1824 Poem, George Dugall, ‘Epistle To Mr. N. B—, Londonderry’

Author: George Dugall

Date: 1824

Source: Poem: ‘Epistle To Mr. N. B—, Londonderry’, from The Northern Cottage and other poems; written partly in the Dialect of the North of Ireland by George Dugall (Londonderry: William McCorkell, 1824)

Comments: George Dugall (c.1790-1855) was the son of Rev. George Dugall, Presbyterian minister of Magherafelt from 1786-1810, and lived most of his life near Newtowncunningham in Donegal. He was a schoolteacher in north Donegal, and his only book of poems The Northern Cottage contains an extensive glossary of Ulster-Scots words. The vocabulary and cultural context of his poems are rich in Ulster-Scots reference.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1800-1899/053


To Mr. N. B —, Londonderry.
Enclosing a Poem — Sept. 1816

Yon trifle that ye sae commended,

Enwrapt herein, dear Sir, I send it;

What muse frae Phebus’ line descended,

Would grudge the toil,

Caress’d, encourag’d, and befriended,

By gen’rous B......!

For some time back I’ve been your debtor —

I promis’d you a lang-tail’d letter —

I did na sen’t — but what’s the matter?

Fate’s captious cards,

Bring turns in life, that often fetter

The brightest parts.

I ken your jokes — you’ll ca’t a stang

O love: but haud — you’re something wrang —

There’s ane, ’tis true, Lord spare her lang,

Baith gude and bonny;

But then, she ay inspires my sang,

The best o’ ony.

My penance for ae ranting fit,

I’ve sairly dreet: curst drunken wit,

That rock on which so many split,

May weel warn me:

Wi’ hull and hellim hale as yet,

I’ll keep to sea.

Peace to thy shade! far honor’d name,

Sweet Bard o’ Coila’s classic stream;

Alas, alas, the narrow hame

Too soon was thine!

Yet still thou liv’st in deathless fame,

A life divine.

Half mad amang the midnight hive,

That heedless to destruction drive,

Nae mair (please God) while I’m alive,

I’ll blindly reel:

’Tis said, “Far better late to thrive,

Than ne’er do weel.”

Nae mair, like many a senseless ass,

Hale nights in stupefaction pass,

Save friendship! (faith my sweet wee lass,

Thou’rt no forgot;)

Wi’ thee, or thine, a cautious glass,

Or harmless pot.

Let wits, wha (as they’d gar you trow,)

Teach morals best when they are fu’,

Around the shrine of Virtue spue,

As lang’s they choose;

Yet still, dear Sir, commen’ me to

A temp’rate muse.

Whae’er in drink alone can rhime;

While jingling glasses aid the chime;

Though over morals thought sublime,

May rule despotic,

His mind is but a frigid clime;

His wit exotic.

Morals! dear idols of my breast,

At once my comfort and my pest;

Your noblest structure, though it rest

On basis ample,

Without religion, is at best

A roofless temple.

The chief — I’ll say, the fatal bane

O’ nations, and o’ private men,

That thoughtless flutter pert an’ vain,

In Pride’s meridian,

The warl’, alas! owr late shall ken,

Is irreligion.

Had France, when she her state renew’d,

Through hypocrites’ and tyrants’ blood,

To Rights of man, and Rights of God,

Laid equal claim,

Her Revolution might have stood,

The boast of fame.

There are, dear Sir, o’ narrow views,

Wha aft the best o’ things abuse;

Wi’ wicked spite, profanely crouse,

In idle chat,

“Religion’s foreign to the muse,”

They’ll tell ye flat.

Does He, whose hand the seasons bring,

Who form’d the birds of ev’ry wing,

Forbid the bard to hail the Spring,

With each glad creature?

Does not the sainted Christian sing,

The God of Nature?

Yet still alas! I grant it true,

The sacred Muse is found by few;

Owr pure a Maid for vulgar view,

Wi’ few she dwells:

What crouds frae B------n’s days till now,

Ha’e sham’d themsels!

Religious rhimsters, what a squad,

In museless frenzy, raving mad,

Appears; that fewer senses had,

Than their auld mithers!

Save Addison — (angelic shade!)

There are few ithers.

Secure that mind, and safe frae harm,

That Virtue and Religion warm;

Conjoin’d, God’s noblest work they form,

A Christian Sage:

Around whose head life’s idle storm,

May feckless wage.

Mann’d by Morality, his soul

On life’s wild sea, shuns rock and shoal;

With Hope and Faith his card and pole,

He gains that shore

Of joy, where God is “all in all,”

For evermore.

Other poems from ‘The Northern Cottage’


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