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EPISTLE TO A YOUNG FRIEND.*
LANG hae thought, my youthsu’
A something to have sent you,
Than just a kind memento;
Let time and chance determine;
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.
* 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.
Frae critical dissection;
Wi' sharpen’d, sly inspection.
The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,
Luxuriantly indulge it ;
Tho' naething should divulge it;
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.
To haud the wretch in order ;
Debar a' side pretences; And resolutely keep its laws,
The great Creator to revere,
Must sure become the creature ;
And ev’n the rigid feature;
Be complaisance extended;
For Deity offended !
Religion may be blinded;
It may be a little minded ;
A conscience but a canker -
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!
Still daily to grow wiser;
Than ever did th' Adviser!
ELEGY ON CAPTAIN MATTHEW
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:
A matchless, Heav'nly Light.
DEATH! thou tyrant fell and bloody!
O’er hurcheon hides,
Wi' thy auld sides !
He's gane, he 's gane ! he's frae us torn,
By wood and wild,
Frae man exil'd.