The old name of the tune now called The Deil's awa' with the Exciseman, was "The Hemp-dresser," and it can be traced as far back as the middle of the 17th century. The verses of Burns are generally said to have been an extempore effusion, at a meeting of his brother excisemen in Dumfries. It is a curious fact that the original in the poet's hand is written on a piece of excise paper, ruled on the back with red lines.
The Deil cam fiddlin' through the toun
And danced awa' wi' th' exciseman,
And ilka wife cried, 'Auld Mahoun,
I wish you luck o' the prize, man.'
The Deil's awa,' the Deil's awa',
The Deil's awa' wi' th' exciseman.
He's danced awa', he's danced awa',
He's danced awa' wl' th' exciseman.
We'll mak oor maut and we'll brew our drink.
We'll laugh, sing and rejoice, man,
And mony braw thanks to the muckle black Deil
That danced awa' wi' th' exciseman.
There's threesome reels; there's foursome reels
There's hornpipes and strathspeys, man,
But the ae best dance that cam o'er our land
Was 'The Deil's Awa' Wi' Th' Exciseman'.