Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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414                           HISTORICAL NOTES
A fragment of a different kind, in two stanzas for the same tune, is in the Herd MS. A wife replies to her husband :—
' Say't o'er again, say't o'er again— Ye thief, that I may hear ye; I'se gar ye dance upon a peat Gin I sail come but near ye.'
In Findlay's MS., c. 1715, there is a tune entitled Findlay cam to my bed stock, which I have not seen. In Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 18j, is Lass, if I come near thee. Schumann, the German composer, composed an original melody for Burns's song.
Ho. 185. There's a youth in this city. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 2;8, signed Z, ' a Gaelic air.' ' Mr. Burns's old words' (Law's MS. List). The MS. in the British Museum contains directions for the air. ' This air is claimed by Niel Gow, who calls it his Lament for his brother. The first half-stanza of the song is old, the rest is mine' (InterleavedMuseum). Else­where he instructed the editor of the Museum to leave out the name of the tune, and call it a Gaelic air. Nothing more is known of the history of the song.
The tune Niel Goads Lament, in his second collection of Reels, 1788, is a good example of the Highland style, and worth reprinting.
Ho. 188. O meikle thinks my luve o' my beauty. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No.^ra, signed 'B,' entitled My tocher's the jewel. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, 73. According to Cromek the fifth and sixth lines are much older than Burns ; and the last four lines were sent to Tytler in 1787 by Burns, and marked as ' Stanza of an old song' in Cromek's Scotish Songs, 1810, ii. 207. The original MS. is unknown, but Stenhouse saw it, and is precise in the statement that the following remark on the tune was written by the poet: ' This song is to be sung to the air called Lord Elcho's favourite (another name for the tune), but do not put that name above it, let it just pass for the tune of the song, and a beautiful tune it is." Burns has a note in the Interleaved Museum stating that Nathaniel Gow claimed the air, but it is before his time; and the music in the text is a jig variation, without title, of The highway to Edinburgh in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 28, and reprinted in Aird's Airs, 1788, I'll. No. 401). This beautiful melody was copied into a collection of Gow's, who named it Lord Elcho's favourite, hence the in­struction of Burns that the tune should be given the title of his song. This treatment of the melody is evidence of Burns's acute perception of musical sound. The tune The highway to Edinburgh (not the variation in the text), is almost identical in the second movement with The black eagle in Oswald's Companion.
Ho. 187. "Whare are you gaun, my bonie lass. Scots Musical Museum, 1793, No. 288, entitled A waukrife minnie. In the Interleaved Museum, Burns says,' I pickt up this old song and tune from a country girl in Nithsdale. I never met with it elsewhere in Scotland.' It is thought that he amended some verses, and wrote others. I can find no trace of any original prior to Burns.
The sImple air communicated by Burns has all the marks of pure unsophisti­cated music.
Wo. 188. My heart is a-breaking, dear Tittie. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 21)6, entitled Tarn Glen ; Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, 66. ' Mr. Burns's words' (Law's MS. List). Stenhouse says that there was an old song of the title, but gives no reference; I can find no such song in any of the col­lections. The verses of Tarn Glen are uniformly good, it is one of the best of Burns's humorous songs, and maintains undiminished popularity. The original