Just As Good As You, Sir

arrivals and welcomes

There are dozens of tunes written to welcome distinguished visitors to Edinburgh. The autobiographical song The Banishment of Poverty is older than any of them, and in a different genre. It was written by the spendthrift laird Francis Semple of Beltrees in Renfrewshire (c.1616-1682), and he was wandering near-penniless to and around Edinburgh in 1676 or 1677. The Duke of Albany, later King James VII, helped him out by appointing him Sheriff-Depute of Renfrew, and this song was written in gratitude. James's support was in return for services fighting the Covenanters; as the song says, Semple got a serious beating from them in Renfrew. The tune is named as The Last Good-night. Simpson, in The British Broadside Ballad and its Music, guessed that an English tune from 1601 was intended: The Earl of Essex Good Night. But that tune is not known from any Scottish source of the period and the Scottish tune Good Night and God be With You fits the words much better; it's described with the last song in this collection. For all its colourful details, this is a paper song. It's far too long to perform in public, and the verses about pennyroyal as an anti-poverty herb must have been an obscure joke even when it was written. Semple is best known for the elegy on his local piper, Habbie Simpson of Kilbarchan, which created a distinctively Scottish poetic form used regularly for the next 150 years; Burns's Address to the Haggis is an example.

The Edinburgh placenames in this song are explained in the next chapter. "Dining with saints and noblemen" meant he spent lunchtime wandering around the tombs in the High Kirk of St Giles. William Sharpe was Cashier to the Treasury, Master of the Mint, and brother of the notorious clerical police chief Archbishop Sharp, assassinated in 1679. The Tolbooth was where Semple might most expect to be confronted by a creditor. The Abbey Close was the grounds of Holyrood Abbey, a sanctuary for debtors. The allusion to the Virgin Mary at the end must be a deliberate statement of Catholic or Episcopalian sympathies in line with the Duke's own religion. It was unlikely that a gentleman would end up in the seventeenth-century equivalent of sitting in a doorway under a blanket with a dog and calling out "Help the homeless", but Semple's psychologically realistic depiction of urban poverty as a condition in which you are surrounded by things you can't do and places you can't go to for lack of money is something even Burns never equalled.

The New Way to Edinburgh is from John Young's Collection of Original Scots Tunes for the Violin of 1720, and its history before and after Young got hold of it is typically convoluted. A law had been passed in 1719 requiring all able-bodied men to do six days' work on the roads, and perhaps Young was marking what promised to be an improvement; but the law was unenforceable and nothing changed for decades. The tune was known earlier as Women's work will never be done (an English song which I've given here from a Scottish manuscript source) or Bonny Kate of Edinburgh, and later as The Black Eagle, probably the commonest name for the tune today. James Oswald (1710-1769) expanded it into The High Way to Edinburgh, a miniature suite - song, variation and jig - from the first printed systematic anthology of Scots instrumental music, The Caledonian Pocket Companion, published in the 1740s. His collection contains many such pieces; they were a popular form in the 18th century. The jig section (an independent tune, not a variation) developed a life of its own, reprinted by James Aird of Glasgow as Highway to Edinburgh in the 1780s; Burns used Aird's books as a source for many of his tunes, and this one became the air for his song My Tocher's the Jewel, which is what the tune is usually called now. Before Oswald's time this jig was known as The Muckin o Geordie's Byre (unrelated to the present-day tune for that song) and perhaps Oswald used it because it was commonly associated with Edinburgh. Fifty years later, Nathaniel Gow gave it the title Lord Elcho and claimed to have written it himself. Gow (1755-1831) was a talented composer; in partnership with William Shepherd (1760-1812), one of the most influential publishers of Scots music ever; the city's most fashionable dance promoter and bandleader; and the main reason for his father Niel (1727-1807) achieving national fame late in his life. But he was also one of the most exposure-prone plagiarists in the history of publishing, and never learnt to stop. His publishing firm, Gow & Shepherd, failed in 1814, his goods were seized for debt in 1828, and he died in poverty. His Scottish dance music sheets and collections sold in far larger numbers than any before him; the result was that most of his new titles stuck, even after the plagiarisms became well known.

