‘Twas in that place o’ Scotland’s isle,
That bears the name o’ auld King Coil,
Upon a bonie day in June,
When wearin’ thro’ the afternoon,
Twadogs, that were na thrangat hame,
Forgather’d anceupon a time.
The first I’ll name, they ca’d him Caesar,
Was keepit for His Honor’s pleasure:
His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,
Shew’d he was naneo’ Scotland’s dogs;
But whalpit some place far abroad,
Whare sailors gang to fish for cod.
His locked, letter’d, braw brass collar
Shew’d him the gentleman an’ scholar;
But though he was o’ high degree,
The fient apride, nae pride had he;
But wad hae spent anhour caressin,
Ev’n wi’ al tinkler-gipsy’s messin:
At kirk or market, mill or smiddie,
Nae tawtedtyke, tho’ e’er sae duddie,
But he wad stan’t, as glad to see him,
An’ stroan’t on stanes an’ hillocks wi’ him.
The titherwas a ploughman’s collie-
A rhyming, ranting, raving billie,
Wha for his friend an’ comrade had him,
And in freak had Luath ca’d him,
After some dog in Highland Sang,^2
Was made lang syne,-Lord knows how lang.
He was a gashan’ faithfu’ tyke,
As ever lapa sheughor dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws’ntface
Aye gat him friends in ilka place;
His breast was white, his touzie back
Weelclad wi’ coat o’ glossy black;
His gawsietail, wi’ upward curl,
Hung owre his hurdie’s wi’ a swirl.
Nae doubt but they were fain o’ ither,
And unco pack an’ thickthegither;
Wi’ social nose whiles snuff’d an’ snowkit;
Whiles mice an’ moudiewortsthey howkit;
Whiles scour’d awa’ in lang excursion,
An’ worry’d ither in diversion;
Until wi’ daffin’ weary grown
Upon a knowethey setthem down.
An’ there began a langdigression.
About the “lords o’ the creation.”
I’ve aften wonder’d, honest Luath,
What sort o’ life poor dogs like you have;
An’ when the gentry’s life I saw,
What way poor bodies liv’d ava.
Our lairdgets in his racked rents,
His coals, his kane, an’ a’ his stents:
He rises when he likes himsel’;
His flunkies answer at the bell;
He ca’s his coach; he ca’s his horse;
He draws a boniesilken purse,
As lang’s my tail, where, thro’ the steeks,
The yellow letter’d Geordiekeeks.
Frae morn to e’en, it’s nought but toiling
At baking, roasting, frying, boiling;
An’ tho’ the gentry first are stechin,
Yet ev’n the ha’ folkfill their pechan
Wi’ sauce, ragouts, an’ sic like trashtrie,
That’s little short o’ downright wastrie.
Our whipper-in, wee, blasted wonner,
Poor, worthless elf, it eats a dinner,
Better than ony tenant-man
His Honour has in a’ the lan’:
An’ what poor cot-folk pittheir painchin,
I own it’s past my comprehension.
Trowth, Caesar, whiles they’re fash’teneugh:
A cottar howkin in a sheugh,
Wi’ dirty stanes biggina dyke,
Baring a quarry, an’ sic like;
Himsel’, a wife, he thus sustains,
A smytrieo’ wee duddieweans,
An’ nought but his han’-daurk, to keep
Them right an’ tightin thackan’ rape.
An’ when they meet wi’ sair disasters,
Like loss o’ health or want o’ masters,
Ye maistwad think, a wee touch langer,
An’ they maun starve o’ cauld an’ hunger:
But how it comes, I never kent yet,
They’re maistly wonderfu’ contented;
An’ buirdlychiels, an’ clever hizzies,
Are bred in sic a way as this is.
But then to see how ye’re negleckit,
How huff’d, an’ cuff’d, an’ disrespeckit!
Lord man, our gentry care as little
For delvers, ditchers, an’ sic cattle;
They gang as saucy by poor folk,
As I wad by a stinkin brock.
I’ve notic’d, on our laird’s court-day, –
An’ mony a time my heart’s been wae, –
Poor tenant bodies, scant o’cash,
How they maun tholea factor’s snash;
He’ll stamp an’ threaten, curse an’ swear
He’ll apprehend them, poindtheir gear;
While they maun stan’, wi’ aspect humble,
An’ hear it a’, an’ fear an’ tremble!
I see how folk live that hae riches;
But surely poor-folk maunbe wretches!
They’re nosae wretched’s ane wad think.
Tho’ constantly on poortith’s brink,
They’re sae accustom’d wi’ the sight,
The view o’t gives them little fright.
Then chance and fortune are sae guided,
They’re aye in less or mairprovided:
An’ tho’ fatigued wi’ close employment,
A blinko’ rest’s a sweet enjoyment.
The dearest comfort o’ their lives,
Their grushie weans an’ faithfu’ wives;
The prattling things are just their pride,
That sweetens a’ their fire-side.
