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Best Famous Ballad Poems

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by Robert Burns |

519. Ballad on Mr. Heron’s Election—No. 2

 FY, let us a’ to Kirkcudbright,
 For there will be bickerin’ there;
For Murray’s light horse are to muster,
 And O how the heroes will swear!
And there will be Murray, Commander,
 And Gordon, the battle to win;
Like brothers they’ll stand by each other,
 Sae knit in alliance and kin.
And there will be black-nebbit Johnie, The tongue o’ the trump to them a’; An he get na Hell for his haddin’, The Deil gets na justice ava.
And there will be Kempleton’s birkie, A boy no sae black at the bane; But as to his fine Nabob fortune, We’ll e’en let the subject alane.
And there will be Wigton’s new Sheriff; Dame Justice fu’ brawly has sped, She’s gotten the heart of a Bushby, But, Lord! what’s become o’ the head? And there will be Cardoness, Esquire, Sae mighty in Cardoness’ eyes; A wight that will weather damnation, The Devil the prey will despise.
And there will be Douglasses doughty, New christening towns far and near; Abjuring their democrat doings, By kissin’ the —— o’ a Peer: And there will be folk frae Saint Mary’s A house o’ great merit and note; The deil ane but honours them highly— The deil ane will gie them his vote! And there will be Kenmure sae gen’rous, Whose honour is proof to the storm, To save them from stark reprobation, He lent them his name in the Firm.
And there will be lads o’ the gospel, Muirhead wha’s as gude as he’s true; And there will be Buittle’s Apostle, Wha’s mair o’ the black than the blue.
And there will be Logan M’Dowall, Sculdudd’ry an’ he will be there, And also the Wild Scot o’ Galloway, Sogering, gunpowder Blair.
But we winna mention Redcastle, The body, e’en let him escape! He’d venture the gallows for siller, An ’twere na the cost o’ the rape.
But where is the Doggerbank hero, That made “Hogan Mogan” to skulk? Poor Keith’s gane to hell to be fuel, The auld rotten wreck of a Hulk.
And where is our King’s Lord Lieutenant, Sae fam’d for his gratefu’ return? The birkie is gettin’ his Questions To say in Saint Stephen’s the morn.
But mark ye! there’s trusty Kerroughtree, Whose honor was ever his law; If the Virtues were pack’d in a parcel, His worth might be sample for a’; And strang an’ respectfu’s his backing, The maist o’ the lairds wi’ him stand; Nae gipsy-like nominal barons, Wha’s property’s paper—not land.
And there, frae the Niddisdale borders, The Maxwells will gather in droves, Teugh Jockie, staunch Geordie, an’ Wellwood, That griens for the fishes and loaves; And there will be Heron, the Major, Wha’ll ne’er be forgot in the Greys; Our flatt’ry we’ll keep for some other, HIM, only it’s justice to praise.
And there will be maiden Kilkerran, And also Barskimming’s gude Knight, And there will be roarin Birtwhistle, Yet luckily roars i’ the right.
And there’ll be Stamp Office Johnie, (Tak tent how ye purchase a dram!) And there will be gay Cassencarry, And there’ll be gleg Colonel Tam.
And there’ll be wealthy young Richard, Dame Fortune should hing by the neck, For prodigal, thriftless bestowing— His merit had won him respect.
And there will be rich brother Nabobs, (Tho’ Nabobs, yet men not the worst,) And there will be Collieston’s whiskers, And Quintin—a lad o’ the first.
Then hey! the chaste Interest o’ Broughton And hey! for the blessin’s ’twill bring; It may send Balmaghie to the Commons, In Sodom ’twould make him a king; And hey! for the sanctified Murray, Our land wha wi’ chapels has stor’d; He founder’d his horse among harlots, But gied the auld naig to the Lord.

by Robert Burns |

518. Ballad on Mr. Heron’s Election—No. 1

 WHOM will you send to London town,
 To Parliament and a’ that?
Or wha in a’ the country round
 The best deserves to fa’ that?
 For a’ that, and a’ that,
 Thro’ Galloway and a’ that,
 Where is the Laird or belted Knight
 The best deserves to fa’ that?

