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Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far
I venerate the man whose heart is warm,
Would I describe a preacher such as Paul,
May feel it too ; affectionate in look,
Chiefly renowned for his pathetic and spirit-stirring songs. Other proofs of his high rank as a poet are “ The Cotter's Saturday Night,” “Elegy on Captain Matthew Henderson,” “ The Jolly Beggars,” “ Tam O'Shanter," and others."
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
INSCRIBED TO ROBERT AIKEN, ESQ.
No mercenary bard his homage pays:
My dearest meed a friend's esteem and praise.
The lowly train in Life's sequestered scene,
What Aiken in a cottage would have been :
The shortening winter-day is near a close;
The blackening trains o craws to their repose;
(This night his weekly moil? is at an end,)
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend;
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree:
To meet their dad wi’ flicterin' noise and glee.
His wee bit ingle' blinkin”? bonnily,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile,
Does a” his weary, carkingt cares beguile,
At service out amang the farmers roun':
A cannies errand to a neebor-town.
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Or deposit her sair-wono penny-fee"
An' each for other's weelfare kindly spiers :12
Each tells the uncos13 that he sees or hears. The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view :
Garsli auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
An'ne'er, though out o' sight, to jauk or play: “ An', oh! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
An' mind your duty duly, morn an' night.
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o’ the same,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek; With heart-struck anxious care inquires his name;
While Jenny hafslins16 is afraid to speak : Weel pleased, the mother hears it's nae wild, worthless rake. Wi’ kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben ;17
A strappan youth, he taks the mother's eye: Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta’en;
The father cracks'' of horses, pleughs, and kye.20
1 Fire. 2 Shining at intervals. 3 All. 4 Consuming. 5 By and by. Drive. 7 Cautious. 8 Kindly dexterous. Fine, handsome. 10 Sorely-won. 11 Wages. 12 Asks. 13 News. 14 Makes. 15 Diligent. 16 Partly. 17 Into the parlor.
18 Tall and handsome. 19 Converses, 20 Kine, cows.
The youngster's artless heart o’erflows wi' joy,
But, blate' an' laithfu', scarce can weel behave: The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, cun spy
What makes the youth sae bashtu' an' sae grave; Weel pleased to think her bairu's respected like the lave.3
O happy love, where love like this is found !
O heartfelt raptures ! bliss beyond compare ! I've pacèl much this weary mortal round,
Anil sage experience bids me this declare, — “ If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale, 'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale.”
Is there in human form that bears a heart,
A wretch, a villain, lost to love and truth, That can, with studied, sly, insnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting yonth ? Curse on his perjured arts! dissembling smooth !
Are honor, virtue, conscience, all exiled ? Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child, Then paints the ruined maid, and their distraction wild ?
But now the supper crowns their simple boud,
The healsome parritch, chief o’ Scoiia's food : The soupe their only hawkie does affordd,
That 'yont the hallan' snugly chows her cood. The dame brings forth in complimental mood,
To grace the lad, her weel-liained' kebbuck," fell ;12
The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face
They round the ingle form a circle wide. The sire turns o’er wi' patriarcha! grace
The big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride. His bonnet reverently is laid aside,
His lyart18 haffets' wearin' thin an’ bare:
He walesa a portion with judicious care;
1 Bashful. 2 Reluctant 3 The rest, the others. 4 Mercy, kind feeling. 5 Oatmeal-puddi jg. Sauce, milk. 7 d pet name for a cow.
Beyond. 9 A partition-wall in a cottage.
11 A cheese. 12 Biting to the taste. 13 Twelve-month. 14 Old. 1 Since. 16 Flax was in blossom. 17 The great Bible kept in the hall. 18 Gray. 19 The temples, the sides of the head. 20 Chooses.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim : Perhaps Dundee's wild, warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs,' worthy of the name; Or noble Elyin' beats the heavenward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays: Compared with these, Italian trills are tame;
Tlie tickled ear no heartfelt raptures raise; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high ; Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny; Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; How He who bore in heaven the second name
Had not on earth whereon to lay his head; How his first followers and servants sped,
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land; How he, who, lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand, And heard great Babylon's doom pronounced by Heaven's commande
Then, kneeling down, to heaven's Eternal King
The saint, the father, and the husband prays : Hope “ springs exulting on triumphant wing”
That thus they all shall meet in future days, There ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
In such society, yet still more dear,
Compared with this, how poor Religion's pride,
In all the pomp of method and of art, When men display to congregations wide
Devotion's every grace except the heart ! The Power, incensed, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole; But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well pleased, the language of the soul, And in his book of lite the inmates poor enroll.
1 The names of Scottish psalm-tunes.