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Here, some are thinkin' on their sins,
And some upo' their claes;
Anither sighs and prays:
On this hand sits a chosen swatch,
Oh happy is that man and blest!
Which, by degrees, slips round her neck,
Unkenn'd that day.
Now a' the congregation o'er
Is silent expectation :
For Moodie speels the holy door,
1 In the Kilmarnock edition, the word was salvation; it was changed at the suggestion of Dr. Blair of Edinburgh. Moodie was the minister of Riccarton, and one of the heroes of The Twa Herds. He was a never-failing assistant at the Mauchline sacraments. His personal appearance and style of oratory were exactly such as described by the poet. He dwelt chiefly on the terrors of the law. On one occasion, he told the audience that they would find the text in John viii.
Should Hornie, as in ancient days
Hear how he clears the points o' Faith
Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
Oh how they fire the heart devout,
On sic a day!
But hark! the tent has changed its voice; There's peace and rest nae langer;
For a' the real judges rise,
They canna sit for anger.
Smith opens out his cauld harangues,1
A lift that day.
44, but it was so applicable to their case, that there was no need of his reading it to them. The verse begins: "Ye are of your father the devil," etc.
1 Mr. (afterwards Dr.) George Smith, minister of Galston the same whom the poet introduces in a different feeling, under the appellation of Irvine-side in The Kirk's Alarm. Burns meant on this occasion to compliment him on his
What signifies his barren shine
Or some auld pagan heathen,
In guid time comes an antidote
See, up he's got the Word o' God,
Fast, fast that day.
rational mode of preaching, but the friends of the divine regarded the stanza as calculated to injure his popularity.
1 The Rev. Mr. (afterwards Dr.) William Peebles, minister of Newton-upon-Ayr, often called, from its geographical situation, the Water-fit. He was in great favor at Ayr among the orthodox party, though much inferior in ability to the moderate ministers of that ancient burgh.
2 The Cowgate is a street running off the main one of Mauchline, exactly opposite the entrance to the church-yard. The sense of the passage might be supposed allegorical, and this is the theory which the present editor is inclined to adopt. He must, however, state that a more literal sense is attached to it by the best-informed persons in Mauchline. It is said that Mr. Mackenzie, the surgeon of the village, and a friend of Burns, had recently written on some controversial topic
Wee Miller niest the guard relieves,
And orthodoxy raibles,
Though in his heart he weel believes,
And thinks it auld wives' fables:
Now but and ben the change-house fills, throughout Wi' yill-caup commentators;
Here's crying out for bakes and gills, biscuits
And there the pint-stoup clatters;
While thick and thrang, and loud and lang, Wi' logic and wi' scripture,
They raise a din, that, in the end,
Is like to breed a rupture
O' wrath that day.
under the title of Common Sense. On the particular day which Burns is supposed to have had in view, Mackenzie was engaged to join Sir John Whitefoord of Ballochmyle, and go to Dumfries House, in Auchinleck parish, in order to dine with the Earl of Dumfries. The doctor, therefore, after attending church, and listening to some of the out-door harangues, was seen to leave the assembly, and go off along the Cowgate, on his way to Ballochmyle, exactly as Peebles ascended the rostrum.
1 The Rev. Mr. Miller, afterwards minister of Kilmaurs. He was of remarkably low stature, but enormous girth. Burns believed him at the time to lean at heart to the moderate party. This stanza, virtually the most depreciatory in the whole poem, is said to have retarded Miller's advance
Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair Commend to
Than either school or college:
It pangs us fou o' knowledge..
It never fails, on drinking deep,
By night or day.
The lads and lasses, blithely bent
On this ane's dress, and that ane's leuk,
While some are cozie i̇' the neuk,
And formin' assignations
To meet some day.
But now the L -'s ain trumpet touts,
And echoes back return the shouts
Black Russell1 is na sparin':
1 The Rev. John Russell, at this time minister of the Chapelof-Ease, Kilmarnock, afterwards minister of Stirling, one of the heroes of The Twa Herds. A correspondent says: "He was the most tremendous man I ever saw: Black Hugh Macpherson was a beauty in comparison. His voice was like thunder, and his sentiments were such as must have shocked any class of hearers in the least more refined than those whom he usually addressed."