Combustion through our boroughs rode,
Whistling his roaring pack abroad, &c.
( 420 )
THE CONTRABAND MARAUDER.
[This early production of Burns, although not hitherto admitted into any
collected edition of his poems, betrays its own parentage. Under a different
title (which, together with the closing line of each verse, had to be altered to
make it fit for publication), it is particularly known to the curious in such
matters as being one of Burns' grosser songs. In that respect, however, we
consider that it compares favourably with some of its fellows, admitted without
scruple to this and other more circumspect editions.
The circumstance specially referred to in the song is the public admonition
which the poet had to submit to receive in the kirk of Mauchline about the
close of 1784, following on the birth of his " dear-bought Bess, " so named after
her mother, Eetsy Baton. This must have been the same occasion spoken of
in Dr. Adair's account of his tour with the poet in October, ] 787, when on
visiting Dunfermline ,the doctor mounted the cutty-stool, and Burns from the
pulpit administered to him a rebuke in imitation of the style in which he,
along with seven other defaulters, had been admonished in Mauchline kirk
three years before.
The Rev. Hamilton Paul, in the memoir prefixed to his edition of Burns
(1819), makes these remarks on this subject :â€” ' ' Another practice in the Church
of Scotland susceptible of great abuse, but now getting fast into disrepute, is
that of placing transgressors, who are perhaps less guilty than nine-tenths
of the congregation, on the stool of repentance, and giving them a rebuke-
often couched in the most indecent languageâ€” in the presence of youth, beauty,
and innocence. Several of Burns' happiest effusions are adapted to display
this part of ecclesiastical discipline in all its abominable colours, and will, no
doubt, co-operate with the improvements of the age to accomplish its
Ye jovial boys 'who love the joys â€”
The blissful joys of lovers,
AncJ dare avow wi' dauntless brow
Whate'er the lass discovers ;
I pray draw near, and you shall hear,
And welcome in ^frater
Who's lately been on quarantine â€”
A contraband marauder !
Fa, la, la, la ! &c.
Before the congregation wide
I pass'd the muster fairly ;
My handsome Betsy by my side.
We gat our ditty rarely :
My down cast eye by chance did spy
What made my mouth to water â€”
Those hills of snow that wyled me so
At first to be a fau'tor.
Fa, la, la, la ! &c.
( 421 )
Wi' ruefu' face and signs o' grace,
I paid the kirk its hire :
The night was dark, and through the park
I couldna but convoy her :
A parting kiss â€” what could I less ?
My vows began to scatter !
She was na' shy â€” nae mair was I,
A kirk-condemned def au'ter !
Fa, la, la, la ! &c.
But by the sun and moon I swear â€”
And I'll fulfil ilk hair o'tâ€”
That while I own a single crown
She's welcome to a share o't :
My sweet wee girl, her mother's pearl,
And darling o' her ^Â«ifer.
For her dear sake the name I'll take â€”
A kirk-condemned defau'ter !
Fa, la, la, la ! &c.
AUNTIE JEANIE'S BED.
[The Solan geese that roost on AilsaCraig furnish feathers sufflcleut to supply
beds for all the West of Scotland. The poet's uncle, Samuel Brown, seems to
have carried on a strong trade during the season of Ailsa fowling. In one of
Burns' letters, dated 4th May, 1780, when preparing to leave Ayrshire for
Ellisland, he commissions his uncle to procure for him three or four stones of
feathers to make beds for his new farmhouse. As for the heroine of the present
off-hand snatch of song, she seems to have been of the same class vnth a
Forfarshire virago â€”
" Jenny Picken 's on the shore,
She has written on her door,
' Guy man a sixpence more ' â€”
Whistle o'er the lave o't!"]
My auntie Jean held to the shore
As Ailsa boats cam' back,
And she has coft a feather-bed
For twenty and a plack :
0' sic a noble bargain
Was auntie Jeanie's bed ;
The feathers gained her iifty merk
Before a towmond sped !
( 422 )
THE JOLLY GAUGER.
