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And spared the symbol dear!
My envy e'er could raise,
I knew nae higher praise.
But still the elements o' sang,
She roused the forming strain.
At every kindling keek,
Health to the sex, ilk guid chiel says,
And we to share in common:
Is rapture-giving woman.
Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name,
That ye're connected with her.
Ilk honest birkie swears.
For you, no bred to barn and byre, cow-house
The marled plaid ye kindly spare, checkered
Or proud imperial purple.
Ne'er at your hallan ca'!
Burns was introduced by his printer to one of those convivial clubs composed of men of good condition which then abounded in Edinburgh, each usually founded upon some whim or conceit which shone
through all its proceedings. The club in question assumed the name of the Crochallan Fencibles, from a composite cause. Its landlord Douglas was noted for singing a beautiful Gaelic song called Crochallan (properly, Cro Chalein that is, Colin's Cattle). This, with the raising of fencible regiments going on at the time to protect the country while the army was chiefly engaged in fighting the American colonists, had given the convivial society an appellation. It was customary to subject a new entrant to a severe ordeal of raillery, by way of proving his temper, and Burns acknowledged that on that happening to himself, he had been "thrashed" in a style beyond all his experience. Here Burns met several of the men whose acquaintance he had previously made at the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, particularly one William Dunbar, an uncommonly merry uproarious good fellow, who in the hours of mirthful relaxation appeared as Colonel of the Crochallans, but in the moments of daylight sobriety, practised as a douce writer to the Signet, from which position he ultimately stepped up to the dignity of Inspector-general of Stamp-duties for Scotland. William Smellie, the printer, has been thus described by Burns.
To Crochallan came, The old cocked-hat, the gray surtout, the same; His bristling beard just rising in its might; 'Twas four long nights and days till shaving
His uncombed grizzly locks, wild staring, thatched
A head for thought profound and clear unmatched;
Yet though his caustic wit was biting rude,
RATTLIN', ROARIN' WILLIE.
Willie Dunbar was commemorated in verses of a different strain. There was an old rough Border ditty referring to a certain Rattling, Roaring Willie, of great celebrity in his day as a wandering violer. To this Burns added a stanza, which we are to take as a picture of the Colonel in his place of command and moment of highest exaltation.
As I cam by Crochallan,
Was sitting at yon boord-en';
And amang gude companie;
Ye're welcome hame to me!
slyly peeped in
INSCRIPTION FOR THE GRAVE OF
HERE LIES ROBERT FERGUSSON, POET.
BORN, SEPTEMBER 5TH, 1751 — DIED, 16TH OCTOBER, 1774.
No sculptured marble here, nor pompous lay,
VERSES UNDER THE PORTRAIT OF
The keen sympathy felt by Burns for Fergusson was expressed on many occasions. Very soon after making the arrangements for the tombstone (March 19, 1787), he presented a copy of the works of the Edinburgh poet to a young lady, and wrote the following lines under the portrait which served for a frontispiece.
CURSE on ungrateful man, that can be pleased, And yet can starve the author of the pleasure! Oh thou, my elder brother in misfortune,