Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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498                        HISTORICAL NOTES
before Pennant's Tour was published. Pinkerton's version in six stanzas referred to by Burns is in Tragic Ballads, 1781, 79, and it is in the same jncorrect metre as Ramsay's verses, the last stanza of which is:—
' Take, take me to thy lovely side, Of my lost youth, thou only bride I
0  take me to thy tomb!
I hear, I hear the welcome sound, Yes, life can fly at sorrow's wound,
1  come, I come, I come.'
In the Gentleman's Magazine, July, 1783, there are four stanzas—quoted by Ritson—written by ' Thomas Poynter, a pauper,' the first being:—
" T' other day as she worked at her wheel,
She sang of fair Eleanor's fate, Who fell by stern jealousy's steel
As on Kirtle's smooth margin she sate.'
The next publication in order of time is that of Burns in the text, to which I will refer farther on.
In Lawrie's Scottish Songs, 1791, i. 2JJ, there are four stanzas, being the first, third, sixth, and seventh of Burns.
Ritson, who states that he obtained his version from Tytler the historian (the friend and correspondent of Burns), printed it in Scotish Songs, 1794, i. 146, as the first, sixth, and seventh verses in the text, with a fourth made up from the rest.
In Sinclair's Slat. Account of Scotland, 1794, xI'll. 37/ (footnote), is a version of fourteen stanzas, chiefly founded on that of the Poetical Legend version. It is only remarkable for an interpolated stanza which has never been reprinted. A note supplementary to that of Pennant states that the ballad ' is said to have been written by Adam Fleming when in Spain.'
Sir Walter Scott, in Minstrelsy, 1802, appropriated almost the whole of the Statistical version, dividing it into two parts: the first, consisting of six stanzas (now disregarded) beginning, ' O, sweetest sweet, and fairest fair,' and the second part of ten stanzas containing the whole of that in the text, with the following new verse which Scott got from the Glenriddell MS.:— . •As I went down the water-side None but my foe to be my guide; None but my foe to be my guide On fair Kirkconnel Lee.'
The second part of Scott's version is that which is now reprinted in all modern collections, including Child's Ballads and Palgrave's Golden Treasury. In the Glenriddell MS., 1791, or three years subsequent to the publication in Johnson's Museum, is a version of sixteen stanzas, the most comprehensive discovered, and which Riddell states that he got from 'Mr. Henderson's MS.' At the time the ballad was collected Burns was on terms of close intimacy with Riddell, and the poet may have been instrumental in procuring the version. To the Poetical Legends of 1776 we must undoubtedly return for the original publication; and Burns's version agrees closest with it. The eight stanzas in our text are Nos. 13, 5, 8-12, and again the 13th of the Legend copy more or less varied. Of Burns, the third, fourth, and fifth are nearly identical; the first, sixth, seventh, and eighth contain verbal alterations and amendments; and the second is considerably varied and Improved, as may be teen on comparing it with the original, as follows:— ' O Helen fair, beyond compare, I'll wear a garland of thy hair, Shall cover me for evermair, Until the day I die.'






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