Billeder på siden

Now thou's turn'd out for a' thy trouble,

But house or hauld,
To thole' the winter's sleety dribble,

And cranreuch ? cauld !
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o mice and men

Gang aft a-gley,
And lea'e us nought but grief and pain

For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me !
The present only toucheth thee :
But, och ! I backward cast my ee

On prospects drear !
And forward, though I canna see,

I guess and fear.

HALLOWEEN. The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understoca ; but for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added, to give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion of prying into futurity makes à striking part of the history of human nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations, and it may be some entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such should honour the author with a perusal, to see the remains of it among the more unenlightened in our own.-B.

“Yes ! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
The simple pleasures of the lowly train ;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charın, than all the gloss of art."

UPON that night, when fairies light

On Cassilis Downans* dance,
Or owre the lays,3 in splendid blaze,

On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta’en,

Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the covet to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams

To sport that night.
Among the bonny winding banks

Where Doon rins, wimplin', clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,

And shook his Carrick spear,
1 Endure.
2 Hoar-frost.

3 Fields. Certain little, romantic, rocky, green hills, in the neighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of Cassilis.-B.

+ A noted cavern near Colean-house, called the Cove of Colean ; which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is famed in country story for being a favourite haunt of jairies.-B.

The famous family of that name, the ancestors of Robert Bruce, the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of Carrick.-B.


Some merry, friendly, country-folks

Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and poul their stocks,
And haud their Halloween

Fu' blithe that night.
The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,

Mair braw than when they're fine
Their faces blithe fu' sweetly kythe

Hearts leal, and warm, and kin':
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs, 5

Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs,?
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin?

Whiles fast at night.
Then, first and foremost, through the kail,

Their stocks* maun a' be sought ance ;
They steek 8 their een, and graip and wale,

For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav'rel 10 Will sell aff the drift,

And wander'd through the bow-kail,
And pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,

Sae bow't that night.
Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,

They roar and cry a'throu'ther ;
The very wee things, toddlin', rin,

Wi' stocks out-owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc's sweet or sour,

Wi' joctelegs!l they taste them ;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi' cannie care, they've placed them

To lie that night.
The lasses staw 12 frae 'mang them a'

To pou their stalks o' corn:+
1 Pull.
3 Show.

5 Double loops. 2 Trim. 4 Spruce.

6 Bashful. 7 Mouths, here spoken of in connection with talking powers. Close.

. 9 Grope and choose. 11 Clasp-knives. * The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each a stock or plant of kail. They must go out, hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with : its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their spells—the husband or wife. If any yird, or earth, stick to

is tocher, or fortune, and the taste of the custoc, that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or, to give them their ordinary appellation, the runts, are placed somewhere above the head of the door ; and the Christian names of the people whom chance brings into the house, are, according to the priority of placing the runts, the names in question.-B.

+ They go to the barn-yard and pull each, at three several times, a stalk of oats.

If the third stalk wants the top-pickle, that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.-B.

root, th

[ocr errors]

But Rab slips out, and jinks about,

Behint the muckle thorn :
He grippit Nelly hard and fast;

Loud skirledl a' the lasses ;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin' in the fause-house*

Wi' him that night.
The auld guidwife's weel-hoordit nits

Are round and round divided,
And mony lads' and lasses' fates

Are there that night decided :
Some kindle coothie,3 side by side,

And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa' wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie

Fu' high that night.
Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee ;

Wha 'twas she wadna tell ;
But this is Jock, and this is me,

She says in to hersel :
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,

As they wad never mair part ;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart

To see't that night.
Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,

Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie ;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,

To be compared to Willie ;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu’ fling,

And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore, by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted

To be that night.
Nell had the fause-house in her min'

She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,

Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart was dancin' at the view,

5 Pet.

1 Shrieked.

3 Agreeably. 2 Cuddling.

4 Chimney. * When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being too green or wet; the stackbuilder, by means of old timber, &c., makes a large apartment in his stack, with an opening in the side which is fairest exposed to the wind : this he calls a fause-house.-B.

† Burning the nuts is a famous charm. They name the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire, and, accordingly as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.-B.

She whisper'd Rob to leuk fort:
Rob, stowlins, pree'd her bonny mou',
Fu' cozie? in the neuk fort,

Unseen that night.
But Merran sat behint their backs,

Her thoughts on Andrew Bell ;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,*

And slips out by hersel :
She through the yard the nearest taks,

And to the kiln she goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks, 3
And in the blue-clue+ throws then,

Right fear't that night.
And aye she win't, and aye she swat,

I wat she made nae jaukin',5
Till something held within the pat,

Guid Lord I but she was quakin'!
But whether 'twas the deil himsel,

Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin'

To spier6 that night.
Wee Jenny to her grannie says,

“Will ye go wi' me, grannie ?
I'll eat the apple I at the glass

I gat frae Uncle Johnnie :
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,?

In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notice't na, an aizle 8 brunt
Her braw new worset apron

Out through that night.
Ye little skelpie-limmer's face !

I daur you try sic sportin'
As seek the foul thief ony place,

For him to spae your fortune ;
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!

1 Stealthily kissed.
2 Snugly.
3 Cross-beams.

4 Wound.
5 Dallying.
6 Ask.

7 Cloud of smoke. 8 Cinder.

* A purely literal rendering here is of no use. “She leaves them in the full tide of confident talk” may nearly convey the poet's meaning,

Whoever would, with success, try this spell, must strictly observe these directions :-Steal out, all alone, to the kiln, and darkling, throw into the pot a clue of blue yarn ; wind it in a new clue off the old one ; and, towards the latter end, something will hold the thread. Demand "Wha hauds?"-1.c., who holds. An answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and surname of your future spouse.- B.

Take a candle, and go alone to a looking-glass : eat an apple before it, and some traditions say, you should comb your hair all the time ; the face of your conjugal companion to be will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over your shoulder.-B.

Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret

On sic a night.
Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor,-

I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure

I wasna past fifteen ;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,

And stuff was unco green ;
And aye a rantin' kirna we gat,
And just on Halloween

It fell that night.
“Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Gracn,

A clever, sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,

That lived in Achmacalla :
He gat hemp-seed,* I mind it weel,

And he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted

That very night.” Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,

And he swore by his conscience, That he could saw'hemp-seed a peck;

For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught3 down the pock,

And out a handfu' gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see'd him,

And try't that night.
He marches through amang the stacks,

Though he was something sturtin ; The graip' he for a harrow taks,

And haurls6 it at his curpin ;' And every now and then he says,

“Hemp-seed, I saw thee, And her that is to be my lass, Come after me, and draw thee

Ás fast this night.”

6 Drags.
7 Rear.

1 Young girl.

4 Timorous. 2 Harvest home

5 Dung-fork. 3 Reached. * Steal out unperceived, and sow a handful of hemp-seed, harrowing it with anything you can conveniently draw after you. Repeat now and then, “Hempseed, I saw thee; hemp-seed, I saw thee; and him (or her that is to be my true love, come after me and pou thee.” Look over your left shoulder, and you

will see the appearance of the person invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Soine traditions say, “Come after me and shaw thee,” that is, show thyself: in which case it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing, and say, after me, and harrow thee." -B.

" Come


« ForrigeFortsæt »