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certainly had fer acting, the
advantage I have in this business, is the Whilst the muse seems so propitious, I knowledge it gives me of the various shades think it right to enclose a list of all the of human character, consequently assisting favours I have to ask of her--no fewer than me vastly in my poetic pursuits. I had the twenty and three! I have burdened the most ardent enthusiasm for the muses when pleasant Peter with as many as it is probable nobody knew me but myself, and that ardour | he will attend to; no: is by no means cooled, now that my Lord airs would puzzle the English poet not a Glencairn's goodness has introduced me to little--they are of that peculiar measure and all the world. Not that I am in haste for rhythm, that they must be familiar to him the press. I have no idea of publishing, else who writes for them. I certainly had consulted my noble generous patron; but after acting the part of an honest man, and supporting my family, my whole wishes and views are directed to
NO. CCLXXXIX. poetic pursuits. I am aware that, though I were to give performances to the world supe BURNS TO MR. THOMSON. rior to my former works; still, if they were
Sept., 1793. of the same kind with those, the comparative reception they would meet with, would
You may readily trust, my dear Sir, that nortify me. I have turned my thoughts on any exertion in my power is heartily at your the drama. I do not inean the s
the stately service. But one thing I nust hint to you; buskin of the tragic muse.
| the very name of Peter Pindar is of great Does not your ladyship think that an 1 service to your publication, so get a verse Edinburgh theatre would be more amused from him now and then; though I have no with affectation, folly, and whim of true l objection, as well as I can, to bear the burden Scottish growth, than manners, which by far of the busness. the greatest part of the audience can only
1 You know that my pretensions to musical know at second hand ? I have the honour taste are merely a few of nature's instincts, to be, your ladyship's ever devoted and grate- untaught and untutored by art. For this ful humble servant,
reason, niany musical compositions, particullarly where much of the merit lies in counterpoint, however they may transport and ravish the ears of you connoisseurs, affect my simple lug no otherwise than merely as
melodions din. On the other hand, by way NO. CCLXXXVIII.
of amends, I am delighted with many little
melodies, which the learned musician despises MR. THOMSON TO BURNS. as silly and insipid. I do not know whether
the old air, “Hey tuttie taitie,” may rank Edinburgh, Sept. 1st, 1793.
among this number; but well I know that, MY DEAR SIR-Since writing you last, I
with Frazer's hautboy, it has often filled my have received half a dozen sonrs, with which | eyes with tears. There is a tradition, which I am delighted beyond expression. The
I have met with in many places in Scotland, humour and fancy of “ Whistle, and I'll
that it was Robert Bruce's march at the come to you, niy lad,” will render it nearly
| battle of Bannockburn. This thought, in as great a favourite as “Duncan Gray my solitary wanderings, warmed me to a “Come, let me take thee to my breast." pitch of enthusiasm on the theme of liberty “Adown winding Nith," and "By Allan
and independence, which I threw into a kind stream," &c., are full of imagination and
of Scottish ode, fitted to the air, that one feeling, and sweetly suit the airs for which
might suppose to be the gallant Royal Scot's they are intended. “Had I a cave on some
address to his heroic followers on that wild distant shore," is a striking and affect
eventful morning. ing composition. Our friend, to whose story | BRUCE TO HIS MEN AT BANNOCK. it refers, reads it with a swelling heart, I
BURN. assure you. The union we are now formig, I think, can never be broken; these songs
TUNE—Hey tuttie taitie. of yours will descend, with the music, to the Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, latest posterity, and will be fondly cherished Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, 80 long as genius, taste, and sensibility, Welcome to your gory bed, exist in our island.
Or to victory!
MR. THOMSON TO BURNS.
Now's the day, and now's the hour: | The following song I have composed for See the front o' battle lour:
“Oran-gaoil," the Highland air, that, you See approach proud Edward's power tell me in your last, you have resolved to Chains and slavery.
give a place to in your book. I have this
moment finished the song, so you have it Wha will be a traitor-knave ?
glowing from the mint. If it suit you, well! Wha can fill a coward's grave?
-If not, 'tis also well! Wha sae base as be a slave ? Let him turn and flee!
[Here follows “Behold the Hour."] Wha for Scotland's king and law Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me! By oppression's woes and pains,
MR. THOMSON TO BURNS.
Edinburgh, Sept. 5th, 1793. Lay the proud usurpers low!