Wha sees Kerroughtree’s open yett,
 (And wha is’t never saw that?)
Wha ever wi’ Kerroughtree met,
 And has a doubt of a’ that?
 For a’ that, and a’ that,
 Here’s Heron yet for a’ that!
 The independent patriot,
 The honest man, and a’ that.
Tho’ wit and worth, in either sex, Saint Mary’s Isle can shaw that, Wi’ Dukes and Lords let Selkirk mix, And weel does Selkirk fa’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that, Here’s Heron yet for a’ that! The independent commoner Shall be the man for a’ that.
But why should we to Nobles jouk, And is’t against the law, that? For why, a Lord may be a gowk, Wi’ ribband, star and a’ that, For a’ that, and a’ that, Here’s Heron yet for a’ that! A Lord may be a lousy loun, Wi’ ribband, star and a’ that.
A beardless boy comes o’er the hills, Wi’ uncle’s purse and a’ that; But we’ll hae ane frae mang oursels, A man we ken, and a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that, Here’s Heron yet for a’ that! For we’re not to be bought and sold, Like naigs, and nowt, and a’ that.
Then let us drink—The Stewartry, Kerroughtree’s laird, and a’ that, Our representative to be, For weel he’s worthy a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that, Here’s Heron yet for a’ that! A House of Commons such as he, They wad be blest that saw that.

by Robert Burns |

297. Election Ballad for Westerha’

 THE LADDIES by the banks o’ Nith
 Wad trust his Grace 1 wi a’, Jamie;
But he’ll sair them, as he sair’d the King—
 Turn tail and rin awa’, Jamie.
—Up and waur them a’, Jamie, Up and waur them a’; The Johnstones hae the guidin o’t, Ye turncoat Whigs, awa’! The day he stude his country’s friend, Or gied her faes a claw, Jamie, Or frae puir man a blessin wan, That day the Duke ne’er saw, Jamie.
Up and waur them, &c.
But wha is he, his country’s boast? Like him there is na twa, Jamie; There’s no a callent tents the kye, But kens o’ Westerha’, Jamie.
Up and waur them, &c.
To end the wark, here’s Whistlebirk, Lang may his whistle blaw, Jamie; And Maxwell true, o’ sterling blue; And we’ll be Johnstones a’, Jamie.
Up and waur them, &c.

by Robert Burns |

551. Ballad on Mr. Heron’s Election—No. 4

 WHA will buy my troggin, fine election ware,
Broken trade o’ Broughton, a’ in high repair?

—Buy braw troggin frae the banks o’ Dee; Wha wants troggin let him come to me.
There’s a noble Earl’s fame and high renown, For an auld sang—it’s thought the gudes were stown— Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s the worth o’ Broughton in a needle’s e’e; Here’s a reputation tint by Balmaghie.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s its stuff and lining, Cardoness’ head, Fine for a soger, a’ the wale o’ lead.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s a little wadset, Buittle’s scrap o’ truth, Pawn’d in a gin-shop, quenching holy drouth.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s an honest conscience might a prince adorn; Frae the downs o’ Tinwald, so was never worn.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s armorial bearings frae the manse o’ Urr; The crest, a sour crab-apple, rotten at the core.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s the worth and wisdom Collieston can boast; By a thievish midge they had been nearly lost.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here is Satan’s picture, like a bizzard gled, Pouncing poor Redcastle, sprawlin’ like a taed.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here’s the font where Douglas stane and mortar names; Lately used at Caily christening Murray’s crimes.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Here is Murray’s fragments o’ the ten commands; Gifted by black Jock to get them aff his hands.
Buy braw troggin, &c.
Saw ye e’er sic troggin? if to buy ye’re slack, Hornie’s turnin chapman—he’ll buy a’ the pack.
Buy braw troggin, &c.

