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THE DEIL'S AWA' WI' THE EXCISEMAN
Robert Burns


The deil cam fiddlin' thro' the town,
And danc'd awa wi' th' Exciseman,
And ilka wife cries, "Auld Mahoun,
I wish you luck o' the prize, man."
Chorus-The deil's awa, the deil's awa,
The deil's awa wi' the Exciseman,
He's danc'd awa, he's danc'd awa,
He's danc'd awa wi' the Exciseman.

We'll mak our maut, and we'll brew our drink,
We'll laugh, sing, and rejoice, man,
And mony braw thanks to the meikle black deil,
That danc'd awa wi' th' Exciseman.
The deil's awa, &c.

There's threesome reels, there's foursome reels,
There's hornpipes and strathspeys, man,
But the ae best dance ere came to the land
Was-the deil's awa wi' the Exciseman.
The deil's awa, &c.
Footnote : Robert Burns wrote this rollocking song for one of Collector John Mitchell's Excise Court dinners as he confirmed in a letter to John Leven, an Edinburgh General Supervisor, in March 1792. However John Gibson Lockhart gave a much more romantic and overwritten version of the song's composition. According to Lockhart our National Bard wrote the song whilst awaiting the arrival of fellow gauger John Lewars and a party of dragoons from Dumfries prior to the capturing of the smuggling brig Rosamond in the Solway Firth. Sword in hand, Burns, according to the tale, was one of the first to board the vessel. The Rosamond was to land Robert Burns in hot water with his Excise superiors as he purchased four carronades at the public roup of the ship and its contents. Burns sent the carronades as a gift to the French Convention to show sympathy with the cause but the carronades were subsequently seized by the authorities at Dover, England, en route for France. There was nothing illegal in Robert Burns' actions but it led to the disapproval of his government employers.

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