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The Inventory
In answer to a mandate by the surveyor of taxes

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation



Sir, as your mandate did request,
I send you here a faithfu' list
O' guids an' gear an' a' my graith,
To which I'm clear to gie my aith.

Imprimis, then, for carriage cattle: -
I hae four brutes o' gallant mettle
As ever drew before a pettle:
My lan'-afore's a guid auld 'has been,'

(Note: - The 'lan-afore' is the foremost horse in the plough
team, on the un-ploughed land side of the plough team.)

An' wight an' wilfu' a' his days been.
My lan'-ahin's a weel-gaun fillie,

(Note: - The 'lan-ahin' is the hindmost horse in the plough team, on the un-ploughed land side of the plough team.)

That aft has borne me hame frae Killie,
An' your auld borough monie a time
In days when riding was nae crime.
(But ance, when in my wooing pride
I, like a blockhead, boost to ride,
The wilfu' creature sae I pat to -
Lord, pardon a' my sins, an' that too! -
I play'd my fillie sic a shavie,
She's a' bedevil'd wi' the spavie.)
My fur-ahin's a wordy beast.

(Note: - The 'fur-ahin' is the hindmost horse in the plough team, on the ploughed, furrow side of the plough team.)

As e'er in tug or tow was traced.
The fourth's a Highland Donald hastie,
A damn'd red-wud Kilburnie blastie!
Foreby, a cowte, o' cowtes the wale,
As ever ran afore a tail:
If he be spar'd to be a beast,
He'll draw me fifteen pund at least.

Wheel-carriages I hae but few:
Three carts, an' twa are feckly new;
An auld wheelbarrow - mair for token,
Ae leg an' baith the trams are broken:
I made a poker o' the spin'le,
An' my auld mither brunt the trin'le.

For men, I've three mischievous boys,
Run-deils for fechtin an' for noise:
A gaudsman ane, a thrasher t' other,
Wee Davoc hauds the nowte in fother.
I rule them, as I ought, discreetly,
An' aften labour them completely;
An' ay on Sundays duly, nightly,
I on the Questions target them tightly:
Till, faith! wee Davoc's grown sae gleg,
Tho' scarcely langer than your leg,
He'll screed you aff 'Effectual Calling'
As fast as onie in the dwalling.

I've nane in female servan' station
(Lord keep me ay frae a' temptation!):
I hae nae wife - and that my bliss is -
An' ye hae laid nae tax on misses;
An' then, if kirk folks dinna clutch me,
I ken the deevils darena touch me.

Wi' weans I'm mair than weel contented:
Heav'n sent me ane mair than I wanted!
My sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess,
She stares the daddie in her face,
Enough of ought ye like but grace:
But her, my bonie, sweet wee lady,
I've paid enough for her already;
An' gin ye tax her or her mither,
By the Lord, ye'se get them a' thegither!

But pray, remember, Mr. Aiken,
Nae kind of licence out I'm takin:
Frae this time forth, I do declare
I'se ne'er ride horse nor hizzie mair;
Thro' dirt and dub for life I'll paidle,
Ere I sae dear pay for a saddle;
I've sturdy stumps, the Lord be thankit,
And a' my gates on foot I'll shank it.
The Kirk and you may tak' you that,
It puts but little in your pat:
Sae dinna put me in your beuk,
Nor for my ten white shillings leuk.

This list, wi' my ain hand I've wrote it,
The day and date as under notit;
Then know all ye whom it concerns,
Subscripsi huic, Robert Burns.

 



Sir, as your mandate did request,
I send you here a faithful list
Of goods and wealth and all my chattels,
To which I am clear to give my oath.

Imprimis, then, for carriage cattle: -
I have four brutes of gallant mettle
As ever drew before a plough-staff:
My land-afore(before) is a good old 'has been,'




and strong and willful all his days been.
My land-ahind(behind) is a well-going filly,




That often has borne me home from Kilmarnock,
And your old borough (Ayr) many a time
In days when riding was not a crime.
(But once, when in my wooing (courting) pride
I, like a blockhead, must needs to ride,
The willful creature so I did put to -
Lord, pardon all my sins, and that too! -
I played my filly such a ill turn,
She is all bedeviled with the spavin.)
My furrow-ahind(behind) is a worthy beast.




As ever in tug or tow was traced (put in harness).
The fourth is a Highland Donald hastie,
A damned stark mad Kilbirnie blasted!
Besides, a colt, of colts the pick,
As ever ran before a tail:
If he be spared to be a beast (grow to age),
He will draw (in sale) me fifteen pounds at least.

Wheel-carriages I have but few:
Three carts, and two are partly new;
An old wheelbarrow - more for token,
One leg and both the trams are broken:
I made a poker of the spindle (axle),
And my old mother burned the wheel.

For men, I have three mischievous boys,
Stark-devls for fighting and for noise:
A goadsman (driver) one, a thrasher the other,
Little David holds the cattle in fodder.
I rule them, as I ought, discreetly,
And often labour them their hardest;
And always on Sundays duly, nightly,
I on the Questions target them tightly:
Till, faith! little David has grown so sharp (smart),
Though scarcely longer (taller) than your leg,
He will rattle you off 'Effectual Calling'
As fast as any in the dwelling.

I have none in female servant station
(Lord keep me always from all temptation!):
I have no wife - and that my bliss is -
And you have laid no tax on mistresses;
And then, if church folks do not clutch (catch) me,
I know the devils dare not touch me.

With children I am more than well contented:
Heaven sent me one more than I wanted!
My good-natured, smirking, dear-bought Bess,
She stares (looks like) the daddy in her face,
Enough of a part of you like but grace:
But her, my lovely, sweet little lady,
I have paid enough for her already;
And if you tax her or her mother,
By the Lord, you will get them all together!

But pray, remember, Mr. Aiken,
No kind of licence out I am taking:
From this time forth, I do declare
I will never ride horse nor wench more;
Through dirt and puddle for life I will wade,
Before I so dear pay for a saddle;
I have sturdy stumps (legs), the Lord be thanked,
And all my roads on foot I will walk it.
The Church and you may take you that,
It puts but little in your pot:
So do not put me in your book,
Nor for my ten white shillings look.

This list, with my own hand I have written it,
The day and date as under noted;
Then know all you whom it concerns,
Subscripsi huic, Robert Burns.

 

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