by Robert Burns |

39. Ballad on the American War

 WHEN Guilford good our pilot stood
 An’ did our hellim thraw, man,
Ae night, at tea, began a plea,
 Within America, man:
Then up they gat the maskin-pat,
 And in the sea did jaw, man;
An’ did nae less, in full congress,
 Than quite refuse our law, man.
Then thro’ the lakes Montgomery takes, I wat he was na slaw, man; Down Lowrie’s Burn he took a turn, And Carleton did ca’, man: But yet, whatreck, he, at Quebec, Montgomery-like did fa’, man, Wi’ sword in hand, before his band, Amang his en’mies a’, man.
Poor Tammy Gage within a cage Was kept at Boston-ha’, man; Till Willie Howe took o’er the knowe For Philadelphia, man; Wi’ sword an’ gun he thought a sin Guid Christian bluid to draw, man; But at New York, wi’ knife an’ fork, Sir-Loin he hacked sma’, man.
Burgoyne gaed up, like spur an’ whip, Till Fraser brave did fa’, man; Then lost his way, ae misty day, In Saratoga shaw, man.
Cornwallis fought as lang’s he dought, An’ did the Buckskins claw, man; But Clinton’s glaive frae rust to save, He hung it to the wa’, man.
Then Montague, an’ Guilford too, Began to fear, a fa’, man; And Sackville dour, wha stood the stour, The German chief to thraw, man: For Paddy Burke, like ony Turk, Nae mercy had at a’, man; An’ Charlie Fox threw by the box, An’ lows’d his tinkler jaw, man.
Then Rockingham took up the game, Till death did on him ca’, man; When Shelburne meek held up his cheek, Conform to gospel law, man: Saint Stephen’s boys, wi’ jarring noise, They did his measures thraw, man; For North an’ Fox united stocks, An’ bore him to the wa’, man.
Then clubs an’ hearts were Charlie’s cartes, He swept the stakes awa’, man, Till the diamond’s ace, of Indian race, Led him a sair faux pas, man: The Saxon lads, wi’ loud placads, On Chatham’s boy did ca’, man; An’ Scotland drew her pipe an’ blew, “Up, Willie, waur them a’, man!” Behind the throne then Granville’s gone, A secret word or twa, man; While slee Dundas arous’d the class Be-north the Roman wa’, man: An’ Chatham’s wraith, in heav’nly graith, (Inspired bardies saw, man), Wi’ kindling eyes, cry’d, “Willie, rise! Would I hae fear’d them a’, man?” But, word an’ blow, North, Fox, and Co.
Gowff’d Willie like a ba’, man; Till Suthron raise, an’ coost their claise Behind him in a raw, man: An’ Caledon threw by the drone, An’ did her whittle draw, man; An’ swoor fu’ rude, thro’ dirt an’ bluid, To mak it guid in law, man.

by Robert Burns |

80. The Jolly Beggars: A Cantata

 RecitativoWHEN lyart leaves bestrow the yird,
Or wavering like the bauckie-bird,
 Bedim cauld Boreas’ blast;
When hailstanes drive wi’ bitter skyte,
And infant frosts begin to bite,
 In hoary cranreuch drest;
Ae night at e’en a merry core
 O’ randie, gangrel bodies,
In Poosie-Nansie’s held the splore,
 To drink their orra duddies;
 Wi’ quaffing an’ laughing,
 They ranted an’ they sang,
 Wi’ jumping an’ thumping,
 The vera girdle rang,

First, neist the fire, in auld red rags,
Ane sat, weel brac’d wi’ mealy bags,
 And knapsack a’ in order;
His doxy lay within his arm;
Wi’ usquebae an’ blankets warm
 She blinkit on her sodger;
An’ aye he gies the tozie drab
 The tither skelpin’ kiss,
While she held up her greedy gab,
 Just like an aumous dish;
 Ilk smack still, did crack still,
 Just like a cadger’s whip;
 Then staggering an’ swaggering
 He roar’d this ditty up—

