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My prenticeship I past where my leader breath'd his last, When the bloody die was cast on the heights of Abram : And I served out my trade when the gallant game was play'd,

And the Moro low was laid at the sound of the drum.

I lastly was with Curtis among the floating batt❜ries,
And there I left for witness an arm and a limb;
Yet let my country need me, with Eliott to head me,
I'd clatter on my stumps at the sound of a drum.

And now tho' I must beg, with a wooden arm and leg,
And many a tatter'd rag hanging over my bum,
I'm as happy with wallet, my bottle and my callet, trull
As when I used in scarlet to follow a drum.

What tho', with hoary locks, I must stand the winter shocks,
Beneath the woods and rocks, oftentimes for a home,
When the tother bag I sell, and the tother bottle tell,
I could meet a troop of hell, at the sound of a drum,
Lal de daudle, &c.

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With the ready trick and fable

Round we wander all the day;
And at night, in barn or stable,
Hug our doxies on the hay.
Does the train-attended carriage
Thro' the country lighter rove?
Does the sober bed of marriage
Witness brighter scenes of love?
Life is all a variorum,

We regard not how it goes;
Let them prate about decorum
Who have character to lose.

Here's to budgets, bags and wallets!

Here's to all the wandering train!
Here's our ragged brats and callets!

One and all, cry out, Amen!

'This puissant and splendid production,' as Matthew Arnold called it, is believed to have been inspired by a visit of the poet

to a lodging-house for beggars kept in Mauchline by Poosie Nansie, otherwise Agnes Ronald, wife of George Gibson, previously convicted by the kirk session of resetting stolen goods. It was written during the Mossgiel period, but was not published during Burns's lifetime.

The Rigs o' Barley.

Chorus-Corn rigs, an' barley rigs,

An' corn rigs are bonie :
I'll ne'er forget that happy night,
Amang the rigs wi' Annie.

It was upon a Lammas night,
When corn rigs are bonie,
Beneath the moon's unclouded light,
I held awa' to Annie;

The time flew by, wi' tentless heed;
Till, 'tween the late and early,
Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed
To see me thro' the barley.

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took my way





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Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae farewell, and then for ever!

Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me :
Dark despair around benights me.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy :
Naething could resist my Nancy!
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met--or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest !
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest !
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae farewell, Alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Sent to Clarinda, 27th December 1791.



Editions, biographies, and estimates of Burns are innumerable. The most notable editions of the poems alone are the Kilmarnock (1786), Edinburgh (1787), London (1787), Edinburgh and London (1793), Centenary Edition by W. E. Henley and T. F. Henderson in 1896. The chief editions with Life and Letters are those of Currie (1800), Allan Cunningham (1834), W. Scott Douglas (1882), and Robert Chambers (1851; revised by present writer in 1896). The best Biography pure and simple is that of Lockhart (1828). The most famous Essays are those of John Wilson (collected works, 1858), Thomas Carlyle (1831), and R. Louis Stevenson (1882).


Richard Gall (1776–1801) was born near Dunbar, and whilst employed as a printer in Edinburgh, threw off some Scottish songs that became favourites. A 'Farewell to Ayrshire' and one or two more were printed as by Burns; the best-known, 'My only jo and dearie,' is rather in Tannahill's manner. One verse runs :

The birdie sings upon the thorn
Its sang o' joy, fu' cheerie O,
Rejoicing in the summer morn,

Nae care to mak it eerie O;
But little kens the sangster sweet
Aught o' the cares I hae to meet,
That gar my restless bosom beat,
My only jo and dearie O.

