Sidney Gilpin.

The songs and ballads of Cumberland, to which are added dialect and other poems; with biographical sketches, notes, and glossary online

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Online LibrarySidney GilpinThe songs and ballads of Cumberland, to which are added dialect and other poems; with biographical sketches, notes, and glossary → online text (page 1 of 26)
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And at request would sing
Old songs, the product of his native hills.








JHIS work was undertaken with the object
of laying before the public a general
collection of the Songs and Ballads of
Cumberland, beginning with Relph of
Sebergham the first writer in the dialect and
endeavouring to gather up everything worthy of
note down to the present time. The want of such
a collection has been long felt and acknowledged
by many. That it has not been supplied before
must occasion surprise to all who are acquainted
with the abundant stores of lyrical poetry possessed
by this county.

It is not too much to say that a full collection of
Cumberland songs presents such a picture of the
actual life lived by our sturdy forefathers as cannot
be found elsewhere. No single county within the
British Isles has produced a volume of ballad
literature so peculiarly its own so illustrative of
the manners and customs of its people. Let it not
be understood, however, that this work consists
exclusively of pieces in the dialect. On the contrary,
a broader principle has been followed throughout ;
and due attention paid to all productions left us by
Cumberland writers, whether written in a more
northern Doric or in ordinary English. We can



now claim for "canny auld Cummerlan'" one of
the best hunting songs in our language, D'ye ken
John Peel ; and one of the best sea-songs, The Old
Commodore ; whilst some of our finest love-songs
are among those left us by Miss Blamire of
Thackwood. Then, again, we have Anderson's
ballads and Stagg's poems, many of which stand
unrivalled as specimens of dialect-writing; whilst
Relph's pastorals and Ewan Clark's poems will be
found to contain much truthful painting of rural life
and character. And, finally, there has fallen to the
lot of Cumberland a rich treasury of old border
ballads, which would in themselves form a volume
at once rare and unique.

In the preparation of this work, all known sources
have been ransacked, some of which have yielded
considerable results. The Scaleby Castle manu-
scripts of Miss Blamire's poetry written expressly
for her friend Miss Gilpin contained no less than
seven unpublished pieces, (five of which we print ;)
and so important are the songs which have been
traced to the pen of Mark Lonsdale, that they will
ultimately entitle him to take a fair stand among
the song-writers of England. Mr. Chappell, the
greatest authority we have in song-literature, has
kindly sent us a couple of very old and very good
songs ; and through his valuable work, " The
Popular Music of the Olden Times," we have
recovered other Cumberland songs from the British
Museum and the Bodleian Library.

No biographical notice has hitherto been pub-
lished of Miss Gilpin of Scaleby Castle, Ewan
Clark, Stagg, Mark Lonsdale, or John Woodcock
Graves. Sufficient material, however, for short
sketches of these writers has been obtained from
various reliable sources; and much information has

been thus gathered together which a few more
years would have swept away.

The songs and ballads in this collection have
been carefully collated with the various copies
knoVn to the Editor, both printed and MS. ; and
in all cases where "different readings " existed that
which appeared to be the best has been followed.

Maxwell's edition of Miss Blamire's Poetical
Works, which had the disadvantage of not appear-
ing till half a century after her death, contains a
considerable mass of information, and has been of
great service to us. The biographical part of our
notice of that lady is a mere turning over of old
materials; for, meagre as is the life by Maxwell,
he left behind him no incidents or anecdotes for
others to record. The copy of Anderson's ballads
published in 1808, when the author's intellect was
free and unclouded, has been principally followed,
as containing the purest and best text of any edition
extant. The articles in this work on Miss Blamire
and Anderson were originally contributed to the
"Border City," a monthly publication which was
very creditably conducted by the working men of
Carlisle during the years 1863 and 1864. The
Editor has to thank an intimate friend for the
sketch of Mark Lonsdale's life; and also for the
old MS. copy of the Raffles Merry Neet. The
article on Rayson is printed, by permission, from
one which appeared in the "Carlisle Journal" soon
after Rayson's death. Of Wordsworth it was
designedly intended that the reader should only
obtain a passing glance.

