shuttle jinkin',
Whase purse has aft been sucket toom
While Willy's scales war clinkin.
A' ye that for some luckless hole
Ha'e pay't (though right unwilling)
To satisfy his hungry soul,
A saxpence or a shilling8.
For fine some day.
Shall black Injustice lift its head,10.
An' cheat us like the devil,
Without a man to stop its speed,12.
Or crush the growin' evil?
No;—here am I, wi' vengeance big,
Resolved to ca'm his clashing;
Nor shall his cheeps,
chaps or pouther't
Protect him frae a lashing17.
Right keen this day.
See! cross his nose he lays the Spec's19.
And owre the claith
cloth he glimmers,
Ilk wee bit triflin' fau't
And cheeps and dolefu' yaummers.
"Dear man! that wark 'ill never do;
See that: ye'll no tak' telling";
Syne knavish chirts
squeezes his fingers through,
An' libels down a shilling26.
For holes that day.
Perhaps the fellow's needin' clink,
To ca'm some threatnin' beagle,
Whilk mak's him at sic baseness wink,30.
And for some siller
hoarse ungracious croon,
Aul' Willy granes, "I hear ye,
But weel-a-wat our siller's doon,
We really canna spare ye35.
small coin this day."
Health to the brave Hibernian boy,37.
Who when by Willy cheated,
Cock'd up his hat, without annoy,39.
An' spoke by passion heated:
"Upon my shoul I have a mind,
Ye old deceiving devil,
To toss your wig up to the wind,
And teach you to be shivil,44.
To me this day."
But see! anither curtain's drawn;46.
Some chiel his web has finish'd,
An' Willy on the tither han',48.
The price o't has diminish'd.
But brought before the awfu' Judge,
To pay the regulation,
Will. lifts his arm without a grudge,
And swears by his salvation53.
He's right that day.
Anither's been upo' the push,55.
To get his keel
end of the web in claith,
In certain hopes to be soon flush57.
O' notes an' siller baith.
Returnin' for his count at night,
The poor impos'd-on mortal,
Maun pay for puns
pounds o' clean light weight,
Though he's maist at the portal62.
O' Want that day.
In vain he pleads—Appeals to God,64.
That scarce he lost an ounce;
The holy watcher o' the brod
tailor's sewing board66.
Cheeps out that he's a dunce.
Out frae the door he een maun come,
Right thankfu' gin
if he get
Some counterfeits, a scanty sum,
Brought frae the Aul' Kirk yett71.
Yon preaching day.
O sirs! what conscience he contains,73.
What curse maun he be dreein'!
Whase ev'ry day is mark'd wi' stains75.
O' cheating and o' leein!
M'K****l, H*b, or throuther O*r,
May swear and seem to fash
But Justice dignifies their door,
And gen'rously, they clash us80.
The clink each day.
Our Hollander (gude help his saul)82.
Kens better ways o' working;
For Jock an' him has aft a sprawl84.
Wha'll bring the biggest dark in.
"Weel, Jock, what hast thou skrewt the day?"
"Deed father I'se no crack o't,
Nine holes, sax ounce, or thereaway,
Is a' that I cou'd mak o't89.
This live lang day."
When darkness hides their logic,91.
Like Milton's Deil, an' Sin, they trace
For some new winning project.93.
Daft though they be, and unco gloyts,
Yet they can count like scholars,
How farthings multipli'd by doits,
Grow up to pounds an' dollars,
Some after day.98.
besides (to gie the deil his due),99.
That nane can sell their goods like you,
Or swear them up a hun'er.101.
Lang hacknied in the paths o' vice,
Thy conscience nought can scar her;
And tens, and twals,
twelves can in a trice,
Jump up twa hun'er far'er,
On ony day.106.
What town can thrive wi' sic a crew,107.
Within its entrails crawlin'!
To see or hear them squalin'.109.
Down on your knees, man, wife and wean,
For ance implore the devil,
To harle to himself his ain,
An' free us frae sic evil,
This vera day.114.
or, The Temple Of Terror
Grosart lists this as "separately published," but no original has been found. Text from Belfast (1844).
OH a' ye Nine wha wing the lift,1.
Or trip Parnassus' green;
Or through droll bardies' noddles skift,
And mak' them bauld
bold and bien;
Attend me while a scene I lift,
An awfu' waefu' screen;
That aft maist sent my saul
Out at my vera een.8.
On mony a day.
Now draw the string—hail weel kent
Ye doors and firms—black gear;
But cease, thou flighterin' thuddin' heart,12.
Thou naething hast to fear;
The Muses deign thus low to dart,
To guard thy footsteps here;
Then cock thy bonnet brisk and smart,
wonders see and hear,17.
This waefu' day.
See how they're scuddin' up the stair,19.
A' breathless, and a' pechin'
"Wha cam' last?" "Me," cries some ane there—21.
Still up their comin' stechin';
carrying under their arm-pits pocks
bags o' silken ware,
Some lapfus hov't like kechan;
An' aft the sigh, and hum, and stare,
frightened like they're hechin',
Sad, sad, this day.
"Is this the dolefu' jougs,
an iron collar attached by a chain to the wall gudewife,28.
Or black stool o' repentance?
Or are ye try't 'tween death and life,30.
And waiting for your sentence?
Ye leuk to be a dismal corps
O' desolate acquaintance!"
hush quo' the wife, "ye maunna roar,
Or lad ye'll soon be sent hence,35.
By Hab this day."
Now twiggle twiggle goes the door,37.
In steps the foremost comer;
Tak's aff his cowl,
night-cap pu's out his store,39.
A' shakin', tells the num'er.
The ready scales, a clinkin' corps
O' weights, amaist a hun'er;
Lets Andrew ken what down to score,
Syne heaves it out like lum'er,
In's neive this day.
Now, now, you wretch, prepare, prepare,46.
And tak' a snuff to cheer ye;
See how he spreads your lizures
Hech, but they're black and dreary.
"Lord, sirrah," Hab roars like a bear,
"What stops me but I tear ye?
Such lizures!—damn your blood, ye stare—
By God, ye dog, I'll swear ye53.
To hell this day."
The poor soul granes aneath the rod,55.
As burning in a fever,
His knees to ane anither nod,57.
And hand, and lip pale, quiver.
The tiger stamps, with fury shod,
"Confound your blasted liver,
Bring hame the beating, and by God
Ye may be damned for ever,62.
For ought I care."
Now swelled to madness, round the room64.
Hab like a fury prances;
While each successive comer's doom66.
Is fixt to hell as chance is.
His agents a', wi' sullen gloom
Mute, measure, as he dances
With horrid rage, damning the loom,
And weavers; soon he scances
cloth this day.
His fate met out, awa' wi' speed73.
The plackless sinner trudges;
Glad to escape the killing dread75.
O' sic unfeeling judges.
His greetin' weans mourn out for bread,
The hopeless wife now grudges;
And ruin gathers round his head,
In many a shape that huge is,80.
And grim this day.
And now, ye pridefu' wabster
How dare ye stand afore him,
And say he aften gi'es to deils,84.
Men that's by far before him;
Ye mock his skill o' claith and keels,
ends of the web
And frae douce
wise christians score him,
But haith gin he kens this as weel,
To coin oaths I'se encore him89.
Aloud this day.
Go on—great, glorious Hab, go on—91.
Rave owre the trembling wretches;
Mind neither music, sex, nor one,93.
But curse them a' for bitches;
While echo answers every groan,
That their deep murmur fetches;
Damn every poor man's worth, and moan,
For that exalts like riches,98.
Bright souls as thine.
But when that serious day or night100.
That sure to come draws near;
When thy ain wab,
web a dismal sight,102.
Maun to be judged appear.
Ha, Hab! I doubt thy weight owre light,
compel thee girn
complain and swear;
An' thou'lt gang down the brimstane height,
Weel guarded flank and rear,107.
To hell that day.
The Loss Of The Pack
"The following Tale was recited by the Author at Pantheon, Edinburgh,
in a debate on the Question,—"Whether is Disappointment in Love, or the Loss of Fortune, hardest to bear"?" [AW] From 1791. Published in pamphlet
form in 1792 in an edition that included Wilson's "Watty and May [sic]" and several other examples of Scottish comic verse.
Frequently republished after Wilson's emigration (1795, 1796, 1802, 1840) in small collections of Scottish vernacular poetry,
often alongside Burns's work.
A True Tale
(Recited in the character of a poor Pedlar)
roundabouts I hate, quo' girning
grinning Maggy Pringle;1.
Syne, harl'd Watty, greeting, thro the ingle.
Since this fell question seems sae lang to hing on,3.
In twa-three words I'll gie ye my opinion.
I wha stand here, in this bare scoury coat,5.
Was ance a packman, wordy
worthy mony a groat;
I've carried packs as big's your meikle table,7.
I've scarted pats,
pots and sleepet in a stable;
Sax pounds I wadna' for my pack ance ta'en,
And I could bauldly brag 'twas a' mine ain.
Ay! thae were days indeed, that gart me hope,11.
Aeblins, thro' time, to warsle
wrestle up a shop;
And as a wife aye in my noddle
I kend my Kate wad grapple at me than.
O Kate was past compare! sic cheeks! sic een!
Sic smiling looks were never, never seen.
Dear, dear I lo'ed her, and whane'er we met,
Pleaded to have the bridal-day but set;18.
Stappèd her pouches fu' o' prins and laces,
And thought mysel' weel paid wi' twa three kisses;
Yet still she put it aff frae day to day,
And aften kindly in my lug
ear wad say,
'Ae half year langer is nae unco stop,23.
We'll marry, then, and syne set up a shop."
O, Sir, but lasses' words are saft and fair,25.
They soothe our griefs, and banish ilka care;
Wha wadna toil to please the lass he lo'es?27.
A lover true minds this in a' he does.
Finding her mind was thus sae firmly bent,
And that I cou'dna get her to relent,
There was nought left, but quietly to resign,
lift up my pack for ae lang hard campaign;32.
And as the Highlands was the place for meat,
I ventur'd there in spite of wind and weet.
Cauld now the Winter blew, and deep the sna'35.
For three haill days incessantly did fa';
Far in a muir, amang the whirling drift,37.
Whar nought was seen but mountains and the lift;
I lost my road, and wander'd mony a mile,
Maist dead wi' hunger, cauld, and fright, and toil:
Thus wand'ring, east or west, I kend na'
did not know where,
My mind o'ercome wi' gloom and black despair;42.
Wi' a fell ringe,
vigorous rush I plung'd at ance, forsooth,
Down thro' a wreath o' snaw, up to my mouth.
Clean o'er my head my precious wallet flew,
But whar it gaed, Lord kens! I never knew.
What great misfortunes are pour'd down on some!47.
I thought my fearfu' hinderen' was come;
Wi' grief and sorrow was my soul o'ercast,49.
Ilk breath I drew was like to be my last;
For aye the mair I warsl'd
wrestled roun' and roun',
I fand mysel' aye stick the deeper down;
Till ance, at length, wi' a prodigious pull,
I drew my poor auld carcase frae the hole.54.
Lang, lang I sought, and grapèd for my pack,55.
Till night and hunger forc'd me to come back;
For three lang hours I wander'd up and down,57.
Till chance, at last convey'd me to a town;
There, wi' a trembling hand, I wrote my Kate
A sad account of a' my luckless fate;
But bade her aye be kind, and no despair;—
Since life was left, I soon wad gather mair;62.
Wi' whilk, I hop'd, within a towmond's date,
To be at hame, and share it a' wi' Kate.
Fool that I was, how little did I think65.
That love would soon be lost for fa't o' clink.
The loss of fair won wealth, though hard to bear,67.
Afore this, ne'er had power to force a tear.
I trusted time wad bring things round again,
And Kate, dear Kate, wad then be a' mine ain;
Consol'd my mind, in hopes o' better luck,—
But, O! what sad reverse!—-how thunderstruck!72.
When ae black day brought word frae Rab my brither,
That Kate was cried, and married on anither!
Tho' a' my friends, and ilka comrade sweet,75.
At ance, had drappèd cauld dead at my feet;
Or, tho' I'd heard the Last Day's dreadfu' ca',77.
Nae deeper horror on my heart could fa';
I curs'd mysel', I curs'd my luckless fate,
wept—and, sobbing, cried—O Kate! O Kate!
Frae that day forth, I never mair did weel,81.
But drank, and ran headforemost to the deel;
money vanish'd, far frae hame I pin'd,83.
But Kate for ever ran across my mind;
In her were a' my hopes—-these hopes were vain,
And now—I'll never see her like again.
'Twas this, Sir President, that gart me start,87.
Wi' meikle grief and sorrow at my heart,
To gi'e my vote, frae sad experience, here,89.
That disappointed love is waur
worse to bear90.
Ten thousand times, than loss o' warld's gear.
The Insulted Pedlar:
A Poetical Tale Related By Himself
Grosart lists as "separately published," but found at present only as an addendum to a chapbook reprinting of "Hollander; or, Light-Weight" (Glasgow: W. Falconer, 1803). Likely composed c1792-3.
Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense
Old French: "Evil be to him who evil thinks," the motto of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (England).
O YE, my poor sca't brethren a',1.
Wha mony a time wi' hungry maw,
Implore the beild
house shelter o' some barn wa',3.
buttocks and hips sair
Now to the deil your boxes blaw,
And beg nae mair.
I've seen the day, but faith it's gane,7.
When roun' farm-towns, frae ane to ane,
The shortest route we might have ta'en,9.
Nor been molested;
But now wi' stabs, an' lime, an' stane,
We're vext an' pested.
The deil a fit ye owre dare set,13.
But trudge lang twa mile to the yett,
Or by the Lord ye'll aiblins get15.
Your legs in chains;
Or skelpit back wi' haffits het,
And broken banes.
Ae nicht short syne as hame I trampit,19.
Beneath my pack, wi' banes sair crampit,
But owre a wee bit dyke I lampit,
And trottin burn;
There to do for my ain bethankit,
A needfu' turn.
Aweel, I scarcely had begun25.
To ope the evacuating gun,
I'll swear they hadna reached the grun,
When frae the wud
A bellied gent, steps owre the run,
Wi' "Dem your blood!
"By whose authority or order31.
Came ye upon this corn-rig border,
roll your filth and reeking ordour33.
On me a Bailie?
Hence wi' your dirt, else by the Lord, or
Lang, I'll jail ye."
I gloweret a wee, syne fetched a grane,37.
"Deed sir, through mony a lane I've gane,
An' gin ye raise me frae this stane,39.
Ne'er laird or lady
Attempted such a job their lane,
Till I was ready.
"Gin ye can prove, by pen or tongue,43.
That lan' ne'er profited by dung,
That by its influence corn ne'er sprung,45.
Though I should lumple,
endured a thump o' that hard rung,
Out owre my rumple.
"My order, sir, was Nature's laws,49.
That was the reason, and because
Necessity's demands and ca's51.
War very gleg,
I hunkered down 'mang thir hard wa's
To lay my egg.
"And sir, I'm seeking naething frae ye;55.
My offering here I freely lea you,
Sic presents ilka ane wont gie you,57.
Tak' ye my word,
Ye're richer since I first did see you,
That reeking turd."
Scarce had I spoke, when owre he sprung,61.
And rais't a yellow knotted rung,
And aim't at me a dreadfu' fung,
Wi' foaming spite;
But owre my head it suchin swung,
Dash on the dyke.
I started up and lap
jumped the dyke,67.
"Now, curse ye, sir, come when you like,
I'll send this stick, armed wi' a pike,69.
Amang your painches;
Ye ugly, greasy, girnin' tyke,
Now guard your hainches."
He roared a most tremendous oath,73.
That Satan's sell wi' shame wad loath,
While frae his devilish mouth the froth75.
Flew aff wi' squatter;
Then raised a stane, as dead's a moth
My brains to batter.
When at this instant o' the faught,79.
A gentleman came belly-flaught,
And in his arms the tiger caught,81.
Wi' frighted tone;
Exclaiming, "Lord's sake, Mr. L—
What has he done?"
Here I stood forth to bring't to a bearing,85.
"Please, sir, to grant a patient hearing,
An' I'll unravel what your speering,
To your contentment;
Let go the bitch, don't think I'm fearing
The fool's resentment."
Sae I related a' the matter,91.
That raised between us sic a clatter;
At which he laughed till fairly water93.
Reliev'd his e'en;
While the grim wretches baith did clatter
Wi' malice keen.
"Now, sir, compose yoursel' a wee;97.
Tak' aff your hat an' join wi' me,
While for this sinner black I gie99.
My earnest prayer;
Whilk frae my very saul
soul on hie
I here uprear.
"Great Jove! before Thee here is seen,103.
A human bear, a speaking swine,
Wha wi' dread oaths, and fiery e'en,105.
And devilish feature,
Has dared to curse a work o' Thine
For easing nature.
"On him pour plagues without restraint,109.
Wi' restless buneuchs
bunions him torment,
Till through fierce purgin' he be spent111.
As tume's a blether;
And that big wame
belly that's now sae bent,
Be a' lowse leather.
"And when he limps wi' gout and spavie,115.
Through jaunering crowds, held as a knave aye,
There may't attack him, while a privie117.
In vain he seeks,
Till he be forc'd to blow't the gravie
Just in his breeks!
"Whene'er he drinks to raise the flame,121.
Syne hurries hame to Venus' game,
May cauld yill
ale clankin' in his wame123.
Wi' hurlin' rum'le,
Aft force him to forsake the dame
Wi' spoulin' whum'le.
"Then may he rue (although owre late127.
To stop the yellin' roarin' spate)
That e'er he curst, or vicious flate
On pedlar Sawney;
And e'en envy his blessed fate
Wha sat sae canny.
"And Lord! an answer soon sen' back,133.
And let him see Thy han's na slack.
Amen, amen,—put on your hat,135.
And haud the bear in."
So up I swung my verdant pack,
And left him swearin'.
Or Lang Mills Detected
The object of this satirical attack was
William Sharp, a local merchant. Wilson, already under surveillance for his earlier rabble-rousing poems, was arrested and charged with extortion after he
allegedly demanded payment from Sharp in return for suppressing the piece. Clark Hunter's volume on Wilson contains extensive documentation of the legal
odyssey that ensued (Hunter 47-59, 409-428). The original poem was destroyed by legal order, but the the court proceedings for Wilson's
extortion trial ironically preserved his words. The text is taken from Hunter's version, based on court documents.
Yes, while I live, no rude or sordid knave1.
Shall walk the world in credit to his grave.
YE weaver blades!
fellows ye noble chiels!1.
Wha fill our land wi' plenty,
And mak our vera barest fiels3.
To waive wi' ilka dainty;
Defend yoursels, tak sicker
I warn you as a brither;
Or Shark's resolved, wi' hellish greed,
To gorge us a' thegither,
At ance this day.
In Gude's-name will we ne'er get free10.
O' thieves and persecution!
Will Satan never let abee12.
To plot our dissolution!
Ae scoun'rel sinks us to the pit,
Wi' his eternal curses,
Anither granes,—and prays,—and yet
Contrives to toom
empty our purses,17.
Maist every day.
A higher aim gars
compels Willy think,19.
And deeper schemes he's brewin';
Ten thousan' fouk at ance to sink21.
To poverty and ruin!
Hail mighty patriot! Noble soul!
Sae generous, and sae civil,
Sic vast designs deserve the whole
Applauses of the devil26.
On ony day.
In vain we've toiled wi' head and heart,28.
And constant deep inspection,
For years on years, to bring this art30.
So nearly to perfection;
The mair that art and skill deserve,
The greedier Will advances;
And saws and barrels only serve
To heighten our expenses35.
And wrath this day.
But know, to thy immortal shame,37.
While stands a paper-spot,
So long, great Squeeze-the-poor! thy fame,39.
Thy blasted fame shall rot;
And as a brick or limestane kiln
Wi' sooty reek
So grateful shall thy mem'ry still
Be to our bitter senses,44.
