Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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354                        HISTORICAL NOTES
T he well-known Westmoreland hunting ditty, ' D'ye ken John Peel,' is sung to this old melody Red house or Bonny Annie of the seventeenth century.
Ho. 11. Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns. In the Commonplace Book, 1872, 47, entitled Har'ste:a fragment, are eight lines substantially the same as begins the song which the sister of Burns said was written for Jean Armour. The complete song is in the Kilmarnock edition, 1786, 224, entitled Song, composed in August. Tune, I had a horse, I had nae mair, and the MS. is in the British Museum. Burns changed the heroine to Peggy Thomson, who lived next door to the Kirkoswald School, where Burns studied trigonometry, and she ' upset all my sines and co-sines, and it was in vain to think of doing any more good at school.' She subsequently married a Mr. Neilson, and Burns was on friendly terms with both.
When the song was revised, Burns altered the melody to Port Gordon, as may be seen in the Gray and Law MS. Lists, but Johnson of the Museum neglected the instruction, and attached the melody When the King comes o'er the water, titling it erroneously Come, kiss with me. Thomson, in Scotish Airs,
1799, 93, mutilated the verses, and adapted them to the Irish air Ally Croker. The tune Port Gordon, for which Burns wrote the song, is in Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1756, viii. jy. There is a family resemblance, but the air is not the same as When the King comes o'er the water.
No. 12. Full well thou know'st I love thee, dear. Currie, Works,
1800,  iv. .2(5/. 'Tune, Rothiemurche.' Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1801, 121. This is the last work from the pen of Burns. Written at Brow on the Solway Firtb, where he had gone for sea bathing. He casts his memory back and reverts to the time when he met Charlotte Hamilton and Peggy Chalmers. The poet was conscious that this song was not one of his best, and he explains the reason in his letter [of July 12, 1796] to Thomson: 'I tried my hand on Rothiemurche this morning. The measure is so difficult that it is Impossible to infuse much genius into the lines.' In this letter he asks for a loan of five pounds in these words': 'Curst necessity compels me to Implore you for five pounds. . . . Do, for God's sake, send me that sum, and that by return of post. ... I hereby promise and engage to furnish you with five pounds worth of the neatest song-genius you have seen.' Shortly before, Burns, by request, assigned to Thomson, without any consideration, the absolute copyright of all the songs which he had sent him during the previous three years.
For the tune Rothiemurche, see No. ioj.
No. 13. Behind yon hills where Lugar flows. Edinburgh edition, 1787, }22. ' Tune, My Nanie, 0.' In the Commonplace Book it is marked for the tune As I came in by London, O, which I cannot trace. In both copies the first line of the song is ' Behind yon hills where Stinchar flows,' but the more euphonious 'Lugar' was afterwards adopted. The original of the song is supposed to be Annie Fleming, the daughter of a Tarbolton farmer, whose society Burns sought because she was a good singer. The song has enjoyed undiminished popularity since its original appearance. Burns sent it to George Thomson in 1793 for his projected musical collection. The editor wished to mend the diction, but Burns abruptly said, 'Now don't let it enter your head that you are under any necessity of taking my verses,' but Thomson accepted the song, and altered the metre of the second stanza. Prior to Allan Ramsay's Nanny, 0 in the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724, there was a London broadside entitled The Scotch Wooing of Willy and ATanny to a pleasant New Tune, or Nanny, 0, beginning ' As I went forth one morning fair.' But a popular song of the eighteenth century was the model of Burns, a fragment of which is in the Herd MS. as follows, and now printed for the first time:

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