Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

360+ songs with lyrics, sheet music, historical notes & glossary.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Museum, 1790, No. 29J, signed 'B,' entitled The Banks of A'it/i. 'Tune, Robie donna gorach' (Daft Robin). Burns intended this air for his verses, but although it is so marked in the Museum, the music of the Banks of Nith; the composition of Robert Riddell was engraved instead. In the Law MS. the direction is ' The Banks of Nith—Tune, Robie donna gorach. Mr. Burns's words.' The verses are now for the first time set in the text with the proper tune. It may be stated here that The Captive Ribband beginning ' Dear Myra the Captive ribband's mine,' which for sixty years has been printed as a song of Burns, is the work of Dr. Blacklock. As may be seen in the Law MS. the holograph note of Burns is ' Dr. B— gave the words,' which definitely settles the question. This song, No. 3/7 in the Museum, is set to Robie donna gorach, hence the substitution of another tune for that in our text.
The Celtic air is in MFarlane's MS. c. 1740; in Dow's Scottish Music, c. 1776, 2j; and McDonald's Highland Airs, 1784, 25.
Ho. 266. "When wild war's deadly blast was blawn. In Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1793, i. 22. ' Written for this Work by Robert Burns.' Air, The mill, mill 0'. In September, 1792, Thomson asked Burns to touch up and amend the verses of a song in Ramsay's Miscellany, but Burns declined to have anything to do with such insipid stuff. He declared he would alter no song unless he could amend it. Thomson had been pegging at the poet to write in English and got the following reply in April, 1793: ' These verses suit the tune exactly as it is in the Museum. There is a syllable wanting at the beginning of the first line of the second stanza; but I suppose it will make little odds. There is so little of the Scots language in the composition that the mere English singer will find no difficulty in the song.' Thomson main­tained that the third and fourth lines must be altered in order to suit the music. Burns declined to make any change. ' I cannot alter the disputed lines in The mill, mill 0. What you think a defect I esteem as a positive beauty.' Thomson substituted two lines of his own for the third and fourth of Burns. Currie, in Works, 1800, iv. jo, restored Burns's words. The original, or at least a song evidently prior to Ramsay's, is in the Merry Muses, beginning:—
' Chorus. The Mill, Mill O, and the kill, kill, O,
And the coggin o' Peggie's wheel O, The sack and the sieve, and a' she did leave,
And danc'd the Millers reel, O. As I cam down yon waterside,
And by yon shellin-hill, O, There I spied a bonie, bonie lass,
Arid a lass that I lov'd right weel, O.'
Cromek interpolated in Reliques these verses with a note, neither of which is in the Interleaved Museum. A version is in Herd's MS., and there is a second song of the kind in the Merry Muses, which obviously Cromek had consulted.
The tune was very popular in the eighteenth century. It is in Orpheus Caledonius, 1725, No. 20; Ramsay's Mustek, c. 1726; Watts's Musical Miscellany, 1731, vi. 76; MeGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1746, 14; Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1751, I'll. 2; Bremner's Scots Songs, 1757, }o; Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 242, and many other collections. It is said to be in a MS. of 1709.
No. 267. There was five carlins in the South. Stewart's Burns, 1802. Lockhart, Life, 1829, entitled, The five carlins. Tune, Chevy chase. A MS. is in the British Museum. Written on the contested election of a member of Parliament for the five boroughs in the shires of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright. Dumfries is 'Maggie by the banks o' Nith'; Lochmaben, 'Marjory o' the monie lochs'; Annan, ' Blinkin Bess'; Kirkcudbright, 'Whisky Jean'; and