By night or day.
Lang Willy Shark wi' greedy snout46.
Had sneaked about the C—n—l,
To eat his beef and booze about,48.
Nor proved at drinking punch ill;
Till, Judas-like, he got the bag,
And squeezed it to a jelly;
these war the days for Will to brag,
And blest times for the belly53.
Ilk ither day.
The mair we get by heuk and cruk55.
We aften grow the greedier;
Shark raiket now through every neuk57.
drag till him speedier;
His ghastly conscience, pale and spent,
Was summoned up, right clever;
Syne, wi' an execration sent
Aff, henceforth and for ever,62.
Frae him that day.
This done, trade snoovt awa wi' skill64.
And wonderfu' extention;
And widen't soon was every mill,66.
(A dexterous invention!)
Groat after groat, was clippet aff,
Frae ae thing and anither;
Till fouk began to think on draff,
To help to haud
Their banes that day.
Now round frae cork
small manufacturer to cork he trots73.
Wi' eagerness and rigour,
And "Rump the petticoats and spots!"75.
His Sharkship roared wi' vigour;
But, whan his harnishes cam in
In dizens in a morning;
And a' grew desolate and grim,
His rapture changed to mourning,80.
And rage that day.
Thus Haman, in the days of yore,82.
Pufft up wi' spitefu' evil,
Amang his blackguard, wicked core,84.
Contrived to play the devil;
High stood the gibbet's dismal cape,
But little thought the sinner
That he had caft
bought the vera rape
reach his neck, e'er dinner89.
Was owre that day.
Wha cou'd believe a chiel sae trig
neat, tidy, trim91.
Wad cheat us o' a bodle?
Or that sae fair a gowden wig93.
Contained sae black a noddle?
But Shark beneath a sleekit
Conceals his fiercest girning;
And, like his neighbours of the Nile,
Devours wi' little warning98.
By night or day.
O happy is that man and blest100.
Wha in the C—n—l gets him!
Soon may he cram his greedy kist
And dare a soul to touch him.
But should some poor auld wife, by force
poverty scrimp her measure,
Her cursed reels at P—y Corse,
blaze wi' meikle pleasure107.
To them that day.
Whiles, in my sleep, methinks I see109.
Thee marching through the city,
And Hangman Jock, wi' girnan glee,111.
Proceeding to his duty.
I see thy dismal phiz and back,
While Jock, his stroke to strengthen,
Brings down his brows at every swack,
"I'll learn your frien' to lengthen,116.
Your mills the day."
Poor wretch! in sic a dreadfu' hour118.
O' blude and dirt and hurry,
What wad thy saftest luke
look or sour120.
Avail to stap their fury?
Lang Mills, wad rise around thy lugs
In mony a horrid volley;
And thou be kicket to the dugs,
To think upo' thy folly125.
Ilk after day.
Ye Senators! whase wisdom deep127.
Keeps a' our matters even,
If sic a wretch ye dare to keep,129.
How can ye hope for heaven?
Kick out the scoun'rel to his shift,
We'll pay him for his sporting,
And sen' his mills and him adrift
At ance to try their fortune134.
Down Cart this day.
Think, thou unconscionable Shark!136.
For heaven's sake bethink thee!
To what a depth of horrors dark138.
Sic wark will surely sink thee—
Repent of sic enormous sins,
And drap thy curst intention;
Or faith I fear, wi' brislt shins,
Thou'lt mind this reprehension143.
Some future day.
Watty And Meg, Or The Wife Reformed
This witty piece of vernacular verse, which Wilson first published anonymously, quickly became hugely popular throughout Scotland, England, and the United States through pirated versions for which Wilson received no compensation. Frequently compared to Burns' work (especially his Tam O' Shanter of 1791), it was sometimes even attributed to the more eminent bard. Upon hearing the poem ascribed to him by a ballad-crier, Burns is reported to have shouted "that's a damned lie! But I would have been very proud to have acknowledged it." Life and Works of Robert Burns, ed. P. Hately Waddell (Glasgow: Wilson, 1867) xxv. Wilson reprinted the poem in the U.S. in The Port Folio, IV.4 (October 1810) 368-377.
"We dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake."
From Pope's "translation" of the prologue to "The Wife of Bath's Tale" in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The epigraph is omitted in the 1810 version Wilson published in the United States.
KEEN the frosty winds were blawin',1.
Deep the snaw
snow had wreath'd the plews;
Watty, wearied a' day sawin',3.
Daunert down to Mungo Blews.
The village alehouse. [AW]
Dryster Jock was sitting cracky
Wi' Pate Tamson o' the hill;
"Come awa!" co Johnny, "Watty!7.
Haith we'se hae anither gill."
Watty glad to see Jock Jabos9.
And sae mony nibours
kicked frae his shoon
shoes the snawba's,11.
Syne beyont the fire sat down.
Owre a board, wi' bannocks heapet,13.
Cheese and stoups and glasses stood,
Some war roarin', ithers sleepet;15.
Ithers quietly chewt their cude.
Jock was sellin Pate some tallow;17.
A' the rest a racket hel';
A' but Watty, wha, poor fallow!19.
Sat and smoket by himsel'.
Mungo fill'd him up a toothfu',21.
Drank his health and Megs in ane;
Watty, puffen out a mouthfu',23.
Pledg'd him wi' a dreary grane.
"What's the matter Watty wi' you!25.
Trouth your chafts are fa'n in!
Something's wrang?—I'm vext to see you—27.
Gudsake but ye're desp'rate thin!"
"Aye," co Watty "things are alter'd—29.
But its past redemption now.
O I wish I had been halter'd
When I marry'd Maggy Hoo!
"I've been poor, and vext, and raggy,
Try'd wi troubles no that sma;
Them I bare, but, marrying Maggy,35.
Laid the capestane o' them a.
"Night and day she's ever yelpin;37.
With the weans
children she ne'er can gree;
When she's tir'd wi perfect skelpin,39.
Then she flees like fire on me.
"See ye Mungo! when she'll clash on41.
Wi her everlasting clack,
Whiles I've had my nieve,
fist in passion,43.
Liftet up to break her back!"
"O for gudesake keep frae cuffets!"
Mungo shook his head and said,
"Weel I ken what sort a life its—47.
Ken ye, Watty, how I did?
"After Bess and I war kippelt,
Fact she grew like ony bear!
Brack my shins, and, when I tippelt,51.
Harlt out my vera hair.
"For a wee I quietly knuckelt;
But, when naething wad prevail,
Up my claes
clothes and cash I buckelt,55.
Bess! Forever, fare you weel!
"Then her din grew less and less, ay,57.
Haith I made her change her tune!
Now a better wife than Bessy59.
Never stept in leather shoon.
"Try this Watty! When ye see her61.
Ragin like a roarin flude,
Swear, that moment, that ye'll lea
That's the way to keep her gude."
Laughing sangs and lasses' skirls
Echo'd now out-thro' the roof;
"Done!" co Pate; and syne his erls67.
Nailt the Drystker's wauket
In the thrang o' stories tellin',69.
Shaking hauns, and ither cheer,
Swith a chap comes on the hallan,
"Mungo, is our Watty here?"
Maggy's well kent tongue and hurry,73.
Darted thro' him like a knife;
Up the door flew—like a fury75.
In came Watty's scawlin wife;
"Nasty, gude-for-naething being!77.
O ye snuffy drucken soo!
Bringan wife and weans to ruin,79.
Drinking here wi sic a crew!
"Devil nor your legs were broken!81.
Sic a life nae flesh endures—
Toilan like a slave to sloken
You, ye dyvor!
shabby, drunken fellow and your h——.
"Rise ye druken beast o' Bethel!85.
Drink's your night and day's desire;
Rise this precious hour! or faith I'll87.
Fling your whiskey i' the fire!"
Watty, heard her tongue unhallowt;89.
Pay't his groat wi little din;
Left the house, while Maggy fallowt,91.
Flytin a' the road behin.
Fowk frae every door came lampin,93.
Maggy curst them ane and a';
Clappit wi her hauns,
worn-out shoes and stampin,95.
Lost her bachles in the snaw.
Hame, at length, she turnt the gavel,97.
Wi a face as white's a cloot;
Ragin like a vera devil;99.
Kickan stools and chairs about.
"Ye'll sit wi your limmers
playful girls round you!101.
Hang you, sir, I'll be your death!
Little hauds my hauns, confound you!103.
But I cleave you to the teeth."
Watty, wha midst this oration105.
Ey'd her whiles, but durstna
dared not speak,
Sat, like patient Resignation,107.
Tremlan by the ingle cheek.
Sad his wee drap brose
porridge he sippet;109.
Maggy's tongue gade like a bell;
Quietly to his bed he slippet,111.
Sighing aften to himself.
"Nane are free frae some vexation;113.
Ilk ane has his ills to dree;
But through a' the hale creation115.
Is a mortal vexed like me!"
A' night lang he rowt
rolled and gantet;
Sleep or rest he cou'dna' tak;
Maggy aft, wi horror hauntet,119.
Mumlan, startet at his back.
Soon as e'er the morning peepit,121.
Up raise Watty, waefu' chiel!
Kisst his weanies while they sleepit,123.
Waukent Meg, and sought fareweel.
"Farewell Meg!—And O may heaven,125.
Keep you aye within its care!
Watty's heart ye've lang been grieving;127.
Now he'll never fash
trouble you mair.
"Happy cou'd I been beside you—129.
Happy baith at morn and een—
A' the ills did e'er betide you131.
Watty ay turnt out your frien.
"But you ever lik'd to see me133.
Vext and sighing, late and air—
Fareweel Meg!—I've sworn to lea thee!135.
So thou'll never see me mair!"
Maggy, sabban sair
sore to lose him,137.
Sic a change had never wist,
Held his hand close to her bosom,139.
While her heart was like to burst.
"Oh my Watty! will ye lea' me?141.
Frienless! Helpless! to despair!
Oh for this ae time forgie me,143.
Never will I vex you mair."
"Aye ye've aft said that; and broken145.
A' your vows ten times a week;
No no, Meg; see! here's a token,147.
Glittering on my bonnet cheek!
"Owre the seas I march this morning,149.
Listed, tested, sworn and a'
Forc'd by your confounded girning:151.
Fareweel, Meg! for I'm awa."
Then poor Maggy's tears and clamour153.
Gusht afresh and louder grew;
While the weans, wi mournfu yammer,155.
Round their sabbing mother flew.
"Thro' the yirth
earth I'll waunner wi you!157.
Stay, Oh Watty! stay at hame!
Here, upo my knees I'll gie you159.
oath ye like to name.
"See your poor young lammies pleading!161.
Will ye gang
go and break our heart?
No a house to put our head in!163.
No a frien to tak our part!"
Ilka word came like a bullet;165.
Watty's heart begoud to shake;
On a kist he laid his wallet,167.
Dightet baith his een and spake.
"If ance mair, I could, by writing,169.
Lea' the sogers
soldiers and stay still,
Wad you swear to drap your flyting?"
"Yes, O Watty! yes I will."
"Weel," co Watty, "mind, be honest,173.
Ay to keep your temper strive;
Gin ye break this dreadfu' promise175.
Never mair expect to thrive:
"Marget Hoo! This hour ye, solemn177.
Swear by everything that's gude,
Ne'er again your spouse to scaul him,179.
While life warms your heart and blude!"
"That ye'll ne'er in Mungo's seek me?181.
Ne'er put DRUKEN to my name?
Never out at e'ening steek me?183.
frown when I come hame?
"That ye'll ne'er, like Bessy Miller,185.
Kick my shins, or rug
tug my hair?
Lastly—I'M TO KEEP THE SILLER;
This upo your saul ye swear?"
"Oh!"——co' Meg,——"A weel," co Watty,189.
"Fareweel! Faith I'll try the seas."
"Oh stand still!" co Meg, "and grat ay,191.
Ony, ony way ye please."
Maggy syne, because he prest her,193.
Swore to a' thing owre again;
Watty lap, and danc'd, and kist her;195.
WOW! but he was won'rous fain!
Down he threw his staff, victorious;197.
Aff gaed bonnet, claes
clothes and shoon;
Syne below the blankets, glorious,199.
Held anither hinny moon.
Address to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr
Originally published in 1792 under the pseudonym "Lawrie [Laurie] Nettle," a possible allusion to one of Robert Burns's pseudonyms, "Tim Nettle," and by extension to his Tree of Liberty (itself indebted to Thomas Paine's Liberty's Tree). This poem is among Wilson's most radical, as it takes on the growing anti-republicanism of the Church of Scotland in the wake of the French Revolution, when loyalty to England was strictly enforced throughout Scotland. The Synod of Glasgow and Ayr had explicitly endorsed the Royal Proclamation against seditious writings, which denounced Paine's Rights of Man and led to his imprisonment and nearly to his execution. Wilson's radical intentions in the poem are further sharpened by the "letter" with which he prefaced it:
ADDRESS TO THE SYNOD OF GLASGOW AND AYR,
BY LAWRIE NETTLE,
To James Wardrop of Spring Bank, Esq.
Dear and much-esteemed Sir,—It is evident to every one, who is a little conversant in the world, that liberty and absurdity are the two leading
characteristics of the present age. Against the former, a ponderous antidote has of late been exhibited by the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, a set of mortals for whom you
have a very good veneration. But as the public are pretty well satisfied of the absurdity of such addresses, especially from the clergy, who are, or should be, instructors
of the ignorant and reclaimers of the profligate, their late address to His Majesty seems to be an encroachment on the liberties of mankind, and an insult upon common sense.
For these reasons, the author of the following verses has thought proper to trouble the world with it in print, and think himself extremely happy in having it put under your
patronage; believing that, from the unbounded goodness and unparalleled modesty of my worthy patron, it will derive more efficacy than it either has, or possibly could, from
its author. But as it is common to those who write dedications to give the world a catalogue of the shining virtues and amiable qualifications of their patron (and sometimes
more than they possess), the author of the following address is at no loss, considering the many incomparable qualifications which you possess. As the work is small of
itself, it would be very improper to have a long dedication. I must therefore be excused for giving only the outlines of my worthy patron's amiable character.
And therefore, my dear sir, for brevity's sake, I shall sum up the whole in two particulars, in which all the rest is comprehended; and first, your orthodox mind
and elevated taste forms a principal part of your virtuous character, and is perhaps at the bottom of all, as you no doubt have heard from the clergy among whom you have
been much conversant, that soundness in the faith lies at the foundation of all right exercise; but this is so well known that no more need be said upon it. But the second,
and most conspicuous lineament that has beamed forth in your life and conversation, is your laudable endeavours and unceasing assiduity to promote the righteous cause, or,
in other words, your not being weary in well-doing. To give instances of this, it would swell into a huge volume. A few things only shall be condescended upon,
which, as they will perpetuate your savoury name in Glasgow, must long afford you much pleasure in your retired moments, and when pain or sickness affects your mortal frame,
[as] your late laudable endeavours in order to effectuate the conversion of the Irish giant, S----l S-----r,
and other of your contemporaries on the Exchange, some of whom are now gone to their Father's house. I must not however, forget your praiseworthy endeavours
in the church of Camlachie, with the fervent prayers you have uttered there to the great satisfaction of your auditors. Many other things might be produced as evidences
of your faithfulness in your day and generation; but the author does not wish to insist. He hopes you will use your influence in recommending the following address to the
attention of the public, and particularly to the reverend and holy fraternity of whom you have long been a fervent lover and an eminent flatterer.
With all due humility and respect, I beg leave to subscribe myself,
Dear Sir, your most obedient servant, Glasgow, Nov. 5th, 1792
YE very reverend haly
Wha fill the black gown dously,
And deal divinity in blauds,
Amang the vulgar crously;
And when in Synod ye do sit,
There to fill up your station;
supplicate the king and Willy Pitt,
And roose the Proclamation8.
Wi' pith this day.
I hae a word or twa to gie,
Ye'll maybe think it's flyting;
Gin ye wad lend your lugs
ears a wee,12.
Ye'll get it het and piping;
An overture, that ne'er cam' through
Presbyt'ry or Session;
And to your reverences now
It comes without digression17.
In lumps this day.
Ye wad do weel to feed your flocks,19.
And read your buiks mair tenty;
Then ye wad better raise your stocks,21.
And fill your ha's wi' plenty.
Morality and common sense,
And reason ye should doat on;
For then ye're sure of recompense
Frae ladies and your patron26.
On sic a day.
Ye think to get your wages up28.
For sic a lang oration;
But aiblins ye may get the slip—30.
Ye've cankered half the nation.
Though P——s be a funny soul,
And fu' o' craft and learning;
He'll hardly get a siller
Worth forty shillings sterling,35.
For thanks yon day.
Sic things are but ill taen thir days,37.
When Liberty's sae raging;
And in her leel
true and noble cause39.
Ten thousands are engaging:
The Kirk should a' your time mortgage,
For weel she pays the cost;
And royalty and patronage
Eternally's your toast,44.
Baith night and day.
O Patronage! ye cunning baud,46.
Ye should be sairly
Deil blaw ye south, ye cruel jade,48.
Ye ne'er-do-weel like strumpet.
For under your infamous wing,
The clergy sits sae paughty;
And slyly hums the foolish king,
Wi' cracks that are fell
keen, biting daughty,53.
money this day.
The 'Rights of Man' is now weel kenned,
And read by mony a hunder;
For Tammy Paine the buik has penned,57.
And lent the Courts a lounder;
It's like a keeking-glass
mirror to see
The craft of Kirk and statesmen;
And wi' a bauld and easy glee,
Guid faith the birky
forward (young) person beats them62.
Aff hand this day.
Though Geordy be deluded now,64.
And kens na what's a-doing;
Yet aiblins he may find it true66.
There is a blast a-brewing.
For British boys are in a fiz,
Their heads like bees are humming;
And for their rights and liberties
They're mad upon reforming71.
The Court this day.
But gin the proclamation should73.
Be put in execution,
Then brethren ye may chew your cud,75.
And fear a revolution.
faith ye've led the Kirk a dance,
Her tail is now in danger;
For of the liberties in France
Nae Scotsman is a stranger80.
At hame this day.
But deil may care for a' your thanks,82.
And prayers that did confirm it;
Like Lewis in his royal branks,
The king and you may girn yet.
There's mony a chiel of noble stuff,
'Tween Johnny Groats and Dover,
That starkly may gie him a cuff,
And send him to Hanover,89.
Wi' speed some day.
Ye think yoursels sae safe and snug,91.
That ne'er a ane dare strike ye;
But for your thanks, I'll lay my lug,
Few patriots will like ye:
The Kirk is now on her last legs,
And to the pot she's tumbling;
And troth my lads ye're aff your eggs,
For a' your gratefu' mumbling,98.
On sic a day.
It's true indeed she's lang stood out100.
Against Dissenting nostrums;
Although she's gotten many a clout102.
Frae their despis'd rostrums.
The State has long kept at her side,
And firmly did support her;
But Liberty wi' furious tide,
Is like to come athwart her107.
Pell mell this day.
The power of clergy, wylie tykes,
Is unco fast declining;
And courtiers' craft, like snaw aff dykes,111.
Melts when the sun is shining;
Auld Monarchy, wi' cruel paw,
Her dying pains is gnawing;
While Democracy, trig
neat and braw,
Is through a' Europe crawing116.
happy this day.
But lest the Muse exaggerate,118.
Come, here's for a conclusion,
On every true blue Democrate120.
I ken ye'll pray confusion.
But frae your dark and deep designs
Fair Liberty will hide us;
Frae Glasgow and frae Ayr divines
We pray good Lord to guide us125.
On ilka day.
AIR,—"Patie's Wedding." [AW] James Johnson and Robert Burns, eds. Scots Musical Museum, volume IV, song #383 (1792) 396-7. Wilson's lyrics composed c1792. Text for this poem comes from the 1816 edition.
the last night of the year night, as ye'll hear,1.
Our noble good masters being willing
To help us to haud the New Year,3.
