Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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394
HISTORICAL NOTES
Burns agreed with Thomson that the rhythm of Loch Eroch side suited the song, and on this general agreement it was printed with that tune in Scotish Airs. But the proper melody is Whare shall our gudeman lie ? or Where'11 borne Annie lie? as marked on the copy of the verses sent to Thomson. For tune, see No. 10.
Ho. 125. O, saw ye my dearie, my Eppie McHab ? Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. }}6, signed 'X,' entitled Eppie M"Nab. The MS. is in the British Museum. An old song rewritten and purified for insertion in the Museum. * The old song with this title has more wit than decency' {Interleaved Museum), The fragment in the Herd MS. is as follows:
' O, saw ye Eppie McNab the day? O, saw ye Eppie McNab the day?
She 's down in the yaird
She 's kissing the laird She winna cum hame the day, the day.
' O, see to Eppie McNab as she goes, See to Eppie McNab as she goes,
With her corked heel shoon
And her cockets aboon; O, see to Eppie McNab as she goes.'
In the Merry Muses is a ' revised' song for the tune, in which occurs :
' Her kittle black een they wad thirl ye thro'; Her rosebud lips cry, Kiss me just now,' &c.
The tune is in Curious Scots Tunes, 1742, 46; the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1754, vi. 18; Bremner's Reels, 1768,111; and a bad copy in Aird's Airs, 1782, ii. No. i6j. From its construction it is much older than the earliest date named.
ITo. 126. By love and by beauty. Sects Musical Museum, 1790, No. 281, entitled Eppie Adair. The MS. is in the British Museum among the Burns papers, and he there directs that the chorus should be sung to the first part of the tune, and the verse must be repeated to take up the second part.
The air is a very fine specimen of Scottish music in the minor mode; but has probably been evolved into a double tune. The music in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, xi. 19, is entitled My Apple.
No. 127. O, luve will venture in. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. jy}, signed ' B,' entitled The posie. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1798, 36, ' By Robert Burns.' MS. is in the British Museum. This song is not only chaste and beautiful, but is set to one of the best-constructed and most artistic melodies in the Scottish collections of the eighteenth century, yet it is entirely neglected, and is scarcely known. The lines were suggested to Burns on hearing his wife sing a street ballad There was a pretty May, which Cromek has printed in Reliques, 1808, 21J, but neither the Note nor the verses are in the Interleaved Museum. The substance of the Note is iu an undated letter to Thomson about October, 1794. From this commonplace thing Burns wrote The posie, which mechanical critics say offends the unity of time, because the flowers named in the song do not bloom in the same season. The subject is a very old one in English poesy. Burns's song may be compared with A nosegaie alwaies sweet, of fifteen stanzas, in the unique volume, 'A Handefull of pleasant Delites. At London, 1584.' The last two stanzas are:
' Cowsloppes is for Counsell, for secrets vs between, That none but you and I alone should know the thing we meane ; And if you wil thus wisely do as I think to be best, Then have you surely won the field, and set my heart at rest.