The George Beattie Project - A Poet Lost in Time

~ JOHN o' ARNHA' ~
A Tale





JOHN FINLAY/FINDLAY
(John o'Arnha')







MONTROSE c1800










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JOHN O'ARNHA'  :

A Tale



IT was in May, ae bonnie morn,
When dewie draps refresh’d the corn,
And tipt ilk stem wi’ crystal bead,
That glissent o’er the spangelt mead,
Like gleam o’ swords in fairy wars,
As thick and clear as Heaven’s stars;
While Phoebus shot his gowden rays,
Asklent the lawn - a dazzlin’ blaze;
The wind but gently kissed the trees,
To waft their balm upo’ the breeze;
The bee commenced her eident tour -
Culling sweets frae ilka flow’r;
The whins in yellow bloom were clad,
And ilka bush a bridal bed;
A’ Nature smil’d serene and fair;
The la’rocks chantit i’ the air;
The lammies frisket o’er the lea -
Wi’ music rang ilk bush and tree.

=Now "sighs and vows," and kisses sweet -
The sound of lightly tripping feet -
Love’s tender tale - the sweet return -
The plaints of some still doomed to mourn;
The rustic jest, and merry tale,
Came floating on the balmy gale;
For, smiling, on the road were seen
Baith lads and lasses, trig and clean;
Linkin’ blythely, pair and pair,
To grace _Montrose’s Annual Fair!_ -
Montrose, "wham ne’er a town surpasses"
For _Growling Guild_ and _ruling Asses!_
For pedants, with each apt specific
To render barren brains prolific;
For poetasters who conspire
To rob Apollo of his lyre,
Although they never laid a leg
Athort his godship’s trusty naig;
For preachers, writers, and physicians -
Parasites and politicians:
And all accomplished, grave and wise,
Or sae appear in their own eyes!
To wit and lair too, make pretence;
E’en sometimes "deviate into sense!"
A path right kittle, steep, and latent,
And only to a few made patent.
So, lest it might offend the _Sentry_,
I winna seek to force an entry;
But, leav’t to bards inspir’d and holy,
And tread the open field of folly;
For certes, as the world goes,
Nonsense in rhyme’s as free’s in prose;
And are we not distinctly told
By Hudibras in days of old,
That "those who write in rhyme still make
"The one verse for the other’s sake;
"And one for sense, and one for rhyme,
"Is quite sufficient at a time."

=As for your critics, ruin seize them,
I ken I canna sing to please them;
A reason guid - I dinna try -
They’re but a despicable fry,
That vend their _venom_ and their _ink_,
Their _praise_ and _paper_, eke for clink.
Thae judges _partial_ - self-eleckit,
Why should their sentence be respeckit;
Why should the silly squeamish fools
Think fouk will mind their measur’d rules?
They spill not ink for fame or glory,
Nor paper blacken, _con amore_;
‘Tis Mammon aye their pens inspire,
They praise, or damn, alike for hire;
An’, chapman like, their critic treasure,
Is _bought_ and _sold again_ by _measure_;
Some barrister new tane degrees
(Whase purse is lank for lack o’ fees),
Or churchman just come frae the college,
Wi’ scull weel cramm’d wi’ classic knowledge,
Draw pen to laud some weary bard,
Or deal damnation by the _yard:_
But first they toss them up a maik,
To learn what course they ought to take:
If "tails," the critics quickly damn him,
If "heads," wi’ fousome flattery cram him.
In either case they’re paid their wages,
Just by the number o’ their pages.

=How soon are mortals led astray -
Already I am off my way;
I’ve left my bonnie tale, to fesh in
A wicked scandalous digression;
By bards of yore, who sang of Gods,
Clep’d underplots and episodes;
But "Muse, be kind, and dinna fash us,
"To flee awa’ ayont Parnassus ;"
Or fill our brains wi’ lees and fiction,
Else fouk will scunner at your diction.

=I sing not of an ancient Knight,
Wi’ polished lance and armour bright;
Nor, as we say, wi’ book bedeckit
In "iron cap and jinglin’ jecket,"
High mounted on a champion steed,
Eneugh to fley poor fouk to dead -
Or modern Dux, wi’ noddin’ crest,
An’ starnies glancin’ on his breast -
Or garter wuppit round his knee
To celebrate his chivalry ; -
Heroes fit for southern bardies!
Mine walks a-foot and wields his gardies;
Or, at the warst, his aiken rung,
Wi’ which he never yet was dung,
Unless by more than mortal foe -
By daemons frae the shades below,
As will be seen in proper time,
Provided I can muster rhyme.

=The valiant hero of my story
Now rang’d the fair in all his glory,
A winsome strapper, trim and fettle,
Courtin’ strife - to show his mettle,
An’ gain him favours wi’ the fair -
For dastard coofs they dinna care.
Your snools in love and cowards in war,
Frae maiden grace are banish’d far;
An’ John had stak’d his life, I ween,
For favour frae a lassie’s een.
Stark luve his noble heart had fir’d -
To deeds o’ pith his soul aspir’d;
Tho’ these in distant climes he’d _shown_,
‘Twas meet to act them in his own.

=Now thrice he wav’d his hat in air;
Thrice dar’d the bravest i’ the fair;
The _Horner_ also wav’d his bonnet,
But wish’d, belyve, he hadna done it;
For scarcely had he counted sax,
Before a double round o’ whacks
Were shower’d upon his banes like hail,
Right, left, and centre, crack pell-mell -
Sair to bide, and terrible to tell.
The hardest head could ne’er resist
The fury of his pond’rous fist;
He hit him on the ribs sic dirds,
They rair’d and roove like rotten girds;
His carcase too, for a’ the warl’,
Was like a butt or porter barrel.
Now John gaed round him like a cooper,
An’ show’d himself a smart tub hooper;
Wi’ mony a snell an’ vengefu’ paik,
He gar’d his sides an’ midriff ake;
Upon his head-piece neist he hammert,
Until the _Horner_ reel’d and stammart,
He cried out "Mercy! plaque upon it!"
Up gaed his heels - aff flew his bonnet,
An’ raise to sic a fearfu’ height,
It soon was lost to mortal sight.
Some said, that witnessed the transaction,
‘Twas cleekit by the moon’s attraction,
Or nabbit by the fairy legions,
To whirl them through the airy regions.



Sonnet.

=But far it gaed, or far it flew,
=The feint ane either cared or knew.
=Yet strange to tell, tho’ very true,
=Again it never cross’d his brow,
=Nor ever kyth’d to mortal view.
=Some said they heard it cry "adieu,"
=As thro’, the air, sic clear and blue,
=It skimm’d as quick as ony dow.
=An’ weel I wat, to gie’t its due,
=It was baith sleekit an’ spleet new,
=Of as guid stuff as ever grew
=Upo’ the back o’ ram or ewe,
=Or ever fendit rain or dew;
=Weel twisted out o’ haimert woo -
=Weel ca’d thegither and waukit too -
=Weel dy’d and litit through and through;
=The rim was red - the crown was blue!
=But now it’s gane?  Eheu!  Eheu!!



And here maun end my dowie sonnet
Upo’ the _Horner’s_ guid braid bonnet;
Weel wordy o’ mair lofty strains,
For happin’ sic a head o’ brains,

=Still prone on earth the vanquish’d lay,
View’d by the rabble with dismay;
Now groaning, startit frae the ground,
And swore he’d have another round.
No sooner was this socht than granted,
The victor vow’d ‘twas what he wanted.
Each took his ground - the ring was form’d;
Wi’ pain the _Horner_ rav’d an’ storm’d;
His roofless pow, and gaucy face,
Show’d marks of ravage and disgrace;
Which added horrer to his mein -
A gruguous wight he was, I ween.

