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

Symon and Janet

Andrew Scott (1757–1839)

SURROUNDED wi’ bent and wi’ heather,

Where muircocks and plivers are rife,

For mony a lang towmont thegither

There lived an auld man and his wife.

About the affairs o’ the nation

The twasome they seldom were mute;

Bonaparte, the French, and invasion,

Did saur in their wizens like soot.

In winter, when deep are the gutters,

And night’s gloomy canopy spread,

Auld Symon sat luntin’ his cuttie,

And lowsin’ his buttons for bed:

Auld Janet, his wife, out a-gazin’

(To lock in the door was her care),

She, seeing our signals a-blazin’,

Cam’ running in rivin’ her hair.

‘O Symon, the Frenchmen are landit!

Gae look, man, and slip on your shoon;

Our signals I see them extendit,

Like the red rising blaze o’ the moon!’

‘What plague, the French landit!’ quo’ Symon,

And clash! gaed his pipe to the wa’;

‘Faith, then there’s be loadin’ and primin’,’

Quo’ he, ‘if they’re landit ava’!

‘Our youngest son’s in the militia;

Our eldest grandson’s volunteer;

And the French to be fu’ o’ the flesh o’,

I too in the ranks will appear.’

His waistcoat-pouch fill’d he wi’ pouther,

And bang’d down his rusty auld gun;

His bullets he put in the other,

That he for the purpose had run.

Then humpled he out in a hurry,

While Janet his courage bewails,

And cries out, ‘Dear Symon, be wary;’

Whilst teughly she hung by his tails.

‘Let be wi’ your kindness,’ quo’ Symon,

‘Nor vex me wi’ tears and your cares;

If now I be ruled by a woman,

Nae laurels shall crown my grey hairs.’

Quo’ Janet, ‘O keep frae the riot!

Last night, man, I dreamt ye was dead;—

This aught days I’ve tentit a pyot

Sit chatterin’ upon the house-head.

‘And yesterday, workin’ my stockin’,

And you wi’ your sheep on the hill,

A muckle black corbie sat croackin’,—

I kenn’d it foreboded some ill.’

‘Hout, cheer up, dear Janet, be hearty;

For, ere the next sun may gae doun,

Wha kens but I’ll shoot Bonaparte,

And end my auld days in renown?’

‘Then, hear me,’ quo’ Janet, ‘I pray thee;

I’ll tend thee, love, livin’ or dead;

And if thou should fa’ I’ll die wi’ thee,

Or tie up thy wounds if thou bleed.’

Syne aff in a hurry he stumpled,

Wi’ bullets, and pouther, and gun;

At’s curpin auld Janet too humpled,—

Awa’ to the neighbouring toon.

There footmen and yeomen, paradin’,

To scour aff in dirdum were seen—

Auld wives and young lassies a-sheddin’

The briny saut tears frae their een.

Then aff wi’ his bonnet gat Symon,

And to the commander he gaes;

Quo’ he, ‘Sir, I mean to go wi’ ye, man,

And help ye to lounder our faes.

‘I’m auld, yet I’m teugh as the wire;

Sae we’ll at the rogues have a dash—

And, fegs, if my gun winna fire,

I’ll turn her butt-end and I’ll thrash!’

‘Well spoken, my hearty auld hero!’

The Captain did smiling reply;

But begg’d he would stay till to-morrow,

Till daylight should glent in the sky.

What reck? a’ the stour cam’ to naething;

Sae Symon and Janet, his dame,

Hale-skart frae the wars, without skaithing

Gaed bannin’ the French again hame.