The Highway to Edinburgh was a popular title. The most appropriate occasion to call a tune that would have been the passing of the Turnpike Act of 1751, when the road from London was dramatically improved; but none of the two later reels of that name fit that date. The first was published by the Glasgow composer, music seller, music teacher and bellringer Joshua Campbell (c.1730-c.1800) in the 1780s. The second was published in 1803 or soon after, in one of the many books of William Campbell's New and Favourite Country Dances.

From Aberdeen to Edinburgh is a march tune in a Continental European style, here taken from the Macfarlan Manuscript, the most important of all early collections of Scottish music, compiled by David Young in 1740 for his patron Walter Macfarlan of that Ilk. This is one of the most clearly and attractively written music manuscripts ever produced; Young made a thorough attempt to document the music of all classes and social groups in Scotland at the time, and was the first to make a real effort to collect Highland tunes. Sadly, one of the three volumes was lost, and the others got badly soaked in water. I can't think of any military campaign that marched from Aberdeen to Edinburgh; perhaps the tune was written to welcome an aristocrat journeying between the two, like one of the Gordon family. Trip to Edinburgh comes from Bride's Favorite Collection of 200 Select Country Dances of the same period, and seems to be based on the reel known as Arthur's Seat in the Macfarlan Manuscript, printed in the next chapter. When first I came to Edinborro is a haunting tune from the Blaikie Manuscript, a copy made in the early 19th century of an original from 1692; it must be the air for a lost ballad.

Francis Rawdon-Hastings (1754-1826), an Englishman with the Irish title of Earl Moira, lived at Duddingston House in the early 19th century. He had the reputation of being "the ugliest man in England", and his Irish landlordship had been controversial; he supported Catholic emancipation, and the rebellion of 1798 had centred on his lands, as a reactionary satirist of the time commented:

Determin'd their landlord's fine words to make good,
They hid Pikes in his haggard, cut staves in his wood;
And attack'd the King's troops - the assertion to clinch,
That no town is so Loyal as Ballynahinch.

He was for a time the leading Mason in the world, as acting Grand Master of both the Scottish and English Grand Lodges. He had a distinguished career behind him fighting first the Americans and then the French. He devised one of the most remarkable tactics ever employed by the British Army when in 1794, with 10,000 men trapped and hopelessly outnumbered by the French, he ordered supplies for 25,000 men to be sent up; as he anticipated, the French found out about it and decided to leave his force alone. The Government's reward was to demand that Moira pay for the excess supplies, and they chased him for the money for the rest of his life, finally suing his widow for it successfully.

He was made Commander-in-Chief of the army in Scotland in 1803. This was the occasion for the strathspey The Earl of Moira's Welcome to Scotland, published by Nathaniel Gow, who attributed it to D. Mackentyre, a teacher of dancing in Edinburgh; it's based on a tune printed by Skillern in 1776 as Colonel H.F. Campbell's Strathspey. It was used by Robert Tannahill for his song Loudon's Bonnie Woods and Braes, written shortly after Moira's marriage to the Countess of Loudon in 1804; it evokes their separation when the Earl went abroad with the army. A patriotic-militarist song of romantic parting is a tough challenge to bring off; Tannahill's collapses into unsingable bathos at the end. But it was a hit at the time, and led to the tune being played by the band of the Camerons marching to Waterloo; by the end of the century its origins were completely forgotten and, probably thanks to the Cameron fifers, it appears in David Glen's pipe tune collection as an "Old Gaelic Air". It also entered American folk repertoire, known in Pennsylvania as Old Aunt Katie or Cluck Old Hen, with nonsense words like these collected by S.P. Bayard:

Old Aunt Katie, good enough for anybody,
Old Aunt Katie, good enough at all;
Old Aunt Katie, good enough for anybody,
Take her in her old clothes, or don't take her at all.

