1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

T. Mc.C., "Answer to the Ettrick Shepherd, August Magazine, 1805" Scots Magazine 68 (March 1806) 206-08.



Out o' the sink o' sin and sorrow,
Frae mang the wa's o' auld Gomorrah,
Whare neerdoweels by dizzens dandle,
Like ingan strings or punds o' candle;
Whare vice wi' virtue baits his trap,
An' Lucifer keeps apen shap;
Like onie thief, wham Hangie's taws
Had whuppit out o' stanchel'd wa's;
I wi' my birken whistle struttit,
Whilk on the banks o' Nith was cuttit,
An' down the Thames at einen gaed,
Weel wrappit i' my guid grey plaid,
To fleg the reek o' Lunnon frae me,
An con' a lilt to Ettrick Jamie:
Sae whan I'd pang'd my wallet fou
Wi' doggrel duds o' ilka hue,
Straight hame I duanerin' took my tramp,
An' blew my coal, and trimm'd my lamp;
Syne wi' a lingle sew'd thegither,
A sort o' pirney jingling blether.

What was't ye said, ye sleekit loon?
"O Tam, for guidsake quat the town,
Whare bucks and bullies, bawds and lechery,
Whare falsehood, folly, tricks an' treachery,
Swarm i' the streets, and croud the park,
Thrang as the crikes on Pharoah's sark;
Trowth I may say't, twixt you an' me,
Without being shangant wi' a lie;
Thy grunters, weelwat I, my lad,
Thou's to a bonnie market ca'd:
Ye hae, shame fa ye, play'd the fool,
And ta'en the tron frae nature's school;
Out o' her presence march'd thyself off,
L—d safe's was e'er the like heard tell of,
T' assist a set o' straddling cuifs,
To dirl the callans' dowps an' loofs,
Whane'er in pet they winna ettle,
To pit their bits o' gabs in fettle;
An' like Hugh Paisley's fiddle squeak,
A solo saft o' gruntin' Greek;
Or trace auld Euclid's crookit lines,
His tangents, rectangles, an' sines;
An tell, as gabblin' on they gae,
How maister A is sib to B;
An' ablins, i' the self-same breath,
How X is uncle to them baith;
O man — cou'd Folly's sel' ha'e thought it,
That ought wad e'er about ha'e brought it?"
Trouth, Jamie, ye're nae verra blate,
To think I'd gang sae grey a gate.

Nanse Kingan — owre thy honour'd beir
I drappit monie a gratefu' tear,
May nae vile spade howk thy remains,
Nor ruffian han' disturb thy banes,
Nor surly blast about thee rave,
Nor nettle grow aboon thy grave:
It was the taes o' thy auld taws
Dang i' my haurns the muckle AA's,
An' thrice wi' monie woys, and jees,
Skelpit me throu the caratchies;
Ere I the kittle page cou'd kon;
O' Davie's deep lang-headed son;
The dreadfu' tenth o' Nehemiah,
Or minstrel treasures of Isaiah;
Mell-headed Rab, wee limpin' Charlie,
An' waddlin' Sam, the shauchlin' ferlie,
Neist took in han' my loofs to scult,
An' rax me down frae Dux to Dult:
Weel may I say't, wi' thir three cuifs,
To wham I trudg't wi' Lot's wife's hoofs.
I learnt whan i' their fangs they held me,
Just to forget what Nannie tell'd me.
Frae Johny Kennedy, guid bless him,
Hale be his heart's the warst I wiss him;
Blest wi' the gift o' lear impartin',
I gat the nack o' paper scaurtin'!
An' Tammie White sae frank an' kin',
Tauld me that three an sax mak' nine:
But frae their clutches I was poukit,
An' wi' the clan o' Cain boukit,
'Mang unco fowk to chow my kuid,
Ere fourteen simmers warm'd my bluid.