AirTune—“Soldier’s Joy.
”I am a son of Mars who have been in many wars, And show my cuts and scars wherever I come; This here was for a wench, and that other in a trench, When welcoming the French at the sound of the drum.
Lal de daudle, &c.
My ’prenticeship I past where my leader breath’d his last, When the bloody die was cast on the heights of Abram: And I served out my trade when the gallant game was play’d, And the Morro low was laid at the sound of the drum.
I lastly was with Curtis among the floating batt’ries, And there I left for witness an arm and a limb; Yet let my country need me, with Elliot to head me, I’d clatter on my stumps at the sound of a drum.
And now tho’ I must beg, with a wooden arm and leg, And many a tatter’d rag hanging over my bum, I’m as happy with my wallet, my bottle, and my callet, As when I used in scarlet to follow a drum.
What tho’ with hoary locks, I must stand the winter shocks, Beneath the woods and rocks oftentimes for a home, When the t’other bag I sell, and the t’other bottle tell, I could meet a troop of hell, at the sound of a drum.
RecitativoHe ended; and the kebars sheuk, Aboon the chorus roar; While frighted rattons backward leuk, An’ seek the benmost bore: A fairy fiddler frae the neuk, He skirl’d out, encore! But up arose the martial chuck, An’ laid the loud uproar.
AirTune—“Sodger Laddie.
”I once was a maid, tho’ I cannot tell when, And still my delight is in proper young men; Some one of a troop of dragoons was my daddie, No wonder I’m fond of a sodger laddie, Sing, lal de lal, &c.
The first of my loves was a swaggering blade, To rattle the thundering drum was his trade; His leg was so tight, and his cheek was so ruddy, Transported I was with my sodger laddie.
But the godly old chaplain left him in the lurch; The sword I forsook for the sake of the church: He ventur’d the soul, and I risked the body, ’Twas then I proved false to my sodger laddie.
Full soon I grew sick of my sanctified sot, The regiment at large for a husband I got; From the gilded spontoon to the fife I was ready, I askèd no more but a sodger laddie.
But the peace it reduc’d me to beg in despair, Till I met old boy in a Cunningham fair, His rags regimental, they flutter’d so gaudy, My heart it rejoic’d at a sodger laddie.
And now I have liv’d—I know not how long, And still I can join in a cup and a song; But whilst with both hands I can hold the glass steady, Here’s to thee, my hero, my sodger laddie.
RecitativoPoor Merry-Andrew, in the neuk, Sat guzzling wi’ a tinkler-hizzie; They mind’t na wha the chorus teuk, Between themselves they were sae busy: At length, wi’ drink an’ courting dizzy, He stoiter’d up an’ made a face; Then turn’d an’ laid a smack on Grizzie, Syne tun’d his pipes wi’ grave grimace.
AirTune—“Auld Sir Symon.
”Sir Wisdom’s a fool when he’s fou; Sir Knave is a fool in a session; He’s there but a ’prentice I trow, But I am a fool by profession.
My grannie she bought me a beuk, An’ I held awa to the school; I fear I my talent misteuk, But what will ye hae of a fool? For drink I would venture my neck; A hizzie’s the half of my craft; But what could ye other expect Of ane that’s avowedly daft? I ance was tied up like a stirk, For civilly swearing and quaffin; I ance was abus’d i’ the kirk, For towsing a lass i’ my daffin.
Poor Andrew that tumbles for sport, Let naebody name wi’ a jeer; There’s even, I’m tauld, i’ the Court A tumbler ca’d the Premier.
Observ’d ye yon reverend lad Mak faces to tickle the mob; He rails at our mountebank squad,— It’s rivalship just i’ the job.
And now my conclusion I’ll tell, For faith I’m confoundedly dry; The chiel that’s a fool for himsel’, Guid L—d! he’s far dafter than I.