Sent up twenty hogs and a shilling:
The table in Mitchell's was laid,
That reach'd frae ae end to the tither;
cloth white as snaw o'er't was spread,
And knives, plates, and forks, a' the gither.8.
There waur Dempster, and Brodie, and Dott,9.
The Landlord, and wee Danie Murray,
Geordie Kemp, wi' a spark in his throat,11.
And Andrew, wha's ne'er in a hurry.
Saunders Wright, Murray, Sandy, and Knox,
And Mitchell, and Wilson, and Miller,
A core o' as good hearty cocks
As e'er spent a saxpence o' siller.
At seven, the hour that was set,17.
By ane and ane inward they drapped,
Till ance maist a dizen had met,19.
And syne for some porter we rapped.
At length by a chiel 'twas propos'd,
Wha lang'd to devour like a glutton,
That gin we were a' sae dispos'd,
We might send for the roast beef and mutton.24.
So Dempster and Brodie, in Co.25.
Like lamplighters ran to the Baker's,
We drank in the meantime as slow,27.
And dowse, as a meeting of Quakers.
At length the twa carriers appear'd,
The ne'er a ane then had the spavy;
And Brodie soon slairy'd his beard
Wi' bra' creeshie
greasy platefu's of gravy.32.
Sic clashing of knives, plates, and forks,33.
Was hardly e'er heard at a weddin',
The bottles were cleared o' their corks,35.
And plate after platefu' was laid in.
Slow Andrew drank brue like a fish,
For beef he had no meikle share in't,
And Brodie's chin glittered with creesh,
Till some swore they saw theirmsel's fair in't.40.
Now ilka ane, swell'd like a drum,41.
With roast beef, potatoes, and mutton,
Right steeve grew the stomachs of some,43.
While button was lows'd after button.
The banes a' thegither were got,
And plates and a' clear'd frae the table,
And the landlord desired, by a vote,
For a stoupfu' as quick's he was able.48.
The board was now lifted awa',49.
And round gaed a mutchkin
gill, or quarter-pint o' brandy,
The chairs were set round in a raw,51.
For ilka ane thought it mair handy.
A chairman was also judg'd right,
To clear up a' difficult cases;
So by vote 'twas declared, "That this night
John Brodie is chairman and preses."56.
This bus'ness was hardly got o'er,57.
When up started President Brodie,
"I order" (quo' he, with a glow'r)59.
That they bring in a bowlfu' o' toddy."
The liquor was brought in a blink,
Six glasses soon glanc'd on the table;
"Here's—May all our enemies sink,
Or swing through the air in a cable."64.
"Success to Montgomerie and Co."65.
"May our trade flourish brighter and brighter,"
"May our purses aye weightier grow,67.
"Our cares and our troubles aye lighter."
"May we ever be grateful for gude"—
"May ne'er ony waur be among us"—
"May courage aye warm up our blude
beat the scoundrels that wrang
Now some fall to singing of sangs,73.
And others to roaring and bleth'ring;
They rapped like fire with the tangs,
"Our bowl's toom,
empty come bring us anither in."
"Silence," (quo' Brodie) "nae clash
I say." But to ilka ane's wonder,
Down hurl'd the form with a crash,
And levell'd the preses like thunder.80.
It's past a' description to tell81.
How Toddy inspir'd ev'ry bosom,
How often our president fell,83.
How aft it was mov'd to depose him;
How Andrew sang "Blythe was the night,"
And, "Hummle, dum tweedle, dum tweedle;"
How ev'ry ane's wit grew as bright
And as sharp as the point of a needle.88.
With laughing, and roaring, and drink,89.
At last we grew doited
stupid and weary;
Auld Saunders begoud for to wink,91.
tumbled as sound as a peerie.
Ae shilling was now to the fore,
We bury'd it soon in our stomachs;
Syne grouping to find out the door,
went swaggering a' hame to our hammocks.96.
From Robert Gilmour, The Psalm-Singer's Assistant, 2nd edition (Paisley: J. Neilson, 1793) 13-16. The printer, Neilson, apparently asked Wilson to supply these sample hymns for music teacher Gilmour's guidebook. The original was published in 1790. The "Easter Hymn" has not heretofore been published as Wilson's, and may not be from his hand, though it was not found under any other authorship in a search of 18th-century English hymns. Its inclusion with the hymns known to be from Wilson's hand make his authorship probable, and although the form of the piece is not characteristic of Wilson, it must be remembered that these hymns were written to order for a client (Gilmour).
Hymn I. COMMON METRE.
WHERE'ER I turn my weary eye1.
Surrounding sorrows wait;
For vain are all the passing joys,3.
And fairest smiles of Fate.
II.Full oft, thro' Life's perplexing maze,
We chace some distant gain;
Death comes—we leave the mad pursuit,
And sigh—that all is vain.
III.And is all vanity below?——
Religion mild replies,
"No other joys, save those I give,
Can make thee good or wise."
Hymn II. SHORT METRE.
YE dazzling stars above,1.
That deck the midnight sky,
Say, whence the mighty pow'r that thus3.
Suspended you on high?
II. Wide o'er the vast expanse
Your glitt'ring numbers roll;6.
And thus, methinks, in solemn strains,
You whisper to the soul.
III."For THEE, from age to age,
Here silently we shine,
To lift thy thoughts from things below,
And lead them to divine."
Hymn III. LONG METRE.
GLAD Morning now unfolds her wing,1.
And shakes the dews of night away,
The birds, from airy branches, sing,3.
To hail the near approach of day.
II.How sad to them when Sol retires!
How welcome his returning rays!
When love their every breast inspires,
To chant the great Creator's praise.
III.Come then, my soul! that Pow'r adore,
While light, and life, and time remain;
Soon will my day of life be o'er,
And death's descending darkness reign.
Hymn IV. CXXIV PSALM.
SLOW sinks the Sun1.
Amid the ruddy main,
While silence seals3.
Each closing eye to rest;
The weary bird
Steals softly to its nest,
While, from the town,
The sounds of labour cease,8.
And all around
Is universal peace.
Now, while the Moon11.
Begins her nightly course,
While mild the air,13.
And silent sleeps the breeze;
And shadows stretch
Beneath the branching trees,
There musing deep,
Let Contemplation stray,18.
Far from the noise
And discontents of day.
Hymn V. CXLIII PSALM.
WHY fails my courage now?1.
Why tremble I at death?
Why sweats my throbbing brow,3.
To yield that trifle—breath?
Alas! some pow'r within
Incessant seems to say;
That I, in deepest sin
Have trifled life away.8.
Oh! save me from the deep,
That life I may renew;
Suspend the blow, but keep
Death ever in my view.
Hymn VI. CXXXVI PSALM.
AGAIN the fading fields1.
Announce wild Winter nigh;
Each shed the harvest shields3.
From the inclement sky.
Low low'r the clouds,5.
And o'er the plain
Fast pours the rain,7.
And swells the floods.
Loud o'er the lonely height9.
The lashing tempest howls;
And, through the tedious night11.
Wild scream the wailing owls;
While round the shores13.
Of Albion wide,
In foaming pride,15.
Old Ocean roars.
Hymn VII. COMMON METRE.
TO Him who bids the tempest roll,1.
Or lulls the noontide blaze,
In joyful anthems let your soul3.
Proclaim His boundless praise.
II. Where'er yon glorious orb of day
Dispels the dreary night;6.
Where'er his bright refulgent ray
Dispenses life and light.
III. In one triumphant chorus high,
Let all unite around,10.
Till loud along the vaulted sky,
The lofty song resound.
SONS of Men your voices raise, Hallelujah.1.
To the great Creator's praise, Hal.
While the solemn swelling song, Hal.3.
Rises from the joyful throng, Hal.
At the cheerful dawn of day, Hal.5.
Nature joins the grateful lay, Hal.
And when Evening brings the Night, Hal.7.
Silence muses on his might, Hal.
Let us then our voices raise, Hal.9.
To his high unbounded praise, Hal.
While all nature's busy throng, Hal.11.
Joins the universal Song, Hal.
The Tears of Britain
Written in the second half of 1793 or early 1794, as established by the allusion to the Anglo-Austrian sack of Valenciennes (June 1793) and the lack of reference to its subsequent recapture by Republican forces (August 1794). Published anonymously just before Wilson determined to emigrate or possibly during his emigration (May 1794). No copy of the original survives. Grosart lists his version as deriving from American periodicals, but no such edition survives. The subject matter and tone of the poem, its epigraph from Goldsmith, and its approving references to France and its denunciation of British persecutions in Scotland, are apt expressions of Wilson's mood at the time. Text from 1816 (Crichton).
Princes and Peers may flourish or may fade;1.
A breath can make them, as a breath hath made;
But a bold peasantry, their Country's pride,3.
When once destroy'd can never be supply'd.
ALOFT ON THE VERGE OF THE WIDE STORMY FLOOD,1.
The genius of Britain disconsolate stood,
Fast heav'd her sad heart, while she gaz'd down beneath,3.
On armies, and navies, and victims of death;
Her best sons departing beneath ev'ry sail,
And War's loud'ning shrieks rising fast on the gale;
Joy chear'd not her bosom, Hope sooth'd her no more,
And thus in deep grief she was heard to deplore.8.
"Far fled from my country, where woes never cease,9.
Far fled are the comforts and presence of Peace!
Slow, mournfully rising, with tears in her eye,11.
I saw the sweet goddess ascending on high;
Hope, Commerce, and Wealth, follow'd sad in her train,
And Pity, that soothes the deep sorrows of pain,
All fled from the heart-sinking battle's loud roar,
And lost, amid horrors, I saw them no more.16.
"O why from my shores were they forc'd to depart?17.
What arm can the scourge of Destruction avert?
'Midst famine, and slaughter, must Britons still mourn?19.
Will Peace, precious Peace, to our Isle ne'er return?
Alas! when the madness of party is past,
When we with our country lie murder'd and waste,
She then, when the dread devastation is o'er,
May come—but will smile on the prospect no more.24.
"Blest Peace! best companion of mortals below!25.
Fair daughter of Heav'n! sweet soother of woe!
Thou kind nurse of Science! Art's glory and boast,27.
O how art thou banish'd, neglected and lost!
No ray left of hope to point out thy return;
No comfort, but long thy departure to mourn;
While Want is wild heard round each dwelling to growl,
And dark hopeless Mis'ry sinks deep o'er each soul.32.
"What eye without tears can the ruin survey,33.
That wide o'er my country fast urges its way!
The huge domes of industry, rear'd in such haste,35.
Unfinish'd, and useless, lie dreary and waste.
Sore harass'd and worn with despondence and care,
The poor Manufacturer yields to despair;
Discharges his workmen, in mis'ry to wail,
And sinks 'mid the comfortless glooms of a jail.40.
"Down yonder rough beach, where the vessels attend,41.
I see the sad emigrants slowly descend,
Compell'd by the weight of oppression and woe,43.
Their kindred, and native, and friends to forego.
In these drooping crowds that depart every day,
I see the true strength of the State glide away;
While countries, that hail the glad strangers to shore,
Shall flourish when Britain's proud pomp is no more.48.
"Her towns are unpeopl'd—her commerce decay'd,49.
And shut up are all her resources of trade;
The starving mechanic, bereav'd of each hope,51.
Steals pensively home from his desolate shop;
Surveys with an anguish words ne'er can express,
The pale sighing partner of all his distress,
While round them, imploring, their little ones meet,
And crave from their mama a morsel to eat.56.
"From weeping relations, regardlessly torn,57.
Her unthinking youths to the battle are borne,
There, train'd amid slaughter and ruin to wade,59.
They toil in the heart-steeling, barbarous trade.
What crowds, hurried on by the terrible call,
Pale, ghastly, and blood-covered carcases fall!
Earth heaves with the heaps, still resigning their breath,
And friends, foes, and kindred, lie wallowing in death.64.
"Ah! were they but doom'd to one misery to yield!65.
But nameless, alas! are the deaths of the field!
Grim hollow-ey'd Famine bereaves them of bread,67.
And scarce can the living deposite their dead.
By hardships, disease, and an inclement sky,
In thousands they sicken, and languish, and die,
Unpitied, and cast amid heaps of the brave,
With scarce one companion to sigh o'er their grave.72.
"Old ocean, that bore home her treasures from far,73.
Now growls with the thunder and horrors of War;
There Plunderers, licens'd to murder and prey,75.
Bear half of our riches, unquestion'd, away;
While tow'ring in terrible pomp o'er the main,
The bulwarks of Britain are roaving in vain,
In search of acquirements that (justly to rate)
But serve to depress, and embarass the State.80.
"From India's wide-spreading, remote, sultry shore,81.
The long absent seaman steers homeward once more;
Encounters, unwearied, the waves and the gale,83.
His dear smiling wife, and his children to hail.
But never, alas! shall the poor friendless train
Behold their belov'd Benefactor again.
In sight of his country he's dragg'd forth anew,
And England for ever recedes from his view.88.
"These woes, horrid War! thou unmerciful fiend!89.
These woes are the shades that thy footsteps attend.
Arous'd by the call of Ambition and Pride,91.
Thou wakes, and the earth with destruction is dy'd.
The red blazing city enlight'ning the air,
The shrieks of distraction—the groans of despair—
Remorseless as hell thou behold'st with delight,
While Pity, far distant, turns pale at the sight.96.
"Shall then such a monster, a fiend so accurs'd,97.
By Britons be welcom'd, embosom'd, and nurs'd!
Shall they, on whose prudence and mercy we rest,99.
Be deaf to the cries of a nation distrest!
Yes!—scorn'd for a while my poor children may mourn,
Contemn'd and neglected, depress'd and forlorn,
Till bursting the bands of oppression, they soar
Aloft from the dust, to be trampled no more.104.
"High o'er Valenciennes, engulph'd amid flame,105.
(The glory of Gallia, of Despots the shame)
The wide-waving flag of Germania may flow,107.
And Tyranny shout o'er the horrors below;
But Liberty, radiant, immortal! looks down
On millions of heroes, whose hearts are her own;
Who, sworn her defenders, will stand to their trust,
When Towns, yet unconquer'd, are sunk in the dust.112.
"When rights are insulted, and justice deny'd,113.
When his country is threaten'd—his courage defy'd;
When Tyrants denounce, and each vassal prepares,115.
'Tis then that the soul of the Briton appears;
Appears in the stern resolution reveal'd,
To rescue his country, or sink in the field;
Indignant he burns the proud foe to pursue,
And conquest or death are the objects in view.120.
"Were these then the causes that rous'd us to wrath,121.
To fury and madness, to uproar and death?
Was Britain insulted—was justice refus'd,123.
Her honour, her quiet, or interest abus'd?—
Thou Being Supreme! who, in spite of each art,
Canst mark undisguis'd ev'ry thought of the heart,
Thou know'st the dark motives that urg'd them full well,
Thou know'st, and the ghosts of the murder'd will tell.128.
"O scheme most accurs'd! pale Want and Distress129.
Call'd up, the resources of truth to repress!
A country laid prostrate—starv'd—butcher'd each day,131.
That vultures, unscar'd, on its vitals may prey!
Heaven frowns on such madness, that, rising divine,
Aloft the great Sun of fair Freedom may shine,
Bright, blazing, and boundless, till loud every shore
Resound, that the reign of Corruption is o'er.136.
"Soon, soon will the tempest that thunders around,137.
This unshielded bosom most fatally wound,
And soon may the mighty promoters of woe139.
Desist, in the dust of submission laid low:
But, ah! what submission, repentance, or pain—
What treaties can call up the souls of the slain?
Can comfort Affliction, or soothe the sad cares
Of parents, and widows, and orphans in tears?144.
"These shouts that I hear from yon wide western plains,145.
Where distant Hibernia lies panting in chains;
Those pale bleeding corpses, thick strew'd o'er the ground,147.
Those law-sanctioned heroes triumphing around;
These speak in the voice of the loud roaring flood,
And write this stern lesson in letters of blood:
Oppression may persecute—Force bend the knee,
But free is that nation that wills to be free.152.
"Ye then who imperiously hold it at will,153.
The blood and the treasures of Britons to spill,
While Mis'ry implores—while such dangers impend,155.
While all is at stake, oh! in mercy attend!
Let War, the sad source of these sorrows, soon cease,
And bless a poor land with the comforts of Peace:
Her commerce, and credit, to heal and restore,
Or Britain will fade, to reflourish no more."160.
She ceas'd; the sad tribute of tears follow'd fast,161.
While bleak low'r'd the Heavens, and loud rose the blast;
Ascending in flashes the steep eastern sky,163.
The deep-rolling horrors of battle drew nigh;
A thick gloomy darkness, of mis'ry and dread,
Fell dismal, and Britain's lone regions o'erspread,
And nought could be seen but the lightning's pale glow,
Or heard, but the shrieks and the wailings of woe.168.
Connel And Flora
Grosart lists as from American newspapers, but no original survives. Collected in the 1844 Belfast edition, where it is listed as found in the missing 1814 edition. The diction in this short sample is consistent with Wilson's other verse, and the conventional subject matter is likewise familiar from his early writings. Text from Grosart.
DARK lowers the night o'er the wide stormy main,1.
Till mild rosy morning rise cheerful again;
Alas! morn returns to revisit our shore;3.
But Connel returns to his Flora no more!
For see, on yon mountain, the dark cloud of death5.
O'er Connel's lone cottage, lies low on the heath;
While bloody and pale, on a far distant shore,7.
He lies, to return to his Flora no more!
Ye light fleeting spirits that glide o'er yon steep,9.
O would ye but waft me across the wild deep,
There fearless I'd mix in the battle's loud roar,11.
I'd die with my Connel, and leave him no more!
Farewell to Virginia
"From manuscript verses," Ord, xvii (note). Likely composed in 1795 after a brief and unsuccessful foray to Sheppardstown, Virginia for weaving work.
Farewell to Virginia, to Berkley adieu,1.
Where, like Jacob, our days have been evil and few!
So few—they seemed really but one lengthened curse;3.
And so bad—that the Devil only could have sent worse.
Poetical Letter To William Duncan, His Nephew,
Seneca County, New York State
William Duncan, the son of Wilson's uncle and former master, emigrated to the US alongside Wilson at the age of 16. First finding work as a weaver and farmhand, Duncan moved in 1798 to settle a 150-acre tract between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes (New York state) that he and Wilson had bought on credit. Duncan's mother, siblings, and one nephew arrived (sans patriarch) in Gray's Ferry in 1802 and were sent to the farm the following spring. First published in 1816 (Crichton). Internal evidence suggests a composition timeframe of 1799-1801.
HERE LEFT O'ER BOOKS AND FIGUR'D SLATES TO PORE,1.
While you the wilds of Northern woods explore;
How wide remov'd from social converse sweet!3.
How parted! haply never more to meet.
Yet, though detain'd by fate's superior will,
My faithful following heart, attends you still,
And, borne on Fancy's wings to Northern lakes,
In all your toils, and all your joys partakes.8.
I saw, when full equipt with knapsack load,
You and your fellow-pilgrim took the road,
A road immense—yet promis'd joys so dear,
That toils, and doubts, and dangers disappear.
I saw you then, Hope sparkling in your eye,13.
Pierce the deep wood, and scale the mountain high,
Pass where the Lelu rolls her silver tide,
Cross nameless brooks and streams, and rivers wide;
Now down through dismal swamps pursue your way,
Where pine and hemlocks thick obscure the day,18.
Whose mingled tops, an hundred feet in air,
The clustering nest of swarming pigeons bear;
Thence climb the rugged mountain's barren ride[sic],
Where snorting bears through rustling forests glide;
Where Wilkesbarre's fertile plains extend in view,23.
And far in front the Allegany blue,
Immensely stretch'd. While in the vale below
The painted cots and colour'd meadows glow.
Beyond this little town, 'midst fields of grass,
With thoughtful hearts the fatal field you pass,28.
