Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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NAE L UCK ABOUT THE HO USE.
395
In such a dilemma, we must resort to internal evidence. Mickle was born in Lang­holm, Dumfries, Scotland, and lived in Edinburgh and London, finally settling near Oxford. In all these places, he was far from the scenes of simple fisher-folk life, so graphically •described in the song. His greatest work was a translation of the " Lusiad," from the Portuguese of Camoens. His style in the poem is described by Campbell, as " free, flowery, and periphrastical, comparatively spirited, but departing widely from the majestic simplicity of the original." In elaborate notes upon the poem, he defends all that has been called defective in the work he translates. Of Mickle's original " Syr Martin," Campbell says that. u the simplicity of the tale is unhappily overlaid by a weight of allegory and obsolete phraseology, which it has not importance to sustain." Mickle's pretty ballad of "Cumnor Hall," the opening lines of which Walter Scott was fond of repeating, and which suggested to him the novel of " Kenilworth," is a descriptive poem, but does not contain a hint of the delicate homeliness that charms us in our song. Mickle was a scholar and a man of genius; he could describe a stately ruin in stately rhyme, and he wrote some pleasing ballads; but his hand had not
" The cunning to draw Shapes of things he never saw."
Allan Cunningham, in discussing Mickle's claim, says: "He has written nothing else in the peculiar style of that composition, and we know that the reputation of having written it was long enjoyed by another—Miss Jean Adam. Now the claim of Mickle depends on the conclusion we may choose to draw from the fact of the song, with variations, being found in his handwriting. Many of the songs which Burns transcribed, or dressed up for the Museum, have been mistaken for his own compositions, and, in like manner, Mickle may unwittingly have made another person's song his own, which he had only sought to correct or embellish." Twenty years had passed between Mrs. Mickle's marriage, the supposed date of the song, and the discovery of the copy by Sim, and during that tmie Mrs. Mickle had been attacked by paralysis, and, even in speaking of it, she frequently confounded this ballad with others of her husband's, in a totally different style. David Hume emphatically said, that " Mrs. Mickle was not a person whose evidence was of much consequence at any time."
Greenock, the well-known seaport town of the West of Scotland, was divided, by a wide bay, into two little settlements. In one of these, called Crawfurdsdyke, Jean Adam was born, about 1710. Her father was a ship-master, and Jean received a good education for the day and place. But her father died, and the girl went into the family of a clergy­man hear by, as a sort of nurse and teacher. She was an eager student in the minister's library, the results of which appeared in the subjects of a volume of original poems which she published by subscription shortly afterward. Among the titles are: " A Dialogue be­tween Soul and Curiosity," " Curiosity and the Soul anent the keeping of the Ten Command­ments," " On Creation," " On Abel," u On Astrea," " On Cleopatra." A long list of local names appears on the fly-leaves of the book—Crawfurds by the dozen; "Dame Margaret,, of Castlemilk;" titled Temples and Montgomeries; baronets, and lairds; ministers, school­masters, and tradesmen of all grades. After leaving service, Jean opened a select school in the best portion of the town, known as the quay-head. Here she taught for years, with little external change or excitement. There is a tradition that she once closed her school for six weeks, and went to London, walking a great portion of the way. The principal inspiration of the journey, was the hope that she might see Richardson, author of u Clarissa Harlowe." There are also traditions of her reading Shakespeare aloud to her pupils, when the world about her looked upon him as a dangerous playwright, and of her singing her own songs now and then. In later life, she sent the surplus copies of her poems to








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III