RecitativoThen niest outspak a raucle carlin, Wha kent fu’ weel to cleek the sterlin; For mony a pursie she had hooked, An’ had in mony a well been douked; Her love had been a Highland laddie, But weary fa’ the waefu’ woodie! Wi’ sighs an’ sobs she thus began To wail her braw John Highlandman.
AirTune—“O, an ye were dead, Guidman.
”A Highland lad my love was born, The Lalland laws he held in scorn; But he still was faithfu’ to his clan, My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
Chorus Sing hey my braw John Highlandman! Sing ho my braw John Highlandman! There’s not a lad in a’ the lan’ Was match for my John Highlandman.
With his philibeg an’ tartan plaid, An’ guid claymore down by his side, The ladies’ hearts he did trepan, My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
Sing hey, &c.
We rangèd a’ from Tweed to Spey, An’ liv’d like lords an’ ladies gay; For a Lalland face he fearèd none,— My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
Sing hey, &c.
They banish’d him beyond the sea.
But ere the bud was on the tree, Adown my cheeks the pearls ran, Embracing my John Highlandman.
Sing hey, &c.
But, och! they catch’d him at the last, And bound him in a dungeon fast: My curse upon them every one, They’ve hang’d my braw John Highlandman! Sing hey, &c.
And now a widow, I must mourn The pleasures that will ne’er return: The comfort but a hearty can, When I think on John Highlandman.
Sing hey, &c.
RecitativoA pigmy scraper wi’ his fiddle, Wha us’d at trystes an’ fairs to driddle.
Her strappin limb and gausy middle (He reach’d nae higher) Had hol’d his heartie like a riddle, An’ blawn’t on fire.
Wi’ hand on hainch, and upward e’e, He croon’d his gamut, one, two, three, Then in an arioso key, The wee Apoll Set off wi’ allegretto glee His giga solo.
AirTune—“Whistle owre the lave o’t.
”Let me ryke up to dight that tear, An’ go wi’ me an’ be my dear; An’ then your every care an’ fear May whistle owre the lave o’t.
Chorus I am a fiddler to my trade, An’ a’ the tunes that e’er I played, The sweetest still to wife or maid, Was whistle owre the lave o’t.
At kirns an’ weddins we’se be there, An’ O sae nicely’s we will fare! We’ll bowse about till Daddie Care Sing whistle owre the lave o’t.
I am, &c.
Sae merrily’s the banes we’ll pyke, An’ sun oursel’s about the dyke; An’ at our leisure, when ye like, We’ll whistle owre the lave o’t.
I am, &c.
But bless me wi’ your heav’n o’ charms, An’ while I kittle hair on thairms, Hunger, cauld, an’ a’ sic harms, May whistle owre the lave o’t.
I am, &c.
RecitativoHer charms had struck a sturdy caird, As weel as poor gut-scraper; He taks the fiddler by the beard, An’ draws a roosty rapier— He swoor, by a’ was swearing worth, To speet him like a pliver, Unless he would from that time forth Relinquish her for ever.
Wi’ ghastly e’e poor tweedle-dee Upon his hunkers bended, An’ pray’d for grace wi’ ruefu’ face, An’ so the quarrel ended.
But tho’ his little heart did grieve When round the tinkler prest her, He feign’d to snirtle in his sleeve, When thus the caird address’d her: AirTune—“Clout the Cauldron.
”My bonie lass, I work in brass, A tinkler is my station: I’ve travell’d round all Christian ground In this my occupation; I’ve taen the gold, an’ been enrolled In many a noble squadron; But vain they search’d when off I march’d To go an’ clout the cauldron.
I’ve taen the gold, &c.
Despise that shrimp, that wither’d imp, With a’ his noise an’ cap’rin; An’ take a share with those that bear The budget and the apron! And by that stowp! my faith an’ houp, And by that dear Kilbaigie, 2 If e’er ye want, or meet wi’ scant, May I ne’er weet my craigie.