Lady Nairne (1766-1845), though she lived to near the middle of the nineteenth century, was born but seven years after Burns, and was writing verses in 1792. Carolina Oliphant, born at the 'auld house' of Gask in Perthshire, was the third daughter of its Jacobite laird. In 1806 she married her second cousin, Major William Murray Nairne (1757-1830), who in 1824, on the restoration of the attainted Scottish peerages, became the sixth Lord Nairne; to him she bore one son, William (1808-37). They settled near Edinburgh, and after her husband's death the Baroness Nairne lived for three years in Ireland, then for nine on the Continent, returning at last to the new house of Gask-the old one had been pulled down in 1801. Her eighty-seven songs appeared first under the pseudonym 'Mrs Bogan of Bogan' or 'B. B.' in The Scottish Minstrel (1821-24), and posthumously under her own name as Lays from Strathearn. Her songs show, in the poetic-reminiscence stage, the family Jacobitism; but no Jacobite in his own day ever concealed his colours with more jealous care and elaborate pains than all her life long Lady Nairne did her authorship. Not a few of her songs are substantially recastings and adaptations of old popular favourites in the tone of which there was something to disapprove. But some of them-including a few incorporating old fragments are pure inspirations, true and all but perfect lyrics, in poetic worth coming nearest to Burns's best; as many as eight or ten of them live in the hearts of the Scottish people with the airs to which they are wedded-the exquisite 'Land o' the Leal' (c. 1798) and 'Caller Herrin', 'The Laird o' Cockpen,' 'The Auld House,' 'The Rowan Tree,' 'The Hundred Pipers,' 'He's owre the hills that I lo'e weel,' 'Will ye no come back again?' and 'Charlie is my Darling'-a list which indicates the variety of the notes she struck. The last two, though there were older songs with the same title and to the same general purpose, have completely superseded the other versions. 'Farewell, Edinburgh,' is also well known in Scotland; and Would you be young again' reveals the characteristic temper of Lady Nairne's later years. Her Jacobitism, like Burns's, Scott's, Hogg's, and that of the writers of almost all the best-known Jacobite songs, was historical, sentimental, poetical, and entirely consistent with the most perfect loyalty to the reigning House; Queen Victoria had no more faithful subject than this beloved and idealised champion of Prince Charlie's claims on romantic affection, who took a lively interest in Christian missions, in church extension, and in all philanthropic schemes. It should be added that in the songs the words often convey quite obviously the thoughts of a lady born, not of colliers or fishwives, and the Scotch is the Scotch of one bred to speak and write English habitually. Angels do not beckon in Scotch; dwell and well rhyme conveniently in 'The Laird o' Cockpen,' but should be dwall and

weel; throughout Scotland willows are always saughs, and billows is a word wholly alien to the dialect of Newhaven.

The Land o' the Leal.

I'm wearin' awa, John,

Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John;
I'm wearin' awa'

To the land o' the leal.

There's nae sorrow there, John;

There's neither cauld nor care, John; The day's aye fair

In the land o' the leal.

Our bonny bairn 's there, John;
She was baith gude and fair, John;
And, oh! we grudged her sair

To the land o' the leal.

But sorrow's sel' wears past, JohnAnd joy 's a-comin' fast, JohnThe joy that 's aye to last

In the land o' the leal.

Sae dear's that joy was bought, John,
Sae free the battle fought, John,
That sinfu' man e'er brought
To the land o' the leal.

Oh, dry your glistening ee, John!
My saul langs to be free, John !
And angels beckon me

To the land o' the leal.

Oh, haud ye leal and true, John !

Your day it's wearin' through, John ; And I'll welcome you

To the land o' the leal.

Now, fare-ye-weel, my ain John;
This warld's cares are vain, John;
We'll meet, and we 'll be fain,

In the land o' the leal.

Leal, another form of legal and loyal, means in Middle English and Scotch loyal, faithful, honest, true, lawful, just, fair, and noble, and lives on in the dialects of the north of England and Scotland. In this particular case the 'land of the true-hearted' is obviously meant for the home of the faithful, heaven.

The Laird o' Cockpen.

The Laird o' Cockpen he's proud and he's great,
His mind is ta'en up with the things o' the state;
He wanted a wife his braw house to keep,

But favour wi' wooin' was fashious to seek. troublesome

Down by the dyke-side a lady did dwell,

At his table-head he thought she'd look well;
M'Clish's ae daughter o' Claverse-ha' Lee,
A penniless lass wi' a lang pedigree.



His wig was weel pouthered, and as gude as new ;
His waistcoat was white, his coat it was blue;
He put on a ring, a sword, and cocked hat;
And wha could refuse the Laird wi' a' that?
He took the gray mare, and rade cannilie,
And rapped at the yett o' Claverse-ha' Lee:
'Gae tell Mistress Jean to come speedily ben,
She's wanted to speak wi' the Laird o' Cockpen.
Mistress Jean she was makin' the elder-flower wine:
'And what brings the Laird at sic a like time?'


