Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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482
HISTORICAL NOTES
music, which I added, and are the four first of the last stanza.' {Interleaved Museum.)
Miss Cranstoun became the wife of Professor Dugald Stewart the friend of Burns. She was born in 1765, married in 1790, and died at Warriston House near Edinburgh on July 28, 1838. At the bottom of the MS. for the Museum Burns expressed a wish that the song should appear in the next volume.
The tune is the work of John Barrett, an English musician, the composer of many songs, and a pupil of Dr. Blow, the celebrated organist. lanthe the lovely is in Durfey's Pills, 1719, v. 300. Gay used the tune in The Beggar's Opera. It is also in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 175 2, iv. <S, and a much corrupted setting is in the Musical Miscellany, Perth, 1786, 112.
No. 323. My father was a farmer. Commonplace Book, 1872, 13. Tune, The weaver and his shuttle, 0, and described as ' a wild rhapsody miserably deficient in versification.'. Published in Cromek's Reliques, 1808, 330. On February 13, 1784, the worthy father of the poet died. For three years he had been at law with his landlord over the terms of the lease of the farm of Lochlea and ' was saved from the horrors of a jail by a consumption which, after two years'promises, kindly stept in, and carried him away to where the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary are at rest.' {Letter to Dr. Moore.)
In a note in Cromek's Reliques, 1805,203, it is stated that the tune The weaver and his shuttle, 0 is the Irish title oijockie's gray breeks; but there is no such note in Burns's Interleaved Museum as represented. For the same tune under a different title, see No. 67.
No. 324. When chill November's surly blast. Commonplace Book, 1872, 42, entitled A Song. Tune, Peggy Bawn. Printed in the Kilmarnock edition, 1786, 160, entitled Man was made to mourn. A dirge. Later, he refers to its source in a letter to Mrs. Duulop dated August 16, 1788. He was then in the same depressed mental state as when he wrote the verses. ' If I thought yon had never seen it, I would transcribe for you a stanza of an old Scottish ballad called The life and age of man, beginning
"'Twas in the sixteen hunder year Of God, and fifty three, Frae Christ was born, that bought us dear As writings testifie." I had a grand-uncle, with whom my mother lived awhile in her girlish years: the good old man, for such he was, was long blind ere he died ; during which time his highest enjoyment was to sit down and cry, while my mother would sing the sImple old song of The life and age of man' Cromek inserted this old ballad—very poor stuff, which he obtained from the recital of Burns's mother— in the preface to Scotish songs, 1810. According to a stall-copy the full title is' The life andage ofMan: or a short description of his Nature, Rise, and Fall, according to the twelve months of the year. Tune, Isle of Jtell.' The year 1653—when the ballad was written—was a sorry time for Scotland, and at no period since Edward I had the independence of the country been more menaced. The General Assembly had met, and were discussing much con­troversial matter, when a general of Cromwell's army entered, and ordered the Assembly to dissolve and the members to follow him. ' Broad-based ' Baillie the Covenanter describes this unheard of atrocity, and how the ministers and elders were conducted a mile out of the town, and forbidden to meet more than three in number, under pain of Imprisonment. English Commissioners were appointed to administer public business, and the country for a short time was entirely under English control.
In his Man was made to mourn. Burns made use of the old ballad, a variant of which was known in England. A black letter Imprint, issued from London about 1666, is entitled * The age and life of man, perfectly showing his beginning






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