=The victor squar’d his manly figure,
An’ gar’d his gardies whizz wi’ vigour;
They rent the air in every quarter,
He said, "My lad, ye’ve caught a Tartar;"
Syne, wi’ a most tremendous whup,
Again he turned the _Horner_ up,
Till first his head and neist his feet,
In turn cam’ crack against the street;
Just like a squirrel in a cage,
Or mountebank upon a stage;
Wi’ heels ower head, and head ower heels,
Ower barrows, benches, stands, and creels;
The mulls and cutties flew like drift,
The vera stour raise to the lift;
The lasses, wi’ amazement skirl’d,
As ower an’ ower an’ ower he whirl’d
Like whirlegig, or wheel a-spinnin’,
The spaiks were like to lift their linen.

=The fair was now in dire commotion,
Raging like the roaring ocean:
Like hail the sweeeties strew’d the street.
"Come, hain your siller, pick an’ eat,"
Was sounded through the busy crowd,
A signal eithly understood.

=Rob M’Intosh, a Highland piper,
Wha thought the crap could ne’er be riper,
Wi’ twa three gangrel ballad singers,
Began to ply their restless fingers.
"O hooly there, ma bonnie bairns,"
Quo’ John, "Haud aff your theivin’ irons,"
He shook their doublets and their wallets,
An’ gar’d his cudgel claw their pallets;
They threw their fangs, and flew for shelter,
Content wi’ paiks, to ‘scape a halter.
Now wild huzzas, baith lang an’ loud,
Were yammert by the gapin’ crowd:
They cried, "O had he been alive
In seventeen hundred forty-five,
When Charlie Stewart, the vile Pretender,
Made moyen to be our Faith’s Defender;
And marched his legions down our streets,
Withouten brichen, sheen, or beets,
He’d gar’d them flee like chaff and stubble,
And spar’d the English troops the trouble
O’ stickin’ baignets i’ the throats
O’ hunger-bitten Highland Scots.
He loes his King and country weel,
And sends Reformers to the Deil,
Still as he swills the foamin’ porter,
He wishes each a full head shorter."

=But Muse, I charge thee, hurry on,
An’ let us frae the fair begone;
A bolder theme maun swell our lay,
A dreadful night succeeds this day,
As will be seen in proper time,
Provided I can muster rhyme!

=The busy day drew to a close:
As soon as John had tane his dose
O’ whisky punch, and nappy ale,
Had smok’d his pipe, and told his tale,
He judg’d it far his wisest scheme
To streek his houghs and scamper hame.
He scorn’d to soak ‘mang weirdless fellows
Wi’ menseless bazils in an alehouse;
Enough he deem’d as good’s a feast;
That excess made the man a beast.
The lawin’ paid, an a’ thing snod,
He soon was skelpin’ on the road;
Quick past the Port and Dummie’s Wynd,
The fleetest soon he left behind;
Neist by the Loch and Rotten-raw,
An’ up the Loan for Arnha’ -
His native spot, his peacefu’ hame,
The place from whence he took his name,
Now render’d famous by his fame.

=An’ now the weary westlin’ sun
Had kiss’d the tap o’ Catterthun;
His hinmost blink shone on the knowes,
The lazy mist crap in the hows;
The wind was lown, creation still,
The plover wail’d upon the hill;
The cottage reek rase to the sky;
The bat in silence flicker’d by,
And moth and beetle, foes to light,
Commenced their drousy twilight flight;
The ploughmen, now their labour o’er,
Enjoy’d the balmy gloamin’ hour,
Right wazie wax’d and fou o’ fun,
They whisselt down the setting sun;
Some slyly slipt to meet their joes,
As they came tripping frae Montrose.
Ye pauky louns! hale be your hearts,
Weel ken ye how to play your parts;
For oft that gloamin’, ere she wist,
Full mony a bonnie lass was kisst,
An’ ran’s as if chas’d by bogles eerie,
But soon was clasp’d by her ain dearie;
Right blythe to find they were mista’en,
They gae their kisses back again;
Shame fa’ the saint wad ca’t a crime,
Or deem’t unmeet for prose or rhyme.

=Now gradual shades of gloamin’ grey
Crap gently o’er the partin’ day;
The air was sweet - kind heav’n anew
Refresh’d the earth wi’ pearly dew;
A balmy, soothing, silent shower,
That cheer’d ilk herb and fainting flower,
Frae morning scowdert i’ the blaze
Of Phoebus’ ever darting rays.
The hum of stragglers frae the fair
Cam’ floating on the peacefu’ air;
The robin chantit, frae his spray,
A requiem to departed day,
In notes sae waesome, wild, and sweet,
They gar’d a lightlied lover greet,
The blackbird whisselt deep and mellow;
A hollow voice cried - "John Finella!"
Now straight the hero turned him round
To see from whence the eldrich sound;
When right a-head, an ancient dame
Kyth’d eerie through the twilight beam,
Upon a crummock staff she leant her,
Fast John cam’ leeshin’ up ahint her,
Her coatties past the knees were kiltit,
In eldrich notes she croon’d and liltit.



The Witche's Song.

="O why sud my auld heart grow sair
=To hear the lasses crumpin’ fair;
=They’ll hae their day, as I had mine;
=Like me they’ll think on auld langsyne;
=For I’ve haen sweethearts o’ my ain,
=An’ to be dautit I was fain:
=They roos’d my glossy jet black hair,
=But now my pow’s baith lyart an’ bare;
=They prais’d my alabaster skin,
=Alas! now wrinkelt, derf, and din;
=They said my pawky een were bonnie,
=My mow as sweet as heather honey,
=But now my een are blear’d and blin’,
=My mow conceal’d ‘tween nose and chin;
=Full eighty winters thick hae spread
=Their cranreughs o’er my palsied head,
=Out ower my crummock laigh I bend,
=I’m wearin’ to my journey’s end;
=I’m borne down wi’ grief and care -
=The load of life I scarce can bear.
=A wither’d trunk, a leafless tree,
=Is a’ that now remains of me;
=The days are gane that I hae seen,
=Now I maun hirple hame my lane,
=Wilyart, waesome, will, and weary,
=O what cou’d mak’ my auld heart cheerie!
=But wae betide them that wauken my wraith,
=I rede them beware o’ trouble an’ skaith;
=For tho’ I’m baith cripple an’ hafflins blind,
=They’ll rin right fast when they leave me behind."



- "Guid ev’nin’ to ye, teethless granny,"
Quo’ John, "ye’re creepin’ unco canny;
Ye’re surely’s auld’s the deevil’s mither -
Come, streek your houghs, we’el gang thegither,
For nane dare pass and leave auld wives,
Unless they’re weary o’ their lives:
Yea! how came ye, my winsome dame,
To ken Finella was my name;
Unless, in compact wi’ auld Nick,
Ye’re come to play me some foul trick;
An’ troth I scarce believe ye’re sterlin’,
For vow ye are an ugly carlin’."

=Wi’ hollow voice, and accent cramp,
She stammert out - "You bloody scamp!
Your deeds, before this time to-morrow,
Shall cost ye muckle dool an’ sorrow;
And mony sad sights shall ye see,
Before in sleep ye close an e’e;
Your worthless carcase whilk ye brag on,
I winna leave a rotten rag on,
But strip ye straight frae head to heel,
Ye vaig! like skinnin’ of an eel.
For auld’s I am, I can do wonders -
If I but wag my stick it thunders,
Lightens, rains, hails, or snows,
Or ony weather you’ll suppose:
A buckie I to sea can rig out,
And of an egg-shell make a frigate;
Nay, in a thimble skim the flood,
Provided it be made of wood;
Without a curpin, bit, or saddle,
Upon a broom-stick ride astraddle,
With which I cut the viewless wind,
An’ a’ thing earthly leave behind,
Wi’ warlocks whirl at barley-brack:
Right round the warl’, as round a stack:
Play hide and seek ahint the moon,
An’ list her dowie tenant croon;
Or mount up to the welkin’s harns,
An’ play bo-peep amang the starns!
Quicker than hail, by whirlwind driven,
I skim the milky way of heaven,
Or scud whare northern steamers play,
Yet tread this earth ere break of day."

