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(Through frosty hills the journey lay,)
Poor slipshod giddy Pegasus
Was but a sorry walker;
Obliging Vulcan fell to work,
Threw by his coat and bonnet,
Ye Vulcan's sons of Wanlockhead,
My Pegasus is poorly shod
RAMAGE'S, 3 o'clock.
INSCRIBED TO CHARLES JAMES FOX.
How Wisdom and Folly meet, mix, and unite; How Virtue and Vice blend their black and their
How Genius, the illustrious father of Fiction, Confounds Rule and Law, reconciles Contradic
I sing if these mortals, the critics, should bustle,
I care not, not I; let the critics go whistle.
But now for a Patron, whose name and whose glory
At once may illustrate and honour my story.
Thou first of our orators, first of our wits, Yet whose parts and acquirements seem mere lucky hits;
With knowledge so vast, and with judgment so strong,
No man with the half of 'em e'er went far
With passions so potent, and fancies so bright, No man with the half of 'em e'er went quite right ;
A sorry, poor misbegot son of the Muses,
[Good L-d, what is man? for as simple he looks,
Do but try to develop his hooks and his crooks;
With his depths and his shallows, his good and his evil,
All in all he's a problem must puzzle the devil.
1 The verses following within brackets were added afterwards.
On his one ruling passion Sir Pope hugely labours,
That, like th' old Hebrew walking-switch, eats up its neighbours:
Mankind are his show-box-a friend, would you know him?
Pull the string, ruling passion the picture will shew him.
What pity, in rearing so beauteous a system, One trifling particular, Truth, should have missed him;
For, spite of his fine theoretic positions,
Some sort all our qualities each to its tribe, And think human nature they truly describe; Have you found this or t'other! there's more in the wind,
As by one drunken fellow his comrades you'll find.
But such is the flaw, or the depth of the plan, In the make of that wonderful creature called Man,
No two virtues, whatever relation they claim, Nor even two different shades of the same, Though like as was ever twin-brother to brother, Possessing the one shall imply you've the other.1
1 The verses following this line were first printed from a manuscript of Burns, in Pickering's edition.
But truce with abstraction, and truce with the Muse,
Whose rhymes you'll perhaps, sir, ne'er deign to peruse:
Will you leave your justings, your jars, and your quarrels,
Contending with Billy for proud-nodding laurels? My much-honoured Patron, believe your poor Poet,
Your courage much more than your prudence you shew it.
In vain with Squire Billy for laurels you struggle,
He'll have them by fair trade, if not he will smuggle;
Not cabinets even of kings would conceal 'em, He'd up the back-stairs, and by G- he would steal 'em!
Then feats like Squire Billy's you ne'er can achieve 'em :
It is not, out-do him - the task is, out-thieve him!]
4th April, 1789.
ON A WOUNDED HARE.
“One morning lately, as I was out pretty early in the fields, sowing some grass-seeds, I heard the burst of a shot from a neighbouring plantation, and presently a poor little wounded hare came crippling by me. You will guess my indignation at the inhuman fellow who could shoot a hare at this season, when all of them have young ones."- Burns to Mr. Cunningham, 4th May, 1789.
INHUMAN man! curse on thy barbarous art,
Go live, poor wanderer of the wood and field, The bitter little that of life remains :
No more the thickening brakes or verdant plains
To thee a home, or food, or pastime yield.
Seek, mangled innocent, some wonted form ;