Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

360+ songs with lyrics, sheet music, historical notes & glossary.

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358
HISTORICAL NOTES
eighteenth century, but I am unable to find any authority under the hand of Burns that he wrote his verses for the air.
No. 23. 'Twas even—the dewy fields were green. The Polyhymnia, No. 18 [1799]; Currie, Works, 1800, i. 123 (no tune named); Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1801, 108, set to an unauthorized tune, Johnny s gray breeks. The 'Lass o' Ballochmyle'—Miss Wilhelmina Alexander—was the sister of the proprietor of the estate of Ballochmyle. The poet saw her for the first time as he was taking a solitary stroll in the evening. He sent her a copy of the verses, with a request that she would permit him to publish them, hut she took no notice of the request. Many years after, when the poet had become famous, and she was a maiden past her prime, she had the song and the letter framed, and hung them up in the hall. The letter, dated Nov. 18, 1786, describes the circumstances under which the song had been written. Burns wished this song and Young Peggie blooms (No. if) inserted in the Edinburgh edition of his works, but the literary tasters dissuaded him from if, and neither was printed.
Ettrick Banks, for which the song was written, is named in a letter to Mrs. Stewart of Stair, which enclosed a copy of the verses. The tune is named in the original publication Polyhymnia. The music is in the Orpheus Caledonius, '733) No. 43, to pastoral verses beginning:—
'On Ettrick banks in a summer's night,
At gloaming when the sheep drove hame, I met my lassy bra' and tight,
Cam wading barefoot, a' her lane: My heart grew light, I ran, I flang
My arms about her lily neck, And kiss'd and clap'd her there fu' lang, My words they were na' mony feck.' This song was afterwards printed in the fourth volume of the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1740. The tune is in Oswald's Curious Collection Scots Tunes, 1740, 28; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1742, 23; Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 16; Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. 81, and every Important collection of vocal music of the latter half of the eighteenth century.
No. 24. As I gasd up by yon gate-end. Aldine edition, 1839. First published anonymously in the Edinburgh Magazine, 1818. It appears that the Aldine editor printed the verses from a MS. which contained only the twelve lines as reprinted here. No tune is named.
Ho. 25. How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 137, signed 'B.' Tune, Bhannerach dhon na chri. The MS. is in the British Museum. ' These verses were composed on a charming girl, a Miss Charlotte Hamilton, who is now married to James McKitrick Adair, Physician. She is sister to my worthy friend Gavin Hamilton, of Mauchline; and was born on the banks of the Ayr, but was, at the time I wrote these lines [Oct., 1787], residing at Harvieston, Clack­mannanshire, on the romantic banks of the little river Devon. I first heard the air from a lady in Inverness, and got the notes taken down for this work' (i.e. the Scots Musical Museum). (Reliques, 1808, 243.)
The tune, Anglice, The brown dairy maid, communicated by Burns, was originally published in the Museum with his song. Another, but different rudimentary melody of the same title is in McDonald's Highland Airs, 1784, No. 103.
No. 26. The flower it blaws, it fades, it fa's. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 471, entitled Lovely Polly Stewart. The MS. is in the British Museum. Polly was the young daughter of William Stewart of Burns's song 'You're welcome, Willie Stewart.' According to Scott-Douglas, without






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