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Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
He wander'd out he knew not where nor why :)
The drowsy Dungeon-clock* had number'd two,
And Wallace Tower * had sworn the fact was true :
The tide-swoln Firth, wi’ sullen sounding roar,
Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore ;
All else was hush'd as Nature's closed ee;
The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree :
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
Crept, gently-crusting, owre the glittering stream,
When, lo! on either hand the listening Bard,
The clanging sugh o'whistling wings is heard ;
Twa dusky forms dart through the midnight air,
Swift as the Gos + drives on the wheeling hare ;
Ane on th’ Auld Brig his airy shape uprears,
The ither flutters owre the rising piers :
Our warlock Rhymer instantly descry'd
The Sprites that owre the Brigs of Ayr preside.
(That Bards are second-sighted is nae joke,
An ken the lingo o' the sp’ritual fo'k;
Fays, Spunķies, Kelpies, a', they can explain them,
And ev'n the vera deils they brawly ken them)
Auld Brig appear’d o' ancient Pictish race :
The vera wrinkles Gothic in his face :
He seem'd as he wi' Time had wartled lang,
Yet teughly doure, he baide an unco bang.
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
That he, in Lon’on, frae ane Adams, got ;
In's hand five taper staves as smooth's a bead,
Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
The Goth was stalking round wi' anxious search,
Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch;
* The two steeples.
+ The Gos-hawk, or Falcon.
It chanced his new-come neebor took his ee,
And e'en a vex'd and angry heart had he!
Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien,
He, down the water, gies him this guid-e'en :-
I doubtna, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheepshank,
Ance ye were streekit owre frae bank to bank !
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me,
Though, faith! that day, I doubt, ye'll never see ;
There'll be, if that date come, I'll wad a boddle,
Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle.
Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense, Just much about it wi' your scanty sense ; Will your poor narrow foot-path o' a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin'd, formless bulk o'stane an' lime, Compare wi' bonnie brigs o' modern time? There's men o'taste would tak the Ducat-stream Though they should cast the very sark and swim, Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view O'sic an ugly Gothic hulk as you.
Conceited gowk ! puff'd up wi' windy pride !
This mony a year I've stood the flood an' tide;
And though wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn,
I'll be a brig, when ye’re a shapeless cairn !
As yet ye little ken about the matter,
But twa-three winters will inform ye better.
* A noted ford, just above the Auld Brig.
When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains
Wi’ deepening deluges o'erflow the plains ;
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil,
Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course,
Or haunted Garpal * draws his feeble source,
Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes,
In mony a torrent down his sna-brvo rowes ;
While crashing ice, borne on the roaring spate,
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate;
And from Glenbuck t, down to the Ratton-key #,
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea ;
Then down ye'll hurl, deil nor ye never rise !
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies,
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost,
That Architecture's noble art is lost!
Fine Architecture, trowth, I needs must say't o't! The Ld be thankit that we've tint the gate o’t ! Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices, Hanging wi' threatening jut, like precipices ; Owre-arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves, Supporting roofs fantastic, stony groves : Windows and doors, in nameless sculpture drest, Wi' order, symmetry, or taste unblest;
* The banks of Garpal Water is one of the few places in the West of Scotland, where those fancyscaring beings, known by the name of Ghaists, still continue pertinaciously to inhabit. + The source of the river Ayr.
A small landing-place above the large key.
Forms like some bedlam statuary's dream,
The crazed creations o' misguided whim;
Forms might be worshipped on the bended knee,
And still the second dread command be free,
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea.
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste
O’ony mason reptile, bird or beast;
Fit only for a doited Monkish race,
Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
Or Cuifs o' later times, wha held the notion
That sullen gloom was sterling true devotion ;
Fancies that our guid Brugh denies protection,
And soon may they expire, unblest wi' resurrection !
O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, : Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings ! Ye worthy Proveses, an' mony a Bailie, Wha in the paths o' righteousness did toil aye; Ye dainty Deacons, and ye douce Conveeners, To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners ; Ye godly Councils wha hae blest this town; Ye godly Brethren o' the sacred gown, Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters ; And (what would now be strange) ye godly Writers : A'ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo, Were ye but here, what would ye say or do ? How would your spirits groan in deep vexation, To see each melancholy alteration ; And agonizing, curse the time and place When ye begat the base, degenerate race ! Nae langer Reverend Men, their country's glory, In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story!
Nae langer thrifty Citizens, an' douce,
Meet owre a pint, or in the Council-house ;
But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless Gentry,
The herryment and ruin o' the country;
Men, three-parts made by Tailors and by Barbers,
Wha waste your weel-hain'd gear on dd new
brigs and harbours !
Now haud you there! for faith ye've said enough, And muckle mair than ye can mak to through; As for your priesthood, I shall say but little, Corbies and Clergy are a shot right kittle : But, under favour o' your langer beard, Abuse o' Magistrates might weel be spared : To liken them to your auld-ward squad, I must needs say, comparisons are odd. In Ayr, Wag-wits nae mair can hae a handle To mouth “ a Citizen," a term o' scandal : Nae mair the Council waddles down the street, In a' the pomp o' ignorant conceit; Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops an' raisins, Or gather'd liberal views in Bonds and Seisins. If haply Knowledge, on a random tramp, Had shored them wi' a glimmer o' his lamp, And would to Common-sense for ance betray'd them, Plain, dull Stupidity stept kindly in to aid them.
What farther clishmaclaver might been said,
What bloody wars, if Sprites had blood to shed,
Nae man can tell ; but a' before their sight,
A fairy train appear'd in order bright:
Adown the glittering stream they featly danced ;
Bright to the moon their various dresses glanced :