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Health to the sex, ilk guid chiel says,
Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name
She, honest woman, may think shame
Ye're wae men, ye're nae men
For you, no bred to barn and byre,
'Twad please me to the nine.
I'd be mair vauntie o' my hap,
Or proud imperial purple.
Fareweel then, lang heal then,
May losses and crosses
Ne'er at your hallan ca'.
This beautiful little poem is now given entire.—" Oh! that he, the prevailing Poet," says Wilson, speaking of the aspirations of his youth, "could have seen this light breaking in upon the darkness that did too long and too deeply overshadow his living lot! Some glorious glimpses of it his prophetic soul did see-witness 'The Vision,' or that somewhat humbler but yet high strain-in which, bethinking him of the undefined aspirations of his boyish genius that had bestirred itself in the darkness, as if the touch of an angel's hand were to awaken a sleeper in his cell-he said to himself:
Even then a wish, I mind its power,
A wish that to my latest hour,
Shall strongly heave my breast,
"Such hopes were in him, in his 'bright and shining youth,' surrounded as it was with toil and trouble, that could not bend down the brow of Burns from its natural upright inclination to the sky and such hopes, let us doubt it not, were with him in his dark and faded prime, when life's lamp burned low indeed, and he was willing at last, early as it was, to shut his eyes on this dearly beloved, but sorely distracting world."
The lady to whom the Epistle is addressed, was a painter and poetess: her sketches with the pencil were very beautiful; of her skill in verse, the reader may judge from her letter to the bard :—
"My cantie, witty, rhyming ploughman,
I hafflins doubt it is na' true, man,
That ye between the stilts was bred,
Wi' ploughmen schooled, wi' ploughmen fed;
Either frae grammar-school or college,
Guid troth your saul an' body baith
War better fed I'd gie my aith,
Than theirs who sup sour milk an' parritch,
Whaever heard the ploughman speak,
Could tell gif Homer was a Greek?
As get a single line of Virgil.
And then sae slee ye crack your jokes
O' Willie Pitt and Charlie Fox:
Our great men a' sae weel descrive,
An' how to gar the nation thrive,
Ane maist wad swear ye dwalt amang them,
But be ye ploughman, be ye peer,
Ye are a funny blade I swear:
An' though the cauld I ill can bide,
Yet twenty miles an' mair I'd ride
O'er moss an' moor, an' never grumble,
Though my auld yad should gie a stumble,
To crack a winter night wi' thee,
An' hear thy sangs an' sonnets slee.
O gif I kenned but where ye baide,
I'd send to you a marled plaid;
'Twad haud your shouthers warm an' braw,
An' douce at kirk or market shaw;
Fra' south as weel as north my lad,
A' honest Scotsmen lo'e the maud."
Mrs. Scott of Wauchope was niece to Mrs. Cockburn, authoress of a beautiful variation of "The Flowers of the Forest" she has been long dead.
EPISTLE TO WILLIAM CREECH.
WRITTEN AT SELKIRK.
AULD chuckie Reekie's* sair distrest, Down droops her ance weel-burnisht crest, Nae joy her bonnie buskit nest
Can yield ava,
Her darling bird that she lo'es best,
O Willie was a witty wight,
And had o' things an unco slight;
An' trig an' braw :
But now they'll busk her like a fright,
The stiffest o' them a' he bow'd;
That was a law:
We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd,
Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks, and fools,
He wha could brush them down to mools,
The brethren o' the Commerce-Chaumer*
Amang them a';
I fear they'll now mak mony a stammer,
Nae mair we see his levee door
In bloody raw!
The adjutant o' a' the core,
Now worthy Gregory's latin face,
As Rome ne'er saw;
They a' maun meet some ither place,
* The Chamber of Commerce at Edinburgh, of which Creech was Secretary.
+ Many literary gentlemen were accustomed to meet at Mr. Creech's house at breakfast.