“The Flowers of Edinburgh” appears in Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1742, but cannot be traced in any earlier musical collection. It became a fashionable hornpipe about 1740, and was called “The Flowers of Edinburgh,” in compliment, it is supposed, to the young ladies of the Scottish capital who were then attending the dancing schools. About the same time the following words were written to the tune.
He was the flower of a’ his kin,
The absence of his bonnie face
Has rent my tender heart in twain.
I day or night find no delight;
In silent tears I still complain;
And exclaim ‘gainst those my rival foes,
That ha’e ta’en from me my darling swain.
Despair and anguish fill my breast,
Since I have lost my blooming rose;
I sigh and moan while others rest;
His absence yields me no repose.
To seek my love I’ll range and rove,
Through every grove and distant plain;
Thus I’ll ne’er cease, but spend my days,
To hear tidings from my darling swain.
There’s naething strange in nature’s change,
Since parents show such cruelty;
They caused my love from me to range,
And know not to what destiny.
The pretty kids and tender lambs
May cease to sport upon the plain;
But I’ll mourn and lament in deep discontent
For the absence of my darling swain.
Kind Neptune, let me thee entreat,
To send a fair and pleasant gale;
Ye dolphins sweet, upon me wait,
And convey me upon your tail;
Heaven bless my voyage with success,
While crossing of the raging main,
And send me safe o’er to a distant shore,
To meet my lovely darling swain.
All joy and mirth at our return
Shall then abound from Tweed to Tay;
The bells shall ring and sweet birds sing,
To grace and crown our nuptial day.
Thus bless’d wi’ charms in my love’s arms,
My heart once more I will regain;
Then I’ll range no more to a distant shore,
But in love will enjoy my darling swain.