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May ne'er his generous, honest heart
For that same generous spirit smart !
May Kennedy's far-honour'd name
Lang beat his hymeneal flame,
Till Hamiltons, at least a dizen,
Are frae their nuptial labours risen:
Five bonny lasses round their table,
And seven braw fellows stout and able
To serve their king and country weel,
By word, or pen, or pointed steel !
May health and peace, with mutual rays,
Shine on the evening o' his days;
Till his wee curlie John's* ier-oe,
When ebbing life nae mair shall flow,
The last, sad, mournful rites bestow !"
I will not wind a lang conclusion
Wi' complimentary effusion :
But whilst your wishes and endeavours
Are blest wi' Fortune's smiles and favours,
I am, dear sir, with zeal most fervent,
Your much indebted, humble servant.
But if (which Powers above prevent !)
That iron-hearted carl, Want,
Attended in his grim advances,
By sad mistakes and black mischances,
While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
Make you as poor a dog as I am,
Your humble servant then no more ;
For who would humbly serve the poor?
But by a poor man's hopes in Heaven !
While recollection's power is given,
If, in the vale of humble life,
The victim sad of Fortune's strife,
I, through the tender gushing tear,
Should recognise my master dear,
If friendless, low, we meet together,
Then, sir, your hand—my friend and brother !
INVITATION TO A MEDICAL GENTLEMAN
TO ATTEND A MASONIC ANNIVERSARY MEETING. The meetings of the members of St. James's Masonic Lodge were held in a small room in a public-house in Mauchline, kept by a man of the name of Manson. On the approach of St. John's day, Burns sent the following rhymed invitation to his friend Mr. Mackenzie :
FRIDAY first's the day appointed,
By our Right Worshipful anointed,
* John Hamilton, Esq., a worthy scion of a noble stock.
To hold our grand procession ;
To get a blade o' Johnny's morals,
And taste a swatch? o' Manson's barrels,
l' the way of our profession.
Our Master and the Brotherhood
Wad a' be glad to see you ;
For me I would be mair than proud
To share the mercies wi' you.
If death, then, wi' skaith, then,
Some mortal heart is hechtin', 2
Inform him, and storm him,
That Saturday ye'll fecht: him.
THE FAREWELL. "The following touching stanzas," says Cunningham, were composed in the autumn of 1786, when the prospects of the poet darkened, and he looked towards the West Indies as a place of refuge, and perhaps of hope. All who shared his affections are mentioned-his mother- his brother Gilbert-his illegitimate child, Elizabeth, -whom he consigned to his brother's care, and for whose support he had appropriated the copyright of his poems,--and his friends Smith, Hamilton, and Aiken; but in nothing he ever wrote was his affection for Jean Armour more tenderly or more naturally displayed.”
“ The valiant in himself, what can he suffer?
Or what does he regard his single woes?
But when, alas ! he multiplies himself,
To dearer selves, to the loved tender fair,
To those whose bliss, whose being hang upon him,
To helpless children! then, oh, then! he feels
The point of misery festering in his heart,
And weakly weeps his fortune like a coward.
Such, such am I?-undone ! ”
-THOMson's Edward and Eleanora.
FAREWELL, old Scotia's bleak domains,
Far dearer than the torrid plain
Where rich ananas blow !
Farewell, a mother's blessing dear!
A brother's sigh ! a sister's tear !
My Jean's heart-rending throe !
Farewell, my Bess ! though thou’rt bereft
Of my parental care ;
A faithful brother I have left,
My part in him thou'lt share !
Adieu too, to you too,
My Smith, my bosom frien’;
When kindly you mind me,
Oh, then befriend my Jean !
What bursting anguish tears my heart !
From thee, my Jeanie, must I part !
Thou, weeping, answerest,
Alas! misfortune stares my face,
And points to ruin and disgrace,
I, for thy sake, must go !
Thee, Hamilton and Aiken dear,
A grateful, warm, adieu !
I, with a much-indebted tear,
Shall still remember you !
All hail then, the gale then,
Wafts me from thee, dear shore !
It rustles and whistles-
I'll never see thee more !
LINES WRITTEN ON A BANK-NOTE.
WAE worth thy power, thou cursèd leaf !
Fell source o' a' my woe and grief !