=Thrice wi’ her teethless chafts she mumpit,
While nose and chin on ither thumpit.
Thrice she wav’d her skinny hand,
And thrice invok’d the infernal band;
Thrice backwards round about she totter’d,
While to hersel’ this leed she mutter’d:

=Frae the east - frae the wast,
=Thunder roar, lightnin’ blast;
=Frae the south - frae the north,
=Pour wind and water forth:
=WiIl-o-wisps! wirrycows!
=Warlocks wi’ your lyart pows,
=At three quarters after ten,
=Hover round auld Martin’s Den.
=Elspet, Mauzie, ho! ye hags,
=Stride-legs o’er your broom-stick nags!
=When the night grows rough and mirk,
=Canter round auld Logie Kirk,
=When ye hear the Kelpie howl,
=Hie ye to the Ponage-pool;
=There ye’lI see the Deil himsel’
=Leadin’ on the hounds o’ Hell.
=Over mountain, muir, and dale,
=Ghaists and spectres, wan and pale -
=Riding on the roarin’ storm,
=Dance in dread array before ‘m;
=The shadows rise! quick! and quicker!!
=The tempest brews thick! and thicker!!
=Now its time for me to bicker,
=For oh! the charm is firm and sicker."

Wi’ that her joints began to swacken,
Awa’ she scour’d like ony maukin;
Ower dykes and ditches swift she frisket,
Through bogs and mires she lap an’ whiskit;
Sae featly did she wing her flight,
In a twinklin’ she was out o’ sight.
Wi’ open mou’, John stood an’ gaz’d,
At once confounded and amaz’d;
His hair on end stack up like bristles,
Or like the beard o’ burry thristles;
An’ aye as on the road he stoitit,
His knees on ane anither knoitit.

=Frail man, alack! but seenil thinks,
While round him fortune’s sunshine blinks,
(And having reach’d that point of fame,
Securing him "a deathless name"),
That ere ae fleeting hour gae past,
He may be streekit i’ the blast;
Or lair’d, by spunkies i’ the mire,
To dree the Water-kelpie’s ire;
Hae a’ his honours frae him torn,
And of his maughts, like Samson, shorn;
The agent too, mayhap the same,
Aye, sure in gender, not in name,
Which here is deem’d by much too long
Either to be said or sung.
=A sudden gloom o’erspread the air,
Ilk creature seem’ oppress’d wi’ fear;
The harmless bird crap to its nest,
And beasts o’ prey retired to rest:
Black murky clouds began to muster,
And Boreas to rave and bluster;
The lightnin’ twinkl’d i’ the air
As yet wi’ faint and feeble glare;
At distance too, the thunder grummelt,
An’ throu’ the welkin growl’d and rummelt,
The wind sough’d mournfu’ throu’ the trees,
Unearthly sounds swell’d i’ the breeze;
Eftsoons the lightning’s languid gleam
Blaz’d forth in sheets of livid flame,
And objects, shrouded deep in nicht,
Burst naked on the wond’ring sicht;
On Loan-way path each whalebone post
Were instant seen, and soon were lost;
And straucht again the groanin’ trees
Kyth’d fetchin’ wi’ the balfu’ breeze;
The thunder rair’d wi’ furious thuds,
An’ blatter’d throu’ the low’rin’ clouds,
Still clear an’ clearer ilka flash,
Yet near an’ nearer ilka crash;
The lightnin’, thunder, wind, and rain,
Flash’d and roar’d and dash’d amain;
And O, how black the troubl’d air,
In absence of the lightnin’s glare.
John crap alang.  Toward the richt
He thocht he spied a cottage licht,
And steer’d his course in that direction,
Aneath its roof to seek protection;
But weary fa’ the faithless licht,
It quickly vanish’d frae his sicht,
And left him in an eerie swither
Glampin’ round, he kendna whither;
Again the fleeting taper glanc’d,
Again towards it John advanc’d;
It flar’d and flicker’d i’ the wind,
Sometimes before, sometimes behind;
From richt to left - from left to richt,
It scatter’d a bewildrin’ licht,
An’ in a wink the glimm’rin’ ray
Flash’d on his sicht, then died away;
Aye Willy-an-the-Wisp was there
Shedding forth his nichtly glare,
An’ rousin’ keen his fatal fire,
To wyle him to the weary mire.

=John row’d ower dykes, and lair’d in ditches,
Mutterin’ malisons on witches.
Neist ower the plain, and down a hill,
He heard the clackin’ of a mill;
Again the spunkies wav’rin’ licht
Discovert to his wildert sicht
In boiling wraith, the North-esk stream
Thuddin’ onward, white wi’ feam,
He heard a voice, wi’ muckle dool,
Croonin’ in the Ponage Pool,
And this it said, or seem’d to say -
"Ah, willawins! alack for aye,
O sair’s my back, an’ sair my banes
Leadin’ the Laird o’ Marphie’s stanes;
The Laird o’ Marphie canna thrive
As lang’s the Kelpie is alive."
The thunder growl’d in lower tone,
As if to let the voice get on.

="God help ye! be ye freend or fae,"
Quo’ John, "its wrang to use ye sae;
To me your griefs ye needna tell,
For waes my heart, I’m waur mysel;"
When, by the lightnin’s glare, he saw
A sight surpassing nature’s law -
A stalwart monster, huge in size,
Did straucht frae out the river rise,
Behind, a dragon’s tail he wore,
Twa bullock’s horns stack out before;
His legs were horn wi’ joints o’ steel,
His body like the crocodile.
On smellin’ John, he gie’d a scoil,
Then plung’d and gar’d the water boil;
Anon he stood upon the shore,
And did for vengeance loudly roar.

=Now John his painfu’ silence broke,
And thus in daring accent spoke;
"Stand aff, ye fiend, and dread my wraith,
Or soon I’ll steek your een in death:
Not you nor a’ the hounds o’ hell
Can my undaunted courage quell."
When waving straight his club on high,
That whisselt as it cut the sky -
"See ye, Sir, that gnarell’d aik,
Wi’ which if I but gie ae straik
Athort the shanks or ower the head,
I’d dye the North-esk river red,
And make at once the azure flood;
One purple stream of Kelpie’s blood;
To show how easily I’ll drub ye,
See, there I’ve flung away my club, ye,
For wi’ my ain twa neives I’ll smack ye
Tho’ a’ the deils in hell should back ye;
Sae, therefore, if you wish to thrive,
Be stepping ! - show your havins ! - dive!!
"Yelta billie," quo’ the Kelpie,
"I carena for your threats - God help ye!
Gae bluster somewhere else, for here
Ye maunna think to domineer;
If I but grip you by the collar,
I’ll gar you gape, and glower, and gollar,
An’ thratch an’ thraw for want of breath -
Ae squeeze o’ that wad be your death;"
When, shakin’ fierce his horny paw,
He gae a wild and loud gaffa:
Raised sic a rutherair and clatter,
The red brae tummelt i’ the water;
The brig across the Northesk river
Did echo back the sound and shiver.
Had Mary Brig been then, I reckon,
That brig had frae its centre shaken.

