1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

Alexander Wilson, in The Laurel Disputed (1791) 28-30.



Sits there within the four wa's o' this house,
Ae chiel o' taste, droll, reprobate or douse,
Whase blessed lugs hae heard young Rob himself,
(Light as the lamb that dances on the dell,)
Lay aff his auld Scots crack wi' pawky glee,
And seen the fire that darted frae his ee?
O let him speak! O let him try t' impart,
The joys that than gush'd headlang on his heart,
Whan ilka line, and ilka lang-syne glowr
Set faes, an' frien's, and Pantheons in a roar!
Did e'er auld Scotland fin', a nobler pride
Through a' her veins, and glowan bosom glide,
Than when her muse's dear young fav'rite bard,
Wi' her hale strength o' wit, and fancy fir'd,
Raise frae the thrang, and kin'ling at the sound,
Spread mirth, conviction, truth and rapture round?

To set Rob's youth and inexperience by,
His lines are sweeter and his flights mair high.
Allan, I own, may show far mair o' art;
Rob pours at once his raptures on the heart.
The first by labour mans our breast to move;
The last exalts to extasy and love.
In Allan's verse sage sleeness we admire;
In Rob's, the glow of fancy, and of fire,
And genius bauld, that nought but deep distress,
And base neglect, and want, could e'er suppress.