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The real, harden'd wicked,
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 ;
Tho'poortith hourly stare him; A man may tak a neebor's part, Yet hae nae cash to
When wi' a bosom crony ;
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 of concealing;
And petrifies the feeling!
That's justified by honour;
Nor for a train-attendant;
Of being independent.
To haud the wretch in order ;
Debar a' side pretences ;
Must sure become the creature;
And ev'n the rigid feature:
Be complaisance extended ;
For Deity offended!
When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
Religion may be blinded ;
It may be little minded;
A conscience but a canker-
Is sure a noble anchor!
XI. 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!
When Burns saw that " misfortune's cauld nor west" was ready to burst upon him, and that labouring on his farm was not likely to avert it, he wooed the muse with redoubled ardour-perhaps from a feeling that the exertions of his genius, and not of his hands, would save him. During the latter half of the year 1785 and the spring and summer part of 1786, he produced a vast body of poems—one of them is “ The Epistle to Andrew Aiken,” son to Robert Aiken, writer, in Ayr, to whom “ The Cotter's Saturday Night” is inscribed. A coldness seems to have arisen between Burns and Robert Aiken : the former imagined that his friend, in his capacity of lawyer, had made himself more busy than necessary in the affair of the marriage contract between him and Jean Armour. Be that as it may, the name of Aiken all at once disappears from the Poet's correspondence.
The Epistle seems to have been addressed to one every way worthy of such a strain : young Aiken entered into the service of his country, and rose to distinction and affluence. He obtained some notice, too, the other year, at the dinner celebrating the birth-day of the Ayrshire Ploughman, and that of the Ettrick Shepherd; nature having, it seems, out of a wondrous love for the 25th of January, produced both Poets on that day of the yearand produced them both in storms: the hail and the whirlwind were abroad when Burns was born; and Ettrick rose in flood as Ettrick never rose before, when Hogg appeared.
TO A LOUSE,
ON SEEING ONE ON A LADY'S BONNET, AT CHURCH.
HA! whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie!
and lace ; Tho' faith, I fear, ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin', blastit wonner,
Sae fine a lady! Gae somewhere else, and seek your
dinner On some poor body.
Swith, in some beggar's haffet squattle ; There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations ; Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.