[Tliis paroay of the well-known songâ€” r/ie Jolly Beggar, whose authorship is
attributed to one of the kings of Scotland, is here applied to some of the poet's
adventures, while mounted on horseback pursuing his avocations among the
hills and vales of Nithsdale, "his roving eye wandering over the charms of
nature, and muttering his wayward fancies as he moved along."]
There was a jolly gauger,
And a gauging he did ride,
He met a bonie beggar lass,
Doun by yon river side :
And we'll gang nae mair a roving
Wi' ladies to the wine :
A kintra lass without a plack
Can play the lady fine, â€”
And we'll gang nae mair a roving.
Amang the broom they set them doun,
Amang the broom sae green,
As he had been a belted knight.
And she had been a queen.
And we'll gang nae mair a roving, &c.
My blessings on thee, gauger lad !^
I like thy manners weel:
Wilt thou accept â€” its a' my wealth â€”
My pock and pickle meal.
And we'll gang nae mair a roving, &c.
Sae blyth the beggar took the bent.
Like ony bird in spring,
Sae blyth the beggar took the bent.
And merrily did sing â€”
we'll gang nae mair a roving, &c.
My blessings on thee, gauger lad,
0' gangers thou'rt the wale !
Wi' thee, the beggar's benison
I trow will never fail.
And we'll gang nae mair a roving, &c.
FRAGMENTS OF VERSE
FEOM THE poet's COMMON-PLACE BOOK.
(First Published in 1872 from the Original MS.)
Although fresh pickings from this source are exceedingly scanty â€” for they
consist only of one Epigram of four lines, an additional verse to a song, already
too long, and one lyric fragment, not very witty, but indecent enough â€” we feel
constrained to say a few words on the very unique MS. of which they form
part A few years ago, John Adam, Esq., Town Chamberlain of Greenock,
purchased this valuable relic of the poet from a London dealer, in whose
catalogue it had been described and advertised for sale. Nothing has
transpired regarding its prior history, but at same time, no fact can be more
certain than that in it we have the veritable "MS. of my early years " referred to
by Bums in the introduction to his own abridged copy thereof, made in 1790 for
his friend Mr. BiddeL This MS. begins and ends precisely as in the abridged
copy, first published byCromek in 1808; It contains a prose passage occupying
about 13 lines of MS., and many pieces of verse not inserted in the abridgement.
The poetical omissions in the latter are accounted for by the circumstance that
the bulk of them had already appeared in the early editions of the author's
poems, at the date of the Glenriddel copy,
In 1872, the fortunate possessor of this MS. sanctioned its publication in a
thin 8vo. volume which was privately printed, and pretty widely circulated.
That well-executed re-production was given "as a tribute to the memory of
Bums, and with the design of preserving authentic copies should any unforeseen
accident befall the original" The poet's orthography and punctuation is re-
tained with Bcnipulous exactness : no single word has been added or altered,
and not one word has been omitted, except in a solitary instance where the
poet's language could not bear the light of publication. With allowable
complacency, therefore, does its editor assure us that this interesting record
of the dawnings of Burns' literary efforts is " given absolutely as he
himself left it."
( 424 )
In an appreciative preface the original MS. is described as consisting of
eleven sheets, or 22 folio leaves, coarsely stitched : from page 3 to page 42 it is
inscribed on both sides, and its paging and catchwords, and marginal dates are
all in the poet's handwriting. Only page 2 (back of title-page), and page
44 (the last in the book) are entirely blank. The title-page is elaborately
careful, evidently the penmanship of Burns, but of juvenile cast, followed by
the double motto from Shenstone â€” all as given in Cromek's abridged copy.
There is scarcely a blot, and not one erasure from end to end of the MS. On
our own part we may state that the world-famous song " Green grow the
rashes, O," inserted under date August, 17S4, wants the crowning stanza, " Auld
Nature swears," &c., which seems to have been added in Edinburgh ; and the
Second Epistle to Lapraik â€” recorded in June, 1785 â€” ^is without the excellent
verse beginning " Now comes the sax and twentieth simmer."
