1723
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jenny and Meggy. A Pastoral.

Jenny and Meggy. A Pastoral, being a Sequel to Patie and Roger. By Allan Ramsay.

Allan Ramsay


A pastoral dialogue later incorporated into The Gentle Shepherd (1724) as the second scene. Jenny and Meggy (afterwards Peggy) discourse frankly on love and marriage. Jenny, who cares little for her Roger, opines that the men are best left alone: "They're Fools wha Slavery like, that can live free, | The Cheils may a' knit up themsel'es for me" p. 6. For her part, Meggy is all for courtship, marriage, children, housekeeping, and growing old gracefully together. In the face of Meggy's winning portrait of a happy life, Jenny eventually concedes. While Allan Ramsay made many stylistic changes, the dialogue was incorporated into the play with very few additions; it seems not unlikely that it was in fact taken from a manuscript of the play.

James Gray: "Nature had denied him the sublimity that elevates the mind, or the pathos that melts it into sorrow, but she had endowed him with an acuteness of observation, that enabled him to execute a faithful portraiture of the pastoral manners of Scotland, and a correctness of taste that led him to seize their most beautiful and interesting features. The likeness is withal so striking, and the colouring so fresh and vivid, and so obviously laid on by Nature's own pencil, that while we look upon it, we feel a conviction that the whole is as much the growth of Scotland, as the rose of her rocks, or the thistle of her mountains. It is general Nature modified by the peculiar habits of the pastoral hills and valleys of Scotland, and the actions and the language of Ramsay's shepherds have an individuality that cannot be mistaken" Poems of Robert Fergusson (1821) xix.

Richard Foster Jones: "By pleasing description of Scotch landscapes, by skillful use of Scotch dialect, and by the introduction of artless but not crude characters, Ramsay won an immediate success. Though following the form and utilizing some of the devices of the Latin Bucolics, the author is so convincing that by some he has been proclaimed the greatest of modern pastoralists. But to our purpose the most interesting thing about these eclogues [Patie and Roger, and Jenny and Maggie] is the expansion in 1724 into the pastoral drama The Gentle Shepherd of which they form the first and second scenes. This furnishes convincing truth of the essentially dramatic character of the eclogues, revealed especially in the use made of the opening descriptive lines of the eclogues, which must have been omitted, had not Ramsay reduced them to smaller type and placed them at the beginning of the scene where they exactly perform the service of stage directions in the drama" "Eclogue Types in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century" JEGP 24 (1925) 51.



JENNY.
Come, Meg, let's fa' to Wark upo' this Green,
The shining Day will bleech our Linnen clean;
The Water's clear, the Lift unclouded blew
Will make them, like a Lilly, wet with Dew.

MEGGY.
Go farer up the Burn, to Habbie's How,
Where a' the sweet in Spring and Summer grow;
And, 'tween twa Birks, out o'er the little Lin,
The Water fa's, and makes a singing Din:
A Pool Breast deep, beneath as clear as Glass,
Kisses with easy Whirles the Bordering Grass.
We'll end our Washing while the Morning's cool;
And, when the Day grows het, we'll to the Pool,
There wash our sells: — 'tis healthfou' now in May,
And unco cauler on sae warm a Day.

JENNY.
Daft Lassie, when we're naked, what'll ye say,
Gif our twa Herds come brattling down the Brae,
And see us sae? — That jeering Follow Pate,
Wad taunting say, Haith Lasses, ye're no blate.

MEGGY.
We're far frae ony Road and out of Sight,
And for the Lads, they'll no be hame till Night,
They feed this Day a Mile beyont the Height.
But tell me now, dear Jenny, we're our lane,
What gars ye plague your Woer with Disdain.
The Neighbours a' tent this as well as I,
That Roger loes you, yet ye care na by.
What ails ye at him; trowth atween us twa,
He's wordy you the best Day e'er ye saw.

