Songs and Poems about Maxwells and by Maxwells

Lord Maxwells Goodnight is a song about John Maxwell, 2nd Earl of Morton, going into exile after murdering Sir James Johnstone. It is traditionally sung to the tune, "The dowey dens 'o' Yarrow".

Lord Maxwell's Goodnight

'Adieu! madame, my mother dear,
But and my sisters three ;
Adieu! fair Robert of Orchardstone,
My heart is wae for thee.
Adieu ! the lilye and the rose,
The primrose fair to see;
Adieu I my ladye, and only joy,
For I may not stay with thee.

'Though I hae slain Lord Johnstone,
What care I for their feid?
My noble mind their wrath disdains,
He was my father's deid.
Both night and day I labour'd oft
Of him avenged to be;
But now I've got what lang I sought,
And I may not stay with thee.

'Adieu! Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Carlaverock fair;
Adieu! my castle of the Thrieve,
We a' my buildings there;
Adieu! Lochmaben's gates sae fair,
The Langholm-holm where birks there be;
Adieu I my ladye, and only joy,
For, trust me, I must not stay wi' thee.

'Adieu! fair Eskdale up and down,
Where my puir friends do dwell;
The bangisters will ding them down,
And will them sair compell.
But I'll avenge their feid mysel',
When I come o'er the sea;
Adieu! my ladye, and only joy,
For I may not stay wi' thee.

' Lord of the land,' that lady said,
'0 wad ye go wi' me
Unto my brother's stately tower,
Where safest ye may be?
There Hamiltons and Douglas baith
Shall rise to succour thee.'
'Thanks for thy kindness, fair my dame,
But I may not stay wi' thee.'

Then he took aff a gay gold ring,
Thereat hang signets three:
'Hae, tak' thee that, mine ain dear thing,
And still hae mind o' me;
But, if thou take another lord,
Ere I come ower the sea,-
His life is but a three days' lease,
Tho' I may not stay wi' thee.'

The wind was fair, the ship was clear,
That good lord went away;
And most part of his friends were there
To give him a fair convey.
They drank the wine, they didna spar't,
Even in that gude lord's sight.
Sae now he's o'er the floods sae gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta'en his Good night.


John Maxwell of Terraughty was Chief of the Maxwell family from 1777 until his death in 1814 at the grand old age of 94. His 71st birthday occurred on 7th February 1791.

Epistle to John Maxwell, Esq., of Terraughtie
On His Seventy-First Birthday
by Robert Burns.

Health to the Maxwell's vet'ran Chief!
Health ay unsour'd by care or grief!
Inspir'd, I turn'd Fate's sibyl leaf
This natal morn;
I see thy life is stuff o prief,
Scarce quite half-worn.

This day thou metes threescore eleven,
And I can tell that bounteous Heaven
(The second-sight, ye ken, is given
To ilka Poet)
On thee a tack o seven times seven
Will yet bestow it.

If envious buckies view wi sorrow
Thy lengthen'd days thy blest morrow,
May Desolation's lang-teeth'd harrow,
Nine miles an hour,
Rake them, like Sodom and Gomorrah,
In brunstane stoure!

But for thy friends, and they are monie,
Baith honest men and lasses bonie,
May couthie Fortune, kind and cannie
In social glee,
Wi mornings blythe, and e'enings funny,
Bless them and thee!

Fareweel, auld birkie! Lord be near ye,
And then the Deil, he daurna steer ye!
Your friends ay love, your foes ay fear ye!
For me, shame fa' me,
If neist my heart I dinna wear ye,
While Burns they ca' me!


This a poem written by E. Capern, the Poet Postman of Bideford for John Goodman Maxwell of Bydown (1801-1876) on his birthday. John Maxwell was himself an amateur poet and had published a volume of his poems under the title of "Sighs, Smiles and Sketches."

To J. G. Maxwell Esq., the Bard of Bydown.
by E. Capern

Thou'st turned three score and three, Jockie,
Thy lease is nearly out,
Yet thou'rt as green as youth, Jockie,
And full of song and shout.

'Tis true thy beard is grey, Jockie,
That erst was golden bright,
But thou art quick to hear, Jockie,
And hawk-keen is thy sight.

I never met thee yet, Jockie,
By burnie brae or stile,
Or by our own hearthstones, Jockie,
But thou wert like a smile.

And I have often thought, Jockie,-
Heaven knows it is no lie,-
That if I had the power, Jockie,
I'd never let thee die.

I'd keep thee just to show, Jockie,
What men were like of yore,
And as a pattern lad, Jockie,
For mankind evermore.

Indeed to tell the truth, Jockie,
If e'er death comes this way,
And make a halt for thee, Jockie,
Fate ought to thunder, "Nay."

There's many a wretched loon, Jockie,
Unworthy book and bell,
That earth would never miss, Jockie,
Would serve his turn as well:-

Just let him call on them, Jockie,
And take them one by one;
He'd have enough to do, Jockie,
Till doomsday's self were done:-

And if he ever dared, Jockie,
To weil thy radiant face,
I'd banish him from aye, Jockie,
Without the hope of grace.

Now God forgive my sin, Jockie,
If I have writ aught wrong:
But faith, 'tis what I feel, Jockie,
My heart is in my song