Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Carolina Oliphant was born in Gask, Perthshire, Scotland, July 16, 1766. She was descended from an old and noble family, of strong Jacobite proclivities, and their third daughter was named Carolina, as one more tribute of loyalty to " Charlie over the Water." She is described as delicate, graceful, accomplished, the " pretty Miss Car" of the school-room, and the " Flower of Strathearn" in young womanhood. She began very early to write rhymes in secret for her favorite melodies. Once, on the fair-ground, she ordered the coachman to get for her one of the pamphlets which she saw circulating. It was a collection of the coarse songs of the time; and from that day she resolved to use her love for songs and her power to make them, in purifying those already in existence. She re-wrote one called " The Ploughman," which was sung with fine effect at a dinner given by her brother to the Gask tenantry, and it was rolled out by the whole country side with no suspicion that the young Laird's sister was the author. She was a favorite with high and low, and was exceedingly gay and pleasure-loving. Her hand was sought by many suitors, but had been early pledged to Captaine Nairne, her cousin. The Jacobite zeal of his family had stripped him of his estates, and he was obliged to wait for promotion before his income allowed them to marry. When he was almost fifty, and she was forty-one, Captain Nairne became a Major, and they were married and removed to Carolina cottage in Edin burgh, where they spent twenty-four happy years, in the course of which Major Nairne was restored to his rank in the peerage. The idol of their home was an only son. Long before her marriage, Lady Nairne had become deeply and joyously religious, and much of her income was spent in charity. After the death of her husband, she writes:
" His staff's at the wa',
Toom, toom is his chair I His bannet an' a' An' 1 maun be here!
But oh! he's at rest, Why s'ud I complain?
'Gin my soul be blest, I'll meet him again,
Oh! to meet him again,
Where hearts ne'er were sairl Oh! to meet him again,
To part never mair!
Mr. Purdie, a bookseller of Edinburgh, planned a collection of the best songs of Scot­land, and engaged R. A. Smith to edit them. A lady friend who knew of Lady Nairne's writings, begged her to contribute, and she promised to do so under a pledge of strict secrecy. Her contributions were signed " B. B.," and the friend whispered in Mr. Purdie's ear that the author was " Mrs. Bogan of Bogan." The numerous issues of the collection ran through three years, and dressed in a well-designed disguise, Lady Nairne had many talks with Mr. Purdie. As one reason for wishing concealment, she writes : " I beg the publisher will make no mention of a lady; as you observe, the more mystery the better, and still the balance is in favor of the lords of creation. I cannot help in some degree undervaluing beforehand what is said to be a feminine production." After the death of her husband, Lady Nairne travelled in search of health for her delicate son, who, however, died at the age of twenty-one. She spent several years abroad, and returned to her old home at Gask but two years before her death, which took place there, October 26,1845. During her later years she wrote some of her sweetest lyrics. The one which begins:
Would you be young again ?
So would not I — One tear to memory given,
Onward I hie. Life's dark flood forded o'er, All but at rest on shore, Say, would you plunge once more,
With homo co nigh?

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