Delivered in the Pantheon, at Edinburgh, on Thursday, 11th April, 1791, on the Question—“Whether have the exertions of Allan Ramsay or Robert Fergusson done more honour to Scotch poetry?”

To Merit's brow this garland gives the Muse,
For who to Merit would a wreath deny?
Tho' base Neglect the due deserts refuse,
Fair Fame forbids the poet's name to die.

BEFORE ye a' hae done, I'd humbly crave,
To speak twa words or three amang the lave;
No for mysel', but for an honest carl,
Wha's seen right mony changes i' the warl',
But is sae blate, down here he durstna come,
Lest, as he said, his fears might ding him dumb;
And then he's frail—sae begg'd me to repeat
His simple thoughts about this fell debate;
He gied me this lang scroll; 'tis e'en right brown;
I'se let you hear't as he has't set down.

Last owk, our Elpsa wi' some creels o' eggs,
And three fat eerocks fassent by the legs,
Gaed down to Embrugh; caft a new bane-kame,
An' brought a warl' o' news and clashes hame:
For she's scarce out a day, an' gets a text,
But I'm dung deaf wi' clatter a' the next;
She'll tell a' what she heard frae en' to en',
Her cracks to wives, wives cracks to her again;
Till wi' quo' I's, quo' she's, an' so's, her skirle
Sets my twa lugs a ringing like a gir'le.

'Mang ither ferlies whilk my kimmer saw,
Was your prent paper batter't on the wa';
She said she kentna rightly what it meant,
But saw some words o' goud an' poets in't !
This gart me glour; sae aff sets I my lane
To Daniel Reid's, an mild frien' o' my ain;
He gets the News, and tauld me that ye'd hecht
A dawd o' good, on this same Fursday night,
To him wha'd show, in clinking verses drest,
Gin Ramsay's sangs or Fergusson's war best.

Trouth I was glad to hear ye war sae kind,
As keep our slee-tongu'd billies in your mind;
An' tho' our Elpsa ca'd me mony a gouk,
To think to speak amang sae mony fouk;
I gat my staff, pat on my bonnet braid,
An' best blue breeks, that war but fern-year made;
A saxpence too, to let me in bedeen,
An' thin auld spentacles to help my een;
Sae I'm come here, in houps ye'll a' agree,
To hear a frank auld kintra man like me.

In days whan Dryden sang ilk bonny morn,
An' Sandy Pope began to tune his horn;
Whan chiels round Lon'on chanted a' fu' thrang,
But poor auld Scotlan' sat without a sang;
Droll Will Dunbar, frae Flyting than was freed,
An' Douglas too, an' Kennedy were dead;
And nane were left, in hamely cracks to praise
Our ain sweet lasses, or our ain green braes;
Far aff our gentles for their poets flew,
An' scorn'd to own that Lallan sangs they knew;
Till Ramsay raise: O blythsome hearty days!
Whan Allan tun'd his chaunter on the braes
Auld Reekie than, frae blackest, darkest wa's
To richest rooms resounded his applause;
An' whan the nights were dreary, lang an' dark,
The beasts a' fothert, an' the lads frae wark;
The lasses' wheels thrang birring round the ingle,
The ploughman, borin' wi' his brogs an' lingel,
The herd's wires clicking owr the ha'f-wrought hose,
The auld gudeman's een ha'flins like to close;
The "Gentle Shepherd" frae the bole was ta'en,—
Than sleep I trow was banished frae their een; [then]
The crankiest than was kittled up to daffin',
An' sides and chafts maist riven war wi.' laughin'.