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A bien house to bide in, a chaise for to ride in,
tauld me, my mother and a', Ye'd mak a gude husband, and keep me aye braw ; It's true, I lo'e Johnnie ; he's young and he's bonnie ; But, wae's me! I ken he has naething ava! I hae little tocher; ye've made a gude offer ; I'm now mair than twenty; my time is but sma'! Sae gie me your plaidie ; I'll creep in beside ye; I thocht ye'd been aulder than three score and twa!
crap in ayont him, beside the stane wa', Whare Johnnie was listnin', and heard her tell a': The day was appointed !-his proud heart it dunted, And strack 'gainst his side, as if burstin' in twa. He wander'd hame wearie, the nicht it was drearie, And, thowless, he tint his gate 'mang the deep snaw : The howlet was screamin', while Johnnie cried, Women Wad marry auld Nick, if he'd keep them aye braw.
O, the deil's in the lasses ! they gang now sae braw, They'll lie down wi' auld men o' four score and twa; The baill o' their marriage is gowd and a carriage ; Plain love is the cauldest blast now that can blaw. Auld dotards, be wary! tak tent when ye marry; Young wives, wi' their coaches, they'll whip and they'll
ca', Till they meet wi' some Johnnie that's youthfu' and
bonnie, And they'll gie ye horns on ilk baffet to claw.
AULD ROBIN GRAY.
LADY ANNE LINDSAY. *
TUNE-Auld Robin Gray. When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye at hame, And a' the warld to sleep are gane ; The waes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my ee, When my gudeman lies sound by me.
* The authorship of this beautiful ballad was for a long time disputed : it was, indeed, about thirty years ago, a sort of questio vexata among antiquaries and others; insomuch that at one time somebody advertised in the newspapers that he would give twenty guineas to any one
who should ascertain the point past a doubt. The question was not finally determined till the year 1823, when Lady Anne Barnard communicated, 'in a letter to Sir Walter Scott, a confession of the authorship, and a relation of the circumstances attending the composition of the ballad; which letter has been since put into print by Sir Walter, along with an authenticated version of Auld Robin Gray, and its “ Second Part,” for the use of the members of the Bannatyne Club.
The ballad was written early in the year 1772, by Lady Anne Lindsay (afterwards Barnard,) at Balcarras, in Fife, the residence of her ladyship's father, the Earl of Balcarras. The fair authoress, then a very young lady, was induced to write it, by a desire to see an old plaintive Scottish air, (" The Bridegroom grat when the sun gaed down,”) which was a favourite with her, fitted with words more suitable to its character than the ribald verses which had always hitherto, for want of better, been sung to it. She had previously been endeavouring to beguile the tedium occasioned by her sister's marriage and departure for London, by the composition of verses; but of all that she has written, either before or since, none have reached the merit of this admirable little poem. It struck her that some tale of virtuous distress in humble life would be most suitable to the plaintive character of her favourite air; and she accordingly set about such an attempt, taking the name of Auld Robin Gray from an ancient herd at Balcarras. When she had written two or three of the verses, she called to her junior sister, (afterwards Lady Hardwicke,) who was the only person near her, and thus addressed her : “ I have been writing a ballad, my dear; I am oppressing my heroine with many misfortunes; I have already sent her Jamie to sea-and broken her father's arm-and made her mother fall sick-and given her auld Robin Gray for her lover; but I wish to load her with a fifth sorrow within the four lines, poor thing! Help me to one."-"Steal the cow, sister Anne," said the little Elizabeth. “The cow,” adds Lady Anne in her letter, " was immediately lifted by me, and the song completed.”
“ Auld Robin Gray” was no sooner ushered into the world, than it became excessively popular. It was admitted into Herd's Collection of 1776, only four years after its composition; and a dispute at once arose, as to whether it was a song of the sixteenth century, or one of the eighteenth. Some said it was a ballad by David Rizzio. The Antiquarian Society thought the question so important, that they sent an ambassador, a Mr Jerningham, to ent eavour to worm the secret out of Lady Anné. But she scrupulously withheld a confession, not only to strangers, but even to her own nearest relations. Her reasons were twofold: she had a dread of being suspected of writing any thing, from seeing the shyness which it
Young Jamie loo'd me weil, and socht me for his bride;
He hadna been awa a week but only twa,
my mother she fell sick, and the cow was stown
awa ; My father brak his arm, and young Jamie at the sea, And auld Robin Gray cam a-courtin' me.
My father couldna work, and my mother couldna spin ; I toil'd day and nicht, but their bread I couldna win; Auld Rob maintain'd them baith, and, wi' tears in his
ee, Said, Jennie, for their sakes, Oh, marry me!
My heart it said nay, for I look'd for Jamie back ; But the wind it blew high, and the ship it was a wreck:
created in those who could write nothing; and she felt, as a lady, that to confess having written “ Auld Robin Gray” to the tune of “The Bridegroom grat when the sun gaed down,” was likely to involve her in a di. lemma of delicacy, which no lady should be exposed to, but especially a young one of quality. It was only when advanced to the extremity of old age, that she made the candid avowal from which this note has been derived.
To show the way Lady Anne was in the habit of speaking of her poem when the authorship was put to her, I may mention an anecdote, which I received from the gentleman concerned, and which may therefore be depended upon as authentic. This gentleman, having many opportunities to be in her ladyship's company—it was about the beginning of the present century-and feeling no little curiosity regarding her secret, at length, one evening, when she was on extremely cordial terms with him, thought he might venture to say, “ By the by, Lady Anne, we have a very popular ballad down in Scotland, which every body says is by you: Auld Robin Gray, they call it-Is it really yours or not ?"-" Indeed,” answered her ladyship, with a gay coquettish smile, “ I dinna think it was me. But, if it was, it's really sae lang sinsyne, that I've quite forgot!"
A gentleman of the name of Atkinson was much attached to Lady Anne before she was married. He was much older than she, and very rich. He
that if Lady Anne would take him as an Auld Robin Gray, she might seek out for a Jamie when he was gone.
Her ladyship was married to Sir Andrew Barnard, the intimate friend of Dr Johnson. She died at her residence in Berkeley Square, London, on the 6th of May, 1825.
The tune of “ The Bridegroom grat” has, since the composition of the ballad, been supplanted by one of still greater merit, to which it is now invariably sung. This modern air was composed by the Rev. W. Leeves, rector of Wrington, who died in they ear 1828, at the age of eighty. It may be proper, however, to add, that the first verse of Auld Robin Gray is still usually sung to the air of “ The Bridegroom grat."
used to say,
The ship it was a wreck-why didna Jamie dee?
My father argued sair: my mother didna speak;
And auld Robin Gray was gudeman to me.
I hadna been a wife a week but only four,
Oh, sair did we greet, and mickle did we say;
gang like a ghaist, and I carena to spin ;
WHEN silent time, wi' lightly foot,
Had trod on thirty years,
Wi' mony hopes and fears.
Or, if I e'er again shall see
The joys I left langsyne ?
As I came by my father's tow'rs,
My heart beat a' the way;
O’some dear former day:
Those happy days o' mine,
Are naething to langsyne.
These ivy'd towers now met my ee,
Where minstrels used to blaw ; Nae friend came forth wi' open arms,
Nae weel-kenn'd face I saw;
Whom I left in his prime,
He bore about langsyne.
I ran through every weel-kenn'd room,
In hopes to meet friends there ;
And hang o'er ilka chair,
Did dim these een o' mine :
To think on langsyne.
Would now their welcome pay,
Lay low yon mournful pine.
Memorials o' langsyne.