Edward Miller
(c.1733 - 1807)

Margaret's ghost
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Margaret's ghost is a ballad formerly credited to David Mallet (c.1710 - 1765), who had claimed authorship. Like fellow Scot George Macpherson, Mallet seems to have been less than accurate in his literary attributions; the ballad appears to pre-date his claim by a century or so.

This setting, c.1775, comprises a cantata based upon the ballad, which may be performed by a tenor or a soprano, individually or in dialogue. The keyboard realization is a condensation of the string parts, enabling performance with keyboard accompaniment alone.
Lyrics: ? David Mallet

When all was wrapp'd in dark midnight
And all was fast asleep
In glided Margaret's ghost
And stood at William's feet.

Her face was like an April morn
Clad in a wint'ry cloud,
And clay-cold was her lily hand
That held her sable shroud:
So shall the fairest face appear
When youth and years are flown;
Such is the robe that kings must wear
When death has wrest their crowns.

Her bloom was like the springing flow'r
That sips the silver dew;
The rose was budding in her cheek
And op'ning to the view.
But love had, like the canker worm,
consumed her early prime;
The rose grew pale and left her cheek;
She died before her time.

Awake! she cried, thy true love calls,
Come from her midnight grave.
Now let thy pity hear the maid
Thy love refused to save.

How could you say my face was fair,
And yet that face forsake?
How could you win my virgin heart,
Yet leave that heart to break?
How could you promise love to me
And not that promise keep?
How could you say my eyes were bright,
Yet leave those eyes to weep?

How could you say my lips were sweet,
And made the scarlet pale;
And why did I, young witless maid
Believe the flatt'ring tale?
That face, alas, no more is fair,
Those lips no longer red;
Dark are mine eyes now closed in death,
And ev'ry charm is fled.

The hungry worm my sister is,
This winding sheet I wear,
And cold and weary lasts our night
'Til that last morn appear.
But hark, the clock has warned me hence,
A long and last adieu.
Come see, false man, how low she lies
That died for love of you.