Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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Alas, alas ! how very soon this silly little fly, Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by: With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then nearer, nearer drew — Thought only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue; Thought only of her crested head,— poor foolish thing ! At last Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den Within his little parlor — but she ne'er came out again ! And now, dear little children, who may this story read, To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you, ne'er give heed: Unto an evil counsellor close heart and ear and eye, And learn a lesson from this tale of the spider and the fly.
The author of the words of the following song, Alison Rtjtherfurd, was born at Fairnalee, Selkirkshire, Scotland, 1712. In writing to the Rev. Dr. Douglas, she says: "I can this minute figure myself running as fast as a greyhound, in a hot summer day, to have the pleasure of plunging into the Tweed to cool me. I see myself wrapt in my petticoat, on the declivity of the hill at Fairnalee, letting myself roll down to the bottom, with infinite delight. As for the chase of the silver spoon at the end of the rainbow, nothing could exceed my ardor, except my faith which created it. I can see myself the first favorite at Lamothe's dancing, and remember turning pale and red with the ambition of applause. I am not sure if ever I was so vain of any lover or admirer as I was of the heavenly affection of your predecessor, whom, by his own assignation, I rode over from Fairnalee at six in the morning to meet. * * * He embraced me with fervor, and said I would not repent losing some hours sleep to see for the last time an old man, who was going home. He naturally fell into a description of his malady, checked himself, and said it was a shame to complain of a bad road to a happy home; ' and there' said he, ' is my passport/ pointing to the Bible; ' let me beg, my young friend, you will study it: you are not yet a christian, but you have an inquiring mind, and cannot fail to become one.'"
Miss Rutherfurd was one of the beauties of the circle that counted among its members Lady Anne Lindsay and Jane Elliot, of Minto. Her correspondence shows her to have been a brilliant and noblewoman. In 1731 she married Patrick Cockburn, of Ormiston. Of this event she afterward wrote: "I was married, properly speaking, to a man of seventy, five—my father-in-law" [step-fatherj; and at another time she says: "I was twenty years united to a lover and a friend." Mrs. Cockburn was forty-one years old when her husband died, and her house in Edinburgh was the gathering-place for some of the finest literary minds of the day. She died in that house, November 22, 1794.
There was a tradition in the family that Mrs. Cockburn's song, "The Flowers of the Forest," was in some way connected with the name or fate of a young lover who died about the time she was married. The song was supposed to refer to the noblemen who fell at Flodden, and with them many of the most gallant archers of " The Forest," the home of Mrs. Cockburn, in Selkirkshire. Mr. Chambers, an intimate friend of Mrs. Cockburn, ic an account of her says the song was occasioned -by a commercial disaster, by which seveu Doblemen of the Forest were rendered insolvent in one year; but Mrs. Cockburris correa*

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