â€™TWAS 1 in that place oâ€™ Scotlandâ€™s isle, That bears the name oâ€™ auld King Coil, Upon a bonie day in June, When wearinâ€™ throâ€™ the afternoon, Twa dogs, that were na thrang at hame, Forgatherâ€™d ance upon a time. The first Iâ€™ll name, they caâ€™d him Caesar, Was keepit for His Honorâ€™s pleasure: His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs, Shewâ€™d he was nane oâ€™ Scotlandâ€™s dogs; But whalpit some place far abroad, Whare sailors gang to fish for cod. His locked, letterâ€™d, braw brass collar Shewâ€™d him the gentleman anâ€™ scholar; But though he was oâ€™ high degree, The fient a pride, nae pride had he; But wad hae spent an hour caressin, Evâ€™n wiâ€™ al tinkler-gipsyâ€™s messin: At kirk or market, mill or smiddie, Nae tawted tyke, thoâ€™ eâ€™er sae duddie, But he wad stanâ€™t, as glad to see him, Anâ€™ stroanâ€™t on stanes anâ€™ hillocks wiâ€™ him. The tither was a ploughmanâ€™s collieâ€” A rhyming, ranting, raving billie, Wha for his friend anâ€™ comrade had him, And in freak had Luath caâ€™d him, After some dog in Highland Sang, 2 Was made lang syne,â€”Lord knows how lang. He was a gash anâ€™ faithfuâ€™ tyke, As ever lap a sheugh or dyke. His honest, sonsie, bawsâ€™nt face Aye gat him friends in ilka place; His breast was white, his touzie back Weel clad wiâ€™ coat oâ€™ glossy black; His gawsie tail, wiâ€™ upward curl, Hung owre his hurdieâ€™s wiâ€™ a swirl. Nae doubt but they were fain oâ€™ ither, And unco pack anâ€™ thick thegither; Wiâ€™ social nose whiles snuffâ€™d anâ€™ snowkit; Whiles mice anâ€™ moudieworts they howkit; Whiles scourâ€™d awaâ€™ in lang excursion, Anâ€™ worryâ€™d ither in diversion; Until wiâ€™ daffinâ€™ weary grown Upon a knowe they set them down. Anâ€™ there began a lang digression. About the â€œlords oâ€™ the creation.â€
CÃ†SAR Iâ€™ve aften wonderâ€™d, honest Luath, What sort oâ€™ life poor dogs like you have; Anâ€™ when the gentryâ€™s life I saw, What way poor bodies livâ€™d ava. Our laird gets in his racked rents, His coals, his kane, anâ€™ aâ€™ his stents: He rises when he likes himselâ€™; His flunkies answer at the bell; He caâ€™s his coach; he caâ€™s his horse; He draws a bonie silken purse, As langâ€™s my tail, where, throâ€™ the steeks, The yellow letterâ€™d Geordie keeks. Frae morn to eâ€™en, itâ€™s nought but toiling At baking, roasting, frying, boiling; Anâ€™ thoâ€™ the gentry first are stechin, Yet evâ€™n the haâ€™ folk fill their pechan Wiâ€™ sauce, ragouts, anâ€™ sic like trashtrie, Thatâ€™s little short oâ€™ downright wastrie. Our whipper-in, wee, blasted wonner, Poor, worthless elf, it eats a dinner, Better than ony tenant-man His Honour has in aâ€™ the lanâ€™: Anâ€™ what poor cot-folk pit their painch in, I own itâ€™s past my comprehension.
LUATH Trowth, C&Ã¦sar, whiles theyâ€™re fashâ€™t eneugh: A cottar howkin in a sheugh, Wiâ€™ dirty stanes biggin a dyke, Baring a quarry, anâ€™ sic like; Himselâ€™, a wife, he thus sustains, A smytrie oâ€™ wee duddie weans, Anâ€™ nought but his hanâ€™-daurk, to keep Them right anâ€™ tight in thack anâ€™ rape. Anâ€™ when they meet wiâ€™ sair disasters, Like loss oâ€™ health or want oâ€™ masters, Ye maist wad think, a wee touch langer, Anâ€™ they maun starve oâ€™ cauld anâ€™ hunger: But how it comes, I never kent yet, Theyâ€™re maistly wonderfuâ€™ contented; Anâ€™ buirdly chiels, anâ€™ clever hizzies, Are bred in sic a way as this is.
