Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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484
HISTORICAL NOTES
tune which, according to Stenhouse, obtained its name from the first line of the following old nursery rhyme:—
' Wee Totum Fogg sits upon a creepie; Half an ell o' gray wad be his coat and breekie.'
It is a gay pipe melody, one of the class common in the eighteenth century in Roxburgh and Northumberland. Dusty Miller, of Song No. 180, belongs to the class.
No. 328. He clench'd his pamphlets in his fist. Cromek's Reliques, 1808, 418, entitled 'Extempore in the Court of Session. Tune, Killiecrankie.' AA1S. is in the British Museum. Burns visited the Law Courts in Edinburgh to study man and manners; the above two stanzas were written on the spot while a trial was going on in the Court of Session. The simulated passion of the Counsel on both sides is pure Burns. Lord Advocate Hay Campbell was for the prosecution, and Burns's friend Henry Erskine the Dean of Faculty for the defence. There is a fine touch in the concluding lines of the song :—.
'The Bench sae wise lift up their eyes Half-wauken'd wi' the din man.'
It suggests a not unusual condition of the Scottish Bench after a stiff encounter with Bacchus the previous night.
The tune is a seventeenth century melody composed not much later than the battle of Killiecrankie, where Claverhouse was killed on July 27, 1689. The Scottish song writers ha"d a peculiar knack of making fun of the battles of their country, and their humour is unrestrained on Killiecrankie, Sherifimuir, and Preston pans. In the satire Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1694, y8, Killie­crankie is designated 'a malignant song.' The music is in Atkinson's MS., 1694; Playford's Original Scotch Tunes, 1700; Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 26; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1755, 18; Aird's Airs, 1782, ii. No. 18; the Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 102; and Ritson's Scotish Songs, 1794, ii. 44. For tune, see No. 2j6.
No. 329. Orthodox! orthodox! wha believe in John Knox. Poetns ascribed to Robert Burns, 1801, 20, entitled The kirk's alarm. A Satire. Scott-Douglas edition, 1877, ii. 236. Tune, Come rouse, brother sportsmen. The origin of the ballad may be briefly told. In the year 1786, Dr. William McGill, colleague of Dr. Dalrymple the Parish Minister of Ayr, published a practical essay on the death of Jesus Christ, and the opinions of the writer gave offence to many worthy but narrow-minded people in the parish, and the Kirk Session scented heresy in the work. The doctrines taught were considered unscriptural, and destructive of the principles of Evangelism. At first the. author was privately admonished, but a strong undercurrent of enthusiasm agitated the minds of the disaffected, which threatened at any time to break out. With all this highly inflammable material in the air ' Dalrymple mild with his heart like a child' unwittingly set the heather on fire. He referred to a book he had written on the same subject, in which the views of his colleague were supported. At this point the fury of the orthodox against the offending . brother broke out with fierce denunciation of his opinions. In November, 1788, Dr. William Peebles preached a sermon, in which he denounced heresy in strong language, and stigmatized Dr. McGill as one who received the privi­leges of the Church with one hand, and stabbed her in the back with the other. McGill defended himself without convincing the enemy, and matters progressed until a complaint of heresy was lodged with the Synod of Ayr, and remitted to the General Assembly for trial. The case was opened in May, 1789, discussed and sent back to the Synod for a committee to be appointed to draw up specific charges. In July the committee began its work, and at this point Burns steps in on the scene with The Kirk's alarm. The case dragged on slowly for two






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