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The Highlandmen Came Down the Hill
January 1746

The Highlandmen came down the hill,
And owre the knowe wi' right gude will;
Now Geordie's men may brag their fill,
For wow but they were braw, man!
They had three gen'rals o' the best,
Wi' lairds, and lords, and a' the rest,
Chiels that were bred to stand the test,
And couldna rin awa, man.

The Highlandmen are savage loons,
Wi' barkit houghs and burly crowns;
They canna stand the thunder-stoun's
Of heroes bred wi' care man -
Of men that are their country's stay,
These Whiggish braggarts of a day.
The Highlandmen came down the brae,
The heroes were not there, man.

Says brave Lochiel, "Pray, have we won?
"I see no troop, I hear no gun."
Says Drummond, "Faith, the battle's done,
"I know not how nor why, man
"But, my good lords, this thing I crave,
"Have we defeat these heroes brave?"
Says Murray, "I believe we have:
"If not, we're here to try, man."

But tried they up, or tried they down,
There was no foe in Falkirk town,
Nor yet in a' the country roun',
To break a sword at a', man.
They were sae bauld at break o' day,
When tow'rd the west they took their way;
But the Highlandmen came down the brae,
And made the dogs to blaw, man.

A tyke is but a tyke at best,
A coward ne'er will stand the test,
And Whigs at morn wha cock'd the crest,
O e'en hae got a fa', man.
O wae befa' these northern lads,
Wi' their braid swords and white cockades!
They lend sic hard and heavy blads,
Our Whigs nae mair can craw, man.

* see note, below

"Few, but brave, the clansmen were,
"Bonny laddie, Highland laddie
"But heavenly mercy was not there,
"My bonny laddie, Highland laddie.
"Posterity will ne'er us blame,
"Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
"But brand with blood the Brunswick name,
"My bonny laddie, Highland laddie.

"Can it prove for Scotland's good,
"Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
"Thus to drench our glens with blood,
"My bonny laddie, Highland laddie?
"Duke William nam'd, or yonder muir,
"Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
"Will fire our blood for evermore,
"My bonny laddie, Highland laddie."

Editor's NotesThough it is often difficult to identify for which occasion a song was written, it is fairly certain that this one was composed just following the Battle of Falkirk, which took place on January 17, 1746, but before the Jacobite army's demoralizing march north, on February 1st.  "Geordie's men" refers to the Hanoverian troops.  Hanoverian General Hawley's "much vaunted" regular troops fled before the Jacobite charge that day, but unfortunately for Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces the clan chiefs were unable to rally their men to pursue the enemy.  This is why Lochiel is cited with the comment, on line 17, "pray, have we won?"

* It has been suggested that the last 2 verses are interpolated from a late version of "Highland Laddie."  In the earliest version (Bothy Ballads, 1783), the words include only the first five verses.  This seems to indicate that the original version may be from the time of the '45, whereas the last 2 verses are obviously post-45.  Additionally, anyone trying to sing this will quickly find the last two verses do not scan using the air of the "Highlandmen," whereas they do scan well to the tune of "Highland Laddie."