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have reacted powerfully on the character of the people to whom it represented the most perfect condition of society. This virtue characterises all the Scottish songs of family life, and the perpetuation of the virtue owes much undoubtedly to these songs. There are, indeed, some songs in which a relation between man and wife is exhibited, that makes no pretence of being founded on mutual affection. It is not every girl in the position of auld Robin Gray's wife, who recognises the duties of her situation with the same self-sacrificing resolution ; and
1 the wives introduced in Wattie's the waur ó' the Wear, as well as in Burns' What can a young Lassie do wi' an auld Man ?? are wholly destitute of Jenny's heroic virtue. Yet these songs are mainly satires on that “love of
" siller and land,” which often seduces mother and father to sacrifice the natural affections of a daughter ; and neither these nor any other songs of note represent the infidelity of man or wife in the light of a pleasure rather than in the light of a wrong.
In one of the very few lyrics which refer to such a subject, the healthy sentiment of the Scottish heart comes out at the close. The story of Lord Randal issues in the following tragedy :
“Then out Lord Randal drew his brand,
And straiked it o'er a strae;
1 See the contrast which Motley draws between the social characteristics of the German and those of the Gaul (“Rise of the Dutch Republic,” Introduc. ii.). Compare Burton's sketch of the Northern mythology in its moral aspects (“ History of Scotland,” vol. i. pp. 236-7).
2 The Maitland MS. contains some verses by Sir Richard Maitland, On the Folye of ane auld Man maryand ane young Woman.
And through and through that fause knight's waste
He gar'd the cauld iron gae ;
That treats an honest man sae.”
With this may be compared the vigorous moral feeling of the ballads, The weary Coble o' Cargill and The Laird o' Warristoun, contrasting, as it does, with the effeminate sentiment which is unhappily growing up, especially on the western side of the Atlantic, where it is difficult to empannel a jury with the courage to convict a woman of any capital crime.
Not a few of the songs expressing conjugal love open to us scenes which are rendered beautiful by the general affections of family life; and, in this region of our inquiry, the student of Scottish song is sure of a pleasing surprise at the number of lyrics, by authors of narrow fame, embodying the most elevating sentiments on the only true sources of domestic happiness. These remarks are made not so much in reference to The auld House or The Rowan Tree, by Lady Nairne, or The Spinning Wheel, by Robert Nicoll, since their authors are well known; but it is pleasant to notice that
1 the theme of the domestic affections is a favourite among the recent song-writers of Scotland. It is almost invidious to make a selection ; but a reader glancing through any of the more modern collections, will probably be attracted by several of the following:
i In this ballad the name of Lord Randal was introduced by its first editor, Mr. Jamieson (“Popular Ballads and Songs,” vol. i. p. 162). The ballad must, therefore, be distinguished from another of the same title in the “Border Minstrelsy” (vol. iii. p. 43). The story, as Jamieson points out, is very like that of the ballad, Little Musgrave and Lord Barnard.
Robert Gilfillan's Fanet and Me, J. G. Cumming's Wifie and Me, W. Millar's My bonny Wife, Alexander Laing's The Happy Mother, Andrew Mercer's The Gottar's Sang, and a song by a Mrs. J. S., of Rutherglen, beginning If on Earth there is Enjoyment, which is of a similar tenor, and not unworthy of comparison, with Elizabeth Hamilton's My ain Fireside. With these may be mentioned not inappropriately the charming nursery songs of William Miller. This group of lyrics contains happy pictures of home-life in “wee bit bields," of the bonny goodwife stepping out with the “toddlin weans” to welcome the weary goodman as he comes howe in the gloaming, of the family gathered around the “cosy ingle,” perhaps with a “crony” or two who can sing a “canty sang," while the bass hum of the spinning-wheel or the treble click of the stocking-wires mingles with the talk that is flowing around, and these louder noises drown the low whispers of Peggie and Jamie, who in a corner are speaking what they do not wish other ears than their own to hear. Every verse in these songs delights us with their cheerful trust in the mutual love of husband and wife, of parent and child, of brother and sister--their outspoken conviction, that in a home blessed with such reciprocal affection, man is secured in a fortress which is impregnable by any of the real evils of human life, and wants none of its real blessings. “O happy's the father that's happy at hame, And blythe is the mither that's blythe o' the name; The cares o' the warld they fear na to dreeThe warld is naething to Johnnie and me.” 1
* From Alex. Laing's The Happy Mother.
" We're no without our toil
At our ain fireside,
At our ain fireside;
At our ain fireside.
At our ain fireside,
At our ain fireside,
At our ain fireside." 1
When I think of the profound ethical wisdom of this conviction, when I think of this wise conviction being embodied, with felicitous homeliness of language, in numerous lyrics, some of which are familiarly known and sung in almost every Scottish home, my heart bows in gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, for giving to the Scottish people these songs of domestic love.
§ 3.–Lyrics of General Social Relations.
By this group of lyrics I mean the songs and ballads which describe the affections and the events of social life beyond the limited range of the family circle. As this chapter began with the songs which celebrate the
From the verses, If on Earth there is Enjoyment, by Mrs. J. S.
intensest of social affections, so the present section opens appropriately with the songs of friendship, in the most restricted application of the term. Though Caligula would have liked mankind to be endowed with but one neck, that he might set his foot on it, and though Byron more amiably wished womankind to have "but one rosy mouth, that he might kiss them all at once," the heart of man is not big enough to embrace the world either in love or in hatred ; and general benevolence must display itself in a special intensity of affection for a narrow circle of acquaintances, or even for “one friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Are there any Scots songs which celebrate a friendship of this sort-anything like the close of the song in which David laments over Saul and Jonathan: “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women"? 1
As a lay of friendship may be cited the intensely interesting ballad of Graeme and Bewick, which Scott considered remarkable as "containing, probably, the very latest allusion to the institution of brotherhood in arms,” ? and which is undoubtedly remarkable as containing all the elements of a splendid mediæval tragedy. The ballad introduces us in the opening verses to two chiefs at Carlisle, good Lord Graeme and Sir Robert Bewick, going “arm in arm to the wine," and drinking together “till they were baith merrie." But like most of the merriment due to the same inspiration, that of
1 2 Samuel, i. 26. 2 “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” vol. iii. p. 66.