I Lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend,
A something to have sent you,
Tho' it should serve nae ither end
Than just a kind memento:
But how the subject-theme may gang,
Let time and chance determine;
Perhaps it may turn out a sang:
Perhaps turn out a sermon.
Ye'll try the world soon, my lad;
And, Andrew dear, believe me,
Ye'll find mankind an unco squad,
And muckle they may grieve ye:
For care and trouble set your thought,
Ev'n when your end's attained;
And a' your views may come to nought,
Where ev'ry nerve is strained.
I'll no say, men are villains a';
The real, harden'd wicked,
Wha hae nae check but human law,
Are to a few restricked;
But, Och! mankind are unco weak,
An' little to be trusted;
If self the wavering balance shake,
It's rarely right adjusted!
Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife,
Their fate we shouldna censure;
For still, th' important end of life
They equally may answer;
A man may hae an honest heart,
Tho' poortith hourly stare him;
A man may tak a neibor's part,
Yet hae nae cash to spare him.
Aye free, aff-han', your story tell,
When wi' a bosom crony;
But still keep something to yoursel',
Ye scarcely tell to ony:
Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can
Frae critical dissection;
But keek thro' ev'ry other man,
Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.
The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,
Luxuriantly indulge it;
But never tempt th' illicit rove,
Tho' naething should divulge it:
I waive the quantum o' the sin,
The hazard of concealing;
But, Och! it hardens a' within,
And petrifies the feeling!
To catch dame Fortune's golden smile,
Assiduous wait upon her;
And gather gear by ev'ry wile
That's justified by honour;
Not for to hide it in a hedge,
Nor for a train attendant;
But for the glorious privilege
Of being independent.
The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip,
To haud the wretch in order;
But where ye feel your honour grip,
Let that aye be your border;
Its slightest touches, instant pause—
Debar a' side-pretences;
And resolutely keep its laws,
The great Creator to revere,
Must sure become the creature;
But still the preaching cant forbear,
And ev'n the rigid feature:
Yet ne'er with wits profane to range,
Be complaisance extended;
An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange
For Deity offended!
When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
Religion may be blinded;
Or if she gie a random sting,
It may be little minded;
But when on life we're tempest driv'n—
A conscience but a canker—
A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n,
Is sure a noble anchor!
Adieu, dear, amiable youth!
Your heart can ne'er be wanting!
May prudence, fortitude, and truth,
Erect your brow undaunting!
In ploughman phrase, "God send you speed,"
Still daily to grow wiser;
And may ye better reck the rede,
Then ever did th' adviser!
There's nane that's blest of human kind,
But the cheerful and the gay, man,
Fal, la, la, &c.
Here's a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o' care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.
Your friendship much can make me blest,
O why that bliss destroy!
Why urge the only, one request
You know I will deny!
Your thought, if Love must harbour there,
Conceal it in that thought;
Nor cause me from my bosom tear
The very friend I sought.
My godlike friend—nay, do not stare,
You think the phrase is odd-like;
But God is love, the saints declare,
Then surely thou art god-like.
And is thy ardour still the same?
And kindled still at Anna?
Others may boast a partial flame,
But thou art a volcano!
Ev'n Wedlock asks not love beyond
Death's tie-dissolving portal;
But thou, omnipotently fond,
May'st promise love immortal!
Thy wounds such healing powers defy,
Such symptoms dire attend them,
That last great antihectic try—
Marriage perhaps may mend them.
Sweet Anna has an air—a grace,
Divine, magnetic, touching:
She talks, she charms—but who can trace
The process of bewitching?
O could I give thee India's wealth,
As I this trifle send;
Because thy joy in both would be
To share them with a friend.
But golden sands did never grace
The Heliconian stream;
Then take what gold could never buy—
An honest bard's esteem.
Sees not my friend, what a deep snow
Candies our country's woody brow?
The yielding branch his load scarce bears,
Oppress'd with snow and frozen tears;
While the dumb rivers slowly float,
All bound up in an icy coat.
Let us meet then! and while this world
In wild eccentrics now is hurl'd,
Keep we, like nature, the same key,
And walk in our forefathers' way.
Why any more cast we an eye
On what may come, not what is nigh?
Why vex ourselves with fear, or hope
And cares beyond our horoscope?
Who into future times would peer,
Looks oft beyond his term set here,
And cannot go into those grounds
But through a churchyard, which them bounds.
Sorrows and sighs and searches spend
And draw our bottom to an end,
But discreet joys lengthen the lease,
Without which life were a disease;
And who this age a mourner goes,
Doth with his tears but feed his foes