« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
O waé on the siller, it is sae prevailing ;
MR. BURNS to MR. THOMSON.
7th April, 1793. THANK
you, my dear Sir, for your packet. You cannot imagine how much this business of composing for your publication has added to my enjoyments. What with my early attachment to ballads, your book, &c., ballad-making is now as completely my hobby-horse, as ever fortification was Uncle Toby's; so I'll e'en canter it away
till I come to the limit of my race (God grant that I may take the right side of the winning post !), and then cheerfully looking back on the honest folks with whom I have been happy, I shall say or sing, “Sae merry as we a' hae been!" and raising my last looks to the whole human race, the last words of the voice of Coila* shall be, “ Good night and joy be wi’ you a'!” So much for my last words: now for a few present remarks, as they have occurred at random on looking over your list.
The first lines of The last time I came o'er the moor, and several other lines in it, are beautiful ; but in my opinion-pardon me, revered shade of Ramsay ! the song is unworthy of the divine air. I shall try to make or mend. For ever, Fortune, wilt thou prove, is a charming song ! but Logan burn and Logan braes, are sweetly susceptible of rural imagery : I'll try that likewise, and if I succeed, the other song may class among the English
I remember the two last lines of a verse in some of the old songs of Logan Water (for I know a good many different ones) which I think pretty.
dear lad maun face his faes, Far, far frae me and Logan braes."
My Patie is a lover gay, is unequal.
« His « mind
* Burns here calls himself the Voice of Coila, in imitation of Ossian, who denominates himself the Voice of Cona. Sae merry as we a' hae been; and Good night and joy be wi' you a', are the names of two Scottish tunes. E.
“mind is never muddy,” is a muddy expression indeed.
« Then I'll resign and marry Pate,
syne my cockernony.”—
This is surely far unworthy of Ramsay, or your book. My song, Rigs of Barley, to the same tune, does not altogether please me; but if I can mend it, and thrash a few loose sentiments out of it, I will submit it to your consideration. The Lass o' Patie's Mill is one of Ramsay's best songs; but there is one loose sentiment in it, which my much-valued friend Mr. Erskine will take into his critical consideration. In Sir J. Sinclair's Statistical volumes, are two claims, one, I think, from Aberdeenshire, and the other from Ayrshire, for the honour of this song. The fol. lowing anecdote, which I had from the present Sir William Cunningham of Robertland, who had it of the late John Earl of Loudon, I can, on such authorities, believe.
Allan Ramsay was residing at Loudon-castle with the then Earl, father to Earl John; and one forenoon, riding, or walking out together, his Lordship and Allan passed a sweet romantic spot on Irvine water, still called, “ Patie's Mill, " where a bonnie lass was“ tedding hay, bareheaded on the green.” My Lord observed to Allan, that it would be a fine theme for a song. Ramsay took the hint, and lingering behind, he composed the first sketch of it, which he produced at dinner.
One day I heard Mary say, is a fine song;
but for consistency's sake alter the name “ Adonis.” Were there ever such banns published, as a purpose of marriage between Adonis and Mary? I
my song, There's nouglit but care on every hand, is much superior to Poortith cauld. The original song, The Mill mill O, though excellent, is, on account of delicacy, inadmissible ; still I like the title, and think a Scottish song would suit the notes best; and let your chosen song, which is very pretty, follow, as an English set. The Banks of the Dee, is, you know, literally Langolee, to slow time. The song is well enough, but has some false imagery in it: for instance,
" And sweetly the nightingale sung from the
In the first place, the nightingale sings in a low bush, but never from a tree; and in the second place, there never was a nightingale seen, or heard, on the banks of the Dee, or on the banks of any other river in Scotland. Exotic rural imagery is always comparatively flat. If I could hit on another stanza, equal to The small birds rejoice, &c., I do myself honestly avow, that I think it a superior song. * John Anderson my jothe song to this tune in Johnson's Museum, is my composition, and I think it not my worst : if it suit you, take it and welcome. Your collection of sentimental and pathetic songs, is, in my opinion, very complete; but not so your comic ones. Where are Tullochgoriim, Lumps o' puddin, Tibbie Fowler, and several others, which, in my humble judgment, are well worthy of preservation? There is also one sentimental song of mine in the Museum, which never was known out of the immediate neighbourhood, until I got it taken down from a country girl's singing. It is called Craigieburn Wood; and in the opinion of Mr. Clarke, is one of the sweetest Scot
He is quite an enthusiast about it : and I would take his taste in Scottish music against the taste of most connoisseurs.
You are quite right in inserting the last five in your list, though they are certainly Irish." Shepherds I have lost my love! is to me a heavenly air-whąt would you think of a set of Scottish verses to it? I have made one to it a good while
* It will be found, in the course of this correspondence, that the Bard produced a second stanza of The Chevalier's Lament, (to which he here alludes) worthy of the first.