Dark Bonnymuir

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Broadside ballad, 1830s (republished in Forward, 1912).

There was widespread industrial unrest in Scotland in 1820, partly due to an economic downturn, and several figures plotted an insurrection. These militants were defeated at the Battle of Bonnymuir and the supposed ringleaders (Andrew Hardie, James Wilson and John Baird) were executed. This song commemorates Baird and Hardie and portrays them as Scottish liberators. Further commentary on this song’s publication history can be found in our anthology.

Recorded by Adam McNaughtan.

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As evening dashed on the western ocean,
Caledonia stood perched on the waves of the Clyde ;
Her arms wide extended she raised with devotion,
‘My poor bleeding country’ she vehemently cried,
Arise up my country and hail reformation;
Arise and demand now the rights of our nation.
Behold your oppressers shall meet the desolation;
That marked the brave victims at dark Bonnymuir.

On the 5th of April, eighteen hundred and twenty,
The great Baird and Hardie did march from their home,
To guard their freedom, homes, rights,  peace and plenty,
But tyranny conquered and gave them a tomb.
Like trailors they died on the 8th of September,
In the cold silent grave they were consigned to slumber,
But heaven will avenge them let tyrants remember,
And raise up new heroes on Dark Bonnymuir.

Though freedom has bled on the field sorely wounded,
Shall liberty perish and die in its bloom?
Shall tyranny triumph though freedom has grounded?
The arms of the hero’s that lie ill in the tomb.
But freedom shall rise to the greatest perfection,
Avenging her wrongs with hard words of correction;
When on my country with filial affection,
I sigh for the martyrs of Dark Bonnymuir.

How long shall tyrants usurp over freedom,
How long shall we groan in their vile servile chains?
Arise up my children & sink them like Sodom!
E’er sad desolation reigns over the plains.
Oh, muse on the day when great Wallace was rearing
The broad sword of Scotland, when tyrants were fearing
At the sound of the trumpet were thousands appearing,
To die, or to conquer on Dark Bonnymuir.

Those dear sons of freedom prosperity shall never,
Forget Baird and Hardie, who would them disown?
In the breast of the country their memory shall ever,
Be a monument more lasting than sculptured stone.
Remembrance shall dwell on their tragical story,
But heaven shall reward them with bright shining glory,
In regions far distant from Dark Bonnymuir.

But why should I pass that great patriot Wilson.
Who died by oppressive and arbitrary laws;
He left his dear Straven, with a band of brave heroes,
Resolved to have justice, or die for the cause.
But alas! he was taken, while fate seemed to waver,
All bloody his head they did cruelly sever.
But the heart of the country shall reverence for ever;
The fate of great Wilson, and dark Bonnymuir.

No longer the enemies of justice and freedom,
Shall make the sons of Scotia, in poverty to mourn,
Our noble patriotic Reformers shall free them
Oh, how shall we make them a grateful return?
Mechanics shall prosper, and commerce shall flourish,
The horn of plenty our country shall nourish,
When the tyrant and all despots shall perish,
With persecuted freedom on dark Bonnymuir.