She put aff her apron, and on her silk gown,
Her mutch wi' red ribbons, and gaed awa' down.
And when she cam ben, he bowed fu' low,
And what was his errand he soon let her know;
Amazed was the Laird when the lady said 'Na;'
And wi' a laigh curtsey she turned awa’.
Dumfoundered he was, but nae sigh did he gie;
He mounted his mare-he rade cannilie ;
And aften he thought, as he gaed through the glen,
She's daft to refuse the Laird o' Cockpen.

[And now that the Laird his exit had made,
Mistress Jean she reflected on what she had said;
'Oh! for ane I'll get better, it's waur I'll get ten-

I was daft to refuse the Laird o' Cockpen,'


Next time that the Laird and the lady were seen, They were gaun arm in arm to the kirk on the green; Now she sits in the ha' like a weel-tappit henBut as yet there's nae chickens appeared at Cockpen.] The last two verses were added by Miss Ferrier, authoress of Marriage, and are now always printed as part of the song.

Caller Herrin'.

fresh, new-caught

Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
They 're bonny fish and halesome farin';
Wha 'll buy my caller herrin',

New drawn frae the Forth?

When ye were sleepin' on your pillows,
Dreamed ye aught o' our puir fellows,
Darkling as they faced the billows,

A' to fill the woven willows?

Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.

Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?

They're no brought here without brave darin'.
Buy my caller herrin',

Hauled through wind and rain,

Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.
Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
Oh, ye may ca' them vulgar farin',
Wives and mithers maist despairin'
Ca' them lives o' men.

Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.
When the creel o' herrin' passes,
Ladies, clad in silks and laces,
Gather in their braw pelisses,
Cast their heads and screw their faces.
Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.
Caller herrin''s no got lightly,
Ye can trip the spring fu' tightly,
Spite o' tauntin', flauntin', flingin',
Gow has set you a' a-singin'.

Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.
Neebour wives, now tent my tellin':
When the bonny fish ye 're sellin',

At ae word be in your dealin';

Truth will stand when a' thing's failin'.

Wha 'll buy my caller herrin'? &c.

Neil Gow (1727-1807) was a violinist and composer, famous for strathspeys and reels; so was his son Nathaniel, for whom this song was written and by whom the tune was composed. Dr Charles Rogers wrote the Life and Songs of Lady Nairne (1869), and there is a small work on her by the Rev. Geo. Henderson (1800); see also Kington Oliphant's Jacobite Lairds of Gask (1870).

Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), a lyrical poet, some of whose songs rival all but the best of Burns's in popularity, was born in Paisley, and, early sent to the loom, continued to follow the staple trade of his native town until his twenty-sixth year, when, with one of his younger brothers, he removed to Lancashire. There he continued two years, till, hearing of his father's ill-health, he returned in time to receive his dying blessing. Soon after he wrote to a friend : 'My brother Hugh and I are all that now remain at home with our old mother, bending under age and frailty; and but seven years back nine of us used to sit at dinner together.' In The Filial Vow he inscribed this monument to her memory:

'Twas hers to guide me through life's early day,
To point out virtue's paths, and lead the way :
Now, while her powers in frigid languor sleep,
'Tis mine to hand her down life's rugged steep;
With all her little weaknesses to bear,
Attentive, kind, to soothe her every care.
'Tis nature bids, and truest pleasure flows
From lessening an aged parent's woes.

