Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/52

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( 46 )


Tune—"The Auld Cripple Dow:"

This is by Burns. The original MS. was in the possession of a gentleman in Forfar. It is headed—

"A Wicked Song.
"Author's name unknown.
"Tune—The waukin' o' a winter's night.
"The Publisher to the Reader,
"Courteous Reader,

"The following is certainly the production of one of those licentious, ungodly (too-much-abounding in this our day) wretches who take it as a compliment to be called wicked, provided you allow them to be witty. Pity it is that while so many tar barrels in the country are empty, and so many gibbets untenanted, some example is not made of these profligates." Burns pursues this satirical-humorous vein in his mock manifesto as "Poet Laureat and Bard-in-Chief of Kyle, Cuningham, and Carrick," addressed (November 20th, 1786) to William Chalmers and John M'Adam, "students and practitioners in the ancient and mysterious Science of confounding Right and Wrong." A reprint of the whole manifesto will be found in Scott Douglas's Edinburgh edition (Vol. IV., p. 163). The following extract indicates the drift of it:—

"Be it known, that . . . we have discovered a certain nefarious, abominable, and wicked song or ballad, a copy whereof we have enclosed; Our will therefore is . . . that the said copy shall be consumed by fire at the Cross of Ayr . . . in the presence of all beholders, in abhorrence of, and terrorem to, all such compositions and composers. Given at Mauchline this twentieth day of November, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-six.—God Save the Bard."

As honest Jacob on a night,
With his beloved beauty,
Was duly laid on wedlock's bed,
And noddin' at his duty.

Chorus—Fal de dal, &c.

"How lang," she cried, "ye fumbling wretch,
Will ye be f——ing at it?
My auldest wean might die o' age,
Before that ye could get it.

Fal de dal, &c.