Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                    377
No. 73. Louis, what reck I by thee? Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 414, signed ' R,' entitled Louis, what reck I by thee? The MS. is not known. Scott-Douglas assumes that the verses were written in December, 1788, after the poet's wife and family joined him at Ellisland. The hand of Burns is apparent in the vigorous language of the verses. The signature in the Museum confirms the authorship.
Stenhouse, without quoting authority, states that Burns communicated the tune to the editor of the Museum. I have not discovered it in any earlier Scottish collection of music. The first two lines in the relative major key are the opening bars of The British Grenadiers.
Mo. 74. O, were I on Parnassus' hill. Scots Musical Museum, 1790; No. 2;;, signed ' R.' Tune, My love is lost to me. ' Mr. B.'s words ' (Law's MS. List). Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1798, No. 29. Nearly all Burns's letters of the latter part of the year 1788 contain some reference to his married life. To Peggy Chalmers, dated September 16, he relates that his wife never spent five minutes on any book, except the Old and New Testaments, the Psalms of David, and his own poems, which she has perused very devoutly, and all the ballads in the county, ' as she has the finest woodnote wild I ever heard.' A surfeit of probable models of the song are in the Centenary Burns.^ ' This air is Oswald's : the song I made out of compliment to Mrs. Burns' (Interleaved Museum). The tune My love is lost to me, or 0 Jean, I love thee, is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1753, v. 2j, and in Calliope, 1788, iy6. The extended compass of the air has interfered with its popularity.
No. 75. Out over the Forth, I look to the north. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 421. The MS. is in the British Museum, with the title I look to the north. In a letter to Cunningham, Burns quotes four lines of the song, and asks his correspondent how he liked them as a sample he had ' on the tapis.' He wrote on the copy for the Museum, ' The enclosed tune is a part of Gow's Charles Graham's welcome hame, but I do not think the close of the second part of the tune happy. Mr. Clarke, on looking over Gow's air, will conceive a better;' which Clarke did. The tune is in Gow's Second Collection, 1788, 20.
e. 'Clarinda' (Mrs. McLehose).
Ho. 76. For thee is laughing Nature gay. Museum, 1788, No. 19a, entitled' To a blackbird. By a lady,' and signed ' M.' Tune, Scots Queen. The MS. is in the British Museum. Burns wrote only the four lines beginning, 'For thee is laughing Nature gay'; the rest are by Mrs. McLehose. For the tune, see No. 66.
No. 77. Your friendship much can make me blest. Second stanza of a song in Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 186, entitled ' Talk not of love, it gives me pain. By a lady.' Tune, Banks of Spey. Signed 'M.' The MS. is in the British Museum. About the beginning of December, 1787, Burns met Mrs. McLehose for the first time. She was parted from her husband, a Glasgow solicitor, who had gone to the West Indies. Handsome and good-looking, sentimental and religious, and about the same age as Burns, she wished to become better acquainted with the poet, and invited ljim to take tea at her house. He was prevented from keeping the engagement by an accident which confined him to his lodgings for two months. A formal correspondence began in the orthodox fashion, but it progressed so rapidly that in a fortnight she signed herself Clarinda and he followed suit with Sylvander. Sometimes two or three letters a day were interchanged, and the whole episode lasted three and a half months. The writing for the most part is stilted sentiment, and although there is the appearance of much enthusiasm and passion, there is an absence of reality about the whole affair. But Burns showed that he