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"The great Creator to revere,

Must sure become the creature;

But still the preaching cant forbear,
And ev❜n the rigid feature:

Yet ne'er with wits profane to range,
Be complaisance extended;

An Atheist's laugh's a poor exchange
For Deity offended.

When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
Religion may be blinded;
Or, if she gie a random sting,
It may be little minded:

But when on life we're tempest-driven,

A conscience but a canker

A correspondence fixed wi' Heaven,

Is sure a noble anchor."

More than any other man he saw the beauty of a sincere religious life, to a portrayal of which he devoted the best of his poems. His sensibilities were extraordinarily sensitive and strong. "There is scarcely any earthly object," he says, "gives me more I do not know if I should call it pleasure but something which exalts me, something which enraptures me— than to walk in the sheltered side of a wood or high plantation in a cloudy winter day, and hear the stormy wind howling among the trees and raving over the plain. . . . I listened to the birds and frequently turned out of my path, lest I should disturb their little songs or frighten them to another station." With such a sensitive nature it is no wonder that we find contradictions in his poetry. The storm of emotion drives quickly from grave to gay, from high to low. He has written much that ought to be and will be forgotten.

But upon the whole, his poetry is elevating in its tone a treasure for which we


ought to be thankful. It is the voice of a man who, with all his weakness and sin, was still, in his best moments, honest, manly, penetrating, and powerful.



"Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor."


My lov'd, my honour'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 sing, in simple Scottish lays,

The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;
The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
What Aikin 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 labour goes,

This night his weekly moil is at an end,

Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
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, toddlin', stacher thro'

To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noise an' glee.


His wee bit ingle, blinkin' bonnily,

His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee,

Does a' his weary, carking cares beguile,

An' makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.


Belyve, the elder bairns come drappin' in,
At service out, amang the farmers roun':
Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neebor town:

Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown,

In youthfu' bloom, love sparklin' in her e'e, Comes hame, perhaps, to show a braw new gown, Or deposit her sair-won penny fee,

To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.


Wi' joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet,
And each for other's weelfare kindly spiers:
The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnotic'd fleet:
Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears;
The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view;

The mother, wi' her needle an' her shears,

Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.


Their master's an' their mistress's command,
The younkers a' are warnèd to obey;
An' mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
An' ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play:
"An' O! be sure to fear the Lord alway!

An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' night!
Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore his counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain, that sought the Lord aright!"




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-struck, anxious care, inquires his name, While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;

Weel pleas'd the mother hears, it's nae wild, worthless rake.


Wi' kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben:
A strappin' youth; he taks the mother's eye;
Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;

The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,

But blate and laithfu', scarce can weel behave; The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy

What makes the youth sae bashfu' an' sae grave; Weel pleas'd to think her bairn's respected like the lave.


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 heavenly 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 ev'ning gale."


Is there, in human form, that bears a heart-
A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?

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Curse on his perjur'd arts! dissembling smooth!
Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil'd?

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?


But now the supper crowns their simple board,
The halesome parritch, chief o' Scotia's food:
The sowpe 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-hain'd kebbuck fell · An' aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid;

The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell,

How 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i̇' the bell.

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The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,

The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride;
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,

His lyart haffets wearing thin an' 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 solemn 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 beets the heav'nward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays :
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.

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