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Lines on Stirling

[On visiting Stirling, Burns was stung at beholding nothing but
desolation in the palaces of our princes and our halls of legislation,
and vented his indignation in those unloyal lines: some one has said
that they were written by his companion, Nicol, but this wants
confirmation.]


    Here Stuarts once in glory reign'd,
    And laws for Scotland's weal ordain'd;
    But now unroof'd their palace stands,
    Their sceptre's sway'd by other hands;
    The injured Stuart line is gone,
    A race outlandish fills their throne;
    An idiot race, to honour lost;
    Who know them best despise them most.

       *       *       *       *       *




THE REPROOF.

[The imprudence of making the lines written at Stirling public was
hinted to Burns by a friend; he said, "Oh, but I mean to reprove
myself for it," which he did in these words.]


    Rash mortal, and slanderous Poet, thy name
    Shall no longer appear in the records of fame;
    Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible,
    Says the more 'tis a truth, Sir, the more 'tis a libel?

       *       *       *       *       *




THE REPLY.

[The minister of Gladsmuir wrote a censure on the Stirling lines,
intimating, as a priest, that Burns's race was nigh run, and as a
prophet, that oblivion awaited his muse. The poet replied to the
expostulation.]


    Like Esop's lion, Burns says, sore I feel
    All others' scorn--but damn that ass's heel.


Robert Burns


Poetry