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the poetry I speak with confidence; but the | ain house” is a great favourite air of mine; music is a business where I hint my ideas and if you will send me your set of it, I will with the utmost diffidence.
task my muse to her highest effort. What The old verses have merit, though un- is your opinion of "I hae laid a herrin'in equal, and are popular: my advice is to set
I like it much. Your Jacobite airs the air to the old words, and let mine follow are pretty, and there are many others of the as English verses. Here they are :
same kind pretty; but you have not room [Here follows the song “Where are the joys.”] let's a' to the bridal,” to any other words
for them. You cannot, I think, insert “Fy! Adieu, my dear Sir! the post goes, so I than its own. shall defer some other remarks until niore
What pleases me, as simple and naïf, disgusts you as ludicrous and low. For this reason,“Fy! gie me my coggie, Sirs,” “Fy! let's a' to the bridal," with several others of that cast, are to me highly pleasing; while,
“Saw ye my father, or saw ye my mother?” BURNS TO THOMSON.
delights me with its descriptive simple
o the mill has gotten ?” pleases myself so I HAVE been turning over sonie volumes much, that I cannot try my hand at another of songs, to find verses whose measures
song to the air, so I shall not attempt it. I would suit the airs for which you have know you will laugh at all this; but “ilka allotted me to find English songs.
nan wears his belt his ain gait.” For “Muirland Willie," you have, in Ramsay's Tea-table an excellent song, hegiming, "Ah, why those tears in Nelly's eyes ?” As for “ The Collier's dochter," take the following old bacchanal :
BURNS TO MR. TIIOVSON. [Here follows Deluded swain, the pleasure."]
October 1793. The faulty line in Logan-Water, I mend
Your last letter, my dear Thomson, was thus :
indeed laden with heavy news. Alas, poor
Erskine ! (178) The recollection that he “How can your flinty hearts enjoy The widow's tears, the orphau's cry?”
was a coadjutor in your publication, has, till
now, scared me from writing to you, or The song otherwise will pass. As to turning my thoughts on composing for you. “M'Gregoria Rua-Ruth.” you will see a
I am pleased that you are reconciled to song of mine to it, with a set of the air the air of the “ Quaker's wife;” though, by superior to yours, in the Museum, vol. ii.
the bye, an old Highland gentleman, and a p. 181. The song begins,
deep antiquarian, tells me it is a Gaelic air, “Raving winds around her blowing." and known by the name of “ Leiger m' Your Trish airs are pretty, but they are
choss.” The following verses, I hope, will downright Irish. If they were like the please you, as an English song to the air. “Banks of Banna,” for instance, though
[Here follows “ Thine am I, my faithful really Irish, yet in the Scottish taste, you fair.”] might adopt them. Since you are so fond of Your objection to the English song I proIrish music, what say you to twenty-five of posed for “ John Anderson, my jo," is certhem in an additional number? We could tainly just. The following is by an old easily find this quantity of charming airs: I acquaintance of mine, and I think has merit. will take care that you shall not want songs; The song was never in print, which I think and I assure you that you would find it the is so much in your favour. The more origimost saleable of the whole. If you do not nal good poetry your collection contains, it approve of “Roy's wife," for the music's certainly has so much the more merit. sake, we shall not insert it. “ Deil tak the is a charming song; so is, “Saw ye
SONG.-By GAVIN TURNBULL. (179) my Peggy?”
“ There's nae luck about the “Oh condescend, dear charming maid, house well deserves a place. I cannot say My wretched state to view; that “ O'er the hills and far awa” strikes me A tender swain to love betray'd, as equal as your selection.
“This is no my
And sad despair, by you.
Where the sweetest May-born flowers
Oh, yield, illustrious beauty, yield !
No longer let me mourn ; And though victorious in the field,
Thy captive do not scorn. Let generous pity warm thee,
My wonted peace restore; And, grateful, I shall bless thee still,
And love thee more and more.
The rest of your letter I shall answer on some other opportunity.
The following address of Turnbull's to the Nightingale, will suit as an English song to the air, " There was a lass, and she was fair." By the bye, Turnbull has a great many sougs in MS., which I can command, if yoli
like his manner.
Possibly, as he is an oli friend of mine, I may be prejudiced in his favour : but I like some of his pieces very much. .
MR. THOMSON TO BURNS.
“Thou sweetest minstrel of the grove,
That ever tried the plaintive strain, Awake thy tender tale of love,
And soothe a poor forsaken swain. For though the muses deign to aid,
And teach himn smoothly to complain; Yet Delia, charming, cruel maid,
Is deaf to her forsaken swain. All day, with fashion's gaudy sons,
In sport she wanders o'er the plain : Their tales approves, and still she shuns
The notes of her forsaken swain.
November 7th, 1793. My Good SIR-After so long a silence, it gave me peculiar pleasure to recognise your well kuown-hand, for I had begun to be apprehensive that all was not well with you. I am happy to find, however, that your silence did not proceed from that cause, and that you have got among the ballads once more.