="It is but richt your wraith to settle,"
Quo’ John, "that you should know my mettle.
I’m weel ken’d here an’ far awa -
My name is John o’ Arnha’!
I slew three hunder Dublin bouchers,
For whilk I’m fit to show you vouchers;
I gar’d the pows flee aff their bodies,
Like nippin’ heads frae carl doddies.
I’ve been through Hollan’, Spain, and France,
And at Vienna learn’d to dance;
I tript it neat in silks an’ satin,
An’ to the damsels jabbert Latin;
This lingo here but few can speak it
Better than a pig could squeak it;
But gin ye only understand it,
Ye’ll hear how nicely I mowband it;
_Rummilforgan bardinarus_
_Hoo nig fig gnippiti gnarus_
_Drumhargelbargum skipperatis_-"
The Kelpie scronnocht "_Punctum satis!_
Your crack-jaw words of half an ell,
That rumble like a witch’s spell,
Are nae the leed of ony tongue,
That ever in a head was hung,
Sin lingo was confused at Babel;
They mind me of a Turkey’s gabble."

=Quo’ John, "They’re Latin, but by jingo,
Ye’se get the rest in haimert lingo;
Sic’ themes were never made to suit
Your dozen’d lugs, ye duxy brute:
An’ you that aye ‘mang water buller,
How can you be a classic scholar!
In Africa I’ve preached to pagans,
At Coromandel danc’d wi’ dragons;
On India’s plains I’ve ruled mullatoes;
At Etna’s flames, I’ve roas’n ‘tatoes;
I’ve seen it spew its liquid lava
Ower a’ Jerusalem and Java,
And rain, in hellish showers, its danders
On Holland, Poland, France, and Flanders;
I in its wame heard Vulcan ruddy
Upon his triple tempert studdy -
 A limpin’ spaviet bruikit wicht,
Wi’ oily hide - a perfect fricht;
He swat and yarkit wi’ his hammer,
The sparks flew frae his steel like glamour;
Twa black, outlandish gruesome fellows,
Were puffin’ at his smiddy bellows;
Upo’ the richt a mighty stove
For forgin’ thunderbolts to Jove -
This nicht they’re whizzin’ through the sky,
Sae better to you mind your eye."
Said Kelpie, "That I’ll take my chance on,
But faith, I sadly dread ye’re scancin’;
I mark him for a smeerless dolt,
Wha’d jouk t’ eschew a thunderbolt;
Let rain descend and tempests roar,
I’ll meet you on this dreary shore;
Though lightning blaze and thunder rattle,
I’m here prepared to give you battle;
I charge you braggart to prepare
For deeds of might - not words of air."

="I ne’er," quo’ John, "like some, grow vain,
Or fecht my battles o’er again;
I only dinna wish to cheat ye,
To raise your wrath and syne defeat ye;
It’s meet, before the battle rage,
You ken the foe ye’ve to engage.
I scorn a’ leears and their lees;
I’ve been on islands made o’ cheese:
Cross’d lakes o’ bladdo milk and whay,
As braid and deep as Forth and Tay.
Frae Catterthun to Copenhagen
I rade upon a fiery dragon.
(Right through the air like _Sancha Pancha_,
And brave _Don Quixote de la Mancha_),
Ten mile o’ tail hung at his rump,
Compar’d to some ‘twas but a stump.
Upon the sedgy banks of Nile
I’ve tiltit wi’ the crocodile;
Wi’ unicorns and alligators,
Fell tygers, elephants, and satyrs.
Like Hercules, the wale o’ men,
I’ve dar’d the lion in his den:
When vengeance throu’ my peepers glowr’d,
The stately monarch fawn’d and cowr’d,
An’ creepin’, lickit at my feet,
Like ony collie on the street.
Upo’ the coast of Labrador
I’ve heard five hunder kelpies roar -
Five thousand faith! - the deil ane fewer,
And each ten times as big as you are;
I offer’d battle to them a’ -
The cowards youl’d and ran awa’."
(The kelpie "grinn’d an eldric laugh;"
An’ rubb’d his hooves upo’ the haugh);
Quo’ John, "ye needna scrape and nicker,
I’m neither fey nor waur o’ licker;
I tell the truth - and hark ye sirrah,
I slew upon _Del Feuga Terra_,
A Giant, in height twal ell some inches,
An’ sax between the oxter kinches;
Lang fresh he lay preserv’d ‘mang snaw,
And frosty winds that there aye blaw;
But vultures pick’d his big banes bare,
And lined their nests wi’s blood-stain’d hair;
Compar’d to him ye’re but a dwarf,
The wind o’s neives had gar’d you swarf -
This very day too, i’ the market,
Five hunder sturdy hides I yarkit;
Between the shore and Kittlenakit,
There’s few but I baith pran’d and paikit,
Spar’d neither man nor mither’s son -
Yea, claw’d the back o’ _Horner John!_
Sae clean and snell the cracks I gaed ‘m,
The heels flew ower the ugly head o’m;
And tho’ ye be the water-kelpie,
I’ll wad my whittle I sall skelp ye."

=When castin’s coat, he spat in’s looves,
And bade the Kelpie use his hooves;
In dour conflict the parties clos’d,
Head to head - hands to hooves oppos’d;
Teugh was the tulzie, and for lang
Success in equal balance hang.
The Kelpie tried wi’ John to grapple,
But Arn caught him by the thrapple,
And gar’d his carcase sweep the stanners,
Whilk made a noise like corn fanners;
He puff’d an’ blew like ony whale -
He scourged the water wi’ his tail,
An’ threush on John as wi’ a flail.
John pran’d him down among the mud,
And bade him lash his ain heart’s blood,
That ran in torrents frae his side,
And chang’d the colour o’ the tide.

=The fiend, forjeskit, tried to ‘scape,
Throu’ frequent changin’ o’ his shape;
In various forms he did appear,
Sometimes a horse, sometimes a deer -
A wren - a hawk - a goose - a fox -
A tender lamb, or pondrous ox -
A ravenous wolf - a tim’rous hare -
A savage lion, or growling bear;
Then straight began to dive and frisk
Throu’ and throu’ the troubled Esk;
Row heels-o’er-head upo’ the banks,
Wi’ mony sic unseemly pranks,
An’ nicker, bark, squeak, grunt, and gabble,
As he’d taen out’s degrees at Babel:
But a’ his airts could not avail him,
In every shape did John assail him;
And to ilk bellow, roust, and roar,
He lustily cried out, encore!
Till echo, for ten miles around,
Did to the horrid scoil resound.

=Now terror siez’d the Kelpie’s soul,
An’ for assistance he did yowl!
At’s call anon haill legions drive
Like swarms o’ bees frae out a hive;
Like midgies after summer shower,
(Frail tenants of a fleeting hour);
Or like the locusts sent on Pharaoh,
Enough the stoutest heart to harrow.
A thousand phantoms skimm’d the breeze,
"As thick as mites in rotten cheese;"
Not harmless spirits, boding luck,
Like Robin, Mustard-seed, or Puck;
Or Brownies, aye discreet and civil;
But a’ intent on working evil.

=In wild array, the warlock men
Held orgies in Saint Martin’s Den;
Deep i’ the glack, and round the well-
Their mystic rites I canna tell;
None form’d of flesh, e’er dar’d to scan
The secrets of their dark divan.

