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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 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;

160 Or by Madrid he taks the rout, To thrum guitars anfecht wi' nowt; Then bowses drumlie German water,

165 To mak himsel look fair and fatter. For Britain's guid !—for her destruction ! Wi’ dissipation, feud, an' faction.

170 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 abaćk frae courts,

175 An' please themsels wi' countra sports, It wad for ev'ry ane be better, The laird, the tenant, an' the cotter! For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies, Fient haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows;

180 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,

185 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.

Cæsar. Lord, man, were ye but whyles whare I am, The gentles, ye wad ne'er envy 'em.

190 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,

195 For a' their colleges an' schools,




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.


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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.




Lament in rhyme, lament in prose,
Wi' saut tears tricklin down your nose;
Our bardie's fate is at a close,

Past a' remead;
The last sad cape-stane of his woes;

Poor Mailie's dead!


It's no the loss o' warl's gear
That could sae bitter draw the tear,
Or mak our hardie, dowie, wear

The mourning weed:
He's lost a friend an' neebor dear

In Mailie dead.


Thro' a' the toun she trotted by him;
A lang half-mile she could descry him;
Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him,

She ran wi' speed:
A friend mair faithfu' ne'er cam nigh him

Than Mailie dead.



I wat she was a sheep o' sense,
An' could behave hersel wi' mense:
I'll say't, she never brak a fence

Thro' thievish greed.
Our bardie, lanely, keeps the spence

Sin' Mailie's dead.


Or if he wanders up the howe,
Her livin image, in her yowe,
Comes bleatin till him, owre the knowe,

For bits o' bread;
An' down the briny pearls rowe

For Mailie dead.


She was nae get o' moorlan tips,
Wi' tawted ket an' hairy hips,
For her forbears were brought in ships

Frae 'yont the Tweed;
A bonier fleesh ne'er crossed the clips

Than Mailie's dead.


Wae worth the man wha first did shape
That vile, wanchancie thing—a rape!
It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,

Wi' chokin dread;
An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape

For Mailie dead.



O a' ye bards on bonie Doon
An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune,
Come, join the melancholious croon

O' Robin's reed!
His heart will never get aboon!

His Mailie's dead. 1786.


THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT My loved, my honoured, much respected friend!

No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end,

My dearest meed a friend's esteem and praise:

To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;

The native feelings strong, the guileless ways,
What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
Ah, tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween!


November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;

The short'ning winter-day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;

The black’ning trains o' craws to their repose.

The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goesThis night his weekly moil is at an end,

15 Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.


At length his lonely cot appears in view,

Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through

To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noise and glee.

His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile,

The lisping infant, prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.



Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in,

At service out, amang the farmers roun'; Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin

A cannie errand to a neebor town.

Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,

Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown,
Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,
To help her parents dear if they in hardship be.



With joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet,

And each for other's weelfare kindly spiers; The social hours, swift-winged, unnoticed fleet;

Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.

The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years; Anticipation forward points the view.

The mother, wi' her needle and her sheers, Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due:


Their master's and their mistress's command

The younkers a' are warned to obey,
And mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,

And ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play:
“And O be sure to fear the Lord alway,
And mind your duty duly, morn and night;

Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright.”



But hark! a rap comes gently to the door.

Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
Tells how a neebor lad came o'er the moor,

To do some errands and convoy her hame.
The wily mother sees the conscious flame

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