I tell the rest of Moira's story in the last chapter of this book.

The Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia - young, educated and intelligent - came to Edinburgh in December 1816. This was part of a tour of Russia's recent allies against Napoleon, but had the more practical aim of finding out as much as possible about technological developments abroad. He didn't just want to see the architecture of the New Town, but also an agricultural implements factory in Leith. The Grand Duke Nicholas' Welcome to Edinburgh is a call chanted at him by the boys of the Royal High School. It was based on an older chant:

Hey cockie dawdie, hey cockie do
Are ye ony better since you got your row?

"Row" means a roll, and "cocky" is from French "coquet", meaning a recruit: the call was targeted at the Volunteer soldiers of the late 18th century, far better-fed than most of the city's people.

The Grand Duke Nicholas is an elaboration of the boys' taunt into a dance tune, by Nathaniel Gow, first performed in 1818. The version given here is not from Gow's original publication, but from a manuscript in my possession made shortly afterwards by Isabella Archibald of Burntisland, intended for the piano; any small differences reflect the way the piece was actually played at the time. The music Nicholas was meant to hear on his visit was played at the civic reception: an arrangement for band and chorus of Haydn's God Save the Emperor Francis (later Deutschland über Alles) to words praising the Czar:

God protect brave ALEXANDER!
Heaven defend the noble Czar!
Mighty Russia's high Commander,
First in Europe's banded war.
For the realms he did deliver
From the Tyrant overthrown,
Thou, of every Good the giver,
Grant him long to bless his own...

The writer remained anonymous at the time and might have been well advised to stay that way; he was Sir Walter Scott.

Edina's Welcome to the Gallant 42nd Regiment is by the local poet Willison Glass; it comes from a sheet music collection assembled in 1818 and presumably marks the return of the Black Watch from the Battle of Waterloo. It has no redeeming literary merit whatever. Its tune is In the Garb of Old Gaul, discussed later.

The visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822, arranged by Sir Walter Scott, was intended to mark the full integration of Scotland into the British state after the final collapse of every force that opposed it. While the city only had a few weeks' notice, every detail of the visit was planned in advance; even owners of property along the King's route were ordered to repair their roofs and chimney stalks in case something fell on him. The crowd that watched him may have been as large as 300,000, the biggest that the city has ever seen. Most musical mementoes of the visit were songs as dull as the statue of the King erected on Hanover Street; but some good pieces of instrumental music were written for it.

George the IVth's Welcome to Scotland is reproduced from the Skye Collection later in the century; I've left the double bar and repeat as they are in the original, but the piece sounds more logical in ABA form. The beautiful strathspey The King's Welcome to Scotland was published in a collection of instrumental dance tunes, but its composer John Burns provided the words for it I've printed here; they don't even scan. His Majesty's welcome to Scotland, later known as King George the IVth, and The King's Reel (usually played together) make dramatic use of the low register of the fiddle. They were written by Captain Daniel Menzies (c.1790-1835), who had published one of the first tutors for the pipes, A Preceptor for the Great Highland Bagpipe (1818) under the pseudonym "Amateur". All of his work was published by Duncan McKercher (1796-1873), who ended in poverty like so many other 19th century musicians, dying in Colinton poorhouse. I've taken the strathspey from McKercher's original book. The Gathering, by Nathaniel Gow, was performed for the King by a fiddle orchestra under Gow's direction. It imitates the sound of a pibroch, complete with framing flourishes; the opening one is strikingly similar to the main motif from the first movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony of 1893. Adding an A drone, as I've done in the QuickTime version of the tune, makes it a lot more convincing.

The musician who worked most industriously at welcoming George was J. Robertson, who produced a sheet with a royal-itinerary suite of five pieces. This is the first time they have been reproduced since 1822.