CÃ†SAR But then to see how yeâ€™re negleckit, How huffâ€™d, anâ€™ cuffâ€™d, anâ€™ disrespeckit! Lord man, our gentry care as little For delvers, ditchers, anâ€™ sic cattle; They gang as saucy by poor folk, As I wad by a stinkin brock. Iâ€™ve noticâ€™d, on our lairdâ€™s court-day,â€” Anâ€™ mony a time my heartâ€™s been wae,â€” Poor tenant bodies, scant oâ€™cash, How they maun thole a factorâ€™s snash; Heâ€™ll stamp anâ€™ threaten, curse anâ€™ swear Heâ€™ll apprehend them, poind their gear; While they maun stanâ€™, wiâ€™ aspect humble, Anâ€™ hear it aâ€™, anâ€™ fear anâ€™ tremble! I see how folk live that hae riches; But surely poor-folk maun be wretches!
LUATH Theyâ€™re no sae wretchedâ€™s ane wad think. Thoâ€™ constantly on poortithâ€™s brink, Theyâ€™re sae accustomâ€™d wiâ€™ the sight, The view oâ€™t gives them little fright. Then chance and fortune are sae guided, Theyâ€™re aye in less or mair provided: Anâ€™ thoâ€™ fatigued wiâ€™ close employment, A blink oâ€™ restâ€™s a sweet enjoyment. The dearest comfort oâ€™ their lives, Their grushie weans anâ€™ faithfuâ€™ wives; The prattling things are just their pride, That sweetens aâ€™ their fire-side. Anâ€™ whiles twalpennie worth oâ€™ nappy Can mak the bodies unco happy: They lay aside their private cares, To mind the Kirk and State affairs; Theyâ€™ll talk oâ€™ patronage anâ€™ priests, Wiâ€™ kindling fury iâ€™ their breasts, Or tell what new taxationâ€™s comin, Anâ€™ ferlie at the folk in Lonâ€™on. As bleak-facâ€™d Hallowmass returns, They get the jovial, rantin kirns, When rural life, of evâ€™ry station, Unite in common recreation; Love blinks, Wit slaps, anâ€™ social Mirth Forgets thereâ€™s Care upoâ€™ the earth. That merry day the year begins, They bar the door on frosty winâ€™s; The nappy reeks wiâ€™ mantling ream, Anâ€™ sheds a heart-inspiring steam; The luntin pipe, anâ€™ sneeshin mill, Are handed round wiâ€™ right guid will; The cantie auld folks crackin crouse, The young anes rantin throâ€™ the houseâ€” My heart has been sae fain to see them, That I for joy hae barkit wiâ€™ them. Still itâ€™s owre true that ye hae said, Sic game is now owre aften playâ€™d; Thereâ€™s mony a creditable stock Oâ€™ decent, honest, fawsont folk, Are riven out baith root anâ€™ branch, Some rascalâ€™s pridefuâ€™ greed to quench, Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster In favour wiâ€™ some gentle master, Wha, aiblins, thrang a parliamentin, For Britainâ€™s guid his saul indentinâ€”
CÃ†SAR Haith, lad, ye little ken about it: For Britainâ€™s guid! guid faith! I doubt it. Say rather, gaun as Premiers lead him: Anâ€™ saying ay or noâ€™s they bid him: At operas anâ€™ plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading: Or maybe, in a frolic daft, To Hague or Calais takes a waft, To mak a tour anâ€™ tak a whirl, To learn bon ton, anâ€™ see the worlâ€™. There, at Vienna, or Versailles, He rives his fatherâ€™s auld entails; Or by Madrid he takes the rout, To thrum guitars anâ€™ fecht wiâ€™ nowt; Or down Italian vista startles, Wh-re-hunting amang groves oâ€™ myrtles: Then bowses drumlie German-water, To mak himsel look fair anâ€™ fatter, Anâ€™ clear the consequential sorrows, Love-gifts of Carnival signoras. For Britainâ€™s guid! for her destruction! Wiâ€™ dissipation, feud, anâ€™ faction.