Where Indian force prevail'd, by murder fir'd,
And warriors brave, by savage hordes expir'd.
Advancing still, the river's course you keep,
And pass the rugged, narrow, dangerous steep.
Thence vales and mountains rude promiscuous lie,33.
And wretched huts disgust the passing eye;
Sure sign of sloth within, that will not toil,
But starves in rags upon the richest soil.
Through Wilhalvossing now your steps you bend,
Where numerous herbs and pastures rich extend;38.
But hens and sheep, here lucklessly decay,
To wolves and foxes sly, a nightly prey.
High on the steep that near Tioga soars,
Where deep below the parted river roars,
With cautious steps and throbbing hearts you go,43.
And eye the gulph profound that yawns below,
Or from the height sublime, around descry
One waste of woods encircling earth and sky;
Now, sunk in hoary woods, you scour along,
Rousing the echoes with your jovial song,48.
Through scenes where late the sculking Indian trod,
Adorn'd with scalps, and smear'd with infants' blood.
See Nature's rudest scenes around you rise,
Observe some ancient trees stupendous size,
Gaze while the startled deer shoots bounding by,53.
And wish the deadly rifle at your eye;
Or stop some settler's fertile fields to see,
And say, so our own fields shall shortly be.
Ten days of tedious toil and marching past,
The long-expected scenes appear at last,58.
The lake thro' chequering trees, extended blue
Huzza! Huzza! Old Seneca's in view!
With flying hat you hail the glorious spot,
And every toil and every care's forgot.
So when of late we ploughed the Atlantic waves,63.
And left a land of despots and their slaves,
With hearts o'erjoy'd Columbia's shores we spy'd,65.
And gave our cares and sorrows to the tide.
Still with success may all your toils be blest,67.
And this new enterprise crown all the rest.
Soon may your glittering axe, with strength applied,69.
The circling bark from mossy trunks divide;
Or, wheel'd in air, while the deep woods resound,
Bring crashing forests, thund'ring to the ground.
Soon may your fires in flaming piles ascend,
And girdled trees their wintry limbs extend.74.
Soon may your oxen clear the root away,
And give the deep black surface to the clay;
While fields of richest grain, and pasture good,
Shall wave where Indians stray'd, and forests stood;
And as you sweat, the rustling sheaves among,79.
Th' adjoining woods shall echo to your song.
These are the scenes of purest joy below,81.
From these, health, peace, and independence flow.
Blest with the purest air and richest soil,83.
What generous harvests recompence your toil.
Here no proud Lordling lifts his haughty crest,
No scoundrel landlord tramples the opprest,
No thief in black demands his tenth in sheaves,
But man from God abundantly receives.88.
In rustic dress you cheerful range the woods,
Health makes you gay, and simple manners good.
Society's whole joys your bosoms know,
And Plenty's smiling bliss, without its woe.
Farewell, dear Bill, thy hardy toils pursue;93.
Keep independence constantly in view;
Fear not success.—If one attempt should fail,95.
Fate yields when strength and constancy assail.
Store up thy harvests, sow thy winter grain,
Prepare thy troughs the maple's juice to drain,
Then, when the wintry North outrageous blows,
And nought is seen but one wide waste of snows,100.
Ascend the fleeting height, and, like the wind,
Sweep o'er the snows, and leave the woods behind;
Along the rugged swamp and mountain high,
'Mid rocks and narrows, make thy horses fly;
Shoot o'er the Susquehanna's frozen face,105.
And bleak Wioming's lofty hills retrace,
Nor let the hunter's hut, or ven'sons stale,
Or his lov'd bottle, or his wondrous tale
Of bears, and deer, thy lingering steps detain,
But swift descend, and seek the southern plain.110.
Here where the clouds of Philadelphia rise,
And little Milestown's scattered village lies;
Where, o'er the road the pointed eagle waves,
And Ralph's good grog the shivering sinner saves.
Here shall thy faithful friend, with choicest store115.
Of wine and roast-beef, welcome thee once more,
And Friendship's social joys shall crown the whole,
"The feast of reason, and the flow of soul."
Washington died 14 December 1799, and this poem was likely composed soon thereafter and published in an American newspaper. No such newspaper source could be located, however, and the present text comes from 1816 (Crichton).
HE'S GONE! FOR EVER GONE AND LOST,1.
Our country's glory, pride, and boast;
In vain we weep—in vain deplore,3.
Our Washington is now no more.—
That guiding star, whose radiant form,
In triumph led us thro' the storm,
While blackest clouds did round us roar,
Is set—to gild our sphere no more.8.
O'er regions far remote and nigh,9.
The fatal tidings swiftly fly,
Each startled bosom heaves with woe,11.
And tears of deepest sorrow flow.
The young, the aged, wise, and brave,
Approach in solemn grief his grave,
In silent anguish to bemoan,
Their hero, friend, and father gone.16.
Jefferson and Liberty
"Willy was a Wanton Wag." [AW] James Johnson and Robert Burns, eds. Scots Musical Museum,
volume II, song #137 . Written after Jefferson's electoral victory over the Federalists in the 1800 presidential election.
The Times and District of Columbia Advertiser, 19 February 1801 (Vol VI, issue 1195) 2. Later reworked for Wilson's
Inauguration Day oration (see "Oration, on the Power and Value of National Liberty" below). Upon Jefferson's election to a second term,
Wilson sent him a pair of fine ornithological drawings and corresponded with the president about the identity of an unknown jay (a Canada Jay, it turned out)
and the call of the wood thrush. In 1806, Wilson wrote to Jefferson requesting a post as naturalist with the Pike expedition. He received no reply, likely because
the expedition was still considered a sensitive state secret at the time. Jefferson was one of the early subscribers to the
American Ornithology, and his example induced many other influential people to do the same.
A Patriotic Song for the Glorious 4th March, 1801
THE gloomy night before us flies,1.
The reign of Terror now is o'er;
Its Gags, Inquisitors and Spies,3.
Its herds of harpies are no more!
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, rejoice!5.
To tyrants never bend the knee,
But join with heart and soul and voice7.
For Jefferson and Liberty.
O'er vast Columbia's varied clime,9.
Her cities, forests, shores, and dales;
In rising majesty, sublime,11.
Immortal liberty prevails.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons rejoice, &c.
Hail! long expected glorious day,14.
Illustrious, memorable Morn!
That Freedom's fabric from decay16.
Rebuilds—for millions yet unborn.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, rejoice, &c.
His Country's glory, hope and stay,19.
In virtue and in talents try'd
Now rises to assume the sway,21.
O'er Freedom's Temple to preside:
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
Within its hallow'd walls, immense,24.
No hireling bands shall e'er arise,
Arrayed in tyranny's defence,26.
To curb an injur'd people's cries.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
No lordling here with gorging jaws29.
Shall wring from industry her food,
Nor fiery Bigot's holy laws,31.
Lay waste our fields and streets in blood.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
Here strangers from a thousand shores,34.
Compelled by tyranny to roam,
Still find amidst abundant stores36.
A nobler and a happier home,
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
Here art shall lift her laurell'd head,39.
Wealth, industry and peace divine,
And where unbounded forests spread,41.
Rich fields and lofty cities shine.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
From Europe's wants and woes remote,44.
A friendly waste of waves between,
Here plenty cheers the humblest cot,46.
And smiles on every village green.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
Here free as air's expanded space,49.
To every soul and sect shall be,
That sacred privilege of our race,51.
The worship of the Deity.
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
These gifts great Liberty are thine,54.
Ten thousand more we owe to thee;
Immortal may their memories shine,56.
Who fought and dy'd for liberty,
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
What heart but hails a scene so bright,59.
What soul, but inspiration draws,
Who would not guard so dear a right,61.
Or die in such a glorious cause.
Rejoice Columbia's Sons, &c.
Let foes to freedom dread the name,64.
But should they touch this sacred tree,
Thrice fifty thousand swords shall flame,66.
For Jefferson and Liberty,
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, &c.
From Georgia to Lake Champlain,69.
From Seas to Mississippi's shore,
Ye sons of Freedom loud proclaim,71.
The Reign of Terror is no more.
Rejoice! Columbia's sons, rejoice!73.
To tyrants never bend the knee,
But join with heart and soul and voice,75.
For Jefferson and liberty.
The Aristocrat's War-Whoop,
Addressed To All Despairing Tories
Tune—"The Morgan Rattler." [AW] James Aird, Selection of Scotch, Irish, English and Foreign Airs, volume 5 (Glasgow, 1797). Also from the rough MSS in the Paisley Museum. Text from Grosart. A satirical poem told from the perspective of the Federalists (the Adams-Pinckney ticket) just ousted by the 1800 election of Democratic-Republicans Jefferson and Burr.
DEAR chop-fallen feds, don't hang down your heads,1.
Rouse up and prepare,—the election approaches;
Tho' Freedom prevail, let's never turn tail,3.
But snivel out curses, and groans, and reproaches.
No scheming or swearing you know we have stuck at,
And show them to-day
From the Hook to Cape May
That we're still something more than a drop in the bucket.8.
Hypocrisy's gown, let it wrap us around,9.
Sometimes looking mild as a lamb or a pigeon:
With holy grimace, and a sanctified face,11.
Denouncing the deists and groaning religion;
Declaring aloud that the Democrat crowd,
If Jefferson is not deposed from his station,
Will grow in his fangs, like the orang-outangs,
Bereft of all senses and civilization.16.
To keep up the veil, let's drop the old tale17.
Of order, good government—rig'rous and martial;
But whine and lament in the new Tory cant19.
Of soldiers dismissed, and appointments so partial;
Let's swear to a man, that the whole is a plan
To grab to themselves all the loaves and the fishes,—
That curst sans-culottes may cut all our throats,
Or spare us, in mercy, to lick all their dishes.24.
As Heav'n's my judge, I owe them a grudge,25.
And vengeance and hate in my heart is a-hovering;
To think that such wretches, escap'd from the clutches27.
Of George, our most gracious, omnipotent Sovereign,—
To see his dominions, by Paine's curst opinions,
Cut up and controul'd by mechanics and farmers;
Without noble blood, and bespattered with mud,—
It drives me to madness, and well may alarm us.32.
O, England! thou glory and pride of a Tory!33.
Blest country, where riches and rank have the pref'rence;
Where crowds at the sound of "My Lord" kiss the ground,35.
Or sink, in his presence, with honour and rev'rence.
Where are you now, rabble, that dare not to babble,
Are ty'd neck and heels at the nod of their judges;
For all without riches are ignorant wretches,
Ordained to believe, and submit to be drudges.40.
But here, gracious heav'n! what insults are given!41.
Birth, title, and blood, they compare to diseases;
At lordship or grace they'll laugh in your face,—43.
Each claims to believe, read, and speak, as he pleases.
No chance, here, of starving the crowd undeserving
Of carpenters, shoemakers, printers, and binders;
Each saucy-fac'd cur bellows—"How d'ye do, sir;"
I answer— "———," and show them my grinders.48.
From courts and elections let's sweep the whole faction;49.
There's nought can be done while these lynxes are watching;
They prowl so for prey, that scarcely a day51.
But some thief of a Tory they're eternally catching.
Of honest Tom Pickering what squalling and bickering,
Some few tons of Joes all the breach of his trust is:
For scarce half-a-million to call a man villain!—
O tempora mores! what monstrous injustice!56.
Confound Johnny Adams, his X Y and madams,57.
His tubs and alarms, and his itch to be doing;
Like Endor's old hag let the cat out the bag,59.
And raised up a spirit that threatens our ruin.
Henceforth, let us try to be cautious and sly,
And screw ourselves in again smoothly and civil;
Then each in his place, with one coup-de-grace
Let's send each Democrat dog to the Devil.64.
Likely from 1801, the year of Wilson's ill-starred love affair. Not in 1816, 1844, or Jardine. Text from Grosart.
Softly through the check'ring trees,1.
Cynthia pours her mellow light;
While the gently-whisp'ring breeze,3.
Moves the genius of the night.
Spring-born May has spread her flow'rs,5.
Flora laughs in every grove;
Lightly dance the sportive hours,7.
And Nature's pulse beats high to love.
List! the ev'ning warbler's throat,9.
Yonder by the tinkling rill;
Sweet she trills her vesper note,11.
And echo answers, "whip-poor-will!"
Come, my fair, enjoy the scene,13.
Down the green walk let us stray;
Duller soul may doze within,15.
Come, Lavinia, come away!
How sweet at such an hour as this,17.
The zest of social bliss to prove;
To snatch unblam'd the melting kiss,19.
Warm from the conscious lip of love!
Epistle To Charles Orr
In a letter to Charles Orr, dated Milestown, 11 June 1800. A substantially revised version of this letter, dated 10 July 1800, is printed in Hunter 167-170. Orr, a native of Paisley, had settled in Philadelphia as a penmanship instructor. Beginning in 1797, Wilson and Orr struck up a friendship and correspondence that intensified during Wilson's obscure love-scandal in 1801, when Orr acted as a go-between for his friend in hiding. First collected in 1816 (Crichton). Cf. Wilson's published poem to Orr, "The Invitation."
From Milestown's fertile fields and meadows clear1.
I hail my worthy friend with heart sincere
And welcome—nay, most pressingly implore3.
One friendly visit to my Cot once more
The fairest scenes that ever blest the year
Now Sir our lawns and woods and meads appear
The richest Harvests choak each loaded field
The fairest fruits our growing orchards yield8.
In green and gold and Purple hues arrayed,
The sweetest songsters chant from every shade
Such boundless plenty such luxurious stores
The Busy hand of nature round us pours
That every living tribe their powers employ13.
From morn to e'en to testify their joy
And pour from meadow, field and air above
One general song of gratitude and love
Even now emerging from their Caverns deep
Wak'd from their seventeen years of drowsy sleep18.
In countless millions to our wond'ring eyes
The long remember'd Locusts glad arise
Burst their enclosing tombs at Nature's call
And join in praise to the Great God of all
Come then, Dear Orr, the noisy town forsake23.
With me a while these Rural joys partake
Forget your books, your pens, your studious cares
Come see the gifts that God for man prepares
Here, as with me at morn you range the Wood
Or headlong plunge amid the sparkling flood28.
More vig'rous life your firmer limbs shall brace
A ruddier glow shall wanton on your face
A brighter glance reanimate your eye
Each anxious thought, each fretting care shall fly
For here through glades and every rustling grove33.
Sweet peace and Rosy health for ever rove
For you my Vines their clustring fruit suspend
My pinks and Roses, blow but for my friend
For him who joins with elegance and art
The brightest talents to the warmest Heart38.
Come then, O, come, your burning streets forego
Your lanes and wharves where winds infectious blow
For deep majestic woods and opening glades
And shining pools and awe-inspiring shades
Where fragrant flowers perfume the air around43.
And bending orchards Kiss the flow'ry ground
And luscious berries spread a feast for Jove
And golden cherries stud the boughs above
Amidst these various sweets your rustic friend
Shall to each woodland haunt thy steps attend48.
His noontide walks, his Vine entwisted bowers
The old associates of his lonely hours
While friendship's converse generous and sincere
That mingles joy with joy and tear with tear
Shall fill each heart and give to memory's eye53.
Those native shores where fond relations sigh
Where war accursed and haggard famine howl
And Royal Dogs on prostrate millions growl
While ever alas! these mournful sounds retrace
In climes of plenty, liberty, and Peace58.
A mingled flood of joy and grief shall flow
For this so free, and that so full of woe.
Thus in celestial bowers the Heavenly train
Elate from Earth's dark ills and all its pain
—[ ] our scenes of suffering here below63.
And drop a tear of pity for our woe—
Tune—"My Sodger Laddie." [AW] "Soger Laddie," in James Johnson and Robert Burns, eds. The Scots Musical Museum, volume IV, song #323  334. From Grosart's transcription of a "rough manuscript" in the Paisley Museum. After fleeing from what he thought was a brewing scandal in Gray's Ferry, Wilson re-settled in Bloomfield, New Jersey, as a schoolmaster.
Hurra, for sweet Bloomfield, that village [.....]1.
Our church like a palace—our [.....]
Sound the horn in its praises [.....]3.
Our priest's house a palace [.....]
Here bull-headed Ignorance gapes and is courted,
And pale Superstition with visage distorted.
Sweet Science and Truth, while these monsters they cherish,
Like the Babes of the Wood are abandoned to perish.8.
Here ten times a day they are singing and praying,9.
And "Glory to God," most abundantly paying;
Apply for your cash—-that's a quite different story;11.
They lock up the clink, but to God give the glory.
Here old, withered witches crawl round every cabin,
And butter from churn are eternally grabbing;
Ghosts, wizards, seventh sons to cure the King's Evil—
One touch of their hand and 'tis gone to the Devil.16.
Sweet Venus ne'er lent to our females their graces—17.
Like ducks in their gait—like pumpkins their faces;
No heart-winning looks to ensnare or to charm us—19.
Their teeth like corruption, their breath—O enormous!
Here Slander, vile hag, is from house to house sweeping,
Still stabbing, and skulking, or whispering and peeping:
From Gibb's honest-heart with abhorrence discarded,
But lov'd by sweet Bloomfield, caress'd and regarded.24.
Here old Rosinantes, their bare bones uprearing,25.
Move past us as if Death's horrid steed were appearing;
Dogs snuff; turkey buzzards swarm round for a picking;27.
And tanners look out, and prepare for a sticking.
Here's the one-handed plough, like an old crooked rafter,
The Genius of farming surveys it with laughter.
Wo! Haw! hallows Hodge, as he's zig-zags a-shooting,
While travellers cry, "Lord, how those hogs have been rooting!"32.
There's the grim Man of God, with a voice like a trumpet,33.
His pulpit each Sunday, bestampt and bethumpit;
On all but his own pours damnation and ruin,35.
And heaves them to Satan for roasting and stewing.
Hail Bloomfield! sweet Bloomfield, what village [.....]
Our church like a palace—our school like [.....]
Sound the horn in its praises [.....]
The priest's house a palace [.....]40.
Deacon Grumbo The Miller
A New Song
Tune—", &c." [AW] Grosart speculates that Grumbo is a "Paisley body," but local historians claim he is based on Ephraim Morris, a deacon and miller in Bloomfield, New Jersey. See Joseph Fulford Folsom, ed. Bloomfield, Old and New (Bloomfield: Centennial Historical Committee, 1914) 23.
Hark! Grumbo's mill's a-going,1.
A-rattling and a-creaking,
While folks to church are flowing,3.
Yet Grumbo is a Deacon.
The stones are flying,
Round the dusty hoppers:
This holy day,8.
That makes us pray,
To him brings in the coppers.
And yet old Grumbo still groans11.
Like some poor wretch in Limbo,
And prays, "Lord, dry up their millponds,13.
That none may grind but Grumbo."
Then night and day,
I'll sing and pray,
Nor ever more be grumbling;
At meeting snore,18.
And praises roar,
To hear my mill a-rumbling.
I am for size and much sense,21.
Set up a great example,
With rattling box I catch pence23.
Within thy holy temple—
May sneer and prate,
And say, I worship Mammon,
But godly folks28.
Must fill their box,
And learn to save their Gammon.
'Tis true I grind one Lord's Day,31.
My Dutchman, Hans, the other;
His creed accords with mine aye,33.
Grab all you can together.
But when grim Death
Shall come in wrath,
And we like pigs are squeaking,
Let Satan clutch38.
The dirty Dutch,
But, Lord, take Thou the Deacon."
My Landlady's Nose
A Song.—" The Bonny Muir Hen." [AW] This is likely a reference to Burns's "The Bonie Moor-Hen" of 1787. Text from The Centinel of Freedom, August 25, 1801 (V:48) 3. Written for this publication and signed "A. W—n." This weekly paper was edited in Newark, New Jersey by Samuel Pennington and Stephen Gould. The masthead during this period bore a winged figure of liberty displaying a copy of "The Rights of Man" and contained a prominent quote from Thomas Jefferson: "Error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it." Reprinted, unsigned, in The Weekly Museum, August 29, 1801 (no. 46) 4. Wilson refers to this piece as popular, but these are the only editions found among the American periodicals and newspapers of the time.
