LIBERA NOS DOMINE
DELIVER me, O Lord, from the
errors of wise men, yea, and of good men.
- Archbishop Leighton.
SIX MORAL EPIGRAMS
On the True Test of Poverty
He that agreeth with his
Is truly rich, while on the other part,
He's poore, who 'midst the superfluitie
Of wealth, in new desires consumes his heart:
For 'tis an empty mind inflicts the curse
Of poverty, and not an empty purse.
Fond selfe-conceit likes never
One's mind to see itselfe with upright eyes;
Whence many men might have attain'd to wit,
Had they not thought themselves already wise:
To boast of wisedome then is foolishnesse,
For while we thinke we're wise, we're nothing lesse.
Though all some errors doe
commit, yet few
Having committed them would have them told:
That talke then being displeasing which is true,
Who cannot flatter, he his peace must hold;
So hard a thing it is to say or pen,
Without offence, the truth of living men.
On mere Longevity
That aged man, we should,
without all doubt
Of all men else the most disgraceful hold,
Who can produce no testimonie but
The number of his yeares that he is old;
For of such men what can be testifyed
But that being borne, they lived long, then dyed?
On Sinning and Repenting
We sinne with joy: and having
sin'd, we mourn;
Then kindle, after teares, new sinfull fires,
There being a turne perpetuall, and returne
'Twixt our repentance and profane desires;
For senses to delights are wedded wholly,
Which purchas'd, reason doth bewail their folly.
On Time and Eternity
As death o'rthroweth man, and
cuts his breath,
And fame most gloriously subdueth death;
So gourmandizing time doth fame o'rcome,
And to eternity time must succumb.
Sir Thomas Urquhart
MAN AND GOD
As with the fire,
So with thy God do stand,
Keep not far off,
Nor come thou too near hand.
-Inscription on an
Edinburgh Chimney piece, 17th Century
If for one only Horne
Which Nature to him gave
So famous is the noble Unicorne,
What praise should that Man have
Whose head a Ladie brave
Doth with a goodlie Paire at once adorne?
Drummond of Hawthornden
To save a maid St. George a
A brave exploit, if all that's said is true.
Some think there are no dragons-nay, 'tis said
There was no George: pray God there be a maid!
Anon. (c. 1700)
Fools out of favour grudge at
knaves in place,
And men are always honest in disgrace;
But, since preferment makes men knaves by course,
If those that's out were in, they would be worse.
Anon. (early 18th
Here lies a man,
Com'd of Adam and Eve;
If any will climb higher,
I give him leave.
ON A LION ENRAGED AT SEEING
IN HIGHLAND DRESS
Calm and serene the imperial
Mildly indulging in the solar ray;
On vulgar mortals with indifference gazed,
All unconcerned, nor angry, nor amazed;
But when the Caledonian lad appeared,
Sudden alarmed, his manly mane he reared,
Prepared in fierce encounter to engage
The only object worthy of his rage.
William Hamilton of Bangour
Here continueth to rot
The body of FRANCIS CHARTERIS,
Who, with an Inflexible Constancy
Inimitable Uniformity of Life
In spite of Age and Infirmities
In the practice of Every Human Vice,
Excepting Prodigality and Hypocrisy:
His insatiable Avarice exempted him from the first,
His matchless Impudence from the second.
Nor was he more singular
In the undeviating pravity of his manners
in accumulating Wealth;
For, without Trade or Profession,
Without Trust of Public Money,
And without Bribe-worthy service,
He acquired, or more properly created,
A Ministerial Estate.
He was the only person of his time
Who could Cheat without the mask of Honesty,
Retain his primeval Meanness
When possessed of Ten Thousand a year,
And having daily deserved the Gibbet for what
Was at last condemned to it for what he could not do.
Oh, indignant reader!
Think not his life useless to mankind!
Providence connived at his execrable designs,
To give to after ages
A conspicuous Proof and Example
 Colonel Charteris, rather
late in life, was cast at the Old Bailey for rape and sentenced to death. He
had interest enough, however, to procure a pardon.
Of how small estimation is
In the sight of God
By His bestowing it upon the Most Unworthy of All Mortals.
John Arbuthnot, M.D.
This is the best world that we
can live in
To lend, to spend, and to give in;
But to borrow, or beg, or get a man's own,
It is the worst world that ever was known.
THE HAPPY WARRIOR
I murder hate by field or
Though glory's name may screen us;
In wars at home I'll spend my blood,
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social peace and plenty;
I'm better pleased to make one more
Than be the death of twenty.
ON A NOTORIOUS SHE-NAMESAKE
Cease, ye prudes, your envious
Lovely Burns has charms-confess.
True it is, she had one failing
Had a woman ever less?
THE HENPECKED HUSBAND
Cursed be the man, the poorest
wretch in life,
The crouching vassal to the tyrant wife!
Who has no will but by her high permission;
Who has not sixpence but in her possession;
Who must to her his dear friend's secret tell;
Who dreads a curtain-lecture worse than hell!
Were such a wife had fallen to my part,
I'd break her spirit or I'd break her heart;
I'd charm her with the magic of a switch,
I'd kiss her maids, and kick the perverse bitch.
ON JOHN DOVE
Here lies Johnny Pigeon,
What was his religion?
Whae'er desires to ken
To some other warl'
Maun follow the carl,
For here Johnny Pigeon had nane!
ON A GAY LAD
Lament him, Mauchline husbands
He aften did assist ye;
For had ye staid whole years awa'
Your wives they ne'er had missed ye.
Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye pass
To school in bands thegither,
Oh, tread ye lightly on his grass
Perhaps he was your faither!
