« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
MY CHLORIS, MARK HOW GREEN THE GROVES.
Tune-My Lodging is on the cold Ground.
My Chloris, mark how green the groves,
The primrose banks how fair;
And wave thy flaxen hair.
The lav'rock shuns the palace gay,
And o'er the cottage sings:
To shepherds as to kings.
Let minstrels sweep the skilfu' string
In lordly lighted ha':
Blithe, in the birken shaw.
The princely revel may survey
Our rustic dance wi' scorn;
Beneath the milk-white thorn ?
The shepherd, in the flowery glen,
In shepherd's phrase will woo:
But is his heart as true?
These wild-wood flowers I've pu’d, to deck
That spotless breast o’ thine:
But 'tis na love like mine.
How do you like the simplicity and tenderness of this pastoral! I think it pretty well.
I like you for entering so candidly and so kindly into the story of ma chere amie. I assure you, I was never more in earnest in my life, than in the account of that affair which I sent you in my last, Conjugal love is a passion which I deeply feel and highly venerate; but, somehow, it does not make such a figure in poesy as that other species of the passion
Where love is liberty, and nature law. Musically speaking, the first is an instrument of which the gamut is scanty and confined, but the tones inexpressibly sweet, while the last has powers equal to all the intellectual modulations of the human soul. Still, I am a very poet in my enthusiasm of the passion. The welfare and happiness of the beloved object is the first and inviolate
sentiment that pervades my soul; and whatever pleasures I might wish for, or whatever might be the raptures they would give me, yet, if they interfere with that first principle, it is having these pleasures at a dishonest price; and justice forbids, and generosity disdains, the purchase! ....
Despairing of my own powers to give you variety enough in English songs, I have been turning over old collections, to pick out songs, of which the measure is something similar to what I want; and, with a little alteration, so as to suit the rhythm of the air exactly, to give you them for your work. Where the songs have hitherto been but little noticed, nor have ever been set to music, I think the shift a fair one. A song which, under the same first verse, you will find in Ramsay's Tea-table Miscellany, I have cut down for an English dress to your Dainty Davie, as follows:
IT WAS THE CHARMING MONTH OF MAY.
The youthful, charming Chloe ;
The youthful, charming Chloe.
Lovely was she by the dawn,
Youthful Chloe, charming Chloe,
The youthful, charming Chloe.
The feathered people, you might see
They hail the charming Chloe;
Of youthful, charming Chloe.
You may think meanly of this, but take a look at the bombast original, and will be surprised that I have made so much of it
. I have finished my song to Rothemurchie's Rant, and you have Clarke
consult as to the set of the air for singing.
LASSIE WI' THE LINT-WHITE LOCKS.
Lassie wi' the lint-white locks,
Bonnie lassie, artless lassie,
Wilt thou be my dearie 0 ?
Now Nature cleeds the flowery lea,
And say thou'lt be my dearie 0?
And when the welcome simmer-shower
At sultry noon, my dearie 0.
When Cynthia lights, wi' silver ray,
And talk o' love, my dearie 0.
And when the howling wintry blast
I'll comfort thee, my dearie 0.
This piece has at least the merit of being a regular pastoral: the vernal morn, the summer noon, the autumnal evening, and the winter night, are regularly rounded. If you like it
, well; if not, I will insert it in the Museum.
I am out of temper that you should set so sweet, so tender an air, as Deil tak the Wars, to the foolish old verses.
You talk of the silliness of Saw ye my father ?1_By Heavens! the odds is gold to brass! Besides, the old song, though now pretty well modernised into the Scottish language, is originally, and in the early editions, a low imitation of the Scottish manner, by that genius Tom D’Urfey, so has no pretensions to be a Scottish production.
There is a pretty English song by Sheridan, in the Duenna, to this air, which is out of sight superior to D'Urfey's. It begins
When sable night each drooping plant restoring. The air, if I understand the expression of it properly, is the very 1 Mr Thomson must have completely misunderstood the character of this old
bungling TUNE OF 'YE BANKS AND BRAES.'
