Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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462                           HISTORICAL NOTES
Burns was reading Percy's Reliqucs of Ancient English Poetry. Copies were sent to several other friends. Burns was particularly pleased with the ballad— a class of poetry he was not much attached to,—and he told Lady Constable ' When I would interest my fancy in the distresses incident to humanity, I shall remember the unfortunate Mary. I enclose a poetic compliment I lately paid to the memory of our greatly injured, lovely Scottish Queen.' He writes in the same strain to Mrs. Graham, and to Clarinda when sending them copies.
The ballad was printed in the Museum with the melody which Burns communicated to the editor.
A song Queen Marys lamentation 'I sigh and lament me in vain,' with a melody by Giordani, is well known: but neither words nor music have any relation to the ballad of Burns. The absorbing interest in Queen Mary is the excuse for noticing here the fabricated verses so long attributed to her on bidding adieu to her beloved France. The song was written by Meusnier de Querlon and first printed in his Anthologie Francoise, 1765, i. 19, with music. He pretended that he obtained it from a manuscript of the Duke of Bucking­ham, which has never been discovered. His countryman, Fournier exposed this and other of Querlon's tricks, and Charles dubs the song 'rimes barbares.' As a curiosity—the following are the original verses in the rare Anthologie:—
'Adieu, plaisant pays de France, O ma patrie, La plus cherie, Qui as nourri ma jeune enfance 1 Adieu, France,' adieu mes beaux jours. La Nef qui dejoint nos amours • N'a cy de moi que la moitie: Une part te reste, elle est tienne; Je la fie k ton amitie, Pour que de l'autre il te sonvienne.'
No. 280. O, cam ye here the fight to shun 9 Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 282, entitled The battle of Sherra-moor: 'Mr. B. gave the words.' Tune, Cameronian Kant. Law's MS. List. The battle of Sheriffmuir was fought on Sunday, November 13, 1715, between the Government forces com­manded by the Duke of Argyle, and the rebels under the Earl of Mar. The battle was drawn, both sides claiming the victory, and the peculiar humour of the country which delighted to treat matters of serious political Import in a ridiculous manner, chose this event as the subject of ballads to satirize both sides in an Impartial manner. The two armies approached each other on the broad muir between the Ochils and the Grampians. It is an undulating platform of gentle hummocky hills, and neither army saw very clearly the position and movements of the other. When the forces came into collision, it was discovered that the right wing of each was the strongest. The rebels out­numbered the Government army, but lost the advantage by rushing the attack before the arrangements were completed.
Sir Walter Scott described how the Highlanders behaved in-a campaign. While on the field they would desert in three cases: if much time was lost in bringing them into action, they would get tired and go home; if they fought and were victorious, they would plunder and go home; if they/fought and were beaten, they would run away and go home. These tactics were obviously perplexing and inconvenient to the leaders, but they were practised in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, and explain how the rebel armies in both cases rapidly melted away. The ballad recites, as'the only thing certain, that a battle was fought, and both sides ran away, but who won or who lost, the satirical rhymer knows not.
The Clan Campbell in general was much in evidence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was famed for making an intelligent forecast of events