Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Easter Hymns



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
614                                              ANGLO-SCOTTISH SONGS.
turn to me; Macbeth; The Nightingale; The Milking-pail; Philporter's Lament, and many others, are set down as airs of "which Scotland may claim the parentage." As to the Anglo-Scottish and English Northern songs, at the very opening of his book Mr. Dauney claims five in Pills to purge Melancholy, without noticing Ritson's counter-statement as to two (yet appropriating them under those names), or that a third was stated to be a country-dance tune in the book he quotes. This is indeed driving over obstacles.
The manuscripts from which the " Ancient Scottish Melodies " are derived, are known as the Skene Manuscripts, from having been in the possession of the family of that name. They consist of seven small books of lute music of uniform size, and are now bound in one. Mr. Dauney admits that a portion of the airs are English, but follows the Ramsay precedent in the title of his book. I have recently examined these manuscripts with some care,a and am decidedly of opinion, both from the writing and from the airs they contain, that they are not, and can­not be, of the reign of James VI. James VI. of Scotland and I. of England died in 1625.
As to the sixth manuscript, which Mr. Dauney considers to be " evidently the oldest of all," the first fourteen airs in the fifth, and the whole of the sixth, are, in my opinion, in the same handwriting. The music is there written in the lozenge-shaped note, which is nowhere else employed. Among the airs in the fifth, we find Adieu, Dundee, which was not included in The Dancing Master before the appendix of 1688; and Three Sheep-skins, an English country-dance (not a ballad tune), which first appeared in The Dancing Master of 1698. In the sixth, " Peggy is over the sea with the Soldier," which derives its name from a common Aldermary churchyard ballad, to which, I believe, no earlier date than 1710 can reasonably be assigned. It is " The Gosport Tragedy: Peggy's gone over the sea with the Soldier;" commencing—
" In Gosport of late there a damael did dwell." When Mr. Dauney expressed his opinion that the sixth was the oldest part, he was evidently deceived by the shape of the note; but as round notes were used in manuscripts in the reign of Henry VHL, it must have been quite a matter of fancy whether the round or lozenge should be employed one or two centuries later.
' My attention has recently been drawn to these manu­scripts, which I had not seen for twenty years, from find­ing, in the course of my attempts at chronological arrangement, that their supposed date could not he reconciled with other evidence, I have hitherto quoted the Skene MSS. as about 1680 or 1640, and many of the airs they contain are undoubtedly of that date,—some, like those of Dowland and the masque tunes of James 1., unquestionably earlier. In Mr. Dauney's book, the airs are not published in the order in which they are found in the manuscripts, and some airs (besides duplicates) are omitted. The printed index is not very correct,—for in­stance, "Let never crueltie dishonour beauty" is not in­cluded in it. The earliest writing appears to he " Lady, wilt thou love me?" at the commencement of Part II.; but all the remainder of that part seems to he a century later. Pages 62 to SO are blank. At the end of the first manu­script are the words " Finis quod Skine," which Mr. Dauney considers to be the writing of John Skene, who
died in 1644. Independently of other evidence, the large number of duplicates would shew the improbability of the collection having been made for one person. For instance, "Horreis Galziard" is contained in Parts I. and ni.—" I left my love behind me," in Parts II. and III.—"My Lady Lauckian's Lilt," "Scerdustis," "Scul-lione," and " Pitt on your shirt on Monday," in Parts ni. and V. "My Lady Rothemais Lilt,"in Parts HI and VI. 44 Blew Breiks,'' in Parts III. and VU. " I love my love for love again," in Parts V. and VI.
This is not the only manuscript, English or Scotch, the age of which I now find reason to doubt. Among the Scotch, that of Mr, Andrew Blaikie, said to bear a date of 1692, (which I by no means deny, although I did not observe it in the book when lent to me,) cannot have been written before 1745. It contains "God save the King," and other airs not to be reconciled with the usually attributed date.







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