=Towards the west, auld Logie Kirk
Threw livid gleams athort the mirk;
The boards o’ coffins fed the flames
(New houkit by the weirden dames),
Whilk, dipt in sulphur gae them licht
To hatch their spells by magic’s sleicht;
They blaz'd and crackelt i’ the blast,
And round a ghastly glimmering cast;
The last remains of human clay,
That in the grave’s dark chambers lay,
Were turn’d up to the pale blue licht;
The smell was loathsome - dire the sicht;
The skulls, and banes, and boards in cairns,
Lay scatter’d round amo’ the ferns,
The hags, wi’ mony a "horrid stave,"
Gaed whiskin’ round ilk herriet grave.
The corbies scraight - the owlets scream’d,
A gusty cawdron boil’d and feam’d,
In which the beldames, eident, threw
Ingredients hideous to the view;
An’ ay’s they steer’d them wi’ a theevil,
They mummelt "crowdy for the deevil."
And for a theevil they did use
A sturdy stump o’ knotty spruce.
Wi’ whilk a son came crash, O vow,
Outower his father’s bare auld pow!
An’ still the faithfu’ bark retains,
The sacrilegious sinfu’ stains,
Of lappert blood and human brains.

=The thunder roar’d - the sweepin’ blast,
Their reekit riven rags, blew past,
An’ show’d their parchment thro’ the glim,
Reistit, squalid, swarth, and grim;
The skin hang down in shrivell’d flaps,
Like spleuchans o’er their teethless chaps;
Throu’ skinny lips their blasted breath
Mix’d wi’ the wind and smelt of death.
A waesum, wild, wanliesum sicht,
Enough to quench the fires of nicht,
And blanch the lightning’s livid licht.
Nae "winsome wench" was there, I ween,
Like _Cutty Sark_, to cheer the scene,
But blackest horror reign’d profound,
And threw its veil o’er all around.

=Wi’ breathless terror, and with awe,
John spied what cow’d him warst ava’;
The dame wha ga’e him sic a fricht,
An’ frae the Loan-head took her flicht;
The hag that vow’d to work his ruin,
And set the hurricane a brewin’:
"Elspet, Mauzie, fatal sisters,
Of the thread o’ life the twisters" -
She cried "come quickly, let us brew
Frae hemlock, hellebore, and yew:
And by the cauldron’s paley leam
We’ll do the deed without a name;
Let each fling in her darge of death,
To ‘nick the thread and choke the breath.’
But are ye sure he hasna pass’t."

==ELSPET.

I smell the braggart i’ the blast.

==MAUZIE.

Then, sisters, here’s a bishop’s gizzard -

==ELSPET.

The tongue of Michael Scott the wizard.

==GRIZZEL.

Three yauldrin’s eggs, wi’ devil’s blood;
Five draps in each, ere since the flood.

==MAUZIE.

Three brander’t bats, weel stew’d and slic’d,
Wi’ stour o’ dead men’s een weel spic’d.

==ELSPET.

Twa howlet’s een - a corbie’s maw; -
The gullet of a hoodie craw.

==MAUZIE.

Scum the cauldron - feed the fuel -
Come, steer about the smervy gruel.

==ELSPET.

The liver of an unspean’d kitten -

==MAUZIE.

The thumb o’ Faustus’ doddy mitten.

==GRIZZEL.

The kaim and bells of cock that crew
Ere morning night’s black curtain drew.

==ELSPET.

The dying drops by Voltaire sweaten.

==GRIZZEL.

The gagger lip o’ Card’nal Beaton.

==MAUZIE.

From wand of Sidrophel a sprig -
Three curls of Justice Jeffries’ wig -
Wi’ nine draps of his black heart’s gore,
Extracted frae the very core.

==GRIZZEL.

Weel done, Mauzie, that’s a spell
Wad conjure a’ the deils in hell;
Pour the heart’s blood, drop and drop;
See how it flares upo’ the top!
Three an’ three, an’ three, make nine, -
Steer about the hellish brine."

=They scum’d the cauldron, fed the fuel -
They steer’d and pree’d the smervy gruel.
The mair they steer’d, the mair they pree’d,
The mair increas’d their hellish speed.
They flang and lap, an’ lap and flang -
Fleyt and yammert, grat and sang -
Flew ower and ower the dreary biggin’,
An’ raid stride-legs upo’ the riggin’.
O mercy! what a shamefu’ sicht -
The bats and howlets scream’d wi’ fricht;
Wi’ mony wild, unearthly cry
They skirr’d alang the blazin’ sky.

=Wicked hags, abhorr’d and shameless,
Your ither pranks shall here be nameless;
For vow! your cantrips to hae seen
Had petrified a priest to stane;
An’ flesh wad creep to hear it utter’d,
The sinfu’ jargon that ye mutter’d.
Ay, legs wad totter - knees wad bend -
Blood leave the cheek - hair stand on end -
Cauld sweat distil - the bleach’d lip quiver;
The haill machine wad shake and shiver;
Een wildly stare, and stout hearts fail,
To hear sae strange sae wild a tale.

=The vagrant dead, a gloomy host,
Now march’d frae Pluto’s "dreary coast,"
And onward scour’d, in waefu’ train -
The shades of those wham John had slain.
Three hundred fleeting forms, and more,
A’ grim in death and soil’d wi’ gore;
Goblins whinnert thro’ the air
Wi’ chowlin’ chafts and burnin’ hair;
Gruesome fiends, black, gruff, and grim,
Weel charg’d wi’ brunstane to the brim;
Daemons, dragons, spectres dire,
Spewin’ reek, an’ riftin’ fire;
An’ grisly ghaists, and "devils damn’d,"
Wi’ liquid fire and sulphur cramm’d,
Flew to the spot, and full in view
Danc’d round poor John th’ infernal crew.
New murder’d corses skimm’d the heath,
Wat wi’ the cauld dew-draps o’ death;
They glided past like snaw or sleet,
There faces pale’s their win’in’ sheet;
Some glowr’d and thratch’d, in deadly thraws,
Wi’ death-fix’d een and open jaws;
Syne glampit at the vacant air,
An’ vanish’d wi’ the lightning’s glare.

=Now grimly kyth’d amang the crew
"The master-fiend that Milton drew."
He dought appear in ony shape,
Down frae a Titan to an ape,
Or, as his whimsies might prevail,
Up frae an emmet to a whale;
Or less, or bigger far than either,
Or in nae shape ava thegither;
That night, albeit, wi’ solemn air,
He filled the Judge’s sacred chair;
To mete out _justice_ to his _lieges_,
His _gravity_ was most prodigious;
Wi’ specks on nose, and three-tail’d wig,
The wary fiend loom’d bluff and big;
Dark lurid clouds around him hung,
And vengeance hurtl’d on his tongue;
His wig, wi’ sulphur powder’d well,
In ringlets o’er his shoulders fell,
Upon a robe of sable hue,
Made frae the stuff that never grew-
That ne’er was spun by mortal hand,-
The produce of another land!
The forkit lightning form’d his _chair!_
His _bench_, a murky cloud of air,
Condens’d in form, it stood before ‘m:
Chief justice of th’ infernal _Quorum_.
Swith wi’ ae glance the motley crew
Were rang’d within his eagle view.

=Alack-a-day! waesucks for John!
His mergh an’ mettle now are gone;
Courage, vigour, might, and glory,
Are fleeting all, and transitory;
Naething steady here is found-
The very earth itsel’ flees round,
Just like a tap, or whirliegiggin’,
That fouk can scarcely keep its riggin’,
But are in danger, O Gude guide us!
Of being toss’d on _Georgium Sidus!_
Forc’d to a comet’s tail to cling,
Or whirl round on Saturn’s ring.

=Nae man can be a man for ever,
The hour is come and John maun shiver,
And shake like willow wi’ the wind,
Or Quaker after having sinn’d;
For wha cou’d fecht wi’ forms o’ air,
Or ware their flesh on banes sae bare?
An’ weel kend he, it was nae joke
To tig wi’ fiends that vomit smoke;
Or yet wi’ wirrycows to mingle,
That brunstane beish, or bock up ingle.

