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He was a gash an' faithfu' tyke
As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws'nt face,
Ay gat him friends in ilka place;
His breast was white, his tousie back
Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black;
His gawsie tail, wi' upward curl,
Hung owre his hurdies wi' a swirl.

Nae doubt but they were fain o' ither,
And unco pack an' thick thegither;
Wi' social nose whyles snuffed and snowkit;
Whyles mice an' moudieworts they howkit;
Whyles scoured awa in lang excursion,
An' worried ither in diversion;

Until wi' daffin weary grown,

Upon a knowe they sat them down,
An' there began a lang digression
About the "lords o' the creation."

Cæsar. I've aften wondered, honest Luath,
What sort o' life poor dogs like you have;
An' when the gentry's life I saw,
What way poor bodies lives ava.
Our laird gets in his rackèd rents,
His coals, his kain, an' a' his stents;
He rises when he likes himsel;

His flunkies answer at the bell;

He ca's his coach, he ca's his horse;

He draws a bonie silken purse

As lang's my tail, whare, thro' the steeks,
The yellow lettered Geordie keeks.

Frae morn to e'en it's naught but toiling
At baking, roasting, frying, boiling;

An' though the gentry first are stechin,
Yet ev'n the ha' folk fill their pechan
Wi' sauce, ragouts, an' sic like trashtrie,
That's little short o' downright wastrie.
Our whipper-in, wee, blastit wonner,
Poor worthless elf, it eats a dinner

Better than onie tenant man

His Honour has in a' the lan';

An' what poor cot-folk pit their painch in,

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I own it's past my comprehension.

Luath. Trowth, Cæsar, whyles they're fash't
eneugh:

A cotter howkin in a sheugh,
Wi' dirty stanes biggin a dyke,
Baring a quarry, an' sic like;
Himsel, a wife, he thus sustains,
A smytrie o' wee duddie weans,
An' naught but his han'-darg to keep
Them right an' tight in thack an' rape.
An' when they meet wi' sair disasters,
Like loss o' health or want o' masters,
Ye maist wad think a wee touch langer
An' they maun starve o' cauld and hunger.
But how it comes, I never kend yet,
They're maistly wonderfu' contented;
An' buirdly chiels an' clever hizzies
Are bred in sic a way as this is.

Cæsar. But then to see how ye're negleckit,
How huffed, an' cuffed an' disrespeckit!
Lord, man! our gentry care as little
For delvers, ditchers, an' sic cattle;
They gang as saucy by poor folk
As I wad by a stinking brock.
I've noticed, on our laird's court-day,
An' monie a time my heart's been wae,
Poor tenant bodies, scant o' cash,
How they maun thole a factor's snash:
He'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear;
He'll apprehend them, poind their gear;
While they maun staun' wi' aspect humble,
An' hear it a', an' fear an' tremble!

I see how folk live that hae riches;

But surely poor folk maun be wretches.

Luath. They're no sae wretched's ane wad think: Tho' constantly on poortith's brink, They're sae accustomed wi' the sight The view o't gies them little fright. Then chance an' fortune are sae guided They're ay in less or mair provided; An' tho' fatigued wi' close employment,

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A blink o' rest's a sweet enjoyment.
The dearest comfort o' their lives,
Their grushie weans an' faithfu' wives;
The prattling things are just their pride,
That sweetens a' their fire-side.

An' whyles twalpennie worth o' nappy
Can mak the bodies unco happy;
They lay aside their private cares,
To mind the kirk and state affairs;
They'll talk o' patronage an' priests,
Wi' kindling fury i' their breasts,
Or tell what new taxation's comin,
An' ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.

As bleak-faced Hallowmass returns,
They get the jovial, ranting kirns,
When rural life, of ev'ry station,
Unite in common recreation;
Love blinks, Wit slaps, an' social Mirth
Forgets there's Care upo' the earth.

That merry day the year begins,
They bar the door on frosty win's;
The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,
An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
The luntin pipe an' sneeshin mill
Are handed round wi' right guid will;
The cantie auld folks crackin crouse,
The young anes ranting thro' the house-
My heart has been sae fain to see them
That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.

Still it's owre true that ye hae said,
Sic game is now owre aften played.
There's monie a creditable stock
O' decent, honest, fawsont folk
Are riven out, baith root an' branch,
Some rascal's pridefu' greed to quench,
Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster
In favour wi' some gentle master,
Wha, aiblins, thrang a-parliamentin',
For Britain's guid his saul indentin'.

Cæsar. Haith, lad, ye little ken about it:
For Britain's guid! guid faith, I doubt it.

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Say rather, gaun as premiers lead him,
An' saying aye or no's they bid him;
At operas an' plays parading,
Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading;
Or maybe, in a frolic daft,
To Hague or Calais taks a waft,
To mak a tour, and tak a whirl,
To learn bon ton an' see the worl'.
There, at Vienna or Versailles,
He rives his father's auld entails;
Or by Madrid he taks the rout,
To thrum guitars an' fecht wi' nowt;
Then bowses drumlie German water,
To mak himsel look fair and fatter. . .
For Britain's guid!-for her destruction!
Wi' dissipation, feud, an' faction.

Luath. Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate
They waste sae monie a braw estate?
Are we sae foughten an' harassed
For gear ta gang that gate at last?
O, would they stay aback frae courts,
An' please themsels wi' countra sports,
It wad for ev'ry ane be better,

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The laird, the tenant, an' the cotter!
For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies,
Fient haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows;
Except for breakin o' their timmer,
Or speakin lightly o' their limmer,
Or shootin of a hare or moor-cock,
The ne'er-a-bit they 're ill to poor folk.
But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar,
Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure.
Nae cauld or hunger e'er can steer them;
The vera thought o't need na fear them.

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Cæsar. Lord, man, were ye but whyles whare I am,

The gentles, ye wad ne'er envy 'em.

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It's true they need na starve or sweat,
Thro' winter's cauld or simmer's heat;
They've nae sair wark to craze their banes,
An' fill auld age wi' grips an' granes.

But human bodies are sic fools,
For a' their colleges an' schools,

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That when nae real ills perplex them,
They mak enow themsels to vex them;
An' ay the less they hae to sturt them,
In like proportion less will hurt them.
A countra fellow at the pleugh,

His acre's tilled, he's right eneugh;
A countra girl at her wheel,

Her dizzen's done, she's unco weel:

But gentlemen, an' ladies warst,
Wi' ev'n down want o' wark are curst.
They loiter, lounging, lank an' lazy;
Tho' deil-haet ails them, yet uneasy;
Their days insipid, dull, an' tasteless;
Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless;
An' ev'n their sports, their balls, an' races,
Their galloping thro' public places,
There's sic parade, sic pomp, an' art,
The joy can scarcely reach the heart.
The men cast out in party matches,
Then sowther a' in deep debauches.
The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters,
As great an' gracious a' as sisters;
But hear their absent thoughts o' ither,
They're a' run deils an' jads thegither.
Whyles, owre the wee bit cup an' platie,
They sip the scandal-potion pretty;
Or lee-lang nights, wi' crabbit leuks,
Pore owre the Devil's pictured beuks;
Stake on a chance a farmer's stackyard,
An' cheat like onie unhanged blackguard.
There's some exceptions, man an' woman;
But this is gentry's life in common.

By this the sun was out o' sight,
An' darker gloamin brought the night;
The bum-clock hummed wi' lazy drone;
The kye stood rowtin i' the loan:
When up they gat, and shook their lugs,
Rejoiced they were na men, but dogs;
An' each took aff his several way,
Resolved to meet some ither day.
1785 or 1786.

1786.

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