The Bard, the Merry Monarch, and the "Lass that made the Bed to me"

Poet's Corner
Bard & Monarch
Thrummy Cap
In Memory
The Antiquary
Ye're Deid
Laddies & Haddies
Shetland Connection
In my own words

Charles II wasn't crowned King at the time of his father’s death, and instead the English Parliament passed a statute making it unlawful. The Scottish Parliament, on the other hand, proclaimed Charles II King of Scots on the 5th February 1649 in Edinburgh and he was crowned King at Scone on 1st January 1651. However following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester on 3rd September 1651, Charles fled to the continent and spent the next nine years in exile.

In 1659 General George Monck invited Charles to return and assume the thrones in what became known as the Restoration. Charles II arrived on English soil on 25 May 1660 and entered London on his thirtieth birthday, 29th May 1660 and was crowned King of England and Ireland at Westminster Abbey on 23rd April 1661.

During the time of the usurpation Charles II spent some time in the north of Scotland “skulking” about the Aberdeen area and it was during this time that he formed “une petite affaire” with a daughter of the house of Portlethen who was the “lass that made the bed for him”.

Rabbie Burns reprised the memory of this encounter in a poem written in 1795. Quoting directly from The Complete Works of Robert Burns, “Burns found an old, clever, but not very decorous strain, when recording an adventure which Charles the Second, while under Presbyterian rule in Scotland, had with a young lady of the house of Portletham, and exercising his taste and skill upon it, produced the present – still too free song, for the Museum”.


The Lass that made the Bed to Me.

When Januar' wind was blawing cauld,
As to the north I took my way,
The mirksome night did me enfauld,
I knew na whare to lodge till day:

By my gude luck a maid I met,
Just in the middle o' my care,
And Kindly she did me invite
To walk into a chamber fair.

I bow'd fu' low unto this maid,
And thank'd her for her courtesie;
I bow'd fu' low unto this maid,
An bade her make a bed to me;

She made the bed baith large and wide,
Wi' twa white hands she spread it doun;
She put the cup to her rosy lips,
And drank - "Young man, now sleep ye soun'."

She snatch'd the candle in her hand,
And frae my chamber went wi' speed;
But I call'd her quickly back again,
To lay some mair below my head:

A cod she laid below my head,
And served me with due respect,
And, to salute her wi' a kis,
I put my arms about her neck.

"Haud aff your hands, young man! she said,
"And dinna sae uncivil be;
Gif ye hae ony luve for me,
O wrang ma my virginitie."

Her hair was like the links o' gowd,
Her teeth were like the ivorie,
Her cheeks like lilies dipt in wine,
The lass that made the bed to me.

Her bosom was the driven snaw,
Twa drifted heaps sae fair to see;
Her limbs the polish'd marble stane,
The lass that made the bed to me.

I kiss'd her o'er and o'er again,
And aye she wist na what to say:
I laid her 'tween me and the wa';
The lassie thocht na lang till day.

Upon the morrow when we raise,
I thank'd her for her courtesie;
But aye she blush'd and aye she sigh'd,
And said, "Alas, ye've ruin'd me."

I clasp'd her waist, and kiss'd her syne,
While the tear stood twinklin' in her e'e;
I said, "My lassie, dinna cry,
For ye aye shall make the bed to me."

She took her mither's Holland sheets,
An' made them a' in sarks to me;
Blythe and merry may she be,
The lass that made the bed to me.

The bonnie lass made the bed to me,
The braw lass made the bed to me,
I'll ne'er forget till the day I die,
The lass that made the bed to me.