=He stood aghast, in waefu’ case,
Wi’ duntin’ heart and ruefu’ face;
Tho’ still he strove his fears to hide,
He thocht upon his ain fire-side;
How neighbour _Tam_, secure frae harms,
Lay sound asleep in _Elspa’s_ arms,
While he was daidlet like a wonder,
Drench’d wi’ rain, and deav’d wi’ thunder;
And piercing wind, and lightning’s sheen,
Were like to blind his lookin’ een;
In danger, too, at ilka breath,
Of being "claid in his last claith;"
For sic a crew wad thocht nae sin
To "birze his saul ayont the skin;"
Or lang before the night was done,
To douk him deep in _Acheron_.

=Ahon! for man’s uncertain state!
What waes on life’s grim journey wait!
What dangers are we doom’d to brave
"Between the cradle and the grave!"

=The chieftain now, wi’ yell and whoop,
To order call’d his grisly troop;
"Thrice he yowl’d throu’ lungs o’ leather,"
To bring the ghastly bands thegither.
This done - for music loud he roar’d;"
A sullen voice growl’d - "Yes, my Lord;"
And in a wink before him stood
A figure neither flesh nor blood.
At first the mirk obscur’d its form;
It hover’d dimly through the storm,
And whisper’t John, "Know, to your cost,
I am the Patagonian’s ghost,
Whom you in _Terra Fuego_ slew,
Musician to this hellish crew.
If I had only play’d my spring,
I’ll gar your ribs, you rascal, ring,
As ye did mine upon Cape Horn:
Ye’se never see the light of morn."

=When lo! a flash o’ livid light
Unveil’d him quickly to the sight.
He tower’d aloft, just like a steeple;
Or say, like Saul aboon the people;
His een were dismal, hollow sockets,
"As empty as a poet’s pockets;"
I mean a poet in days of yore,
For now they’ve gowd an’ gear galore;
But muses vile, their lays inspire,
When Pegasus is rode for hire!
Howe’er so sweet they spring from art,
Gowd fires the head, but chills the heart.

=Sae fares it, _Wattie Scott_, wi’ you,
Ye "piper to the bold Buccleugh,"
Ye "Screw your pipes, an’ gar them skirl,"
Till siller frae our pouches birl.
Ye write baith in an’ out o’ season,
Three verse for _rhyme_ to one for _reason;_
It’s true your lines rin smooth an’ clink weel;
But oh! you like the bookman’s chink weel!
As soon’s ye clench each flowing line,
Twa gowden guineas clink and shine:
They charm your _ear_, they charm your _eye_,
"With all a poet’s ecstacy."
Heavenly music, heavenly fire,
Eneugh auld _Plutus_ to inspire,
Or gar the Deevil streek his lyre;
E’en poesy draw from Turks and Jews,
For gowd may sometimes fee a Muse.

=O shame upon your venal lyre,
It heats my vera blood to fire,
To hear your fulsome partial praise
Peal’d through "Don Rod’rick’s" lofty lays!
There _living_ heroes ride sublime
Upon the surge of flowing rhyme;
But weary fa’ your tunefu’ tongue,
The _dead_ lie silent and unsung;
Wi’ foreign mools deep cover’d o’er
Upon Corunna’s dreary shore.

=Belike they mauna grace thy page
That canna yield thee patronage.

=I grudge not WELLINGTON his fame;
I grudge not BERESFORD a name;
Or "glory to the gallant GRAEME!"
But should not every honour due
Be paid the dead and living too?
By Heaven!  I swear ye’re sair to blame?
That MOORE should "rest without his fame."
How could you, Scott, forget the grave
Where sleep the ashes of the brave?
But yet, Sir, glory’s wreath shall bloom
Around his hallow’d, silent tomb;
And streaming eyes shall view the spot,
When "Rod’rick’s Vision" is forgot.

=You seek the court, and flee the lawn!
To wealth you cringe - on power you fawn!
Pour incense at the courtier’s shrine:
Wi’ you, the Great are aye Divine!
You dinna "sing to village churls,
But to high dames and mighty earls."
Then sing, Sir, to the rich - the great -
The proper gudgeons for your bait:
Help Southey wi’ his _Birth-day Odes!_
Make princes angels, victors Gods;
And as you greet the royal ears,
Forget not, oh! to "rend the spheres!"
And give them honour, grace, and glory,
As I do in this humble story.

=For _you_ to fawn sae, ‘tis a shame!
Indeed poor Southey’s nae to blame;
For wha could Laureate be appointit
That wadna laud the Lord’s anointit -
His ministers and a’ their measures,
The pomp of princes and their pleasures;
That wadna gloss ilk public greivance,
And screen the hirelings of St. Stephen’s;
Nay, laud a _spy_ or ruthless _jailor_-
But wae betide thee, "_Watty Tyler!_"
Thou’st laid the Laureate on his back,
An’ gard him shiver for his _sack:_
It’s true, dear Bays, and well you know it,
Yet still you are a pretty poet;
I therefore pray thee to excuse
The havins of a hamely muse:
She ne’er was taught finesse or fawning,
Like _Castlereagh_ and _Mister Canning_.

=It’s easy for the "best of kings"
To deal about his straps and strings,
And ony courtly cringing wight
To dub a Marquis or a Knight;
Or to create, by the same rule,
A Renegade his _poet_ and _fool!_
A sordid elf, to pipe for pay;
In politics the _Priest of Bray!_
But can he mak’ an HONEST MAN?-
Ah! sorrow fa’ me if he can!
So sang the Bard, now dead and gone-
Poor BURNS!  Apollo’s dearest son!
"‘Tis said, and I believe the tale,
His humblest reed could more prevail-
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all that charms this laggard age."
Yet still a narrow-minded few,
A feeble, canting, creeping crew,
Conspire to blast his honest fame,
And heap reproaches on his name;
Because, alas! the Bard has shown
Far finer feelings than their own,
He wasna just a saint like Southey,
That never sinn’d nor yet was drouthy:
What tho’ he lik’d a social glass-
What tho’ he lo’ed a bonnie lass?-
He ne’er disgrac’d his well strung lyre,
By chaunting balderdash for hire;
Nor roos’d he ony courtly elf,
Or bow’d the knee for warld’s pelf.
The mavis as she hails the morn,
The speckl’d gowd-spink on the thorn,
The lark, on dewy pinions borne,
Pour forth their lays for sic reward
As did their kindred rural bard;
Ae kindly blink o’ Jeanie’s e’e
O’erpaid him for his minstrelsy.
His tale is told, his song is sung-
Deaf is his ear, and mute his tongue;
The pigmies now may safely rail-
He canna answer for himsel’;
And if he dought, wha wad hae dar’d
To tamper wi’ the mighty Bard?
It wad be folly in a wren
To beard the lion in his den.

=Wae worth the Bard, again I say,
That sings for guerdon or for pay.

=Now, by my fay, I’m going bonny on,
I’d maist forgot the Patagonian;
Like Butler, wi’ his bear and fiddle,
I’ve left the subject i’ the middle;
But to my story now I’ll fast stick;
I mauna fa’ the Hudibrastick.

=Well, soaring o’er the squalid host,
We left the giant’s grimly ghost;
Like the oak above the underwood,
In majesty the spectre stood.

