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Fraser's set of the tune. If they hit your fancy, they are at your service ; if not, return me the tune, and I will put it in Johnson's Museum. I think the song is not in my worst manner.
Tune--" Liggeram Cosh."
Blythe hae I been on yon bill,
As the lambs before me;
As the breeze flew o'er me:
Mirth or sang can please me;
Care and anguish seize me.
Heavy, heavy is the task,
Hopeless love declaring :
Sighing, dumb, despairing !
In my bosom swelling,
Soon maun be my dwelling.
I should wish to hear how this pleases you.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
June 25th, 1793. Have you ever, my dear sir, felt your bosom ready to burst with indignation on reading of those mighty villains who divide kingdoin against kingdom, desolate provinces, and lay nations waste out of the wantonness of ambition, or often from still more ignoble passions? In a mood of this
kind to-day, I recollected the air of Logan Water ; and it occurred to me that its querulous melody probably had its origin from the plaintive indige nation of some swelling, suffering heart, fired at the tyrannic strides of some public destroyer, and overwhelmed with private distress, the consequence of a country's ruin. If I have done any thing at all like justice to my feelings, the following song, composed in three-quarters of an hour's meditation in my elbow-chair, ought to have some merit.
Tune-" Logan Water."
0, Logan, sweetly didst thou glide,
Again the merry month o' May
Within yon milk-white hawthorn bush,
O wae upon you, men o' state,
Do you know the following beautiful little fragment, in Witherspoon's collection of Scots songs ?
Air“ Hughie Graham.”
“O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa',
Into her bonnie breast to fa'!
Oh, there, beyond expression blest,
I'd feast on beauty a' the night ;
Till fley'd awa by Phoebus' light.
This thought is inexpressibly beautiful ; and quite, so far as I know, original. It is too short for a song, else I would forswear you altogether, unless you gave it a place. I have often tried to eke a stanza to it, but in vain. After balancing myself for a musing five minutes, on the hindlegs of my elbow-chair, I produced the following.
The verses are far inferior to the foregoing, I
“ Ye mind na, 'mid your cruel joys,
frankly confess ; but if worthy of insertion at all, they might be first in place: as every poet, who knows any thing of his trade, will husband his best thoughts for a concluding stroke.
O were my love yon lilac fair,
Wi' purple blossoms to the spring ; And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing:
How I wad mourn, when it was torn
By autumn wild, and winter rude! But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.
Mr. THOMSON to Mr. BURNS.
Monday, 1st July, 1793. I am extremely sorry, my good sir, that any thing should happen to unhinge you. The times are terribly out of tune, and when harmony will be restored, heaven knows.
The first book of songs just published, will be dispatched to you along with this. Let me be favoured with your opinion of it frankly and freely.
I shall certainly give a place to the song you have written for the Quaker's wife ; it is quite enchanting. Pray, will you return the list of songs, with such airs added to it as you think ought to be included? The business now rests entirely on myself, the gentlemen who originally agreed to join the speculation having requested to be off. No matter, a loser I cannot be. The superior excellence of the work, will create a ge. neral demand for it, as soon as it it is properly known. And were the sale even slower than it promises to be, I should be somewhat compensated for my labour, by the pleasure I shall receive from the music. I cannot express how much I am obliged to you for the exquisite new songs you are sending me; but thanks, my friend, are a poor return for what you have done : as I shall be benefited by the publication, you must suffer me to inclose a small mark of my gratitude*, and to repeat it afterwards when I find it convenient. Do not return it, for by heaven if you do, our correspondence is at an end : and though this would be no loss to you, it would mar the publication, which, under your auspices, cannot fail to be respectable and interesting.
Wednesday morning. I thank you for your delicate additional verses to the old fragment, and for your excellent song to Logan water: Thomson's truly elegant one will follow for the English singer. Your apostrophe to statesmen, is admirable, but I am not sure if it is quite suitable to the supposed gentle character of the fair mourner who speaks it.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
My dear sir,
July 2d, 1793, I have just finished the following ballad, and as I do think it in my best style, I send it you.
Mr. Clarke, who wrote down the air from Mrs. * Burns's wood-note wild, is very fond of it; and has given it a celebrity by teaching it to some young ladies of the first fashion here. If you do not like the air enough to give it a place in your collection, please return it. The song you may keep, as I remember it.