Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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430                           HISTORICAL NOTES
Bab at the bowster, in Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 119. It was "sung in at least five English operas of the eighteenth century, and known in England as A country bumpkin from one of the opera songs beginning:—
' A country bumpkin who trees did grub, A vicar that used the pulpit to drub,
And two or three more, o'er a stoup of strong bnb, Late met on a jolly occasion.' The Cushion dance, precisely that described above, was fashionable and popular in England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth : every class from the Court down­wards favoured it. John Selden (1584-1664), in Table Talk, gives a ludicrous account of the English dancing propensities. ' The Court of England is much altered. At a solemn dancing, first you had the grave measures, then the Corrantos and the Galliards, and this is kept up with ceremony, at length, to Trench-more and the Cushion-Dance, and then all the company dance, Lord and groom", Lady and kitchen-maid, no distinction. So in our Court in Queen Elizabeth's time gravity and state were kept up. In king James's time things were pretty well. But in King Charles's time, there has been nothing but Trenchmore and the Cushion Dance, omnium gatherum, tolly polly, hoite cum. toite.' Taylor, the water poet, called the cushion dance a provocative dance, for he before whom the cushion was placed was to kneel and salute the lady. A full description can be seen in Chappell's Popular Music, p. 154.
The music of the English Cushion Dance is different from the Scottish tune. The earliest printed copy is entitled Gahiarde Anglaise in a Dutch music book, Amsterdam, 1615. The following is from Nederlandtsche Gedenck-Clanck, 1626, entitled:—
Galliarde Suit Margriet.
D.C.
Ho. 224. Guide'en to you, kimmer. Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No./y, signed ' B' and marked ' corrected by Burns.' Centenary edit. 1897, iii. /So. In Gray's MS. Lists ' The music with Mr. Clarke.' In Law's MS. 'Mr. Burns's old words.' A part of the verses is a repetition, and probably the original, of the fragment quoted by Percy (see Notes to No. 212}. Is it not likely that the fourth and fifth stanzas of We're e' noddin are the original of Percy's lines, and that the general Johny became the particular John Anderson"! Stenhouse circulated Percy's statement in his Illustrations. The second and last stanzas in the text are in the Herd MS. yo; the rest were added by Burns or obtained from tradition. In Sharpe's Ballad Book, 1823, there is an incoherent set of verses of the close of the eighteenth century beginning ' Bide a wee, woman, and gie'st a' ont', for the tune which probably originated in the street and circulated viva voce until put in the Museum.






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