=His banes were bare, and bleach’d like linen,
While ev’ry art’ry, nerve and sinnen,
Were screw’d in concert, flat and sharp,
To whistle like the AEolian harp.
Ilk tendon, taght like thairm, was lac’d;
Twa wounds, seem’d sound holes, on his breast;
And as the wind at times fell low,
Or ceas’d a hurricane to blow,
His fingers then supplied the blast,
As o’er the twanging chords they past;
And neither thunder, rain, or fire,
Could e’er untune that awsome lyre.

=As soon’s he rear’d him to the storm,
His shrivell’d fibres ‘gan to mourn;
And frae his hollow trunk soon came out
A’ the notes upo’ the gamut.
First dismal sounds of deep despair
Burst hollow on the troubelt air,
Join’d by the minstrel’s vocal tones-
Unearthly wails, and dolefu’ groans;
The air was sad - the key was low-
The words were wild - the measure slow:
Anon he trill’d it, light and airy,
Sweet as the harp of ony fairy,
When lightly trip the tiny crew
O’er hillocks green, and tipple dew;
As if to show his lyric skill,
And that the tones were at his will:
But voices grummelt, "Please your honour,
We canna hear him for the thunner!"
When Sathan bellow’d, fierce with ire-
"You duxy lubber, brace your lyre!
Still higher yet! you fiend, play higher!!"

=Now, swith wi’ vir, he whirl’d him round,
An hideous instrument of sound!
His fleshless fingers swept the lyre
With all a minstrel’s force and fire:
Oh then, indeed! the coil began,
Sic sounds ne’er reach’d the ear of man:
From right and left, before, behind,
He flang his music on the wind;
In whispers, sighs, loud yells and screams,
Such as are heard in devil’s dreams;
Eldrich, eerie, uncouth strains,
That turn’d a’ their heads and brains:
Till midnight hags did round him gallop,
An’ gard their wither’d hurdies wallop!
Hobgobblins round an’ round him whirl’d,
Auld grey-beard warlocks lap an’ skirl’d,
Pou’d the hair frae ithers’ pallets,
And tore, in wraith, the witches’ callets!
The lightnin’ flash’d - the wind blew sharper,
Louder squeel’d the fleshless harper!
O’er treble height he rais’d his lays,
The thunder growl’d a double base!
‘Till swith inspir’d by his ain lyre,
He up and till’t himsel’ like fire-
Hurra’d, an’ cheer’d, an’ feez’d his chanter,
An’ lap, like Meg to Rob the Ranter!
Shook his brainless skull in passion,
And roar’d like ony bull o’ Bashun.
As thro’ the mazy dance he whirlt,
The vera ground beneath him dirlt.
Still loud and louder howl’d the storm-
The harper skirlt up "_Tullochgorum_;"
Follow’d fast by "_Callum Brogie_,"
"_Delvin Side_," and "_Boat o’ Logie._"
Wi’ vengefu’ vir, and norlan’ twang.
Till a’ his banes and fibres rang;
An’ a’ the devils in a ring
Yarkit up the Highland fling;
They yell’d and whiskit round and round
And duntit wi’ their paws the ground;
"The vera moudiworts were stunn’d:"
E’en Sathan seem’d to enjoy the sport;
He cried, "My hearties, that’s your sort;
Come, keep it up, my jolly boys!
Nor let me interrupt your joys;
Ill wad it suit my robes and wig,
To whirl in a waltz or jig;
But be assur’d, neist haly night,
I’ll skelp it up wi’ a’ my might:
Fandangos, ‘jigs, strathspeys, and reels,’
Ay, till the fire flee frae my heels."
The Assembly echoed their applause,
And cheer’d him thrice wi’ loud huzzas!
The vera ghaists play’d antic pranks,
They screight an’ shook their spindle-shanks!
An’ lent each other ruthless paiks
Athort the bare and merghless spaiks;
While still, at ilka thud and sough,
They cried, "weel done! - hey! - hilloa!! - whoogh!!!"
Clappit their wither’d hands an’ leugh,
‘Till, ‘mid the din of dance and battle,
Their banes were heard for miles to rattle!
Beatin’ time, expert and nimble,
Douff like drum, and snell like cymble;.
An’ aye’s they fell to crockinition,
Their wizzent timbers stour’d like sneishin;
An’ flew, in duds, athort the lift,
As choakin’ thick as yowden drift.

=Puir John was fain to clear their range, or
Sooth his ribs had been in danger;
For mony a time, when eident loupin’
They slyly tried heels up to coup ‘im;
An’ fidgin’ fain to try his mettle,
Did mony a lerrup at him ettle;
But Belzie bade them stand aloof,
Till of his guilt they brought some proof.

=When lo! a Spectre, lank and pale,
Advanc’d to tell his waefu’ tale;
Wi’ mony a scar his visage frown’d,
His bosom gash’d wi’ mony a wound:
His een were out, but thro’ the sockets
The lightnin’ play’d like Congreve rockets!
His maughtless hands on’s thigh-bones clatter’d,
His fleshless jaws on ither chatter’d,
The wind sang thro’ his sapless form,
Which rockit to the roarin’ storm,
And issuing mony a dreary sound,
Join’d concert with the scene around.
"Grim King of brunstane, soot, and fire,"
He said "I come at your desire;
An allagrugous, gruesome spectre,
A’ gor’d and bor’d, like Trojan Hector:
How slim and shrivell’d is that corpus,
That ance was plump as ony porpus;
In darkness, and on whirlwinds borne,
On me ne’er blinks the light of morn;
Nor zephyrs, blawn by breath o’ day,
Can on my pallid carcase play:
My flesh, devour’d by hungry worms,
Has left my banes to dree the storms
Of wind and rain and fire ‘s you see -
O mercy! what will come o’ me."

=He shook, convuls’d, and strove to cry-
His tears were drain’d - the source was dry;
The rain ran down his cheek-banes, clear,
Unmingl’d wi’ ae briny tear;
His moisture a’ was drunken up,
And bitter, bitter was his cup:
Deep frae his breast came mony a groan-
He paus’d a while, and then went on:
"Ance dear to me the morning ray-
Ance dear the radiant beams of day;
And sweet the gloamin’s purple gleam
That dy’d the bosom of the stream;
But now, mair welcome to my sight
The darksome hues of dreary night,
And a’ that nature’s face deforms,
Dire earthquakes, famine, fire, and storms;
I carena though this globe should moulder,
An’ a’ creation gae to sculder!"

=To whom the chief - "Your murmurs cease!
I see the hardship of your case;
But this is not the point in hand-
Come, tell me quickly, I command-
Upon your oath - if that’s the man
Who circumscribed your mortal span?"
(His right hand, pointing streight to John,
Who clos’d his eyes, and heav’d a groan).
He swore - then said, "May I be scourg’d
If I am not of malice purg’d,
And eke revenge, and partial counsel,
Albeit the brute has used my sconce ill;
Wi’ mony words I winna deave ye,
Mark down _depones affirmative_."
Syne chowl’d his chanler chafts at John,
And vanish’d wi’ a’ dolefu’ groan.
John chowl’d again - and cried, "I scorn ye,
Ye shadow of a sly attorney;
If such as you I’d only slain,
My arm had ne’er been rais’d in vain."

=Swith, wi’ a low and hollow sound,
A Figure startit throu’ the ground,
And rais’d baith yird and stane upright:
O vow! it was an awsome sight.
A headless trunk, in anguish, stood,
Sair bor’d wi’ wounds, and smear’d wi’ blood:
Ae arm a stump - the ither bore
The gausty pallet, grim wi’ gore.
He loutit him wi’ due respeck,
An’ toutit throu’ his hummel neck:
His speech was eldrich and uncouth,
‘Cause, losin’s head, he’d lost his mouth:
He spake a language, rough and rude,
Yet he was eithly understood.
The Judge exclaim’d - "Enough! retire!!
And hark ye! raise a rousin’ fire!!"
He flang at John the gory pow,
An’ disappear’d a’ in a low.