The Editor expresses his grateful acknowledge-
ments to Mr. John Woodcock Graves of Hobart
Town, Tasmania, for his contributions to this
volume, and also for much generous and gentlemanly


conduct connected therewith; to the Author of
"Joe and the Geologist" for his original songs in
the dialect, and an admirable imitation of the old
border ballad; to Thomas Young, Esq., of Londes-
borough, Yorkshire, for permission to copy the
portrait of Miss Blamire ; to James Fawcett, Esq.
of Scaleby Castle, for the use of the valuable MSS.
in his possession ; to Mrs. Thomas Lonsdale of
Stanwix, and Mrs. Hetherington of Carlisle, for
MSS. and volumes containing contributions by
Mark Lonsdale ; to the two gentlemen who kindly-
volunteered to revise the proof-sheets as they passed
through the press; and to the Editors of the various
newspapers who noticed the work as it appeared in
a monthly form.

Much of the labour bestowed upon this volume
is very inadequately represented by its appearance.
Before a single ballad could be recovered The sun
shines fair on Carlisle wall innumerable collections
had to be waded through, and enquiries made in
all directions, during the last four or five years;
whilst more than fifty letters were written before
the few particulars of John Stagg's life could be
gathered and properly authenticated. However,
the work has been to the Editor a labour of love ;
and whatever may be its defects or shortcomings,
neither time nor expense has been spared to render
it worthy of one object AN HONOURABLE TESTI-

December, 1865.

NOTE. Many of the contributions to this volume are
Copyright, including the hunting song of John Peel, and the
songs and ballads by the author of "Joe and the Geologist.'*


Portrait of Miss BLAMIRE. Engraved by W. H.
Mote, from the original Painting.


