The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Watty and Meg, or the Wife Reformed'




KEEN the frosty winds were blawing,
Deep the gnaw had wreathed the ploughs,
Watty, wearied a' day sawing,
Daunert down to Mungo Blne's.
Dryster Jock was sitting cracky,
Wi' Pate Tamson o' the Hill,
" Come awa'," quo' Johnny, " Watty 1
Haith we'se hae anither gill."

Watty, glad to see Jock Jabos,
Aud sae mony neibours roun';
Kicket frae his shoon the snawba's,
Syne ayont the fire gat down.
Owre a broad wi' bannoks heaped,
Cheese, and stoups, and glasses stood;
Some were roaring, ithers sleepit,
Ithers quietly chewt their cude.

Jock was selling Pate some tallow,
A' the rest a racket hel',
A' but Watty, wha, poor fallow !
Sat and smoket by himsel'.
Mungo filled him up a toothfu',
Drank his health an Meg's in ane :
Watty, puffing out a meuthfu',
Pledged him wi' a dreary grane.

" What's the matter, Watty, wi' you ?
Trouth your chafts are fa'ing in !
Something's wrang?I'm vexed to see you?
Gndesake! but ye're desperate thin I''
" Ay," quo' Watty, " things are altered,
But it s past redemption now,
L?d! I wish I had been haltered
When I married Maggy Howe!

I've been poor, and vexed, and raggy,
Tried With troubles no that sma';
Them I bore?but marrying Maggy
Laid the cap-stane o' them a'.
Night and day she's ever yelpiag,
With the weans she ne'er can gree;
When she's tired with perfect shelping,
Then she flees like fire on me.

See ye, Mungo! when shell clash on
With her everlasting clack,
Whiles I've had my neive in passion,
Liftet up to break her back !"
" O, for gudesake, keep [ ]ae cuffets ! "
Mango shook his head and said,
" Weel I ken what sort of life it's ;
Ken ye, Watty, how I did ??

After Begs and I were kippled,
Soon she grew like ony bear,
Brak' my shina, and when I tippled,
Harl't out my very hair.
For a wee I quietly knuckled,
But whan naething wad prevail,
Up my claes and cash I buckled,
Bees, for ever fare-ye-weel.

Then her din grew less and less aye,
Haith I gart her change her tune;
Now a better wife than Bessy
Never stept in leather shoon.
Try this, Watty?when you see her
Raying like a roaring flood,
Swear that moment that yell lea' her,?
That's the way to keep her good."

Laughing, sangs, and lasses' skirls,
Echoed now out-through the roof,
" Done !" quo' Pate, and syne his erls
Nailed the Dryster's wauked loof.
In the thrang of stories telling,
Shaking hauna, and ither cheer
swith ! a chap comes on the hallan,
"Mango, is our Watty here ?''

Maggy's weel kent tongue and hurry,
Darted through him like a knifs,
Up the door flew?like a fury
In came Watty's scawling wife.
" Nasty, gude-for-naething being !
O ye snuffy, druoken sow !
Bringing wife and weans to ruin,
Drinking here wi' sic a crew !

Devil nor your legs were broken.
Sic a life nae flesh endures,
Toiling like a slave to sloken
You, ye dyvor, and your whores.
Rise, ye drucken beast o' Bethel,
Drink's your night and day's desire;
Rise, this precious hour, or faith I'll
Fling your whisky i' the fire!"

Watty heard her tongue unhallowed,
Paid his groat wi' little din,
Left the house, while Maggy followed.
Flyting a' the road behin'.
Fowk frae every door came lamping,
Maggy curst them ane and a ;
Clappet wi' her hands, and stamping,
Lost her bauchles i' the sna'.

Hame at length, she turned the gavel
Wi' a face as white's a clouat,
Raging like a very devil,
Kicking stools and chain about.
" Ye'll sit wi' your limmers round you,
Hang yon, sir! I'll be your death;
Little hauds my hands, confound you,
But I'll cleave ye to the teeth."

Watty, wha, 'midst this oratien,
Eyed her whiles, but durstna speak,
Sat like patient Resignation,
Trembling by the ingle cheek.
Sad his wee drap brose he sippet,
Maggy's tongue gaed like a bell,
Quietly to his bed he slippet,
Sighing aften to himsel'.

" Nane are free frae some vexation,
Ilk ane has his ille to dree;
But through a' the hale creation
Is a mortal vext like me ?"
A' night lang he rowt and gaunted,
Sleep or rest he couldna' tak;
Maggy aft wi' horror haunted,
Mum'ling started at his back.

Soon as e'er the morning peepit,
Up rose Watty, waefu' chiel,
Kist his weanies while they sleepit,
Wankened Meg, and sought farewell.
" Farewell, Meg I?and, O! imay Heaven
Keep you aye within his care !
Watty s heart ye've lang been grievin',
Now he'll never fash you mair.

Happy could I been beside you,
Happy, baith at morn and e'en;
A' the ills did e'er betide you,
Watty aye turned out your frion'

But ye ever like to see me
Vext and sighing, late and air:
Farewell, Meg I I've sworn to lea' then,
So thou'll never see me mair."

Meg, a' sabbing, sae to low him,
Sio a change had never wist,
Held his hand close to her besom,
While her heart was like to burst.
" O my Watty, will ye lea' me,
Frien'less, helpless, to despair ?
O! for this ae time forgie me;
Never will I vex you mair."

" Ay ! ye've aft said that, and broken
A' your vows ten times a-week,
No, no, Meg! see, there's a token
Glittering on my bonnet cheek.
Ower the seas I march this morning,
Listed, tested, sworn and a',
Forced by your confounded girning?
Farewell, Meg ! for I'm awa'."

Then poor Maggy's tears and clamour
Gushed afresh, and louder grew,
While the weans, wi' monrnfu' yamour,
Bound their sabbing mother flew.
" Through the yirth I'll wanner wi' yoa-
Stay, O Watty ! stay at hame;
Here, upon my knees, I'll gi'e you
Ony vow ye like to name.

See your poor young lammies pleadiu',
Will ye gang and break our heart ?
No a house to put our head in,
No a friend to take our part."
Ilka word came like a bullet,
Watty's heart begoud to shake;
On a kist he laid his wallet,
Dighted buith his een and spake.

" If ance mair I could by writing,
Lea' the sogers and stay still,
Wad you swear to drap your fly ting?"
" Yes,O Watty, yes, I will."
" Then," quo' Watty, " mind, be honest;
Aye to keep your temper strive;
Gin ye break this dreadfu' promise,
Never mair expect to thrive.

Marget Howe, this hour ye solemn
Swear by every thing that's gude,
Ne'er again your spouse to scal' him,
While life warms your heart and blooe
That ye'll ne'er in Mungo's seek me,
Ne'er put drucken to my name,
Never out at e'ening steek me,
Never gloom when I come hamo.

That yell ne'er, like Bessy Miller,
Kick my shins or rug my hair;
Lastly, I'm to keep the siller;
This upon your saul you swear ?"
" O?h "' quo' Meg.   " A weel," quo' Watt?
" Farewell ! faith I'll try the so[ ]."
"Ostand still," quo Meg, and grat aye. .
" Ony, eny way ye please,"

Maggy syne, because he prest her.
Swore to a' thing owre again:
Watty lap, and danced, and kist her ;
Wow ! but he was wondrous fain.
Down he threw his staff victorious:
Affgaed bonnet, claes, and shoen.
Syne below the blankets, gloriousa,
Held anither Hinney- Moon

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1790-1810   shelfmark: RB.m.143(002)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Watty and Meg, or the Wife Reformed'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland