« PreviousContinue »
Awa, ye selfish warly race,
To catch-the-plack !
Nor hear your crack.
But ye whom social pleasure charms,
“ Each aid the others,”
My friends, my brothers !
But, to conclude my lang epistle,
my auld pen's worn to the grissle ;
gar me fissle,
Who am, most fervent,
Your friend and servant.
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
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,
That made us ane wha ance were twain;
The tender look, the melting kiss,
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.
TO THE SAME.
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,
Their ten hours' bite,
I would na write.
The tapetless ramfeezl'd hizzie,
This month an' mair,
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;
“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,
I vow I'll close it;
By Jove I'll
Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether
Let time mak proof;
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,
Wi' lyart pow,
As lang's I dow!
Now comes the sax an' twentieth simmer,
Frae year to year ;
I, Rob, am here.
Do ye envy the city gent,
And muckle wame,
A bailie's name?