The Five Carlins
written in 1789
There was five Carlins in the South, They fell upon a scheme, To send a lad to London town, To bring them tidings hame. Not only bring them tidings hame, But do their errands there, And aiblins gowd and honor baith Might be that laddie's share. There was Maggy by the banks o' Nith, A dame wi' pride enough; And Marjory o' the mony Lochs, A Carlin auld and teugh : And blinkin Bess of Annandale That dwelt on Solway-side; And Brandy Jean, that took her gill, In Galloway sae wide. And black Joan frae Crichton-peel, O' gipsey kith and kin: Five wighter Carlins were na found The South Coontrie within. To send a lad to London town, They met upon a day; And mony a knight and mony a laird That errand fain wad gae. O mony a knight and mony a laird This errand fain wad gae; But nae ane could their fancy please, O ne'er a ane but tway. The first ane was a belted knight, Bred of a Border band, And he wad gae to London town, Might nae man him withstand. And he wad do their errands weel, And meikle he wad say; And ilka ane at London Court Wad bid to him, Gude-day! The niest came in a Sodger-boy And spak wi' modest grace, And he wad gang to London town, If sae their pleasure was. He wad na hecht them courtly gifts, Nor meikle speech pretend; But he wad hecht an honest heart Wad ne'er desert his friend. Now wham to chuse, and wham refuse, At strife thir Carlins fell; For some had Gentle folk to please, And some wad please themsel. Then up spak mim-mou'd Meg o' Nith, And she spak up wi' pride, And she wad send the Sodger-lad Whatever might betide. For the Auld Gudeman o' London Court, She didna care a pin; But she wad send the Sodger-lad, To greet his eldest son. Then started Bess of Annandale, A deadly aith she's taen, That she wad vote the Border-knight, Tho' she should vote her lane. 'For far-off fowls hae feathers fair, 'And fools o' change are fain; 'But I hae try'd this Border-knight, 'I'll try him yet again.' Says black Joan frae Crichton-peel, A Carlin stoor and grim; 'The Auld Gudeman, or the Young Gudeman, 'For me may sink or swim. 'For fools will prate o' Right, and Wrang, 'While knaves laugh them to scorn; 'But the Sodger's friends hae blawn the best, 'So he shall bear the horn.' Then Brandy Jean spak o'er her drink, 'Ye weel ken, kimmers a', 'The Auld Gudeman o' London Court, 'His back's been at the wa' : 'And mony a friend that kiss'd his caup, 'Is now a fremit wight; 'But it's ne'er be said wi' Brandy Jean, 'We'll send the Border-knight.' Then slaw rase Marjory o' the lochs, And wrinkled was her brow, Her ancient weed was russet gray, Her auld Scots heart was true. 'There's some Great Folk set light by me, 'I set light by them; 'But I will send to London town 'Whom I lo'e best at hame.' So how this weighty plea may end, Nae mortal wight can tell: God grant the king and ilka man, May look weel to themsel.