O Scotia, Now's the Happy Day is another example of the mindless patriotic songs that met with Scott's approval; it was published in a commemorative volume of 1824, The Royal Scottish Minstrelsy. The tune is O'er the Muir Amang the Heather, discussed here along with Robert Burns' Act Sederunt of the Session. The use of heather as a symbol of Scotland seems to date from this visit; another song from the same book has the lines:

O pit your bonnet on your head,
Wi' heather on the side o't

There must have been more heather on the Royal Mile than at any time since mammoths ate the last of it in the Ice Age. This unprecedented display of alien Highland imagery served a useful public relations function; the Clearances were under way. The Duke of Sutherland took the opportunity to send a group of his subjects (what was left of them after his deportations) all the way from Caithness to act the part of happy natives displaying their traditional culture.

George had begun a divorce action for adultery against his wife Queen Caroline in 1820, the year of his coronation, which ended in her trial and acquittal by Parliament. Public sympathy was with the Queen, and "illuminations" for her victory were held all over Britain, Edinburgh included. The celebrations in Glasgow turned into an all-out riot, which may have been why the King went no further than Midlothian. The Rymour Club published an Edinburgh children's rhyme in the early 20th century which must have originated a hundred years earlier as a dismissive comment on the case:

Good Queen Caroline
Dipped her hair in turpentine,
Turpentine made it shine,
Good Queen Caroline.

Sawney Now The King's Come is by the radical satirist Sandy Rodger (1784-1846), who lived in Edinburgh as a young man and spent his later life in Paisley and Glasgow; he must have been involved in that Glasgow agitation. He wrote some of Scotland's funniest poems; in a fairer world his outrageously surreal spoof of the British National Anthem would have buried it forever. This piece is a parody of Scott's own commemorative song for the visit, to the same tune. Scott's song took 41 verses to enumerate every Lothian placename and aristocratic family he could squeeze in to celebrate the King. Rodger's satire was published anonymously; copies printed in London arrived by brilliant timing on the same morning as George's ship. Scott, who never had much of a sense of humour where royalty was concerned and possibly had even less about being upstaged as a poet, hated it. The tune, Carle and the King come, is given here in four versions: from a manuscript of 1715, an instrumental one by McGibbon published posthumously in 1785, the setting from the Macfarlan Manuscript of 1740, with a variation, which is probably intended for the flute, and the one that would have been most familiar to Rodger's readers, from James Hogg's Jacobite Relics. It was first used politically by the Jacobites at the time of Cromwell and had been employed in later Jacobite campaigns.

"Sawney" was a contemptuous nickname for Scots, rather like "Jock" today. The "Wha wants me?" tag is explained in my note on Henry Dundas. St James's Square was notorious for its brothels and streetwalkers from Rodger's time until its demolition in the 1970s; most dramatically in the raid on the Kosmo Club brothel in 1933. "Gardyloo" was the warning cry given when about to pour the contents of a chamber pot or urine barrel out of the window, a practice Edinburgh was notorious for; the set time was 10pm and the biggest shower was on Saturday nights. The "forty-twa" was a public toilet with 42 cubicles, whose nickname was itself a pun on the regimental number of the Black Watch.

The King's Arrival is a girls' singing game, still recalling George IV's visit when Alan Reid of the Rymour Club saw Minnie Jardine leading it in the playground of Gorgie School around 1900. The tune is a version of Merry-Ma-Tanzie, and the game must have been adapted from one much older than 1822; a related one with no reference to a king was still found in Northumbria when Minnie sang this.

Perhaps what the King thought of Edinburgh's tributes is reflected in the tune Nathaniel Gow published as King George the Fourth's Favourite: it was simply a retitling of I'll gang nae mair to yon town. And he didn't.

