1753 Poem, Anon., 'To the Criticks'

Author: Anonymous

Date: 1753

Source: ‘To the CRITICKS’, an anonymous poem in ‘Scotch Poems’, The Ulster Miscellany, 1753

Comments: This poem is one of nine anonymous ‘Scotch Poems’ from the ‘Laggan’ area of North-East Donegal published in The Ulster Miscellany of 1753. In Philip Robinson’s ‘William Starrat of Strabane: the first Ulster-Scots Poet’, Ullans, 5, 1997, he identifies William Starrat as the likely author of at least some of these. Given Starrat’s well-known friendship and poetical correspondence (in Scots) with Allan Ramsay about 1722, further corroboration of Starrat’s authorship of these ‘Scotch Poems’ is revealed in the seventh poem (‘An additional Verse to the Widow my Laddie’). The original ‘Widow my Laddie’ was published by Allan Ramsay in his Tea-Table Miscellany … of Songs in English and Scots, in 1750.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1700-1799/004



Dear criticks, I address to you;

No’ to the fause, but to the true.

Why do the POETS, ane and a’

Sae fiercely on the criticks fa’:

Misca’ them sae, that nane can pass,

Without his share of goose and ass:

Or send them a’ to join the bikes

Of wasps, or herd wi’ snarling tikes:

What is the reason, can ye tell?

But whisht - I’ll fin’ it out my sell.

Some think themsel’s ayont your reach,

And sae will neither fear nor fleetch;

But use you like a tike that strives

To stap a horse, wha furious drives:

The dog gets many a dirty splash;

Or frae the horse’s heels a lash.

Some fear the warst, and sae wou’d fain,

By striking first, the battle gain:

Or like the mob, the hangman claw,

Wha’d for a trifle hang them a’.

Ow’r mickle, like ow’r little dread,

Gi’s courage in the time of need.

Yet young beginners, sic as me,

Shou’d court, and fleetch you to be free:

To pass your judgment on our lays,

To censure, or to give us praise;

For ye’re the trumpeters o’ fame,

That can blaw up, and down, a name:

Upon your breath, it mounts right clever,

Or wi’ a puff, sinks down for ever.

Maist poets join in this mistake,

Nae special difference to make

(As weel they might) ’tween criticks true,

And a pretending senseless crew.

This should be fix’d - fause criticks else,

Will never come to ken themsels:

Then let me tell thae worthless men,

The truths which ye already ken.

A critick, wi’ a genius bright,

Can, like his patron, god of light,

Gi’ ilka thing its proper view;

Shaw what is faw’ty, ald, or new,

Can make a phrase luick beautiful,

Which to the clouded mind seem’d dull:

Sic light he gi’s, the bard may choose

The bonniest prospect for his muse:

Sic light he gi’s - the donsy dark

Tines self-conceit, and quats the wark.

But a fause critick’s like the deel,

Slips, fau’ts, and failings, please them weel;

Of sic he is sae wond’rous fain,

He strives to make them whare there’s nane.

True poets thrive against his will;

For he would damn baith good and ill.

Tags: xxx xxx


The Ulster-Scots Academy has been an integral part of the Ulster-Scots Language Society since 1993. The name "Ulster-Scots Academy" is registered to the USLS with the Intellectual Property Office.

Ulster Scots Academy


A new edition of Michael Montgomery’s From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English recounts the lasting impact that at least 150,000 settlers from Ulster in the 18th century made on the development of the English language of the United States. This new edition published by the Ulster-Scots Language Society documents over 500 ‘shared’ vocabulary items which are authenticated by quotations from both sides of the Atlantic. A searchable online version of this dictionary is now also available here.


The Ulster-Scots Academy is currently working on the digitisation of Dr Philip Robinson's seminal Ulster-Scots Grammar and the English/Ulster-Scots part (with circa 10,000 entries) of a two-way historical dictionary of Ulster-Scots. These projects are planned to be completed and available on the site in 2016.



This site is being developed on a purely voluntary basis by the Ulster-Scots Language Society at no cost to the taxpayer. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

This site is being developed by the Ulster-Scots Language Society (Charity No. XN89678) without external financial assistance. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

(Friends of the Ulster-Scots Academy group)