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Now haud you there, for faith you've said
And muckle mair than ye can mak to make through.1
As for your Priesthood I shall say but little,
Nae mair the Council waddles down the street, In all the pomp of ignorant conceit.2
Men wha grew wise priggin' owre hops haggling and raisins,
Or gathered liberal views in bonds and seisins;
1 Inserted in MS. copy:
"That's aye a string auld doited Graybeards harp on,
2 Variation in MS.:
"Nae mair down street the Council quorum waddles,
With comfortable dulness in for ballast:
Nor shoals nor currents need a pilot's caution,
And would to Common-sense for once betrayed
Plain, dull Stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
What further clish-ma-claver might palaver been said,
What bloody wars, if sprites had blood to shed,
They footed o'er the watery glass so neat,
Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs,
1 A well-known performer of Scottish music on the violin. - B. James M'Lachlan, a Highlander, had been once footman to Lord John Campbell at Inverary. He came to Ayrshire in a fencible regiment, and was patronized by Hugh Montgomery of Coilsfield (afterwards Earl of Eglintoune), who was himself both a player and a composer.
And even his matchless hand with finer touch inspired!
No guess could tell what instrument appeared,
The Genius of the stream in front appears, A venerable chief advanced in years; His hoary head with water-lilies crowned, His manly leg with garter tangle bound. Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring, Sweet Female Beauty hand in hand with Spring;
Then, crowned with flowery hay, came Rural
And Summer, with his fervid-beaming eye;
Then Winter's time-bleached locks did hoary show,
By Hospitality with cloudless brow;
1 We have here a compliment to Montgomery of Coilsfield —Soger Hugh—alluded to in the preceding note. Coilsfield is situated on the Feal, or Faile, a tributary of the Ayr.
A female form, came from the towers of Stair; Learning and Worth in equal measures trode. From simple Catrine, their long-loved abode : 2 Last, white-robed Peace, crowned with a hazel wreath,
To rustic Agriculture did bequeath
The broken iron instruments of death;
At sight of whom our Sprites forgat their kindling wrath.
LINES ON MEETING WITH BASIL, LORD
Professor Dugald Stewart, the elegant expositor of the Scottish system of metaphysics, resided at this time in a villa at Catrine, on the Ayr, a few miles from the bard's farm. He had been made acquainted with the extraordinary productions of Burns by Mr. Mackenzie, the clever, liberal-minded surgeon of Mauchline. At the request of the professor, Mackenzie came to dinner at Catrine, accompanied by the poet. Burns was sufficiently embarrassed at the idea of meeting in the flesh a distinguished member of the literary circle of Edinburgh; but, to increase the feeling, there chanced also to be present a young scion of nobility Lord Daer, son of the Earl of Selkirk a positively alarming idea to the rustic
1 A compliment to his early patroness, Mrs. Stewart of Stair. See note to Epistle to Davie, vol. i. p. 63.
2 A compliment to Professor Dugald Stewart.
bard, who had as yet seen nobility no nearer than on the Ayr race-course, or whirling along the road in carriages. Lord Daer, who had been a pupil of Professor Stewart, had called, it appears, by chance. Of the meeting, Burns and Stewart have left their respective records.
THIS Wot ye all whom it concerns,
A ne'er-to-be-forgotten day,
Sae far I sprachled up the brae,
I've been at drucken writers' feasts,
But wi' a Lord! — stand out my shin,
Up higher yet my bonnet!
But oh for Hogarth's magic power !
To shew Sir Bardie's willyart glower, bewildered stare And how he stared and stammer'd,