CUNNINGHAM tells us that the heroine of the above popular song was the wife of a farmer who lived near Burns at Ellisland. She was a very singular woman; tea, she said, would be the ruin of a nation; sugar was a sore evil; wheaten bread was only fit for babes; earthenware was a pick-pocket; wooden floors were but fit for threshing upon; slated roofs, cold; feathers, good enough for fowls – in short, she abhorred change, and whenever anything new appeared, such as harrows with iron teeth, “Aye, aye,” she would exclaim, “ye’ll see the upshot!”
Of all mordern things she disliked china most; she called it “burnt clay,” and said it was only fit for “haudin’ the broo o’ stinkin’ weeds,” as she called tea. On one occasion a southern dealer in cups and saucers asked so much for his ware that he exasperated a peasant, who said, “I canna purchase, but I ken ane that will. Gang there,” said he, pointing to the house of Willie’s wife; “dinna be blate or burd-mouthed; ask a gude penny – she has the siller.” Away went the poor dealer, spread out his wares before her, and summed up all by asking a double price. A blow from her crummock was his instant reward, which not only fell on his person but damaged his china. “I’ll learn ye,” quoth she, as she heard the saucers jingle, “to come with yere brazent English face, and yere bits o’ burnt clay to me!” She was an unlovely dame; her daughters, however, were beautiful.