Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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known in Scotland before the early part of the eighteenth century, and the claim for the verses being the work of Sir Francis Beltrees, a Renfrewshire knight, falls to the ground. The tune is a good melody of the scholastic kind, without any traits of the untutored music of Scotland. It is here taken from the Orpheus Caledonius.
No. 63. Altho' my back be at the wa'. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 480, signed ' Z,' entitled Here's his health in water, with the music of The job of journey work. In writing about the Jacobite song of Lewie Gordon, Burns refers to the pathos of the line,' Tho' his back be at the wa'.' See Hogg's Jacobite Relics, 1821,176. It would be difficult to prove that Burns's verses refer to Jean Armour, but they must remain here as the best place for them.
The music in the text is from Burns's MS. in the British Museum, from which Johnson got his tune which was first printed in Aird's Airs, 1788, I'll. No. 401. The second movement of an Irish melody The little red fox, which may be seen in Stanford's Irish Melodies, 1894,^6, has a remarkable likeness to the swing of The job of journey work, and further light is wanted on the origin of the melody for which Burns wrote his song.
No. 64. "When first I came to Stewart Kyle. Commonplace Book, 1872, 47, entitled 'A fragment. Tune, I hail a horse and I had nae mair.' Printed in Cromek's Reliques, 1808, 346. Burns's mother stated that he first met Jean Armour at a peasants' ball, or some similar entertainment. The poet was attended by his collie dog, which followed him about the room, and got in the way of the dancers; wherenpon he remarked to his partner that he wished he could find a lass who would like him as well as his dog. A few weeks afterwards the acquaintance was renewed, which ripened into marriage.
I cannot trace the music of I had a horse further back than the copy in Johnson's Museum, 1788, No. iSj, printed with the old song, which Burns said was founded on an incident in the life of a John Hunter, whose great-grand­child related the story to Burns. The verses, published in Herd's Scots Songs, ^9<J2J> begin:—
' I had a horse, and I had nae mair, I gat him frae my daddy; My purse was light, and my heart was sair,
But my wit it was fu' ready. And sae I thocht upon a wile,
Outwittens of my daddy, To fee mysell to a lowiand laird, Who had a bonny lady,' &c.
No. 65. In Mauehline there dwells. Glenriddell MS. Published in Carrie, Works, 1800, I'll. jSo, entitled The Mauckline belles. Tune, Bonnie Dundee. The first of these ' belles' was Helen Miller, who married a Dr. Mackenzie. The second, Miss Markland, married Burns's friend and future colleague in the Excise, James Findlay. Jean Smith married James Candlish, another friend of Burns, and was the mother of Dr. Candlish who succeeded Dr. Chalmers as leader of the Free Kirk of Scotland. Betty Miller, sister of Helen above referred to, became a Mrs. Templeton. Miss Morton married a merchant in Mauchline; while the last was Jean Armour, who became the poet's wife. For the tune, see No. nz.
No. 66. O thou pale Orb that silent shines. Kilmarnock edition, 1786, ijo. The verses in the text are three stanzas of The Lament, which Burns, in Gray's MS. Lists, directed as follows : ' For the tune in the Scotch Queen, Oswald, take the first and the last two stanzas of the poem entitled The Lament in Burns's poems.' These directions Burns sent to Johnson of the Museum, but they were not followed, and the verses are now printed for the first time with the proper melody. For the tune in the Scots Musical