And by that stowp, &c.
RecitativoThe caird prevail’d—th’ unblushing fair In his embraces sunk; Partly wi’ love o’ercome sae sair, An’ partly she was drunk: Sir Violino, with an air That show’d a man o’ spunk, Wish’d unison between the pair, An’ made the bottle clunk To their health that night.
But hurchin Cupid shot a shaft, That play’d a dame a shavie— The fiddler rak’d her, fore and aft, Behint the chicken cavie.
Her lord, a wight of Homer’s craft, 3 Tho’ limpin wi’ the spavie, He hirpl’d up, an’ lap like daft, An’ shor’d them Dainty Davie O’ boot that night.
He was a care-defying blade As ever Bacchus listed! Tho’ Fortune sair upon him laid, His heart, she ever miss’d it.
He had no wish but—to be glad, Nor want but—when he thirsted; He hated nought but—to be sad, An’ thus the muse suggested His sang that night.
AirTune—“For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
”I am a Bard of no regard, Wi’ gentle folks an’ a’ that; But Homer-like, the glowrin byke, Frae town to town I draw that.
Chorus For a’ that, an’ a’ that, An’ twice as muckle’s a’ that; I’ve lost but ane, I’ve twa behin’, I’ve wife eneugh for a’ that.
I never drank the Muses’ stank, Castalia’s burn, an’ a’ that; But there it streams an’ richly reams, My Helicon I ca’ that.
For a’ that, &c.
Great love Idbear to a’ the fair, Their humble slave an’ a’ that; But lordly will, I hold it still A mortal sin to thraw that.
For a’ that, &c.
In raptures sweet, this hour we meet, Wi’ mutual love an’ a’ that; But for how lang the flie may stang, Let inclination law that.
For a’ that, &c.
Their tricks an’ craft hae put me daft, They’ve taen me in, an’ a’ that; But clear your decks, and here’s—“The Sex!” I like the jads for a’ that.
Chorus For a’ that, an’ a’ that, An’ twice as muckle’s a’ that; My dearest bluid, to do them guid, They’re welcome till’t for a’ that.
RecitativoSo sang the bard—and Nansie’s wa’s Shook with a thunder of applause, Re-echo’d from each mouth! They toom’d their pocks, they pawn’d their duds, They scarcely left to co’er their fuds, To quench their lowin drouth: Then owre again, the jovial thrang The poet did request To lowse his pack an’ wale a sang, A ballad o’ the best; He rising, rejoicing, Between his twa Deborahs, Looks round him, an’ found them Impatient for the chorus.
AirTune—“Jolly Mortals, fill your Glasses.
”See the smoking bowl before us, Mark our jovial ragged ring! Round and round take up the chorus, And in raptures let us sing— Chorus A fig for those by law protected! Liberty’s a glorious feast! Courts for cowards were erected, Churches built to please the priest.
What is title, what is treasure, What is reputation’s care? If we lead a life of pleasure, ’Tis no matter how or where! A fig for, &c.
With the ready trick and fable, Round we wander all the day; And at night in barn or stable, Hug our doxies on the hay.
A fig for, &c.
Does the train-attended carriage Thro’ the country lighter rove? Does the sober bed of marriage Witness brighter scenes of love? A fig for, &c.
Life is al a variorum, We regard not how it goes; Let them cant about decorum, Who have character to lose.
A fig for, &c.
Here’s to budgets, bags and wallets! Here’s to all the wandering train.
Here’s our ragged brats and callets, One and all cry out, Amen! Chorus A fig for those by law protected! Liberty’s a glorious feast! Courts for cowards were erected, Churches built to please the priest.
Note 1.
Not published by Burns.
[back] Note 2.
A peculiar sort of whisky so called, a great favorite with Poosie Nansie’s clubs.
[back] Note 3.
Homer is allowed to be the oldest ballad-singer on record.