I BELIEVE it is generally allowed that Tyrants fall in every foe!
the greatest modesty is the sure attendant of Liberty's in every blow!
the greatest merit. While you are sending Let us do or die !
me verses that even Shakspeare might be So may God ever defend the cause of | proud to own, yoll speak of them as if they truth and liberty, as he did that day! |
were ordinary productions! Your heroic
ode is to me the noblest composition of the Amen.
kind in the Scottish language. P.S. I showed the air to Urbani, who was
I happened highly pleased with it, and begged me to
to, dine yesterday with a party of your make soft verses for it; but I had no idea
friends, to whom I read it. They were all
charmed with it; entreated me to find out a of giving myself any trouble on the subject, till the accidental recollection of that glorious
suitable air for it, and reprobated the idea of
giving it a tune so totally devoid of interest struggle for freedom, associated with the
or grandeur as "Hey tuttie taitie." Assuredly glowing ideas of some other struggles of the
your partiality for this tune must arise from same nature, not quite so ancient, roused my
the ideas associated in your mind by the rhyming mania. Clarke's set of the tune,
tradition concerning it, for I nerer heard any with his bass, you will find in the Museum,
personi,_and I have conversed again and though I am afraid that the air is not what
again with the greatestenthusiasts for Scottish will entitle it to a place in your elegant
airs--I say, I never heard any one speak of selection.
it as worthy of notice.
I have been running over the whole hun. dred airs, of which I lately sent you the list;
and I think “Lewie Gordon” is most happily No. ccxc.
adapted to your ode; at least, with a very
slight variation of the fourth line, which I BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
shall presently submit to you. There is in Sept. 1793.
“ Lewie Gordon” more of the grand than the
plaintive, particularly when it is sung with a I DARE say, my dear Sir, that you will
degree of spirit, which your words would begin to think my correspondence is perse
oblige the singer to give it. I would have cution. No matter, I can't help it; a ballad
no scruple about substituting your ode in is my hobby-horse, which, though otherwise
the room of “Lewie Gordon,” which has a simple sort of harmless idiotical beast
neither the interest, the grandeur, nor the enough, has yet this blessed headstrong
poetry, that characterise your verses. Now, property, that when once it has fairly made
the variation I have to suggest upon the last off with a hapless wight, it gets so enamoured
line of each verse, the only line too short for with the tingle-gingle, tingle-gingle of its the air is as follows:own bells, that it is sure to run poor pilgarlick, the bedlam jockey, quite beyond any Verse 1st, Or to glorious victory. useful point or post in the common race of 2nd, Chains--chains and slavery. men.
3rd, Let him, let him turn and flee,
4th, Let him bravely follow me. 1 of the musical expression; then choose my 5th, But they shall, they shall be free. theme; begin one stanza: when that is 6th, Let us, let us do or die!
composed, which is generally the most diffiIf you connect each line with its own
cult part of the business, I walk out, sit
down now and then, look out for objects in verse, I do not think you will find that either the sentiment or the expression loses
nature around me that are in unison and any of its energy. The only line which I
harmony with the cogitations of my fancy, dislike in the whole song is, “Welcome to
and workings of my bosom; humming every your gory bed.” Would not another word
i now and then the air with the verses I have be preferable to "welcome?” In your next
framed. When I feel my muse beginning to I will expect to be informed whether you jade, 1 retire to the solitary fireside of my agree to what I have proposed The little | study, and there commit my effusions to alterations I submit with the greatest defer- paper; swinging at intervals on the hind.
legs of my elbow chair, by way of calling ence. The beauty of the verses you have made
forth my own critical strictures as my pen for “Oran-gaoil” will ensure celebrity to the
goes on. Seriously, this, at home, is almost air.
invariably my way.
What cursed egotism !
“ Gill Morice" I am for leaving out. It is a plaguy length; the air itself is never
sung; and its place can well be supplied by NO. CCXCII.
one or two songs for fine airs that are not BURNS TO MR. THOMSON. in your list--for instance, “ Craigieburn
wood” and “Roy's wife.” The first, beside Sept. 1793.
its intrinsic merit, has novelty; and the last I HAVE received your list, my dear Sir, has high merit, as well as great celebrity. I and here go my observations on it. (173) have the original words of a song for the
“Down the Burn Davie." I have this last air, in the handwriting of the lady who moment tried an alteration, leaving out the composed it; and they are superior to any last half of the third stanza, and the first edition of the song which the public has yet half of the last stanza, thus :
seen. As down the burn they took their way,
“ Highland-laddie." The old set will And thro' the flowery dale;
please a mere Scotch ear best; and the new His cheek to hers he aft did lay,
an Italianised one. There is a third, and And love was aye the tale,
what Oswald calls the old “Highland
laddie," which pleases me more than either With “Mary, when shall we return,
of them. It is sometimes called “Ginglin Sic pleasure to renew?"
