Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                 355
' As I came in by Edinburgh toun,
And in by the banks o' the city, 0, And there I heard a young man cry,
And was na that great pity, O? And still he cried his Nanie, O,
His weel far'd, comely Nanie, O, And a' the warld shall never ken
The love that I bear Nanie, O.'
Burns wrote his song about 1782, and the copy in his Commonplace Book is dated April, 1784. It is quite Improbable that he could have seen the Herd MS. so early as either year named, if he ever saw it at all. For some reason or another the editors of the Centenary Burns do not quote the above lines.
The nationality of the music of My Nanie, 0 is disputed. The late J. Muir Wood stated that the air is in a Graham MS. of 1694. The earliest printed copy is in Orpheus Caledonius, 1725, No. j8, with Ramsay's verses; then in Ramsay's Mustek, c. 1726; Watts's Miscellany, 1730, I'll. 126; British Musical Miscel­lany, 1734, ii. 14; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1742, 27; Oswald's Caledonian Companion, c. 1753, v.j; Bremner's Scots Songs, 1757,17 (2nd series); and else­where. The tune is now permanently associated with Burns's song. Thomson wished to set it to a different melody ; but Burns disapproved, and replied that his subscribers would prefer My Nanie, 0 set to its own tune, and accordingly it appeared in Scotish Airs, 1793, 4. The popularity of the verses compelled their insertion in Johnson's Museum, 1803, vi. No. jSo; but as the tune had been previously appropriated to Ramsay's verses in the first volume, Johnson set it to an English air by Thomas Ebdon, a Durham musician, which, how­ever, failed to catch the public ear.
No. 14. True-hearted was he, the sad swain o' the Yarrow. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1798, 46. ' Written for this work by Robert Burns. Tune, Bonny Dundee.' Written for Miss Jessie Staig, daughter of a Provost of Dumfries, and the lady who afterwards married Major William Miller, a son of the landlord of Ellisland. Mrs. Miller died at the early age of twenty-six. The song was sent to Thomson in April, 1793, to suit Bonie Dundee. Thomson objected to a stiff line in the song; Burns agreed with him, but declined to make any alteration, as ' it would spoil the likeness, so the picture must stand.'
For the tune, see Song No. 112.
KTo. 15. Young Peggy blooms our boniest lass. Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. 78, with its tune Loch Eroch Side. Written for Miss Margaret Kennedy, the daughter of a small landed proprietor, and a relative of Mrs. Gavin Hamilton. She was about seventeen years of age when Burns made her acquaintance. He sent her a copy of the verses, with a letter, in which he says: ' Flattery I leave to your lovers, whose exaggerating fancies may make them imagine you are still nearer perfection than you really are.' His good wishes that she shonld be preserved from all misfortune were very far from being realized, for she fell a victim to a military adventurer of a good family like herself.
Margaret Kennedy was accomplished by birth and education, and one of the first of Burns's acquaintances out of his sphere of life. The song resembles the artificially polished verses of the eighteenth century, and has not been much thought of. Burns execrated his literary advisers, who compelled him to omit this song in the first Edinburgh edition, and it accounts for its early publication in. Johnson's Museum. The tune is in Agnes Hume's MS., 1704, entitled Lady Strathden's.
The words and music are in Sime's Edinburgh Musical Miscellany, 1793, j6o. Loch Eroch Side, or Strathspey, is now better known as the melody of Baroness
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