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WRITTEN

IN

FRIARS-CARSE HERMITAGE,

ON THE BANKS OF NITH.

[FIRST COPY.]

THOU whom chance may hither lead,

Be thou clad in russet weed,

Be thou deckt in silken stole,

Grave these maxims on thy soul.

Life is but a day at most,

Sprung from night, in darkness lost;

Day, how rapid in its flight

Day, how few must see the night;
Hope not sunshine every hour,
Fear not clouds will always lower.
Happiness is but a name,

Make content and ease thy aim.
Ambition is a meteor gleam;

Fame a restless idle dream :

Pleasures, insects on the wing

Round Peace, the tenderest flower of Spring;

Those that sip the dew alone,

Make the butterflies thy own;

Those that would the bloom devour,

Crush the locusts-save the flower.

For the future be prepar'd,

Guard wherever thou can'st guard;

But thy utmost duly done,

Welcome what thou can'st not shun.
Follies past, give thou to air,

Make their consequence thy care :
Keep the name of man in mind,
And dishonour not thy kind.
Reverence with lowly heart,

Him whose wondrous work thou art;
Keep his goodness still in view,

Thy trust-and thy example, too.

Stranger, go! Heaven be thy guide!
Quod, the Beadsman on Nithside.

The kindness of my friend Mrs. Hyslop has enabled me to give, from the interleaved volume which belonged to Dr. Geddes, the original rough draught of this poem. It is seldom, indeed, that Burns bestowed so much labour on his compositions: he thought so well, however, of this, that he preserved the variations, as eminent

painters preserve the first and second thoughts of their best pictures. It appears that he wrote the first version in June, 1788: the amended and enlarged copy follows, in the manuscript, with this heading—“ Altered from the foregoing, December, 1788." Some of the changes are curious, and will be felt by the reader: in the improved version I find the lines

"Wast thou cottager or king?

Peer or peasant?-no such thing!"

These and other lines are not in the edition published by Currie or Gilbert Burns. Had the poem been in his native dialect, it would have come full and finished from his fancy; his sentiments, when he wrote in the Scottish language, put on at once their proper costume of words, and he had few changes to make. He wrote English with the fear of the critics before him.

So highly did the Poet think of this poem, that he wrote out many copies and forwarded them to his friends -a number of these are still in existence. He looked upon it as an attempt to rise out of rustic Scotch into classic English: the gentle praise bestowed showed him what was felt-that he had not equalled the happiness of expression in some of his earlier pieces.

WRITTEN

IN

FRIARS-CARSE HERMITAGE,

ON NITHSIDE.

[SECOND COPY.]

THOU whom chance may hither lead,

Be thou clad in russet weed,

Be thou deckt in silken stole,

Grave these counsels on thy soul.

Life is but a day at most,

Sprung from night, in darkness lost;
Hope not sunshine ev'ry hour,

Fear not clouds will always lower.

As youth and love with sprightly dance,
Beneath thy morning star advance,
Pleasure with her siren air

May delude the thoughtless pair;
Let Prudence bless Enjoyment's cup,
Then raptur'd sip, and sip it up.

As thy day grows warm and high,
Life's meridian flaming nigh,

Dost thou spurn the humble vale?

Life's proud summits would'st thou scale?
Check thy climbing step, elate,

Evils lurk in felon wait:

Dangers, eagle-pinion'd, bold,

Soar around each cliffy hold,

While cheerful peace, with linnet song,

Chants the lowly dells among.

As the shades of ev'ning close,
Beck'ning thee to long repose;
As life itself becomes disease,
Seek the chimney-neuk of ease,

There ruminate with sober thought,

On all thou'st seen, and heard, and wrought;

And teach the sportive younkers round,

Saws of experience, sage and sound.

Say, man's true, genuine estimate,

The grand criterion of his fate,
Is not-Art thou high or low?
Did thy fortune ebb or flow?
Wast thou cottager or king?
Peer or peasant?-no such thing!
Did many talents gild thy span?
Or frugal nature grudge thee one?
Tell them, and press it on their mind,
As thou thyself must shortly find,

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