“MacPherson's Rant”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Ord)
Keywords: punishment execution betrayal outlaw
Found in: Britain(Scotland)


"I've spent my time in rioting, Debauch'd my health and strength... But now, alas! at length, I'm brought to punishment direct." MacPherson laments that he is to be hanged, blames the Laird of Grant and Peter Brown, and tells people to live well


Often treated (e.g. by Roud) as a variant of the now-better-known "MacPherson's Lament," the two have so little in common that it seems certain that the two are separate. There is, at the very least, a great deal of editing (by Burns?) separating the two.

This piece, which can be told from the other by the first line in the description, is much poorer poetry; nonetheless, it is generally held to be older. I doubt it's traditional by origin; it reads like a moralizing broadside. - RBW

Historical references

Cross references


  1. Ord, pp. 444-445, "M'Pherson's Farewell" (1 text)
  2. BBI, ZN1339, "I spent my time in rioting, debauch'd my health and stength" (?)
  3. Roud #2160
  4. BI, Ord444