1778 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Ramsay

J. O., "Lines occasioned by the late Representation of the Gentle Shepherd" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (25 September 1778).



Still was the hour, the moon all bright,
When on the side of Primrose Hill
A Gentle Shepherd, in the dead of night,
Sat moaning by a murm'ring rill.

Him Colin spied — an humble swain,
A friend to pity still confess'd:
He hailed his Ramsay once again,
And cried, encircled to his breast,

"My dearest, honest, hearty Callan,
My blithe, my witty, canty Allan,
Why look sae sour?
Your darling bairn was seen last night,
And sure, I thought her fair and bright
As any flower.

"That bonny, rosy, na'land lassie,
Wha' look'd to Roger unco' saucy,
Weel play'd her part:
And troth, my friend, the English dame,
Hitchcock — and weel I like the name,
Shew'd meikle art."—

"You're right," quo' Allan, wi' heart fu' heavy,
"Yet did it not most sadly grieve ye,
And gie you pain,
That a' the rest should twist and turn,
Like revell'd threads upon a pirn,
My words in vain?

"O! wou'd that sonsy lassie Harper,
The prettiest, sweetest, little chirper
In a' the town,
But sing my wordies thro' her throat,
And sweetly warble Allan's note,
My joys 'twould crown.

"She makes, I trow, nae meikle phrase
'Bout squeaking vile Italian lays,
But sweetly sings
Our hamely sangs, wi' such an art
It charms our ears, and heats our hearts;
Ay! e'en the King's.

"And little, lad! did I expect
That Digges auld friends wou'd sae neglect,
And sae much scorn:
Lord, man, my Glaud I did na ken,
Nor e'en Sir William — sure sic men
Were never born!

"Yet Digges I've seen in E'nburgh town
Get meikle honour and renown
In Patie's part;
But now, upon your London stage,
With Patie he will ne'er engage,
Ah! wae's my heart.

"And faith! he's right, for troth, my friend,
To tell the true thought of my mind,
And be sincere,
Digges ne'er can better shew his art,
Mair please the eye, or touch the heart,
Than in King Lear."
St. Martin's-Street.