Queen Victoria's arrival in Edinburgh on her first visit in 1842 was farcically mismanaged. Arriving by frigate, she went in procession to Brandon Terrace at the bottom of the New Town to receive the keys to the city, but the Provost and Bailies thought she would be arriving later and were not there to meet her; the troops escorting her failed to recognize the local elite honour guard, the Royal Archers, and fought them off, nearly killing Lord Elcho. She drove on to Dalkeith Palace (bypassing Holyrood, which at the time was next to a recently formed lake of raw sewage and had just had a scarlet fever outbreak) with none of Edinburgh's officialdom in attendance. The arrival was later restaged. Provost Sir James Forrest never lived this down. At the time, shop windows contained nightcaps labelled "Jamie Forrest's nightcaps, warranted not to waken in" and people were still waving nightcaps at him during an election campaign years later.

These anonymous broadsheet satires of the time are just two of many. Jemmie Forrest parodies the very familiar Jacobite song Johnny Cope, included later in this collection. I've taken the tune from Gall and Inglis's Select Songs of Scotland of 1848. The Provost's Nap uses an older melody in the same extended tune family, Up in the Morning Early, which was probably a Scots tune at first, though most early versions of it are from England. It was first printed by John Hilton in 1652, later by John Playford as Lulle me beyond thee; other variants of the tune were known as Stingo, The Oil of Barley, or Cold and Raw. It even got as far as Shetland, where it is one of the tunes known as Sister Jean. I've taken this version from the Gows' Complete Repository of Original Scots Tunes. The text for it current in Edinburgh at the time of the parody was an attractive one in a Burnsian style by John Hamilton, an Edinburgh music dealer who died in 1814.

Just as when George IV arrived, a temporary stand collapsed during the Queen's visit; this one was on Bank Street, with 2 killed and 50 injured. The Queen left a sympathetic journal entry about it; the balladeers didn't notice.

Once the Highland pipes were accepted as an official military instrument in the mid-19th century, Army pipers created a profusion of new march tunes in a few decades. They often marked occasions in the life of the regiment, a trend started by John Macdonald's The 79th's Farewell to Gibraltar, an instant hit with pipers everywhere. Many of them made their way into the enormous standard collection of the turn of the century compiled by David Glen (1852-1916), one of a dynasty of Edinburgh publishers of bagpipe music. The first three of these tunes commemorating the arrival of regiments in Edinburgh are taken from this collection.

The "78th's" welcome to Edinburgh, by Alexander MacKellar, probably dates from their arrival in in Edinburgh in 1860, the first Scottish regiment to come home after the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny. British Army regiments were officially renumbered in 1881, but soldiers continued to call their merged units by the old names for decades after. When Glen published this, the 78th's official name was the Second Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders; hence the scare quotes.

The 92nd Regiment was in Afghanistan in 1880; they were renumbered before returning home, becoming the Second Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders. In 1882 they turned up in Edinburgh, listed as "on passage home" in between. How even the bureaucratic Victorian British Army managed to take so long to get its soldiers home beats me. If they really did take two years in transit, The 2nd Batt. Gordon Highlanders' Welcome to Edinburgh needs to be played with a great feeling of relief. It is by James Mauchline (1817-1896), who served with the old 78th Regiment, beginning his career as a brass bandsman before the pipes were officially adopted, and remained a multi-instrumentalist like many 19th century pipers; he could teach the bagpipe, cornet, oboe and flute. The Skye crofters' violent rebellion against their landowners also took place in 1882, and Mauchline commemorated that too; his Flodigarry and The Portree Men were written in their honour. His best-known tune is The Barren Rocks of Aden, but Alexander MacKellar added the third part to it and usually gets the credit for the whole thing.

