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

Elegy on Maggie Johnston

Allan Ramsay (1686–1758)

AULD Reekie, mourn in sable hue,

Let forth o’ tears dreep like May-dew:

To braw tippeny bid adieu,

Which we wi’ greed

Bended as fast as she could brew,

But, ah! she’s dead.

To tell the truth now, Maggie dang,

O’ customers she had a bang;

For lairds and souters a’ did gang

To drink bedeen;

The barn and yard was aft sae thrang,

We took the green;

And there by dizzens we lay down;

Syne sweetly ca’d the healths aroun’,

To bonny lasses, black or brown,

As we lo’ed best:

In bumpers we dull cares did drown,

And took our rest.

When in our pouch we fand some clinks,

And took a turn o’er Bruntsfield Links,

Aften in Maggie’s, at high-jinks,

We guzzled scuds,

Till we could scarce, wi’ hale-out drinks,

Cast aff our duds.

We drank and drew, and filled again,

O wow, but we were blythe and fain!

When ony had their count mistane,

O it was nice!

To hear us a’ cry, ‘Pike ye’r bane

And spell ye’r dice.’

Fu’ close we used to drink and rant

Until we did baith glower and guant,

… and yesk, and maunt,

Right swash I trow;

Then of auld stories we did cant

When we were fou.

Whan we were wearied at the gowff,

Then Maggie Johnston’s was our howff;

Now a’ our gamesters may sit dowff,

Wi’ hearts like lead;

Death wi’ his rung rax’d her a yowff,

And sae she’s dead.

Maun we be forced thy skill to tine,

For which we will right sair rapine?

Or hast thou left to bairns o’ thine

The pawky knack

O’ brewing ale a’maist like wine,

That gar’d us crack.

Sae brawly did a pease-scone toast

Biz i’ the queff, and fley and frost:

There we got fou wi’ little cost,

And meikle speed;

Now, wae worth Death! our sport’s a’ lost,

Since Maggie’s dead.

Ae summer nicht I was sae fou,

Amang the rigs I gaed to spue,

Syne down on a green bawk, I trow,

I took a nap,

And soucht a’ night balillilow,

As sound’s a tap.

And when the dawn begoud to glow,

I hirsled up my dizzy pow,

Frae ’mang the corn, like wirricow,

Wi’ banes sae sair,

And kenn’d nae mair than if a ewe

How I cam’ there.

Some said it was the pith o’ broom

That she stow’d in her masking-loom,

Which in our heads raised sic a foum;

Or some wild seed,

Which aft the chappin-stoup did toom,

But filled our head.

But now since it’s sae that we must

Not in the best ale put our trust,

But whan we’re auld return to dust,

Without remead,

Why should we tak’ it in disgust

That Maggie’s dead?

O’ warldly comforts she was rife,

And lived a lang and hearty life,

Right free o’ care, or toil, or strife,

Till she was stale,

And kenn’d to be a canny wife,

At brewing ale.

Then fareweel, Maggie, douce and fell,

O’ brewers a’ thou boor the bell:

Let a’ thy gossips yelp and yell,

And, without feid,

Guess whether ye’re in heaven or hell.

They’re sure ye’re dead.