The lines indicate the writer's filial piety, but their inferiority to his Scottish songs shows how little at home he was in English poetry. Though Tannahill, an enthusiastic student of Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns, composed verses from a very early age, it was not till after this time that he passed mediocrity. Encouraged by R. A. Smith, a musician and composer, he applied himself sedulously to song-writing; and when Smith had set some of his songs to original airs, he in 1807 ventured on the publication of a volume of poems and songs, of which the first impression, consisting of nine hundred copies, was sold in a few weeks. He afterwards contributed songs to George Thomson's Select Melodies. Meanwhile he himself, always reserved, shy, and of slight and feeble physique, fell into a state of morbid despondency, aggravated by bodily weakness and a phthisical tendency. He had prepared a new edition of his poems for the press; but when Constable the publisher returned the copy because he already had on hand more new works than he could undertake that season, the disappointment preyed on the spirits of the sensitive poet; he burnt the manuscripts of a hundred new songs, and sank into a state of profound melancholia. One night in May 1810 he left his bedroom unperceived, and next day his body was found in the canal. The longer poems of this modest, ill-starred weaverpoet are greatly inferior to his songs, and are commonplace and artificial; but some of the lyrics are original, sincere, and touching, though often over-sentimental, and disfigured (e.g. the 'Flower o' Dumblane') by appallingly prosaic phrases. He is mainly remembered for about halfa-dozen songs, including, besides those given below, 'Loudon's Bonnie Woods and Braes' and 'The

Bonnie Wood o' Craigielea.' Semple in his edition of the Poems (with Life, 1876) has restored' the Scots words to his idea of propriety and regularity. The Braes o' Balquhither.

Let us go, lassie, go,

To the braes o' Balquhither, Where the blae-berries grow

'Mang the bonny Highland heather; Where the deer and the rae,

Lightly bounding together,
Sport the lang simmer day
On the braes o' Balquhither.

I will twine thee a bower
By the clear siller fountain,
And I'll cover it o'er

Wi' the flowers of the mountain;

I will range through the wilds,
And the deep glens sae drearie,
And return wi' their spoils

To the bower o' my dearie.
When the rude wintry win'

Idly raves round our dwelling, And the roar of the linn

On the night-breeze is swelling, So merrily we'll sing,

As the storm rattles o'er us, Till the dear shieling ring

Wi' the light lilting chorus. Now the simmer's in prime

Wi' the flowers richly blooming, And the wild mountain thyme

A' the moorlands perfuming; To our dear native scenes

Let us journey together, Where glad innocence reigns 'Mang the braes o' Balquhither.


The Braes o' Gleniffer.
Keen blaws the wind o'er the braes o' Gleniffer;
The auld castle turrets are covered wi' snaw;
How changed frae the time when I met wi' my lover

Amang the broom bushes by Stanley green shaw ! The wild-flowers o' simmer were spread a' sae bonnie, The mavis sang sweet frae the green birken tree; But far to the camp they hae marched my dear Johnie, And now it is winter wi' nature and me.

Then ilk thing around us was blythesome and cheerie,
Then ilk thing around us was bonny and braw;
Now naething is heard but the wind whistling drearie,
And naething is seen but the wide-spreading snaw.
The trees are a' bare, and the birds mute and dowie ; sad
They shake the cauld drift frae their wings as they flee ;
And chirp out their plaints, seeming wae for my Johnie;
'Tis winter wi' them, and 'tis winter wi' me.
Yon cauld sleety cloud skiffs alang the bleak mountain,
And shakes the dark firs on the steep rocky brae,
While down the deep glen brawls the snaw-flooded

That murmured sae sweet to my laddie and me.
It's no its loud roar on the wintry wind swellin',
It's no the cauld blast brings the tear to my ee;
For oh gin I saw but my bonny Scots callan,
The dark days o' winter were simmer to me.


The Flower o' Dumblane.

The sun has gane down o'er the lofty Ben-Lomond,
And left the red clouds to preside o'er the scene,
While lanely I stray in the calm simmer gloamin,

To muse on sweet Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.
How sweet is the brier, wi' its saft fauldin' blossom!
And sweet is the birk, wi' its mantle o' green;
Yet sweeter and fairer, and dear to this bosom,

Is lovely young Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane,

She's modest as ony, and blithe as she's bonny;
For guileless simplicity marks her its ain:
And far be the villain, divested of feeling,

Wha'd blight in its bloom the sweet flower o' Dumblane.
Sing on, thou sweet mavis, thy hymn to the e'ening;
Thou 'rt dear to the echoes of Calderwood glen :
Sae dear to this bosom, sae artless and winning,

Is charming young Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.

How lost were my days till I met wi' my Jessie !
The sports o' the city seemed foolish and vain ;

I ne'er saw a nymph I would ca' my dear lassie,
Till charmed wi' sweet Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.
Though mine were the station o' loftiest grandeur,
Amidst its profusion I'd languish in pain,
And reckon as naething the height o' its splendour,
If wanting sweet Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.