by Robert Burns |

306. Election Ballad at close of Contest for representing the Dumfries Burghs 1790

 FINTRY, my stay in wordly strife,
Friend o’ my muse, friend o’ my life,
 Are ye as idle’s I am?
Come then, wi’ uncouth kintra fleg,
O’er Pegasus I’ll fling my leg,
 And ye shall see me try him.
But where shall I go rin a ride, That I may splatter nane beside? I wad na be uncivil: In manhood’s various paths and ways There’s aye some doytin’ body strays, And I ride like the devil.
Thus I break aff wi’ a’ my birr, And down yon dark, deep alley spur, Where Theologics daunder: Alas! curst wi’ eternal fogs, And damn’d in everlasting bogs, As sure’s the creed I’ll blunder! I’ll stain a band, or jaup a gown, Or rin my reckless, guilty crown Against the haly door: Sair do I rue my luckless fate, When, as the Muse an’ Deil wad hae’t, I rade that road before.
Suppose I take a spurt, and mix Amang the wilds o’ Politics— Electors and elected, Where dogs at Court (sad sons of bitches!) Septennially a madness touches, Till all the land’s infected.
All hail! Drumlanrig’s haughty Grace, Discarded remnant of a race Once godlike-great in story; Thy forbears’ virtues all contrasted, The very name of Douglas blasted, Thine that inverted glory! Hate, envy, oft the Douglas bore, But thou hast superadded more, And sunk them in contempt; Follies and crimes have stain’d the name, But, Queensberry, thine the virgin claim, From aught that’s good exempt! I’ll sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears, Who left the all-important cares Of princes, and their darlings: And, bent on winning borough touns, Came shaking hands wi’ wabster-loons, And kissing barefit carlins.
Combustion thro’ our boroughs rode, Whistling his roaring pack abroad Of mad unmuzzled lions; As Queensberry blue and buff unfurl’d, And Westerha’ and Hopetoun hurled To every Whig defiance.
But cautious Queensberry left the war, Th’ unmanner’d dust might soil his star, Besides, he hated bleeding: But left behind him heroes bright, Heroes in C&æsarean fight, Or Ciceronian pleading.
O for a throat like huge Mons-Meg, To muster o’er each ardent Whig Beneath Drumlanrig’s banners; Heroes and heroines commix, All in the field of politics, To win immortal honours.
M’Murdo and his lovely spouse, (Th’ enamour’d laurels kiss her brows!) Led on the Loves and Graces: She won each gaping burgess’ heart, While he, sub rosa, played his part Amang their wives and lasses.
Craigdarroch led a light-arm’d core, Tropes, metaphors, and figures pour, Like Hecla streaming thunder: Glenriddel, skill’d in rusty coins, Blew up each Tory’s dark designs, And bared the treason under.
In either wing two champions fought; Redoubted Staig, who set at nought The wildest savage Tory; And Welsh who ne’er yet flinch’d his ground, High-wav’d his magnum-bonum round With Cyclopeian fury.
Miller brought up th’ artillery ranks, The many-pounders of the Banks, Resistless desolation! While Maxwelton, that baron bold, ’Mid Lawson’s port entrench’d his hold, And threaten’d worse damnation.
To these what Tory hosts oppos’d With these what Tory warriors clos’d Surpasses my descriving; Squadrons, extended long and large, With furious speed rush to the charge, Like furious devils driving.
What verse can sing, what prose narrate, The butcher deeds of bloody Fate, Amid this mighty tulyie! Grim Horror girn’d, pale Terror roar’d, As Murder at his thrapple shor’d, And Hell mix’d in the brulyie.
As Highland craigs by thunder cleft, When lightnings fire the stormy lift, Hurl down with crashing rattle; As flames among a hundred woods, As headlong foam from a hundred floods, Such is the rage of Battle.
The stubborn Tories dare to die; As soon the rooted oaks would fly Before th’ approaching fellers: The Whigs come on like Ocean’s roar, When all his wintry billows pour Against the Buchan Bullers.
Lo, from the shades of Death’s deep night, Departed Whigs enjoy the fight, And think on former daring: The muffled murtherer of Charles The Magna Charter flag unfurls, All deadly gules its bearing.
Nor wanting ghosts of Tory fame; Bold Scrimgeour follows gallant Graham; Auld Covenanters shiver— Forgive! forgive! much-wrong’d Montrose! Now Death and Hell engulph thy foes, Thou liv’st on high for ever.
Still o’er the field the combat burns, The Tories, Whigs, give way by turns; But Fate the word has spoken: For woman’s wit and strength o’man, Alas! can do but what they can; The Tory ranks are broken.
O that my een were flowing burns! My voice, a lioness that mourns Her darling cubs’ undoing! That I might greet, that I might cry, While Tories fall, while Tories fly, And furious Whigs pursuing! What Whig but melts for good Sir James, Dear to his country, by the names, Friend, Patron, Benefactor! Not Pulteney’s wealth can Pulteney save; And Hopetoun falls, the generous, brave; And Stewart, bold as Hector.
Thou, Pitt, shalt rue this overthrow, And Thurlow growl a curse of woe, And Melville melt in wailing: Now Fox and Sheridan rejoice, And Burke shall sing, “O Prince, arise! Thy power is all-prevailing!” For your poor friend, the Bard, afar He only hears and sees the war, A cool spectator purely! So, when the storm the forest rends, The robin in the hedge descends, And sober chirps securely.
Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes, And for my dear-lov’d Land o’ Cakes, I pray with holy fire: Lord, send a rough-shod troop o’ Hell O’er a’ wad Scotland buy or sell, To grind them in the mire!

