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*By heedless chance I turn'd mine eyes,
And, by the moon-beam, shook, to see, A stern and stalwart ghaist arise,
Attir'd as minstrels wont to be.
Had I a statne been o' stane,
His darin look had daunted me; And on his bonnet grav'd was plain,
The sacred posy-Liberty!
And frae his harp sic strains did flow,
Might rous’d the slumb'ring dead to hear ; But oh, it was a tale of woe,
As ever met a Briton's ear!
He sang wi' joy his former day,
He weeping wail'd his latter times; But what he said it was nae play,
I winna ventur't in my rhymest.
* Variation. Now looking over firth and fauld,
Her horn the pale-fac'd Cynthia
rear'd; When, lo, in form of minstrel auld, A stern and stalwart ghaist ap
+ This poem, an imperfect copy of which was printed in Johnson's Museum, is here given from the poet's MS. with his last corrections. The scenery so finely described is taken from nature. The poet is supposed to be musing by night on the banks of the river Cluden, or Cloudon, and by the ruins of Lincluden-Abbey, founded in the twelfth century, in the reign of Malcolm IV. of whose present situation the reader may find some account in Pennant's tour in Scotland, or Grose's antiquities of that division of the island.
Such a time and such a place are well fitted for holding converse with aerial beings. Though this poem has a political bias, yet it may be presumed that no reader of taste, whatever his opinions may be, would forgive its being omitted. Our poet's prudence suppressed the song of Libertie, perhaps fortunately for his reputation. It may be ques. tioned whether even in the resources of his genius, a strain of poetry could have been found worthy of the grandeur and solemnity of this preparation.
The following poems, found among the MSS. of
Mr. Burns, are now. for the first time presented to the public.
Copy of a Poetical Address to Mr. William Tytler,
with the present of the bard's picture.
Revered defender of beauteous Stuart,
Of Stuart, a name once respected, A name, which to love was the mark of a true
heart, But now 'tis despised and neglected:
Tho' something like moisture conglobes in my eye,
Let no one misdeem me disloyal ; A poor friendless wand'rer may well claim a sigh, Still more,
if that wand'rer were royal.
My fathers that name have rever'd on a throne;
My fathers have fallen to right it; Those fathers would spurn their degenerate sop,
That name should he scoffingly slight it.
Still in prayers for k- G- I most heartily join, The
and the rest of the gentry, Be they wise, be they foolish, is nothing of mine ;
Their title's avow'd by my country.
But why of that epocha make such a fuss,
But, loyalty, truce! we're on dangerous ground,
Who knows how the fashions may alter,
The doctrine, to-day, that is loyalty sound,
To-morrow may bring us a halter.
I send you a trifle, a head of a bard,
A trifle scarce worthy your care ;
Sincere as a saint's dying prayer.
Now life's chilly evening dim shades on your eye,
And ushers the long dreary night; But you, like the star that athwart gilds the sky,
Your course to the latest is bright.
My muse jilted me here, and turned a corner on me, and I have not got again into her good graces. Do me the justice to believe me sincere in my grateful remembrance of the many civilities you have honoured me with since I came to Edinburgh, and in assuring you that I have the honour to be
R. BURNS. Edinburgh, 1787.
Tune-" Caledonian Hunt's Delight."
There was once a day, but old Time then was
young, That brave Caledonia, the chief of her line, From some of your northern deities sprung,
(Who knows not that brave Caledonia's divine?) From Tweed to the Orcades was her domain,
To hunt, or to pasture, or do what she would : Her heavenly relations there fixed her reign, And pledg'd her their godheads to warrant it