The Merry Muses of Caledonia/Poor Bodies do Naething but Mow


Tune"The Campbells are Coming."

This is by Burns. Writing to Cleghorn (December 12, 1792), he says—"By our good friend Crossbie, I send you a song just finished this moment. May the d——l follow with a blessing. Amen!" To Thomson, in July, 1794, he writes—"The needy man, who has known better times, can only console himself with a song, thus—

'While princes and prelates,' &c,"

When he was called in question about his political opinions, he wrote the following to Graham of Fintry (January 5, 1793)—"A tippling ballad which I made on Prince of Brunswick's breaking up his camp, and sung one convivial evening, I shall likewise send you, sealed up, as it's not for everybody's reading. This last is not worth your perusal; but lest Mrs. Fame should, as she has already done, use and even abuse her old privilege of lying, you shall be the master of everything, le pour et le contre, of my political writings and conduct."

When princes and prelates,
And hot-headed zealots
A' Europe had set in a lowe, lowe, lowe,
The poor man lies down,
Nor envies a crown,
But contents himself wi' a mow, mow, mow.
And why shouldna poor bodies mow, mow, mow?
And why shouldna poor bodies mow?
The rich they hae siller, and houses, and land,
Poor bodies hae naething but mow.

When Brunswick's great Prince
Gaed a crushing to France,
Republican billies to cow, cow, cow,
Great Brunswick's strange Prince
Would have shown better sense,
At hame wi' his Princess to mow, mow, mow.

And why shouldna, &c.

The Emperor swore,
By sea and by shore,
At Paris to kick up a row, row, row,
But Paris aye ready,
Just laughed at the laddie,
And bid him gae hame, and gae mow, mow, mow.
And why shouldna, &c.

When the brave Duke of York
The Rhine first did pass,
Republican armies to cow, cow, cow,
They bid him gae hame
To his Prussian dame,
And gie her a kiss and a mow, mow, mow.

And why shouldna, &c.

Out over the Rhine
Proud Prussia did shine,
To spend his last blade he did vow, vow, vow,
But Frederick had better
Ne'er forded the water,
But spent as he ought at a mow, mow, mow.
And why shouldna, &c.

The black-headed eagle,
As keen as a beagle,
He hunted o'er height, and o'er howe, howe, howe.
In the braes of Gemappe,
He fell into a trap,
E'en let him get out as he dow, dow, dow.
And why shouldna, &c.

When Kate laid her claws
On poor Stanislaus,
And his p—t—e was bent like a bow, bow, bow,
May the deil in her a——e
Ram a huge p——k of brass,
And send her to hell wi' a mow, mow, mow.
And why shouldna, &c.

Then fill up your glasses,
Ye sons of Parnassus,
This toast I'm sure you'll allow, allow,
Here's to Geordie our King,
And Charlotte his Queen,
And lang may they live for to mow, mow, mow.
And why shouldna, &c.

An alternative version of the last stanza.

But truce with commotions, and new fangled notions,
A bumper I trust you'll allow, allow;
Here's George our good King, and long may he ring,
And Charlotte and he tak' a mow, mow, mow.

And why shouldna, &c.

Merry Muses of Caledonia - Fleuron p34.png