Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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

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486
HISTORICAL NOTES
St. 11: ' James Young in New Cumnock, who had lately been foiled in an ecclesiastical prosecution against a lieutenant Mitchell (R. B.).' St. n : ; David Grant, Ochiltree (R. B.),' a virulent opponent of Dr. McGill. St. 13 : ' George Smith, Galston (R. B.),' or' Geordie' of the Tiva Herds, who tried to hunt with the Old Licht and run with the New. St. 14: 'John Shepherd, Muirkirk (R. B.).' St. 15: 'Dr. Andrew Mitchell, Monkton (R. B.).' A minister of some private means and little sense. St. 16: ' William Auld, Mauchline: for the 'Clerk,' see Holy Willie's Prayer (R. B.).' St. 17: William Fisher, Elder or Holy Willie, the subject of ' The Prayer.' St. 19: Most probably John McMurdo, a particular friend of Burns, who became Chamberlain to the Duke of Queensberry. St. 20r John Logan, 'laird of Afton,' to whom the first copy of The Kirk's alarm was sent.
Ho. 330. Peg Nicholson was a good bay mare. Cromek's Reliques, 1808, 10S, entitled Elegy on Willie Nicofs mare. The death of Peg Nicholson was announced by Burns on February 9,1790 to the owner. Nicol had bought the animal—a bargain as he thought— from a horse couper, who did no dis­credit to the reputed character of his profession. Nicol sent her to the care of Burns for change of air and diet, and she was named by the farm servants of Ellisland Peg Nicholson, in honour of an insane woman, who attempted the assassination of George I'll. Peg's death was apparently premature, as the following characteristic extract shows: *My dear sir, that d—d mare of yours is dead. I would freely have given her price to have saved her: she has vexed me beyond description. Indebted as I was to your goodness beyond what I can ever repay, I eagerly grasped at your offer to have the mare with me. That I might at least show my readiness in wishing to be grateful, I took every care of her in my power. She was never crossed for riding above half a score of times by me or in my keeping. I drew her in the plough, one of three, for one poor week. I refused fifty-five shillings for her, which was the highest bode I could squeeze for her. I fed her up and had her in fine order for Dumfries fair; when four or five days before the fair, she was seized with an unaccount­able disorder in the sinews, or. somewhere in the.bones of the neck; with a weakness or total want of power in her fillets, and in short the whole vertebrae of her spine seemed to be diseased and unhinged, and in eight and forty hours, in spite of the two best farriers in the country, she died, and be d—d to her! The farriers said that she had been quite strained in the fillets beyond cure before you had bought her, and that the poor devil, though she might keep a little flesh, had been jaded and quite worn out with fatigue and oppression.' Further on in same letter Burns says: ' I have likewise strung four or five barbarous stanzas, to the tune of Chevy Chase, by way of elegy on your unfortunate mare.' See music, and Notes on No. 267 or 274, either of which tunes fits the words.
Wo. 331. There lived a earl in Kellyburn braes. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. _?7p, entitled Kellyburn braes. MS. in the British Museum. Another but indifferent version by Burns is in Aitken's edit. 1893. The Kelly burn is an upland stream separating the northern part of Ayrshire from Renfrew. Who the carl was is not recorded. The representation of a termagant is a very old story in English literature. The Schole-house of women, 1541, and the Curste Wyfe lapped in Morrelles Skin, c. 1575, are two metrical Gests of this kind. The earliest recorded English ballad entitled The devil and the scold, to the tune «f The Seminary Priest, in Collier's Book of Roxburgh Ballads, 1847, #, is probably of the time of Queen Elizabeth. The kind husband of this shrew permitted the devil to carry her away. She treated Satan so unmercifully that he regretted the choice and returned her to the husband. - This ballad was often reprinted in the seventeenth century; and the carl of Kellyburn braes is the same subject treated in a more gay and humorous manner. Cromek printed a version in Nithsdale and Calloway Songs, 1810, &), differing materially from






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