I have to thank you for your English song to “Leiger m' choss,” which I think extremely good, although the colouring is
Your friend, Mr. Turnbull's songs have doubtless considerable merit; and as you have the command of his manuscripts, I hope you may find out some that will answer as English songs, to the airs yet unprovided. (180)
When evening shades obscure the sky,
And bring the solemn hours again, Begin, sweet bird, thy melody,
And soothe a poor forsaken swain.”
I shall just transcribe another of Turnbull's, which would go charmingly to “Lewie Gordon,
TO JOHN M'MURDO, ESQ.
"Let me wander where I will, By shady wood, or winding rill;
Dumfries, December, 1793. SIR-It is said that we take the greatest liberties with our greatest friends, and I
pay myself a very high compliment in the pertinent in my anxious wish to be honoured manner in which I am going to apply the with your acquaintance. You will forgive it remark. I have owed you money longer it was the impulse of heart-felt respect. than ever I owed it to any man. Here is “He is the father of the Scottish county Ker's account, and here are six guineas; reform, and is a man who does honour to and now, I don't owe a shilling to man-or the business, at the same time that the woman either. But for these da dirty, I business does honour to him," said my dog-ear'd little payes (181), I had done my worthy friend Glenriddel to somebody by self the honour to have waited on you long me who was talking of your coming to this ago. Independent of the obligations your country with your corps.
country with your corps. “Then,” I said, hospitality has laid me under, the con- “I have a woman's longing to take him by ciousness of your superiority in the rank of the hand, and say to him, 'Sir, I honour you man and gentleman, of itself was fully as as a man to whom the interests of humanity much as I could ever make head against; are dear, and as a patriot to whom the but to owe you money too, was more than I | rights of your country are sacred.'” could face.
In times like these, Sir, when our comI think I once mentioned something of a moners are barely able, by the glimmering collection of Scots songs I have for some of their own twilight understandings, to years been making--I send you a perusal of scrawl a frank, and when lords are what what I have got together. I could not gentlemen would be ashamed to be, to conveniently spare them above five or six whom shall a sinking country call for days, and five or six glances of them will help? To the independent country gentleprobably more than suffice you.
To him who has too deep a stake in few of them are my own.
When you are
his country not to be in earnest for her tired of them, please leave them with Mr. welfare; and who, in the honest pride of Clint, of the King's Arins. There is not man, can view, with equal contempt, the another copy of the collection in the world; insolence of office, and the allurements of and I should be sorry that any unfortunate | corruption. negligence should deprive me of what has I mentioned to you a Scots ode or cost me a good deal of pains.
song I had lately
had lately composed (184), and which, I think, has some merit. Allow me to enclose it. When I fall in with you at the theatre, I shall be glad to have your
opinion of it. Accept of it, Sir, as a very TO JOIIN M'MURDO, ESQ.,
humble, but most sincere tribute of respect for a man who, dear as he prizes poetic fame, yet holds dearer an independent
mind. I have the honour to be, Dumfries, 1793.
R. B. WILL Mr. M'Murdo do me the favour to accept of these volumes (182); a trifling but sincere mark of the very high respect I bear for his worth as a man, his manners as a gentleman, and his kindness as a friend. However inferior now, or afterwards, I may
TO MRS. RIDDEL, rank as a poet, one honest virtue to which few poets can pretend, I trust I shall ever claim as mine-to no man, whatever his station in life, or his power to serve me,
I am thinking to send my “Address” to have I ever paid a compliment at the expense of TRUTH.
some periodical publication, but it has not got your sanction, so pray look over it.
As to the Tuesday's play, let me beg of you, my dear Madam, to give us “The Wonder, a Woman keeps a Secret!” to
which please add, “The Spoilt Child”-you TO CAPTAIN
(183) will highly oblige me by so doing.
Ah, what an enviable creature you are! Dumfries, December 5th, 1793.
There now, this cursed, gloomy, blue-devil SIR-Heated as I was with wine yesterday, you are going to a party of choice night, I was perhaps rather seemingly im- | spirits
WHO WAS ABOUT
TO BESPEAK A PLAY ONE
EVENING AT TIL DUMFRIES THEATRE.
To play the shapes position of mine (186), as a small tribute of Of frolic fancy, and incessant form
gratitude for the acquaintance with which Those rapid pictures, assembled train
you have been pleased to honour me. IndeOf fleet ideas, never join'd before,
pendent of my enthusiasm as a Scotsman, I Where lively wit excites to gay surprise: have rarely met with any thing in history Or folly-painting humour, yrave himself, which interests my feelings as a man, equal Calls laughter forth, deep shaking every with the story of Bannockburn. On the one
hand, a cruel but able usurper, leading on
the finest army in Europe to extinguish the But, as you rejoice with them that do
last spark of freedom among a greatly-daring rejoice, do also remember to weep with them that weep, and pity your melancholy friend, hand, the desperate relics of a gallant nation,
and greatly-injured people; on the other R. B. (185)
devoting themselves to rescue their bleeding country, or perish with her.
