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There was a lass, and she was fair,

At kirk and market to be seen, When a' the fairest maids were met,

The fairest maid was bonie Jean.

And aye

And aye she wrought her mammie's wark,


sang sae merrilie; The blythest bird upon the bush,

Had ne'er a lighter heart than she.

But hawks will rob the tender joys

That bless the little lintwhite's nest; And frost will blight the fairest flowers,

And love will break the soundest rest.

Young Robie was the brawest lad,

The flower and pride of a' the glen ; And he had owsen, sheep, and kye,

And wanton naigies nine or ten.

He gaed wi' Jeanie to the tryste,

He danc'd wi' Jeanie on the down; And lang e'er witless Jeanie wist,

Her heart was tint, her peace was stown.

As in the bosom o' the stream

The moon-beam dwells at dewy e'en: So trembling, pure, was tender love

Within the breast o' bonie Jean*.

And now she works her mammie's wark,

And aye she sighs wi' care and pain; Yet wist na what her ail might be,

Or what wad mak her weel again.

But did na Jeanie's heart loup light,

And did na joy blink in her e'e, As Robie tauld a tale o' love

Ae e'enin on the lily lea?

* In the original MS, our poet asks Mr. Thomson if this stanza is not original. E.

The sun was sinking in the west,

The birds sang sweet in ilka grove ;
His cheek to hers he fondly prest,

And whisper'd thus his tale o' love:

O Jeanie fair, I loe thee dear ;

O canst thou think to fancy me?
Or wilt thou leave thy mammie's cot,

And learn to tent the farms wi' me?

At barn or byre thou shalt na drudge,

Or naething else to trouble thee;
But stray ainang the heather-bells,

And tent the waving corn wi' me.

Now what could artless Jeanie do ?

She had na will to say him na:
At length she blush'd a sweet consent,

And love was aye between them twa,

I have some thoughts of inserting in your in: dex, or in my notes, the names of the fair-ones, the themes of my songs.

I do not mean the name at full; but dashes or asterisms, so as ingenuity may find them out.

The heroine of the foregoing is Miss M. daughter to Mr. M. of D., one of your subscribers. I have not painted her in the rank which she holds in life, but in the dress and character of a cottager.



July, 1793. I assure you, my dear sir, that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary parcel. It degrades me in my own eyes. However, to return it would sa. vour of affectation ; but, as to any more craffic of

that debtor and creditor kind; I swear by that Honour which crowns the upright statue of Ro. bert Burns's Integrity on the least motion of it, I will indignantly spurn the by-past transaction, and from that moment commence entire stranger to you! Burns's character for generosity of sentiment and independence of mind, will, I trust, long outlive any of his wants, which the cold, unfeeling ore can supply : at least, I will take care that such a character he shall deserve.

Thank you for my copy of your publication. Never did my eyes behold, in any musical work, such elegance and correctness. Your preface, too, is admirably written; only your partiality to me has made you say too much : however, it will bind me down to double every effort, in the future progress of the work. The following are a few remarks on the songs, in the list you sent me. I never copy what I write to you, so I may be often tautological, or perhaps contradictory.

The flowers of the forest, is as charming a poem ; and should be, and must be, set to the notes ; but, though out of your rule, the three stanzas, begin. ning,

“I hae seen the smiling o fortune beguiling,"

are worthy of a place, were it but to immortalize the author of them, who is an old lady of my ac. quaintance, and at this moment living in Edin. burgh. She is a Mrs. Cockburn ; 1 forget of what place; but from Roxburgh-sluire. What a charm. ing apostrophe is

** O fickle fortune, why this cruel sporting, Why, why torment us--poor sons of a day !"

The old ballad, I wish I were where Helen lies, is silly, to contemptibility*. alteration of it

There is a copy of this ballad given in the account of the parish of Kirkpatrick-Fleeming (which in Johnson's, is not much better). Mr. Pinkerton, in his, what he calls ancient ballads (many of them notorious, though beautiful enough forgeries) has the best set. It is full of his own interpolations, but no matter.

In my next I will suggest to your consideration, a few songs which may have escaped your hurried notice. In the mean time, allow me to congratulate you now as a brother of the quill. You bave committed your character and fame; which will now be tried, for ages to come, by the illustrious jury of the Sons and Daughters of Taste-all whom poesy can please, or music charm.

Being a bard by nature, I have some preten. sions to second sight; and I am warranted by the spirit to foretel and affirm, that your great-grandchild will hold up your volumes, and say with honest pride, “ This so much admired selection was the work of my ancestor."



When you

Dear sir,

Edinburgh, 1st Aug. 1793. I had the pleasure of receiving your last two letters, and am happy to find you are quite pleased with the appearance of the first book. come to hear the songs sung and accompanied, you will be charmed with them.

The bonie brucket Lassie, certainly deserves better verses, and I hope you will match her. Cauld kail in Aberdeen, Let me in this ae night, and several of the livelier airs, wait the muse's leisure • these are peculiarly worthy of her choice gifts : besides, you'll notice, that in airs of this sort the

contains the tomb of fair Helen Irvine), in the statistics of sir John Sinclair, vol. xii. p. 275, to which his character is certainly not applicable. E.

singer can always do greater justice to the poet, than in the slower airs of The Bush aboon Traquair, Lord Gregory, and the like ; for in the manner the latter are frequently sung, you must be contented with the sound, without the sense. In deed both the airs and words are disguised by the very slow, languid, psalm-singing style in which they are too often performed : they lose animation and expression altogether, and instead of speaking to the mind, or touching the heart, they cloy upon the ear, and set us a yawning!

Your ballad, There was a lass, and she was fair, is simple and beautiful, and shall undoubtedly grace my collection.

No. XXX.


My dear Thomson,

August, 1793. I hold the pen for our friend Clarke, who at present is studying the music of the spheres at my elbow. The Georgium Sidus he thinks is rather out of tune; so until he rectify that matter, he cannot stoop to terrestrial affairs.

He sends you six of the rondeau subjects, and if more are wanted, he says you shall have them.

Confound your long stairs !


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