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Burns had written a letter about the late changes in his circumstances to his venerable friend Blacklock, and intrusted it to Robert Heron, a young scion of the church connected with the south-western district of Scotland, and who was now beginning to busy himself with literary speculations. Heron had proved a faithless messenger, and Blacklock had addressed Burns a rhyming letter of kind inquiries: to which Burns replied as follows.

ELLISLAND, 21st Oct., 1789.

Wow, but your letter made me vauntie! elated And are ye hale, and weel, and cantie? merry I kenned it still your wee bit jauntie,

Wad bring ye to:

Lord send you aye as weel's I want ye,
And then ye'll do.

The ill-thief blaw the Heron south!
And never drink be near his drouth!
He tauld mysel' by word o' mouth,
He'd tak my letter;


I lippened to the chield in trouth,


And bade nae better.


But aiblins honest Master Heron


Had at the time some dainty fair one,

To ware his theologic care on,

And holy study;


And tired o' sauls to waste his lear on, learning E'en tried the body.

But what d'ye think, my trusty fier?
I'm turned a gauger Peace be here!
Parnassian queans, I fear, I fear,

Ye'll now disdain me!

And then my fifty pounds a year
Will little gain me.

Ye glaiket, gleesome, dainty damies,
Wha, by Castalia's wimplin' streamies,

Lowp, sing, and lave your pretty limbies,
Ye ken, ye ken,

That strang Necessity supreme is

’Mang sons o men.

I hae a wife and twa wee laddies,
They maun hae brose and brats o'







suits of clothes

Ye ken yoursels my heart right proud is

I need na vaunt,

But I'll sned besoms

thraw saugh woodies,1

Before they want.

1 Cut birches for brooms, and twist willow twigs to bind

them. Woodies

two or three willow twigs twisted to

Lord, help me through this warld o' care! I'm weary sick o't late and air!

Not but I hae a richer share

Than monie ithers;

But why should ae man better fare,
And a' men brithers?

Come, firm Resolve, take thou the van,
Thou stalk o' carl-hemp 1 in man!

And let us mind, faint heart ne'er wan
A lady fair:

Wha does the utmost that he can,


Will whyles do mair. sometimes

But to conclude my silly rhyme
(I'm scant o' verse, and scant o' time),
To make a happy fireside clime

To weans and wife,

That's the true pathos and sublime
Of human life.

My compliments to Sister Beckie,
And eke the same to honest Lucky;
I wat she is a dainty chuckie,2

little ones

gether, used for binding the end of a broom or birch besom." Dr. Jamieson.

1 The male hemp, that which bears the seed; "Ye have a stalk o' carl-hemp in you," is a Scotch proverb. - Kelly.

2 Chuckie, a familiar term for a hen, transferred endearingly to a matron of the human species.

As e'er tread clay!

And gratefully, my guid auld cockie,
I'm yours for aye.





Francis Grose was a broken-down English gentleman who, under the impulse of poverty, had been induced to exercise considerable literary and artistic talents for the benefit of the public. A large work on the Antiquities of England had been completed some years ago. He had also produced a treatise on Arms and Armour, another on Military Antiquities, and several minor works. The genius and social spirit of the man were scarcely more remarkable than his personal figure, which was ludicrously squat and obese. Grose having made an inroad into Scotland, for the purpose of sketching and chronicling its antiquities, Burns met him at Friars' Carse, and was greatly amused by his aspect and conversation. The comic Muse also caught at the antiquarian enthusiasm as a proper subject.

HEAR, Land o' Cakes, and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's;


1 Maidenkirk is an inversion of the name of Kirkmaiden, in Wigtonshire, the most southerly parish in Scotland.

If there's a hole in a' your coats,

I rede you tent it: advise give heed to

A chiel's amang you taking notes,

And, faith, he'll prent it.

If in your bounds ye chance to light
Upon a fine, fat, fodgel wight,

O' stature short, but genius bright,

That's he, mark weel —

And wow! he has an unco slight

O'cauk and keel.1



By some auld houlet-haunted biggin, owl — building

Or kirk deserted by its riggin',

It's ten to ane ye'll find him snug in

Some eldritch part,

Wi' deils, they say, Lord save's! colleaguin'

At some black art.



Ilk ghaist that haunts auld ha' or chaumer, chamber Ye gipsy-gang that' deal in glamour,


And you deep-read in hell's black grammar,
Warlocks and witches!

Ye'll quake at his conjuring hammer,

Ye midnight bitches.

It's tauld he was a sodger bred,
And ane wad rather fa'n than fled;

But now he's quat the spurtle blade,2

1 Chalk and red or black lead-pencil.


2 A spurtle is a stick with which pottage, gruel, etc., are stirred when boiling; used here like "toasting-iron.”

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