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If it suit yon,
you have it glowing from the mint. well ! if not, 'tis also well!
Behold the hour, the boat arrive ;
Thou goest, thou darling of my heart :
But fate has willd, and we must part.
Yon distant isle will often hail :
There latest mark'd her vanish'd sail."
Along the solitary shore,
Wbile fitting sea-fowl round me cry,
I'll westward turn my wistful eye : · Happy, thou Indian
O tell me, does she muse on me!
Mr. THOMSON to Mr. BURNS.
Edinburgh, 5th Sept. 1793. I believe it is generally allowed, that the greatest modesty is the sure attendant of the greatest merit. While you are sending me verses that even Shakspeare might be proud to own, you speak of them, as if they were ordinary productions ! Your heroic ode is to me the noblest composition of the kind, in the Scottish language. I happened to dine yesterday with a party of your friends, to whom I read it. They were all charmed with it, intreated me to find out a suitable air for it, and reprobated
the idea of giving it a tüne so totally devoid of interest or grandeur as Hey tuttie tattie. Assuredly your partiality for this tune must arise from the ideas associated in your mind by the tradition concerning it, for I never heard any person, and I have conversed again and again with the greatest enthusiasts for Scottish airs, I say, I never heard any one speak of it, as worthy of notice.
I have been running over the whole hundred airs, of which I lately sent you the list; and I think Lewie Gordon is most happily adapted to your ode ; at least with a very slight variation of the fourth line, which I shall presently submit to you. There is in Lewie Gordon more of the grand than the plaintive, particularly when it is sung with a degree of spirit, which your words would oblige the singer to give it. I would have no scruple about substituting your ode in the room of Lewie Gordon, which has neither the interest, the grandeur, nor the poetry that characterize your
Now the variation I have to suggest upon the last line of each verse, the only line too short for the air, is as follows :
Verse 1st, Or to glorious victorie.
2d, Chains-chains, and slaverie.
If you connect each line with its own verse, I do not think you will find that either the sentiment or the expression loses any of its energy. The only line which I dislike in the whole of the song is, “ Welcome to your gory bed.” Would not another word be preferable to welcome ? In your next I will expect to be informed whether you agree to what I have proposed. The little alterations I submit with the greatest deference.
The beauty of the verses you have made for Oran-gaoil, will insure celebrity to the air.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
September, 1793. I have received your list, my dear sir, and here go my observations on it*.
Down the burn Davie. I have this moment tried an alteration, leaving out the last half of the third stanza, and the first half of the last stanza, thus :
As down the burn they took their way,
And thro' the flowry dale,
And love was aye the tale.
With “ Mary, when shall we return,
Sic pleasure to renew ?”
And aye shall follow yout."
Thro' the wood laddie-I am decidedly of opinion, that both in this, and There'll never be peace 'tilt Jamie comes hame, the second or high part of the tune, being a repetition of the first part an oc. tave higher, is only for instrumental music, and would be much better omitted in singing.
Cowden-knowes. Remember in your index that the song in pure English to this tune, beginning
“ When summer comes, the swains on Tweed,"
* Mr. Thomson's list of songs for his publication. In his remarks, the bard proceeds in order and goes through the whole; but on many of them he merely signifies his approbation. All his remarks of any importance, are presented to tbe reader. E.
+ This alteration Mr. Thomson has adopted (or at least intended to adopt), instead of the last stanza of the original song, which is objectionable in point of delicacy. E.
is the production of Crawford. Robert was his Cbristian name.
Laddie lie near me, must lie by me for some time. I do not know the air; and until I am complete master of a tune, in my own singing (such as it is), I can never compose for it. My way is : I consider the poetic sentiment correspondent to my idea of the musical expression ; then choose my theme; begin one stanza; when that is composed, which is generally the most difficult part of the business, I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for objects in nature around me, that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy, and workings of my bosom ; humming every now and then the air, with the verses I have framed. When I feel my muse beginning to jade, I retire to the solitary fire-side of my study, and there commit my effusions to paper; swinging at intervals on the hind legs of my elbow-chair, by way of calling forth my own critical strictures, as my pen goes on. Seriously, this, at home, is ad most invariably my way.
What cursed egotism !
Gill Morrice, I am for leaving out. It is a plaguy length ; the air itself is never sung; and its place can well be supplied by one or two songs for fine airs that are not in your list. For instance, Craigieburn-Wood, and Roy's wife. The first, beside its intrinsic merit, has novelty; and the last has high merit as well as great celebrity. I have the original words of a song for the last air, in the handwriting of the lady who composed it; and they are superior to any edition of the song which the public has yet seen*.
Highland-laddie. The old set will please a mere Scotch ear best; and the new an Italianized one. There is a third, and what Oswald calls the old Highland-laddie, which pleases me more than either of them. It is sometimes called Ginglan Johnnie ;
This song, so much admired by our bard, will be found in No. LXIV. E.
As I pur
it being the air of an old humorous tawdry song of that name.
You will find it in the Museum, I hae been at Crookieden, &c. I would advise you, in this musical quandary, to offer up your prayers to the muses for inspiring direction; and in the mean time, waiting for this direction, bestow a libation to Bacchus; and there is not a doubt but you will hit on a judicious choice. Probatum est.
Auld sir Simon, I must beg you to leave out, and put in its place The Quaker's wife.
Blythe hae I been o'er the hill, is one of the finest songs ever I made in my life ; and besides, is composed on a young lady, positively the most beautiful, lovely woman in the world. pose giving you the names and designations of all my heroines, to appear in some future edition of your work, perhaps half a centory hence, you must certainly include the bonniest lass in a' the warld in your collection.
Daintie Davie, I have heard sung, nineteen thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine times, and always with the chorus to the low part of the tune ; and nothing has surprised me so much, as your opinion on this subject. If it will not suit, as I proposed, we will lay two of the stanzas together, and then make the chorus follow.
Fee him, father-I inclose you Fraser's set of this tune when he plays it slow ; in fact he makes it the language of despair. I shall here give you two stanzas, in that style; merely to try if it will be any improvement. Were it possible, in singing, to give it half the pathos which Fraser gives it in playing, it would make an admirably pathetic song. I do not give these verses for any merit they have. I composed them at the time in which Patie Ale lan's mither died, that was about the back of millnight ; and by the lee-side of a bowl of punch, which had overset every mortal in company, ex: cept the hautbois and the muse,