by Robert Burns |

391. A Tippling Ballad—When Princes and Prelates etc.

 WHEN Princes and Prelates,
 And hot-headed zealots,
A’ Europe had set in a low, a low,
 The poor man lies down,
 Nor envies a crown,
And comforts himself as he dow, as he dow,
And comforts himself as he dow.
The black-headed eagle, As keen as a beagle, He hunted o’er height and o’er howe, In the braes o’ Gemappe, He fell in a trap, E’en let him come out as he dow, dow, dow, E’en let him come out as he dow.
· · · · · · · But truce with commotions, And new-fangled notions, A bumper, I trust you’ll allow; Here’s George our good king, And Charlotte his queen, And lang may they ring as they dow, dow, dow, And lang may they ring as they dow.

by Robert Burns |

89. The Ordination

 KILMARNOCK wabsters, fidge an’ claw,
 An’ pour your creeshie nations;
An’ ye wha leather rax an’ draw,
 Of a’ denominations;
Swith to the Ligh Kirk, ane an’ a’
 An’ there tak up your stations;
Then aff to Begbie’s in a raw,
 An’ pour divine libations
 For joy this day.
Curst Common-sense, that imp o’ hell, Cam in wi’ Maggie Lauder; 1 But Oliphant 2 aft made her yell, An’ Russell 3 sair misca’d her: This day Mackinlay 4 taks the flail, An’ he’s the boy will blaud her! He’ll clap a shangan on her tail, An’ set the bairns to daud her Wi’ dirt this day.
Mak haste an’ turn King David owre, And lilt wi’ holy clangor; O’ double verse come gie us four, An’ skirl up the Bangor: This day the kirk kicks up a stoure; Nae mair the knaves shall wrang her, For Heresy is in her pow’r, And gloriously she’ll whang her Wi’ pith this day.
Come, let a proper text be read, An’ touch it aff wi’ vigour, How graceless Ham 5 leugh at his dad, Which made Canaan a nigger; Or Phineas 6 drove the murdering blade, Wi’ whore-abhorring rigour; Or Zipporah, 7 the scauldin jad, Was like a bluidy tiger I’ th’ inn that day.
There, try his mettle on the creed, An’ bind him down wi’ caution, That stipend is a carnal weed He taks by for the fashion; And gie him o’er the flock, to feed, And punish each transgression; Especial, rams that cross the breed, Gie them sufficient threshin; Spare them nae day.
Now, auld Kilmarnock, cock thy tail, An’ toss thy horns fu’ canty; Nae mair thou’lt rowt out-owre the dale, Because thy pasture’s scanty; For lapfu’s large o’ gospel kail Shall fill thy crib in plenty, An’ runts o’ grace the pick an’ wale, No gi’en by way o’ dainty, But ilka day.
Nae mair by Babel’s streams we’ll weep, To think upon our Zion; And hing our fiddles up to sleep, Like baby-clouts a-dryin! Come, screw the pegs wi’ tunefu’ cheep, And o’er the thairms be tryin; Oh, rare to see our elbucks wheep, And a’ like lamb-tails flyin Fu’ fast this day.
Lang, Patronage, with rod o’ airn, Has shor’d the Kirk’s undoin; As lately Fenwick, sair forfairn, Has proven to its ruin: 8 Our patron, honest man! Glencairn, He saw mischief was brewin; An’ like a godly, elect bairn, He’s waled us out a true ane, And sound, this day.
Now Robertson 9 harangue nae mair, But steek your gab for ever; Or try the wicked town of Ayr, For there they’ll think you clever; Or, nae reflection on your lear, Ye may commence a shaver; Or to the Netherton 10 repair, An’ turn a carpet weaver Aff-hand this day.
Mu’trie 11 and you were just a match, We never had sic twa drones; Auld Hornie did the Laigh Kirk watch, Just like a winkin baudrons, And aye he catch’d the tither wretch, To fry them in his caudrons; But now his Honour maun detach, Wi’ a’ his brimstone squadrons, Fast, fast this day.
See, see auld Orthodoxy’s faes She’s swingein thro’ the city! Hark, how the nine-tail’d cat she plays! I vow it’s unco pretty: There, Learning, with his Greekish face, Grunts out some Latin ditty; And Common-sense is gaun, she says, To mak to Jamie Beattie Her plaint this day.
But there’s Morality himsel’, Embracing all opinions; Hear, how he gies the tither yell, Between his twa companions! See, how she peels the skin an’ fell, As ane were peelin onions! Now there, they’re packed aff to hell, An’ banish’d our dominions, Henceforth this day.
O happy day! rejoice, rejoice! Come bouse about the porter! Morality’s demure decoys Shall here nae mair find quarter: Mackinlay, Russell, are the boys That heresy can torture; They’ll gie her on a rape a hoyse, And cowe her measure shorter By th’ head some day.
Come, bring the tither mutchkin in, And here’s—for a conclusion— To ev’ry New Light 12 mother’s son, From this time forth, Confusion! If mair they deave us wi’ their din, Or Patronage intrusion, We’ll light a spunk, and ev’ry skin, We’ll rin them aff in fusion Like oil, some day.
Note 1.
Alluding to a scoffing ballad which was made on the admission of the late reverend and worthy Mr.
Lihdsay to the “Laigh Kirk.
[back] Note 2.
James Oliphant, minister of Chapel of Ease, Kilmarnock.
[back] Note 3.
John Russell of Kilmarnock.
[back] Note 4.
James Mackinlay.
[back] Note 5.
Genesis ix.
[back] Note 6.
Numbers xxv.
[back] Note 7.
Exodus iv.
[back] Note 8.
Boyd, pastor of Fenwick.
[back] Note 9.
John Robertson.
[back] Note 10.
A district of Kilmarnock.
[back] Note 11.
The Rev.
John Multrie, a “Moderate,” whom Mackinlay succeeded.
[back] Note 12.
“New Light” is a cant phrase in the west of Scotland for those religious opinions which Dr.
Taylor of Norwich has so strenuously defended.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning |

Work And Contemplation

 The woman singeth at her spinning-wheel
A pleasant chant, ballad or barcarole;
She thinketh of her song, upon the whole,
Far more than of her flax; and yet the reel
Is full, and artfully her fingers feel
With quick adjustment, provident control,
The lines--too subtly twisted to unroll--
Out to a perfect thread.
I hence appeal To the dear Christian Church--that we may do Our Father's business in these temples mirk, Thus swift and steadfast, thus intent and strong; While thus, apart from toil, our souls pursue Some high calm spheric tune, and prove our work The better for the sweetness of our song.