Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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478                        HISTORICAL NOTES
' Twas in that season of the year' and another ' From Roslin castle's echoing walls,' and the change of title of the tune is probably due to one or other of these songs. The reason why Burns's verses were set to another than the proper tune in Johnson's Museum was because Hewitt's Roslin Castle had been printed with other words in an earlier volume.
Ho. 314. Baring winds around her blowing. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 17J, signed ' B.' Tune, McGrigor of Rords lament. ' I composed these verses on Miss Isabella McLeod of Raza, alluding to her feelings on the death of her sister, and the still more melancholy death of her sister's husband, the late Earl of Loudon, who shot himself, out of sheer heart-break at some mortifications he suffered, owing to the deranged state of his finances' {Inter­leaved Museum). Miss Isabella McLeod was one of the first friends Burns made in Edinburgh, and he was on terms of intimacy with her while he remained there. She was a sweet and gentle woman, one of the refined persons who smoothed the rebellious nature of the poet. Dr. Johnson in his tour in the Hebrides, stayed with the family at Raasay and unexpectedly was charmed with the society. The family consisted of three sons and ten daughters, the eldest Flora, described as Queen of the ball, was elegant and remarkable for her beauty. The McLeods were singularly unfortunate. Flora became the beautiful Countess of Loudon, and died in 1780, her husband the Earl shot himself in 1786, the father died the same year and his brother John in 1787. The chief of Raasay, the brother of Burnss friend, died in 1801, in financial trouble ; his son and grandson struggled unsuccessfully to redeem the estates, which had been in the family for four hundred years. Burns commemorated John's death in the lines beginning ' Sad thy tale, thou rueful page.' A song by Gay printed in The Hive, 1726,174, and elsewhere, begins thus:—
'Twas when the seas were roaring,
With hollow blasts of wind, A damsel lay deploring All on a rock reclin d.' There is no other suggestion for Burns in the song. The tune is an exquisite Celtic air which he heard during his Highland tour. In a letter to Mrs. Dunlop he describes how the Coronach of McGrigor of Rora was much admired in Patrick Miller's house while he was there.
McGrigor's lament is in Corri's Scots Songs, 1783, ii. 20 ; as a Perthshire air. in McDonald's Highland Airs, 1784, No. 88; and in the Museum as now printed. There is a bad setting in Dow's Scots Music, c. 1776, 16. .
No, 315. "What will I do gin my hoggie die ? Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. ijj. The MS. is in the British Museum with an instruction that ' the music to be set to those words.' A ' hog' or ' hoggie ' is a young sheep which has not yet passed beneath the knife of the shearer. After the first fleece is taken off, the ' hoggie' becomes a gimmer or tup until the next fleece. The original of Burns's verses is said to be a song entitled Coxton's hoggie in four stanzas which Buchan, a most untrustworthy authority, furnished to Motherwell and published first in 1834. There is nothing of the antique in the verses, and they may be discredited. Burns did not take the trouble to acknow­ledge his verses in his Interleaved Museum which however contains a note by Robert Riddell garbled in Cromek's Reliques, 1808,241, to make it appear that Burns wrote it. If Cromek had printed a verbatim copy beginning in the first person the public would have discovered that there was something wrong in Burns being acquainted with Dr. Walker so early as the year 1772.
The tune, with the title of Burns What will I do gin my hoggie die, is in McGlashan's Scots Measures, 1781, it, and in Reinagle's Scots Airs, c. 1782, entitled Moss Piatt, the name of the hamlet referred to in Riddell's note. The Museum copy with Burns's verses is a bad setting of the air, which Mr. Glen discovered in Young's Original Scotch. Tunes, c. lfi?, under the unintelligible title of Cocks louns vialie hoyn.

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