An’ whiles twalpennie wortho’ nappy
Can mak the bodies unco happy:
They lay aside their private cares,
To mindthe Kirkand State affairs;
They’ll talk o’ patronage an’ priests,
Wi’ kindling fury i’ their breasts,
Or tell what new taxation’s comin,
An’ ferlieat the folk in Lon’on.
As bleak-fac’d Hallowmass returns,
They getthe jovial, rantin kirns,
When rural life, of ev’ry station,
Unite in common recreation;
Love blinks, Wit slaps, an’ social Mirth
Forgets there’s Care upo’ the earth.
That merry day the year begins,
They bar the door on frosty win’s;
The nappyreeks wi’ mantling ream,
An’ sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
The luntinpipe, an’ sneeshin mill,
Are handed round wi’ right guid will;
The cantieauld folks crackin crouse,
The young anesrantin thro’ the house-
My heart has been sae fainto see them,
That I for joy hae barkit wi’ them.
Still it’s owre true that ye hae said,
Sic game is now owre aftenplay’d;
There’s mony a creditable stock
O’ decent, honest, fawsontfolk,
Are riven out baithroot an’ branch,
Some rascal’s pridefu’ greed to quench,
Whathinks to knit himsel the faster
In favour wi’ some gentle master,
Wha, aiblins, thranga parliamentin,
For Britain’s guid his saulindentin-
Haith, lad, ye little kenabout it:
For Britain’s guid! guidfaith! I doubt it.
Say rather, gaunas Premiers lead him:
An’ saying ay or no’s they bidhim:
At operas an’ plays parading,
Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading:
Or maybe, in a frolic daft,
To Hague or Calais takes a waft,
To mak a tour an’ taka whirl,
To learn bon ton, an’ see the worl’.
There, at Vienna, or Versailles,
He rives his father’s auld entails;
Or by Madrid he takes the rout,
To thrum guitars an’ fechtwi’ nowt;
Or down Italian vista startles,
Whore-hunting amanggroves o’ myrtles:
Then bowses drumlieGerman-water,
To mak himsellook fair an’ fatter,
An’ clear the consequential sorrows,
Love-gifts of Carnival signoras.
For Britain’s guid! for her destruction!
Wi’ dissipation, feud, an’ faction.
Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate
They waste sae mony a brawestate!
Are we saefoughtenan’ harass’d
For gearto gangthat gateat last?
O would they stay aback fraecourts,
An’ please themsels wi’ country sports,
It wad for ev’ry anebe better,
The laird, the tenant, an’ the cotter!
For thaefrank, rantin, ramblin billies,
Feinthaeto’ them’s ill-hearted fellows;
Except for breakin o’ their timmer,
Or speakin lightlyo’ their limmer,
Or shootin of a hare or moor-cock,
The ne’er-a-bit they’re ill to poor folk,
But will ye tell me, Master Caesar,
Sure great folk’s life’s a life o’ pleasure?
Nae cauldnor hunger e’ercan steer them,
The very thought o’tneed na fear them.
Lord, man, were ye but whiles whare I am,
The gentles, ye wadne’er envy them!
It’s true, they need nastarve or sweat,
Thro’ winter’s cauld, or simmer’s heat:
They’ve nae sairwark to craze their banes,
An’ fill auldage wi’ grips an’ granes:
But human bodies are sic fools,
For a’ their colleges an’ schools,
That when naereal ills perplex them,
They makenowthemsel’s to vex them;
An’ aye the less they haeto sturtthem,
In like proportion, less will hurt them.
A country fellow at the pleugh,
His acre’s till’d, he’s right eneugh;
A country girl at her wheel,
Her dizzen’s dune, she’s uncoweel;
But gentlemen, an’ ladies warst,
Wi’ ev’n-down want o’ warkare curst.
They loiter, lounging, lank an’ lazy;
Tho’ deil-haetails them, yet uneasy;
Their days insipid, dull, an’ tasteless;
Their nights unquiet, lang, an’ restless.
An’ev’n their sports, their balls an’ races,
Their galloping throughpublic places,
There’s sic parade, sicpomp, an’ art,
The joy can scarcely reach the heart.
The men cast out in party-matches,
Then sowthera’ in deep debauches.
Aenight they’re mad wi’ drink an’ whoring,
Niest day their life is past enduring.
The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters,
As great an’ gracious a’ as sisters;
But hear their absent thoughts o’ither,
They’re a’run-deilsan’ jads thegither.
Whiles, owre the weebitcup an’ platie,
They sip the scandal-potion pretty;
Orlee-langnights, wi’ crabbit leuks
Pore owrethe devil’s pictur’d beuks;
Stake on a chance a farmer’s stackyard,
An’ cheat like ony unhanged blackguard.
There’s some exceptions, man an’ woman;
But this is gentry’s life in common.
Bythis, the sun was out of sight,
An’ darker gloaminbrought the night;
The bum-clockhumm’d wi’lazy drone;
The kyestood rowtin i’the loan;
When up they gatan’ shook their lugs,
Rejoic’d they werenamen butdogs;
An’each took affhis several way,
Resolv’d to meet some itherday.