Liberty! thou art a prize truly, and indeed invaluable, for never canst thou be too dearly
little ode has the honour of your IN FAVOUR OF A PLAYER'S BENEFIT.
lordsliip's approbation, it will gratify my
highest ambition. I have the honour to be. Dumfries, 1794. &c.
R. B. MADAM-You were so very good as to promise me to honour my friend with your presence on his benefit night. That night is fixed for Friday next: the play a most interesting one-“The Way to Keep Him." I have the pleasure to know dir. G. well.
TO CAPTAIN MILLER, His merit as an actor is generally acknowledged. He has genius and worth which would do honour to patronage: he is a
DEAR SIR-The following ode (187) is on poor and modest man :---claims which, from
a subject which I know you by no means their very silence have the more forcible
Oh, Liberty, power on the generous heart.
generous heart. Alas, for regard with indifference. pity! that, from the indolence of those who Thou mak'st the gloomy face of nature gay, have the good things of this life in their Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to gift, too often does brazen-fronted im
the day. portunity snatch that hoon, the rightful due of retiring, humble want! Of all the
It does me so much good to meet with a qualities we assign to the author and
man whose honest bosom glow3 with the director of Nature, by far the most enviable yenerous enthusiasm, the heroic dariny of is, to be able “ to wipe away all tears from liberty, that I could not forbear sending you all eyes." Oh what insignificant, sordid
a composition of my own on the subject, wretches are they, however chance may
which I really think is in my best manner. have loaded them with wealth, who go to
I have the honour to be, dear Sir, &c.
R. B. their graves, to their magnificent mausoleums, with hardly the consciousness of having made one poor honest heart happy.
But I crave your pardon, Madam; I came to beg not to preach.
TO MRS. RIDDEL
DEAR MADAM-I meant to have called on you yesternight; but as I edged up to
your box-door, tlie first object which greeted TO THE EARL OF BUCHAN. niy view was one of those lobster-coated Dumfries, January 12th, 1794.
puppies, sitting like another dragon, guarding
the Hesperian fruit. On the conditions and MY LORD–Will your lordship allow me capitulations you so obligingly offer, I shall to present you with the enclosed little com- I certainly make my weather-beaten, rustic phiz a part of your box-furniture on Tuesday, spoilt it a good deal. It shall be a lesson to when we may arrange the business of the me how I lend him anything again. visit.
I have sent you" Werter," truly happy to Among the profusion of idle compliments, have any, the smallest, opportunity of obliwhich insidious craft, or unmeaning folly, ging you. incessantly offer at your shrine-a shrine, 'Tis true, Madam, I saw you once since I how far exalted above such adoration--per- was at Woodlee; and that once froze the mit me, were it but for rarity's sake, to pay very life-blood of my heart. Your reception you the lionest tribute of a warm heart and of me was such, that a wretch meeting the an independent mind,—and to assure you, eye of his judge, about to pronounce sentence that I am, thou most amiable, and most of death on him, could only have envied my accomplished of thy sex, with the most feelings and situation. But I hate the respectful esteem, and fervent regard, thine, theme, and never more shall write or speak &c.
One thing I shall proudly say, that I can pay Mrs. R. a higher tribute of esteem, and appreciate her amiable worth more truly, than any man whom I have seen approach her.
TO THE SAME.
I will wait on you, my ever-valued friend, but whether in the morning I am not sure. Sunday closes a period of our curst revenue business, and may probably keep
TO THE SAME. me employed with my pen until noon. Fine employment for a poet's pen! Tliere is a
I HAVE often told you, my dear friend, species of the human genus that I call the
that you had a spice of caprice in your comgin-horse class: what enviable doys they are! position, and you have as often disavowed it; Round, and round, and round they go even, perhaps, while your opinions were, at Mundell's ox, that drives his cotton mill, is the moment, irrefragably proving it. Could their exact prototype--without an idea or anything estrange me from a friend such as wish beyond their circle-fat, sleek, stupid, you? No! Tomorrow I shall have the patient, quiet and contented; while here I honour of waiting on you. sit, altogether Novemberish, a d melange of fretfulness and melancholy; not enough | accomplished of women, even with all thy
Farewell, thou first of friends, and most of the one to rouse me to passion, nor of the little caprices !
R. B. other to repose me in torpor; my soul flouncing and fluttering round her tenement, like a wild finch, caught amid the horrors of winter, and newly thrust into a cage. Well, I am persuaded, that it was of me the Hebrew sage prophesied, when he foretold—“And, behold, on whatsoever this man doth set his heart, it shall not prosper !” If my resent
TO THE SAME. ment is awaked, it is sure to be where it dare not squeak; and if
MADAM-I return your common-place Pray that wisdom and bliss be more fre- book. I have perused it with much pleasure, quent visitors of
and would have continued my criticisms, but as it seems the critic has forfeited your esteem, his strictures must lose their value.
If it is true that "offences come only from the heart;" before you I am guiltless. To admire, esteem and prize you, as the most accomplished of women, and the first of
friends—if these are crimes, I am the most TO THE SAME.
offending thing alive. I HAVE this moment got the song from In a face where I used to meet the kind Syme, and I am sorry to see that he has complacency of friendly confidence, now to