Guid sooth, thou sly auld-farrant wight,
I trou thou's gat the second sight;
Wha' tall'd ye I a Scribe was dubit,
An' trigly curry-kaim'd, an' rubbit.
To mense a desk, an' sit fou snug,
Wi' Stylens stuck ahint my lug;
All hail, ye spunkie scribblin' crew,
Whether ye strut in vestments new,
And on saft vellum ply your quills,
Wi' meal an' creish upo' your sculls,
Or slylie cut at einen pap
Frae Jock Daglish's troggin' shap;
Graith'd in a garb whilk lairds had spurn'd,
Coat, breeks, and waistcoat, three times turn'd,
Syne cannalie slip to your cage,
An' scrawl for three baubees the page,
For auld langsyne permit a brither
To say "guid bliss ye a' thegither;"
May that fell shaver, Lunnon Willie,
A deep, a dungeon-headed billie,
Ne'er tak' a maigrum in his head,
And lay a tax on cheese an' bread.
May markets fa' till ingans sell
As cheap as stinking makerel,
Sheep's trotters three baubees the lapfou,
An' trollybags a great the skepfou;
May nae rude loof your haffits daud,
Nor het kail-brose your thrapples scaud;
Nor carline's claw assail your faces,
Nor herring bane stick i' your hauses.
May nae vile laundress e'er expose
The failings of your Sunday hose;
Nor filthy spulzieing tinker sparks
Whup aff the hedge your bits o' sarks,
For conscience weel I ken that they
Were squeaz'd frae mony a banyan day:
Laith, laith am I, that aught shou'd wrang ye,
Three towmunds spell I had amang ye:
Ye shaw'd me how to tak' a clue
O' purney yearn, syne glegly throu'
The een o' darnin' needles keek,
An' wattle holes wi' stocking-steek;
Or whan auld sable hose gat thin
Wi' a burnt cork to black my shin:
But as our clashin graunies say,
The best o' dogs ha'e but their day,
O Hornie, lad, that spunk o' pride
Thou lighted up within my hide,
Has brought me to my marrow banes,
Upo' the warl's cassa stanes.
I saw the feeble and the auld
Wi' haffits bare, an' capets bauld,
Toiling and sweating for their brose,
Their breeks, their shoon, their sarks an' hose;
An' at their ease — shamefou' to tell,
Stout buirdly cuissers, like mysell,
Ahint a desk strut i' their boots,
Wi' laird-like air tossing their snouts
At fowk wha coudna cool their kail
Till labour wan the hard-earn'd meal;
Sae, wi' a sort o' jeering whew
My quill indignant down I threw,
An' scamper'd aff to seek a darque
O' decent creditable wark;
But well cou'd I that fate wad tak' me
For some landluppen loon, and mak' me
Like Robin Burns, graze wi' the geese,
Till, i' the street o' auld Dumfries,
On Willie G— I gat my een,
A chield brent new frae Aberdeen,
Wha on his beuks poor Tam did rate,
And in due time shaw'd him the gate
To wield an axe an' thraw a wumble,
An' mak' millstanes about to rumble;
At whilk, guid help me, far an' near
I've toil'd aboon a dizzen year.
O Scotland, Scotland, sair ye wrang'd me,
Like onie stapmither ye bang'd me:
What gar'd ye rowe afore my een,
Your toddlin barns o' siller sheen?
What gar'd ye busk the hills and fells
Wi' flowrets wild an' heather bells?
What gar'd ye ply each pawky art,
Till wi' your wiles ye sta' my heart,
Syne rax me down an aiken staff,
An' like a stepbairn turn me aff;
On life's vile midden for to scratch,
Wi' thirty shillings i' my poutch?
But it's quite true, that honest love,
Tho' pure as haly bless above,
Is aften tauntit, jeer'd, and scoff'd,
An' frae the yet indignant cuff'd,
While sly deceit, an' smooth-tongu'd flatt'ry,
Sen' frae their wylie maked batt'ry,
A shour o' vows sae saft and tender,
Whilk maks the citadel surrender.

Thus to the fremment ca'd adrift,
I mak' a bauld an' honest shift,
To keep my saul an' body eiket,
My hyde wi' hamely hoddin theiket,
An' whyles, whan twa three capfou's pap in,
My cheipen hause an' giesand crappin,
I screed aff "Sandy owre the lea,"
Or "Donald haud awa frae me,"
Or Robin's bonnie "Highland Mary,"
Or "Cowden-knows," fou blythe and cheary?
Whilk brings to mind our honour'd Mither;
An' keeps my flutt'ring heart thegither.

Now Jamie lad, sin' you and I
Are just taw pigs o' the same stye,
By nature's han' wi' ae stick tar'd,
"On life's rough ocean luckless star'd,"
Whane'er we meet, we manna care
Whilk o' us tak's the muckle chair;
Nor let that daemon Envy pit
Atween us twa her cloven fit.
But brither like, gae hand in hand,
Singing our lov'd, our native land;
Amang the woods, the hills, an hallows,
Whare Bruce an' Boyd, an' Grame and Wallace,
Sae bravely wan, wi' their fell swords,
Each blessin' which our land affords.

Mair wad I said, but twall o'clock
Rings i' my lug wi doolfou' stroke,
My drowsy een are hafflins lockit,
My candle drowps fa'n i' the sockit,
An' just affords a glimm'ring blink
To shaw my scribbling tool the ink;
An' for a wee, my canty chiel,
O' you to tak a Scots fareweel,
Till Highland Donald's fam'd for fleein',
Till lawer boddies leave aff liein',
Till I the warlish gumshon learn
O' getting clockin' placks wi' bairn;
Believe me, Jamie, I'se remain
Staunch as the aik on Scotland's plain,
True as the flameing orb o' day
Thy loveling billie,
T. McC.