Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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442                           HISTORICAL NOTES
mine, and out of compliment to one of the worthiest fellows in the world, William Dunbar, Esq., Writer to the Signet, Edinburgh, and Colonel of the Crochallan Corps, a club of wits who took that title at the time of raising the fencible regiments' {Interleaved Museum). The song has little merit, but there is a touch of human nature in the old lines where the drouthy gut-scraper resists the temptation to sell his fiddle for the liquor for which he thirsts. This hero is said to have been a border reiver.
In the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724, the tune is marked with a sentimental song beginning ' O Mary, thy graces and glances'—an irrelevant combination. The music, as Bonny, roaring Willie, is in Blackie's MS., 1692 ; entitled Ranting, roving Willie in Atkinson's Northumberland MS., 1694; and printed in Oswald's Companion, c. 1755> vii. o. It is a bag-pipe melody of the class common to the South of Scotland," and North of England.
Ho. 238. Here's a bottle and an honest friend. Cromek. Reliques, 1808, 440, entitled ' Song,' without name of tune. The following motto was attached to the title in Pickering's Burns, 1834 ;
' There's nane that's blest of human kind
But the cheerful and the gay, man;
Fa, la, la, la, &c.'
The song books of the eighteenth century were loaded with bacchanalian ditties
good and bad—chiefly the latter. This stanza of Burns is classical compared
with the coarse materialistic rhymes of the collections.
No. 239. In comin by the brig o' Dye. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. ij6, signed 'Z,' and with the tune, Ruffian's rant. The MS. is in the British Museum. The poet was at Stonehaven on September 10, 1787, just after a meeting at Aberdeen with Bishop Skinner, son of the author of Tullochgorum. Ten days before, he had spent a day with Niel Gow at Dunkeld. Close to Stonehaven is the river Dye, a tortuous stream which zigzags from the eastern spur of the Grampians, and falls into the Dee at Upper Banchory.
Who the Theniel Menzies, or Bonie Mary, or Charlie Grigor of the song were, is not known. The verses are doubtless a reminiscence of a night spent at the Inn of the Brig of Dye. The Tune Ruffian's rant is widely known as Roy's wife, from Mrs. Grant's sprightly song of the same name. It was origin­ally a slow strathspey air, but the eclecticism of music in adapting itself to different moods by a change of time is exemplified here, as in Scots, wha' hae. A slow movement of Ruffians rant is the tune of the following pathetic verses:—
' Though thou leave me now in sorrow, Smiles may light our love to-morrow; Doom'd to part, my faithful heart A gleam of joy from hope shall borrow.'
The Tune is in Bremner's Reels, 1759,43; Cumming's Strathspeys, 1780, page^ ; and Aird's Airs, 1782, ii. No. 114 ; also in M'Farlane's MS., c. 1740, entitled Cog na scalan. Burns wrote a conventional Anglo-Scottish song for the tune in reply to a whip of George Thomson—see Song No. 164. Three old songs for the melody are in the Merry Muses.
Wo. 240. Adieu! a heart-warm, fond adieu. Kilmarnock edition, 17S6, 228, entitled ' The farewell, To the brethren of St. James's Lodge, Tarbolton. Tune Good night and joy be wi' you a"; Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. 600. This, the last song in both publications, is supposed to have been sung at the meeting of the Freemasons' Lodge, Tarbolton, held in June, 1786. Until superseded by Burns's Auld Lang Syne, Good night and joy be wi' you was the *» parting song at all social meetings in Scotland. A number of the chief collec­tions of Scottish Melodies close with the tune. The distinguished song-writers