=The Harper, in a mournfu’ strain,
Sang how by John he had been slain;
And how he lay upon Cape Horn,
His flesh by rav’nous vultures torn;
Sang how they pick’d his banes sae bare,
And plucket frae his pow the hair
To nestle saft their savage young:
A dowie sang as e’er was sung.
An’ how, without a’ earthly motion,
His ghost had cross’d the Atlantic ocean,
Five thousand miles frae his cauld hame,
Swift gliding o’er the saut sea feam;
While, as he skim’d the ocean along,
He harpit to the Mermaid’s song;
And he harpit high, and he harpit low,
As the air was calm, or the wind might blow;
Until his will and weary ghost
Came bump against the _Scotian_ coast;
And soon by the breeze frae the land he smelt
It was there where his bloody murderer dwelt,
More he said ‘twas bootless to tell,
The rest was known to Nick full well.
Here the _Justice_ nodded assent,
And harping away the Minstrel went.

=The Kelpie likewise gae his aith,
That John had tried to stap his breath,
An’ did misguide him past resistance,
Afore he roar’d out for assistance.

=Now mony a gaunt and shadowy form
Rode hideous on the roaring storm;
In grim procession, rank and file,
Their line extended mony a mile:
They pointed to their gaping wounds,
And skim’d alang wi’ eerie sounds:
As each pass’d John in sad review,
The blood stream’d frae his wounds anew,
Which, plainer told than words might tell,
‘Twas by his murd’rous hands they fell.

=Like vision in a Prophet’s dream,
The chief bestrode the North-esk stream;
Ae foot in Mearns, and ane in Angus
(Lord keep sic gentry out amang us!):
Colossus-like, he tower’d on high,
Till, wi’ his wig, he brush’d the sky;
Then, loud as thunder, roar’d out "Havock!
The sound rang throu’ the hill o’ Garvock;
O’er Marykirk and Coble-heugh,
And down the dale wi’ hollow sough;
While Craigo woods, and Martin’s Den,
Re-echoed "Havock" back again:
Loud howl’d the yawning caves of nicht;
The watch-dogs yirr’d and youf’d wi’ fricht;
The foxes wildly yowl’d wi’ wonder,
And whing’d, and cow’rd, and left their plunder;
The timid teuchit slouch’d its crest,
And cuddled closer to its nest;
The watchfu’ mate flaff’d i’ the gale,
Wi’ eerie screech and plaintive wail,
Now soar’d aloft, now scuff’d the ground,
And wheel’d in mony an antic round;
The trouts div’d deeper i’ the brook,
The hare, like ony aspin, shook,
And mortals quak’d on beds of fear,
As echo pierc’d the drowsy ear;
Their rest disturb’d - they wist not how,
The clammy sweat stood on the brow;
They hear’d the wind and beating rain,
An’ dover’t o’er asleep again.
Wi’ mony a sigh and dolefu’ grane,
John gaz’d stramulyert on the scene:
Dim wax’d the lustre o’ his e’e,
He guess’d the wierd he had to dree;
Ilk creature’s dread ‘twere vain to tell,
E’en frae the benmost bores o’ hell,
The damn’d rebellow’d back the yell!
Like lions prowlin’ for their food,
Or tygers bath’d in human blood;
Grim furies spread their forkit fangs,
An’ drove at John wi’ furious bangs:
Neist witches claught him in a crack,
An’ roove the duds frae afT his back;
The spunkies round his hurdies hirsel’d,
Till’s vera hide was peel’d and birsel’d.
Wi’ wicked glee the warlocks dous’d him.
And splash! into the river sous’d him!
Oh! never sin’ he first was cradelt,
Was John sae sadly dung and daidelt.
Again they trail’d him to the shore-
For mercy he began to roar:
In turn the Kelpie cried, "Encore!
Mercy! surely! ha, ha, te hee!
Sic mercy as you show’d to me!
Sic mercy as you show’d the Bouchers-
Ow! whare’s your _Latin_ now and _vouchers_,
Your fiery dragons and mullatoes,
Your burning mounts and roas’n ‘tatoes!
Your silks and satin, fibs, and scancin’,
Your airy flights, and foreign dancin’:
We hae ye, billie, i’ the grip,
An’ damn the dog that let’s ye slip;
As lang’s the blood runs i’ your veins,
Or, while there’s flesh upon your banes:
You never mair shall see your hame;
Nay, from the book of life your name,
Before the cock proclaim the morn,
Is doom’d to be eras’d and torn."

=Now fierce each miscreated form
Career’d upon the mid-night storm,
Around their prey, wi’ ghastly grin,
And stunn’d his ears wi’ horrid din:
They gnash’d their teeth, and spat and snor’d;
Some squall’d like cats - some hoarsely roar’d;
The wildest howls, compar’d to theirs,
Might seem the music of the spheres.
Earth trembl’d thrice! another shake
Had clear’d the cuff o’ Atlas’ neck,
And launch’d this mighty Ball apace,
To range the bounds of endless space.
It cogl’d thrice, but at the last
It rested on his shoulders fast.

=Still, huge in stature, stood the chief,
Like Lochnagar, or Teneriffe;
When clouds upon their summits lie,
They seem to prop a low’ring sky:
He loudly howl’d - "Ye furies catch him,
And to the sooty regions snatch him:
Swith! do your work - flay, blast, and burn,
The hour that severs night from morn
Is on the wing and soon ye’ll hear
The silver voice of Chanticleer:
Then haste before the dawn of day
Deprive us of our lawful prey-
Come! clapperclaw him while ye may."

=Now a’ the crew prepar’d at ance
To shower a volley on his banes,
And peal’d forth sic an awsome yell-
He swarf’d wi’ fear, and senseless fell
Upon the sward, wi’ hollow groan,
And lay as cauld and still’s a stone;
While, in their reckless random speed,
To number him among the dead,
The fiends row’d ower him where he lay,
And grappelt ither for their prey.
But, ere he met his final doom,
Aurora peep’d athwart the gloom;
The grey cock clapp’d his wings and crew-
The Harper loud a parley blew;
The morning air sang i’ the blast;-
The hour of retribution’s past!
And helter-skelter, swift aff flew
The Deil an’ a’ the infernal crew:
They scream’d - then vanish’d frae the sight,
Like empty visions o’ the night.
The bleeding shadows of the slain
Fast glided to their graves again,
A’ cauld and pale, as snaw-flakes driven
Athwart the dusky arch of Heaven,
When winter waves his frozen spear,
And sternly rules the "varied year;"
And wing’d, with speed, the fiendish host
Betook them to another coast;
But what that coast, or where it lay,
Is not for silly Bard to say.

=And now the thunder ceas’d to roar,
The forked lightning flash’d no more:
Rain ceas’d to fa’ - the wind to breathe,
An’ a’ was calm and still as death-
A’, save the rushing o’ the stream,
And past events seem’d like a dream.

=No farther light the record gives,
Save that the valiant hero lives,
A pilgrim on this mortal stage,
And has attained a good old age;
That it hath been his happy lot
_Five times_ to tie the nuptial knot:
To be the spouse of five sweet flowers
As ever blush’d in bridal bowers;
A dire reproach to every dunce
That never grac’d the altar _once!_
Lang may he live, unvex’d with care:
"None but the brave deserves the fair;"-
Lang may he live, baith hale and sound,
And never feight another round,
"Till Death slip sleely on, and gie the hinmost wound."


~~~~~~~







WATER KELPIE MARK ON THE STONE OF MORPHIE




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