« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
HOW LONG AND DREARY IS THE NIGHT!
TUNE--Cauld Kail in Aberdeen.
When I am frae my dearie!
And oh, her dreams are eerie!
That's absent frae her dearie!
When I think on the lightsome days
I spent wi' thee, my dearie,
How can I be but eerie?
How slow ye move, ye heavy hours !
The joyless day, how dreary!
When I was wi' my dearie!
Tell me how you like this. I differ from your idea of the expres. sion of the tune. There is, to me, a great deal of tenderness in ito You cannot, in my opinion, dispense with a bass to your addenda airs. A lady of my acquaintance, a noted performer, plays Nae Luck about the House, and sings it at the same time so charmingly, that I shall never bear to see any of her songs sent into the world, as naked as Mr What-d'ye-call-um has done in his London collection.1
These English songs gravel me to death. I have not that command of the language that I have of my native tongue. In fact, I think my ideas are more barren in English than in Scotch. I have been at Duncan Gray, to dress it in English, but all I can do is deplorably stupid. For instance:
LET NOT WOMAN E'ER COMPLAIN.
Of inconstancy in love;
Fickle man is apt to rove:
1 Mr Ritson.
BONG ON CHLORIS.
Look abroad through Nature's range,
Man should then a monster prove?
Mark the winds, and mark the skies;
Ocean's ebb, and ocean's flow :
Round and round the seasons go.
Why, then, ask of silly man
You can be no more, you know.
Since the above, I have been out in the country taking a dinner with a friend, where I met with the lady whom I mentioned in the second page in this odds-and-ends of a letter. As usual, I got into song; and returning home, I composed the following :
THE LOVER'S MORNING SALUTE TO HIS MISTRESS.
TUNE-Deil tak the Wars.
Sleep’st thou, or wak'st thou, fairest creature ?
Rosy Morn now lifts his eye,
Waters wi' the tears o' joy:
And by the reeking floods,
The lintwhite in his bower
Ascends wi' sangs o' joy,
Phoebus gilding the brow oʻmorning,
Such to me my lovely maid.
1 An account of this lady is given a few pages onward.
With starless gloom o'ercast my sullen sky;
But when in beauty's light,
Her beaming glories dart
'Tis then I wake to life, to light, and joy!1 If you honour my verses by setting the air to them, I will vamp up the old song, and make it English enough to be understood.
I enclose you a musical curiosity, an East Indian air, which you would swear was a Scottish one. I know the authenticity of it, as the gentleman who brought it over is a particular acquaintance of mine. Do preserve me the copy I send you, as it is the only one I have. Clarke has set a bass to it, and I intend putting it into the Musical Museum. Here follow the verses I intend for it:
THE AULD MAN.
But lately seen in gladsome green,
The woods rejoiced the day;
In double pride were gay:
On winter blasts awa!
Again shall bring them a'.
Sinks in Time's wintry rage.
And nights o' sleepless pain !
Why com’st thou not again ?
1 Variation :
Now to the streaming fountain,
Or up the heathy mountain,
In twining hazel bowers
Ascends wi' sangs o' joy,
When frae my Chloris parted,
Sad, cheerless, broken-hearted,
But when she charms my sight,
Her beaming glories dart-
ACCOUNT OF CHLORIS.
I would be obliged to you, if you would procure me a sight of Ritson's collection of English songs which you mention in your letter. I will thank you for another information, and that as speedily as you please : whether this miserable, drawling, hotchpotch epistle has not completely tired you of my correspondence ?
The story of the Chloris of Burns is not much less romantic than that of Clarinda. At the time when the poet came to Ellisland, Mr William Lorimer, a substantial farmer, planted himself at Kemmis-hall, on the opposite side of the Nith, about two miles nearer Dumfries. Mr Lorimer had realised some wealth in consequence of an extremely favourable lease, and he now, in addition to farming, carried on extensive mercantile transactions in Dumfries and at Kemmis-hall. It was in consequence of his dealing in teas and spirits that he fell under the attention of the poet, who then protected the revenue interests in ten parishes. Burns became intimate with the Lorimers. They scarcely ever had company at their house, without inviting him: they often sent him delicacies from their farm; and whenever he passed their way on his professional tours, Mrs Lorimer was delighted to minister to his comforts with a basin of tea, or whatever else he might please to have. A daughter of the family recollects seeing many letters of his addressed to her father : one contained only the words, 'Coming, sir;' a quaint answer, probably, to some friendly note of invitation. No fiscal visitor was ever so liked as he; but then, he was the most good-natured of such visitors--of which one little circumstance, recollected by the person above mentioned, may be sufficient proof. Having arrived one evening, and without Mrs Lorimer's knowledge, put up his horse in the stable, he came in by the back entrance, and so into the kitchen, where the lady was busy in the preparation of a considerable quantity of candles for home consumption-candles being then an excisable article. He looked not-he stopped not — but only remarking: Faith, ma'am, you're thrang to-night,' passed hastily on to the parlour.
Mr Lorimer's eldest daughter Jean was at this time a very young lady, but possessed of uncommon personal charms. Her form was symmetry itself, and, notwithstanding hair of flaxen lightness, the beauty of her face was universally admired. A Mr Gillespie, a brother-officer of Burns, settled at Dumfries, was already enslaved by Miss Lorimer; and to his suit the poet lent all his influence. But it was in vain. Miss Lorimer became the wife of another, under somewhat extraordinary circumstances. A young gentleman named Whelpdale, connected with the county of Cumberland, and who had already, signalised himself by profuse habits, settled at Barnhill, near Moffat, as a farmer. He was acquainted with a respectable family named Johnston at Drumcrieff
, near Craigieburn, where Miss Lorimer visited. He thus became acquainted with the young beauty. He paid his addresses to her, and it is supposed that she was not adverse to his suit.
One night, in March 1793, when the poor girl was still some months less than eighteen years of age, and of course possessed of little prudence or knowledge of the world, he took her aside, and informed her that he could no longer live except as her husband; he therefore entreated her to elope with him that very night to Gretna Green, in order that they might be married, and threatened to do himself some extreme mischief if she should refuse. A hard-wrung consent to this most imprudent step fixed her fate to sorrow for life. The pair had not been united for many months, when Mr Whelpdale was obliged by his debts to remove hastily from Barnhill, leaving his young wife no resource but that of returning to her parents at Kemmishall. She saw her husband no more for twenty-three years !
Though Burns had now removed to Dumfries, his intimacy with the Kemmis-hall family was kept up-and, let it be remarked, he was not intimate with them merely as an individual, but as the head of a family, for his wife was as much the friend and associate of the Lorimers as himself, though perhaps less frequently at their house. When Jean returned thither in her worse than widowed state, she was still under nineteen, and in the full blaze of her uncommon beauty. It was now that she fell more particularly under the notice of the Ayrshire poet. She became his poetical divinity under the appellation of Chloris—a ridiculous appellative of the pastoral poets of a past age, but which, somehow, does not appear ridiculous in the verse of Burns. He is found in September 1794-at which time she was exactly nineteen-beginning to celebrate her in the series of songs of which two or three have already been introduced. With the feelings of the poetical admirer, there appear to have been mingled the compassionate tenderness due to the hapless fate of his young heroine. Such a feeling he expressed in his best style in an inscription on a book presented to her.
'Tis Friendship’s pledge, my young, fair friend,
Nor thou the gift refuse,
The moralising Muse.