Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL
383
of No. 106 for the same tune, written for Thomson. The old song, as quoted by Stenhouse, began:—
                   ' I'll gang nae mair to yon town,
O, never a' my life again; I'll ne'er gae back to yon town To seek anither wife again.' The tune I'll gae nae mair to your \_yon\ town is in Bremner's Scots Reels, 1757, i.6; in Campbell's Reels, 1778,27: and AXrA'sAirs, 1782,1. No. jj; and in Bowie's Reels, 1789, to which Burns referred the printer of the Museum.
Mo. 100. Behold, my love, how green the groves. Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 188. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 18iS, 201. The MS. is in the Thomson collection. The original version began 'My Chloris, mark how green the groves,' but was altered to that in our text. The first copy was transmitted to Thomson in November, 1794, in a letter stating that' Chloris suggested the verses. Burns had previously disapproved of a song chosen by Thomson for the tune My lodging is on the cold ground, and Behold my love was written for it. The popular melody of the name—of either English or Irish origin— was first printed in Vocal Music, London, 177?, 18, and very soon afterwards became popular in Scotland. It ejected an earlier tune which had held its ground for more than a century. The original (that copied in our text) composed by Matthew Lock, is the finer melody of the two. Nell Gwyn, in the play of All Mistaken, 1672, sang it to a parody satirizing Moll Davis her rival, who was short and fat, thus:—
' My lodging is on the cold boards And wonderful hard is my fare; But that which troubles me most is The fatness of my dear,' &c. The tune known by the titles On the cold ground, or I prithee love, turn to me, is in the Dancing Master, 1665; Musick's Delight, 1666; and Apollo's Banquet, 1669.
Bo, 101. 'Twas na her bonie blue e'e was my ruin. Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 229. 'Tune, Laddie lie near me.' The MS. is in the Thomson collection. In a letter to Thomson, dated September, 1793, Burns explains his manner of writing songs and choice of melodies. ' Laddie lie near me, must lie by me for some time. I do not, know the air; and until I am complete master of a tune, in my own singing (such as it is), I never can compose for it My way is: I consider the poetic sentiment correspondent to my idea of the musical expression; then choose my theme; begin one stanza; when that is composed, which is generally the most difficult part of the business, I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for subjects in nature around me that are in unison and harmony with the cogitations of my fancy, and workings of my bosom, humming every now and then the air with the verses I have framed. When I feel my muse beginning to jade, I retire to the solitary fireside of my study, and then commit my_effusion to paper; swinging at intervals on the hindlegs of my elbow-chair, b"y way of calling forth my own critical strictures as my pen goes on. Seriously, this at home is almost invariably my way.' In April, 1795, 'Twas na her bonie blue e'e was completed, but in the following May he suppressed it as unworthy of his pen. A black-letter English ballad of the seventeenth century to a ' northern tune' is entitled The longing shepherdess, or Lady lie near me. Ritson discovered a Northumberland ballad which begins:—
' Down in yon valley, soft shaded by mountains Heard I a lad an' lass making acquaintance ; Making acquaintance and singing so clearly, Lang hae I lain my lane, laddie lie near me.'






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