Read by Marilyn Wright
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Holy Willie was a rather oldish bachelor
elder, in the parish of Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that
polemical chattering, which ends in tippling orthodoxy, and for that
spiritualized bawdry which refines to liquorish devotion. In a
sessional process with a gentleman in Mauchline-a Mr.Gavin
Hamilton-Holy Willie and his priest, Father Auld, after full hearing
in the presbytery of Ayr, came off but second best; owing partly to
the oratorical powers of Mr. Robert Aiken, Mr. Hamilton's counsel; but
chiefly to Mr. Hamilton's being one of the most irreproachable and
truly respectable characters in the county. On losing the process, the
muse overheard him [Holy Willie] at his devotions, as follows:-
O Thou, who in the heavens
Who, as it pleases best Thysel',
Sends ane to heaven an' ten to hell,
A' for Thy glory,
And no for ony gude or ill
They've done afore Thee!
I bless and praise Thy
When thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore Thy sight,
For gifts an' grace
A burning and a shining light
To a' this place.
What was I, or my
That I should get sic exaltation,
I wha deserve most just damnation
For broken laws,
Five thousand years ere my creation,
Thro' Adam's cause?
When frae my mither's womb
Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin lakes,
Where damned devils roar and yell,
Chain'd to their stakes.
Yet I am here a chosen
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I'm here a pillar o' Thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a' Thy flock.
O Lord, Thou kens what
zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, an' swearers swear,
An' singin there, an' dancin here,
Wi' great and sma';
For I am keepit by Thy fear
Free frae them a'.
But yet, O Lord! confess I
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust:
An' sometimes, too, in wardly trust,
Vile self gets in:
But Thou remembers we are dust,
Defil'd wi' sin.
O Lord! yestreen, Thou
kens, wi' Meg-
Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
O! may't ne'er be a livin plague
To my dishonour,
An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.
Besides, I farther maun
Wi' Leezie's lass, three times I trow-
But Lord, that Friday I was fou,
When I cam near her;
Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true
Wad never steer her.
Maybe Thou lets this
Buffet Thy servant e'en and morn,
Lest he owre proud and high shou'd turn,
That he's sae gifted:
If sae, Thy han' maun e'en be borne,
Until Thou lift it.
Lord, bless Thy chosen in
For here Thou hast a chosen race:
But God confound their stubborn face,
An' blast their name,
Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
An' public shame.
Lord, mind Gaw'n
He drinks, an' swears, an' plays at cartes,
Yet has sae mony takin arts,
Wi' great and sma',
Frae God's ain priest the people's hearts
He steals awa.
An' when we chasten'd him
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
An' set the warld in a roar
O' laughing at us;-
Curse Thou his basket and his store,
Kail an' potatoes.
Lord, hear my earnest cry
Against that Presbyt'ry o' Ayr;
Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare
Upo' their heads;
Lord visit them, an' dinna spare,
For their misdeeds.
O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu'd
My vera heart and flesh are quakin,
To think how we stood sweatin', shakin,
An' p-'d wi' dread,
While he, wi' hingin lip an' snakin,
Held up his head.
Lord, in Thy day o'
vengeance try him,
Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
And pass not in Thy mercy by 'em,
Nor hear their pray'r,
But for Thy people's sake, destroy 'em,
An' dinna spare.
But, Lord, remember me an'
Wi' mercies temp'ral an' divine,
That I for grace an' gear may shine,
Excell'd by nane,
And a' the glory shall be thine,
Epitaph On Holy
Here Holy Willie's sair
Taks up its last abode;
His saul has ta'en some other way,
I fear, the left-hand road.
Stop! there he is, as
sure's a gun,
Poor, silly body, see him;
Nae wonder he's as black's the grun,
Observe wha's standing wi' him.
Your brunstane devilship,
Has got him there before ye;
But haud your nine-tail cat a wee,
Till ance you've heard my story.
Your pity I will not
For pity ye have nane;
Justice, alas! has gi'en him o'er,
And mercy's day is gane.
But hear me, Sir, deil as
Look something to your credit;
A coof like him wad stain your name,
If it were kent ye did it.