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Himself, a wife, he thus sustains,
A smytrie1 o' wee duddie2 weans.8
And nought but his han' darg, to keep
Them right and tight in thack1 and rape.5
And when they meet wi' sair disasters,
Like loss o' health or want o' masters,
Ye maist wad think, a wee touch langer,
And they maun starve o' cauld and hunger;
But how it comes, I never kenn'd yet,
They're maistly wonderfu' contented:
And buirdly chiels, and clever hizzies,9
Are bred in sic a way as this is.
But then to see how ye're negleckit,
How huffed, and cuffed, and disrespeckit!
L—, man, our gentry care as little
For delvers, ditchers, and sic cattle;
They gang 10 as saucy by poor folk,
As I wad by a stinkin' brock.11
I've noticed, on our Laird's court-day,
And monie a time my heart's been wae,12
Poor tenant bodies, scant o' cash,
How they maun thole 13 a factor's snash :14
He'll stamp and threaten, curse and swear,
He'll apprehend them, poind 15 their gear;
While they maun stan', wi' aspect humble,
And hear it a', and fear and tremble!
I see how folk live that hae riches;
But surely poor folk maun be wretches!
They're no sae wretched 's ane wad think;
Though constantly on poortith's1 brink:
They're sae accustomed wi' the sight,
The view o''t gies them little fright.
Then chance and fortune are sae guided,
They're aye in less or mair provided;
And though fatigued wi' close employment,
A blink o' rest 's a sweet enjoyment.
The dearest comfort o' their lives,
Their grushie2 weans and faithfu' wives;
The prattling things are just their pride,
That sweetens a' their fireside;
And whyles twalpennie worth o' nappy3
Can mak the bodies unco happy.
They lay aside their private cares,
To mind the Kirk and State affairs:
They'll talk o' patronage and priests,
Wi' kindling fury in their breasts,
Or tell what new taxation 's comin',
And ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.
As bleak-faced Hallowmas returns,
They get the jovial, ranting kirns, 5
When rural life o' every station
Unite in common recreation;
Love blinks, Wit slaps, and social Mirth
Forgets there's Care upo' the earth.
8 ale. 4 wonder. 5 harvest-supper.
That merry day the year begins,
They bar the door on frosty win's;
The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,1
And sheds a heart-inspiring steam :
The luntin' 2 pipe, and sneeshin-mill,3
Are handed round wi' right guidwill;
The cantie auld folks crackin' crouse,
The young anes rantin' through the house-
My heart has been sae fain to see them,
That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.
Still it's owre true that ye hae said,
Sic game is now owre aften played.
There's monie a creditable stock
O' decent, honest, fawsont fo'k
Are riven out baith root and branch,
Some rascal's pridefu' greed to quench,
Wha thinks to knit himsel' the faster
In favour wi' some gentle master,
Wha aiblins thrang a parliamentin',
For Britain's guid his saul indentin'-
Haith' lad, ye little ken about it;
For Britain's guid! guid faith, I doubt it
Say rather, gaun as Premiers lead him,
And saying Ay or No's they bid him :
At operas and plays parading,
Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading
Or maybe, in a frolic daft,8
To Hague or Calais takes a waft,
To mak a tour and tak a whirl,
To learn bon ton, and see the worl'.
There, at Vienna or Versailles,
He rives his father's auld entails;
Or by Madrid he takes the route,
To thrum guitars, and fecht1 wi' nowte;2
Or down Italian vista startles,
W hunting amang groves o' myrtles;
Then bouses drumly German water,
To mak himsel' look fair and fatter,
And clear the consequential sorrows,
Love-gifts of Carnival signoras.
For Britain's guid! - for her destruction!
Wi' dissipation, feud, and faction.
Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate
They waste sae mony a braw 5 estate!
Are we sae foughten and harassed
For gear to gang that gate at last!
Oh would they stay aback frae courts,
And please themsel's wi' country sports,
It wad for every ane be better,
The Laird, the Tenant, and the Cotter!
For thae frank, rantin', ramblin' billies,
Fient haet o' them 's ill-hearted fellows;
Except for breakin' o' their timmer,
Or speakin' lightly o' their limmer,8
Or shootin' o' a hare or moorcock,
The ne'er a bit they're ill to poor folk.
But will ye tell me, Master Cæsar,
Sure great folk's life 's a life o' pleasure;
Nae cauld or hunger e'er can steer them,
The very thought o''t needna fear them.
L—, man, were ye but whyles whare I am,
The gentles ye wad ne'er envý 'em.
It's true they needna starve or sweat,
Through winter's cauld, or simmer's heat;
They 've nae sair wark to craze their banes,
And fill auld age wi' grips and granes;
But human bodies are sic fools,
For a' their colleges and schools,
That when nae real ills perplex them,
They mak enow themsel's to vex them;
And aye the less they hae to sturt1 them,
In like proportion less will hurt them.
A country fellow at the pleugh,
His acre's tilled, he's right eneugh;
A country girl at her wheel,
Her dizzen 2's done, she 's unco weel:
But gentlemen, and ladies warst,
Wi' even-down want o' wark are curst.
They loiter, lounging, lank, and lazy;
Though deil haet ails them, yet uneasy;
Their days insipid, dull, and tastless;
Their nights unquiet, lang, and restless.