O'ER the evils of life 'tis a folly to fret,1.
Despondence and grief never lessen'd them yet:
Then a fig for the world—let it come as it goes,3.
I'll sing to the praise of my Landlady's Nose.
My Landlady's Nose is in noble condition,5.
For longitude, latitude, shape and position;
'Tis as round as a horn, and as red as a rose;7.
Success to the hulk of my Landlady's Nose.
To Jeweller's shops let your ladies repair,9.
For trinkets and nick-nacks to give them an air;
Here living curbuncles, a score of'em glows,11.
On the big massy sides of my Landlady's Nose.
Old Patrick M'Dougherty when on the fuddle,13.
Pulls out a segar, and looks up to her noddle;
For Dougherty swears, when he swigs a good dose,15.
By Marjory's Firebrand, my Landlady's Nose.
Ye wishy-wash butter-milk drinkers so cold,17.
Come here and the virtues of brandy behold;
Here's red burning Ætna; a mountain of snows,19.
Would roar down in streams from my Landlady's Nose.
Each cavern profound of this snuff-loving snout,21.
Is furnish'd within sir, as well as without;
O'er the brown upper lip such a cordial flows—23.
O the cordial brown drops of my Landlady's Nose.
But gods! when this trunk with an uplifted arm,25.
She grasps in the dish clout to blow an alarm;
Horns, trumpets, and conchs are but screaming of crows,27.
To the loud thund'ring twang of my Landlady's Nose.
My Landlady's Nose unto me is a treasure,29.
A care-killing nostrum—a fountain of pleasure;
If I want for a laugh to discard all my woes,31.
I only look up to my Landlady's Nose.
Prayer, Addressed to Jove, the God of Thunder, During the Late Hot Weather
The Centinel of Freedom, September 22, 1801 (V: 52) 4. Written for this publication, and signed "A. W—n."
GOD of thunders! Clouds and Rain!1.
Hear! nor let us pray in vain;
In this sultry hot September,3.
Jove, thy worms of earth remember,
See us panting, blowing, sweating,
Chok'd with dust, fatigu'd and fretting,
Roasted up, as brown'd potatoes,
Stung by flies, and curst musquetoes;8.
Sleepless nights—for ever turning,
Drench'd in sweat from night to morning;
Drinking grog to quench the fire,
Still the more we drink, the dryer.
See our meadows, fields and pastures,13.
Bare and brown as blist'ring plasters;
See our melons, pears, and peaches,15.
Shrivel'd up like skins of witches:
Streams and ponds, and creeks a-drying,
Millers groaning—Fishes dying;
Frogs extended stiff as pokers,
Dead, alas! are all the croakers,20.
Tenor, treble, bass and chorus,
Blood and wounds himself no more is.
See the clouds of dust ascending23.
O'er the burning road contending;
There, the wet and foaming steed,25.
Panting lash'd to cruel speed;
Feels in ev'ry vein the fires,
Staggers, tumbles, and expires.
See these strangers faint and sweating,29.
Landed from the shores of Britain,
(Blessed shores! where temp'rate gales,31.
Health and verdure never fails;
Round whose airy cliffs sea-driv'n,
Sweeps the purest breath of heaven:
Blest by thee, thee our bounteous Parent,
Curs'd—laid waste, by Pitt the tyrant;)
These two lines were omitted from posthumous British collections of Wilson's work.36.
See them clad in coats of woollen,
Panting for some shade to cool in;
Looking round with restless gaze,
Thro' the sultry, sick'ning blaze;
On each parched field they meet,41.
With'ring in the torrid heat,
With a sigh—that fate should lead 'em
To such burning shores of freedom.
See our Cits with tun-like bellies,
Melted down almost to jellies;46.
See our Mowers—Mason-tenders,
See our Smiths like Salamanders,
See—but gracious pow'r forgive us,
Thou see'st all, and can'st relieve us;
God of Thunders, Clouds, and Rain,51.
Hear! nor let us pray in vain,
From the wat'ry western regions,
Call thy Clouds in gloomy legions,
Tow'ring, thick'ning, moving horrid,
O'er the day's affrighted forehead,56.
Swift athwart the low'ring deep,
Sudden let the light'ning sweep,
Loud the bursting thunders roar,
Flashes blaze and torrents pour,
Till this earth has got a scouring,
Till each stream, and creek and current,
Swells and roars a raging torrent,
Till each freshen'd field, and every
Hill and Dale, wear nature's livery,66.
And cool buxom breezes winnow,
Bracing ev'ry nerve and sinew.
God of Thunders! Clouds, and Rain!69.
Hear! nor let us pray in vain;
And till age has made us hoary,71.
Thine shall be the praise and glory.
The Beechen Bower
Manuscript dated 18 June 1804.
The reference to "Anna" is to William Bartram's niece, Nancy ("Ann") Bartram.
Text from Hunter's transcription of an item in the the Houghton-MCL collection of Wilsoniana.
O dear to my heart in this deep shaded Bower1.
This snug little seat and this smooth Beechen Tree
These old hoary Cliffs through the bushes that tower3.
And bend o'er the pool their resemblance to see
The fountains the Grotto the Laurels sweet blossom
The streamlet that warbles so soothing and free
Green solitude! dear to the Maid of my bosom
And so for her sake ever charming to me.8.
Here seated with Anna what bliss so transporting
I wish every moment an age were to be
Her taste so exalted—her humour so sporting
Her heart full of tenderness virtue and glee
Each evening sweet Bow'r round thy cliffs will I hover13.
In hopes her fair form thro' the foliage to see
Heav'n only can witness how dearly I love her
How sweet Beechen Bower thy shades are to me.
The Solitary Tutor
"The Solitary Tutor" first appeared in The Literary Magazine, and American Register, October 1804, 533-537.
Signed "A. W―N" and dated "Gray's Ferry, September 5th, 1804." First collected in 1816 (Crichton).
WHOE'ER across the Schuylkill's winding tide,1.
Beyond Gray's Ferry half a mile, has been,
Down at a bridge-built hollow must have spy'd3.
A neat stone school-house on a sloping green:
There tufted cedars scatter'd round are seen,
And stripling poplars planted in a row;
Some old gray white oaks overhang the scene,
Pleas'd to look down upon the youths below,8.
Whose noisy noontide sports no care or sorrow know.
On this hand rise the woods in deep'ning shade,10.
Resounding with the sounds of warblers sweet,
And there a waving sign-board hangs display'd12.
From mansion fair, the thirsty soul's retreat:
There way-worn pilgrims rest their weary feet,
When noontide heats, or evening shades prevail:
The widow's fare, still plentiful and neat,
Can nicest guest deliciously regale,17.
And make his heart rejoice the sorrel horse to hail.
Adjoining this, old Vulcan's shop is seen,19.
Where winds, and fires, and thumping hammers roar,
White-wash'd without, but black enough within?.21.
Emblem of modern patriots many a score.
The restive steed impatient at the door,
Starts at his thundering voice and brawny arm,
While yellow Jem with horse-tail fans him o'er,
Drawing aloof, the ever-buzzing swarm,26.
Whose shrill blood-sucking pipes his restless fears alarm.
An ever-varying scene the road displays,28.
With horsemen, thundering stage, and stately team,
Now burning with the sun's resplendent rays,30.
Now lost in clouds of dust the travellers seem,
And now a lengthen'd pond or miry stream
Deep sink the wheels, and slow they drag along,
Journeying to town, with butter, apples, cream,
Fowls, eggs, and fruit, in many a motley throng,35.
Coop'd in their little carts their various truck among.
And yonder, nestled in enclust'ring trees,37.
Where many a rose-bush round the green yard glows,
Wall'd from the road, with seats for shade and ease,39.
A yellow-fronted cottage sweetly shows:
The towering poplars rise in spiry rows,
And green catalphas, white with branchy flowers;
Her matron arms, a weeping willow throws
Wide o'er the dark green grass, and pensive lours,44.
Midst plumb trees, pillar'd hops, and honey-suckle bowers.
Here dwells the guardian of these younglings gay,46.
A strange, recluse, and solitary wight,
In Britain's isle, on Scottish mountains gray,48.
His infant eyes first open'd to the light.
His parents saw with partial fond delight,
Unfolding genius crown their fostering care,
And talk'd with tears of that enrapturing sight,
When, clad in sable gown, with solemn air,53.
The walls of God's own house should echo back his pray'r.
Dear smiling Hope! to thy enchanting hand,55.
What cheering joys, what extasies we owe!
Touch'd by the magic of thy fairy wand,57.
Before us spread, what heavenly prospects glow!
Thro' Life's rough thorny wild we lab'ring go,
And, though a thousand disappointments grieve,
Ev'n from the grave's dark verge we forward throw
Our straining, wishful eyes on those we leave,62.
And with their future fame our sinking hearts relieve.
But soon, too soon, these fond illusions fled!64.
In vain they pointed out that pious height;
By Nature's strong resistless impulse led,66.
These dull dry doctrines ever would he slight.
Wild Fancy form'd him for fantastic flight;
He lov'd the steep's high summit to explore,
To watch the splendour of the orient bright,
The dark deep forest, and the sea-beat shore,71.
Where thro' resounding rocks the liquid mountains roar.
When gath'ring clouds the vaults of Heav'n o'erspread,73.
And op'ning streams of livid lightning flew,
From some o'erhanging cliff, the uproar dread,75.
Transfix'd in rapt'rous wonder, he would view.
When the red torrent big and bigger grew,
Or deep'ning snows for days obscur'd the air,
Still with the storm his transports would renew,
Roar, pour away! was still his eager pray'r,80.
While shiv'ring swains around were sinking in despair.
That worldly gift which misers merit call,82.
But wise men cunning and the art of trade,
That scheming foresight how to scrape up all,84.
How pence may groats, and shillings pounds be made,
As little knew he, as the moorland maid
Who ne'er beheld a cottage but her own:
Sour Parsimony's words he seldom weigh'd,
His heart's warm impulse was the guide alone,89.
When suffering friendship sigh'd, or weeping wretch did moan.
Dear, dear to him, Affection's ardent glow,91.
Alas! from all he lov'd for ever torn,
E'en now, as Memory's sad reflections flow,93.
Deep grief o'erwhelms him, and he weeps forlorn;
By hopeless thought, by wasting sorrow worn.
Around on Nature's scenes he turns his eye,
Charm'd with her peaceful eve, her fragrant morn,
Her green magnificence, her gloomiest sky,98.
That fill th' exulting soul with admiration high.
One charming nymph with transport he adores,100.
Fair Science, crown'd with many a figur'd sign;
Her smiles, her sweet society implores,102.
And mixes jocund with th' encircling nine;
While mathematics solves his dark design,
Sweet Music soothes him with her syren strains,
Seraphic Poetry with warmth divine,
Exalts him far above terrestrial plains,107.
And Painting's fairy hand his mimic pencil trains.
Adown each side of his sequester'd cot,109.
Two bubbling streamlets wind their rocky way,
And mingling, as they leave this rural spot,111.
Down thro' a woody vale meand'ring stray,
Round many a moss-grown rock they dimpling play,
Where laurel thickets clothe the steeps around,
And oaks thick towering quite shut out the day,
And spread a venerable gloom profound,116.
Made still more sweetly solemn by the riv'let's sound,
Where down smooth glistering rocks it rambling pours,118.
Till in a pool its silent waters sleep.
A dark brown cliff o'ertopt with fern and flowers,120.
Hangs grimly frowning o'er the glassy deep;
Above thro' ev'ry chink the woodbines creep,
And smooth-bark'd beeches spread their arms around,
Whose roots cling twisted round the rocky steep:
A more sequester'd scene is no where found,125.
For contemplation deep, and silent thought profound.
Here many a tour the lonely tutor takes,127.
Long known to Solitude, his partner dear,
For rustling woods his empty School forsakes,129.
At morn, still noon, and silent evening clear.
Wild Nature's scenes amuse his wand'rings here;
The old gray rocks that overhang the stream,
The nodding flow'rs that on their peaks appear,
Plants, birds, and insects are a feast to him,134.
Howe'er obscure, deform'd, minute, or huge they seem.
Sweet rural scenes! unknown to poet's song,136.
Where Nature's charms in rich profusion lie,
Birds, fruits, and flowers, an ever pleasing throng,138.
Deny'd to Britain's bleak and northern sky.
Here Freedom smiles serene with dauntless eye,
And leads the exil'd stranger thro' her groves,
Assists to sweep the forest from on high,
And gives to man the fruitful field he loves,143.
Where proud imperious lord, or tyrant, never roves.
In these green solitudes one fav'rite spot145.
Still draws his lone slow meanderings that way,
A mossy cliff beside a little grot,147.
Where two clear springs burst out upon the day.
There overhead the beechen branches play,
And from the rock the cluster'd columbine,
While deep below the brook is seen to stray,
O'erhung with alders, briar, and mantling vine,152.
While on th' adjacent banks the glossy laurels shine.
Here Milton's heav'nly themes delight his soul,154.
Or Goldsmith's simple heart-bewitching lays;
Now drives with Cook around the frozen pole,156.
Or follows Bruce, with marvel and amaze:
Perhaps Rome's splendour sadly he surveys,
Or Britain's scenes of cruelty and kings;
Thro' Georgia's groves with gentle Bartram's strays,
Or mounts with Newton on archangels' wings,161.
With manly Smollet laughs, with jovial Dibdin sings.
The air serene, and breathing odours sweet,163.
The sound of falling streams, and humming bees,
Wild choirs of songsters round his rural seat,165.
To souls like his, have ev'ry pow'r to please.
The shades of night with rising sigh he sees
Obscure the sweet and leafy scene around,
And homeward bending thro' the moonlight trees,
The owl salutes him with her trem'lous sound,170.
And many a flutt'ring bat pursues its mazy round.
Thus peaceful pass his lonely hours away;172.
Thus, in retirement from his school affairs,
He tastes a bliss unknown to worldings gay,174.
A soothing antidote for all his cares.
Adoring Nature's God, he joyous shares,
With happy millions Freedom's fairest scene;
His ev'ning hymn, some plaintive Scottish airs,
Breath'd from the flute or melting violin,179.
With life inspiring reels and wanton jigs between.
Addressed To Mr. Charles Orr
The Literary Magazine, and American Register, July 1804, 265-268. Signed "A. W...........N." and dated "Gray's Ferry, July, 1800."
Cf "Epistle to C. Orr."
How blest is he who crowns in shades like these1.
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,3.
And, since he cannot conquer, learns to fly.
FROM Schuylkill's rural banks, o'erlooking wide1.
The glitt'ring pomp of Philadelphia's pride,
From laurel groves that bloom for ever here,3.
I hail my dearest friend with heart sincere,
And fondly ask, nay ardently implore,
One kind excursion to my cot once more.
The fairest scenes that ever blest the year
Now o'er our vales and yellow plains appear;8.
The richest harvests choke each loaded field,
The ruddiest fruit our glowing orchards yield.
In green, and gold, and purple plumes array'd,
The gayest songsters chant in ev'ry shade.
O could the Muse but faithfully pourtray13.
The various pipes that hymn our rising day,
Whose thrilling melody can banish care,
Cheer the lone heart, and almost soothe despair,
My grateful verse should with their praises glow,
And distant shores our charming warblers know;18.
And you, dear sir, their harmony to hear,
Would bless the strain that led your footsteps here.
When morning dawns, and the bright sun again21.
Leaves the flat forests of the Jersey main,
Then through our woodbines, wet with glitt'ring dews23.
The flow'r-fed humming-bird his round pursues,
Sips with inserted tube the honey'd blooms,
And chirps his gratitude, as round he roams;
While richest roses, though in crimson drest,
Shrink from the splendour of his gorgeous breast.28.
What heav'nly tints in mingling radiance fly!
Each rapid movement gives a diff'rent dye;
Like scales of burnish'd gold they dazzling show;
Now sink to shade, now furnace-bright they glow.
High on the waving top of some tall tree,33.
Sweet sings the Thrush to morning and to me;
While round its skirts, 'midst pendant boughs of green,35.
The orange Baltimore is busy seen.
Prone from the points his netted nest is hung,
With hempen cordage, curiously strung;
Here his young nestlings safe from danger lie,
Their craving wants the teeming boughs supply.40.
Gay chants their guardian, as for food he goes,
And waving breezes rock them to repose.
The white-wing'd woodpecker with crimson crest,
Who digs from solid trunks his curious nest,
Sees the long black snake stealing to his brood,45.
And, screaming, stains the branches with its blood.
Here o'er the woods the tyrant kingbird sails,47.
Spreads his long wings, and every foe assails,
Snaps the returning bee with all her sweets,49.
Pursues the crow, the diving hawk defeats,
Darts on the eagle downwards from afar,
And 'midst the clouds, prolongs the whirling war.
Deep in the thickest shade, with cadence sweet,
Soft as the tones that heaven-bound pilgrims greet,54.
Sings the wood-robin close retir'd from sight,
And swells his solo 'mid the shades of night.
Here sports the mocking-bird with matchless strain,
Returning back each warbler's notes again;
Now chants a robin, now o'er all the throng,59.
Pours out in strains sublime the thrush's song,
Barks like the squirrel, like the cat-bird squalls,
Now "Whip-poor-will," and now "Bob White" he calls.
The lonely red-bird too adorns the scene,
In brightest scarlet through the foliage green.64.
With many a warbler more, a vocal throng,
That shelter'd here their joyous notes prolong,
From the first dawn of dewy morning grey,
In sweet confusion till the close of day.
Ev'n when still night descends serene and cool,69.
Ten thousand pipes awake from yonder pool;
Owls, crickets, tree-frogs, kitty-dids resound,
And flashing fire-flies sparkle all around.
Such boundless plenty, such abundant stores
The rosy hand of Nature round us pours,74.
That every living tribe their powers employ,
From morn to eve, to testify their joy,
And pour from meadow, field, and boughs above,
One general song of gratitude and love.
Even now, emerging from their prisons deep,79.
Wak'd from their seventeen years of tedious sleep,
In countless millions, to our wondering eyes
The long-remember'd locusts glad arise,
Burst their enclosing shells, at Nature's call,
And join in praise to the great God of all.84.
Come then, dear sir, the noisy town forsake,85.
With me awhile these rural joys partake;
Come, leave your books, your pens, your studious cares,87.
Come, see the bliss that God for man prepares.
My shelt'ring bow'rs, with honeysuckles white,
My fishy pools, my cataracts invite;
My vines for you their clusters thick suspend,
My juicy peaches swell but for my friend;92.
For him who joins with elegance and art,
The brightest talents to the warmest heart.
Here as with me at morn you range the wood,
Or headlong plunge amid the crystal flood,
More vig'rous life your firmer nerves shall brace,97.
A ruddier glow shall wanton o'er your face,
A livelier glance re-animate your eye,
Each anxious thought, each fretting care shall fly,
For here, through every field and rustling grove,
Sweet Peace and rosy Health for ever rove.102.
Come, then, O come! your burning streets forego,103.
Your lanes and wharves, where winds infectious blow,
Where sweeps and oystermen eternal growl,105.
Carts, crowds, and coaches harrow up the soul,
For deep, majestic woods, and op'ning glades,
And shining pools, and awe-inspiring shades;
Where fragrant shrubs perfume the air around,
And bending orchards kiss the flow'ry ground;110.
And luscious berries spread a feast for Jove,
And golden cherries studd the boughs above;
Amid these various sweets thy rustic friend
Shall to each woodland haunt thy steps attend,
His solitary walks, his noontide bowers,115.
The old associates of his lonely hours;
While Friendship's converse, gen'rous and sincere,
Exchanging every joy and every tear,
Shall warm each heart with such an ardent glow,
As wealth's whole pageantry could ne'er bestow.120.
