From the recording Six Strings and Coffee Beans

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Robert Burns

Mark Clavey – vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover – lead vocals
Rachel Gaither –vocals, fiddle

The second in the CD’s trilogy of Burns’ songs is his masterpiece, "Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation". It is one of his most serious songs comprising a lament for the demise of Scotland as he knew it, and denunciation of the actions that brought the country to such a state – namely the Union with England Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1707. Of the 31 commissioners appointed to handle the negotiations – government ministers and officials, businessmen and bankers – very few represented the popular view against the Union. Daniel Defoe, who worked as a spy for pro-Union interests, reported "for every Scot in favour there is 99 against". Unfortunately for that 99%, personal financial interests were at stake. England provided nearly £400,000 in compensation for those commissioners and MPs who had heavily invested in, and nearly been ruined by the failed Darien scheme in Panama in the late 1690s. Even more direct bribery was reported to be a factor as another £20,000 was dispatched to Scotland for distribution by the Earl of Glasgow. Burns weighed this treachery to the country against the tradition of martial valor and resistance commonly associated with the likes of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, and found them wanting. “We are bought, we are sold for English gold.”


Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame, fareweel our ancient glory. Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name sae famed in martial story. Now Sark rins o'er Solway sands an' Tweed rins to the ocean to mark where England's province stands. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

What force or guile could not subdue, thro' many warlike ages, is wrought now by a coward few for hireling traitor's wages. The English steel we could disdain, secure in valour's station. But English gold has been our bane. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

O, would, e'er I had seen the day that Treason thus could sell us, my auld grey head had lien in clay wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace. But pith and power, till my last hour I'll mak this declaration - 'We are bought, we are sold for English gold'. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.