EPITAPH ON JAMES GRIEVE,
LAIRD OF BOGHEAD, TARBOLTON.
[This is inserted under date April, 1784, among others which were printed
by the poet in his first edition. He apparently did not include the present one
for the very good reason that he had travestied the satire on Boghead into a
happy compliment for his friend Gavin Hamilton â€” see page 131, vol. 1.]
Here lies Boghead amang the dead,
In hopes to get salvation ;
But if such as he in Heaven may be,
Then welcome â€” hail, damnation !
TIBBIE, I HAE SEEN THE DAY.
[We have at page 235, vol. I., given the song as published by the author. Tt
is lengthy enough, but at same time these four lines, entered under date Sept.,
1784, are too characteristic to be thrown away. They rank as verse second, not
including the chorus.]
When comin' hame on Sunday last.
Upon the road as I cam past.
Ye snuff't and gae your head a cast,
But trowth I cai-etna by.
( 425 )
SONG.â€” MY GIRL SHE'S AIRY.
Tune â€” Blach Joke.
[This fragment is entered under date, September, 1784. It might well be
spared from any collection of the poet's works, for its lyric merits are of a very
common order, and near its close it is disfigured by some indecent expressions
which render it unfit to he published as the poet has inscribed it. The
Greenock editor has accordingly left blank that portion here marked off in
brackets ; and by way of excuse, he appends, in a foot-note, the fictitious plea
that " Here the manuscript is defective." Our conjectural rifacciamento is
introduced, not by way of helping the reader to form an idea of the poet's
words, but simply to fill up the measure innocuously, and with some kind of
My girl she's airy, she's buxom and gay,
Her breath is as sweet as the blossoms in May ;
A touch of her Ups, it ravishes qviite :
She's always good natured, good humor'd and free,
She dances, she glances, she smiles upon me;
I never am happy when out of her sight :
Her slender neck, her handsome waist.
Her hair well curled, her stays well laced ;
Her taper white leg, with [the rest of her charms,
An angel from heaven might tempt to her arms ;]
And for the joys of a long winter night ! *
* Notwithstanding the apparent completeness of the Greenock MS. when
examined in its consecutive entries, it is a very note-worthy fact that here-
about, on comparing it with the Glenriddel abridgement, an inexplicable hiatus
occurs. There is no entry of any kind between Sept., 1784, and June, 1785;
whereas, in the avowed abridgement, we find very interesting insertions, dated
"May" (1785 must be the year, from the allusion to ",Tean" in one of the
pieces). The prose passage wanting in the Greenock MS. is the one headed
" EGOTISMS FROM MY OWN SENSATIONS," which (in the Glenriddel copy) is
followed by these now well-known, but then unpublished, pieces of verse â€”
" Though cruel Fate," "One night as I did wander." "There was a lad was
born in Kyle," and " Elegy on Robert Rnisseaux." The editor of the published
Greenock MS. makes no attempt to account for the absence of these important
items â€” indeed he nowhere notices the remarkable discrepancy here pointed
out. Burns, in closing his abridged copy, thus wrote â€” " This is all worth
quoting in my MS., and more than all. â€” R. B." Words like these imply
abridgement certainly, but not interpolated additions inserted in the professed
copy. Moreover, no other instance of such alleged "interpolation" is found
in collating the abridgement with the original MS.
ODE FOR GENERAL WASHINGTON'S
[At page 282 is given the fragment of tbis Ode, which Dr. Currie published
as contained in a letter addressed by Burns to Mrs Dunlop, in 1794. It does
not appear that Dr. Currie was acquainted with the rest of the Ode, the fate
of which, from the date of the poet's death down to the year 1872, has not been
made public. In November of that year it was advertised for sale in a London
catalogue, aad purchased for Robert Clarke of Cincinnati, Ohio, U. S. A. It
was described as being " The original autograph MS. of the Ode on the
American H'nr, in 62 lines, in 3 leaves, written on one side only ; in good con-
dition, bound in red morocco cover by Pratt, and lettered, ' The American
War, by Robert Burns.' "
A letter addressed by Burns to P. Miller, junr., of Dalswinton, M. P., dated
Nov., 1794, manifestly refers to this noble Ode. The Member for the Dumfries
Burghs had recommended Mr. Perry of the Morning Chronicle to engage Burna
to write weekly contributions to that newspaper. The poet from prudential
motives declined the offer made to him by Mr. Perry. Burns wrote thus : â€”
" They are most welcome to my Ode ; only, let them insert it as a thing they
have met with by accident, and unknown to me. Nay, if Mr. Perry â€” whose
honour, after your character of him, I cannot doubt â€” will give me an address
safe from spies, I will now and then send him any bagatelle that I may write."
