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EPISTLE TO A YOUNG FRIEND.*

MAY, 1786.

LANG hae thought, my youthsu’

friend,

A something to have sent you,
Tho' it should serve nae ither end

Than just a kind memento;
But how the subject-theme may gang,

Let time and chance determine;
Perhaps, it may

turn out a sang, Perhaps turn out a sermon.

Ye 'll try the world soon, my lad,

And Andrew dear, believe me, Ye'll find mankind an unco squad,

And muckle they may grieve ye: For care and trouble set your thought,

Ev'n when your end 's attained ; And a'

views may come to nought, Where ev'ry nerve is strained.

your

* Andrew Aiken, of Ayr, son of the friend to whom Burns inscribed “The Cotter's Saturday Night.”

I'll no say, men are villains a':

The real, harden’d wicked, Whia hae nae check but human law,

Are to a few restricked ; But, Och! mankind are unco weak,

An' little to be trusted ; If self the wavering balance shake,

It's rarely right adjusted !

Yet they wha fa’ in fortune's strife, Their fate we should na censure,

For still th' important end of life They equally may answer;

A man may hae an honest heart, Tho' poortithi hourly stare him ; A man may tak a neebor's part,

Yet hae nae cash to spare him. Ave free, aff-han' your story tell,

When wi' a bosom crony; But still keep something to yoursel

Ye scarcely tell to ony.
Conceal yoursel as weel's ye can

Frae critical dissection;
But keek thro' ev'ry other man,

Wi' sharpen’d, sly inspection.

The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,

Luxuriantly indulge it ;
But never tempt th' illicit rove,

Tho' naething should divulge it;
I wave the quantum o'the sin,

The hazard o' concealing; But Och! it hardens a' within,

And petrifies the feeling!

To catch dame Fortune's golden smile,

Assiduous vrait upon her ; And gather gear by ev'ry wile

That's justify’d by honour; Not for to hide it in a hedge,

Nor for a train attendant; But for the glorious privilege

Of being independent.
The fear o'hell's a hangman's whip,

To haud the wretch in order ;
But where ye feel your honour grip,
Let that
aye

border;
Its slightest touches, instant pause

Debar a' side pretences; And resolutely keep its laws,

Uncaring consequences.

be your

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-laughi'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 a little minded ;
But when on life we ’re tempest-driv’n,

A conscience but a canker -
A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n

Is sure a noble anchor !

Adieu, dear, amiable Youth !

Your heart can ne'er be wanting ! May prudence, fortitude, and truth,

Erect your brow undaunting!
In ploughman phrase, "God send you speed,"

Still daily to grow wiser;
And may you better reck the rede,

Than ever did th' Adviser!

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ELEGY ON CAPTAIN MATTHEW

HENDERSON,

A GENTLEMAN WHO HELD THE PATENT FOR HIS

HONOURS IMMEDIATELY FROM ALMIGHTY GOD.

But now his radiant course is run,

For Matthew's course was bright:
His soul was like the glorious sun,

A matchless, Heav'nly Light.

DEATH! thou tyrant fell and bloody!
The meikle devil wi' a woodie
Haurl thee hame to his black smiddie,

O’er hurcheon hides,
And like stock-fish come o'er bis studdie

Wi' thy auld sides !

He's gane, he 's gane ! he's frae us torn,
The ae best fellow e'er was born !
Thee, Matthew, Nature's sel shall mourn

By wood and wild,
Where, haply, Pity strays forlorn,

Frae man exil'd.

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