Henry's Songbook

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Ye Jacobites By Name

  • (Trad / Robert Burns)

    Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear
    Ye Jacobites by name, lend an ear
    Ye Jacobites by name, your faults I will proclaim
    Your doctrines I must blame
    You shall hear, you shall hear
    Your doctrines I must blame, you shall hear

    What is right and what is wrong by the law, by the law
    What is right and what is wrong by the law
    What is right and what is wrong
    By short sword or by long
    A weak arm or a strong for to draw

    What makes heroic strife famed afar, famed afar
    What makes heroic strife famed afar
    What makes heroic strife
    To whet the assassain's knife
    Or haunt a parent's life wi' bloody war

    Then let your schemes alone in the state, in the state
    Then let your schemes alone in the state
    Then let your schemes alone
    Adore the rising sun
    And leave a man undone to his fate

    (as sung by The Johnstons)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  •  [1962:] The air of this song has always been popular in Scotland and is sung to many different songs on many different subjects, but, according to James Hogg, 'none of them are Jacobite save this'. (Notes Ewan MacColl, 'The Jacobite Rebellions')

  •  [1968:] An anti-Jacobite song heard from Johnny Butler of Sheffield and Willie Beaton of Glasgow. The theme is essentially a pacifist one - the Jacobites being taken to task for their violent ways. It is doubtful however whether the pacifists found anything to enthuse about in King James' successors, a political dilemma not solely associated with the 17th century.
    (Notes The Johnstons, 'The Barley Corn')

  •  [1974:] Während des 18. Jahrhunderts erlebte Schottland, wie andere europäische Länder auch, eine tiefgehende wirtschaftliche, gesellschaftliche, religiöse und politische Revolution: Es verwandelte sich von einem Agrar- in einen Industriestaat und von einem unabhängigen Staat faktisch in eine Provinz Englands. Das alte System wurde vor allem von den kriegerischen Stämmen des Hochlands und den Großgrundbesitzern verteidigt; Vorkämpfer der neuen Ordnung waren z. B. die protestantischen Bürger der Städte im Flachland, die vom Wirtschaftswachstum, das der Kapitalismus brachte, profitierten. Das überholte Feudalsystem wurde repräsentiert durch die 'Jacobites', die Anhänger des katholischen Königs James (Jacob) II, der 1688 vertrieben worden war, und seiner Nachkommen, die weiterhin Anspruch auf den Thron erhoben. Gegen sie richtet sich dieses Lied, das den nüchternen Pragmatismus einer neuen Zeit ausdrückt: Das aufstrebende Bürgertum hat keine Lust, sich in die feudalen Fehden der untergehenden Klasse zu verstricken, und zerreißt ihre Ideologie. (Manfred Bonson, notes 'Scottish Folk Scene')

  •  [1988:] The conventional perspective is again apparently discarded in Ye Jacobites by name, one of Burns' best party songs, which deals with the human misery lurking behind political slogans and begins with a bold challenge to the legitimists: [chorus].

    This sounds like a Whig song, but it is not. The singer's strictures are framed in humanitarian terms, and form a grim exposé of the suffering and misery glossed over by the glib formulae of political theory. Divine Right however exalted is shown to be like other kinds of state power, ultimately based upon brute force; and lurking behind the fashionable cant about 'the just war' are the tragic realities of murder and parricide: [verses 1,2]

    The song could easily have ended at this point, as a straightforward condemnation of the Jacobites' willingness to plunge the nation into civil war for the sake of a theory. As in so many of his better songs, however, Burns does not present the argument simply, but places it in a dramatic context which allows the true point of view to develop. Here he waits until the last moment before revealing that the singer is himself a Jacobite [???], an ironical twist that lifts the song at a stroke from the level of party strife to that of enduring general statement. [Verse 3]

    The singer speaks from direct personal experience, from the vantage point of a political commitment which has destroyed him, to the Jacobites 'by name', the meddlers, adventurers, and foolish partisans blinded by their own propaganda. At no point does he lose sight of what ideology means in human terms: abstractions like right and wrong are irrelevant; in real life justice is meted out by the sword-length, and the weak are at the mercy of the strong. These soi-disant patriots are urged in a bitter coda to pursue self-interest within the established order of things.

    And so political disillusionment is given perhaps its definitive statement in a 'goodnight' ballad of extraordinary directness and power. Burns looks beyond Jacobitism here, at war and the ordering of states, seeing with deadly clarity the violence upon which they are founded.

    This song may reflect Burns's actual convictions. The tortuous complexity of his politics may conceal a very simple fact: maybe he didn't believe much in any of it, and assumed and discarded party labels largely in order to survive. He was, after all, a devious, proud and vulnerable man with many hostages to fortune, struggling to make his way without wealth, position or political influence in the corrupt and authoritarian ancien regime of late-eighteenth-century Scotland. He experienced and survived, (just) a major political purge as the government machine, reacting to the spread of French Revolutionary doctrines, attempted to eliminate its opponents in Scotland during the 1790s. (Donaldson, Song 85f)

  •  [1988:] Die Bewegung der Jakobiten [...] bedeutete für Schottland in Burns' Zeit mehr als ein anachronistisches Bemühen, an lang vergangene Zeiten anzuknüpfen. Das von Burns adaptierte Lied kann in dieser Form als ein Kampflied gelesen werden sowohl für als auch gegen die Jakobiten: Für die Jakobiten als ein kritischer Appell zur Neubelebung ihrer national-schottischen Gegnerschaft zur englischen Fremdherrschaft und gegen die Jakobiten, weil sie weitgehend 'sentimental' und reaktionär zurückschauten, statt nach vorn zur aufgehenden Sonne des Republikanismus zu blicken. (Camerer, Burns 219)




Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 14.09.2000