The Bonnie House O' Airly

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Melody - Seq. by Lesley Nelson
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It fell on a day, and a bonnie summer day,
When the corn grew green and yellow,
That there fell out a great dispute
Between Argyle and Airly.

2. The Duke o' Montrose has written to Argyle
To come in the morning early,
An' lead in his men, by the back O' Dunkeld,
To plunder the bonnie house o' Airly.

3. The lady look'd o'er her window sae hie,
And O but she looked weary!
And there she espied the great Argyle
Come to plunder the bonnie house o' Airly.

4. "Come down, come down, Lady Margaret," he says,
"Come down and kiss me fairly,
Or before the morning clear daylight,
I'll no leave a standing stane in Airly."

5. "I wadna kiss thee, great Argyle,
I wadna kiss thee fairly,
I wadna kiss thee, great Argyle,
Gin you shouldna leave a standing stane Airly."

6. He has ta'en her by the middle sae sma',
Says, "Lady, where is your drury?"
"It's up and down by the bonnie burn side,
Amang the planting of Airly."

7. They sought it up, they sought it down,
They sought it late and early,
And found it in the bonnie balm-tree,
That shines on the bowling-green o' Airly,

8. He has ta'en her by the left shoulder,
And O but she grat sairly,
And led her down to yon green bank,
Till he plundered the bonnie house o' Airly.

9. "O it's I hae seven braw sons," she says,
"And the youngest ne'er saw his daddie,
And altho' I had as mony mae,
I wad gie them a' to Charlie.

10. "But gin my good lord had been at hame,
As this night he is wi' Charlie,
There durst na a Campbell in a' the west
Hae plundered the bonnie house o' Airly.


Lord Airly's houses were destroyed by Argyll, representing the Covenanters, and also in pursuance of a private feud, in 1639, or 1640.

There are erroneous versions of this ballad, in which Lochiel appears, and the date is, apparently, transferred to 1745. Montrose, in his early Covenanting days, was not actually concerned in the burning of the Bonnie House, which he, when a Royalist, revenged on the possessions of "gleyed Argyll." The reference to "Charlie" is out of keeping; no one, perhaps, ever called Charles I. by that affectionate name.

Lady Ogilvie had not the large family attributed to her: her son, Lord Ogilvie, escaped from prison in the Castle of St. Andrews, after Philiphaugh. A Lord Ogilvie was out in 1745; and, later, had a regiment in the French Service. Few families have a record so consistently loyal.

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