Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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402
HISTORICAL NOTES
The melody is remarkable for its brevity and sImplicity. Tytler, Ritson, and other antiquarians considered it much earlier than its recorded first appearance.
Ritson stated that the fragment of eight lines printed in his Scotish Songs, 1794, i. 47 (with music as in our text), was dictated to him many years ago by a young gentleman, who had it from his grandfather. Thomson spoiled the character of the music with a modern dress in Select Melodies, 1822, I'll. 19. To the Song, No. 92, sup.' Can I cease to care,' he added a line at the end of each verse in order to fit the rhythm of the music, which he altered to close the air on the tonic. Those editorial' Improvements' were doubtless made to elaborate the music. The setting of the chorus of the air in the text from Napier's Songs differs considerably from that of our No. 02, which I consider is nearer the original air.
No. 148. Go, fetch to me a pint o' wine. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 2)1, entitled My Bonie Mary; Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1805, 189, with a wrong tune. The MS. of these brilliant verses is in the British Museum. Sent to Mrs. Dunlop in a letter, dated December 17, 1788: 'Now I am on my hobby-horse, I cannot help inserting two other old stanzas, which please me mightily:' then follows a copy of My bonie Mary. Subsequently he writes: ' This air is Oswald's; the first stanza of the song is old, the rest mine' {Interleaved Museum'). His object in concealing himself as the author is not very obvious, but probably it was to record his opinion of the verses. The following fragment is printed on the frontispiece of the second volume of Morison's Scotish Ballads, 1790, evidently a part of some undiscovered song:
' The loudest of thunder o'er louder waves roar That's naething like leaving my love on the shore.'
An engraving represents the parting of two lovers, and a boat on the beach close by.
Peter Euchan, the editor of Ancient Ballads, 1828, and other collections, professed to have recovered the first four lines of this song written, as he said in 1636, by Alexander Lesley, grandfather of the celebrated Archbishop Sharp. The Rev. Alexander Dyce, the Shakespearian editor, believed Buchan to be absolutely untrustworthy. His opinion would be spoiled by any paraphrase, so here are his words : ' This Buchau, whom I once endeavoured to assist in his poverty, by procuring purchasers of his books, was a most daring forger; scarcely anything that he has published can be trusted to as genuine.' Dean Christie, in his Traditional Ballad Airs, 1876, gets Buchan into a tight place over a statement that Hugh Allan, the author of The pipers 0' Buchan, could not write a sImple letter. Christie says that Allan, on the contrary, was a good mathematician and theologian, that he taught his father mathematics, which first induced him to study the science. ( Traditional Ballad Airs, 1876, i. jS.)
The tune, by James Oswald, is in Universal Harmony, 1745, 108, entitled The stolen Kiss; in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1752, iv. 2), The secret Kiss. Burns was not quite satisfied with his choice of a melody, for in September, 1793, he suggested to George Thomson that as it precisely suited the measure of the air, Woes my heart that we should sunder, he might set it to this. Thomson did not act on the advice, but printed it to The old highland laddie, which subsequent compilers have adopted. Burns's alternative melody, Waes my heart that we should sunder, is a characteristic tune printed in Original Scotch Tunes, 1700 ; also in the Orpheus Caledonius, 1725, No. o.
No. 149. Young Jamie, pride of a' the plain. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 420. The MS. is in the British Museum, marked for the tune The carlin of the glen, and Stenhouse was the first who claimed the song for Burns. Nothing is known of its history. The tune is said to be in Clark's Flores Musicae, 1773, with the title; but the music is evidently derived from the