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A BARD'S EPITAPH. Of this beautiful epitaph, which Burns wrote for himself, Wordsworth says,“Here is a sincere and solemn avowal--a public declaration from his own will-a confession at once devout, poetical, and human-a history in the shape of a prophecy!”
Is there a whim-inspired fool,
Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
Owre blated to seek, owre proud to snool ??
Let him draw near ;
And owre this grassy heap sing dool,
And drap a tear.
Is there a bard of rustic song,
Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
That weekly this area throng?
Oh, pass not by!
But, with a frater-feeling strong,
Here heave a sigh.
Is there a man, whose judgment clear
Can others teach the course to steer,
Yet runs himself life's mad career
Wild as the wave?
Here pause—and, through the starting tear,
Survey this grave.
Was quick to learn, and wise to know,
And keenly felt the friendly glow,
And softer flame;
But thoughtless sollies laid him low,
And stain'd his name !
Reader, attend—whether thy soul
Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
In low pursuit ;
Know, prudent, cautious self-control
Is wisdom's root.
A DEDICATION TO GAVIN HAMILTON, ESQ. In the following dedication of his poems to Gavin Hamilton, the poet, after complimenting, very naturally has a fling at the "unco guid," who had per. secuted his patron as well as himself.
EXPECT na, sir, in this narration,
A fleechin', fleth'rin'ü dedication,
To roose you up, and ca' you guid,
And sprung o'great and noble bluid,
Because ye're surnamed like his Grace ;
Perhaps related to the race ;
Then when I'm tired, and sae are ye,
Wi' mony a fulsome, sinfu’ lie,
Set up a face, how I stop short,
For fear your modesty be hurt.
This may do—maun do, sir, wi' them wha
Maun please the great folks for a wamefu' ;1
For me ! sae laigh? I needna bow,
For, Lord be thankit, I can plough;
And when I downa” yoke a naig,
Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg;
Sae I shall say, and that's nae flatterin',
It's just sic poet, and sic patron.
The poet, some guid angel help him,
Or else, I fear, some ill ane skelp 4 him,
He may do weel for a' he's done yet,
But only—he's no just begun yet.
The patron, (sir, ye maun forgie me,
I winna lie, come what will o' me,)
On every hand it will allow'd be,
He's just—nae better than he should be.
I readily and freely grant,
He downa see a poor man want ;
What's no his ain he winna tak it,
What ance he says he winna break it;
Aught he can lend he'll no refus't,
Till aft his guidness is abused ;
And rascals whyles that do him wrang,
Even that he doesna mind it lang :
As master, landlord, husband, father,
He doesna fail his part in either.
But then nae thanks to him for a' that;
Nae godly symptom ye can ca’ that ;
It's naething but a milder feature
Of our poor sinfu', corrupt nature :
Ye'll get the best o’moral works,
'Mang black Gentoos and pagan Turks,
Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
Wha never heard of orthodoxy,
That he's the poor man's friend in need,
The gentleman in word and deed,
It's no through terror of damnation ;
It's just a carnal inclination.
Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou hast slain !
Vain is his hope whose stay and trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice !
No-stretch a point to catch a plack;
Abuse a brother to his back ;
Steal through a winnocka frae a whore,
But point the rake that taks the door ;
Be to the poor like ony whunstane,
And haud their noses to the grunstane,
Ply every art o' legal thieving ;
No matter, stick to sound believing.
Learn three-mile prayers, and half-mile graces
Wi' weel-spread looves, and lang, wry faces;
Grunt up a solemn, lengthen'd groan,
And damn a' parties but your own ;
I'll warrant then, ye're nae deceiver-
A steady, sturdy, stanch believer.
wha leave the springs o' Calvin,
For gumlie: dubs of your ain delvin'!
Ye sons of heresy and error,
Ye'll some day squeel in quaking terror !
When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath,
And in the fire throws the sheath ;
When Ruin, with his sweeping besom,
Just frets till Heaven commission gies him ;
While o'er the harp pale Misery moans,
And strikes the ever-deepening tones,
Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans !
Your pardon, sir, for this digression,
I maist forgat my Dedication ;
But when divinity comes 'cross me,
My readers still are sure to lose me.
So, sir, ye see 'twas nae daft vapour,
But I maturely thought it proper,
When a' my works I did review,
To dedicate them, sir, to you:
Because (ye needna tak it ill)
I thought them something like yoursel.
Then patronise them wi' your favour,
And your petitioner shall ever-
I had amaist said, ever pray;
But that's a word I needna say:
For prayin' I hae little skill o't;
I'm baith dead-sweer, 4 and wretched ill o't;
But I'se repeat each poor man's prayer
That kens or hears about you, sir-
“May ne'er Misfortune's growling bark
Howl through the dwelling o' the Clerk ! *