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|This is also known as The Bannocks o' Barley Meal. According to The Scots Musical Museum this ballad is attributed to John Campbell, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich, "whose uncorrupted patriotism and military talents, justly entitled him to be ranked among the greatest benefactors of his country."* Campbell died on October 4, 1743. The ballad was printed as The Bannocks O' Barley Meal in Herd's Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs (1776). The air is said to be of Gaelic origin.
George Farquhar Graham believed the tune could have been of Irish origin, but as it does not appear in any collection of Irish melodies was more probably a "Scottish imitation of the Irish style."**
There is a further note in the Museum that the song may be older than the period of the aforesaid Campbell. It is is, and the name of Maggie is correct, the Argyle mentioned would be the first Marquis of Argyle, whose wife was Lady Margaret Douglas. The first Marquis was "so very notorious a coward that this song could have been made my nobody but himself, unless to turn him into ridicule."*
The Bannocks O' Barley Meal was printed on several broadsides, including one by J. Catnach of London, printed sometime between 1813 and 1838. A copy of this and others can be found at the Broadside Ballads Online.
A biography of the Duke of Argyle and Greenwich writes, "In private life the Duke's conduct was highly exemplary. He was an affectionate husband and an indulgent master. He seldom parted with his servants till age had rendered them incapable of their employment; and then he made provision for their subsistence. He was liberal to the poor, and particularly to persons of merit in distress."**
Argyle is my name, and you may think it strange,
To live at a Court, yet never to change:
To faction, or tyranny, equally foe;
The good of the land's the sole motive I know.
The foes of my country and King I have faced;
In city or battle I ne'er was disgraced:
I've done what I could for my country's weal;
Now I'll feast upon bannock o' barley-meal.
Ye riots and revels of London, adieu!
And Folly, ye foplings, I leave her to you!
For Scotland I mingled in bustle and strife-
For myself I seek peace and an innocent life:
I'll haste to the Highlands, and visit each scene
With Maggie, my love, in her rocklay o' green;
On the banks o' Glenaray what pleasure I'll feel,
While she shares my bannocks o' barley-meal!
And if chance Maggie should bring me a son,
He shall fight for his King as his father has done;
I'll hang up my sword with an old soldier's pride-
Oh, may he be worthy to wear't on his side!
I pant for the breeze of my loved native place,
I long for the smile of each welcoming face-
I'll aff to the Highlands as fast's I can reel,
And feast upon bannocks o' barley-meal.
From *The Scots Musical Museum and
**The Songs of Scotland (George Farquhar Graham)
See Bibliography for full information.