It is a most romantic one, clothed in highly poetical language.
native language of simplicity, tenderness, and love. I have again gone over my song to the tune as follows.
Here Burns transcribes his new version of Sleep'st thou, or Wak'st thou contain. ing the slight variations which have already been given.]
Now for my English song to Nancy's to the Greenwood, &c.
FAREWELL, THOU STREAM THAT WINDING FLOWS.
Farewell, thou stream that winding flows
Around Eliza's dwelling!
Within my bosom swelling:
And yet in secret languish,
Nor dare disclose my anguish.
Love's veriest wretch, unseen, unknown,
I fain my griefs would cover:
Betray the hapless lover.
Nor wilt, nor canst relieve me;
For pity's sake forgive me!
The music of thy voice I heard,
Nor wist while it enslaved me;
Till fears no more had saved me.
The wheeling torrent viewing,
In overwhelming ruin.
(It will be observed, that this is a new and improved version of the song sent in April of the preceding year, beginning, The last Time I came o'er the Moor. The change most remarkable is the substitution of Eliza for Maria. The alienation of Mrs Riddel, and his resentment against her, must have rendered the latter name no longer tolerable to him. One only can wonder that, with his new and painful associations regarding that lady, he could endure the song itself or propose laying it before the world.]
There is another air, The Caledonian Hunt's Delight, to which ! wrote a song that you will find in Johnson, Ye Banks and Braes o bonnie Doon; this air, I think, might find a place among your hundred, as Lear says of his knights. Do you know the history of the air? It is curious enough. A good many years ago, Mr James Miller, writer in your good town, a gentleman whom possibly you know, was in company with our friend Clarke; and talking of Scottish music, Miller expressed an ardent ambition to be able to compose a Scots air. Mr Clarke, partly by way of joke, told him to keep to the black keys of the harpsichord, and preserve some kind of rhythm, and he would infallibly compose a Scots air. Certain it is that, in a few days, Mr Miller produced the rudiments of an air, which Mr Clarke, with some touches and corrections, fashioned into the tune in question. Ritson, you know, has the same story of the black keys; but this account which I have just given you, Mr Clarke informed me of several years ago. Now, to shew you how difficult it is to trace the origin of our airs, I have heard it repeatedly asserted that this was an Irish air ; nay, I met with an Irish gentleman, who affirmed he had heard it in Ireland among the old women; while, on the other hand, a lady of fashion, no less than a countess, informed me, that the first person who introduced the air into this country, was a baronet's lady of her acquaintance, who took down the notes from an itinerant piper in the Isle of Man. How difficult, then, to ascertain the truth respecting our poesy and music! I, myself, have lately seen a couple of ballads sung through the streets of Dumfries, with my name at the head . of them as the author, though it was the first time I had ever seen them.
I thank you for admitting Craigieburn Wood, and I shall take care to furnish you with a new chorus. In fact, the chorus was not my work, but a part of some old verses to the air. If I can catch myself in a more than ordinarily propitious moment, I shall write a new Craigieburn Wood altogether. My heart is much in the theme.
I am ashamed, my dear fellow, to make the request—'tis dunning your generosity; but in a moment when I had forgotten whether I was rich or poor, I promised Chloris a copy of your songs. It wrings my honest pride to write you this; but an ungracious request is doubly so. by a tedious apology. To make you some amends, as soon as I have extracted the necessary information out of them, I will return you Ritson's volumes.
The lady is not a little proud that she is to make so distinguished a figure in your collection, and I am not a little proud that I have it in my power to please her so much. Lucky it is for your patience that my paper is done, for when I am in a scribbling humour, I know not when to give over.
What Mr Thomson said in answer, shews how little it is possible to tell beforehand how any air is to be taken up by, or to succeed with the public.
1 Mr Miller served for many years as clerk in the Teind Office, Edinburgh.