Johnnie Cope

Traditional

Audio

This example of "Johnnie Cope" is performed by Alex Sutherland and His 
Cronies on their CD "Auld an' New"

Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Background notes

This song celebrates the Battle of Prestonpans (Sept 21, 1745) where General Cope of the Government force got his reputation for being the ultimate coward: he had fled in great haste after a surprise attack by the Jacobites, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, and was the first to arrive safely at Berwick. It was said that 'he was the first general in Europe who had brought the first tidings of his own defeat.' The words are by Adam Skirving (1719-1803), a farmer from Haddingtonshire in Lothian.

Cope sent a challenge frae Dunbar, saying, "Chairlie meet me, gin ye dar',
I'll learn ye the art o' war if ye meet me in the mornin'."
Chairlie looked the letter upon, he drew his sword its scabbard from.
"Follow me, my merry men, and we'll meet Johnnie Cope in the mornin'."

     Hey, Johnnie Cope are ye waukin' yet, are a' yer drums a'beatin' yet?
     If ye were waukin' I would wait tae gang tae the coals in the mornin'.   

"Noo Johnnie be as good as yer word, and let us meet wi' fire and sword.
Dinna flee awa' like a frichted bird that's chased frae its nest in the mornin'.
When Johnnie Cope he heard a' this, he thocht tae himself it widnae be amiss
To saddle a horse in readiness to flee awa' in the mornin'.

C'mon now Johnnie get up and rin, the hieland bagpipes mak' a din.
It's better tae sleep wi' a hale skin, it'll be a bloody mornin'.
When Johnnie Cope to Dunbar came, they speired at him, "Where's a' yer men?"
"The de'il confound me, ah dinnae ken! I Left them a' this mornin'.

"Noo, Johnnie, troth, ye were sae blate tae leave yer men in sic a state,
And come wi' the news o' yer ain defeat sae early in the mornin'."
"In faith!" quo Johnnie, "I got sic flegs for their claymores and filabegs
If I see them again they'll brak' my legs, so I wish ye's a' Good Mornin'."