Biographical Sketch, by Southey . i

Bonny smurkin' Sally . . . .6

It's wrang indeed now, Jenny . . . 7

When Damon first to Caelia spoke . . 8

One Sunday morn in cheerful May . . 9

Come, Pandora, come away . .10

Tell me, Fair one . . . .12

See how the Wine blushes . . . 13

To a young Lady who took it ill, &c. . . 13

All female charms, I own, my fair . . 14

What charms has fair Chloe . . . 14

Old Age those beauties will impair . . 15

False or True . . . . . 15

Harvest ; or the bashful Shepherd . .16

Hay-time ; or the constant Lovers . . 19

St. Agnes Fast ; or the amorous Maiden . 23

The Snaw has left the Fells . . ,25

Ae day as Cupid . . . .26

The Favourite Fountain . . . 27

On a little Child bursting into tears . .29

The Poet's Wish . . . .30

An Epistle to a Friend at Oxford . -3

On a wrangling couple . . . 32

Woman's Vows . . . . 32



Biographical Sketch. Miss Blamire . '33

Miss Gilpin . . 46

The toiling day his task has duin . . 49

Barley Broth . . . . -5

Wey, Ned, man ! . . . 5 1

Auld Robin Forbes . . . -53

The Meeting . . . . -55

We've hed sec a durdum . . . 56

The Cumberland Scold. Miss Blamire and

Miss Gilpin . . . . 58

The Sailor Lad's Return. Miss Blamire and

Miss Gilpin . . . .60

Trafalgar Sea-Fight. Miss Gilpin . .62

The Village Club. Miss Gilpin . . 64

The Traveller's Return . . .66

The Soldier's Return . . . .68

And ye shall walk in silk attire . . 7 1

O Jenny dear, I've courted lang . . 72

The Waefu' Heart . . . .74

I'm Tibbie Fowler o' the glen . -75

What ails this heart o' mine ? , . - 7 7

I've gotten a rock, I've gotten a reel . 7&

The Carlisle Hunt . . . .79

When severest foes impending . .81

O why should mortals suffer care . .82

Again maun absence chill my soul . . 83

'Twas when the Sun slid down yon hill . 85

The auld carle wad tak me fain . 87

Ae night in dark December . . .89

Had my daddie left me gear enough . . 90

O Jenny dear, lay by your pride . 91

O Jenny dear, the word is gane . g

there is not a sharper dart . . -95

1 am of a temper fixed as a decree . . 96
I'll hae a new coatie . . . .96


O dinna think, my bonnie lass . . 98

Now Sandy maun awa . . -99

The loss of the Roebuck . . . 101

When Night's dark mantle . . .102

O Donald ! ye are just the man . . 103

The Chelsea Pensioners . . .104

Nay, nay, Censor Time . . .105

Though Bacchus may boast . . .106

In the dream of the moment . . .107

When the sunbeams of joy . . . 108

Come, mortals, enliven the hour . .109

O bid me not to wander . . .no

To-Morrow . . . . . in

Old Harry's Return . . . .112

The Carrier Pigeon . . . .114

Miss Gilpin's Song . . .. .115

'Tis for glory we fight . . . .116

The banks of Yarrow . . . . 117

Elegy on the death of a Plover . . 118

Expectation . . . . . 119

Written in a Churchyard . . .122

Written on a gloomy day in Sickness . .125

Epistle to her friends at Gartmore . .127

The adieu and recall of Love . . . 132

The Lily and the Rose . . . 134

To a Lady who went into the country. . 135

A petition to April . . . 9 137

The old Soldier's Tale . . .139


Biographical Sketch . . . .147
I trudg'd up to Lunnun thro' thick and thro' thin 149

