Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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376                           HISTORICAL NOTES
opposite. The latter tune was not printed before 1790, while Miss Admiral Gordon s Strathspey was published in Marshall's Collection of Reels, 1781. It is in M'Glashan's Reels, 1786, 4. The rudiments of this fine melody can y be seen in the Skene MS., c. 1630, under the title AlaceI I lie my alon I'm lik to die auld. (Dauney's Ancient Scottish Melodies, p. 227.)
No. 70. O, how can I be blythe and glad? In Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No.317, signed 'X,' entitled The bonie lad that's far azva', without the second stanza. Complete in Cromek's Reliques, 1808,432. This song is supposed to be sung by Jean Armour, lamenting the absence of her husband. Burns has left no memorandum of the song, but the MS. is in the British Museum, minus the second stanza. Burns got the idea from verses in Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, ii. 1, which in its turn was an abridgement of a black-letter ballad of fifteen stanzas, c. 1690, entitled The inconstant shepherd, or the Forsaken Lass's Lamentation. London: Printed for C. Bates at the Sun and Bible, Pye Corner. To an excellent new Tune. Herd, with slight variation, copied the first, fourth and eighth stanzas into his collection. The ballad is exceptionally good for a street publication, the following being the first stanza : ' O, how can I be merry or glad, Or in my mind contented be; When the bonny, bonny lad whom I love best
Is banish'd out of my company ? Tho' he is banish'd for my sake,
And his true love I still remain, He has caused me many a night for to wake And adieu to my true love once again I' I cannot identify the ' excellent new tune' of this ballad, but it may have been O'er the hills and far away (see Song No. 2jy). Songs with this refrain were common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The tune in the text from the Museum was originally published there, and was probably communicated by Burns.
No, 71. I hae a wife o' my ain. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 332, signed ' B.' The MS. is in the British Museum. The style and humour of this irresistible song is delightful, and the nationality unmistakable. The energetic verses were framed on an old model:
' I hae a wife o' my awn,
I'll be haddin to naebody; I hae a pat and a pan, I'll borrow frae naebody.' Burns owed nothing to this or any other previous verses.
The tune confirms the evidence of the existence of songs now lost. The title I hae a wife 0' my ain, clearly the first line of a song, is in Walsh's Caledonian Country Dances; in Bremner's Reels, 1759, 4S\ in Stewart's Reels, 1761,72; and in Campbell's Reels, 1778, 73. Schumann composed an original lilt on Scottish lines, entitled Niemand, for a translation of Burns's song.
No. 72. It is na, Jean, thy bonie face. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 333. The MS. is in the British Museum, without direction for music. This eulogy on his wife was written near the close of the year 1788. ' These were originally English verses : I gave them their Scots' dress' {InterleavedMuseum). There is more philosophy than passion in them. Burns may have got the idea from a popular song of last century, by George Etheridge, beginning It is not Celia, in our power, otherwise nothing of another similar song has been discovered.
The tune, The maid's complaint, is by James Oswald, printed in Curious Collection Scots Tunes, 1740, 14, and in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1752, iv.^o.