The " Castle of Montgomery" referred to in this beautiful
effusion was that of Collsfield, near Tarbolton. Mary
Campbell lived in that house as dairymaid. Though not a
beauty, she possessed a sweet temper and an obliging disposi-
tion, while her mental qualifications were of a high order.
" After a pretty long tract of the most ardent reciprocal
attachment, we met, says Burns, by appointment, on the
second Sabbath of May, in a sequestrated spot, by the banks
of the Ayr, where we spent a day in taking a farewell before
she should embark for the West Highlands to arrange matters
with her friends for a projected change of life." " This adieu,"
says an admirer of Burns, " was performed with all those
simple and striking ceremonies which rustic sentiment has
devised to prolong tender emotions, and to inspire awe.
The lovers stood on each side of a small purling brook ; they
laved their hands in its limped stream, and, holding a Bible
between them, pronounced their vows to be faithful to each
other." At the close of the following autumn Mary crossed
the sea to meet " the poet" at Greenock. Soon after getting
on shore she was seized with a malignant fever, which carried
her off before Burns could arrive to bid her a last farewell.
The remains of " Highland Mary" repose in the West
Churchyard of Greenock.
Ye banks and braes and streams around
The Castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie !
There simmer first unfolds her robes,
An' there they longest tarry;
For there I took the last fareweel
O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade
I clasp'd her to my bosom !
The golden hours, on angel wings,
Flew o'er me and my deary;
For dear to me as light and life
Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
Our parting was fu' tender;
An', pledging aft to meet again,
We tore oursel's asunder;
But, Oh ! fell Death's untimely frost,
That nipt my flower sae early !
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay
That wraps my Highland Mary.
Now cauld and pale, those rosy lips
I aft ha'e kissed fu' fondly !
An' closed for aye the sparkling eye
That looked on me sae kindly ;
An' mouldering now in silent dust
The heart that lo'ed me dearly !
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.
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Probable period of publication:
1880-1900 shelfmark: RB.m.143(029)
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