« PreviousContinue »
Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail,
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
My lov'd, my honor'd, much respected friend!
My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise: To you I sing in simple Scottish lays
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;
What Aiken in a cottage would have been ;
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The short'ning winter-day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;
The black'ning trains o' craws to their repose: The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,
This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile,
Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out amang the farmers roun';
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Wi' joy unfeign'd brothers and sisters meet,
An' each for other's weelfare kindly speirs: The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnotic'd fleet; Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears; The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years; Anticipation forward points the view.
The mother wi' her needle an' her sheers
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.
Their master's an' their mistress's command
'An' mind your duty, duely, morn an' night! Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek; With heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben;
A strappan youth; he takes the mother's eye; Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;
The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,
What makes the youth sae bashfu' an' sae grave;
O happy love! where love like this is found!
And sage experience bids me this declare-
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale
Is there, in human form, that bears a heart-
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
But now the supper crowns their simple board,
The healsome parritch, chief o' Scotia's food: The soupe their only Hawkie does afford,
That 'yont the hallen snugly chows her cood;
To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd kebbuck, fell,
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face
They round the ingle form a circle wide; The sire turns o'er wi' patriarchal grace
The big ha'-Bible, ance his father's pride: His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
With Amalek's ungracious progeny ;
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or other holy Seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Then kneeling down, to Heaven's Eternal King
That thus they all shall meet in future days:
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear, Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme;
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; How He, who bore in heaven the second name, Had not on earth whereon to lay his Head; How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land; How he, who lone in Patmos banished.
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand;
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounced by Heaven's command.