Burns writes to Thomson (1793), "There is a third tune, and what Oswald calls 'The Old Highland Laddie,' which pleases me more than either of them; it is sometimes called 'Jinglin' Johnie,' that being the air of an old humorous bawdy song of that name - you will find it in the Museum."
In the Genriddel MS. he says: "The 'Highland Laddie' is an excellent but somewhat licentious song beginning, 'As I cam' o'er the Cairney Mount.'"
O my bonnie, bonnie Highland lad,
My handsome, charming Highland laddie;
When I am sick and like to die,
He'll row me in his Highland plaidie.
With me he play'd his warlike pranks,
And on me boldly did adventure,
He did attack me on both flanks,
And pushed me fiercely in the centre.
A furious battle then began,
Wi' equal courage and desire,
Altho' he struck me three to one,
I stood my ground and receiv'd his fire.
But our ammunition being spent,
And we quite out o' breath an' sweating,
We did agree with ae consent,
To fight it out at the next meeting.
Image from Glen Collection Of Printed Music - Illustrations Of The Lyric Poetry And Music Of Scotland, Page 409/410.
The first stanza of this song is old, the second stanza was written by Burns, and Johnson, accordingly, marked it with the letter Z, to shew that it was an old song with additions or alterations. The words are adapted to an air taken from Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion, book i, page 12th, entitled " The Highland Lassie."
In the Reliques, Burns says, " Another Highland Laddie is also in the Museum, vol. v. which I take to be Ramsay's original, as he has borrowed the chorus 'my bonnie High- land lad, etc.' It consists of three stanzas, besides the chorus, and has humour in its composition; - it is an excellent, but somewhat licentious, song. It begins.
This air, and the common Highland Laddie seem only to be different sets. Our bard, however, was mistaken in supposing the air of this song to be Ramsay's original Highland Laddie. The Highland Laddie, to which Ramsay's words and the old chorus are adapted, is printed in The Orpheus Caledonius, 1725. It consists of one simple strain, as has been mentioned in a former part of this work, and is now annexed.