English Ale . . . . .151

The happy Bachelor . . . .152


Seymon and Jemmy . . . *53

Roger made happy . . . - J 57

Costard's Complaint . . . .158

The Faithful pair . . . .160

The Scotch Parson's Address . . .163

Epitaph on a Lawyer . . . - 165

Childhood . . . . .166

Youth. ..... 169

Manhood . . . . .173

Old Age . .178


Biographical Sketch . . . .181

The honest Sailor's Song . . . 187

Old England for ever . . . .189

The Bridewain . . . .192

A New Year's Epistle . . . .207

Auld Lang Seyne . . .216
Tom Knott ..... 224

Rosley Fair . . . . .231

The Return . . . . . 244


Biographical Sketch .... 249

Love in Cumberland . . . .256

The Old Commodore . . . . 257

The English Sailor . . . . 259

The Three poor Fishermen . . .260

Ring the Bells of Carthage Town . .261

Hey, ho ! down derry. . . .262

The deil gae wi' them that fashes wi' me .263

Come here ye Witches wild and wanton . 263

Feathers in their beaver . . .264

How slowly turns her Spinning wheel . . 265


Lovely Fanny. . - . . .266

When the sun rises cheerfully . . .267

Giggle-Down Fair . . . .268

The Old Cobbler's Song . . . 269

Vulcan's Cave. . . . .508

Margery Topping . . . -509

Last Martinmas gone a year . . .510

The gallant waiting men . . . 5 1 1

So teasing, pleasing is the pain . .512

When the brave would win the fair . . 513

Still the lark finds repose . . 514

The Upshot . . . . .271


Autobiography . . . .283

Reed Robin . . . . .294

Betty Brown . . . . . 295

Barbary Bell . . * . . 297

The Worton Wedding . . . 299

Sally Gray . . . , 304
Will and Kate. .... 306

The Impatient Lassie .... 308

Nichol the Newsmonger , -310

The Bundle of Oddities . . .312

Dick Watters . .. . . . 315

The Lass abuin thirty. * . .316

Tom Linton . . . . . 318

The Author on himself . . . 320

This luive sae breks a body's rest . -322

Auld Marget . * . . . 323

First Luive . . . . . 324

Lai Stephen . . . . . 325

The Bashfu' Wooer . . .327
The Aunty ..... 329

Croglin Watty. . . . . 330


Jenny's Complaint . . 333

Matthew Macree . . -335

Feckless Wully . . -337

The Bleckell Murry-Neet . . .338

The Thuirsby Witch . . . .341

The Peck o' Punch . . .343

The Village Gang . . 344
Gwordie Gill ..... 347

A Wife for Wully Miller . . . 349
Burgh Races ..... 350

Canny auld Cummerlan' . . 353

Tib and her Maister . . . 355

The Clay Daubin . . . -357

The Fellows round Torkin . . .360

King Roger . . . . "361

The Peet-Seller's lament for his Mare . . 363

Elizabeth's Burth-day . . . -365

Borrowdale Jwohny . . . -367

The last new shoon our Betty gat . . 370

The Buck o' Kingwatter . . . 372
Madam Jane ..... 373

Young Susy . . . . -374

Peggy Pen ... .376

Threescore and Nineteen . . -37^

Carel Fair . . 380

The Dawtie . . . . .383

The Codbeck Weddin. . . .384

The Ill-gien Wife . . . .389

The Lasses of Carel . . . -393


Biographical Sketch . . . 395

The auld Pauper . . . . 398

Ann o' Hethersgill . - . 399

The Tom Cat. . . . . 400


Charlie M'Glen . . . .403

Lines addressed to a Robin . . . 404

Lady Fair at Wigton . . . 406


Autobiography . 48

D'ye ken John Peel with his coat so gray 1 . 416

Monody on John Peel . .418

At the Grave of John Peel . . . 420

O give me. back my native hills . ,421

Nursery Song . . 4 2 3

O let me buss the lasses yet . . 424


Lai Dinah Grayson . . . 425

Jwohnny, git oot ! -427

The Runaway Wedding . . -429

Billy Watson's Lonning . 431

The Lily of Loweswater . 434

The Flower of Lamplugh . 435

Meenie Bell . . 436

" A Lockerbye Lick " . . .438


To the Cuckoo .... 445

It is the first mild day of March . . 446

My heart leaps up . . . 448
Lucy Gray ..... 449

Lines written in early Spring . . . 45 1

The Old Cumberland Beggar . . -453

The Mother's Return. Miss Wordsworth . 457
The Cottager to her Infant. Miss Wordsworth 459

To a Redbreast, Miss Hutchinson . . 460



Hughie the Graeme . . . .461

Graeme and Bewick .... 463
Hobble Noble .... 470

Kinmont Willie . . . -475

Kinmont Willie . . . .482

The Fray of Suport . . . .483

Carlisle Yetts . . . . .487

The Boy and the Mantle . . . 489


The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall . . 497

The Cumberland Lass . . . 498

The Cumberland Maid . . .500

The fickle Northern Lass . . .502

Colin and Lucy. Thomas Tickell . . 504

Roslin Castle. Richard Hewit . . 507

Vulcan's Cave. M.LonsdakandJ. W. Graves 508
The White Cliffs of Albion. Henry Holsttad. 5 15
My Lovely Fair. Christopher Bulman . 516

An Evening Lay to the Vale of Sebergham.

Thomas Sanderson . . .518

The Ship-Boy's Letter./ / Lonsdale . 523

Robin's Return. f.J. Lonsdale . -525

Ruby. -J> J- Lonsdale. . . -527

The "Cracks" of an Ore Carter's Wife. v

William Dickinson . . -528

Laal Bobby Linton. William Dickinson . 530
The Raffles Merry-Neet . . .532

British Beer. W. C. . . . .536

I saw an eager smiling boy. W. H. Hoodless 538
The Bridal E'en. George Dudson . . 539

GLOSSARY ..... 541



|HE Rev. Josiah Relph was born in 1712, at
Sebergham Church-town, a beautiful vil-
lage ten miles from Carlisle, on the banks
of the river Caldew. He was the son of a Cumber-
land statesman, who, on a paternal inheritance which
could not exceed, if it even amounted to, thirty
pounds a year, brought up a family of three sons
and one daughter, one of whom he educated for a
learned profession. Josiah was sent first to Appleby
school,* one of the many excellent schools of this
country; and then to Glasgow. He afterwards
engaged in a grammar school in his native place,
and succeeded to the perpetual curacy there ; but
there is no reason to believe that his income was
ever more than fifty pounds.