JENNY.
I dinna like him, Meggy, there's an End,
A Herd mair sheepish, yet I never kend.
He kames his Hair indeed, and gaes right snug,
With Ribbon Knots at his blew Bonnet Lug,
Whilk pensily he wears a thought a jee,
And spreads his Garters dic'd beneath his Knee.
He falds his Owrlay down his Breast with Care;
And few gangs nicer to the Kirk or Fair:
For a' that he can neither sing nor say,
Except, How d'ye, — or, There's a bonny Day.—

MEGGY.
Ye dash the Lad with constant slighting Pride;
Hatred for Love is unco sair to bide:
But ye'll repent ye, if his Love grow cauld.—
What like's a dorty Maiden when she's auld?
Like dawted Wean, that tarras at its meat,
That for some feckless Whim will orp and greet;
The lave laugh at it till the Dinner's past;
And syne the Fool Thing is oblig'd to fast,
Or scart anither's Leavings at the last.

JENNY.
If Roger is my Jo, he kens himsel;
For sick a Tale I never heard him tell.
He glowrs and sighs, and I can guess the Cause;
But wha's oblig'd to spell his Hums and Haws.
When e'er he likes to tell his Mind mair plain,
I'se tell him frankly ne'er to do't again.
They're Fools wha Slavery like, that can live free,
The Cheils may a' knit up themsel'es for me.

MEGGY.
Be doing your Ways: — For me I have a Mind,
To be as yielding as my Patie's kind.

JENNY.
Heh Lass! how can ye loo that Rattle-Scull,
A very Deel, that ay maun hae his Will.
We'll soon here tell what a poor feighting Life,
You twa will drive sa soon's ye're Man and Wife.

MEGGY.
I'll rin the Risk; nor hae I ony Fear,
But rather think ilk langsome Day a Year.
'Till I with Pleasure mount my Bridal Bed;
Where on my Patie's Breast, I'll lean my Head;
There we may kiss, as lang as Kissing's good;
And what we do, there's nane dare call it rude.
He's get his Will: Why no? 'Tis good my Part,
To give him that, and he'll gi' me his Heart.

JENNY.
He may indeed, for ten or fifteen Days,
Mak mikle o' ye, with an unco' Fraise;
And dawt ye baith afore Fowk and ye'r lane:
But soon as his Newfangleness is gane—
He'll look upon ye as his Tether-stake,
And think he's tint his Freedom for your Sake.
Instead then of lang Days of sweet Delyte,
Ae Day be dumb, and a' the neist he'll flyt:
And may be, in his Barlyhoods ne'er stick
To lend his loving Wife a lound'ring Lick.

MEGGY.
Sic course-spun Thoughts as thae want Pith to move
My settl'd Mind, — I'm o'er far gane in Love;
Patie to me is dearer than my Breath;
But want of him I dread nae ither Skaith.
There's nane of a' the Shepherds tread the Green
Has sic a Smile, and sic twa glancing Een.
How blythly can he sport, and gently rave,
And jest at little Things that fright the lave;
In a' he says or does, there's sic a Gate,
The rest seem Coofs compar'd with my dear Pate;
His better Sense will lang his Love secure,
Contention's heff in Sauls are weak and poor.

JENNY.
Hey! bonny Lass of Branksome, or't be lang
Your witty Pate will put you in a Sang:
O 'tis a pleasant Thing to be a Bride,
And whindging Gets about your Ingle-side,
Yelping for this or that, with fashous Din,
To mak them Brats, then ye maun toil and spin.
Ae Wean faws sick, ane scads himsell wi' Broo,
Ane breaks his Shin, anither tines his Shoe:
The Deel gaes o'er John Webster: — Hame grows Hell,
When Pate miscaws ye war than Tongue can tell.

MEGGY.
Yes 'tis a heartsome Thing to be a Wife,
When round the Ingle-edge young Sprouts are rife;
Gin I'm sae happy I shall have Delight
To hear their little Plaints, and keep them right.
Say, Jenny, Can there greater Pleasure be,
Than see sic wee Tots toolying at your Knee,
When a' they ettle at — their greatest Wish,
Is to be made of, and obtain a Kiss?
Can there be Toil in tenting Day and Night
The like of them, when Love makes Care Delight?

