The Text is that of Scott's Minstrelsy, which was repeated in Motherwell's collection, with the insertion of one stanza, obtained from tradition, between Scott's 2 and 3.
The Story as told in this variant of the ballad is remarkably true to the historical facts.
The Laird was John Wemyss, younger of Logie, a gentleman-in-waiting to King James VI. of Scotland, and an adherent of the notorious Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell. After the failure of the two rash attempts of Bothwell upon the King's person--the former at Holyrood House in 1591 and the second at Falkland in 1592--the Earl persuaded the Laird of Logie and the Laird of Burleigh to join him in a third attempt, which was fixed for the 7th or 9th of August 1592; but the King got wind of the affair, and the two Lairds were seized by the Duke of Lennox and 'committed to ward within Dalkeith.'
The heroine of the ballad was a Danish maid-of-honour to James's Queen; her name is variously recorded as Margaret Vinstar, Weiksterne, Twynstoun, or Twinslace. 'Carmichael' was Sir John Carmichael, appointed captain of the King's guard in 1588.
The ballad stops short at the escape of the lovers by ship. But history relates that the young couple were befriended by the Queen, who refused to comply with the King's demand that May Margaret should be dismissed. Eventually both were received into favour again, though the Laird of Logie was constantly in political trouble. He died in 1599. (See a paper by A. Francis Steuart in The Scots Magazine for October 1899, p. 387.)
THE LAIRD O' LOGIE
I will sing, if ye will hearken,
If ye will hearken unto me;
The king has ta'en a poor prisoner,
The wanton laird o' young Logie.
Young Logie's laid in Edinburgh chapel,
Carmichael's the keeper o' the key;
And May Margaret's lamenting sair,
A' for the love of Young Logie.
'Lament, lament na, May Margaret,
And of your weeping let me be,
For ye maun to the king himsell,
To seek the life of Young Logie.'
May Margaret has kilted her green cleiding,
And she has curl'd back her yellow hair;
'If I canna get Young Logie's life,
Farewell to Scotland for evermair!'
When she came before the king,
She knelit lowly on her knee;
'O what's the matter, May Margaret?
And what needs a' this courtesie?'
'A boon, a boon, my noble liege,
A boon, a boon, I beg o' thee!
And the first boon that I come to crave,
Is to grant me the life o' Young Logie.'
'O na, O na, May Margaret,
Forsooth, and so it mauna be;
For a' the gowd o' fair Scotland
Shall not save the life o' Young Logie.'
But she has stown the king's redding-kaim,
Likewise the queen her wedding knife;
And sent the tokens to Carmichael,
To cause Young Logie get his life.
She sent him a purse o' the red gowd,
Another o' the white monie;
She sent him a pistol for each hand,
And bade him shoot when he gat free.
When he came to the Tolbooth stair,
There he let his volley flee;
It made the king in his chamber start,
E'en in the bed where he might be.
'Gae out, gae out, my merrymen a',
And bid Carmichael come speak to me,
For I'll lay my life the pledge o' that,
That yon's the shot o' Young Logie.'
When Carmichael came before the king,
He fell low down upon his knee;
The very first word that the king spake,
Was 'Where's the laird of Young Logie?'
Carmichael turn'd him round about,
I wat the tear blinded his eye;
'There came a token frae your grace,
Has ta'en away the laird frae me.'
'Hast thou play'd me that, Carmichael?
And hast thou play'd me that?' quoth he;
'The morn the Justice Court's to stand,
And Logie's place ye maun supplie.'
Carmichael's awa to Margaret's bower,
Even as fast as he may dree;
'O if Young Logie be within,
Tell him to come and speak with me.'
May Margaret turn'd her round about,
I wat a loud laugh laughed she;
'The egg is chipp'd, the bird is flown,
Ye'll see nae mair of Young Logie.'
The tane is shipped at the pier of Leith,
The tother at the Queen's Ferrie;
And she's gotten a father to her bairn,
The wanton laird of Young Logie.