1753 Poem, Anon. (William Starrat), ‘The Pig, or the power of Prejudice’

Author: Anon. (William Starrat)

Date: 1753

Source: ‘The Pig, or the power of Prejudice. A Tale’, 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/1700-1799/007

The Pig, or the power of Prejudice

The PIG, or the power of Prejudice, A  Tale.

A Muntabank anes strol’d about,

Seeking saft headed gilpies out,

To cure them of stupidity,

And confidence in sic as he.

Wi’ him a merry-andrew ga’d,

Weel practis’d in the drolling trade;

Wha wi’ his tricks, his gibes, and joaking,

Brought, by the lugs, the kintry folk in. —

Poor barren joaks, and e’en thread bare,

And common as a barber’s chair;

Sic as th’ astrologer of Derry,

Puts in sad verse, to make us merry,

Where line and line as vilely kipple,

As when a fool rins wi’ a cripple.

Weel drest, and braw the doctor stood,

Collecting shillings frae the croud;

And in return he gi’ them back

Paper, and druggs no worth a plack;

While merry-andrew bald, and slee,

Contented them wi’ mirth, and glee.

Anes on a day the stage he munts,

Sine, like a pig, squeeks, squeels, and grunts;

And did it wi’ sae mickle skill,

That ev’rybody leugh their fill:

And in the midst of their gaffaws,

They clapt their hands, and gi’ applause:

"Wow but he does it wond’rous weel,

"Nae pig on earth could better squeel".

While thus they clapt, and leugh ding dang:

Ald-farrand Hab increast the thrang:

But I maun drap my tale a wee,

Ae necessary hint to gi’.

Hab ne’er was relish’d by the lave,

For when he saw them misbehave,

He wad reprove them, and essay

To put them in a better way:

This vext them sair, — his better sense

Disgusted them, and gi’ offence.

The being oughtlins obligated

To any ane — was what they hated:

And therefore did the man envy,

Wha pat them under sic a tye.

Thus half drown’d wretches aften hate

The friendly hand that sav’d them frae’t.

Thus Hab’s endeavours a’ did fail:

And thus I reassume my tale.

Quo’ he, does any ferly kythe,

Dear nighbours, that ye’re a’ sae blythe?

When they reply’d; — what need ye speer,

Yonder’s the cheel that gars us sneer;

He imitates a pig sae weel,

In ilka gruntle, squeek and squeel,

That when you hear him, ye will sweer,

It is a pig itself ye hear. —

And what’s far mair, for there’s the joak,

You’ll think the pig’s aneath his cloak.

In trowth, quo’ Hab, then I may say,

Ye’re just e’en kittled wi’ a strae;

Which to my mind the proverb brings,

That fools are fain o’ feckless things;

How can sic toys your fancy strike,

When any ane can do the like?

That is na you, they a’ reply’d.

Easy, quo’ Hab, let that be try’d:

Come here the morn, and ye shall hae

Convincing proofs of what I say.

The morning came, the company

Met a’, the rival droll to see:

He munts the stage, and ’neath his cloak,

He brought a pig stow’d in a poke.

Then wi’ a nip, or scart, or dunt,

He gart it squeek, or squeel, or grunt;

But did na please — they a’ cry’d out;

‘That like a pig! — ye canna do’t.

Nae pig on earth wad that gate squeel!

A creaking cart wad do as weel:

Ye fool, you sot, your labour hain;

Let merry-andrew till’t again’.

And now, quo’ Hab, to let you see,

How fause your biass’d judgments gee:

It is a pig it sell I’ve got:

Now wha’s the fool, and wha’s the sot.

But neighbours, if ye wad be wise,

In judging true, take my advice;

Sling off self-will, and prejudice.


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