The Laird Of Waristoun

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From Child, Vol. 3, early edition

Down by yon garden green,
Sae merrily as she gaes;
She has twa weel-made feet,
And she trips upon her taes.

2. She has twa weel-made feet;
Far better is her hand;
She's as jimp in the middle
As ony willow wand.

3. "Gif ye will do my bidding,
At my bidding for to be,
It's I will make you lady
Of a' the lands you see."

4. He spak a word in jest;
Her answer was na good;
He threw a plate at her face,
Made it a' gush out o' blood.

5. She wasna frae her chamber
A step but barely three,
When up and at her richt hand
There stood Man's Enemy.

6. "Gif ye will do my bidding,
At my bidding for to be,
I'll learn you a wile,
Avenged for to be."

7. The foul thief knotted the tether;
She lifted his head on hie;
The nourice drew the knot
That gar'd lord Waristoun die.

8. Then word is gane to Leith,
Also to Edinburgh town
That the lady had kill'd the laird,
The laird o' Waristoun.

9. Tak aff, tak aff my hood
But lat my petticoat be;
Pat my mantle o'er my head;
For the fire I downa see.

10. Now, a' ye gentle maids,
Tak warning now by me,
And never marry ane
But wha pleases your e'e.

11. "For he married me for love,
But I married him for fee;
And sae brak out the feud
That gar'd my dearie die."


This version was taken down by Sir Walter Scott from his mother's recitation, for Jamieson's book of ballads. Jamieson later quarrelled bitterly with Sir Walter, as letters at Abbotsford prove. A variant is given by Kinloch, and a longer, less poetical, but more historically accurate version is given by Buchan. The House of Waristoun is, or lately was, a melancholy place hanging above a narrow lake, in the northern suburbs of Edinburgh, near the Water of Leith.

Kincaid was the name of the Laird; according to Chambers, the more famous lairds of Covenanting times were Johnstons. Kincaid is said to have treated his wife cruelly, wherefore she, or her nurse, engaged one Robert Weir, an old servant of her father (Livingstone of Dunipace), to strangle the unhappy man in his own bedroom (July 2, 1600). The lady was beheaded, the nurse was burned, and, later, Weir was also executed. The line "I wish that ye may sink for sin" occurs in an earlier ballad on Edinburgh Castle - "And that all for the black dinner Earl Douglas got therein." - A Collection of Ballads by Andrew Lang

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