On The Late Captain Grose's Peregrinations Thro' Scotland


Hear, Land o' Cakes, and brither Scots, Frae Maidenkirk to Johnie Groat's; - If there's a hole in a' your coats, I rede you tent it: A chield's amang you takin notes, And, faith, he'll prent it: If in your bounds ye chance to light Upon a fine, fat fodgel wight, O' stature short, but genius bright, That's he, mark weel; And wow! he has an unco sleight O' cauk and keel. By some auld, houlet-haunted biggin, Or kirk deserted by its riggin, It's ten to ane ye'll find him snug in Some eldritch part, Wi' deils, they say, Lord save's! colleaguin At some black art. Ilk ghaist that haunts auld ha' or chaumer, Ye gipsy-gang that deal in glamour, And you, deep-read in hell's black grammar, Warlocks and witches, Ye'll quake at his conjuring hammer, Ye midnight bitches. It's tauld he was a sodger bred, And ane wad rather fa'n than fled; But now he's quat the spurtle-blade, And dog-skin wallet, And taen the - Antiquarian trade, I think they call it. He has a fouth o' auld nick-nackets : Rusty airn caps and jinglin jackets, Wad haud the Lothians three in tackets, A towmont gude; And parritch-pats and auld saut-backets, Before the Flood. Of Eve's first fire he has a cinder; Auld Tubalcain's fire-shool and fender; That which distinguished the gender O' Balaam's ass: A broomstick o' the witch of Endor, Weel shod wi' brass. Forbye, he'll shape you aff fu' gleg The cut of Adam's philibeg; The knife that nickit Abel's craig He'll prove you fully, It was a faulding jocteleg, Or lang-kail gullie. But wad ye see him in his glee, For meikle glee and fun has he, Then set him down, and twa or three Gude fellows wi' him: And port, O port! shine thou a wee, And Then ye'll see him! Now, by the Pow'rs o' verse and prose! Thou art a dainty chield, O Grose! - Whae'er o' thee shall ill suppose, They sair misca' thee; I'd take the rascal by the nose, Wad say, "Shame fa' thee!"

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Hannah Gordon

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1789 and is read here by Hannah Gordon.

More about this poem

Burns met Francis Grose (1731-91), a captain in the Surrey Militia, at Friars CArse in the summer of 1789, when he was collecting materials for The Antiquities of Scotland, 2 vols, 1789 and 1791.

Burns described his company to Mrs Dunlop: 'I have never seen a man of more original observation, anecdote and remark ... His delight is to steal thro' the country almost unknown, both as most favourable to his humour and his business ... if you discover a chearful-looking grig of an old fat fellow, the precise figure of Dr Slop, wheeling around in your avenue in his old carriage with a pencil and paper in his hand, you may conclude, "Thou art the man!"'

This poem was published in the Edinburgh Evening Courant, 11 August 1789, signed 'Thomas A. Linn' which led scholars to conclude that Burns probably sent it in.

Jennifer Orr

Themes for this poem

friendship humour nationalism

Selected for 06 July

In the summer of 1789 Burns got to know the English antiquarian and song collector, Captain George Grose. It was Grose who went on to commission the Bard’s masterpiece 'Tam o' Shanter'. Burns composed two elegies to the memory of a man he admired and was admired by.

Donny O'Rourke

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