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Johnie Cope

Sir John Cope trode the north right far, Yet ne'er a rebel he cam naur, Until he landed at Dunbar Right early in a morning. Hey Johnie Cope are ye wauking yet, Or are ye sleeping I would wit; O haste ye get up for the drums do beat, O fye Cope rise in the morning. He wrote a challenge from Dunbar, Come fight me Charlie an ye daur; If it be not by the chance of war I'll give you a merry morning. When Charlie look'd the letter upon He drew his sword the scabbard from So Heaven restore to me my own, 'I'll meet you, Cope, in the morning.' Cope swore with many a bloody word That he would fight them gun and sword, But he fled frae his nest like an ill scar'd bird, And Johnie he took wing in the morning. It was upon an afternoon, Sir Johnie march'd to Preston town; He says, my lads come lean you down, And we'll fight the boys in the morning. But when he saw the Highland lads Wi' tartan trews and white cockauds, Wi' swords and guns and rungs and gauds, O Johnie he took wing in the morning. On the morrow when he did rise, He look'd between him and the skies; He saw them wi' their naked thighs, Which fear'd him in the morning. On then he flew into Dunbar, Crying for a man of war; He thought to have pass'd for a rustic tar, And gotten awa in the morning. Sir Johnie into Berwick rade, Just as the devil had been his guide; Gien him the warld he would na stay'd To foughten the boys in the morning. Says the Berwickers unto Sir John, O what's become of all your men, In faith, says he, I dinna ken, I left them a' this morning. Says Lord Mark Car, ye are na blate, To bring us the news o' your ain defeat; I think you deserve the back o' the gate, Get out o' my sight this morning. Hey Johnie Cope are ye wauking yet, Or are ye sleeping I would wit; O haste ye get up for the drums do beat, O fye Cope rise in the morning.


Alison Peebles

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1790 and is read here by Alison Peebles.

Themes for this song

jacobitism war

Locations for this song


Selected for 21 September

The first significant battle of the '45 Rebellion resulted in a victory for the Jacobites. After a fearsome Highland charge at Prestonpans the government forces under Sir John Cope were scattered. This morale-raising triumph for Bonnie Prince Charlie soon became the stuff of legend. But defeat at Culloden in 1746 brought to a disastrous end the campaign begun on September 21st the previous year. Here Burns makes the hapless Cope something of a figure of fun.

Donny O'Rourke

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