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cocious than himself. Fergusson's achievements in verse are the starting-points of Burns' triumphs. He who opens Fergusson's volume in the expectation of finding another Burns is destined to be disappointed. But he is likely to be consoled for this disap pointment by the discovery that not a few of the marked qualities of the poetry of the later singer characterise, as if in immature form, the verse of his predecessor. There are present in the poems of each the same easy artless versification, the same love of nature and of human nature, the same humour, the same philosophy of common sense applied to social life, the same lively imagination; only what is ripe incomparable genius in the one is no more than precocious and surprising talent in the other. In this light it is fair to Fergusson as well as to Burns, and not injurious to the reputation of the younger poet, to compare Braid Claith (p. 505) with The Epistle to a Young Friend, or the Ode to the Gowdspink with The Mouse or The Mountain Daisy. Between Burns and his predecessor too there is this link of connection—the English poems of the one are of as little account as those of the other.

Precocity, which is usually a disease accompanying other diseases and symptomatic of them, from the first marked Fergusson for its own. All through his school and university course he was sickly, gentle and amiable, surprisingly quick and clever, a prodigy destined to an early grave. At twenty-one he is the most famous Scotch poet of his day, and his poems, apart from some pastorals which had served the purpose of poetical exercises, are chiefly short pieces in which he celebrates the life which he knows best, that of an Edinburgh clerk, and the life which he loves best, that of country swains. It is with much of the grace and gaiety of Horace growing old and mellow, secure of fame and wine and friendship and mastery of his art, that the starved young Edinburgh clerk sings of scenes of gaiety and mild dissipation, in which his part was more fatal to his health than discreditable to his character, and from these noctes ambrosianae turns to the farmer's ingle, and the frolic and innocent and healthy life of the denizens of meadows and uplands remote from towns. As if he were old before his time, he is little inspired by the passion from which the Greek dramatist was happy to be delivered by age, and from which Burns had no wish ever to escape. Similarly he is a city spark and a satirist of the city magistrates and the city guard, rather in the genial, reflective, humorous mood of the decline of life than with

the passionateness of youth. His range of subjects is narrowed by the narrow space of a career which began at twenty-one and was finished at twenty-four. He had a keen enjoyment of city life, with its clubs for a little dissipation, and its bailies and its 'black banditti' for a constant occasion of laughter. Still more keen on his part was that enjoyment of the country, the pleasures of which he seldom tasted except in imagination, but which supplies the inspiration of some of his most touching verses, as well as of some of his admirable mock heroics. We alternate in his verse between these two sets of themes, and in his treatment of both we meet with the same vein of pure pathos, and its almost unfailing accompaniment of genuine humour.



[Corresponding in Scotland to Christmas holidays in England.]


Now mirk1 December's dowie 2 face
Glowrs owr the rigs wi' sour grimace,
While, thro' his minimum of space,
The bleer-ey'd sun,
Wi' blinkin light and stealing pace,
His race doth run.


⚫ shelter.

From naked groves nae birdie sings;
To shepherd's pipe nae hillock rings;
The breeze nae od'rous flavour brings
From Borean cave;

And dwyning Nature droops her wings,
Wi' visage grave.

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Mankind but scanty pleasure glean
Frae snawy hill or barren plain,
Whan Winter, 'midst his nipping train,
Wi' frozen spear,
Sends drift owr a' his bleak domain,
And guides the weir.
Auld Reikie! thou'rt the canty hole,
A bield for mony caldrife" soul,
Wha snugly at thine ingle loll,

Baith warm and couth ;
While round they gar the bicker' roll
To weet their mouth.
When merry Yule-day comes, I trow,
You'll scantlins find a hungry mou;
Sma' are our cares, our stamacks fou
O' gusty gear,
And kickshaws, strangers to our view,
Sin' fairn-year 10.



3 stares.

• social.

4 failing.

9 wooden dish.

' Edinburgh.

10 last year.

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I brewer.

Ye browster' wives! now busk ye bra,
And fling your sorrows far awa';
Then, come and gie's the tither blaw
Of reaming ale,

Mair precious than the Well of Spa,
Our hearts to heal.

'Then, tho' at odds wi' a' the warl',
Amang oursells we'll never quarrel;
Tho' Discord gie a canker'd snarl
To spoil our glee,
As lang's there's pith into the barrel
We'll drink and 'gree.
Fiddlers! your pins in temper fix,
And roset weel your fiddlesticks,
But banish vile Italian tricks

From out your quorum,
Nor fortes wi' pianos mix-
Gie's Tullochgorum".

For nought can cheer the heart sae weel
As can a canty Highland reel;
It even vivifies the heel

To skip and dance:
Lifeless is he wha canna feel
Its influence.

Let mirth abound; let social cheer
Invest the dawning of the year;
Let blithesome innocence appear
To crown our joy;
Nor envy, wi' sarcastic sneer,
Our bliss destroy.
And thou, great god of aqua vitæ!
Wha sways the empire of this city-
When fou we're sometimes capernoity3-
Be thou prepar'd
To hedge us frae that black banditti,
The City Guard.

? Printed four years before Skinner's 'Tullochgorum' (p. 491). 3 ill-tempered.


Ye wha are fain to hae your name
Wrote in the bonny book of fame,
Let merit nae pretension claim
To laurel'd wreath,
But hap1 ye weel, baith back and wame,
In gude Braid Claith.



He that some ells o' this may fa' 2,
An' slae-black hat on pow like snaw,
Bids bauld to bear the gree1 awa',
Wi' a' this graith ®,
Whan bienly clad wi' shell fu' braw
O' gude Braid Claith.

Waesuck for him wha has nae fek' o't!
For he's a gowk they're sure to geck9 at,
A chield that ne'er will be respekit
While he draws breath,
Till his four quarters are bedeckit
Wi' gude Braid Claith.


5 pre-eminence. toss the head.


On Sabbath-days the barber spark,
Whan he has done wi' scrapin wark,
Wi' siller broachie in his sark 10,
Gangs trigly, faith!
Or to the Meadow or the Park,
In gude Braid Claith.


Weel might ye trow, to see them there,
That they to shave your haffits "1 bare,
Or curl an' sleek a pickle hair,

Wud be right laith 12,
When pacing wi' a gawsy air 13

In gude Braid Claith.

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