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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

The Sitting of the Session

Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)

PHOEBUS, sair cow’d wi’ simmer’s hight,

Cours near the yird wi’ blinking light;

Cauld shaw the haughs, nae mair bedight

Wi’ simmer’s claes.

They heeze the heart o’ dowy wight

That thro’ them gaes.

Weel lo’es me o’ you, business, now;

For ye’ll weet mony a drouthy mou’;

That’s lang a eisning gane for you.

Withouten fill

O’ dribbles frae the gude brown cow,

Or Highland gill.

The Court o’ Session, weel wat I,

Pitts ilk chiel’s whittle i’ the pye,

Can criesh the slaw-gaun wheels whan dry,

Till Session’s done,

Tho’ they’ll gie mony a cheep and cry

Or twalt o’ June.

Ye benders a’, that dwall in joot,

You’ll tak your liquor clean cap out,

Synd your mouse-wabbs wi’ reaming stout,

While ye ha’e cash,

And gar your cares a’ tak the rout,

An’ thumb ne’er fash.

Rob Gibb’s grey gizz, new frizzl’d fine,

Will white as ony snaw-ba’ shine;

Weel does he lo’e the lawen coin

Whan dossied down,

For whisky gills or dribbs of wine

In cauld forenoon.

Bar-keepers now, at outer door,

Tak tent as fock gang back and fore;

The fient ane there but pays his score,

Nane wins toll-free,

Tho’ ye’ve a cause the house before,

Or agent be.

Gin ony here wi’ canker knocks,

And has na lous’d his siller pocks,

Ye need na think to fleetch or cox;

‘Come, shaw’s your gear;

Ae scabbit yew spills twenty flocks,

Ye’s no be here.’

Now at the door they’ll raise a plea;

Crack on, my lads!—for flyting’s free;

For gin ye shou’d tongue-tacket be,

The mair’s the pity,

Whan scalding but and ben we see

Pendente lite.

The lawyer’s skelfs, and printer’s presses,

Grain unco sair wi’ weighty cases;

The clark in toil his pleasure places,

To thrive bedeen;

At five-hour’s bell scribes shaw their faces,

And rake their ein.

The country fock to lawyers crook,

‘Ah! Weels me on your bonny buik!

The benmost part o’ my kist nook

I’ll ripe for thee,

And willing ware my hindmost rook

For my decree.’

But Law’s a draw-well unco deep,

Withouten rim fock out to keep;

A donnart chiel, whan drunk, may dreep

Fu’ sleely in,

But finds the gate baith stay and steep,

Ere out he win.