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There's ae stroke for my dear auld father,
There's twa for my brethren three;
Whom I loved as the light of my e'e.
Instead of saying why or when I wrote this song; or telling the reasons that induced me to imitate the natural ballad style of the north, I will tell a little touching story, which has long been popular in my native place.
At the close of the last rebellion, a party of the Duke of Cumberland's dragoons passed through Nithsdale ; they called at a lone house, where a widow lived, and demanded refreshments. She brought them milk; and her son, a youth of sixteen, prepared kale and butter-this, she said, was all her store. One of the party inquired how she lived on such slender means :
“ I live,” she said, “ on my cow, my kale-yard, and on the blessing of God." He went and killed the cow, destroyed her kale, and continued his march. The poor woman died of a broken heart, and her son wandered away from the inquiry of friends and the reach of compassion. It happened, afterwards, in the continental war, when the British army had gained a great victory, that the soldiers were seated on the ground, making merry with wine, and relating their exploits~" All this is nothing,” cried a dragoon, “to what I once did in Scotland-I starved a witch in Nithsdale ; I drank her milk, I killed her cow, destroyed her kale-yard, and left her to live upon God—and I dare say he had enough ado with her.” “And don't you rue it?” exclaimed a soldier
-“don't you rue it?” “Rue what ?" said the ruffian; “what would you have me rue ? she's dead and damned, and there's an end of her.” “Then, by my God!” said the other, “that woman was my mother draw your sword-draw." They fought on the spot, and while the Scottish soldier passed his sword through lis body, and turned him over in the pangs of death, hc said, “ Had
you but said you rued it, God should have punished you, not I.”
The weary sun sank down on a day of woe and care, The parting light shone sad on John Cameron's hoary
His dim eyes upturn'd unto Heaven seem’d to grow,
ay, and sigh’d, as his heart would burst in twa, The cruel Duke of Cumberland has ruin'd us a'!
Three fair sons were mine, young, blooming, and bold;
Wi' plenty in my barn, and abundance in my ha'
Our country's laid desolate, our houses are reft,
gang, I've nane but kind Heaven to tell of my wrang. Thine old arm, quo' Heaven, cannot strike down the
proud, I shall keep to myself the revenge of thy blood.
An imperfect copy of this song found its way out of Cromek’s Remains into the Jacobite Relics. In my native county of Dumfries the memory of the Duke of Cumberland is most cordially detested among the peasantry, who hate cruelty, and love clemency and benevolence. They have many stories to tell of the miseries which came upon all those who hunted down the discomfited rebels, and conducted them to death. One unhappy man was followed so closely, that he ran up to the neck in a mill-dam; there his pursuers proposed to leave him, and were dispersing, when a farmer rode into the water and brought him out—he was taken to Carlisle and executed. In the wreck of the farmer's affairs, and in the misfortunes which befel him and his children, the peasantry saw the visitation of Heaven for spilt blood. Instances might be multiplied, but I shall desist. It is said of a wounded highlander, that when he was exhorted
to relinquish all thoughts of revenge against his enemy, inasmuch as revenge belonged to the Lord, “ Aye, aye," exclaimed the expiring man, “ I thought it was owre sweet a morsel for a mortal.”
White was the rose in my love's hat,
As he rowed me in his lowland plaidie;
His hand was aye in battle ready..
Waved o'er his cheeks sae sweet and ruddy;
In dripping ringlets, soild and bloody.
When I came first through fair Carlisle,
Ne'er was a town sae gladsome seeming;
The thistled pennons wide were streaming.
O sad, sad seem'd the town and eerie !
I tarried on a heathery hill,
My tresses to my cheeks were frozen ;
And far adown the midnight wind
I heard the din of battle closing.
Lay many a young and gallant fellow;
On twa blue een 'tween locks of yellow.
There's a tress of soild and yellow hair
Close in my bosom I am keeping-
And welcome woe, and want, and weeping.
Woe, woe upon that hand sae bloody,
And makes me wail a virgin widow !
The heads of the rebels were fixed on many places throughout the kingdom; and an old lady of Dumfriesshire often mentioned to me the horror which she felt when she saw several heads on the Scottish gate of Carlisle, one of which was that of a youth with very long yellow hair. The story of a lady, young and beautiful, who came from a distant part, and gazed at this head every morning at sunrise, and every evening at sunset, is also told by many. At last the head and the lady disappeared. The name of the youth I have heard, but cannot remember it; that of the lady was ever a secret. It is said, from some sorrowful words which she dropt, that the youth was her brother.