For connection's sake, we repeat the portion given at page 282, and the
reader, on comparing the two versions, will observe some happy variations in
the completed poem.]
No Spartan tube, no Attic shell,
No lyre ^olian I awake ;
'Tis Liberty's bold note I swell.
Thy harp, Columbia, let me take I
See gathering thousands Avhile I sing,
A broken chain exulting bring,
And dash it in a tyrant's face,
And dare him to his very beard.
And tell him he no more is feared â€”
No more the despot of Columbia's race !
A tyrant's proudest insults braved.
They shout, a people freed! They hail an Empire saved.
Where is man's godlike form ?
Where is that brow erect and bold? â€”
That eye that can unmoved behold
The wildest rage, the loudest storm
That e'er created fury dared to raise?
Avaunt ! thou caitiff, servile, base.
( 427 )
That tremblest at a despot's nod,
Yet, crouching under the iron rod,
Canst laud the arm that struck the insulting blow !
Art thou of man's imperial line ?
Dost boast that countenance divine ?
Each skulking feature answers, No !
But come, ye sons of Liberty,
Columbia's offspring, brave as free,
In danger's hour still flaming in the van,
Ye know, and dare maintain, the Royalty of Man !
Alfred, on thy starry throne,
Surrounded by the tuneful choir â€”
The bards that erst have struck the patriot lyre,
And roused the freeborn Briton's soul of fire,
No more thy England own !
Dare injured nations form the great design
To make detested tyrants bleed ? â€”
Thy England execrates the glorious deed !
Beneath her hostile banners waving.
Every pang of honour braving,
England in thunder calls â€” " The tyrant's cause
is mine ! "
That hour accurst, how did the fiends rejoice,
And hell, through all her confines, raise the exulting
That hour which saw the generous English name
Link't with such damned deeds of everlasting shame !
Thee, Caledonia, thy wild heaths among.
Famed for the martial deed, the heaven-taught song,
To thee I turn with swimming eyes ;
Where is that soul of freedom fledf â€”
Immingled with the mighty dead,
Beneath that hallowed turf where Wallace Ues 1
Hear it not, Wallace, in thy bed of death !
Ye babbhng winds, in silence sweep,
Disturb not ye the hero's sleep,
Nor give the coward secret breath !
( 428 )
Is this the ancient Caledonian form,
Firm as her rock, resistless as her storm ?
Show me that eye which shot immortal hate,
Blasting the despot's proudest bearing ;
Show me that arm which, nerved with thundering fate.
Crushed usurpation's boldest daring !
Dark-quenched as yonder sinking star,
No more that glance lightens afar ;
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war.
SONGâ€”" I MURDER HATE, &c."
[In the Glenriddel MS. of his unpublished poems, Burns inserted the eight
lines thus commencing, which we have printed at page 227 : these are followed,
however, bj' other eight lines, and the production is entitled a "Soug." By
way of explaining any obscurity in the closing couplet of this very characteris-
tic lyric, the poet has appended a footnote directing his reader to " Numbers,
I MURDER hate by field or flood,
Though glory's name may screen us ;
In wars at hame I'll spend my blood â€”
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty ;
I'm better pleased to make one more
Than be the death of twenty
I would not die like Socrates,
For all the fuss of Plato ;
Nor would I with Leonidas,
Nor yet would I with Cato :
The zealots of the Church and State
Shall ne'er my mortal foes be,
But let me have bold Zimri's fate,
Within the arms of Cozbi.
