Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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352
HISTORICAL NOTES
Tune, Gal/a Water' with a note : ' Done something in imitation of the manner of a noble old Scottish piece called McMillan's Peggy, and sings to the tune of Galla Water. My Montgomerie's Peggy was my deity for six or eight months. She had been bred, tho', as the world says, without any just pretence for it, in a style of life rather elegant . . .'I began the affair merely in gatti de cozur .... but it cost me some heart-aches to get rid of the affair* I have even tried to imitate, in this extempore thing, that irregularity in the rhyme which, when judiciously done, has such a fine effect on the ear' {Commonplace Book, 1872, ;i). So far as ascertained, Peggy was the housekeeper of Montgomery of Coils-field. She and Burns attended the same church, and there began the flirtation which ended abruptly as described. The verses were originally printed in Cromek's Reliques of Robert Burns, 1808, _yo. Neither Johnson nor George Thomson seem to have known this metrically defective but verbally melodic song. The esteemed German composer of songs, Robert Franz, has set it to an original air. For the origin of tune Galla Water, see No. i)T. The poetic model of Bnrns's McMillan's Peggy is unknown to me.
No. 4. Yestreen I met you on the moor. Commonplace Book, 1872,2;. ' Tune, InvercaulcTs Reel, Strathspey' Printed without the second and last stanzas, and signed 'X' in the Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 196. The manuscript is in the British Museum. The song was written at the age of seven­teen for Tibbie or Isabella Stein, the daughter of a farmer at Tarbolton, whose land marched with that of Lochlea, the home of Burns. Invercauld's Reel has been a popular air in Scotland since it was printed in Stewart's Reels, 1762,^7. It is an excellent specimen of the dance-music of Scotland, illustrating the use of the ' Scots snap ' and havi'ng an irregular close. The Museum copy differs from that in the text, which is from Stewart's Collection, in that every alternate quaver is dotted. The music is also in Bremner's Reels, 1768, 10J; and McGlashan's Strathspey Reels, 1780, 26.
No. 5. If ye gae up to yon hill-tap. In Chambers's Burns, 1851. No tnne named. These sarcastic lines on the Tarbolton lasses are an early production. As Burns strolled through the village the old wives came to the door-step to look and wag their wise heads at the passenger. ' Faile' in the third stanza, famous for aje, was notable for an ancient monastery, the friars of which in the sixteenth century were styled ' lymmars' or villains in the Gud and Godlie Ballads.
Ho. 6. Her flowing locks, the raven's wing. First printed in Cromek's Reliques of Robert Burns, 1808, 44s, styled 'Fragment,' and with no indica­tion of a melody. No trustworthy account is attached to the verses, but Cunningham connects them with 'a Manchline lady,' whom Scott-Douglas conjectures to be Miss Whitefoord, the daughter of a landed proprietor there, and a friend of Burns. The verses can be sung to, and fit, Loch Eroch Side (No. if).
No. 7. Had I a eave on some wild distant shore. Scotish Airs, 1799, 02. ' Written for this work by Robert Burns. Air, Robin Adair.' MS. at Brechin Castle. This despairing lyric was written for the tune which the poet could not get out of his head, and on the same subject as No. _y. Nowhere has Burns been more successful in English than in the present song. For the tune Aileen a roon or Robin Adair, see No. 43.
No. 8. It was upon a Lammas night. Written about the year 1782, and published in the Kilmarnock Edition, 1786, 222. Tune, Corn rigs are bonie. Who this ' Annie' was has never been satisfactorily settled, for several of the name with whom Burns was more or less acquainted claimed to be the original. According to Scott-Douglas, the daughter of a farmer called Rankine, who lived within two miles of Lochlea, boasted that she was the heroine. The fifth line of the song in the Kilmarnock and first Edinburgh editions runs






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