It appears from his Diary that his stepmother was
harsh and unkind to him and to his sister, whom he

[* The teacher at that time was Richard Yates, one of the
best schoolmasters of his age, who has justly been called the
Northern Busby.]


2 Relph of Sebergham.

dearly loved, the father siding with his wife ; an injury
which he felt the more poignantly from his having
either entirely, or very near, made up to him all the
expense he had been at in his education. " In a
lonely dell," says Mr. Boucher, " by a murmuring
stream, under the canopy of heaven, he had provi-
ded himself with a table and a stool, and a little
raised seat or altar of sods ; hither, in all his dif-
ficulties and distresses, in imitation of his Saviour,
he retired and prayed; rising from his knees, he
generally committed to paper the meditation on
which he had been employed, or the resolves he
had then formed. On business and emergencies
which he deemed still more momentous, he with-
drew into the church, and there walking in the
aisles, in that awful solitude, poured out his soul in
prayer and praise to his Maker. His sermons were
usually meditated in the church-yard, after the
evening had closed. The awe which his footsteps
excited at that unusual hour is not yet forgotten by
the villagers."

He continued his school when his constitution
was visibly giving way to that disorder which at
length proved mortal, being accelerated by his
ascetic mode of living. A few days before his death,
he sent for all his pupils, one by one, into his cham-
ber a more affecting interview it is not possible
to conceive. One of them, acknowledged that he
never thought of it without awe; it reminded
him, he said, of the Last Judgment. Relph

Relph of Sebergham. 3

was perfectly composed, collected, and serene. His
valedictory admonitions were not very long, but
they were earnest and pathetic. He addressed
each of them in terms somewhat different, adapted
to their different tempers and circumstances \ but
in one charge he was uniform, lead a good life
that your death may be easy, and you everlastingly
happy. He died of a consumption in 1743, before
he had completed his thirty-second year. After
many years, a monument was erected to his memory
by Mr. Boucher, in Sebergham church.

The characters as well as imagery of the Cum
brian Pastorals, were taken from real life ; there was
hardly a person in the village who could not point
out those who had sate for his Cursty and Peggy.
The amorous maiden was well known, and died
at a very advanced age. Southey's Later English

" Relph's merit as a poet," says Boucher, " has
long been felt and acknowledged. We do not in-
deed presume to recommend him to those who
affect to be pleased with nothing but the vivida vis,
the energy and majestic grandeur of poetry. His
verses aspire only to the character of being natural,
terse, and easy : and that character they certainly
merit in an extraordinary degree. But it is on his
Pastorals in the Cumberland dialect that we would
found his pretensions to poetical fame That our
opinion is perfectly right, it might be presumptuous

4 Relph of Sebergham.

in us to suppose ; but we certainly have persuaded
ourselves, that a dialect is highly advantageous, if
not essential to pastoral poetry : and that the rich,
strong, Doric dialect of this county is, of all dialects,
the most proper. On this ground, Relph's Pastor-
als have transcendent merit. With but a little
more of sentiment in them, and perhaps tenderness,
they would very nearly come up to Allan Ramsey's
beautiful pastoral, The Gentle Shepherd. In short,
these Cumberland eclogues are, in English, what
we suppose those of Theocritus to have been in
Greek. The ideas, as well as the language, are
perfectly rural j yet neither the one nor the other
are either vulgar or coarse. Pope's Pastorals, (and
perhaps Gay's too in an inferior degree) are so trim
and courtly, that the language of his shepherds and
shepherdesses is as polished, and their ideas as
refined, as if c all their lives in courts had been : '
whilst Philips's damsels and swains, notwithstanding
the uncouth rusticity of their names, are so affected,
as to be quite unnatural.

