Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/137

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certainty is known of Jeanie Mitchell. Maggie Borland was the daughter of the landlord of another hostelry, "The Red Lion." The "Godly Bryan" and his particular transgression are referred to in a paragraph, sometimes omitted, from Burns's letter to John Richmond, of July 9, 1786. "Godly Bryan was in the Inquisition yesterday, and half the countryside as witnesses against him. He still stands out steady and denying; but proof was led yesternight of circumstances highly suspicious, almost de facto: one of the girls made oath that she upon a time rashly entered the house (to speak in your cant) 'in the hour of cause.'" As a matter of fact, Bryan, farmer, West Welton, did actually appear before the Session of Mauchline on July 8, 1786, to answer to a charge of immorality preferred against him. He died at Mauchline, and is buried in the churchyard there. The scene of Brown's imaginary punishment was the village green, in the centre of which then stood the village pump, a handy stake to which to tie the culprit, while the populace energetically expressed their opinion of him in the literal way which then obtained.

By the aid of these brief notes, it will be found that the poem sufficiently explains itself.

In Truth and Honour's name—Amen!
Know all men by these presents plain,
The Fourth o' June,[1] at Mauchline given,
The year 'tween eighty-five and seven,
We, old practitioners,[2] by profession,
As per extracts frae Books o' Session,[3]
In way and manner here narrated,
All con amore[4] congregated,
Are, by our brethren, constituted
A Court of Equity deputed,
With special authorised direction,
To take within our strict protection,
The open stay-laced[5] quondam maiden,
With growing life and anguish laden,
Who, by the miscreant,[6] is denied,

That led her thoughtless steps aside;
  1. This twalt o' May.—Eg. Ver. 4th of June,—Add. MS.
  2. We, fornicators.—Eg. Ver.
  3. As per extractum from each Session.—Eg. Ver.
  4. Pro bono amor.—Add. MS.
  5. The stays unlacing.—Eg. Ver. The stays outbursting.—Add. MS.
  6. Scoundrel, Eg. Ver.—Rascal, Add. MS.