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Lyr Add: Captain Paton No Mo'e

Jim Dixon 11 Dec 08 - 09:31 AM
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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 09:31 AM

For Sandy Paton.

From Scottish Song: Its Wealth, Wisdom, and Social Significance by John Stuart Blackie (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1889), pages 288-292:


Perhaps the most delicately touched sketch of character in the whole range of Scottish poetry, is "The Lament of Captain Paton," by John Gibson Lockhart, the distinguished son-in-law and biographer of Sir Walter Scott. Though not specially a song-writer, Mr Lockhart's classical translations from the Spanish ballads display an amount of lyrical talent which, had he lived some centuries earlier in the days of the minstrels, instead of in the age of Quarterly Reviews, would have given him a high place in the fellowship of Thomas the Rhymer, and the royal author of "Peblis to the Play:"—


Touch once more a sober measure,
  And let punch and tears be shed,
For a prince of good old fellows
  That, alack-a-day! is dead:
For a prince of worthy fellows,
  And a pretty man also,
That has left the Saltmarket
  In sorrow, grief, and woe.
    Oh! we ne'er shall see the like of
      Captain Paton no mo'e!

His waistcoat, coat, and breeches,
  Were all cut off the same web,
Of a beautiful snuff colour,
  Or a modest genty drab.
The blue stripe in his stocking,
  Round his neat slim leg did go;
And his ruffles of the cambric fine,
  They were whiter than the snow.
    Oh! &c.

His hair was curl'd in order,
  At the rising of the sun,
In comely rows and buckles smart,
  That about his ears did run.
And before there was a toupee
  That some inches up did go;
And behind there was a long queue,
  That did o'er his shoulders flow.
    Oh! &c.

And whenever we forgather'd,
  He took off his wee three-cockit,
And he proffer'd you his snuff-box,
  Which he drew from his side pocket;
And on Burdett or Bonaparte
  He would make a remark or so,
And then along the plainstanes
  Like a provost he would go.
    Oh! &c.

In dirty days he picked well
  His footsteps with his rattan;
Oh! you ne'er could see the least speck
  On the shoes of Captain Paton!
And on entering the coffee-room
  About two, all men did know
They would see him with his 'Courier'
  In the middle of the row.
    Oh! &c.

Now and then upon a Sunday,
  He invited me to dine
On a herring and a mutton-chop,
  Which his maid dress'd very fine.
There was also a little Malmsey
  And a bottle of Bordeaux,
Which between me and the Captain
  Passed nimbly to and fro.
    Oh! &c.

Or if a bowl was mention'd,
  The Captain he would ring,
And bid Nelly to the West-Port,
  And a stoup of water bring.
Then would he mix the genuine stuff,
  As they made it long ago,
With limes that on his property
  In Trinidad did grow.
    Oh! &c.

And then all the time he would discourse
  So sensible and courteous,
Perhaps talking of the last sermon
  He had heard from Dr Porteous;
Or some little bit of scandal
  Of Mrs So-and-so,
Which he scarce could credit, having heard
  The con, but not the pro.
    Oh! &c.

Or when the candles were brought forth,
  And the night was (fairly) setting in,
He would tell some fine old stories
  About Minden-field or Dettingen;
How he fought with a French major,
  And despatched him at a blow,
While his blood ran out like water
  On the soft grass below.
    Oh! &c.

But at last the Captain sicken'd,
  And grew worse from day to day,
And all miss'd him in the coffee-room,
  From which now he stay'd away.
On Sabbaths, too, the Wynd Kirk
  Made a melancholy show,
All for wanting of the presence
  Of our venerable beau.
    Oh! &c.

And in spite of all that Cleghorn
  And Corkindale could do.
It was plain, from twenty symptoms,
  That death was in his view.
So the Captain made his testament,
  And submitted to his foe,
And we laid him by the Ram's-horn Kirk;
  'Tis the way we all must go.
    Oh! &c.

Join all in chorus, jolly boys,
  And let punch and tears be shed,
For this prince of good old fellows,
  That, alack-a-day! is dead:
For this prince of worthy fellows,
  And a pretty man also,
That has left the Saltmarket
  In sorrow, grief, and woe!
    Oh! &c.

By kind permission of J. Muir Wood, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, from the Balmoral Edition of Scottish Songs, Glasgow, 1887, p. 374.


[A footnote on page 160 of the same book:]

See Rogers's Scottish Minstrel, p. 239, where also will be found the humorously descriptive song, "Captain Paton no mo'e," that originally appeared in 'Blackwood's Magazine.'

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