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And ay she wrought her mammie's wark,
And ay she sang sae merrilie : The blithest bird upon the bush
Had ne'er a lighter heart than she.
But hawks will rob the tender joys
That bless the little lintwhite's nest; And frost will blight the fairest flowers,
And love will break the soundest rest.
Young Robie was the brawest lad,
The flower and pride of a' the glen; And he had owsen, sheep, and kye,
And wanton naigies nine or ten.
He gaed wi' Jeanie to the tryste,
He danc'd wi' Jeanie on the down; And lang ere witless Jeanie wist,
Her heart was tint, her peace was stown.
As in the bosom o' the stream,
The moon-beam dwells at dewy e'en ; So trembling, pure, was tender love
Within the breast o' bonnie Jean.*
* In the original MS our Poet asks Mr. Thomson if this stanza is not original ?
And now she works her mammie's wark,
ay she sighs wi' care and pain ; Yet wist na what her ail might be,
Or what wad mak her weel again.
But did na Jeanie's heart loup light,
And did na joy blink in her e'e, As Robie tauld a tale o' love
Ae e'enin on the lily lea?
The sun was sinking in the west,
The birds sang sweet in ilka grove'; His cheek to hers he fondly prest,
And whisper'd thus his tale o' love:
O Jeanie fair, I lo'e thee dear;
O canst thou think to fancy me; Or wilt thou leave thy mammie's cot,
And learn to tent the farms wi' me ?
At barn or byre thou shalt na drudge,
Or naething else to trouble thee; But stray amang the heather-bells,
And tent the waving corn wi' me.
Now what could artless Jeanie do?
She had nae will to say him na:
And love was ay between them twa.
I have some thoughts of inserting in your index, or in my notes, the names of the fair ones, the themes of my songs. I do not mean the name at full; but dashes or asterisms, so as ingenuity may find them out.
The heroine of the foregoing is Miss M., daughter to Mr. M. of D., one of your subscribers. I have not painted her in the rank which she holds in life, but in the dress and character of a cottager.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
July, 1793. I ASSURE you, my dear Sir, that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary parcel. It degrades me in my own eyes. However, to return it would savour of affectation; but as to any more traffic of that debtor and creditor kind, I swear by that HONOUR which crowns the upright statue of ROBERT BÚRNS'S INTEGRITYon the least' motion of it, I will indignantly spurn the by-past transaction, and from that moment commence entire stranger to you! * BURNS's character for generosity of sentiment
and independence of mind, will, I trust, long outlive any of his wants which the cold unfeeling ore can supply : at least, I will take care that such a character he shall deserve.
your publication. Never did my eyes behold, in any musical work, such elegance and correctness. Your preface, too, is admirably written; only your partiality to me has made you say too much: however, it will bind me down to double every effort in the future progress of the work. The following are a few remarks on the songs in the list you sent me. I never copy what I write to you, so I may be often tautological, or perhaps contradictory.
The Flowers of the Forest is charming as a poem, and should be, and must be, set to the notes ; but, though out of your rule, the three stanzas, beginning,
.“ I hae seen the smiling o' fortune beguiling,"
are worthy of a place, were it but to immortalize the author of them, who is an old lady of my acquaintance, and at this moment living in Edinburgh. She is a Mrs. Cockburn; I forget of what place; but from Roxburghshire. What a charming apostrophe is “O fickle fortune, why this cruel sporting, • Why, why torment us-poor sons of a day !" G 2
The old ballad, I wish I were where Helen lies, is silly to contemptibility.* My alteration of it in Johnson's is not much better. Mr. Pinkerton, in his, what he calls, ancient ballads (many of them notorious, though beautiful enough forgeries) has the best set. It is full of his own interpolations, but no matter.
In my next I will suggest to your consideration a few songs which may have escaped your hurried notice. In the mean time, allow me to congratulate you now, as a brother of the quill. You have committed your character and fame; which will now be tried, for ages to come, by the illustrious jury of the Sons and DAUGHTERS of TASTE-all whom poesy can please, or music charm.
Being a bard of nature, I have some pretensions to second sight; and I am warranted by the spirit to foretel and affirm, that your great
* There is a copy of this ballad given in the account of the Parish of Kirkpatrick-Fleeming (which contains the tomb of fair Helen Irvine), in the Statistics of Sir John Sinclair, vol. XII]. p. 275, to which this character is certainly not applicable.