1778 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

Anonymous, "An Address in Scots, on the Decay of that Language" Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 39 (28 January 1778) 112.



Auld honest SCOTIA'S slighted fair,
Her plain guid speech can please nae mair,
But we're new-fangled I'll declare,
And that's our shame,
For we're ay seekin things that's rare,
And far frae hame.

We had our bards in days o' yore,
Wha in poetic flights cou'd soar,
And wi' their pipes made ilka shore
Fu' sweetly sound;
But our ain lays are now no more
In Scotia found.

Our DRUMMOND and MONTGOM'RYS then
Were perfect masters o' the pen,
Our DOUGLASSES and RAMSAYS, men
O' rarest merit,
Wha chanted ay in pawky strain
Wi' canty spirit.

Young FERGUSSON, in our ain days,
Began to sing in hameil lays,
But bright and fleeting as a blaze
He left the warl'.
O he, dear swain! exceeds a' praise
O' wife or carl.

Alack a-day, sin he is gone,
Dear Scotia now in vain will moan;
Naething can for his loss attone
Her heart to hight;
Wi' him the muses ev'ry one
Hae ta'en their flight.

There's nae Maecenas o' this age,
That looes the Caledonian page,
Nane but wad rise into a rage
Gin ony swain
Wou'd dare to seek their patronage
To hamely strain.

But wharefore this pride now-a-days,
And why forsake our ain sweet lays?
It is enough to gar fouk gaze,
And wonder sair,
To hear that Scotsmen sae dispraise
Their guid auld lear.

Tho' southern lads hae sweetly sung,
Sic as a Milton, Pope, or Young,
We need na quit our mither tongue,
Nor yet think shame,
That we were frae auld Scotia sprung,
That dainty dame!

But Fashion now, light headed fair!
Does muckle mischief late an' air;
She gards us play the fool fu' fair,
Wi' a' her might,
Else fouk wad never learnt the air
Their speech to slight.

For a' my anger an' chagrin,
Whilk hae maist thraw'n me i' the spleen,
On gentle fouks o' Aberdeen
I cast nae blots,
The lads an' lasses there, I ween,
Speak guid braid Scots.