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Like wind-driven hail, it did assail,
Or torrents owre a linn, man;
PROLOGUE SPOKEN BY MR. WOODS ON HIS BENEFIT-NIGHT,
Monday, 16th April, 1787.
Amongst the men whom Burns had met and liked at the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, was Joseph Woods, a respectable member of the Edinburgh corps dramatique, and the more likely to be endeared to the Ayrshire poet, that he had been an intimate friend of poor Fergusson.
WHEN by a generous Public's kind acclaim,
Poor is the task to please a barbarous throng,
It needs no Siddons' powers in Southern's
But here an ancient nation famed afar,
For genius, learning high, as great in warHail, CALEDONIA, name for ever dear! Before whose sons I'm honoured to appear! Where every science- every nobler art
That can inform the mind, or mend the heart, Is known; as grateful nations oft have found Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound. Philosophy, no idle pedant dream,
Here holds her search by heaven-taught Reason's beam;
Here History paints with elegance and force
Oh thou dread Power! whose empire-giving hand
1 The Man of Feeling, written by Mr. Mackenzie.
Has oft been stretched to shield the honoured
Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire!
Bold may she brave grim Danger's loudest
Till Fate the curtain drops on worlds to be no more!
“The enclosed I have just wrote, nearly extempore, in a solitary inn at Selkirk, after a miserably wet day's riding." - Burns to William Creech, 13th May,
AULD chuckie 1 Reekie's 2 sair distrest,
Down droops her ance weel-burnished crest,
Nae joy her bonny buskit nest
Can yield ava,
Her darling bird that she lo'es best
1 Literally, a hen; secondarily, a familiar term of address: "Gin ony sour-mou'd girning bucky
Ca' me conceited keckling chucky." — RAMSAY.
2 Literally, smoky; a familiar sobriquet for Edinburgh, not at all unsuitable.
Oh Willie was a witty wight,
And trig and braw:
But now they'll busk her like a fright -
The stiffest o' them a' he bowed;
They durst nae mair than he allowed,
We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd- fellow-gold
Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks, and fools,
May sprout like simmer puddock-stools toad-stools
He wha could brush them down to
The brethren o' the Commerce-Chaumer 2
1 Gawky, a simpleton; tawpy, usually applied to a foolish, sluttish woman; gowk, literally, the cuckoo; secondarily, a fool.
2 The Chamber of Commerce at Edinburgh, of which Creech was secretary.
I fear they'll now mak monie a stammer
Nae mair we see his levee door 1
The adjutant o' a' the core
Now worthy Gregory's Latin face,
As Rome ne'er saw;
They a' maun meet some ither place —
Poor Burns e'en Scotch drink canna quicken; He cheeps like some bewildered chicken, chirps
1 Creech, who, besides being a clever and well-educated man, enjoyed high reputation as a teller of quaint stories, lived on familiar terms with many of the literary men of his day. His house, in one of the elevated floors of a tenement in the High Street, accessible from a wretched alley called Craig's Close, was frequented in the mornings by company of that kind, to such an extent that the meeting used to be called Creech's Levee. Burns here enumerates as attending it, Dr. James Gregory, author of the Conspectus Medicinæ; Alexander Fraser Tytler, afterwards Lord Woodhouselee; Dr. William Greenfield, professor of rhetoric in the Edinburgh University; Henry Mackenzie, author of The Man of Feeling; and Dugald Stewart, professor of moral philosophy.