POEMS FROM THE GLENRIDDEL MSS.,
FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1874.
AN elegant little Quarto volume issued in October, 1874, was privately printed
at the expense of Henry A. Bright, Esq., Liverpool, and by him liberally dis-
tributed in literary circles, and presented to public libraries. It is entitled â€”
"Some Account of the Gleneiddell MSS. op Burns's Poems: with
SEVERAL Poems never before pnBLiSHED." It would appear that the poet
in 1789 commenced transcribing for the library of his friend and neighbour,
Mr. Eobert Riddel, of Friar's Carse, into a strongly bound blank volume, a
select number of his unprinted poems. This, together with a twin-volume of
the poet's letters similarly transcribed and bestowed, appears to have been re-
delivered to Burns, on his own solicitation sometime after Mr. Riddel's death,
which happened in April, 1794. After the poet's own decease, the volumes
referred to, along with other MSS. were placed in the hands of Dr. Currie, of
Liverpool, as materials for the Biography and Works of Burns, which that dis-
tinguished editor produced in 1800. The ownership of the Glenriddel volumes
appears to have been bestowed on Dr. Currie, and to have descended to his
son, Mr. Wallace Currie, whose widow, in 1853, presented them to the Athen-
8Bum Library, Liverpool. For twenty years thereafter these volumes were so
carefully laid aside under lock and key, that very few even of the proprietors
of the Athenaeum knew of their existence. On the motion of Mr Bright they
were brought from their hiding place, and displayed under a glass case in the
library, where they may at any time be examined, on application to the
In the published excerpts from the MS. volume of poetical pieces, Mr. Bright,
as editor, has executed his labour of love with rare taste and modesty. He
prints in full only those poems that hitherto had not appeared in any edition
of the bard's works ; but he gives a complete table of the contents of the MS.
Book, with the poet's own notes, and a few by himself, and that is not the least
valuable portion of the printed work. Taking advantage of Mr. Bright's polite
permission to make free use of his labours to impart value to the present edi-
tion, we now present the reader with the following â€”
( 430 )
CATALOGUE OP PIECES INSCRIBED IN THE POETICAL VOL.
1. The Belles of Mauchline (iL 116).
2. Song â€” Anna, thy charms (1. 364).
3. Epistle to John Goldie, in Kilmarnock, author of " The Gospel Re-
covered " (ii. 193 and 437.)
4. Beauteous Rosebud, young and gay (i. 36-3).
5. Thou whom chance may hither lead â€” 1st version (ii. 314).
6. Hear, land o' cakes, and brither Scots (i. 360).
7. Ode to the departed Regency Bill, 1789 (ii. 439.)
8. Thou whom chance may hither lead â€” 2nd version (i. 331).
9. Song â€” Yestreen I had a pint o' wine [2 verses only] (ii. 224.)
10. Song â€” I murder hate by field or flood (ii. 428.)
11. Holy Willie's Prayer (ii. 19-5 and 437.)
12. Epigram on Capt. F. Grose (ii. 214.)
13. Additional stanza to Song, No. 9 (ii. 224.)
14. Copy of the Poet's Autobiographical letter to Moore.
15. Tam o' Shanter.â€” A Tale (i. 350.)
16. On the death of Sir James Hunter Blair (ii. 139.)
17. Inscription â€” Once fondly loved and stUl remembered (ii. 131.)
18. On the death of J. M'Leod, Esq. (i. 365.)
19. Epitaph on Wm. Muir, Tarboltou Mill (ii. 166.)
20. Humble petition of Bruar Water (i. 367.)
21. Extempore !to Mr, M'Adam, of Craigengillan [wrote in Nanse Tia-
nock's] (ii. 2G9.)