A BARD'S EPITAPH
Is there a man whose judgment
Can others teach the course to steer,
Yet runs himself life's mad career
Wild as the wave?
Here pause-and, through the starting tear,
Survey this grave.
ON A SCHOOLMASTER
Mr Rhind is very kind,
He goes to kirk on Sunday.
He prays to God to give him strength
To skelp the bairns on Monday.
Like thee I once have stemm'd
the sea of life,
Like thee, have languish'd after empty joys;
Like thee, have labour'd in the stormy strife;
Been grieved for trifles, and amused with toys.
Laws, as we read in ancient
Have been like cobwebs in all ages.
Cobwebs for little flies are spread,
And laws for little folks are made;
But if an insect of renown,
Hornet or beetle, wasp or drone,
Be caught in quest of sport or plunder,
The flimsy fetter flies in sunder.
Yes, yes, I grant the sons of
Are doom'd to trouble from their birth.
We all of sorrow have our share;
But say, is yours without compare?
Could this ill warld hae been
To stand without mischeevous woman,
How peacefu' bodies might hae lived,
Released frae a' the ills sae common!
But, since it is the waefu' case
That man maun hae this teazing crony,
Why sic a sweet bewitching face?
Oh, had she no been made sae bonnie!
ON AN ABERDEEN FAVOURITE
Here lie the bones of
That was born a virgin and died a harlot.
She was aye a virgin till seventeen
An extraordinary thing for Aberdeen.
STRICTURES ON THE ECONOMY
A' things created have their
This truth will bear nae doots,
As far as hauds to fleas and louses
An' ither bitin' brutes.
I ken the use o' crawlin' clocks
An' bugs upon you creepin';
But what's the use o' Barbara Fox?
By jingo, that's a deep ane!
Here lies of sense bereft
But sense he never had.
Here lies, by feeling left
But that is just as bad.
Here lies, reduced to dirt
That's what he always was;
Here lies without a heart
He ne'er had one, alas!
Here lies ...
He did so ere he died,
Then simply to begin, Here lies
But all his life he lied.
Death is a change, they say
Ye powers that rule the sky,
What change is here, I pray?
For surely he did die.
On a Manufacturer
Here lies lang-length-cut
Dished out for greedy mauks tae fix on,
Wha lang devoured his best bread wunners,
But noo devoured himsel' by hunners,
Whilk as they worry, grumlin' say
Though fat, he's unco vulgar clay.
On a Country Gentleman whom
the Author has seen passionately
abuse, then liberally assist an Old Beggar
Stop, beggar, stop-bedew this
Wi' tears as het as e'er frae mourner flowed,
In him wha sleeps beneath its scanty grass,
(Though whan alive, mair tiger was than ass,)
Ye wad hae faund a brute the maist uncivil,
A furious, rampant, kindly kind o' deevil.
Roger Quinn, the elder
Fast came ye, sir, to me no
A hunner students at your heel,
A hunner hands did ower me feel,
Wi' Boreas blue.
I had nae fever then, but, deil,
I hae it noo!
Anon. (from Martial)
When I was young and well and
I used to play at being sad;
Now youth and health are fled away,
At being glad I sometimes play.
R. F. Murray
ON A HIGHLAND FACTOR
Ged thachradh oighreachd mhór
'S ged ghéill na sloigh fo d'smachd;
Tha 'm bàs 'us laghan geur aige,
'S gu feum thu géill d' a reachd.
Sud uachdaran a dh' òrduicheas,
Co-ionnan còir gach neach;
'S mar oighreachd bheir e léine dhuit,
'S dà cheum de thalamh glas.
'N sin molaidh a' chruimh
Cho tàirceach 's a bhitheas d' fheoil;
'N uair gheigh i air do chàradh thu,
Gu sàmhach air a bòrd.
Their i, "'S e fear miath 'tha 'n so,
Tha math do bhiasd nan còs,
Bho'n rinn e caol na ciadan,
Gus e féin a bhiathadh dhomh-s' ".
lain Mac A'Ghobhainn
I remember, I remember
Nothing further after that,
But I wakened in the morning
On an alien lobby mat;
And I felt not unpersuaded
(Though my reasons were not clear)
That I'd spent a Merry Christmas
And a Prosperous New Year.
George Fletcher, M.D.
I know of a fellow called
About whom the peculiar thing is
He incessantly chatters
And works himself up into frenzies.
EFFICACY OF PRAYER
There was aince an auld body
Wha suffered from pains in the kidney.
He prayed to the Lord
That he might be restored,
And He promised He would-but He didnae.
- Attributed to Neil Munro
THOUGHTS ON MY BOSS
Curse his new hoose, his
business, his cigar,
His wireless set, and motor car,
Alsatian, gauntlet gloves, plus fours and wife,
-A'thing included in his life;
And, abune a', his herty laughter,
And - if he has yin-his hereafter.
UP TO DATE
Christ, wha'd ha'e been Chief
Rabbi gin he lik't!
Wi publicans and sinners did foregether,
But, losh! the publicans noo are Pharisees.
And I'm no shair o' maist the sinners either.
Respectable Scotland! Land o'
Burns! and back-street pubs! and Sunday! -
(Of course it's no the pubs I mind:
But why the devil are they a' behind?)
Roderick Watson Kerr
I had Smith's secrets,
Robinson's I had;
To Jones I was a confidential brother:
My own I kept lest they should grow as bad
As those of Smith which Jones heard from the other.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
With the Scots it was whisky
And how they have survived!
He had his faults, like all of
These and himself alike we deeply mourn.
They made of him a man we ill could spare -
It was his virtues that were hard to bear.