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We hae plighted our troth, my Mary,
In mutual affection to join,
The hour, and the moment o' time* !
Galla Water and Auld Rob Morris, I think, will most probably be the next subject of my musings. However, even on my verses, speak out your criticisms with equal frankness. My wish is, not to stand aloof, the uncomplying bigot of opiniâtreté, but cordially to join issue with you, in the furtherance of the work.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
November 8th, 1792 If you mean, my dear sir, that all the songs in your collection, shall be poetry of the first merit, I am afraid you will find more difficulty in the undertaking, than you are aware of. There is a peculiar rhythmus in many of our airs, and a necessity of adapting syllables to the emphasis, or what I would call the feature-notes of the tune, that cramp the poet, and lay him under almost insuperable difficulties. For instance, in the air, My wife's a wanton wee thing, if a few lines smooth and pretty can be adapted to it, it is all you can expect. The following were made extempore to it; and though, on farther study, I might give you something more profound, yet it might not suit the light-horse gallop of the air so well as this random clink.
* This song Mr. Thomson has not adopted in histollection, It deserves however to be preserved.
MY WIFE'S A WINSOME WEE THING,
She is a winsome wee thing,
I never saw a fairer,
She is a winsome wee thing,
The warld's wrack we share o't,
I have just been looking over the Collier's bonny Dochter; and, if the following rha wbich 1 composed the other day, on a charming Ayrshire girl, Miss , as she passed through this place to England, will suit your taste better than the Cole lier Lassie, fall on and welcome.
O saw ye bonnie Lesley
As she gaed o’er the border ?
To spread her conquests farther.
To see her, is to love her,
And love but her for ever ;
And ne'er made sic anither!
Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects we, before thee:
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o' men adore thee,
The Deil he could na scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee;
And say, “I canna wrang thee."
The powers aboon will tent thee;
Misfortune sha’na steer thee;
That ill they'll ne'er let near thee,
Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie !
There's nane again sae bonnie.
I have hitherto deferred the sublimer, more pa. thetic airs, until more leisure, as they will take, and deserve, a greater effort. However they are all put into your hands, as clay into the hands of the potter, to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour. Farewell, &c.
Mr, BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
Tune" Katharine Ogie.”
Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
The castle u' Montgomery,
Your waters never drumlie!
There simmer first unfald her robes,
And there the langest tarry ;
O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloom'd the gay, green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
I clasp'd her to my bosom!
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
Our parting was fu’ tender;
We tore oursels asunder;
That nipt my flower sae early !
That wraps my Highland Mary!
Opale, pale now, those rosy lips,
I aft hae kiss'd sae fondly !
That dwelt on me sae kindly !
That heart that loe'd me dearly! But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.
My dear sir,
14th November, 1792. I agree with you that the song, Katharine Ogie, is very poor stuff, and unworthy, altogether unworthy, of so beautiful an air. I tried to mend it; but the awkward sound Ogie, ecurring so often in the rhyme, spoils every attempt at introducing sentiment into the piece. The foregoing song pleases myself'; I think it is in my happiest manner; you will see at first glance, that it suits the air. The subject of the song is one of the most interesting passages of my youthful days; and, I own that I should be much flattered to see the verses set to an air, which would insure celebrity, Perhaps, after all, 'tis the still glowing prejudice of my heart, that throws a borrowed lustre over the merits of the composition.
I have partly taken your idea of Auld Rob Mor. ris. I have adopted the two first verses, and am going on with the song on a new plan, which promises pretty well. I take up one or another, just as the bee of the moment buzzes in my bonnetlug; and do you, sans ceremonie, make what use you choose of the productions. Adieu ! &c.
Mr. THOMSON to Mr. BURNS.
Edinburgh, Nov. 1792. I was just going to write to you, that on meeling with your Nanie I had fallen violently in love with her. I thank you, therefore, for sending the charming rustic to me, in the dress you wish her to appear before the public. She does you great sredit, and will soon be admitted into the best company.
I regret that your song for the Lea-rig is so short; the air is easy, soon sung, and very please ing: so that, if the singer stops at the end of two stanzas, it is a pleasure lost, ere it is well possessed.
Although a dash of our native tongue and man. ners is doubtless peculiarly congenial and appropriate to our melodies, yet I shall be able to present a considerable number of the very flowers of English song, well adapted to those melodies, which, in England at least. will be the means of recommending them to still greater attention, than they have procured there. But you will observe, my