Volume III, song 234, pages 242 and 243 - 'Johnie Cope' -...
Volume III, song 234, pages 242 and 243 - 'Johnie Cope' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: '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.'
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
Sir John Cope was the Commander assigned to the Government forces at the Battle of Prestonpans, fought in 1745. He was routed by the Jacobite army and thereafter his hasty and disorderly retreat was the butt of many jokes. Burns recorded a short note on this piece in his commentary on the 'Museum', 'The air was the tune of an old song, of which I have heard some verses, but now only remember the title, which was 'Will ye go to the coals in the morning''. The verses are also now attributed to the Haddingtonshire farmer Adam Skirving. He penned two derisive verses on General Cope's defeat, the other being 'The ballad of Tranent Muir' (song 102).