EPISTLE TO DAVIE.
A BROTHER POET.
1 WHILE winds frae off BEN-LOMOND blaw,
2 And bar the doors wi' driving snaw,
3 And hing us owre the ingle,
4 I set me down, to pass the time,
5 And spin a verse or twa o' rhyme,
6 In hamely, westlin jingle. [Page 142]
7 While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
8 Ben to the chimla lug,
9 I grudge a wee the Great-folk's gift,
10 That live fae bien an' snug:
11 I tent less, and want less
12 Their roomy fire-side;
13 But hanker, and canker,
14 To see their cursed pride.
15 It's hardly in a body's pow'r,
16 To keep, at times, frae being sour,
17 To see how things are shar'd;
18 How best o' chiels are whyles in want,
19 While Cooss on countless thousands rant,
20 And ken na how to wair't:
21 But DAVIE lad, ne'er fash your head,
22 Tho' we hae little gear,
23 We're fit to win our daily bread,
24 As lang's we're hale and fier:
25 'Mair spier na, nor fear na,' *
26 Auld age ne'er mind a feg;[Page 143]
27 The last o't, the warst o't,
28 Is only but to beg.
29 To lye in kilns and barns at e'en,
30 When banes are craz'd, and bluid is thin,
31 Is, doubtless, great distress!
32 Yet then content could make us blest;
33 Ev'n then, sometimes we'd snatch a taste
34 Of truest happiness.
35 The honest heart that's free frae a'
36 Intended fraud or guile,
37 However Fortune kick the ba',
38 Has ay some cause to smile:
39 And mind still, you'll find still,
40 A comfort this nae sma';
41 Nae mair then, we'll care then,
42 Nae farther we can fa'.
43 What tho', like Commoners of air,
44 We wander out, we know not where,
45 But either house or hal'? [Page 144]
46 Yet Nature's charms, the hills and woods,
47 The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
48 Are free alike to all.
49 In days when Daisies deck the ground,
50 And Blackbirds whistle clear,
51 With honest joy, our hearts will bound,
52 To see the coming year:
53 On braes when we please then,
54 We'll sit and sowth a tune;
55 Syne rhyme till't, well time till't,
56 And sing't when we hae done.
57 It's no in titles nor in rank;
58 It's no in wealth like Lon'on Bank,
59 To purchase peace and rest;
60 It's no in makin muckle, mair:
61 It's no in books; it's no in Lear,
62 To make us truly blest:
63 If Happiness hae not her seat
64 And center in the breast,
65 We may be wise, or rich, or great,
66 But never can be blest:[Page 145]
67 Nae treasures, nor pleasures
68 Could make us happy lang;
69 The heart ay's the part ay,
70 That makes us right or wrang.
71 Think ye, that sic as you and I,
72 Wha drudge and drive thro' wet and dry
73 Wi' never-ceasing toil;
74 Think ye, are we less blest than they,
75 Wha scarcely tent us in their way,
76 As hardly worth their while?
77 Alas! how aft, in haughty mood,
78 GOD'S creatures they oppress!
79 Or else, neglecting a' that's guid,
80 They riot in excess!
81 Baith careless, and fearless,
82 Of either Heaven or Hell;
83 Esteeming, and deeming,
84 It a' an idle tale!
85 Then let us chearfu' acquiesce;
86 Nor make our scanty Pleasures less,
87 By pining at our state:
88 And, ev'n should Misfortunes come,
89 I, here wha sit, hae met wi' some,
90 An's thankfu' for them yet.
91 They gie the wit of Age to Youth;
92 They let us ken oursel;
93 They make us see the naked truth,
94 The real guid and ill.
95 Tho' losses, and crosses,
96 Be lessons right severe,
97 There's wit there, ye'll get there,
98 Ye'll find nae other where.
99 But tent me, DAVIE, Ace o' Hearts!
100 (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,
101 And flatt'ry I detest)
102 This life has joys for you and I;
103 And joys that riches ne'er could buy;
104 And joys the very best. [Page 147]
105 There's a' the Pleasures o' the Heart,
106 The Lover and the Frien';
107 Ye hae your MEG, your dearest part,
108 And I my darling JEAN!
109 It warms me, it charms me,
110 To mention but her name:
111 It heats me, it beets me,
112 And sets me a' on flame!
113 O, all ye Pow'rs who rule above!
114 O THOU, whose very self art love!
115 THOU know'st my words sincere!
116 The life blood streaming thro' my heart,
117 Or my more dear Immortal part,
118 Is not more fondly dear!
119 When heart-corroding care and grief
120 Deprive my soul of rest,
121 Her dear idea brings relief,
122 And solace to my breast.
123 Thou BEING, Allseeing,
124 O hear my fervent pray'r! [Page 148]
125 Still take her, and make her,
126 THY most peculiar care!
127 All hail! ye tender feelings dear!
128 The smile of love, the friendly tear,
129 The sympathetic glow!
130 Long since, this world's thorny ways
131 Had number'd out my weary days,
132 Had it not been for you!
133 Fate still has blest me with a friend,
134 In ev'ry care and ill;
135 And oft a more endearing band,
136 A tye more tender still.
137 It lightens, it brightens,
138 The tenebrisic scene,
139 To meet with, and greet with,
140 My DAVIE or my JEAN!
141 O, how that name inspires my style!
142 The words come skelpan, rank and file,
143 Amaist before I ken! [Page 149]
144 The ready measure rins as fine,
145 As Phœbus and the famous Nine
146 Were glowran owre my pen.
147 My spavet Pegasus will limp,
148 Till ance he's fairly het;
149 And then he'll hilch, and stilt, and jimp,
150 And rin an unco fit:
151 But least then, the beast then,
152 Should rue this hasty ride,
153 I'll light now, and dight now,
154 His sweaty, wizen'd hide.