Sunday, August 17, 2014


Scotia's Ancient Drink

Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850), "Parody," in his Original Songs (Edinburgh: John Anderson, 1831), pp. 143-144 (line numbers added):
(Written when part of the Duty was taken off Whisky, in October, 1823)

Scots wha hae the duties paid;
Scots wham whisky's aft made glad;
Welcome, for the duty's fled,
        And it shall be free!

Now's the time and now's the hour;        5
See the shades of evening lour;
See the streams of toddy pour—
        Pledge it three-times-three!

Wha wad be a brandy slave?
Wha wad shilpit claret lave?        10
Wha of rum wad ever rave?
        When the whisky's free!

Wha for Scotia's ancient drink,
Will fill a bicker to the brink!
Scotsmen wake or Scotsmen wink,        15
        Aquavitae aye for me!

By taxation's woes and pains!
By the smuggler's ill-got gains!
We shall raise our wildest strains,
        For it shall be free!        20

Lay the big gin bottle low!
In the fire the port wine throw!
Let the tide of whisky flow!
        Like liberty, aye free!
10 shilpit: "Of liquor: Insipid, weak, thin" (Oxford English Dictionary)
14 bicker: "'A bowl or dish for containing liquor, properly one made of wood" (Jamieson's definition, quoted in Oxford English Dictionary)

The song is a parody of Burns' "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled...." Gilfillan is my namesake.


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