Digital Tradition Mirror

Cameronian Cat

Cameronian Cat

     There was a Cameronian cat
       Was hunting for a prey,
     And in the house she catch'd a mouse,
       Upon the Sabbath-day.

     The Whig, being offended
       At such an act profane,
     Laid by his book, the cat he took,
       And bound her in a chain.

     "Thou damn'd, thou cursed creature,
       This deed so dark with thee,
     Think'st thou to bring to hell below,
       My holy wife and me?

     "Assure thyself, that for the deed
       Thou blood for blood shalt pay,
     For killing of the Lord's own mouse
       Upon the Sabbath-day."

     The presbyter laid by the book,
       And earnestly he pray'd,
     That the great sin the cat had done
       Might not on him be laid.

     And straight to execution
       Poor baudrons she was drawn,
     And high hang'd up upon a tree;
       Mess John he sung a psalm.

     And when the work was ended,
       They thought the cat near dead;
     She gave a paw, and then a mew,
       And stretched out her head.

     "Thy name," said he, "shall certainly
       A beacon still remain,
     A terror unto evil ones,
       For evermore.  Amen."

     There was a Presbyterian cat
     Went searching for her prey,
     And killed a mouse within the house
     Upon the Sabbath day.

     The people all were horrified
     And they were grieved sair;
     And straightway led that wicked cat
     Before the Minister.

     The minister was horrified,
     And unto it did say,
     Oh, thou preversed pussy cat,
     To break the Sabbath day.

     The Sabbath's been frae days of yore
     An institution;
     So they straightway led that wicked cat
     To execution.

     The higher up the plum tree grows,
     The sweeter grow the plums;
     The more the cobbler plies his trade,
     The broader grow his thumbs.

     There was a Presbyterian Cat,
     Went out to hunt its prey;
     And in a hoose it caught a moose,
     Upon the Sabbath day:
     An elder he was so enraged
     To see it so profane,
     Adown the brook the cat he took,
     And drowned it in a chain.

     There was an auld Seceder Cat,
     And it was unco gray;
     It brocht a moose into the hoose
     Upon the Sabbath day:
     They took it to the Sess-i-on,
     Wha it rebukit sore,
     And made it promise faithfully
     To do the same no more.

     There was a Presbyterian cat,
       A-hunting for her prey,
     And in the house she catched a mouse
       Upon the Sabbath day.

     The minister offended,
       With such an act profane,
     Laid down his book, the cat he took,
       And bound her in a chain.

     Thou vile, malicious creature,
       Thou murderer, said he,
     Oh! do you think to bring to Hell,
       My holy wife and me.

     But be thou well assur
       That blood for blood shall pay,
     For taking of the mouse's life
       Upon the Sabbath day.

     Then he took down his Bible,
       And fervently he prayed,
     That the great sin the cat had done,
       Might not on him be laid.

     Then forth to execu-ti-on,
       Poor Bawdrins she was drawn,
     And on a tree they hanged her hie,
       And then they sung a Psalm.

     (1) Hogg, JR (1819), 37, Song XXII, + music; note, p.
     209 (punctuation regularised.)  He notes (p. 209):

     This is another popular country song, and very old.  It
     is by some called The Presbyterian Cat, but generally as
     above; and is always sung by the wags in mockery of the
     great pretended strictness of the Covenanters, which is
     certainly, in some cases, carried to an extremity rather
     ludicrous.  I have heard them myself, when distributing
     the sacrament, formally debar from the table the king
     and all his ministers; all witches and warlocks; all who
     had committed or attempted suicide; all who played at
     cards and dice; all the men that had ever danced
     opposite to a woman, and every woman that had danced
     with her face toward a man; all the men who looked at
     their cattle or crops, and all the women who pulled
     green kail or scraped potatoes, on the Sabbath-day; and
     I have been told, that in former days they debarred all
     who used fanners for cleaning their oats, instead of
     God's natural wind.  The air is very sweet, but has a
     strong resemblance to one of their popular psalm-
     tunes.[--As well it might, for it is none other than the
     old tune Irish.]

     The tune gets its name from having appeared first in A
Collection of Hymns and Sacred Poems, Dublin, 1749. [Book of
Praise (1918), no. 29].
     Henry Grey Graham (Social Life of Scotland in the
Eighteenth Century, 1909, 28n., says "[Hew] Scott, in Fasti
Eccles. Scot., identifies the hero of the song with a
minister in the north of Scotland."
     (2) The Scottish student version, from A. G. Abbie,
     Student Songs (London-Glasgow, 1958), 102, with music.
The moral is of course a floating piece of nonsense, also
sung to a psalm-tune; a version in Rymour Club Misc. I (1906-
11), 34: "The langer that the ploom tree stands, The riper
grow the plooms;/ The langer that the souter works, The
blacker grow his thooms." [Tune not specified.]  Abbie's tune
direction is another psalm-tune, Dundee [Este's Psalter,
1592; Book of Praise (1918), no. 45]; but it is really Coleshill
(an adaptation of Dundee); in William Barton's Psalms, 1706;
Book of Praise, no. 90).
     (3-4) Rymour Club Misc. I.33 (in 4 ll. each); indicated
     tune, Coleshill.
     (5) Rymour Club I.231 (6x2 lines). Quotation marks
     removed from 3.2.
Perhaps the most well-known version current these days is
that of Hugh S. Roberton (1928), whose Orpheus Choir did a
grand job of it.  He took two traditional verses (our no. 4),
and added a third, deleting the felicide of the old versions
and merely making the cat reflect on "the ways o' mice and
men" (see "Mice and Men", Curwen edition no. 61232, arranged
in good four-part harmony). His tune is another psalm-tune,
Desert, which is beautiful sung to godly words, and
contrastively effective sung to humorous words. [That tune is
assigned to other words in Rymour Club I.34: "The auld man
said unto his son, The nicht that he was born,/ It's
blessin's on your curly
Psalm-tunes are used for this pawky piece of satire, because
religious verses were only supposed to be sung on the Sabbath
(and of course only religious songs were permitted on the
Sabbath).  On week days, however, the psalm-tunes had to be
rehearsed, so it became common for congregations and choirs
to sing nonsense words, or, as Roberton says, "words of a,
more or less, frivolous nature" to these sacred tunes.

     A New England version is in Mary Barrows, "Some
Half-Forgotten New England Songs" (New England Magazine, n.s.
XII [1895], 427-5), p. 475 (the tune resembles John Anderson
my Jo/Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye):

     There was a Presbyterian cat,
       As I have heard them say;
     She caught a mouse about the house,
       All on the Sabbath day.
       All on the Sabbath day;
     She caught a mouse about the house,
       All on the Sabbath day.


     "Now, puss, you naughty trollope,
       How can you treat us so?
     Do you intend that wife and I
       Shall to destruction go?

     "Now since it is the Sabbath morn,
       One day you shall remain;
     But when next Monday morning comes,
       You certain shall be slain."

     So when next Monday morning came,
       Poor pussy she was slain;
     And hanging on an apple tree,
       The deacon sot the Psalm.

     "Now all you wicked hunting crew,
       Lament poor pussy's fate;
     Repent of all your evil deeds
       Afore it is too late."


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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