Perhaps (for who can Nature's ties forget?)121.
As underneath the flowery shade we sit,
In this rich western world remotely plac'd,123.
Our thoughts may roam beyond the wat'ry waste,
And see, with sadden'd hearts, in memory's eye,
Those native shores, where dear-lov'd kindred sigh:
Where War and ghastly Want in horror reign,
And dying babes to fainting sires complain.128.
While we, alas! these mournful scenes retrace,
In climes of plenty, liberty, and peace,
Our tears shall flow, our ardent pray'rs arise,
That Heaven would wipe all sorrow from their eyes.
Thus, in celestial climes the heavenly train,133.
Escap'd from earth's dark ills, and all its pain,
Sigh o'er the scenes of suffering man below,135.
And drop a tear in tribute to our woe.
A Rural Walk,
The Scenery Drawn from Nature
The Literary Magazine, and American Register, August 1804, 377-340. Signed "A. W—N" and dated "Gray's Ferry, August 10, 1804." Reprinted without change in The Port-Folio, April 27, 1805, 125-128.
THE summer sun was riding high,1.
The woods in deepest verdure drest,
From care and clouds of dust to fly,3.
Across yon bubbling brook I past;
And up the hill, with cedars spread,5.
Where vines through spice-wood thickets roam,
I took the woodland path, that led7.
To Bartram's hospitable dome.
Thick tow'ring oaks around me rose,9.
Tough hiccories tall, and walnuts wide,
Hard dog-wood, chinkopin, and sloes11.
Were cluster'd round on every side.
Ten thousand busy hums were heard,13.
From leafy bough, and herb, and flower;
The squirrel chipp'd, the tree-frog whirr'd,15.
The dove bemoan'd in shadiest bow'r.
The thrush pour'd out his varying song,17.
The robin's artless notes unite,
And loud o'er all the tuneful throng19.
Was heard, in mellow tones, "Bob White."
The quail, or partridge, of Pennsylvania. [AW]
My swelling heart with joy o'erflow'd,21.
To hear those happy millions raise
To Nature's universal God23.
Such voluntary songs of praise.
Whate'er mistaken Zeal may teach,25.
Or gloomy Melancholy spy,
Or vision-seeing prophets preach,27.
Or Superstition's fears supply,
Where'er I view this vast design,29.
On earth, air, ocean, field, or flood,
All, all proclaim the truth divine,31.
That God is bountiful and good.
Thus musing on, I past the rill,33.
That steals down moss-grown rocks so slow,
And wander'd up the woodland hill,35.
Thick-spreading chestnut boughs below.
In yellow coat of mail encas'd,37.
With head erect, and watchful eye,
The tortoise, at his mushroom feast,39.
Shrunk tim'rous as I loiter'd by.
Along the dark sequester'd path,41.
Where cedars form an arching shade,
I marked the cat-bird's squalling wrath,43.
The jay in shining blue array'd.
And now, emerging on the day,45.
New prospects caught my ravish'd eye,
Below—a thousand colours gay,47.
Above—a blue o'er-arching sky.
Rich waving fields of yellow grain,49.
Green pastures, shelter'd cots and farms,
Gay, glittering domes bestrew'd the plain,51.
A noble group of rural charms.
A wide extended waste of wood53.
Beyond in distant prospect lay,
Where Delaware's majestic flood55.
Shone like the radiant orb of day.
Down to the left was seen afar57.
The whiten'd spire of sacred name,
Christ Church steeple. [AW]
And ars'nal, where the god of war59.
Has hung his spears of bloody fame.
The city's painted skirts were seen,61.
Through clouds of smoke ascending high,
While on the Schuylkill's glassy scene63.
Canoes and sloops were heard to ply.
There upward where it gently bends,65.
And Say's red fortress
The romantic country seat of Dr. Benjamin Say, overhanging Gray's Ferry. [AW] tow'rs in view,
The floating bridge its length extends,67.
A living scene for ever new.
There market maids, in lively rows,69.
With wallets white were riding home,
And thundering gigs, with powder'd beauxs,71.
Through Gray's green festive shades to roam.
There Bacchus fills his flowing cup,73.
There Venus' lovely train are seen,
There lovers sigh, and gluttons sup,75.
By shrubb'ry walk, in arbours green.
But dearer pleasures warm my heart,77.
And fairer scenes salute my eye,
As thro' these cherry-rows I dart79.
Where Bartram's fairy landscapes lie.
Sweet flows the Schuylkill's winding tide,81.
By Bartram's green emblossom'd bow'rs,
Where Nature sports, in all her pride83.
Of choicest plants, and fruits, and flow'rs.
These sheltering pines that shade the path,85.
That tow'ring cypress moving slow,
Survey a thousand sweets beneath,87.
And smile upon the groves below.
O happy he who slowly strays,89.
On Summer's eve, these shades among,
While Phoebus sheds his yellow rays,91.
And thrushes pipe their evening song.
From pathless woods, from Indian plains,93.
From shores where exil'd Britons rove;
Arabia's rich luxuriant scene,95.
And Otaheite's ambrosial grove.
Unnumber'd plants and shrubb'ry sweet,97.
Adorning still the circling year,
Whose names the muse can ne'er repeat,99.
Display their mingling blossoms here.
Here broad catalpas rear their head,101.
And pour their purple blooms profuse,
Here rich magnolias whitening spread,103.
And drop with balm-distilling dews.
The crown imperial here behold,105.
Its orange circlet topp'd with green,
Not gain'd by slaughter or by gold,107.
Nor drop of blood, nor thorn within.
The downy peach, and clustering vine,109.
And yellow pears, a bending load,
In mingling groups around entwine111.
And strew with fruit the pebbly road.
Here tulips rise in dazzling glow,113.
Whose tints arrest the ravish'd eye,
Here laurels bloom, and roses blow,115.
And pinks in rich profusion lie.
The genius of this charming scene,117.
From early dawn till close of day,
Still busy here and there is seen,119.
To plant, remove, or prune away.
To science, peace, and virtue dear,121.
And dear to all their noble friends,
Tho' hid in low retirement here,123.
His generous heart for all expands.
No little herb, or bush, or flower,125.
That spreads its foliage to the day,
From snow-drops born in wintry hour,127.
Through Flora's whole creation gay
But well to him they all are known,129.
Their names, their character, and race,
Their virtues when each bloom is gone,131.
Their fav'rite home, their native place.
For them thro' Georgia's sultry clime,133.
And Florida's sequester'd shore,
Their streams, dark woods, and cliffs sublime,135.
His dangerous way he did explore.
See Bartram's Travels, where the imagination is entertained with the most luxuriant description of these scenes, while the heart is charmed with the benevolent sentiments of the writer. [AW]
And here their blooming tribes he tends,137.
And tho' revolving winters reign,
Still Spring returns him back his friends,139.
His shades and blossom'd bowers again.
One flower, one sweet and faithful flower,141.
Worth all the blossom'd wilds can give,
Forsakes him not tho' seasons lour,143.
Tho' winter's roaring tempests rave;
But still with gentlest look and air,145.
Befriends his now declining years,
By every kind officious care,147.
That virtue's lovely self endears.
When Science calls, or books invite,149.
Her eyes the waste of age supply,
Detail their pages with delight,151.
Her dearest uncle list'ning by.
When sorrows press, for who are free?153.
Her generous heart the load sustains,
In sickness none so kind as she,155.
To soothe and to assuage his pains.
Thus twines the honeysuckle sweet,157.
Around some trunk decay'd and bare,
Thus angels on the pious wait,159.
To banish each distressing care.
O, happy he who slowly strays,161.
On summer's eve, these shades among,
While Phoebus sheds his yellow rays,163.
And thrushes pipe their evening song.
But happier he, supremely blest!165.
Beyond what proudest peers have known,
Who finds a friend in Anna's breast,167.
And calls that lovely plant his own.
The angry storms of awful fate169.
Around my little bark may roar;
May drive me from this dear retreat,171.
A wanderer on a distant shore;
But while remembrance' power remains,173.
Their rosy bowers shall bless my view,
Sweet shades of peace! on foreign plains,175.
I'll sigh and shed a tear for you.
From a letter to William Bartram dated 16 June 1804 and reprinted in George Ord, Sketch of the Life of Alexander Wilson (Philadelphia: Harrison Hall, 1828) xxx (note). Preceded in the original letter by: "I believe we had better put off our intended jaunt until some more auspicious day."
Clouds, from eastern regions driven,1.
Still obscure the gloomy skies;
Let us yield, since angry Heaven3.
Frowns upon our enterprise.
Haply some unseen disaster5.
Hung impending o'er our way,
Which our kind Almighty Master7.
Saw, and sought us thus to stay.
By and by, when fair Aurora9.
Bids the drowsy fogs to fly,
And the glorious god of Flora11.
Rises in a cloudless sky,
Then, in whirling chariot seated,13.
With my friend I'll gladly go:
With his converse richly treated—15.
Happy to be honored so.
On Seeing The Portrait Of Robert Burns,
Addressed to the Artist
Prefixed to Dobson's edition of Burns's Works. [AW] The reference to The Works of Robert Burns, 4 volumes (Philadelphia: Printed by Budd and Bartram for Thomas Dobson, 1801) establishes this poem as an American composition rather than a belated publication of older material. The Literary Magazine, and American Register, June 1806, 477. Signed "A. W." and dated "Gray's Ferry, April 25, 1806."
YES, it is he! the hapless, well-known Burns;1.
His look, his air, his very soul exprest;
That heaven-taught bard whom weeping Genius mourns,3.
For cold in earth his silent relics rest.
Through tears that ease the anguish of my heart5.
I view this faithful image of my friend,
And vainly wish, dear Lawson, that thy art7.
Could life once more to these lov'd features lend.
Who sees not here, in this expressive eye,9.
The independent soul, the ardent mind,
The boundless fancy, Pity's generous sigh,11.
The heart to all but its possessor kind.
Alas! I knew him when his country's pride,13.
Yet left dark Poverty's cold winds to brave;
And those who then the friendly hand deny'd,15.
Now strew with flowers his green unconscious grave.
The dear remember'd scenes we oft have seen,17.
The burnies, haughs, and knows of yellow broom,
The hazel glen, the birk-surrounded linn,19.
The blossom'd heather, and the hawthorn's bloom.
The simple tales of Scotia's hardy swains,21.
The loves and sports their circling seasons bring;
Who now will celebrate in equal strains?23.
What bard like Burns will ever, ever sing?
O he was Nature's genuine warbler born;25.
Too early lost, from pensive Scotia tore;
Death snatch'd him from us in life's early dawn,27.
Ere half the raptures of his song was o'er.
Thus soars the thrilling lark at dawn of day,29.
Sweet to each list'ning swain her warblings flow,
And thus the hawk sweeps down upon his prey,31.
And leaves the world in solitude below.
Freedom and Peace; or, the Voice of America
Earliest newspaper publication found is The Boston Democrat V.55 (9 July 1808) 1. Published separately, with music by R. Taylor, in National Martial Music and Songs: Being the Songs, Marches, and Music in Score, With Some Poetical Compositions, Offered to the Militia Miltary Association of Philadelphia, in June, Eighteen Hundred and Eight, On the Award of a Gold Medal for the Best National Song or Martial Tune (Philadelphia: W. M'Culloch, 1809) 6-7. "To the following song has been awarded the Prize Medal, offered by the Philadelphia Military Society." [AW]
WHILE Europe's mad powers o'er creation are ranging,1.
Regardless of right, with their bloodhounds of war:
Their kingdoms—their empires, distracted and changing;3.
Their murders and ruins resounding afar:
Lo! Freedom and Peace, fair descendants of Heaven!
Of all our companions the noblest and best,
From dark eastern regions by anarchy driven,
Have found a retreat in the climes of the West.8.
Chorus—Then Freedom and Peace we will cherish together.9.
Nor ever resign up the one or the other,
For all that ambition's proud pomp can impart.11.
Here dwell best cherubs so dear to our wishes!
Here thron'd in our hearts, they inspire all our themes:
They sport round each cottage with smiles and with blushes,
They glide through our cities—they fail on our streams;
The shades of our heroes, immortal, delighted,16.
Look down from the radient mansions of day,
"Be firm!" they exclaim, "Be forever united!
And nations may threaten: but cannot dismay!"
Chorus—But Freedom and Peace, &c.
III. The demons of discord are roaming the ocean,
Their insult and rapine and murder are law!
From scenes so atrocious of blood and commotion,
'Tis great—it is godlike awhile to withdraw!
Perhaps when the hand that hath fed is suspended.25.
When famine's pale specters their steps overtake,
The firm voice of truth may at last be attended,
And justice and reason once more re-awake.
Chorus—But Freedom, &c.
IV. AWAY! With the vultures of war and ambition,
That headlong to rearing of NAVIES would run,
Those cancers of nations—those pits of perdition,
Where Britain and France will alike be undone,
Far nobler the ARTS of our country to nourish,34.
Its true independence and powers to increase,
And while our resources of industry flourish,
To hail the glad blessings of FREEDOM and PEACE.
Chorus—Then Freedom, &c.
V. The storm we defy—it may roar at a distance,
Unmov'd and impregnable here we remain;
We ask not of Europe for gifts or assistance:
But justice, good faith, and the rights of the main,
Should these be refus'd. in ourselves we're a world!43.
And those who may dare its domains to invade,
To death and destruction at once shall be hurl'd,
For Freedom hath sworn it and shall be obey'd!
Chorus—Then Freedom, &c.
VI. We want neither Emperor, King, Prince, nor Marshal,
No navies to plunder—nor Indies to fleece;
Our honest decrees are, "to all be impartial;"
Our orders of council are Freedom and Peace,
But commerce assailed by each vile depredator,52.
Our country has will'd for a while restarin,
And infamy light on the head of the traitor
Who tramples her laws for ambition or gain.
Chorus—Then Freedom, &c.
VII. Look round on your country, Columbians undaunted,
From Georgia to Main—from the lakes to the sea:
Is one human blessing of luxury wanted,
That flows among us unmeasur'd and free?
Our harvests sustain half the wide eastern world;61.
Our mines and our forests exhaustless remain;
What sails on our great fishing banks are unfurl'd
What shoals till our streams from the depths of the main!
Chorus—Then Freedom, &c.
VIII. The fruits of our country, our flocks and fleeces;
The treasures immence in our mountains that lie,
While discord is tearing old Europe to pieces,
Shall amply the wants of our people supply;
New roads and canals, on their bosoms conveying,70.
Refinement and wealth, through our forests shall roam;
And millions of Freemen with rapture surveying,
Shall shout out O LIBERTY! this is thy home!"
Chorus—Then Freedom, &c.
IX. Great shades of our Fathers! unconquered, victorious!
To whom under heaven our freedom we owe,
Bear witness that peace we revere still as glorious—
For peace every gain for awhile we forego;
But should the great son of ambition and plunder—79.
Should ocean's proud scourges our liberty claim—
Your spirits shalt ride in the roar of our thunder,
That sweeps to the gulf of perdition their name.
Chorus—For Freedom, &c.
Our strength and resources defy base aggression—84.
Our courage—our enterprize—both have been try'd
Our nation, unstain'd with the crimes of oppression,86.
Hath Heaven's own thunder—bolts all on its side;
Then henceforth let freeman and freeman be brother,
Our peace and our liberty both to assert,
Nor ever resign up the one nor the other,
For all that ambition's proud pomp can impart.91.
Chorus—Then Freedom and Peace we will cherish together,92.
We'll guard them with valour—we'll crown them with art:
Nor ever resign up the one or the other.94.
For all that ambition's proud pomp can impart
Composed in Bloomfield and first published September 15th, 1801, in the Centinel of Freedom (Newark, New Jersey) V.51.2. Later included in The Foresters. Reprinted as "The Village Schoolmaster": New-York Weekly Museum, August 26, 1809 (vol. xxi, no. 29, 4) with a note that it is drawn from "The Foresters"; and again in the New-York Weekly Museum, December 21, 1816 (vol. 5, no. 8, 125-6).
Of all professions that this world hath known,—1.
From humble cobblers upwards to the throne,
From the great architects of Greece and Rome3.
Down to the maker of a farthing broom,—
The worst for care and undeserved abuse,
The first in real dignity and use
(If kind to teach, and diligent to rule),
Is the learned Master of a little school.8.
Not he who guides the legs, or fits the clown
To square his fists and knock his fellow down;
Not he whose arm displays the murd'rous art
To parry thrusts, and pierce the unguarded heart:
For that good man, who, faithful to his charge,13.
Still toils the op'ning Reason to enlarge,
And leads the growing mind through every stage,
From humble A B C to God's own page,—
From black rough pot hooks, horrid to the sight,
To fairest lines that float o'er purest white;18.
From Numeration through an op'ning way,
Till dark Annuities seem clear as day;
Pours o'er the soul a flood of mental light,
Expands its wings, and gives it powers for flight,
Till Earth's remotest bounds, and Heaven's bright train,23.
Are trac'd, weigh'd, measur'd, pictur'd, and explain'd.
If such his toils, sure honor and regard,25.
And wealth of fame, will be his sweet reward;
Sure, every mouth will open in his praise,27.
And blessings gild the evening of his days!
Yes! blest, indeed, with cold ungrateful scorn,
With study pale, by daily crosses worn;
Despised by those who to his labour owe
All that they read, and almost all they know;32.
Condemned each tedious day, such cares to bear
As well might drive even patience to despair.
The partial parents taunt the Idler dull,
The Blockhead's dark, impenetrable skull;
The endless sound of A B C's dull train,37.
Repeated o'er ten thousand times in vain.
Placed on a point, the object of each sneer,
His faults enlarge—his merits disappear.
If mild—"Our lazy Master loves his ease,
He let's his boys do anything they please:"42.
If rigid—"He's stern, hard-hearted wretch,
He drives the children stupid with his birch;
My child, with gentleness, will mind a breath,
But frowns and floggings frighten him to death."
Do as he will, his conduct is arraigned,47.
And dear the little that he gets is gained;
E'en that is given him on the Quarter-Day,
With looks that call it money thrown away.
Great God! who knows the unremitting care51.
And deep solicitude that Teachers share,
If such our fate by Thy divine control,53.
O give us health and fortitude of soul,
Such that disdain the murd'ring tongue of Fame,
And strength to make the sturdiest of them tame!
Grant this, O God! to Dominie's distrest;
Our sharp-tailed Hickories will do the rest.58.
The Foresters: A Poem,
Descriptive of a Pedestrian Journey to the Falls of Niagara
in the Autumn of 1803
The Foresters was published only once during Wilson's life, in nine monthly installments in the Port Folio from June of 1809 through March of 1810 (skipping January of 1810). The first separate publication of the work is that printed by Simeon Siegfried in 1818 for Miner's Press of Newtown, Pennsylvania, which evidently takes its text directly from the Port Folio without any additional authorial additions or emendations. The text printed here is from the Port Folio series, with the individual publication information noted in the appropriate places. Details of Wilson's expedition to Niagara, which actually occurred in 1804, are contained in the general introduction. [Crichton and the 1812 illustration in the Port Folio refer to a separate publication before 1816, but it has not been found.] Wesley Mott engraved a series of illustrations for a special printing of The Foresters in 2000 (Bird & Bull Press).
SONS of the city! ye whom crowds and noise
This first section
was published in the June 1809 edition of the Port Folio, pages 538-544.1.
Bereave of peace and Nature's rural joys,
And ye who love through woods and wilds to range,3.
Who see new charms in each successive change;
Come roam with me Columbia's forests through,
Where scenes sublime shall meet your wandering view:
Deep shades magnificent, immensely spread;
Lakes, sky-encircled, vast as ocean's bed;8.
Lone hermit streams that wind through savage woods;
Enormous cataracts swoln with thund'ring floods;
A term usually applied in America to those persons who first commence the operations of agriculture in a new country by cutting, clearing, and actual settlement. The varied appearance of the woods where these are rapidly going on, forms a busy, novel, and interesting picture. [AW] farm with blazing fires o'erspread;
The hunter's cabin and the Indian's shed;
The log-built hamlet, deep in wilds embraced;13.
