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While birds warble welcome in ilka green
But to me it's delightless my Nannie's awa'.
The snawdrap and primrose our woodlands adorn,
And violets bathe in the weet o' the morn;
They pain my sad bosom, sae sweetly they blaw, They mind me o' Nannie - and Nannie's awa'.
Thou laverock that springs frae the dews of the lawn,
The shepherd to warn o' the gray-breaking dawn;
And thou mellow mavis that hails the night fa', Give over for pity-my Nannie's awa'.
Come autumn, sae pensive, in yellow and gray, And soothe me with tidings o' Nature's decay : The dark dreary winter and wild driving snaw Alane can delight me now Nannie's awa'!
It was probably about February, 1792, that Burns inscribed the following lines in a copy of The World, from which they have been copied.
ILL-FATED genius! Heaven-taught Fergusson!
What heart that feels and will not yield a tear, To think life's sun did set ere well begun
To shed its influence on thy bright career. O why should truest worth and genius pine, Beneath the iron grasp of Want and Wo, While titled knaves and idiot greatness shine In all the splendour Fortune can bestow!
THE DEIL'S AWA' WI' THE EXCISEMAN. TUNE- The Looking-glass.
"At that period  a great deal of contraband traffic, chiefly from the Isle of Man, was going on along the coasts of Galloway and Ayrshire, and the whole of the revenue-officers from Gretna to Dumfries were placed under the orders of a superintendent residing in Annan, who exerted himself zealously in intercepting the descent of the smuggling vessels. On the 27th of February, a suspicious-looking brig was discovered in the Solway Firth, and Burns was one of the party whom the superintendent conducted to watch her motions. She got into shallow water the day afterwards, and the officers were enabled to discover that her crew were numerous, armed, and not likely to yield without a struggle. Lewars, a brother exciseman, an intimate friend of our poet, was accordingly sent to Dumfries for a guard of dragoons; the
superintendent himself, Mr. Crawford, proceeded on a similar errand to Ecclefechan, and Burns was left with some men under his orders, to watch the brig, and prevent landing or escape. From the private journal of one of the excisemen
now in my hands it appears that Burns manifested considerable impatience while thus occupied, being left for many hours in a wet salt-marsh, with a force which he knew to be inadequate to the purpose it was meant to fulfil. One of his comrades hearing him abuse his friend Lewars in particular, for being slow about his journey, the man answered that he also wished the devil had him for his pains, and that Burns in the mean time would do well to indite a song upon the sluggard. Burns said nothing; but after taking a few strides by himself among the reeds and shingle, rejoined his party, and chanted to them the well-known ditty." - LockHART. [See Appendix.]
THE deil cam fiddling through the town,
The deil's awa' wi' the Exciseman;
He's danced awa' wi' the Exciseman!
"We'll mak our maut, we'll brew our drink,
The deil's awa', the deil's awa',
The deil's awa' wi' the Exciseman;
He's danced awa' wi' the Exciseman !
There's threesome reels, there's four- for three, etc. some reels,
There's hornpipes and strathspeys, man;
The deil's awa' wi' the Exciseman ;
He's danced awa' wi' the Exciseman !1
"Such, so delighting and so pure, were the emotions my soul on meeting the other day with Miss Lesley
1 "Lewars arrived shortly after with his dragoons; and Burns, putting himself at their head, waded sword in hand to the brig, and was the first to board her. The crew lost heart, and submitted, though their numbers were greater than those of the assailing force. The vessel was condemned, and, with all her arms and stores, sold next day at Dumfries; upon which occasion, Burns, whose conduct had been highly commended, thought fit to purchase four carronades by way of trophy."-LOCKHART.
Baillie, your neighbour at M[ayfield]. Mr. B., with his two daughters, accompanied by Mr. H. of G., passing through Dumfries a few days ago, on their way to England, did me the honour of calling on me; on which I took my horse- though, God knows, I could ill spare the time and accompanied them fourteen or fifteen miles, and dined and spent the day with them. 'Twas about nine, I think, when I left them, and riding home, I composed the following ballad, of which you will probably think you have a dear bargain, as it will cost you another groat of postage. You must know that there is an old ballad beginning with:
'My bonny Lizzie Baillie,
I'll rowe thee in my plaidie,' etc.
So I parodied it as follows, which is literally the first copy, 'unanointed, unannealed,' as Hamlet says." Burns to Mrs. Dunlop, 22d Aug., 1792.
O SAW ye bonny Lesley,
As she gaed owre the Border?
She's gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests further.
To see her is to love her,
And love but her for ever;
Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects we, before thee;