The "42nd's" Welcome to Edinburgh, an anonymous tune, probably dates from 1902, when they were officially the First Battalion of the Black Watch, coming back from the Boer War. Under the old numbering, the 42nd had come back from India in 1868, which gives another possible date. The 91st's Welcome to Edinburgh is by Queen Victoria's piper William (or Uilleam) Ross; I've taken it from a manuscript compiled in 1911-12. The regiment arrived in Edinburgh in 1873 and 1892. 1st Batt. Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders Welcome to Edinburgh, by J. Sutherland, is from the first book of the Cowal Collection, a collection of competition-winning tunes published in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Right Honorable W.E. Gladstone's Welcome to Midlothian is a sparkling 6/8 march by David Glen himself, printed in his collection. It dates from Gladstone's campaign against the Earl of Dalkeith for the Midlothian parliamentary seat in 1879-80. This campaign shaped present-day styles of political electioneering the world over. The result was a foregone conclusion, since it was a rural seat where only 15% of the eligible voters were registered and their preferences were well-known; so Gladstone took the opportunity to disregard local issues and play to the national and world media as nobody anywhere had ever done before. The campaign was a series of mass rallies, modelled after the religious revival meetings of Sankey and Moody five years earlier. Each began with Liberal songs, often set to hymn tunes. Gladstone gave his usual enormous improvised speeches; he was capable of speaking for over two hours straight with no notes. He focussed on foreign policy issues; these were the Tories' weak point since they had ended up in tactical alliances with the despotic regimes of both Russia and Turkey, and public sympathy was with the small nations subject to them like Poland and Serbia. The final straw for the Tories was a bombshell announcement released the day before the poll: it was revealed that the war in Afghanistan, unpopular to begin with, was going to cost more than twice the original estimate. Gladstone's working men's meeting in Waverley Market had an audience of 20,000. It was nearly a disaster, with many calling for water and fainting; people were crushed against the barricades and had to be lifted over them.

Later campaigns were in the same style, if less dramatically new. These campaigns in Midlothian gave the world the word "heckle": it was originally used in the weaving industry, meaning to comb the dirt out of fibre, and got its political meaning as a result of the questioning Gladstone got from the textile workers in his audience. Late in his career, the local party recovered enough from its media steamrollering to push its own interests. There is a volume of congratulatory messages sent to him in 1890 by Midlothian branches of the Liberal Party; the great issue of the day was Home Rule for Ireland, on which he had solid backing, and while most of the messages simply ask him to keep up the good work, already there are others proposing to go further and dissolve the Union entirely for both Scotland and Wales as well. Another piece from the election, The Fine Old Man versus Gladstone's Hornpipe, an unusual tune in a style that recalls American old-time fiddling more than anything in Scottish tradition, is by W.B. Laybourn and published in Köhler's Violin Repository (what we would now call a partwork, a planned series of booklets of tunes eventually collected as a book) in 1884.

The walrus-moustached General Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) is the most familiar face in the history of the British Army, thanks to the dramatically effective World War 1 recruiting poster in which he points his finger at the viewer with the slogan "Your Country Needs YOU". He became Sirdar, commander of the army of Egypt, in 1892, and went on to lead that mixed British/Egyptian/Sudanese force through the bloody and almost entirely pointless reconquest of the Sudan, something Gladstone had resisted while in power and a close parallel to the 1990s war against Iraq. This campaign made Kitchener a British national hero while leaving him almost unanimously loathed by everyone he came in close contact with, including the young Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent, and another journalist from Reuters in the Sudan press corps who said of him

he drinks and has the other failing acquired by most Egyptian officers, a taste for buggery

one of many such anecdotes which have led to him being posthumously "outed" in a number of dubious Hall of Fame lists of famous homosexuals in history (but he was so misanthropic that if he'd known the gay movement was going to adopt him he'd have taken up with women to spite them). He went on to defeat the Boers by total war against the civilian population and the use of concentration camps; he became Secretary of State for War in 1914, creating the vast "New Armies" to fight in France, and drowned when his ship sank near the Orkneys on its way to Russia in 1916. At that point he had become so hated by his colleagues in the Army and the Cabinet that he was not much missed. The Sirdar's Welcome to Edinburgh is by Alexander McLeod, again from David Glen, and must date from the late 1890s.

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin