[We are informed by Richmond of Mauchline, that when he was clerk in
Gavin Hamilton's office, Burns came in one morning and said, "I have
just composed a poem, John, and if you will write it, I will repeat
it." He repeated Holy Willie's Prayer and Epitaph; Hamilton came in at
the moment, and having read them with delight, ran laughing with them
in his hand to Robert Aiken. The end of Holy Willie was other than
godly; in one of his visits to Mauchline, he drank more than was
needful, fell into a ditch on his way home, and was found dead in the
Here Holy Willie's sair worn clay
Takes 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 I see,
Has got him there before ye;
But hand your nine-tail cat a wee,
Till ance you've heard my story.
Your pity I will not implore,
For pity ye hae nane;
Justice, alas! has gi'en him o'er,
And mercy's day is gaen.
But hear me, sir, deil as ye are,
Look something to your credit;
A coof like him wad stain your name,
If it were kent ye did it.