1768 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Ross

James Beattie (as Oliver Oldstile), "To Mr. Alexander Ross at Lochlee" Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 1 (1 September 1768) 275-76).



O Ross, thou wale of hearty cocks,
Sae crouse and canty wi' thy jokes!
Thy hamely auldwarld muse provokes
Me, for a while,
To ape our guid plain countra' folks
In verse and stile.

Sure never carle was haff sae gabby,
E're since the winsome days of Habby.
O mayst thou ne'er gang clung or shabby,
Nor miss thy snaker!
Or I'll ca' fortune, nasty drabby,
And say, pox take her.

O may the roupe ne'er roust thy weason!
May thrist thy thrapple never gizzen!
But bottled ale, in mony a dozen,
Aye lade thy gantry!
And south o' vivres, a' in season,
Plenish thy pantry!

Lang may thy stevin fill wi' glee
The glens and mountains of Lochlee,
Which were right gowsty but for thee,
Whase sangs enamour
Ilk-lass, and teach wi' melody
The rocks to yamour.

Ye shak your head; bat, o' my fegs,
Ye've set auld SCOTA on her legs,
Lang had she lyen wi' beffs and flegs
Bumbaz'd and dizzie,
Her fiddle wanted strings and pegs,
Waes me! poor hizzie!

Since Allan's death naebody car'd
For anes to speer how Scota far'd;
Nor plack nor thristled turner war'd,
To quench her drouth;
For, frae the cottar to the laird,
We a' rin South.

The Southland chiels indeed hae mettle,
And brawly at a sang can ettle;
Yet we right couthily might settle
O' this side Forth.
The devil pay them wi' a pettle,
That slight the North.

Our countra' leed is far frae barren,
It's even right pithy and aulfarren.
Oursells are neiper-like, I warran,
For sense and sinergh,
In kittle times, when faes are yarring,
We're no thought ergh.

O bonny are our greensward hows,
Where through the birks the burny rows,
And the bee hums, and the ox lows,
And fast winds rusle,
And shepherd-lads on sunny knows,
Blaw the blythe fusle!

It's true, we Norlans manna fa'
To eat sae nice, or gang sae bra',
As they that come from far awa';
Yet sma's our skaith:
We've peace (and that's well worth it a')
And meat and claith.

Our fine newfangle sparks, I grant ye,
Gie poor auld Scotland mony a taunty;
They're grown sae ugertfu' and vaunty,
And capernoited,
They guide her like a canker'd aunty,
That's deaf and doited.

Sae comes of Ignorance, I trow,
It's this that crooks their ill-fa'r'd mon'
Wi' jokes sae course, they gar fouk spue
For downright skonner;
For Scotland wants na sons enew
To do her honour.

I here might gie a skreed o' names,
Dawties of Heliconian dames!
The foremost place GAWIN DOUGLAS claims,
That canty priest.
And wha can match the fifth King JAMES
For sang or jest?

MONTGOMERY grave, and RAMSAY gay,
DUNBAR, SCOT, HAWTHORNDEN, and mae
Than I can tell; for o' my fae;
I maun brak aff;
'Twould take a live-long simmer-day
To name the haff.

The fancy chiels — I think they ca' them
Criticks, the muckle sorrow claw them,
(For mense nor manners ne'er could awe them
Frae their presumption),
They need na try thy jokes to fathom,
They want ruingumption.

But ilka Mearns and Angus bairn
Thy tales and sangs by heart shall learn;
And chiel shall come frae yont the Cairn-
-amounth, right vonsty,
If Ross will be so kind as share in
Their pint at Dronsty.