The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIV. Scottish Popular Poetry before Burns

§ 16. Alexander Geddes

Alexander Geddes, an accomplished catholic priest—who contributed a Scots translation of the first eclogue of Vergil and the first idyll of Theocritus to the transactions of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries and wrote in English Linton, a Tweedside Pastoral, and a rimed translation of the first book of The Iliad—is one of the few known authors of contemporary Jacobite songs. His Lewie Gordon, under the title The Charming Highlandman, first appeared in the second edition of The Scots Nightingale, 1779: and he is also credited with the inimitably droll Wee Wifukie, relating the experiences of a rustic Aberdeenshire dame on her way homewards from the fair, after she had got “a wee bit drappukie.” Murdoch M’Lennan, minister of Crathie, Aberdeenshire, narrated the affair of Sheriffmuir in the clever but absolutely impartial Race of Sheriffmuir, with the refrain, “and we ran and they ran awa man.” John Barclay celebrated the same engagements in the versified Dialogue betwixt William Lickladle and Thomas Cleancogue, modelled upon the anonymous ballad of Killiecrankie; and a similar ballad, Tranent Muir, on the battle of Prestonpans, is attributed to Adam Skirving. Skirving has, also, been usually credited with the authorship of the song Johnnie Cope; but a manuscript note by Burns in an interleaved copy of Johnson’s Museum seems to indicate that the song, as published there, is by Burns: “the air,” he says, “was the tune of an old song, of which I have heard some verses, but now only remember the title which was: ‘Will ye go to the coals in the morning?’” Two sets are published in Hogg’s Relics, from Gilchrist’s Collection.