« ForrigeFortsæt »
Has oft been stretched to shield the honoured land!
Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire!
Till Fate the curtain drops on worlds to be no more!
"The enclosed I have just wrote, nearly extempore, in a solitary inn at Selkirk, after a miserably wet day's riding." - Burns to William Creech, 13th May,
AULD chuckie 1 Reekie's 2 sair distrest,
Can yield ava,
Her darling bird that she lo❜es best
1 Literally, a hen; secondarily, a familiar term of address: "Gin ony sour-mou'd girning bucky Ca' me conceited keckling chucky."
? Literally, smoky; a familiar sobriquet for Edinburgh, not at all unsuitable.
Oh Willie was a witty wight,
But now they'll busk her like a fright
The stiffest o' them a' he bowed;
Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks,1 and fools,
We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd― fellow — gold Willie's' awa'!
May sprout like simmer puddock-stools toad-stools In glen or shaw;
He wha could brush them down to
The brethren o' the Commerce-Chaumer 2
Amang them a';
1 Gawky, a simpleton; tawpy, usually applied to a foolish, sluttish woman; gowk, literally, the cuckoo; secondarily, a fool.
2 The Chamber of Commerce at Edinburgh, of which Creech was secretary.
I fear they'll now mak monie a stammer
Nae mair we see his levee door
The adjutant o' a' the core
Now worthy Gregory's Latin face,
As Rome ne'er saw;
They a' maun meet some ither place-
Poor Burns e'en Scotch drink canna quicken ; He cheeps like some bewildered chicken, chirps
1 Creech, who, besides being a clever and well-educated man, enjoyed high reputation as a teller of quaint stories, lived on familiar terms with many of the literary men of his day. His house, in one of the elevated floors of a tenement in the High Street, accessible from a wretched alley called Craig's Close, was frequented in the mornings by company of that kind, to such an extent that the meeting used to be called Creech's Levee. Burns here enumerates as attending it, Dr. James Gregory, author of the Conspectus Medicinæ ; Alexander Fraser Tytler, afterwards Lord Woodhouselee; Dr. William Greenfield, professor of rhetoric in the Edinburgh University; Henry Mackenzie, author of The Man of Feeling; and Dugald Stewart, professor of moral philosophy.
Scared frae its minnie and the
Grief's gien his heart an unco kickin'
Now every sour-mou'd girnin'
And Calvin's folk, are fit to fell him;
Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped,
And Ettrick banks now roaring red,
But every joy and pleasure's fled-
His quill may draw;
He wha could brawlie ward their bellum
May I be Slander's common speech,
And lastly, streekit out to bleach
When I forget thee, Willie Creech,
1 A term of contempt:
"She tauld thee weel, thou was a skellum."
May never wicked Fortune touzle him!
Then to the blessèd New Jerusalem
ON INCIVILITY SHEWN HIM AT
WHOE'ER he be that sojourns here,
I pity much his case,
Unless he come to wait upon
The Lord their God
The Duke of Argyle had an overabundance of guests in the castle, and the innkeeper at Inverary was too much occupied with the surplus to have any attention to spare for passing travellers. Hereupon Burns penned an epigram, which it is to be supposed he left inscribed on one of the windows. We must regret this as a discourtesy towards a most respectable nobleman the more so, as the names of the Duke and Duchess of Argyle stand at the head of the subscription for his Poems.