Gloomy Winter's now Awa'.
Gloomy winter's now awa';
Saft the westlin breezes blaw;
'Mang the birks o' Stanley-shaw

The mavis sings fu' cheerie O.
Sweet the craw-flower's early bell
Decks Gleniffer's dewy dell,
Blooming like thy bonny sel',

My young, my artless dearie O.
Come, my lassie, let us stray
O'er Glenkilloch's sunny brae,
Blithely spend the gowden day
Midst joys that never wearie O.
Towering o'er the Newton woods,
Laverocks fan the snaw-white clouds;
Siller saughs, wi' downie buds,

Adorn the banks sae brierie O.
Round the sylvan fairy nooks,
Feathery breckans fringe the rocks,
'Neath the brae the burnie jouks,

And ilka thing is cheerie O.
Trees may bud, and birds may sing,
Flowers may bloom, and verdure spring,
Joy to me they canna bring,

Unless wi' thee, my dearie O.

Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822), of Auchinleck in Ayrshire, eldest son of Johnson's biographer, was a man of many accomplishments, but is now remembered for his tragic fate and for his songs, such as 'Auld Gudeman, ye're a Drucken Carle;' 'Jenny's Bawbee;' and 'Jenny dang the Weaver,' rough but characteristic genrepictures rich in a kind of comic humour; the less rude 'Good-night and Joy be wi' ye a' is also still popular. Educated at Westminster and Oxford, in 1803 he printed a volume of Songs

chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. In 1810 he published a somewhat overdrawn Scottish dialogue, in the style of Fergusson, called Edinburgh, or the Ancient Royalty; a Sketch of Manners, by Simon Gray. Other poems were Clan Alpin's Vow (1811), a tragic Highland tale, based on the record in the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland for 1589, and Sir Albyn, a burlesque. Skeldon Haughs was a rhymed version of an old Ayrshire legend. Some of his best songs were among the twelve he contributed to Thomson's Select Collection (1817). His unfinished and not very brilliant anticipation of Byron, An Epistle to the Edinburgh Reviewers (1803), contains some smart couplets :

All are not damned you happen to dislike;

All turn not marble whom your glances strike. ...
When the fierce tiger rages o'er the land,
Then to the chase, ye hunters, in a band! . . .
But where's the honour, where's the mighty feat,
To seize a victim that can only bleat?
Why tinge with red the unassuming cheek,
Or tear a linnet with a vulture's beak? . . .
Is he a lion who can gorge a rat?

Is he Goliath who can crush a gnat?

Boswell did much to stimulate his countrymen to
honour Burns's memory, securing the erection of
the monument on the Doon; and for two or three
years sat in Parliament for Plympton in Devon-.
shire. Sir Alexander, created a baronet in 1821
for a (poor but) loyal song, 'Long live George the
Fourth,' was an ardent lover of our early literature,
and at his private printing-press at Auchinleck
House reprinted a series of rare works, both English
and Scottish, some of the earlier ones with his own
hand. When politics ran high he wrote some
personal pasquinades, for one of which he received
a challenge from Mr Stuart of Dunearn, and the
parties met at Auchtertool in Fifeshire. Stuart's
shot took effect and the Tory baronet fell, dying
from the wound on the following day, the 27th of
March 1822. He was a hearty, high-spirited man,
tall and of imposing presence, fond of field sports,
and in almost every way (even in his literary gifts
and interests) very unlike his father. His brother,
James Boswell (1778-1822), an accomplished scholar
and student, edited Malone's edition of Shakespeare
(21 vols. 8vo, 1821). From James's funeral Sir
Alexander returned straight to his fatal encounter
with Mr Stuart.

Jenny dang the Weaver.
At Willie's wedding on the green,
The lasses, bonny witches!
Were a' dressed out in aprons clean,

And braw white Sunday mutches:
Auld Maggie bade the lads tak' tent,
But Jock would not believe her;
But soon the fool his folly kent,
For Jenny dang the weaver.
And Jenny dang, Jenny dang,
Jenny dang the weaver;
But soon the fool his folly kent,
For Jenny dang the weaver.

caps take heed

defeated, balked, jilted

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