Johnnie;" it being the air of an old humo. Quoth Mary, "Love I like the burn,
rous tawdry song of that name. You will And aye shall follow you.” (174) find it in the Museum, “I hae been at
« Thro' the wood laddie" I am decidedly Crookieden,” &c. I would advise you, in of opinion, that, both in this, and “There'll this musical quandary, to offer up your never be peace till Jamie comes hame," the prayers to the muses for inspiring direction; second or high part of the tune being a and, in the meantime, waiting for this direcrepetition of the first part an octave higher, tion, bestow a libation to Bacchus; and is only for instrumental music, and would be there is not a doubt but you will hit on a much better omitted in singing.
judicious choice. Probatum est. “ Cowden-knowes." Remember in your "Auld Sir Simon" I must beg you to index that the song in pure English to this leave out, and put in its place “The tune, beginning,
“Blythe hae I been o'er the hill," is one When summer comes, the swains on Tweed,
of the finest songs ever I made in my life, is the production of Crawford. Robert was and, besides, is composed on a young lady, his Christian name.
positively the most beautiful, lovely woman "Laddie, lie near me," must lie by me for in the world. As I purpose giving you the some time. I do not know the air; and names and designations of all my heroines, until I am complete master of a tune, in my to appear in some future edition of your own singing (such as it is), I can never com- work, perhaps half a century hence, you pose for it. My way is: I consider the must certainly include "The bonniest lass in poetic sentiment correspondent to my idea a' the warld,” in your collection.
BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
411 “ Dainty Davie” I have heard sung nine- | down from an old man's singing, is enough teen thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine to recommend any air. times, and always with the chorus to the low part of the tune; and nothing has
[Here the poet gives “ Auld lang syne."] surprised me so much as your opinion on Now, I suppose, I have tired your patience this subject. If it will not suit as I pro- fairly. You must, after all is over, have a posed, we will lay two of the stanzas number of ballads, properly so called. “Gill together, and then make the chorus follow. | Morice.” « Tranent Muiris « Macphersou's
“Fee him, father:" I enclose you Frazer's farewell," “ Battle of Sheriff-muir," or, “We set of this tune when he plays it slow: in
ran, and they ran” (I know the author of fact, he makes it the language of despair.
this charming ballad, and his history), I shall here give you two stanzas, in that “ Hardiknute," “ Barbara Allan” (I can style, merely to try if it will be any im- furnish a finer set of this tune than any provement. (175) Were it possible, in sing that has yet appeared); and besides, do you ing, to give it half the pathos which Frazer
know that I really have the old tune to gives it in playing, it would make an ad
which “ The cherry and the slae" was sung, mirably pathetic song. I do not give these
and which is mentioned as a well-known air verses for any merit they have. I composed
in “Scotland's Complaint," a book published them at the time in which “ Patie Allan's
before poor Mary's days? It was then mither died--that was, about the back o'
called, * The banks o' Helicon ;” an old midnight ;” and by the lee-side of a bowl
poem which Pinkerton has brought to light. of punch, which had overset every mortal in
You will see all this in Tytler's History of company except the hautbois and the muse. Scottish Music. The tune, to a learned ear, [Here follows “ Thou hast left me ever.”]
may have no great merit; but it is a great
curiosity. I have a good many original “Jockie and Jenny” I would discard, and
e and Jenny I would discard, and things of this kind. in its place would put “There's nae luck about the house," which has a very pleasant air, and which is positively the finest loveballad in that style in the Scottish, or perhaps in any other language. “When she came ben she bobbit," as an air, is more beautiful than either, and in the andante
NO. CCXCIII. way would unite with a charming senti BURNS TO MR. THOJISON. mental ballad. “Saw ye my father ?” is one of my
September, 1793. greatest favourites. The evening before I am happy, my dear Sir, that my ode last, I wandered out, and began å tender pleases you so much. Your idea, “honour's song, in what I think is its native style. I bed,” is, though a beautiful, a hackneyed must premise, that the old way, and the way idea; so, if you please, we will let the line to give most effect, is to have no starting- stand as it is. I have altered the song as note, as the fiddlers call it, but to burst at I follows: once into the pathos. Every country girl sings “Saw ye my father?” &c.