The awful silence of th' unpeopled waste:
These are the scenes the Muse shall now explore,
Scenes new to song, and paths untrod before.
To Europe's shores renowned in deathless song,
Must all the honours of the bard belong?18.
And rural Poetry's enchanting strain
Be only heard beyond th' Atlantic main?
What though profuse in many a patriot's praise,
We boast a Barlow's soul-exalting lays;
An Humphreys, blessed with Homer's nervous glow;23.
And Freedom's friend and champion in Freneau;
Philip Morin Freneau (1752-1832), David Humphreys (1752-1818), and Joel Barlow (1754-1812).
Yet Nature's charms that bloom so lovely here,
Unhailed arrive, unheeded disappear;
While bare bleak heaths and brooks of half a mile
Can rouse the thousand bards of Britain's isle.28.
There scarce a stream creeps down its narrow bed,
There scarce a hillock lifts its little head,
Or humble hamlet peeps their glades among
But lives and murmurs in immortal song.
Our western world, with all its matchless floods,33.
Our vast transparent lakes and boundless woods,
Stamped with the traits of majesty sublime,
Unhonoured weep the silent lapse of time,
Spread their wild grandeur to th' unconscious sky,
In sweetest seasons pass unheeded by;38.
While scarce one Muse returns the songs they gave;
Or seeks to snatch their glories from the grave.
The sultry heats of summer's sun were o'er,41.
And ruddy orchards poured their ripened store;
Stripped of their leaves the cherry av'nues stood,43.
While sage October ting'd the yellow wood,
Bestrewed with leaves and nuts the woodland path,
And roused the Katydid
species of Gryllus very numerous and very noisy in the woods at that season. [AW] in chattering wrath;
The corn stood topped, there punkins strewed the ground,
And driving clouds of blackbirds wheeled around,48.
Far to the south our warblers had withdrawn;
Slow sailed the thistle-down along the lawn;
High on the hedge-rows, pendant over head,
Th' embow'ring vines their purple clusters spread.
The buckwheat flails reechoed from the hill,53.
The creaking cider-press was busier still;
Red through the smoky air the wading sun
Sunk into fog ere half the day was done;
The air was mild, the roads embrown'd and dry,
Soft, meek-eyed Indian summer
This expression is so well understood in the United States as hardly to require an explanation. Between the months of October and December there is usually a week or two of calm serene smoky weather, such as is here described, which is universally denominated the Indian summer. [AW] ruled the sky.58.
Such was the season when equipt we stood
On the green banks of Schuylkill's winding flood,
Bound on a tour wide northern forests through,
And bade our parting friends a short adieu;
Three cheerful partners, Duncan was the guide,63.
Young, gay, and active, to the forest tried;
A stick and knapsack all his little store,
With these, whole regions Duncan could explore,
Could trace the path to other eyes unseen,
Tell where the panther, deer, or bear had been,68.
The long dull day through swamp and forest roam,
Strike up his fire and find himself at home;
Untie his wallet, taste his frugal store,
And under shelbury bark profoundly snore,
And, soon as morning cheered the forest scene,73.
Resume his knapsack and his path again.
Next Leech advanced, with youthful sails unfurled,
Fresh on his maiden cruise to see the world;
Red o'er his cheek the glow of health was spread,
An oilskin covering glittering round his head;78.
His light fusil across his shoulder thrown,
His neat-slung knapsack full and glistening shone;
Though unknown regions wide before him lay,
He scorned all fear while Wilson shared the way.
He next appeared, with glittering arms supplied,83.
A double gun, a deadly dirk beside,
A knapsack, crammed by Friendship's generous care,
With cakes and cordials, drams, and dainty fare;
Flasks filled with powder, leathern belts with shot,
Clothes, colours, paper, pencils—and what not.88.
With hope elate, and ardour in his eye,
He viewed the varying scenes approaching nigh,
Prepared and watchful (heedless of repose)
To catch the living manners as they rose;
Th' exploits, fatigues, and wonders to rehearse,93.
In no inglorious or enfeebled verse;
Nor scene nor character to bring to view
Save what fair Truth from living Nature drew.
Thus each equipt beneath his separate load,
We, fellow-pilgrims, gayly took the road;98.
A road immense; yet promised joys so dear,
That toils, and doubts, and dangers, disappear.
Behind us soon the lessening city flies,
New vallies sink and other hills arise,
Till through old Germantown we lightly trod,103.
That skirts for three long miles the narrow road;
And rising Chesnut-Hill around surveyed,
Wide woods below in vast extent displayed.
Studded with glitt'ring farms; the distant view
Died into mingling clouds and mountains blue;108.
The road was good, the passing scenery gay,
Mile after mile passed unperceived away,
Till in the west the day began to close,
And Spring-house tavern furnished us repose.
Here two long rows of market folks were seen,113.
Ranged front to front, the table placed between,
Where bags of meat and bones, and crusts of bread,
And hunks of bacon all around were spread;
One pint of beer from lip to lip went round,
And scarce a crumb the hungry house-dog found;118.
Torrents of Dutch from every quarter came,
Pigs, calves, and saur-craut the important theme;
While we, on future plans revolving deep,
Discharged our bill, and straight retired to sleep.
The morning star shone early on our bed,123.
Again our march the vigorous Duncan led,
The vault of heaven with constellations hung,
Their myriads twinkling as he cheerly sung,
Beguiling the lone hours. Thus half the day,
O'er hill and dale our stretching journey lay,128.
Through fertile Bucks,
The County of Bucks, in Pennsylvania, is a rich, well-cultivated tract of country, containing nearly half a million acres, and upwards of 30,000 inhabitants. [AW] where lofty barns abound,
For wheat, fair Quakers, eggs, and fruit renowned;
Full fields, snug tenements, and fences neat,
Wide-spreading walnuts drooping o'er each gate;
The spring-house peeping from enclustering trees,133.
Gay gardens filled with herbs, and roots and bees,
Where quinces, pears, and clustering grapes were seen,
With pond'rous calabashes hung between;
While orchards, loaded, bending o'er the grass,
Invite to taste and cheer us as we pass.138.
But these too soon give place to prospects drear,
As o'er Northampton's
Northampton is an oblong hilly county adjoining that of Bucks. It is crossed nearly at right angles by that remarkable range of the Allegany [sic] known by the name of the Blue Ridge or Blue Mountain, which presents the appearance of an immense rampart, extending farther than the eye can reach, with an almost uniform height of summit. [AW] barren heights we steer;
Bleak land of stones, deep swamps, and pigmy woods
Where the poor Swabian o'er his drudgery broods;
Toils hard; and when the heats of harvest burn143.
Gleans from the rocks his pittance in return.
Yet though so cursed his soil, his sheaves so few,
All-conquering Industry still bears him through;
Averse to change, pleased patiently to plod
The same dull round his honest father trod.148.
Below his low-roofed hut on yonder green!
There no gay front or proud piazza's seen:
Let wealthy fools their precious hoards disburse,
No whim can tempt him to untie his purse.
A moss-grown penthouse shades his narrow door,153.
One window joins with patches covered o'er;
Around the garden numerous hives are ranged,
And pendent gourds to fading yellow changed.
Sheds, smoke-house, hog-pens, crowd the miry yard,
Where endless yells from growling pigs are heard.158.
Approach this humble hut: look in, nor fear;
Say, could Ambition find one comfort here?
Yet sweet Content e'en here is sometimes found,
Turning the wheel, or slumb'ring by its sound.
No mirrors dazzle, no rich beds appear,163.
Wide wasting Fashion never entered here.
Those plates of pewter, ranged along the frame,
In ancient days from distant Teuchland came.
That oaken table, so uncouth and low,
Stood where it stands some sixty years ago.168.
In this arm-chair where Hans delights to snore,
His great-grandfather nodded long before.
Thus glows his greasy stove throughout the year,
The torrid zone for ever rages here.
Here, when the shades of weary evening fall,173.
Sits Hans, the lord and sovereign of all;
Das Neue Callender
The New Almanac. [AW] from the nail unhooks,
His dark brows solemn, and morose his looks,
Beside the lamp, with spectacles on nose,
To-morrow's weather seeks, its rains or snows,178.
The moon's eventful signs, th' auspicious hour
To plant the downward root or rising flower;
Of witch-confounding doctors tells the tale,
Sips his metheglin, or his cider stale.
All other joys for which he ever sighs183.
His dear-loved saur-craut or his pipe supplies.
Abroad at toil ere yet the morning breaks,
Each rugged task his hardy frau partakes;
With brawny arms the struggling ploughshare guides;
Whips up her nags and o'er the furrow strides;188.
Awakes the echoes with her clamorous tongue,
And lends e'en Hans a clout when things go wrong,
Sweeps round her head the loud-resounding flail,
And sweats the sturdiest mower in the vale.
Light beat our hearts with changing prospects gay,193.
As down through Durham vale we bend our way,
And pause, its furnace curious to explore,
Where flames and bellows lately wont to roar,
Now waste and roofless: as its walls we pass
The massive shells lie rusting in the grass.198.
There let them rust, fell messengers of death!
Till injured Liberty be roused to wrath,
In whose right hand may they, though hosts oppose,
Be blasting thunderbolts to all her foes.
The setting sun was sinking in the west,203.
And brightly burnishing the mountain's breast,
When from afar, as down the steep we hie,
The glittering roofs of Easton caught the eye:
Low in the shelter'd vale, while rude around
Hills piled on hills the dreary prospect bound.208.
Around the mountain's base, in winding pride,
The rapid Lehigh rolls his amber tide,
To meet old Delaware who moves serene,
While Easton rises on the plains between.
Tired with the day's long toil we gladly greet213.
The snug stone buildings, and the pavements neat;
The busy townsmen, jabbering Dutch aloud,
The court-house, ferry, hanging signs, and crowd;
At length one waving sign enchained our view,
'Twas Pat's split-crow, a filthy raven too.218.
Thither for rest and shelter we repair,
And home's kind decencies, that ne'er were there.
Here might the Muse with justice due record
The wretched fare its scurvy walls afford;
The black wet bread, with rancid butter spread;223.
The beastly drunkards who beside us fed;
The beds with fleas and bugs accursed stored,
Where every seam its tens of thousands poured;
The host's grim sulkiness, his eager look,
When from our purse his glittering god we took;228.
But nobler themes invite: be these repressed,
The eagle preys not on the carrion's breast.
(To be continued.)
Long ere the morn had show'd its opening sweets,
The Port Folio, July 1809, 70-77.231.
We clubbed our arms and pass'd the silent streets;
Slow o'er the pavement limpingly we tread,233.
But soon recovering, every ailment fled.
Forward we march, o'er mountains rude and bare,
No decent farm, and even a cabin rare;
Thick wastes of ground oak
This species of dwarf oak produces great quantities of acorns,
which the bears, pigeons, grouse, jays, &c. are extremely fond of. It grows to the height of about five feet, very close, and affords good shelter for the
deer and bear. [AW] o'er the country spread,
While haggard pines sigh distant overhead.238.
Lo! the Blue Mountain now in front appears,
And high o'er all its lengthen'd ridge uprears;
Th' inspiring sight redoubled vigour lends,
And soon its steeps each traveller ascends;
Panting we wind aloft, begloom'd in shade,243.
Mid rocks and mouldering logs tumultuous laid
In wild confusion; till the startled eye
Through the cleft mountain meets the pale blue sky
And distant forests; while, sublimely wild,
Tow'rs each tall cliff to heaven's own portals pil'd.248.
Enormous gap! if Indian tales be true,
Here ancient Delaware once thunder'd through,
And rolled for ages; till some earthquake dread,
Or huge convulsion, shook him from his bed.
This pass in the Blue Mountain is usually called the Wind Gap. The reader will find some curious conjectures on its formation in Jefferson's Notes on Virginia. [AW]
Here under rocks, at distance from the road,253.
Our pond'rous knapsacks cautiously we stow'd,
The mountain's top determin'd to explore,
And view the tracks already travelled o'er;
As nimble tars the hanging shrouds ascend,
While hands and feet their joint assistance lend;258.
So we, from rock to rock, from steep to steep,
Scal'd these rude piles, suspended o'er the deep,
Through low dwarf underwood with chesnuts crown'd,
Whose crooked limbs with trailing moss were bound.
Eager we brush th' impending bushes through,263.
Panting for breath and wet with dashing dew;
Cliff after cliff triumphant we attain,
And high at last its loftiest summits gain;
But such a prospect!—such a glorious show!
The world, in boundless landscape, lay below:268.
Vast colour'd forests, to our wandering eyes,
Seem'd soften'd gardens of a thousand dyes.
Long lakes appear'd; but at the increase of day
Assum'd new forms, and roll'd in mist away.
The effect of this deception was really astonishing. Nothing could be more evident to the eye—the shores, the waters, studded with numerous islands, seemed to disappear as if by enchantment. [AW]
Scoop'd from the woods unnumber'd spots were seen273.
Embrown'd with culture, or with pasture green;
Some cottage smoke mov'd slow, and dimly white;
But ev'ry hut had dwindled from the sight.
In long trail'd fogs, that all its windings show'd,
For many a league the distant Delaware flow'd;278.
And all beyond seemed to the ravished eye,
One waste of woods, encircling earth and sky!
We gaz'd delighted——then, with short delay,
Descending fix'd our loads and march'd away.
From this rough mountain, northward as we bend,283.
Below us, wide, the woody hills extend;
The same ground-oak o'er all the country lies,
The same burnt pines in lonely prospect rise,
Mute and untenanted; save where the jay
Set up his shrill alarm, and bore away.288.
One solitary hawk that sail'd serene,
Secure, and eying the expanded scene,
High from his zenith, midst the bursting roar,
Dropt at our feet, and flutter'd in his gore;
"Thus falls," said Duncan, "many a son of pride,293.
While buoy'd in thought o'er all the world beside."
From these dull woods, emerging into day,
We pass where farms their opening fields display;
Barns, fences, cottages, and lawns appear'd,
Where various sounds of human toil were heard;298.
There, round a hut, upon a sloping green,
Gay laughing bands of playful boys were seen;
Soon Books! Aloud, is thunder'd from the door,
And balls and hoops must charm the hours no more;
But frequent tears the blotted leaves assail,303.
And sighs for dear-lov'd liberty prevail.
Thither, by long yet fond remembrance led,
With awe we enter this sequester'd shed;
All eyes are turn'd the strangers to survey,
One tap is heard!—and all the hint obey;308.
Then grave and courteous, rising from his seat,
The decent Master bows with meekness meet,
Invites to sit—looks round with watchful eyes,
And bids, by signs, alternate classes rise;
Hears, reads, instructs, with solemn voice and slow,313.
Deep, busy silence muffling all below;
Slates, pens, and copy-books in order pass,
And peace and industry pervade each class.
Dear to the Muse, to Truth, to Science dear,
Be he who humbly toils and teaches here!318.
His worth, his labours, shall not sleep forgot,
And thus the Muse records them as she ought.
Of all professions that this world has known,
From clowns and cobblers upwards to the throne;
From the grave architect of Greece and Rome,323.
Down to the framer of a farthing broom;
The worst for care and undeserv'd abuse,
The first in real dignity and use,
(If skill'd to teach, and diligent to rule)
Is the learn'd master of a little school.328.
Not he who guides the legs, or skills the clown
To square his fists, and knock his fellow down;
Not he who shows the still more barbarous art
To parry thrusts and pierce the unguarded heart;
But that good man, who, faithful to his charge,333.
Still toils, the opening reason to enlarge;
And leads the growing mind, through every stage,
From humble A, B, C, to God's own page;
From black, rough pothooks, horrid to the sight,
To fairest lines that float o'er purest white;338.
From numeration, through an opening way,
Till dark annuities seem clear as day;
Pours o'er the mind a flood of mental light,
Expands its wings, and gives it powers for flight,
Till Earth's remotest bound, and heaven's bright train343.
He trace, weigh, measure, picture, and explain.
If such his toils, sure honour and regard,
And wealth and fame shall be his dear reward;
Sure every tongue shall utter forth his praise,
And blessings gild the evening of his days?348.
Yes!—Blest indeed, by cold ungrateful scorn,
With study pale, by daily crosses worn,
Despis'd by those who to his labour owe
All that they read, and almost all they know;
Condemn'd, each tedious day, such cares to bear353.
As well might drive e'en Patience to despair;
The partial parent's taunt—the idler dull—
The blockhead's dark, impenetrable scull—
The endless round of A, B, C's whole train,
Repeated o'er ten thousand times in vain.358.
Plac'd on a point, the object of each sneer,
His faults enlarge, his merits disappear;
If mild—"Our lazy master loves his ease,
The boys, at school, do anything they please."
If rigid—"He's a cross, hard-hearted wretch,363.
He drives the children stupid with his birch;
My child, with gentle means, will mind a breath;
But frowns and floggings frighten him to death."
Do as he will, his conduct is arraign'd,
And dear the little that he gets is gain'd;368.
Ev'n that is given him, on the quarter day,
With looks that call it—money thrown away.
Just Heav'n! who knows the unremitting care
And deep solicitude that teachers share,
If such their fate, by Thy divine control,373.
O give them health and fortitude of soul!
Souls that disdain the murderous tongue of Fame,
And strength, to make the sturdiest of them tame;
Grant this, ye powers! to Dominies distrest,
Their sharp-tail'd hickories will do the rest.378.
Again the shades of sober eve appear'd,
Up the dark windings of a Creek we steer'd,
Where, glad to rest, and each in hungry plight,
In Marewine's humble hut we spent the night.
Our social host piles up a jovial fire,383.
Brings his best cider, still as we desire,
Inspects our arms, with nice inquiring gaze,
And while we eat, his hunting spoils displays:
The skins of wolves and bears, a panther's jaws,
This animal, generally, though improperly, called by the above name, is the felis couguar of European writers; and is considered as the most dangerous and formidable inhabitant of our forests on this side of the Ohio. They are still numerous among the mountains of Pennsylvania that border the Susquehanna, and frequently destroy deer, calves, sheep, colts, and sometimes, it is said, horses and cows. They are bold and daring; and lie in wait in the low branches of trees for the deer, on whom they spring with prodigious force, and soon destroy them. The one mentioned above had seized a calf in the evening, within a few feet of the girl who was milking; who, supposing it to be a large dog, gave the alarm, and attempted to drive it off. The old hunter, our landlord, soon drove him up a tree with his dog, where he shot him. [AW]
His horrid tusks and life-destroying claws;388.
Recounts the toils and terrors of the chase;
And gave us fiddling too, by way of grace;
All which, when bed-time warn'd us to lie down,
We fully paid him for with half a crown.
Refresh'd with sleep, before the peep of day,393.
O'er rising Pocano
A small spur of the blue ridge, and one of the few places in Pennsylvania frequented by the tetrao cupido, or pinnated grouse. [AW] we scour away,
Beyond whose top the dismal swamp extends,
Where Tobihanna's savage stream descends.
Here prostrate woods, in one direction strew'd,
Point out the path the loud tornado rode,398.
When from the black north-east it gathered strong,
Creating ruin as it roar'd along,
These tornadoes are very frequent in the differing regions of the United States. The one above alluded to, had been extremely violent; and for many miles had levelled the woods in its way. We continued to see the effects of its rage for upwards of twenty miles. [AW] Still with awe-struck mien,
The pilgrim stops, and gazes on the scene.
Huge pines that tower'd for centuries on high,403.
Crush'd by each others ruins prostrate lie,
Black with devouring flames, of branches bare,
Their ragged roots high tilted frown in air;
While shiver'd trunks, like monuments of wrath,
Add deeper horror to the wreck beneath.408.
Cut through this chaos rude, the narrow road,
Alone by solitary traveller trod,
Winds through the wilds of this forlorn domain
Where ruin drear and desolation reign.
