by JOHN LIDDELL KELLY (1850-1926)
A Discussion On National Characteristics
In the cowld winter noights, when enjoyments are few,
And loife looks so cheerless and dreary,
A chap like meself scarcely knows what to do,
But to sit by the fireside and weary;
Or go out to some “pub” wid a parlour so nate,
And a lovely young barmaid so charmin’ and swate,
Till with whisky and love I’d be bothered complate
To kape up a dacent sobriety;
But me frind, Paddy Burke, says that woman and wine
Will spoil my karakter, which brightly might shine,
If I’d only go wid him some aivenin’ and join
The Burns Club and Scottish Society.
“Be jabers!” sez I, “there is something in that,
But I don’t mane to join the taytotal.”
“More power to your bowld rizolution!” sez Pat,
“It’s meself won’t forbid yez a bottle;
In fact, if ye come, ye’ll get full every night—
Not wid whisky I mane, but wid knowledge and light,
And you’ll perch like a Janius on Larnin’s proud height,
Or shoine as a pattern of piety;
For all the young mimbers of larnin’ are full—
Not one of them silly or stupid or dull,
And the big bumps of knowledge stick out on their skull,
At the Burns Club and Scottish Society!”
So off to the very next matin’ he wint
And proposed Barney Flynn as a mimber;
And I next wint in person meself to presint
On a cowld, windy night in Septimber.
I stepped in the room, and my heart wint pit-pat,
As down by the side of a lady I sat,
Who had lovely dark eyes, and a Gainsboro’ hat,
And who blushed wid the swatest propriety;
Thin I looked down the room wid a wild sort of stare,
For there sat the moighty Committee; and there
Was Mister Macdonald, who sat in the chair
At the Burns Club and Scottish Society!
In a minute or two, shure the minutes was passed,
And meself was resaved by the matin’;
Then up to his feet got the chairman at last,
And sez he—” We’ll be afther debatin’!
And I hope every mimber will spake out his mind,
For betwixt two extremes we the truth ought to find,
And the subject to-night is most clearly designed
To draw out your best contrareity.
Whether Scotland, or England, or Ireland is best?
Whether Pat, John, or Sandy the laurels shall wrest?
That’s the question, me bhoys, to be put to the test
By the Burns Club and Scottish Society!”