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Poor Burns-e'en Scotch drink canna quicken, He cheeps like some bewilder'd chicken, . Scar'd frae its minnie and the cleckin
By hoodie-craw; Grief's gien his heart an unco kickin',
Now ev'ry sour-mou'd girnin' blellum,
His quill may draw;
Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped,
While tempests blaw ;
May I be slander's common speech ;
In winter snaw;
Tho' far awa!
May never wicked fortune touzle him!
He canty claw !
Fleet wing awa!
The “ Epistle to William Creech” was the sole poetic fruit of the Border tour of Burns. It was written on the 13th of May, 1787, and forwarded in a letter commencing thus :" My honoured friend— The enclosed I have just wrote, nearly extempore, at a solitary inn at Selkirk, after a miserable wet day's riding. I have been over most of East Lothian, Berwick, Roxburgh, and Selkirkshires; and next week I begin a tour through the north of England.”
The eminent bookseller to whom this Epistle is addressed was a very singular person: he was the son of the minister of Newbattle, and by his mother, connected with a noble family in Devonshire. He was a good classical scholar ; was educated for the medical profession, but finally resolving to be a bookseller, apprenticed himself to Kincaid of Edinburgh. He forsook however the business for a time, and went on a tour to the Continent, with Lord Kilmaurs, afterwards Earl of Glencairn. On his return, he became partner with Kincaid, who soon retired, leaving Creech in sole possession of the business, which he carried on for forty-four years with great success. He was not only the most popular bookseller in the north, but he published the writings of almost all the distinguished men who adorned Scottish literature towards the close of the eighteenth century. His shop occupied a conspicuous place in the centre of the Old Town, and it was his pleasure to give breakfasts to his authors: these meetings were called Creech's levees. He not only encouraged authors, but he wrote prose himself; he published a volume of trifles under the name of “ Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces,” which was re-printed in 1815.
“ Mr. Creech's style of composition,” says Robert Chambers, in his valuable ‘Scottish Biography,' " is only worthy of being spoken of with respect to its ironical humour. In private life he shone conspicuously as a pleasant companion and conversationist, being possessed of an inexhaustible fund of droll anecdote, which he could narrate in a characteristic manner, and with unfailing effect. He thus secured general esteem, in despite, it appeared, of extraordinary fondness for money and penuriousness of habits, which acted to the preclusion, not only of all benevolence of disposition, but even of the common honesty of discharging his obligations when they were due.” In these concluding words the secret of the long abode of Burns in Edinburgh is explained, and also some passages in his letters expressing doubt and apprehension. Creech would not part with the money due to the Poet on his works, and the Poet could not enter into farming speculations with an empty pocket.
NOBLE DUKE OF ATHOLE.
My Lord, I know your noble ear
Woe ne'er assails in vain ;
Your humble slave complain,
In flaming summer-pride,
And drink my crystal tide.
* Bruar Falls, in Athole, are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful; but their effect is much impaired by the want of trees and shrubs.
That thro' my waters play,
They near the margin stray ;
I'm scorching up so shallow,
In gasping death to wallow.
As Poet Burns came by,
channel dry : A panegyric rhyme, I ween,
Even as I was he shor'd me ; But had I in my glory been,
He, kneeling, wad ador'd me.
In twisting strength I rin ;
Wild-roaring o'er a linn :
me, I am, altho' I say't mysel,
Worth gaun a mile to see.