Elegy on the year eighty-eight/Elegy on Puddin' Lizzie

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She's gane! she's gane!—o'er true the tale!
She's left us a' to sab an' wail!—
Auld Clatterbanes has hit the nail
Upon the head:
De'il! o' his carcase mak' a flail,
Since Lizzie's dead!

O Death! O Death! thou'rt void o' feelin',
For wi' thy deidly whittle stealin'
Thro' gentle hald, or hamely shealin'
Wi divet riggin',
Thou sends the best o' bodies reelin'
To their cauld biggin'!

Hadst thou but seized wi' thy claw
A Lord—a Duke—or baith the twa!—
The skaith, I trow, wad been sae sma'
Ane might forgi'e ye;
But Lizzie thus to steal awa',
O wae be ti' ye!

O Reekie's Callants, mourn wi' me!
Your waes, alake! are sair to dree!
O mourn the days—the days o' glee—
Now fled awa'!
I see the tear start i' ilk e'e,
An' sadly fa'!

Ech! mony time, ance on a day,
In cheerie bangs we've ta'en our way,
Ilk birkie keenly bent on play,
Wi' hearts fu' light,
An' for a wee set Care astray,
Far out o' sight!

And whan we reach'd her little dwallin',
Whare toolied birds wi' bloodie talon*,[2]
How kind she met us at the hallin
Led to the ha',
"Gude e'en, gude e'en!" ay loudly bawlin',
An' baikin' law!

Syne what a fyke, an' what a phraisin'!
"The puddin's, bairns, are just in season—
"They're newly made—the kettle's bizzin'—
"Sae dinna fret—
"Mair sappy anes ne'er cross'd your wizzen,
"Altho' I say't!”

Saul! how we sharpen'd ilka ane
Whan wi' them she came toddlin' ben,
A' pyping like a roasted hen,
Braw healthy eatin'!
Wi' timmer pins at ilka en'
To haud the meat in.

An' than she had the knack sae weel
To taste the gab o' ony chiel',
Wi' spic'ries, braught thro' dangers feil
Frae India's coast,
An' ingans, mixt wi' gude ait meal,
Auld Scotia's boast.

Thus seated round her canty ingle,
O how the knives an' forks wad ringle,
An' cutty-spoons 'mang puddin's mingle,
Hov'd up sae waliy;
An' caps an' trunchers in a jingle
A' scarted brawly!

Did ony relish cauler water?
Na, faith! it was ma in our nature!
We but to ha'e a wee drap creature,
Gude Papish Whisky*[3]
It beits new life in ilka feature,
An' keeps ane brisk aye!

Whan she began to crack her creed*[4],
I've seen our chafts maist like to screed;
In short at times a silly thread
Might e'en ha'e tied us;
An' wow how crouse she cock'd her head,
Whan set beside us!

The mair the pith o'barley shone,
The mair was heard Mirth's social tone,
An' sang, an' joke, an' toast gaed roun',
Wi' glee imprentit;
While bizzy Time still jogget on,
Unmark'd, untentit,

Till Night, her sable mantle dreepin',
Braught Luna o'er St Anthon's peepin',
An' dowie ghaists frae kirk-yards creepin',
Began to wauner,
Whan we, frae Lizzie's kindly keepin',
Wad hamewards dauner.

Och! wae's my heart! now whan she's gane,
How sad an' alter'd is the strain!
To Puddin' Feasts an' Rants fu' fain
Nae maır we pap in;
Our wames e’en to our riggin' bane
Like skate fish clappin'!

But whisht!—for mair I canna speak!
The tears come rappin' doun my cheek!
To mark her grave sae cauld an' bleak!
The green grass growin'!—
But, Lord, keep her frae Hornie's creek,
Black, sooty, lowin'!

Then O fareweel to feasting rare,
An' scrieving cracks that drave aff care,
Fareweel to rantin' late an' ear',
Sae blyth an' frisky;
An' eke fareweel for ever mair
To Papish Whisky!

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

  1. Lizzie Weatherston, the subject of the present Elegy, was a well-known character, who for many years kept a little change-house at Jock's Lodge in the immediate neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and, from a peculiar method she had of making Scotcb puddings, had obtained the name of Puddin' Lizzie. Her house was long the favourite resort of many of the young people in and about Edinburgh, which inclined to an innocent homely frolic. She died in 1796.
  2. Lizzie had a sign-board above her door, on which was painted two cocks fighting, with this inscription"The thickest skin stand langest out."
  3. She sold rum under the name of Papish Whisky, for the purpose, it was said, of evading the licence.
  4. Our hostess was noted for her ready wit, and many satirical sayings; so much so, that few cared to engage with her, or they were sure of becoming the butt of the whole company.