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EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK,

AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD.

April 1st, 1785.

WHILE briers and woodbines budding green,
An' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en,
An' morning poussie whiddin seen,

Inspire my muse,
This freedom in an unknown frien'

I pray excuse.

On fasten-e'en we had a rockin,
To ca' the crack and weave our stockin ;
And there was muckle fun an' jokin,

Ye need na doubt ;
At length we had a hearty yokin

At sang about.

There was ae sang, amang the rest, Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best, That some kind husband had addrest

To some sweet wife : It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,

A' to the life.

I've scarce heard ought describes sae weel, What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel; Thought I, Can this be Pope or Steele,

• Or Beattie's wark ! They tald me 'twas an odd kind chiel

About Muirkirk.

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It pat me fidgin-fain to hear 't,
And sae about him there I spier't,
Then a' that ken't him round declar'd

He had ingine,
That nane excell'd it, few came near't,

It was sae fine.

That set him to a pint of ale,
An' either douce or merry tale,
Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,

Or witty catches, "Tween Inverness and Tiviotdale,

He had few matches.

Then up I gat, an' swoor an aith, Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith, Or die a cadger pownie's death,

At some dyke-back, A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith

To hear your crack.

But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
Amaist as soon as I could spell,
I to the crambo-jingle fell,

Tho’rude an' rough, Yet crooning to a body's sel,

Does weel enough.

I am na poet, in a sense,
But just a rhymer, like, by chance,
An' hae to learning nae pretence,

Yet, what the matter Whene'er my muse does on me glance,

I jingle at her. Vol. XXXVIII.

S

Your critic-folk may cock their nose, And say, “How can you e'er propose, * You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,

To mak a sang? But, by your leaves, my learned foes,

Ye're may be wrang.

What's a' your jargon o’your schools,
Your Latin names for horns an' stools ;
If honest nature made you fools,

What sairs your grammars? Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,

Or knappin-hammers.

A set o' dull, conceited hashes, Confuse their brains in college classes ! They gang in stirks, and come out asses,

Plain truth to speak; An' syne they think to climb Parnassus

By dint of Greek!

Gie me ae spark o’ Nature's fire,
That's a' the learning I desire ;
Then tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire

At pleugh or cart,
My muse, tho' hamely in attire,

May touch the heart:

O for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
Or Fergusson's, the bauld and slee,
Or bright Lapraik's my friend to be,

If I can hit it!
That would be lear eneugh for me,

If I could get it.

Now, Sir, if ye hae friends enow, Tho' real friends, I b’lieve, are few, Yet, if your catalogue be fou,

I'se no insist, But gif ye want a friend that's true,

I'm on your list.

I winna blaw about mysel;
As ill I like my fauts to tell ;
But friends, and folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me, Tho' I maun own, as monie still

As far abuse me.

There's ae wee faut they wbyles lay to me,
I like the lasses-Gude forgie me!
For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,

At dance or fair;
May be some ither thing they gie me

They weel can spare.

But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair, I should be proud to meet you there; We’se gie ae night's discharge to care,

If we forgather, An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware

Wi' ane anither.

The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
An' kirsen him wi’ reekin water;
Syne we'll sit down an' tak our wbitter,

To cheer our heart;
An' faith, we'se be acquainted better

Before we part.

Awa, ye selfish warly race,
Wha think that havins, sense, an. grace,
Ev'n love an' friendship, should give place

To catch-the-plack !
I dinna like to see your face,

Nor hear your crack.

But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the terms,

Each aid the others,' Come to my bowl, come to my arms,

My friends, my brothers!

But to conclude my lang epistle,
As my auld pen's worn to the grissle ;
Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,

Who am, most fervent, While I can either sing, or whissle,

Your friend and servant.

TO THE SAME.

April 21st, 1785.

Wale new-ca'd kye rout at the stake,
An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik,
This hour on e'enin's edge I take,

To own I'm debtor
To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,

For his kind letter.

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