For lack o' thee I've lost my lass!
For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass.
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy cursed restriction.
I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile,
Amid his hapless victim's spoil,
And, for thy potence vainly wish'd
To crush the villain in the dust.
For lack o' thee, I leave this much-loved shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet auld Scotland more.
VERSES TO AN OLD SWEETHEART AFTER HER MARRIAGE.
WRITTEN ON THE BLANK LEAF OF A COPY OF HIS POEMS
PRESENTED TO THE LADY,
The name of the lady to whom the following lines were addressed has eluded
ONCE fondly loved, and still remember'd dear;
Sweet early object of my youthful vows !
Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere, -
Friendship ! 'tis all cold duty now allows.
And when you read the simple, artless rhymes,
One friendly sigh for him, he asks no more, -
Who distant burns in flaming torrid climes,
Or haply lies beneath th' Atlantic's roar,
VERSES WRITTEN UNDER VIOLENT GRIEF. The following lines, which first appeared in the Sun newspaper, April 1823, were originally written on the fly-leaf of a copy of the poet's works presented to a friend.
ACCEPT the gift a friend sincere
Wad on thy worth be pressin';
Remembrance oft may start a tear,
But oh! that tenderness forbear,
Though 'twad my sorrows lessen.
My morning raise sae clear and fair,
I thought sair storms wad never
Bedew the scene ; but grief and care
In wildest fury hae made bare
My peace, my hope, for ever
You think I'm glad ; oh, I pay weel
For a' the joy I borrow,
In solitude-then, then I feel
I canna to myself conceal
My deeply-ranklin' sorrow.
Farewell ! within thy bosom free
A sigh may whiles awaken;
A tear may wet thy laughin' ee,
For Scotia's son-ance gay like thee-.
Now hopeless, comfortless, forsaken!
TO THE REV. MR. JAMES STEVEN. The Rev. James Steven was afterwards one of the Scottish clergy in London, and ultimately minister of Kilwinning in Ayrshire. He was no favourite of the poet's, and the following lines were written on hearing him preach from the textMALACHI IV. 2.—"And they shall go forth, and grow up,
like CALVES of the stall.
Right, sir ! your text I'll prove it true,
Though heretics may laugh ;
For instance; there's yoursel just now,
God knows, an unco calf !
And should some patron be so kind
As bless you wi' a kirk,
I doubt na, sir, but then we'll find
Ye're still as great a stirk.
But if the lover's raptured hour
Shall ever be your lot,
Forbid it, every heavenly power,
You e'er should be a stot !?
Though, when some kind connubial dear
Your but-and-ben 3 adorns,
The like has been that you may wear
A noble head of horns.
And in your lug, most reverend James,
To hear you roar and rowte,
Few men o' sense will doubt your claims
To rank amang the nowte.5
And when ye're number'd wi' the dead,
Below a grassy hillock,
Wi' justice they may mark your head-
“Here lies a famous bullock !"
Mr. W. Chalmers, a gentleman in Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked
me to write a poetic epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her,
but was scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows :-R. B.
Wi' braw new branks,” in mickle pride,
And eke? a braw new brechan,
My Pegasus I'm got astride,
And up Parnassus pechin ;*
Whiles owre a bush, wi' downward crush,
The doited beasties stammers ;
Then up he gets, and off he sets,
For sake o' Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na, lass, that weel-kenn'd name
May cost a pair o' blushes ;
I am nae stranger to your fame,
Nor his warm-urgèd wishes.
Your bonny face, sae mild and sweet,
His honest heart enamours,
And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
Though waired 6 on Willie Chalmers.
Auld Truth hersel might swear ye're fair,
And Honour safely back her,
And Modesty assume your air,
And ne'er a ane mistak' her:
And sic twa love-inspiring een
Might fire even holy palmers;
Nae wonder then they've fatal been
To honest Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na Fortune may you shore?
Some mim-mou'd pouther'd priestie,
Fu’ lifted up wi' Hebrew lore,
And band upon his breastie:
But oh! what signifies to you
His lexicons and grammars ;
The feeling heart's the royal blue,
And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.
Some gapin', glowrin' country laird
May warsle for your favour ;
1 Bridle. 2 Also. 3 Collar.
8 Prim and powdered parson.