JENNY.
But Poortith, Meggy, is the warst of a',
If o'er your Heads ill Chance shou'd Beggary draw;
There's little Love, or canty Chear can come,
Frae dudy Jackets, or a Pantry toom:
Your Nowt may die — the Speat may bear away
Frae aff the Howms your dainty Rucks of Hay,
The feeding Wreaths of Snaw, or blashy Thows
May sometimes smoor, an aften rot your Ews.
A Dyver buys your Butter, Woo and Cheese,
But, or the Day of Payment, breaks and flies:
With gloomin Brow the Laird seeks in his Rent,
Its no to gi'e, your Merchant's to the Bent;
His Honour manna want, he poonds your Gear,
Syne driven frae House and Hald, where will ye steer?
Dear Meg be wise, and live a single Life,
Trouth its nae Mows to be a married Wife.

MEGGY.
May sic ill Luck befa' that silly she,
Wha has these Fears; for that was never me;
Let Fowk bode well, and strive to do their best,
Nae mair's requir'd, let Heaven mak out the rest.
I've heard my honest Father aften say,
That Lads shou'd a' for Wives that's verteous pray;
For the maist thrifty Man cou'd never get
A well stor'd Room, unless his Wife wad let:
Wherefore nought shall be wanting on my Part
To gather Wealth, to raise my Shepherd's Heart.
Whate'er he wins, I'll guide with cautious Care,
And win the Vogue at Market, Tron and Fair,
For healsome, clean, cheap and sufficient Ware.
A Flock of Lambs, Cheese, Butter, and some Woo
Shall first be sald, to pay the Laird his Due,
Syne a' behind's our ain, — Thus without Fear,
With Love and Rowth we throw the Warld will steer:
And when my Pate in Bairns and Gear grows rife,
He'll bless the Day he gat me for his Wife.

JENNY.
But what if some young Beauty on the Green,
With dimpl'd Cheeks, and twa bewitching Een,
Shou'd gar your Patie think his haf worn Meg
And her kend Kisses hardly worth a Feg.

MEGGY.
Nae mair of that — dear Jenny, to be free,
Men are more constant aft in Love than we;
Nor do I thank them for't: Nature more kind
Has blest them with a Hardiness of Mind;
And whensoe'er they slight their Mates at hame,
Its ten to ane the Wives are maist to blame.
Then I'll employ with Pleasure a' my Art
To keep him chearfu' and secure his Heart.
At E'en when he comes weary frae the Hill,
I'll have a' Things made ready to his Will.
In Winter, when he toils throu' Wind and Rain,
A bleezing Ingle, and a clean Hearth-stane:
And soon as he flings by his Plaid and Staff,
The seething Pot's be ready to tak aff.
Clean Hagabag I'll spread upon his Boord,
And serve him with the best we can afford.
Good Humour and whyt Bigonets shall be
Guards to my Face, to keep his Love for me.

JENNY.
A Dish of married Love right soon grows cauld,
And dosens down to nane as Fowk grow auld.

MEGGY.
But we'll grow auld togither, and ne'er find
The Want of Youth, when Love lyes in the Mind.
Bairns and their Bairns make sure a firmer Tye
Than ought in Love e'er kend to you and I;
See yon twa Elms that grow up Side by Side,
Suppose them some Years syne Bridegroom and Bride,
Nearer and nearer ilka Year they've prest,
Till wide their spreading Branches are increast,
And in their Mixture now are fully blest.

JENNY.
I've done, — I yield, dear Lassie I maun yield,
Your better Sense has fairly won the Field,
With the Assistance of a little Fae
Lyes darn'd within my Breast this mony a Day.

MEGGY.
Alake! poor Prisoner! Jenny, that's unfair
That ye'll no let the wee Thing take the Air;
Hast let him out, we'll tent as well's we can
If he be Bauldy's or poor Roger's Man.

JENNY.
Anither time's as good, — for see the Sun
Is right far up, — and we're no yet begun
To freath the Graith — if canker'd Madge our Aunt
Come up the Burn, she'll gie's a winsome Rant.
But when we've done, I'll tell ye a' my Mind,
For this I find nae Lass can be unkind.

[pp. 3-12]