Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

360+ songs with lyrics, sheet music, historical notes & glossary.

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456
HISTORICAL NOTES
Sanquhar, ' Black Joan.' The candidates were the sitting Tory member, Sir James Johnston, of Wester-hall—the ' belted knight,' and Captain Patrick Miller—the ' Soger Youth'—son of Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, Burns's land­lord. As will be seen elsewhere Burns actively supported the Tory side, chiefly because ' Old Q,' the notorious Duke of Queensberry, assisted the Whigs. On December 9, 1789, a copy of the ballad was sent with a letter to Graham of Fintry. * The election Ballad, as you will see, alludes to the present canvass in our string of burghs. I do not believe there will be a harder run match in the whole general election. The great man here, like all renegadoes, is a flam­ing zealot kicked out before the astonished indignation of his deserted master, and despised, I suppose, by the party who took him in, to be a mustering faggot at the mysterious orgies of their midnight iniquities, and a useful drudge in the dirty work of the country elections. . . . Dumfries and Sanquhar are decidedly the Duke's to ' sell or let'; so Lochmaben, a city containing upwards of fourscore living souls, that cannot discern between their right hand and their left—for drunkenness—has at present the balance of power in her hands. The honourable council of that ancient burgh, are fifteen in number; but alas! their fifteen names endorsing a bill of fifteen pounds, would not discount the said bill in any banking office.'
The tune in the text—the Scottish Chevy Chase—is in Scott's Minstrelsy, 1830. Itisinthe Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1753, v.ji; in M"Gibbon's Scots Tunes, 1768, iv, 108; and in Dale's Scotch Songs, 1794, i. S4- How long it was known before the earliest date named is quite uncertain, and it is useless to speculate. At least three different English tunes of the name are known. The earliest is entitled Flying Fame, because it is directed to be sung to the oldest copy of the Chevy Chase ballads. The next, with the distinctive title of The Children in the wood, belongs to the well-known ballad of that name. It is the tradi­tional melody of the gravedigger in Hamlet, the music of which can be seen in song No. 274 below. The third is In pcscod time; or, The hunt's up. The unravelling of the history of these three melodies can be seen in Chappell's Popular music, and because the last is connected with Scotland as the melody of one of the dude and Godlie Ballads, 1 subjoin the music of The hunt's up, with a stanza of the curious parody: —
The hunt-er is Christ that huntis in haste, The hounds are Pe - ter and Paul;
The paip is the foxe, Rome is the rox, That rub-bis us on the gall.
TTo. 268. You're welcome to despots, Dumourier. Cromek's Reliques 1808, 421. Entitled 'Address to General Dumourier:—a parody on Robin 'Adair! General Dumourier, like General Monk and the Marquis of Montrose, began his military career as a rebel, but changed sides in the course of the game. Dumourier was one of the best generals of the French Revolution, but, events proving distasteful to him, he abjured Republican principles. As soon as he heard that the Directory proposed to arrest him, he took refuge in Austrian quarters and nearly succeeded in bringing his army with him. He is briefly and picturesquely described by Carlyle ' A most shifty wiry man ; one of Heaven's Swiss: that wanted only work. Fifty years of unnoticed toil and valour ; one year of toil and valour not unnoticed, but seen of all countries and centuries, the thirty other years again unnoticed, of memoir writing, English Pension, scheming and projecting to no purpose.'






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