Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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4IO                           HISTORICAL NOTES
Mo. 173. "Weary fa'you, Duncan Gray. Scots Musical Museum, 1788,. No. 160, signed 'Z.' The MS. is in the British Museum. 'Dr. Blacklock informed me that he had often heard the tradition that this air was composed by a carman in Glasgow' {Interleaved Museum). Founded on an old song, and written for the Museum. Bums borrowed the rhythm, and the refrain, ' Ha, ha, the girdin o't.' A version of four stanzas in the Merry Muses begins:
' Can ye play me Duncan Gray 1
Ha, ha, the girdin o't! O'er the hills and far away, Ha, ha, the girdin o't! ' Duncan cam our Meg to woo, Meg was nice and wadna do, But like an ether puffed and blew At offer o' the girdin o't,' &c. Substantially the same verses of five stanzas are in the Herd MS. in the British Museum. They are not redolent of a pious education. I For the tune, see Note 779.
No. 174. Wi' braw new branks in meikle pride. Lockhart's Life of Burns, 1829. Burns has described the interest he felt in parish secrets as a statesman in the knowledge of European diplomacy at his finger ends. His friends employed him as a confidential clerk to write their letters, and he acted the part of an unpaid French notaire in conducting their correspondence. In this case it was a poetical epistle on behalf of William Chalmers, a solicitor of Ayr, the same who drew the deed assigning Burns's interest in the farm of Mossgiel to his brother Gilbert when the poet decided to emigrate. Burns sent the epistle to the sweetheart of his friend; in 1787 he gave a copy to Lady Don, who handed it to Sir Walter Scott.
I cannot discover that the verses were written for any particular melody. An old tune, Omnia vincit Amor, in the Skene MS., c. 1630, will suit the words. .It is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book, viii. considerably altered.
No. 175. I am my mammy's ae bairn. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. ioy, signed ' Z,' to the tune I'm o'er young to marry yet. 'The chorus of this song is old; the rest of it, such as it is, is mine ' (Interleaved Mttseum). With considerable emendations, it still occupies a place in all modern collections of Scottish song, and is very popular to a modem tune, different from that in the text for which it was written.
In Cromek's Scotish Songs, i. ioj, is an additional stanza, not by Burns, which that editor thinks ought to be restored, but our text may be quite sufficient. Two stanzas of another of the same kind are in the Herd MS., beginning:
' I am gann to court a wife, And I'll love her as my life; But she is a young thing, And new come frae her minnie.' The subject is common to the folk-song of other countries. There is, for example, a French popular song of the fifteenth century with the same text, beginning, ' Je suis trop jeunette, Pour faire ung amy,' &c. The excellent old melody of these French verses may be seen in Tiersot's Chanson Pofulaire, Paris, 1889, 66.
The tune, I'm o'er young, slightly varied from that in our text, is in Bremner's Reels, 1758, 28; Stewart's Reels, 1761, 7; and M°Glashan's Reels, 1786, 46. An offshoot is probably Loch Eroch Side, No. jr.
No. 176. There was a lass, they ea'd her Meg. Scots Musical Museum,