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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Johnnie Cope

Adam Skirving (1719–1803)

COPE sent a letter frae Dunbar:—

‘Charlie, meet me an ye daur,

And I’ll learn you the art o’ war,

If you’ll meet me in the morning.’

Hey, Johnnie Cope, are ye wauking yet?

Or are your drums a-beating yet?

If ye were wauking I wad wait

To gang to the coals i’ the morning.

When Charlie looked the letter upon,

He drew his sword the scabbard from:

‘Come, follow me, my merry, merry men,

And we’ll meet Johnnie Cope in the morning!

‘Now Johnnie Cope, be as good’s your word;

Come, let us try both fire and sword;

And dinna flee away like a frighted bird,

That’s chased frae its nest in the morning.’

When Johnnie Cope he heard o’ this

He thought it wadna be amiss

To ha’e a horse in readiness

To flee awa’ in the morning.

Fye now, Johnnie, get up and rin;

The Highland bagpipes mak’ a din;

It’s best to sleep in a hale skin,

For ’twill be a bluidy morning.

When Johnnie Cope to Dunbar came

They speered at him, ‘Where’s a’ your men?’

‘The deil confound me gin I ken,

For I left them a’ i’ the morning.’

Now, Johnnie, troth, ye are na blate

To come wi’ the news o’ your ain defeat,

And leave your men in sic a strait

Sae early in the morning.

‘Oh, faith,’ quo’ Johnnie, ‘I got sic flegs

Wi’ their claymores and philabegs;

If I face them again, deil break my legs!

So I wish you a gude morning.’