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F. Alas! alas ! pray end what you began, And write next winter more Ejays on Man.
The Cotter's Saturday Night.
Inscribed to R. A****, Esq.
Let not Ambition mark their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure ;
Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short but simple annals of the poor. GRAY. MY
Y loved, my honor'd, much respected friend!
No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end, My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise : To you I ling, in simple Scotish lays The lowly train in life's fequefter'd scene; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways, What A**** in a cottage would have been ; Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh ;. The short’ning winter day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh; The black’ning trains o'craws to their repose : The toil-worn Cotter frae his labor goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hacs, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree ;
Th' expectant wee things, toddling, flacher through
Te meet their dad, wi' flichtrim noise and glce,
His wee-bit ingle blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty, wifie's smiley.
The lifping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
And makes him quite forget his labor and histoils
Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out, amang the farmers roun’;
Some ca' the pleugh, fome herd, fome tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neebor town:
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown,
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Comes hame, perhaps, to sew a braw new gowng
Or deposit her fair-won penny fee,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardships be..
With joy unfeign’d, brothers and sisters meet,
And each for other's welfare kindly spiers ;
The social hours, swift-wing?d unnoticed fleet ;
Each tells the unco's that he fees or hears,
The parents, partial
, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view;
The mother wi' her needle and her fheers,
Gars auld claes look almaist as weel's the new ;
The father mixes a' wi’ admonition due,
Their mallers and their mistrelles command,
The youngkers a'are warned to obey ;
And mind their labours wi' an eydent hand.
And ne'er, tho' out of sight, to jank or play :
And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway!
And mind your duty, daily morn and night!
Left in temptation's path ye gang aftray,
Implore his council and aslifting might:
They never fought in vain that sought the LORD arighta
But hark ! a rap comes gently to the door ;
Jenny wha kens the meaning o' the same,
Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor,
To do some errands and convoy her hame,
The wily mother sees the conscious flame,
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek,
With heart-ftruck anxious care, enquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak :
Weel pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild worthless rake
With kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;
A ftrappan youth he takes the mother's eye:
Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill taen,
The father cracks of horses pleughs and kye..
The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,
But blate and baithfu', scarce can weel behave;
The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy,
What makes the youth fac bashfu', and fae grave:
Well pleased to think her bairn's respected like the laves
O happy love! where love like this is found !
O heart-felt raptures bliss beyond compare !
I've paced much this weary mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare-
If Heaven a draught of heav'nly pleasure spare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gales.
Is there in human form that bears a heart,
A wretch, a villain ! loft to love and truth,
That can, with ftudied, fly, enfnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
Curse on his perjured arts ! dissembling smooth!
Are Honour, Virtue, Conscience, all exiled ?
Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
Then paints the ruin’d maid, and their distraction wild I
But now the supper crowns their simple board,
The healsome parritch, chief of Scotia's food;
The foupe their only hawkie does afford,
That yont the hallan snugly chows her cood :
The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
To grace the lad, her weel-hained kebbuck fell,
And aft he's press’d and aft he ca's it guid ;
The frugal wifie, garrulous will tell,
How.'twas a towmond auld, fin' lint was i' the bell..
The chearfu' fupper done, wi' serious face,
They round the ingle form a circle wide ;
The Sire turns o’er the, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride :
His bonnet rey’rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare ;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care :
And let us worship God,' he says, with folemn air,
They chant their artless notes in simple guise ;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beats the heav'nward flame
The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays :
Coinpared with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickled ears no heart-felt raptures
Nae unison hae they, with our Creator's praise :
The priell-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high ;
Or, Mofes bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny ;
Or how the royal Bard did groaning lie,
Beneath the stroke of Heav'ns avenging ire ;
Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry ;
Or rapi Isaiuh's wild féraphic fire,
Or ocher holy seers that tune the facred lyres
arra' bin inn