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dotes : I care not how long they be, for it is im; possible that any thing from your pen can be te- , dious, Let me beseech you not to use ceremony in telling me when you wish to present any of your friends with the songs : the next carrier will bring you three copies, and you are as welcome to twenty, as to a pinch of snuff.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
19th November, 1794. You see, my dear sir, what a punctual correspondent I am ; though indeed you may thank your
n self for the tedium of my letters, as you have so flattered me on my horsemanship with my favourite hobby, and have praised the grace of his ambling so much, that I am scarcely ever off his back. For, instance, this morning, though a keen blowing frost, in my walk before breakfast, I finished my duet which you were pleased to praise so much. Whether I have uniformly succeeded, I will not say ; but here it is for you, though it is not an hour old.
Tune“ The Sow's tail."
And by thy charms, my Philly.
And charming is my Philly.
The love I bear my Willy.
As is a sight o' Philly.
As meeting o' my Willy.
The bee that thro' the sunny hour
Upon the lips o' Philly.
As is a kiss o' Willy.
HE. Let fortune's wheel at random rin, And fools may tyne, and knaves may win; My thoughts are a' bound up in ane,
And that's my ain dear Philly.
And that's my ain dear Willy.
Tell me honestly how you like it; and point out whatever you think faulty.
I am much pleased with your idea of singing our songs in alternate stanzas, and regret that you did not hint it to me sooner. In those that remain, I shall have it in my eye. I remember your objections to the name, Philly; but it is the common abbreviation of Phillis. Sally, the only other name that suits, has, to my ear, a vulgarity about it, which unfits it for any thing except burlesque. The legion of Scottish poetasters of the day, whom your brother editor, Mr. Ritson, ranks with me, as my coevals, have always mistaken vulgarity for siinplicity: whereas, simplicity is as much eloignée from vulgarity, on the one hand, as from affected point and puerile conceit, on the other.
I agree with you as to the air, Craigie-burn-wood, that a chorus would in some degree spoil the ef. feet ; and shall certainly bave none in my projected song to it. It is not however a ease in point with Rothemurche ; there, as in Roy's wife of Alilivaloch, a chorus goes, to my taste, well enouglr. As to the chorus going first, that is the case with Roy's wife, as well as Rothemurche. In fact, in the first part of both tunes, the rythm is so peculiar and irregular, and on that irregularity depends so much of their beauty, that we must e'en take them with all their wildness, and humour the verse accordingly. Leaving out the starting note, in both tunes, has, I think, an effect that no regularity could counterbalange the wapt of.
O Roy's wife of Aldivaloch.
Roy's wife of Aldivaloch.
Does not the tameness of the prefixed syllable strike you? In the last case, with the true furor of genius, you strike at once into the wild originality of the air ; whereas, in the first insipid method, it is like the grating screw of the pins before the fiddle is brought into tune. This is my taste ; if I am wrong I beg pardon of the cognoscenti.
The Caledonian hunt is so charming, that it would make any subject, in a song, go down; bat pathos is certainly its native tongue. Scottish Bacchanalians we certainly want, though the few we have are excellent. For instance, Todlin hame is, for wit and humour, an unparalleled composttion; and Andrew and his cutty gun is the work of a master. By the way, are you not quite vexed to think that those men of genius, for such they certainly were, who composed our fine Scottish lyrics, should be unknown? It has given me many a heart-ach. Apropos to Bacchanalian songs in Scottish ; I composed one yesterday, for an air I like much-Lumps o' pudding.
Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair,
A towmond o' trouble, should that be my Pa',
When at the blythe end of our journey at last, Wha the deil ever thinks o' the road he has past?
Blind chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way; Be't to me, be't frae me, e'en let the jade gae: Come ease, or come travail ; come pleasure, or
pain ; My warst word is Welcome and welcome again!"
If you do not relish the air, I will send it to Johnson.
Since yesterday's penmanship, I have framed a couple of English stanzas, by way of an English song to Roy's Wife. You will allow me that in this instance, my English corresponds in sentiment with the Scottish.
Canst thou leave me thus, my Katy :
Tune-" Roy's Wife.”
Canst thou leave me thus, my Katy ?
Is this thy plighted, fond regard,
Thus cruelly to part, my Katy ?
Canst thou, C.
Farewell! and ne'er such sorrows teat*
That fickle heart of thine, my Katy !