BANNOCKBURN. My song is but just begun; and I should like, before I proceed, to know your opinion ROBERT BRUCE'S ADDRESS TO HIS ARMY. of it. I have sprinkled it with the Scottish dialect, but it may be easily turned into
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, correct English. (176)
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, “Todlin hame." Urbani mentioned an
Welcome to your gory bed! idea of his, which has long been mine, that
Or to glorious victory! this air is highly susceptible of pathos :
Now's the day, and now's the hour; accordingly, you will soon hear him at your
See the front o' battle lour; concert try it to a song of mine in the
See approach proud Edward's power! Museum, “ Ye banks and braes o' bonnie
Edward! chains and slavery. Doon." One song more, and I have done; "Auld lang syne." The air is but mediocre; Wha will be a traitor knave? hut the following song, the old song of the Wha can fill a coward's grave ? olden times, and which has never been in Wha sae hase as be a slave ? print, nor even in manuscript, until I took it | Traitor! coward! turn, and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law | and the best singer of the lively Scottish Freedom's sword will strongly draw, | ballads that ever existed, has charmed thouFreeman stand, or freeman fa',
sands of companies with “ Fee him, father," Sodger! hero! on wi' me!
and with “Todlin hame" also, to the old
words, which never should be disunited from By oppression's woes and pains !
either of these airs. Some bacchanals I By your sons in servile chains !
would wish to discard. "Fy! let's a' to the We will drain our dearest veins,
bridal,” for instance, is so coarse and vulgar, But they shall be shall be free!
that I think it fit only to be sung in a comLay the proud usurpers low!
pany of drunken colliers; and “Saw ye my Tyrants fall in every foe!
father?” appears to me both indelicate and Liberty's in every blow!
silly. Forward ! let us do or die!
One word more with regard to your heroic
ode. I think, with great deference to the N.B. I have borrowed the last stanza poet, that a prudent general would avoid from the common stall edition of Wallace saying any thing to his soldiers which might
tend to make death more frightful than it is. A false usurper sinks in every foe,
“Gory” presents a disagreeable image to the And liberty returns with every blow.
miud; and to tell them “Welcome to your A couplet worthy of Homer. Yesterday | gory bed," seenis rather a discouraging you had enough of my correspondence. The
address, notwithstanding the alternative post goes, and my head aches miserably. which follows. I have shown the song to One comfort! I suffer so much, just now, in
three friends of excellent taste, and each of onis world, for last night's joviality, that I
thein objected to this line, which emboldens shall escape scot-free for it in the world to
me to use the freedom of bringing it again
under your notice. I would suggest, come. Amen.
Now prepare for honour's bed,
September, 1793. much in unison with my own, respecting the “W10 shall decide when doctors disagenerality of the airs, as well as the verses. | gree?” My ode pleases me so much that I About some of them we differ, but there is cannot alter it. Your proposed alterations no disputing about hobby-horses. I shall would, in my opinion, make it tanie. I am not fail to profit by the remarks you make, exceedingly obliged to you for putting me and to re-consider the whole with attention. on reconsidering it, as, I think, I have much
“Dainty Davie" must be sung, two stanzas improved it, Instead of “sodger! hero!" together, and then the chorus: 'tis the I will have it “ Caledonian ! on wi' me!” proper way. I agree with you, that there I have scrutinized it over and over; and may be something of pathos, or tenderness to the world, some way or other, it shall go at least, in the air of “Fee him, father," as it is. At the same time, it will not in the when performed with feeling; but a tender least hurt me should you leave it out altocast may be given almost to any lively air, if | gether, and adhere to your first intention of you sing it very slowly, expressively, and adopting Logan's verses. (177) with serious words. I am, however, clearly I have finished my song to “Saw ye my and invariably for retaining the cheerful father?” and in English, as you will see. tunes joined to their own humorous verses, That there is a syllable too wherever the verses are passable. But the pression of the air, is true; but, allow me to sweet song for “Fee him, father,” which say, that the mere dividing of a dotted you began about the back of midnight, I crotchet into a crotchet and a quaver, is not will publish as an additional one. Mr. a great matter : however, in that I have no James Balfour, the king of good fellows, I pretensions to cope in judgment with you. Of