Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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396                         HISTORICAL NOTES
No. 132. I do confess thou art sae fair. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 321, signed ' Z.' ' This song is altered from a poem by Sir Robert Ayton, private secretary to Mary and Anne, Queens of Scotland. I think that I have Improved the sImplicity of the sentiments, by giving them a Scots dress' (Interleaved Museum}. The MS. is in the Eritish Museum. Burns's opinion is not shared by posterity, which thinks that the original verses have not been Improved. The original in four stanzas of six lines, with music by Henry Lawes, is in Playford's Select Ayres, 1659. The words alone are in Watson's Scots Poems, 1711, 91,
The tune with the title Come ashore, jolly tar is in Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 190, and I conjecture that the music in the Museum was copied from that work. In Hogg's Jacobite Relics, 1819, i. m is a song The Cuckoo, applied to the Old Pretender. The last stanza is as follows:—
' The Cuckoo's a bonny bird, but far frae his hame; I ken him by the feathers that grow upon his kame; And round that double kame yet a crown I hope to see, For my bonny cuckoo, he is dear to me.'
The tune in Rutherford's Dances, c. 1770, is entitled The Cuckoo's Nest. No one has yet given a rational or satisfactory reason why James viii was called the Cuckoo. Charles Mackay supposed that the Pretender was expected in spring to chase away the winter of the discontent of his followers. To which I may be permitted to add that when he did come he was not much appreciated, and, like the cuckoo, made a very short stay.
Bunting has claimed the music for Ireland, and states it is in a music-book of the early eighteenth century. The tune is not in the Scottish style.
No. 133. "Whare live ye, my bonie lass ? Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 361, entitled My collier laddie. The MS. is in the British Museum, but the song is not otherwise referred to by Burns in his works. According to Slenhouse, the words and the tune were transmitted by Burns to the editor of the Museum, where both were printed for the first time. There is no earlier record of the music. A song in the Merry Muses is marked for the tune of The collier laddie.
No. 134. In simmer, when the hay was mawn. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 366, signed ' B,' entitled Country Lassie. The MS. is in the British Museum. In a letter to George Thomson, October 19,1794, Burns admits having written the song. Thomson printed it without authority in Select Melodies, 1822, ii. 24, to the tune of John, come kiss me now.
The Scottish tune, The country lass of the text, is in the Orpheus Caledonius, 1733, No. 38, with English verses written by Martin Parker, which Allan Ramsay copied, with variations, into the Tea-Table Miscellany. The English tune of the same title is that to which Sally in our Alley is now sung, en­titled Cold and raw in Durfey's Pills, 1719, iv. 132. A third tune for the verses was The mother beguiled the daughter. Burns's song does not in the least resemble the English version, nor does the tune in the Orpheus, or in McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1768, iv. 96, resemble any of the three English tunes named, except in the closing bars of Sally in our Alley.
No. 135. Now rosy May comes in wi' flowers. Scotish Airs, 1799, 69. 'Written for this work by Robert Burns. Air, Dainty Davie.' Sent to Thomson in August, 1793, with this note: ' I have been looking over another and a better song of mine in the Museum (see Song No 116), which I have altered as follows, and which I am persuaded will please you. The words Dainty Davie glide so sweetly in the air that, to a Scots ear, any song to it, without Davie being the hero, would have a lame effect. So much for Davie. The chorus you know is to the low part of the tune.' Thomson objected to the arrangement of the tune, but Burns adhered to his opinion. For tune see No. 308.