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Awa, ye selfish warly race,
Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace,
Ev'n love an' friendship, should give place

To catch-the-plack !
I dinna like to see your face,

Nor hear your crack.

But ye whom social pleasure charms,
Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms,
Who hold your being on the terms,

“ Each aid the others,”
Come to my bowl, come to my arnis,

My friends, my brothers !

But, to conclude my lang epistle,

my auld pen's worn to the grissle ;
Twa lines frae


gar me fissle,

Who am, most fervent,
While I can either sing, or whissle,

Your friend and servant.

In an

John Lapraik, to whom this and two other epistles are addressed, lived on his own ground at Dalfram, near Muirkirk, and was a rustic follower of the muses. evil hour, when the love of making “meikle mair” came upon him, he purchased shares in what Burns called

that villanous bubble, the Ayr bank,” and was involved in its ruin. The song which moved the Poet to write to

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him was composed, he said, in one of his days of despondency, when his wife refused to be comforted. Misfortune became his muse and inspired him :—the first verse is very beautiful.

“When I upon thy bosom lean,

And fondly clasp thee a' my ain,
I glory in the sacred ties

That made us ane wha ance were twain;
A mutual flame inspires us baith,

The tender look, the melting kiss,
Even years shall ne'er destroy our love,

But only gie us change of bliss.” • The Epistle to J. Lapraik,” says Gilbert Burns," was produced exactly on the occasion described by the author. Rocking is a term derived from primitive times, when our countrywomen employed their spare hours in spinning on the rock or distaff. This simple implement is a very portable one, and well fitted to the social inclination of meeting in a neighbour's house~hence the phrase of going a rocking, or with the rock. As the connexion the phrase had with the implement was forgotten when the rock gave place to the spinning-wheel, the phrase came to be used by both sexes on social occasions, and men talk of going with their rocks as well as women." Formerly, in the lowlands of Scotland, wool was carded and spun for the benefit of the family to whom these friendly vis

ns were ade. In some inland villages the social custom still prevails.


April 21st, 1785. WHILE new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake, An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik, This hour on e'enin's edge I take,

To own I'm debtor, To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,

For his kind letter.

Forjesket sair, wi' weary legs,
Rattlin' the corn out-owre the rigs,
Or dealing thro' amang the naigs

Their ten hours' bite,
My awkart muse sair pleads and begs,

I would na write.

The tapetless ramfeezl'd hizzie,
She's saft at best, and something lazy,
Quo' she, “ Ye ken, we've been sae busy,

This month an' mair,
That trouth, my head is grown right dizzie,

An' something sair."

Her dowff excuses pat me mad : Conscience,” says I, " ye thowless jad ! I'll write, an' that a hearty blaud,

This vera night;
So dinna


your trade,
But rhyme it right.

“Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o' hearts, Tho' mankind were a pack o' cartes, Roose you sae weel for your deserts,

In terms sae friendly, Yet ye'll neglect to shaw your parts,

An' thank him kindly?"

Sae I gat paper in a blink,
An' down gaed stumpie in the ink :
Quoth I, “ Before I sleep a wink,

I vow I'll close it;
An' if ye winna mak it clink,

By Jove I'll



Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether
In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither,
Or some hotch-potch that's rightly neither,

Let time mak proof;
But I shall scribble down some blether

Just clean aff-loof.

My worthy friend, ne'er grudge an' carp, Tho’ fortune use you hard an' sharp ; Come, kittle up your moorland-harp

Wi' gleesome touch ! Ne'er mind how fortune waft an' warp;

She's but a b-tch.

She's gien me monie a jirt an' fleg,
Sin' I could striddle owre a rig ;
But, by the L-d, tho’ I should beg

Wi' lyart pow,
I'll laugh, an' sing, an' shake my leg,

As lang's I dow!

Now comes the sax an' twentieth simmer,
I've seen the bud upo' the timmer,
Still persecuted by the limmer

Frae year to year ;
But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,

I, Rob, am here.

Do ye envy the city gent,
Behint a kist to lie and sklent,
Or purse-proud, big wi' cent. per cent.

And muckle wame,
In some bit brugh to represent

A bailie's name?

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