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about a year ago, a collection of your unpublished productions, religious and amorous ; I know from experience how irksoine it is to copy. you
will get any trusty person in Dumfries to write them over fair, I will give Peter Hill whatever money he asks for his trouble ; and I certainly shall not betray your confidence.
I am your hearty admirer,
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
26th January, 1793. I approve greatly, my dear sir, of your plans. Dr. Beattie's essay will of itself be a treasure. On. my part, I mean to draw up an appendix to the doctor's essay, containing my stock of anecdotes, &c. of our Scots songs. All the late Mr. Tytler's anecdotes, I have by me, taken down in the course of iny acquaintance with him from his own mouth. I am such an enthusiast, that in the course of my several peregrinations through Scotland, I made a pilgrimage to the individual spot from which every song took its rise, Lochaber, and the Braes of Ballenden, excepted. So far as the locality, either from the title of the air, or the tenor of the song, could be ascertained, I have paid my devotions at the particular shrine of every Scots muse.
I do not doubt but you might make a very vaJuable collection of Jacobite songs, but would it give no offence ? In the mean time, do not you think that some of them, particularly The sow's tail to Geordie, as an air, with other words, inight be well worth a place in your collection of lively songs?
If it were possible to procuré songs of merit, it would be proper to have one set of Scots words to every air, and that the set of words to which the
notés ought to be set. There is a naivetė, a pastoral sinıplicity, in a slight intermixture of Scots words and phraseology, which is more in unison (at least to my taste, and I will add, to every genuine Caledonian taste) with the simple pathos, or rustic sprightliness of our native music, than any En. glish verses whatever.
The very name of Peter Pindar is an acquisition to your work. His Gregory is beautiful. I have tried to give you a set of stanzas in Scots, on the same subject, which are at your service. Not that I intend to enter the lists with Peter : that would be presumption indeed. My song, though much inferior in poetic merit, has, I think, more of the ballad simplicity in it.
O mirk, mirk is this midnight hour
And loud the tempest's roar;
Lord Gregory, ope thy door.
An exile from her father's ha',
And a' for loving thee ;
If love it may na be.
Lord Gregory, mind'st thou not the grove,
By bonnie Irwine-side,
I lang, lang had denied.
How aften didst thou pledge and vow,
Thou wad for aye be mine;
It ne'er mistrusted thine,
Hard is thy heart, lord Gregory,
And finty is thy breast :
Thou dart of heav'n that flashest by,
O wilt thou give me rest?
Ye mustering thunders from above,
Your willing victim see!
His wrangs to heaven and me* !
My most respectful compliments to the honourable gentleman, who favoured me with a postscript in your last. He shall hear from me and receive his MSS. soon.
* The song of Dr. Walcott on the same subject is as follows.
Ah ope, lord Gregory, thy door,
A midnight wanderer sighs,
And lightning's cleave the skies.
Who comes with woe at this drear night
A pilgr m of the gloom ?
My cot shall yield her room.
Alas! thou heard'st a pilgrim mourn,
That once was priz'd by thee:
Thou gav`st to love and me.
But should'st thou not poor Marian know,
I'll turn my feet and part;
Far kinder than thy heart.
It is but doing justice to Dr. Walcott to mention, that iuis song is the original. Mr. Burns saw it, liked it, and immediately wrote the other on the same subject, which is derived from an old Seot tish ballad of uncertain origin. E.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
20th March, 1793.
Tune-"Bide ye yet."
O Mary, at thy window be,
It is the wish'd, the trysted hour ;
l'hat make the miser's treasure poor :
A weary slave frae sun to sun;
The lovely Mary Morison.
Yestreen, when to the trembling string,
The dance gaed tbro' the lighted ha',
I sat, but neither heard or saw :
And yon the toast of a' the town,
“ Ye are na Mary Morison.".
O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,
Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?
Whase only faut is loving thee?
At least be pity to me shown ;
The thought of Mary Morison.
My dear sir,
The song prefixed is one of my juvenile works. I leave it in your hands. I do not think it very
remarkable, either for its merits or demerits. It is impossible (at least I feel it so in my stinted powers) to be always original, entertaining, and witty.
What is become of the list, &c. of your songs? I shall be out of all temper with you by and by. I have always looked on myself as the prince of indolent correspondents, and valued myself accordingly; and I will not, cannot bear rivalship from you, nor any body else.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
Here there awa, wandering Willie,
Now tired with wandering, haud awa bame ; Come to my bosom, my ae only dearie,
And tell me thou bring'st me my Willie the
Loud blew the cauld winter winds at our parting:
It was na the blast brought the tear in my e'e : Now welcome the simmer, and welcome my Wil
Ye hurricanes, rest in the cave o' your slumbers,
O how your wild horrors lover alarms ! Awaken, ye breezes, row gently, ye billows,
And waft my dear laddie ance mair to my arms.
But if he's forgotten his faithfulest Nanie,
O still flow between us, thou wide-roaring maini May I never see it, may I never trow it,
Bat dying believe that my Willie's my ain!