Here as we loiter'd on, with restless gaze,413.
Absorb'd in silence, musing and amaze,
The rustling bushes and the snorting sound,
Of startled bruin fix'd us to the ground!
At this season of the year great numbers of bears resort to the mountains in search of whortleberries which they devour with great voracity. They are at this time very fat, and individuals are frequently shot that weigh upwards of 400lbs. [AW]
With levelled guns we momentary stood—
He's gone! loud crashing through the distant wood;418.
Sad disappointment throbs in every breast,
And vengeance dire is threaten'd on the rest.
And now each passing stump, and bush, and nook,
Is eyed with eager and suspicious look;
But one deep solitude around prevails,423.
And scarce a cricket, eye or ear assails.
Thus many a tedious mile we travell'd o'er,
An engraving "from a sketch by professor Barrelet, ...intended as an illustration" of The Foresters was published in the December 1812 edition of the Port Folio, 587-588.
Each passing scene more rueful than before;
Till night's dun glooms descending o'er our path,
We took up lodgings at the Shades of Death.
A place in the Great Swamp, usually so called, from its low, hollow situation, overgrown with pine and hemlock trees of an enormous size, that almost shut out the light of day. [AW]428.
The blazing fire, where logs on logs were laid,
Through the red hut a cheerful radiance spread;
Large horns of deer the owner's sports reveal;
The active housewife turns her buzzing wheel;
Prone on the hearth, and basking in the blaze,433.
Three plump but ragged children loitering gaze;
And all our landlord's odd inquiries o'er,
He dealt out tales and anecdotes in store;
Of panthers trapp'd
Our host made himself very merry by relating to us an anecdote of one of his neighbours, living ten or twelve miles off, who having fixed his large steel traps, in the evening, returned to the spot next morning, when to his terror he saw two panther (F. Couguar) surrounding a trap in which a very large one was taken by the leg. Afraid to hazard a shot lest the surviving one who was at liberty might attack him, he hurried home, loaded another gun and gave it to his wife, an intrepid amazon, who immediately followed him to the scene. Arrived within forty or fifty yards the hunter presented to take aim, but was so agitated with terror that he found himself altogether unable. His wife instantly knelt down before him, ordering him to rest the rifle on her shoulder, which he did, and by this expedient succeeded in killing the whole three. [AW]—of wounded bears enrag'd,
The wolves and wildcats
Felis Montana, mountain lynx. Another species is also found among these mountains, and appears to be the F. rufa of Turton. I measured one of these, that from the nose to the insertion of the tail, was upwards of three feet. [AW] he had oft engaged,438.
The noble bucks his rifle had brought down—
How living rattle-snakes he took to town.
His dog's exploits—the glory of his kind!
Now gash'd by bears, and lame, and almost blind,
Display'd his hat, with bullet-holes o'errun,443.
To prove the many matches he had won.
On powder, rifles, locks and balls enlarg'd,
And a whole broadside on his art discharg'd.
The mother spun, the children snor'd around,
And Sox the landlord still fresh stories found;448.
Our nodding heads the power of sleep confest,
And the kind hunter led us to our rest.
(To be continued.)
Once more the dawn arous'd us to the road:
The Port Folio, August 1809, 141-147. Wilson published an early version of this section in The Literary Magazine, and American Register of August 1805, 155-7, under the title "Extract From a Poem, Entitled The Foresters, Written on a Journey from Philadelphia to the Falls of Niagara, Oct. 1804." This was signed "A. W——n." And dated "Gray's Ferry, Aug. 12, 1805.451.
Our fare discharg'd, we left this lone abode,
And down, through deepening swamps, pursued our way,453.
Where pines and hemlocks quite shut out the day;
Majestic solitudes! all dead and deep!
The green moss matted o'er each mouldering heap;
On every side with watchful looks we spy,
Each rustling leaf attracts our eager eye;458.
Sudden the whirring tribe before us rise!
The woods resound—the fluttering partridge
This is the tetrao virginianus of Linnæus. In the States of New-England it is called the quail. [AW] dies;
Light floating feathers hover on the gale,
And the blue smoke rolls slowly through the vale.
Again, slow stealing o'er the shaded road,463.
Trailing their broad barr'd tails, two pheasants
The bird here called a pheasant is the ruffed grouse (tetrao umbellus) of European naturalists. In New-England it is called the partridge. [AW] strode;
The levell'd tube its fiery thunders pour'd,
And deep around the hollow forest roar'd;
Low in the dust the mangled victims lie,
And conscious triumph fills each traveller's eye.468.
Now thickening rains begin to cloud the air,
Our guns we muffle up—our only care;
Darker and heavier now the tempest lower'd,
And on the rattling leaves incessant pour'd;
The groaning trees in hollow murmurs wav'd;473.
And wild around the rising tempest rav'd.
Below dark, dropping pines we onward tread,
Where Bear Creek grumbles down his gloomy bed,
Through darksome gulfs; where bats for ever skim,
The haunts of howling wolves and panthers grim.478.
At length two hovels through the pines appear,
And from the pelting storm we shelter here.
Two lank, lean dogs pace o'er the loosened floor;
A pouch and rifle hung behind the door;
Shrill through the logs the whistling tempest beats,483.
And the rough woodsman welcomes us to seats.
Before the blazing pile we smoking stand,
Our musquets glittering in the hunter's hand;
Now pois'd, now levell'd to his curious eye;
Then in the chimney-corner set to dry.488.
Our clear, green powder-flasks were next admired;
Our powder tasted, handled, rubbed, and fir'd;
Touch'd by the spark, lo! sudden blazes soar,
And leave the paper spotless as before.
From foaming Brandywine's rough shores it came,493.
To sportsmen dear its merit and its name;
A celebrated manufacturer of gun-powder, on the Brandywine, whose packages are usually impressed with the figure of an eagle. [AW] best Eagle, matchless for its power,
Strong, swift, and fatal as the bird it bore.
Like Jove's dread thunderbolts it with us went,
To pour destruction wheresoever sent.498.
These, as they glisten'd careless by our side,
With many a wishful look the woodsman ey'd.
Thus Bears on beech-nuts, hungry steeds on maize,
Or cats on mice, or hawks on squirrels gaze.
His proffer'd skins of all the forest train,503.
His looks, and empty horn, implored in vain;
Till to a family's wants we freely gave
What cold, hard-hearted Prudence bade us save.
And now, this treasure on our host bestow'd,
His sun-burn'd visage at the present glow'd;508.
New-moulded bullets quickly he prepar'd,
Survey'd the glistening grain with fix'd regard,
Then charg'd his rifle with the precious store,
And threw the horn his brawny shoulders o'er,
Secured his punk, his matches, purse and steel,513.
The dogs in transport barking at his heel;
Then, in his blanket, bade his wife good-bye,
For three long nights in dreary woods to lie.
Our morsel ended, through the pouring rain,
O'er barren mountains we proceed again;518.
And now Wiomi opened on our view,
And, far beyond, the Alleghany blue,
Immensely stretch'd; upon the plain below,
The painted roofs with gaudy colours glow,
And Susquehanna's glittering stream is seen523.
Winding in stately pomp through valleys green.
Hail, charming river! pure transparent flood!
Unstain'd by noxious swamps or choaking mud;
Thundering through broken rocks in whirling foam;
Or pleas'd o'er beds of glittering sand to roam;528.
Green be thy banks, sweet forest-wandering stream!
Still may thy waves with finny treasures teem;
The silvery shad and salmon crowd thy shores,
Thy tall woods echoing to the sounding oars;
On thy swol'n bosom floating piles appear,533.
Fill'd with the harvest of our rich frontier:
The pine-brown'd cliffs, thy deep romantic vales,
Where wolves now wander, and the panther wails,
Where, at long intervals, the hut forlorn
Peeps from the verdure of embowering corn,538.
In future times (nor distant far the day)
Shall glow from crowded towns and villas gay;
Unnumber'd keels thy deepen'd course divide;
And airy arches pompously bestride;
The domes of Science and Religion rise,543.
And millions swarm where now a forest lies.
Now up green banks, through level fields of grass,
With heavy hearts the fatal spot we pass,
Where Indian rage prevailed, by murder fir'd,
And warriors brave by savage hands expir'd;548.
Where bloody Butler's iron-hearted crew
Doom'd to the flames the weak submitting few;
While screams of horror pierc'd the midnight wood,
And the dire axe drank deep of human blood.
The massacre here alluded to, took place after the battle of 3d July 1778, which was fought near this spot. The small body of American troops were commanded by that brave, humane, and intelligent officer, Colonel Butler; the Tories and savages were headed by another colonel Butler, of a very different description. Were I disposed to harrow up the feelings of the reader, I might here enlarge on the particulars of this horrid affair; but I choose to decline it. Those who wish to see a detail of the whole are referred to the Philadelphia Universal Magazine for March 20, 1797, 390. [AW]
Obscur'd with mud, and drench'd with soaking rain,553.
Through pools of splashing mire we drove amain;
Night darkening round us; when, in lucky hour,
Led by its light we reach'd a cottage door:
There welcom'd in, we bless'd our happy lot,
And all the drudgery of the day forgot.558.
A noble fire its blazing front display'd,
Clean shelves of dazzling pewter round array'd,
Where rows of ruddy apples, rang'd with care,
With grateful fragrance fill'd the balmy air;
Our bard (chief orator in times like these),563.
Though frank, yet diffident, and fond to please,
In broken German jok'd with all around,
Told who we were, from whence, and whither bound;
The cottage group a ready opening made,
And "welcome friends," the little Dutchman said.568.
Well pleas'd our guns and knapsacks we resign'd,
Th'adjoining pump or running stream to find,
There wash'd our boots, and, entering, took our seat,
Stript to the trowsers in the glowing heat.
The mindful matron spread her table near,573.
Smoking with meat, and fill'd with plenteous cheer;
And, supper o'er, brought forth and handed round,
A massy bowl with mellow apples crown'd;
For all our wants a mother's care express'd,
And press'd us oft, and pick'd us out the best,578.
But Duncan smil'd, and slyly seemed to seek
More tempting fruit in Susan's glowing cheek,
Where such sweet innocence and meekness lay
As fairly stole our pilot's heart away:
He tried each art the evening to prolong,583.
And cheer'd the passing moments with a song,
So sadly tender, with such feelings rais'd,
That all but Susan with profusion prais'd;
She from his glance oft turned her glistening eye,
And paid in tears and many a stifled sigh.588.
Thus pass'd the evening charmingly away,
Each pleased and pleasing, innocent and gay,
Till early bed-time summon'd us to part,
And Susan's glances spoke her captive heart.
Swift flew the night, in soundest sleep enjoyed,593.
By dawn we start and find all hands employed,
The wheel, the cards, by fire-light buzzing go;
The careful mother kneads her massy dough;
Even little Mary at her needle sits,
And while she nurses pussy, nicely knits.598.
Our generous friends, their courtesy bestow'd,
Refus'd all price and pointed out the road;
With kindest wishes bade us all farewell;
What Susan felt, the rising tear could tell.
Blest Hospitality! the poor man's pride,603.
The stranger's guardian, comforter, and guide,
Whose cheering voice and sympathetic eye,
Even Angels honour, as they hover nigh;
Confined (in mercy to our wandering race)
To no one country, people, age, or place;608.
But for the homeless and the exil'd lives,
And smiles the sweeter still the more she gives;
O if on earth one spot I e'er can claim,
One humble dwelling, even without a name,
Do thou, blest Spirit! be my partner there,613.
With sons of wo our little all to share;
Beside our fire the pilgrim's looks to see,
That swim in moisture as he looks on thee;
To hear his tales of wild woods wandering through;
His ardent blessings as he bids adieu;618.
Then let the selfish hug their gold divine,
Ten thousand dearer pleasures shall be mine.
The morning fogs that o'er the country lay,
Dispersing, promised a delightful day,
Clear, warm, serene; the sun's resplendent beams,623.
Plays on the rocks, and from the river gleams,
The cheerful robins
Turdus migratorius. [AW] chattering round us fly,
And crested wood-cocks
Picus pileatus, the great scarlet-crested, black woodpecker; called also in some of the Southern States the log cock. [AW] hammer from on high.
Poor Duncan's sober looks, and glistening eye,
His broken sentences, and half-fetch'd sigh,628.
His frequent backward gaze, and anxious mien,
While Susan's sheltered cottage could be seen,
Betray'd the thoughts that hover'd through his breast,
The fruitful source of many a rallying jest;
At length his song the echoing forest hail'd,633.
And laughing Comus over Love prevailed.
By Susquehanna's shores we journey on,
Hemmed in by mountains over mountains thrown,
Whose vast declivities rich scenes display
Of green pines mix'd with yellow foliage gay;638.
Each gradual winding opening to the sight
New towering heaps of more majestic height,
Grey with projecting rocks; along whose steeps
The sailing eagle
Falco leucocephalus, the white-headed or bald eagle. [AW] many a circle sweeps.
Few huts appear'd; the wretched few we spied643.
Seem'd caves where Sloth and Poverty reside;
The ragged owners happier far to hear
Men, boys, and dogs arouse the bounding deer;
In fluttering rags, with scarce a hat or shoe,
Down the rough steep the roaring chase pursue.648.
To tree the bear; the midnight wolf to watch;
Minx, otters, possums, or racoons to catch;
The bloodly panther boldly to destroy,
Their highest glory and their greatest joy.
While round each hut the richest soil is seen,653.
Bleak squalid wretchedness is found within,
Filth, want, and ignorance from sire to son,
The sad attendants of the dog and gun;
As sage Experience long ago has said,
A good amusement, but a wretched trade.658.
'Twas now deep noon, the winding pathway led
Beneath tall maples near the river's bed,
Where moss-grown logs in mouldering ruins lay,
And spice and dogwood fring'd the narrow way;
The scarlet berries clustering hung around,663.
And mix'd with yellow leaves bestrew'd the ground;
There glistening lay, extended o'er the path,
With steadfast, piercing eye, and gathering wrath,
A large grim rattle-snake, of monstrous size,
Three times three feet his length enormous lies;668.
His pointed scales in regular rows engraved;
His yellow sides with wreaths of dusky waved;
Fix'd to the spot, with staring eyes, we stood!
He, slowly moving, sought th' adjoining wood;
Conscious of deadly power, he seemed to say,673.
"Pass on; in peace let each pursue his way."
But when th' uplifted musket met his view,
Sudden in sounding coils his form he threw!
Fierce from the centre rose his flatten'd head,
With quivering tongue and eyes of fiery red,678.
And jaws extended vast, where threatening lay
The fangs of death in horrible array;
While pois'd above, invisible to view,
His whizzing tail in swift vibration flew.
Back sprung our bard! and, aiming to let fly,683.
Glanc'd o'er the deadly tube his vengeful eye;
And now destruction seem'd at once decreed;
But Duncan's pleading check'd the barbarous deed;
"O spare the brave!" our generous pilot cried,
"Let Mercy, sir! let Justice now decide;688.
This noble foe, so terrible to sight,
Though armed with death, yet ne'er provokes the fight;
Stern, yet magnanimous, he forms his den
Far from the noisy, dangerous haunts of men.
Th' unconscious foot that presses him he spares,693.
And what was harmless meant forgiving bears;
But dare his life—Behold, he rises brave,
To guard that being bounteous Nature gave.
We are th' aggressors here; the Hero he;
Honour the brave defence of one to three!"698.
He spoke. Three cheers the voice of Mercy hail'd;
And heav'n's most glorious attribute prevail'd.
Here, in deep glens, we groves of shellbarks found,
The Port Folio, September 1809, 273-278.701.
And brought their thousands rattling to the ground.
Here clustering grapes on bending saplings grew,703.
And down the loaded vines we labouring drew;
The luscious fruit our vigorous toil repaid,
And Bacchus' honours crown'd us in the shade.
Now Keeler's Ferry heartily we hail,
And o'er the clear expanse serenely sail;708.
High up th' adjacent banks again we go,
The lessen'd river winding deep below;
Here rocky masses from the cliffs we tore,
And down the mountain made them bounding roar
Through tops of crashing pines, with whistling sound,713.
Dashing the thundering waves in foam around.
Now night drew on, dull owls began to scream,
We cross'd Tunkhannoc's slow and silent stream;
Lodg'd at a famish'd inn that near it stood,
Of all things destitute save fire and wood;718.
Old Squares, the owner, indolent and poor,
His house unshingled and without a door;
No meat, or drink, or bread, or liquor there,
As Afric's wilds, of every comfort bare;
But Duncan's load across his cudgel cast,723.
Fruits, birds, and beasts, bespeak a rich repast;
While Leech's knapsac loaves of bread supplied,
And mine a cordial for the heart beside;
So, sans delay, all hands at once begin,
Some pick the pheasants, some the squirrels skin,728.
Soon o'er the fire our crackling nostrums brawl,
And soon like hungry wolves to work we fall,
Hew down the wheaten loaf, o'er whose thick side
The ample sheets of yellow butter glide
While piles of bones, like polish'd ivory, rise,733.
And the starv'd boors look on with wild surprise.
Such bless'd comforts health and hunger bring,
The hunter feasts more nobly than the king,
Whose sated appetite, by luxury cloy'd,
Even the richest sauces satiate unenjoy'd.738.
The table clear'd, our Journal we survey,
And minute down the wanderings of the day;
For fresh materials at our host inquire,
Who broil'd his brawny limbs before the fire.
"What Township's this, old daddy?" "Why—hm—well;743.
Township? The dickens, sir, if I can tell;
Its Pennsylvania though. Right, daddy Squares.
Who are your nearest neighbours?" Why, the bears.
"No mill or school-house near you?" Yes, we've one
Beyond the church a piece, on Panther's Run.748.
"Is church far distant, daddy?" Why—hm—no;
Down Susquehanna, twenty miles or so.
"You go to preaching, then?" Besure, that's clear;
We go to mill and meeting twice a-year.
"No curiosities about?" Why—yes,753.
You've brought a few of them yourselves, I guess.
"What, dollars?" Aye, and fippennybits I swear
Are downright rarities among us here.
Thus pass'd the evening, till the time of bed,
When to a kennel we at last were led;758.
There, slumbering, shivered till the dawn of day,
Then curs'd this scurvy cave and march'd away.
Before us now in huge extension rise
Dark wood-clad mountains of enormous size;
Surrounding fogs their towering summits hide,763.
And sailing clouds, in silent grandeur, glide
Around their airy cliffs. These we survey
As dull forebodings of a cheerless day.
Up steeps immense with labouring steps we bend,
Then down in hollow gulfs for miles descend,768.
Buried in depth of woods, obscure and dark,
Where pheasants drum, and angry squirrels bark;
With these (though rain in streaming torrents pour'd)
Our pilot's pack abundantly we stor'd;
And when, at length, the driving tempest clear'd,773.
And through the woods a distant hut appeared,
There, though the sour inhospitable clown
Returned our smiles with many a surly frown,
Compelled by Hunger, that imperious lord,
We cooked our game and shar'd our little hoard;778.
And left the savage boor, whose looks convey'd
Dark hate and murder every move they made.
Still through rude wilds with silent steps we steer,
Intent on game, all eager eye and ear;
Each opening turn, each dark recess survey,783.
Each mouldering heap that round tumultuous lay,
As o'er those Alpine steeps we slowly past;
But all was silent, solitary, vast!
No sound of distant farm assail'd the ear;
No rising smoke; no opening fields appear;788.
But each high summit gain'd, the eye was shown
Hills pil'd on hills in dreary prospect thrown.
So, from the mast, when boisterous tempests roar,
And the tost vessel labours far from shore,
The toil-worn sailor all around him spies793.
One sea of mountains mingling with the skies.
At length with vast descent we winding go,
And see the river gliding deep below;
And up the vale, suspended o'er the path,
A sign-board waving o'er the hut beneath;798.
The straggling characters, with soot portrayed,
Defy'd awhile all efforts that we made;
At length we spe