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MR. BURNS to MR. THOMSON.
Sept. 1793. I am happy, my dear Sir, that my ode pleases you so much. Your idea, “ honour's “ bed,” is, though a beautiful, a hackneyed idea; so, if you please, we will let the line stand as it is. I have altered the song as follows:
Robert Bruce's Address to his Army.
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled;
Or to glorious victorie.
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
Edward! chains and slaverie !
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Traitor! coward ! turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
By oppression's woes and pains !
But they shall be shall be free !
Lay the proud usurpers low !
foe! Liberty's in every blow!
Forward ! let us do, or die !
en N. B. I have borrowed the last stanza from the common stall edition of Wallace.
“ A false usurper sinks in every foe,
And liberty returns with every blow."
A couplet worthy of Homer. Yesterday you had enough of my correspondence. The post goes, and my head aches miserably. One comfort ! I suffer so much, just now, in this world, for last night's joviality, that I shall escape scot. free for it in the world to come. Amen.
MR. THOMSON to MR. BURNS.
12th September, 1793. A THOUSAND thanks to you, my dear Sir, for your obseryations on the list of my songs. I am happy to find your ideas so much in unison with my own respecting the generality of the airs, as well as the verses. About some of them we differ, but there is no disputing about hobby. horses, I shall not fail to profit by the remarks
you make; and to re-consider the whole with attention.
Dainty Davie must be sung, two stanzas together, and then the chorus: ''tis the proper way. I agree with you, that there may be something of pathos, or tenderness at least, in the air of Fee him Father, when performed with feeling : but a tender cast may be given almost to any lively air, if you sing it very slowly, expressively, and with serious words. I am, however, clearly and invariably for retaining the cheerful tunes joined to their own humorous verses, wherever the verses are passable. But the sweet song for Fee him Father, which you began about the back of midnight, I will publish as an additional
Mr. James Balfour, the king of good fellows, and the best singer of the lively Scottish ballads that ever existed, has charmed thousands of companies with Fee him Father, and with Todlin hame also, to the old words, which never should be disunited from either of these airs.
je Some Bacchanals I would wish to discard. Fy, let's a" to the Bridal, for instance, is so coarse and vulgar, that I think it fit only to be sung
in a company of drunken colliers; 'and Saw ye my Father ? appears to me both indelicate and silly,
One word more with regard to your heroic ode. I think, with great deference to the poet; that a prudent general would avoid saying any thing to his soldiers which might tend to make death more frightful than it is. Gory presents a disagreeable image to the mind; and to tell them “ Welcome to your gory bed," seems rather a discouraging address, notwithstanding the alternative which follows. I have shewn the song to three friends of excellent taste, and each of them objected to this line, which emboldens me to use the freedom of bringing it again under your notice. I would suggest,