View Full Version : Bonnie Mary of Argyle

08-18-2011, 09:23 AM
Robert Burns the national poet of Scotland wrote the words for this song in
tribute to Mary Campbell who was one of his lady friends, and he had many.

She was also known as "Highland Mary". In her early 'teens, she went to Ayrshire
and became a nursemaid in Gavin Hamilton's house in Mauchline, and this is probably
where Burns met her.

The firm facts of her early life are sketchy enough; but the facts of her relationship
with Burns are even more sketchy. According to Burns's mother, and his sister, Isabella,
Burns turned seriously to Mary Campbell after he had been 'deserted' by Jean Armour.

Burns wrote another song "The Highland lassie o" and he commented on it thus:
'This was a composition of mine in very early life, before I was known at all in the world.
My Highland lassie was a warm-hearted charming young creature as ever blessed a man
with generous love. After a pretty long tract of the most ardent reciprocal attachment
we met by appointment, on the second Sunday of May, in a sequestered spot by the
Banks of Ayr, where we spent the day in taking farewell, before she should embark
for the West Highlands to arrange matters among her friends for our projected change of life.
At the close of Autumn following she crossed the sea to meet me at Greenock, where she
had scarce landed when she was seized with a malignant fever, which hurried my dear girl
to the grave in a few days, before I could even hear of her illness.'

She tragically died at only 23 years old. Rabbie had planned to whisk her off to Jamaica
in 1786 but she passed away before the voyage.

So here we have a man deserted by one woman Jean Armour, and just as he is about
to start a new life in the new world Mary Campbell his new love dies.
He never went to Jamaica and stayed in Scotland.

It is the stuff that makes a poet.

The tune was written by two Englishmen Charles Jeffries and Sidney Nelson in 1850.