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    Lines on Stirling

    by Robert Burns
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    [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.
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