Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Extracts from The Gentle Shepherd: Jenny and Peggy
By Allan Ramsay (1686–1758)
  BUT, poortith, 1 Peggy is the warst of a’,
Gif o’er your heads ill chance should beggary draw;
There little love or canty 2 cheer can come
Frae duddy 3 doublets and a pantry toom. 4
Your nowt 5 may die; the spate may bear away        5
Frae aff the howms 6 your dainty rucks of hay;
The thick-blawn wreaths of snaw, or blashy thows, 7
May smoor 8 your wethers and may rot your ewes;
A dyvour 9 buys your butter, woo, and cheese,
But or the day of payment breaks and flees.        10
With glooman brow the laird seeks in his rent,—
’Tis no to gie: your merchant’s to the bent: 10
His honour maunna want, he poinds 11 your gear;
Syne driven frae house and hold, where will ye steer?
Dear Meg, be wise, and lead a single life;        15
Troth, it ’s nae mows 12 to be a married wife.
May sic ill luck befa’ that silly she
Wha has sic fears, for that was never me.
Let fowk bode weel, and strive to do their best;
Nae mair’s requir’d—let heaven make out the rest.        20
I ’ve heard my honest uncle often say
That lads should a’ for wives that ’s virtuous pray;
For the maist thrifty man could never get
A well-stor’d room unless his wife wad let.
Wherefore nocht shall be wanting on my part        25
To gather wealth to raise my shepherd’s heart.
Whate’er he wins I ’ll guide my canny care,
And win the vogue at market, tron, or fair,
For halesome, clean, cheap and sufficient ware.
A flock of lambs, cheese, butter and some woo,        30
Shall first be sold to pay the laird his due;
Syne a’ behind ’s our ain. Thus without fear,
With love and rowth 13 we thro’ the warld will steer;
And when my Pate in bairns and gear grow rife,
He ’ll bless the day he gat me for his wife.        35
But what if some young giglit on the green
With dimpled cheek and twa bewitching een,
Should gar your Patie think his half worn Meg
And her ken’d kisses, hardly worth a feg?
Nae mair of that. Dear Jenny, to be free,
There ’s some men constanter in love than we.
Nor is the ferly 14 great, when nature kind
Has blest them with solidity of mind;
They ’ll reason calmly and with kindness smile,
When our short passions wad our peace beguile.        45
Sae, whensoe’er they slight their maiks 15 at hame,
’Tis ten to ane their wives are maist to blame.
Then I ’ll employ with pleasure a’ my art
To keep him cheerfu’, and secure his heart.
At e’en, when he comes weary frae the hill,        50
I ’ll have a’ things made ready to his will;
In winter, when he toils thro’ wind and rain,
A bleezing-ingle and a clean hearth-stane;
And soon as he flings by his plaid and staff,
The seething pots be ready to take aff;        55
Clean hagabag 16 I ’ll spread upon his board,
And serve him with the best we can afford;
Good-humour and white bigonets 17 shall be
Guards to my face, to keep his love for me.
A dish of married love right soon grows cauld,
And dosens 18 down to nane, as fowk grow auld.
But we ’ll grow auld together, and ne’er find
The loss of youth, where love grows on the mind.
Bairns and their bairns make sure a firmer tie
Than aught in love the like of us can spy.        65
See yon twa elms that grow up side by side,
Suppose them some years syne bridegroom and bride;
Nearer and nearer ilka year they ’ve prest,
Till wide their spreading branches are increas’d,
And in their mixture now are fully blest:        70
This shields the other frae the eastlin blast,
That in return defends it frae the wast.
Sic as stand single (a state sae liked by you),
Beneath ilk storm frae every airt 19 maun bow.
I ’ve done. I yield dear lassie, I maun yield;
Your better sense has fairly won the field,
With the assistance of a little fae
Lies dern’d 20 within my breast this mony a day.
Note 1. poverty. [back]
Note 2. cheerful. [back]
Note 3. ragged. [back]
Note 4. empty. [back]
Note 5. cattle. [back]
Note 6. river-flats. [back]
Note 7. thaws. [back]
Note 8. smother. [back]
Note 9. bankrupt. [back]
Note 10. off. [back]
Note 11. impounds. [back]
Note 12. joke. [back]
Note 13. plenty. [back]
Note 14. wonder. [back]
Note 15. mates. [back]
Note 16. huckaback. [back]
Note 17. linen caps. [back]
Note 18. dwindles. [back]
Note 19. quarter. [back]
Note 20. hidden. [back]

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