Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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408                        HISTORICAL NOTES
Thomson collection. Sent to Thomson on November 20,1794. ' Since yesterday's penmanship, I have framed a couple of English stanzas, by way of an English song to Roy's wife. You will allow me that in this instance my English correĀ­sponds in sentiment with the Scottish.' This was originally written to celebrate Mrs. Riddell, but her name was cancelled, and an imaginary one inserted. The tune Roy's wife or Ruffian's rant is noted in Song No. ajy.
Mo. 165. There was a bonie lass, and a bonis, bonie lass. Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No.jS6, ' By R. Burns.' No historical evidence has been forthcoming for this fragment in the Museum, except that it is marked as stated.
The tune, A bonie lass, so far as concerns the first section, is a variation of Pinky house in the Orpheus Caledonius, 1733, No. 21, and the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1743, i. 11; the second part appears to be original.
*TSo. 166. As late by a sodger I chanced to pass. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 268. Neither Stenhouse nor Cromek connect Burns with this song, nor is it in his published works. In Law's MS. List for the third volume of the Museum Burns Wrote against the title, ' Mr. Burns's old words.' The first twelve lines are substantially those in the Herd MS., and the remaining four lines are original to complete the second stanza for the tune, which is marked as to be sung for one of Allan Ramsay's songs in his Miscellany, 1725. Ramsay's verses, beginning 'Adieu for a while,' are reprinted in Herd's Scots Songs, 1769,106.
The music without title is in Sinkler's MS., 1710; as a variation entitled Gig it is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1752, iv. 77,; and with the title I'll mak ye be fain to follow me in Bremner's Reels, 1757, 24 ; Stewart's Reels, 1761, 10; Campbell's Reels, 1778, 12 ; and elsewhere.
*No. 167. O dear minny, what shall I do? Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 236. The MS. is in the British Mnseum, and in Law's MS., ' Mr. B. gave the old words,' in the poet's handwriting. Part of the verses are in the Herd MS. The alteration made by Burns was to recast six lines into eight, the second line being original.
The tune is in Sinkler's MS., 1710, entitled 0 Minie; in Oswald's Curious Collection of Scots Tunes, 1740, 28; in Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 10; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1746, jj. A similar melody is in Apollo's Banquet, 1695, entitled Long cold nights.
No. 168. Here 's to thy health, my bonie lass! Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 49J, signed ' B,' with the tune Laggan Bum. I adopt the opinion of Scott-Douglas, that this is an early production of Burns, but the chronology is uncertain. The MS. is in the British Museum. In a later issue of the Museum it is marked ' Written for this work by Robert Burns.' According to Mrs. Begg, the poet's sister, the song was known previous to her time, but there is no trace of any such song.
According to Stenhouse, Burns communicated to Johnson of the Museum two melodies for this song, Laggan Burn, and another. The 'other' was not suitable, and Laggan Burn was chosen. Stephen Clarke, the musical editor, is reputed to have adapted it to the verse according to Burns's direction. It is not easy to account for the neglect of this insinuating melody. It may be