Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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II. LOVE-SONGS : GENERAL                   403
Scottish form of Barbara Allan, which is in Oswald's Curious Collection, 1740, j, and Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1745, ii. -27.
ITo. 150. Hee balou, my sweet wee Donald. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 472, entitled The Highland balou. Stenhouse says: 'This curious song is a versification, by Burns, of a Gaelic nursery song, the literal Import of which, as well as the air, were communicated to him by a Highland lady. The bard's original MS. is in the Editor's possession.' {Illustrations, p. 416.) The MS., entitled ' Fragment,' is in the British Museum.
The morality of the Highland cateran was that of the chosen people, who thought it no wrong to spoil the ' Egyptians.' The relation of the Celt to the Sassenach, and to the rights of property, are the subject of a conversation between Evan Dhu and Waverley on Donald Bean Lean and his daughter Alice:—
' Oich, for that,' said Evan, 'there is nothing in Perthshire that she need want, if she ask her father to fetch it, unless it be too hot or too heavy.'
' But to be the daughter of a cattle stealer—a common thief!'
' Common thief!—no such thing; Donald Bean Lean never lifted less than a drove in his life.'
' Do yon call him an uncommon thief, then ?'
'No, he that steals a cow from a poor widow or a stirk from a cottar is a thief; he that lifts a drove from a Sassenach laird is a gentleman drover. And, besides, to take a tree from the forest, a salmon from the river, a deer from the hill, or a cow from a Lowland strath, is what no Highlander need ever think shame upon.' {Waverley, chap, xviii.)
The original tune is in Johnson's Museum. Robert Schumann, the German composer, adopted the theme, and treated it classically in his Liederkreis, opus 2;.
ETo. 151. O, saw ye my dear, my Philly. Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 174, entitled Saw ye my Philly. Tune, When she cam ben she bobbit. The MS. is in Brechin Castle. A prosaic version of Eppie McNab (Song No. I2j), furnished to Thomson in October, 1794. Burns advised the editor how the tune should be printed: ' Let me offer at a new Improvement, or rather a restoring of old sImplicity, in one of your newly-adopted songs:— ' When she cam ben she bobbit {a crotchet stop) When she cam ben she bobbit; {a crotchet stop) And when she cam ben, she kissed Qockpen, And syne denied that she did it' {a crotchet stop).
This is the old rhythm, and by far the most original and beautifnl. Let the harmony of the bass at the stops be full, and thin and dropping through the rest of the air, and you will give the tune a noble and striking effect.' Thomson acted on this excellent advice, and adopted the pauses as indicated. Haydn, the celebrated composer who harmonized the tune for Scotish Airs, filled the vocal blanks with a single instrumental chord.
For the tune, see Song No. 191, where Burns did not treat the ' old words' in the way he advised Thomson.
No. 152. My luve is like a red, red rose. Urbani's Scots Songs, 1794, with an original melody. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 402, signed ' R,' entitled A Red, red rose. Scotish Airs, 1799, So,' from an old MS. in the editor's possession.' The make-up of a song which Burns learnt in his youth. Several variants of it are printed in the Hogg and Motherwell's Burns, 1834, «214, and in the Centenary edition. The first four' lines Burns altered, the second he left untouched, the third he materially altered, and the last four lines are almost, if not the identical words of the old song. The rest he discarded; and like nearly everything he touched, he transformed dead or commonplace
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