LUATH Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate They waste sae mony a braw estate! Are we sae foughten anâ€™ harassâ€™d For gear to gang that gate at last? O would they stay aback frae courts, Anâ€™ please themsels wiâ€™ country sports, It wad for evâ€™ry ane be better, The laird, the tenant, anâ€™ the cotter! For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies, Feint haet oâ€™ themâ€™s ill-hearted fellows; Except for breakin oâ€™ their timmer, Or speakin lightly oâ€™ their limmer, Or shootin of a hare or moor-cock, The neâ€™er-a-bit theyâ€™re ill to poor folk, But will ye tell me, Master C&Ã¦sar, Sure great folkâ€™s lifeâ€™s a life oâ€™ pleasure? Nae cauld nor hunger eâ€™er can steer them, The very thought oâ€™t need na fear them.
CÃ†SAR Lâ€”d, man, were ye but whiles whare I am, The gentles, ye wad neâ€™er envy them! Itâ€™s true, they need na starve or sweat, Throâ€™ winterâ€™s cauld, or simmerâ€™s heat: Theyâ€™ve nae sair wark to craze their banes, Anâ€™ fill auld age wiâ€™ grips anâ€™ granes: But human bodies are sic fools, For aâ€™ their colleges anâ€™ schools, That when nae real ills perplex them, They mak enow themselâ€™s to vex them; Anâ€™ aye the less they hae to sturt them, In like proportion, less will hurt them. A country fellow at the pleugh, His acreâ€™s tillâ€™d, heâ€™s right eneugh; A country girl at her wheel, Her dizzenâ€™s dune, sheâ€™s unco weel; But gentlemen, anâ€™ ladies warst, Wiâ€™ evâ€™n-down want oâ€™ wark are curst. They loiter, lounging, lank anâ€™ lazy; Thoâ€™ deil-haet ails them, yet uneasy; Their days insipid, dull, anâ€™ tasteless; Their nights unquiet, lang, anâ€™ restless. Anâ€™evâ€™n their sports, their balls anâ€™ races, Their galloping through public places, Thereâ€™s sic parade, sic pomp, anâ€™ art, The joy can scarcely reach the heart. The men cast out in party-matches, Then sowther aâ€™ in deep debauches. Ae night theyâ€™re mad wiâ€™ drink anâ€™ whoring, Niest day their life is past enduring. The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters, As great anâ€™ gracious aâ€™ as sisters; But hear their absent thoughts oâ€™ ither, Theyâ€™re aâ€™ run-deils anâ€™ jads thegither. Whiles, owre the wee bit cup anâ€™ platie, They sip the scandal-potion pretty; Or lee-lang nights, wiâ€™ crabbit leuks Pore owre the devilâ€™s picturâ€™d beuks; Stake on a chance a farmerâ€™s stackyard, Anâ€™ cheat like ony unhanged blackguard. Thereâ€™s some exceptions, man anâ€™ woman; But this is gentryâ€™s life in common. By this, the sun was out of sight, Anâ€™ darker gloamin brought the night; The bum-clock hummâ€™d wiâ€™ lazy drone; The kye stood rowtin iâ€™ the loan; When up they gat anâ€™ shook their lugs, Rejoicâ€™d they werena men but dogs; Anâ€™ each took aff his several way, Resolvâ€™d to meet some ither day.
Note 1. Luath was Burnsâ€™ own dog. [back] Note 2. Cuchullinâ€™s dog in Ossianâ€™s â€œFingal.â€â€”R. B. [back]