Bessie's Haggis

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X:1 T:Bessy Haggice M:C| L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:John Walsh - Caledonian Country Dances (c. 1745, p. 40) N:Published in several volumes and different editions, 1731-c. 1745) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A,2D2D2 (FA)|(BA)(GF) E3A|D2F2 D2A2|(Bc)(dA) F2A2| B2d2 (FG)(AF)|(BA)(GF) E3A|D2 F2A2 de|f2 D2F2A2:| |:D2A2d2 (cB)|e2E2E2 (FE)|D2A2 d2(cB)|c2(BA) d3e| (fd)(ec) (dB)(cA)|(BF)(GA) E3F|(DE)(FG) (AB)(cA)|d2 D2 F2A2:|]



BESSIE'S HAGGIES. AKA - "Bessy Haggice," "Bessy's beauties shine sae bright," "Bonny Bessy." Scottish, Slow Air (4/4 time) or Country Dance Tune. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Thomson): AABB (Walsh): AABBCCDDEE (McGibbon). "Bessy's Haggice" was a song in John Watt's ballad opera The Highland Fair, or the Union of the Clans, staged in London in 1731. The song appears in Thomson's Orpheus Caledoneus (1733) twice, as both "Bessy's Haggice" and "Bessy's beauties shine sae bright.." and was included in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (1787, vol. 1, p. 31) under the latter title. "Bessy's Haggis" appears in Hogg's Jacobite Relics 2nd Series, p. 191 (1821). Allen Ramsey printed a song set to the tune in his Tea Table Miscellany called "Bonny Bessy," which begins:

Bessy's beauties shine sae bright,
Were her many virtues fewer,
She wad ever gie delight,
And in transport make me view her.
Bonny Bessie, thee alane
Love I, naething else about thee;
With thy comeliness I'm tane
And langer canna live without thee.

Hogg's Jacobite lyric goes:

Ken ye wha supped Bessy's haggies?
Ken ye wha dinner'd on our Bessy's haggies?
Four good lords and three bonny ladies
A' to dinner on our Bessy's haggies.
Ae gude chief wi' his gear and his glaumrie,
Lords on the bed and duke in the aumrie;
There was a king's son kiver'd o'er wi' raggies.
A' for to dinner on our Bessy's haggies.

The horn it is short, gudewife, can ye mend it?
'Tis nearer the lift, kind sir, gin ye kend it.
In and out, out and in, hey for the baggies!
Fient a crumb is o' Bessy's haggles.
Gudewife, gin ye laugh, ye may laugh right fairly;
Gudewife, gin ye greet, ye may greet for Charlie;
He'll lie nae mair 'mang your woods and your craggies,
You'll never mair see him nor your haggies.

Leeze me on him that can thole alteration,
A' for his friends and the rights o' the nation!
Leeze me on his bare houghs, his broad sword, and plaidie.
He shall be king in the right o' his daddie.
Foul fa' the feiroch that hings by his bonnet!
The rump-rotten rebald, fich ! fie upon it!
He may grunch in his swine-trough up to the laggies,
Never to be blest wi' a gudewife's baggies.

Malcolm's Jacobite Minstrelsy (1828) notes that a Mr. Gordon of Ford communicated the song to Hogg, and indicated is was an old song that predated the Jacobite period. However, it is strongly associated with the Rising of 1745. Malcolm states:

The sentiment would hardly seem to be justified by facts, if an anecdote told of old Lady Drummuir be authentic. When the Duke of Cumberland took the command in Scotland and advanced against the Highland army, it was remarked that at Holyrood-House, Falkirk, and other places, he occupied the same quarters, the same room, and the same bed which Prince Charles had previously vacated. In like manner, when he entered Inverness, after the victory of Culloden, he took up his lodgings in the house of Lady Drummuir, whose daughter, Lady McIntosh, had there acted as the presiding divinity of Charles' household for two months before. How this venerable Jacobite entertained him is not recorded; but the comment which she was accustomed to make on the singular circumstance of her having lodged both Princes, betokened no great relish for the familiar presence of royalty: " I've ha'en twa Kings' bairns," said she, "living wi' me, in my time ; but, to tell you the truth, I wish I may ne'er ha'e anither."

See also the related song "As I came o’er the Cairney Mount."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - G.H. Davidson (Davidson's Gems of Scottish Melody), n.d. (c. 1830's); p. 33. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, Book II), c. 1746; p. 32. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 3), 1760; p. 22. William Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. II), 1733; No. 30, p. 122. Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), c. 1745; p. 40.






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