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Hark, the mavis' evening sang
We'll gae down by Clouden side,
Ca' the, dc.
Yonder Clouden's silent towers,
Ca' the, c,
Ghaist nor bogle shalt thou fear :
Ca' the, dc.
Fair and lovely as thou art,
Ca' the, &c.
I shall give you my opinion of your other newly adopted songs, my first seribbling fit.
* The river Clouden, or Cluden, a tribatary stream to the Nith. E.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
September, 1794. Do you know a black guard Irish song, called Onagh's waterfall? The air is charming, and I have often regretted the want of decent verses to it. It is too much, at least for my humble rustic muse, to expect that every effort of hers shall have merit : still I think that it is better to have mediocre verses to a favourite air, than none at all, On this principle I have all along proceeded in the Scots Musical Museum, and as that publication is at its last volume, I intend the following song, to the air above mentioned, for that work.
If it does not suit you as an editor, you may be pleased to have verses to it that you can sing before ladies,
SHE SAYS SHE LO‘ES ME BEST OF A'.
Tune“ Onagh's Waterfall."
Her eyebrows, of a darker hue,
Twa laughing een o' bonnie blue.
Wad make a wretch forget his woe ;
Unto these rosy lips to grow :
When first her bonnie face I saw,
She says she lo'es me best of a',
Like harmony her motion ;
Her pretty ancle is a spy
Wad make a saint forget the sky.
Her fautless form and gracefu' air ;
Declar'd that she could do nae mair:
she lo'es me best of a'.
Let others love the city,
And gaudy show at sunny noon;
The dewy eve, and rising moon
Her silver light the boughs amang;.
The amorous thrash concludes his sang :
By wimpling burn and leafy shaw,
And say thou lo'es me best of a',
Not to compare small things with great, my taste in music is like the mighty Frederic of Prussia's taste in painting: we are told that he frequently admired what the connoisseurs decried, and always, without any hypocrisy, confessed his admiration. I am sensible that my taste in music must be inelegant and vulgar, because people of undisputed and cultivated taste can find no merit in my favourite tunes. Still, because I am cheaply pleased, is that any reason why I should deny myself that pleasure? Many of our strathspeys, ancient and modern, give me most exquisite enjoyment, where you and other judges would probably be showing disgust. For instance, I am just now making verses for Rothemurche's Rant, an air which puts me in raptures; and in fact, unless I be pleased with the tune, I never can make verses to it. Here I have Clarke on my side, who is a judge that I will pit against any of you. Rothe.
murche, he says, is an air both original and bearitiful; and on his recommendation I have taken the first part of the tune for a chorus, and the fourth or last part for the song. I am but two stanzas deep in the work, and possibly you may think, and justly, that the poetry is as little worth your attention as the music*.
I have begun anew, Let me in this ae night. Do you think that we ought to retain the old chorus? I think we must retain both the old chorus and the first stanza of the old song. I do not altogether like the third line of the first stanza, but cannot alter it to please myself. I am just three stanzas deep in it. Would you have the denouė. ment to be successful or otherwise ? should she * let him in” or not?
Did you not once propose The Sow's tail to Geordie, as an air for your work? I am quite delighted with it; but I acknowledge that is no mark of its real excellence. I once set about verses for it, which I meant to be in the alternate way of a lover and his mistress chanting together. I have not the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Thomson's Christian name, and yours I am afraid is rather burlesque for sentiment, else. I had meant to have made you the hero and heroine of the little piece.
How do you like the following epigram, which I wrote the other day on a lovely young girl's recovery from a fever? Doctor Maxwell was the physician who seemingly saved her from the grave; and to him I address the following:
* In the original follow here two stanzas of a song, beginning, “ Lassie wi' the lint white locks ;" which will be found at full length afterwards, No. LXII. E.
To Dr. Maxwell, on Miss Jessy Staig's récovery.
Maxwell, if merit bere you crave,
That merit I deny :
An angel could not die.
God grant you patience with this stupid epistle !
Mr. THOMSON to Mr. BURNS.
I perceive the sprightly muse is now attendant upon her favourite poet, whose wood-notes wild are become as enchanting as ever. She says she lo'es me best of a', is one of the pleasantest table songs I have seen, and henceforth shall be mine when the song is going round. I'll give Cunningham a copy; he can more powerfully proclaim its merit. I am far from undervaluing your taste for the strathspey music; on the contrary, I think it highly animating and agreeable, and that some of the straths peys, when graced with such verses as yours, will make very pleasing songs, in the same way that rough Christians are tempered and softened by lovely woman, without whom, you know, they had been brutes.
I am clear for having the Sow's tail, particularly as your proposed verses to it are so extremely promising. Geordy, as you observe, is a name only fit for burlesque composition. Mrs. Thomson's name (Katharine) is not at all poetical. Retain Jeanie, therefore, and make the other Jamie, or any other that sounds agreeably.
Your Ca' the ewes, is a precious little morceau. Indeed I am perfectly astonished and charmed with the endless variety of your fancy. Here let me ask you whether you never seriously turned