22. On scaring waterfowl on Loch Turit (i. 370.)
23. Written in the Hermitage at Taymouth (i. 371.)
24 Lines written at the Fall of Fyers (i. 37.3.)
25. Written by Somebody on a window at Stirling (ii. 310.)
26. Epistle to Graham of Fiutray, 1790, "Fintray, my stay"(ii. -317 and 418.)*
27. A Poet's welcome to his love-begotten daughter (ii. 188 and 436.) *
28. The five Carlinsâ€” a Ballad (ii. 219.) *
29. Sweet floweret, pledge o' meikle love (i. 374.) *
30. Chevalier's Birthday Odeâ€” 31st Deer., 1787 (ii. 434.)
31. Ode on Mrs Oswald of Auchencruive (i. 333.)
32. Extempore stanzas on " Naething " (il 412.)
33. Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots (i. 340.)
34. Epistle to Graham of Fintrayâ€” " When Nature," &c (ii. 141.)
35. Paraphrase of Jeremiah xv. 10 (ii. 391.)
36. Prom Clarinda, on Burns saying he had "nothing else to do" (ii, 431.)
37. Answer to the foregoing. Extempore (ii. 432.)
38. On the death of Lord President Dundas (iL 311.)
39. The Whistleâ€” A Ballad (i. 280.)
40. A new psalm for the Chapel of Kilmarnock, April, 1789 (ii, 410.)
41. The Kirk's Alarm (ii. 209 and 438.)
42. Lines to Graham of Fintrayâ€”" I call no goddess " (ii. 155.)
43. Ken ye ought o' Captain Grose ? (ii. 149.)
44. OnGlenriddel's fox breaking his chain (ii. 441.)
45. Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn (i. 345).
46. Epistle to Graham of Fintrayâ€” "Late crippled," &c. (i. 342.)
47. Lines to Sir John Whitefoord (i. .348.)
48. Grace before Dinnerâ€”" Oh Thou, who kindly," &c. (ii. 166.)
49. Ask why God made the gem so small (ii. 215.)
60. That there is falsehood in his looks (ii. 273.)
51. Light lay the earth on Billy's breast (ii. 332.)
52. Stop thief ! dame Nature called to Death (ii. 332.)
53. When Lâ€” scâ€” lis thought fit from this world to depart (ii. 443.)
54. If you rattle along like your Mistress's tongue (ii. 330.)
5.5. Here lies John Bushby, honest man (ii. 229.)
56. When Mâ€” râ€” ne deceased, to the devil went down (ii. 226.)
67. Bless Jesus Christ, O Cardonness ! (ii. 330.)
The entries down to and including No. 13 are in Burns' autograph, and thenoe
to No. 34, they are (except those in our list marked by a *) inserted by an
( -isi )
amanueusiB. From No. 35 downwards the entries are all the poet's own. Fol-
lowing No. 48, there is a noticeable blank, and the 9 remaining entries,
Headed " Epigrams " appear, from the colour of the ink and fainter penman-
ship, to have been inserted at a later period. The fact of the very ill-natured
one (54) against Mrs Walter Eiddel being recorded there, is presumptive
evidence of these entries having been made after Glenriddel's death (April,
1794), and implies that the poetry volume was surrendered to Burns on his
application to that effect, as found in his printed correspondence.
VERSES BY CLARINDA TO BURNS, AND HIS REPLY THERETO.
ON BURNS SAYING HE HAD " NOTHING ELSE
[Clarinda's lines are dated Christmas Eve, 17S7. The expression " I have
nothing else to do " occurs in a letter addressed by the then lame poet to Mrs
Maclehose, dated Thursday. Deer. 20. She had, in a letter of the Sunday pre-
viou.s, been chiding Burns for writing to her in his " romantic style." " Do you
remember (she added) that she whom you address is a married woman ? or,
would you, Jacob-like, wait seven years, and even then, perhaps, be disap-
pointed, as he was ? " The poet in a long answer, closes thus : â€” " I won"t tell
you what reply my heart made to your raillery of 'seven years'; but I will
give what a brother of my trade says on the same allusion : â€”
'The Patriarch, to gain a wife, chaste, beautiful, and young.
Served fourteen years a painful life, and never thought it long:
O were you to reward such cares, and life so long would stay,
Not fourteen, but four hundred years, would seem but as one day!'
I have written you this scrawl because I have nothing else to do," &c.