For the Lack of Gold

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FOR THE LACK OF GOLD (She Left Me). AKA - "For the Sake of Gold." Scottish, Air (4/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. O'Farrell lists the song's provenance as Scotch. It also appears in the (James) Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768, p. 40), James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (vol. 3, p. 4), and Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (vol. 2, p. 171). It also appears in a number of period musicians' manuscript books on both sides of the Atlantic. The song begins:

For lake of gold she's left me oh!
And of all that's dear bereft me Oh!
She me forsook, For a great Duke,
And to endless care has left me Oh!
A star and garter has more art,
Than youth, a true and faithful heart;
For empty titles we must part.
And for glitt'ring show she left me Oh!'

Poet Robert Burns' friend, Robert Riddell of Glenriddell, in a note in his copy of the Scots Musical Museum (1788), maintained:

This tune was composed by the late Dr. Austin, physician at Edinburgh. He had courted a lady to whom he was shortly to have been married; but the Duke of Athole having seen her became so much in love with her, that he made proposals of marriage, which was accepted of and she jilted the Dr., who being cut to the heart sung this plaintive ballad.

Dr. Adam Austin (c. 1726-1774) composed his verses to an older tune, in fact, a tune named "For lake of gold she left me" appears in the Blakie Manuscript of 1692. The object of his (and the Duke's) affections was Jean, daughter of John Drummond of Megginch, who married the Duke in 1749. After he died, Jean married Lord Adam Gordon. Dr. Austin recovered from his heartache, and in due course married Anne Sempill (in 1754), sister of the Right Honourable Lord Sempill.

The melody also appears in the 1840 music manuscript collection of Cumbrian musician John Rook (Waverton).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3), 1788; No. 576, p. 220. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, book III), 1762; pp. 90-91. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 1); c. 1805; p. 75. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 3), 1760; p. 4.

Recorded sources:




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