" The character of Relph's muse was a natural
elegant ease and simplicity. He loved indeed to
survey the sublimities of Carrock and Skiddaw and
Saddleback : but was more generally contented to
cull a few simple wild flowers that bloomed spon-
taneously in neglected dells on the banks of the

Relph's poems were not published during his life-
time ; but were left by him to Mrs. Nicholson of

Relph of Sebergham. 5

Hawkesdale, with no other remark than that he
hoped the perusal of them would pass away a leisure
hour or two of hers as agreeably as the writing
of them had done several of his. The first edition
of his poems was edited by his pupil the Rev. T.
Denton, and published at Glasgow in 1747. Two
editions were afterwards published in Carlisle : one
in 1797, edited by Sanderson; and the other in
1798, illustrated with wood-engravings by the cele-
brated Thomas Bewick. An interesting sketch of
his life by the Rev. J. Boucher will be found in
Hutchinson's " History of Cumberland."




["Relph was never married," says Sanderson, "though it
cannot be said that he was altogether insensible to the charms
of beauty. His Bonny smurkiri Sally , whose praises he so
sweetly celebrates, was, if village chronicles may be credited,
a Miss Sally Holmes, a young nymph of a neighbouring valley,
who, at a period of life when the heart is most susceptible oi
tender impressions, had engaged his attentions and affections."
The copy here given is slightly altered from the one in the
edition of 1747.]

what a deal of beauties rare,
Leeve down in Caldew valley ;

Yet theer's not yen that can compare
Wi' bonny smurkin' Sally.

fortune's great, my dad oft tells,
But I cry shally-wally :

1 mind nae fortune, nor ought else,
My heart's sae set on Sally.

Let others round the teable sit
At fairs, and drink and rally ;

While to a corner snug I git,
And kiss and lark wi' Sally.

Relph of Sebergham.

Some lads court fearful hard, yet still
Put off and drive and dally ;

The priest neest Sunday if she will
May publish me and Sally.

O how my heart wad loup for joy,

To lead her up the alley ;
And with what courage cou'd I cry

I tak thee bonny Sally.

Now, sud not we a bargain strike ?
I's seer our temper's tally ;

For deuce a thing can e'er I like
But just what likes my Sally.

I's sick, and know not what to do ;

And nevermore may rally !
What signify sec things a flea ?

O, send off-hand for Sally.



It's wrang indeed now, Jenny, quite,

To spoil a lad sae rare ;
The games that yence were his delight,

Peer Jacky minds nae mair.

Nae mair he cracks the leave o' th' green,

The cleverest far abuin ;
But lakes at wait-not-whats within,

Aw Sunday efter-nuin.

Relph of Sebergham.

Nae mair i' th' nights thro' woods he leads,
To treace the wand'ring brock ;

But sits i' th' nuik and nought else heeds,
But Jenny and her rock.

Thus Hercules, that ballats say,
Made parlish monsters stoop ;

Flang his great mickle club away,
And tuik a spinnel up.


[Relph, though simple and natural as a child at heart, fell
into the prevailing custom of his age by introducing such im-
aginajy names as Strephon and Chloe into some of his songs ;
but, with this exception, he had nothing in common with the
artificial school of pastoral poetry.]

When Damon first to Caelia spoke,
And made his passion known ;

So free her air ! so kind her look !
He thought the nymph his own.

Poor Damon ! all thy hopes are vain,

Success no longer boast :
Such Caelia is to every swain,

But catch and Caelia's lost.

Thus oft we see at close of eve

When all is calm and fair,
An idle wand'ring feather wave,

And saunter here and there.

Relph of Sebergham.

Tempting the grasp of every clown

Around the trifle plays :
He catches ! full of hopes 'tis gone,

And Simon's left to gaze.


One Sunday morn in cheerful May,
When all was clad in best array,
Young Caelia tripp'd the garden gay

With robes of various dye :
The choicest flow'rs the virgin chose,
The lily pale, the blushing rose
With all that most delights the nose

Or tempts the wand'ring eye.

Online LibrarySidney GilpinThe songs and ballads of Cumberland, to which are added dialect and other poems; with biographical sketches, notes, and glossary → online text (page 1 of 26)