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Random Notes Anent the Antiquities, Traditions, Superstitions, and Old Manners and Customs of the Borders. – XXI. – Untitled.

[Kelso Chronicle Articles Contents]

   ON looking over my MS. volumes I find a number of scraps in the shape of verses, some of which have long existed as household words, but which, like many of the things of the olden time, are fast gliding into the shades of oblivion. Many of these are the originals of some of our most popular songs, and ought to be preserved, were it to serve no other purpose than to mark the vast improvement which Burns and other Scottish lyrists made on the bald and unsentimental song-literature of the country. That literature, too, it must be remembered, was strongly tinged with the licentious, and not unfrequently with the profane – a fact which is almost irreconcileable with the strong religious elements which enter into the character of the Scottish people. Happily, these are now almost forgotten, and the moral atmosphere is seldom tainted with the pollutions of such songs as the “Miller of drone,” a worthy whose doings are appreciated and sung only by some stray member of our aristocracy at some of the “free and easy” meetings of the agricultural interest. But by the great mass of the people they are wholly abjured, and in a few years more they will exist only in the collections of the curious, as illustrative of the folk-lore of a bye-gone time. I will here give a few specimens of the scraps to which I have referred:- 


Symon Brodie had a cow; 

The cow was lost and he couldna find her; 

When had done what man could do, 

The cow cam hame wi’ the tail behind her. 

                     Honest auld Symon Brodie, 

                  Stupid, auld, doited bodie. 

                      I’ll awa to the north countrie, 

                                An’ see my ain dear Symon Brodie. 


Symon Brodie had a wife, 

An’ wow! but she was braw an’ bonnie; 

She took the dish-clout off the bink, 

An’ prinn’d it to her cockernonie. 

                     Honest auld Symon Brodie, 

                  Stupid, auld, doited bodie. 

                      I’ll awa to the north countrie, 

                                An’ see my ain dear Symon Brodie. 



Donald Cowper and his man, 

They’ve gane to the fair; 

They’ve gane to court a bonny lass, 

But feint a May was there; 

But he has gotten an auld wife, 

An’ she’s come hirplin’ hame; 

An’ she’s fa’en owre the buffet-stool, 

An’ brack her rumple-bane. 

Hey, Donald, how Donald, 

Hey Donald Cowper; 

He’s gane away to court a wife, 

An’ he’s come hame without her. 



Now, fare-ye-weel, muu auld wife, 

Sing bum, be, berry bum; 

Fare-ye-weel, my auld wife, 

The steerer up o’ sturt and strife; 

The maut’s aboon the meal the night 

Wi’ some, some, some. 


An’ fare-ye-weel. my pike-staff, 

Sing bum-be-berry bum; 

Fare-ye-weel, my pike-staff, 

Sing bum, bum, bum; 

Fare-ye-weel, my pike-staff. 

Wi’ you nae mair my wife I’ll baff; 

The maut’s aboon the meal the night 

Wi’ some, some, some. 



The shearin’ bein’ over, 

The horse were ca’ed into the fog; 

An’ there’s naething for the auld mare 

But lie into the bog. 

When I get into a lair-hole, 

It’s fit to swallow me; 

An’ I’m Robin Spriggin’s grey mare, 

O how they’ve guided me. 

Nancy Bedford rises 

Aye gay soon i’ the morn, 

And, lookin’ out at her window, 

Saw the mare amang the corn. 

O, they did get a pleugh-staff, 

An’ sair did baitchel me; 

For I’m Robin Spriggin’s grey mare, 

O how they’ve guided me. 



John Anderson, my joe, John, 

Come in as ye gae by, 

An’ ye sall get a sheep’s head, 

Weel baken in a pie, 

Weel baken in a pie; 

An’ a haggis in a pat; 

John Anderson, my joe, John, 

Come in, an’ ye’se get that. 



When Maggie and I were acquent, 

I carried my noodle fu’ hie; 

Nae lintwhite in a’ the gray glade 

Was half sae happy as me. 

I piped, I whistled, I sang; 

I wooed – but I cam na great speed; 

An’ now far hence I maun gang. 

An’ lay my banes far frae the Tweed. 



Tam o’ Lin was a Scotsman born, 

His head it was shaven, his beard it was shorn, 

His coat was raggit, his hose were torn, 

Wi’ workin’ sae hard i’ the town o’ Kinghorn. 

*     *     *     *     * 

Tam o’ Lin gaed up the gate, 

Wi’ fifty puddin’s in a plate; 

Every puddin’ had a pin; 

“There’s wud eneugh here,” quo’ Tam o’ Lin. 


Tam o’ Lin sat at the kirk-door, 

Bestowin’ his charity on the poor; 

when he laid in a penny he took out three; 

Guess ye gif that be charitie. 


Tam o’ Lin rade through the moss 

Upon his little cutty horse; 

A deep moss hag they baith fell in; 

“We’re stabled here,” quo’ Tam o’ Lin. 

*     *     *     *     * 

Tam o’ Lini’s daughter stands on the brig – 

“Father,” quo’ she, “am na I trig;” 

The brig brak, an’ the bride fell in; 

“Yere tocher’s paid,” quo’ Tam o’ Lin. 


Tam o’ Lin grew auld an’ nice, 

He gied fifty shillings for a bit grice; 

The grisy gaed out, and it never cam in; 

“The skaith’s my ain,” quo’ Tam o’ Lin. 


Tam o’ Lin lay down to die, 

An’ muckle gude sense an’ mense had he; 

The wives o’ the house set up sic a din; 

“Ye sluts let me dee,” quo’ Tam o’ Lin. 

J. G. S.      

– Kelso Chronicle, 29th January, 1864, p.4.

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