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
500                        HISTORICAL NOTES
Caledonius, 1733, No. 49. The subject of all these is the same as the verses in the text, but there is no verbal or metrical connexion. In the Herd MS. is a variation of the eighth stanza in a different metre, as follows, marked for the tune Mary Scott:
' O, when I look east, my heart is sair, But when I look west it's mair and mair; For then I see the braes of Yarrow, And there I lost for aye my marrow.'
This fragment is all that was known of the traditional ballad until Burns sent his contribution to Tytler. What alteration or variation he made it is now Impossible to say.
The tune Willy's rare was first printed in the Orpheus Caledonius, 1733, No. 49, and the copy there is that now printed in all collections of Scottish song. The music Sweet Willy, as in the text, is a translation from Blaikie's MS. 1692, and, if anything, is a better set than that usually printed.
*Mo. 353. Rob Roy from the Highlands cam. Cromek's Scotisk Songs, 1810, ii. J90. It is stated in Motherwell's Minstrelsy, 1827, p. xcI'll, that this ballad first appeared in The Thistle, 1823, which of course is incorrect. In Maidment's North Coitntrie Garland, 1824, 44, there is a complete version from the MS. of R. Pitcairn, 'who took it from the recitation of Widow Stevenson.' This version, like that of Burns, is distributed between two melodies, but not the same as those in the text. Young Rob Roy, son of the celebrated cateran, was a chip.of the old block. At twelve years of age he shot a man, and was outlawed, fled to the continent, enlisted in the British army, was wounded and taken prisoner, was exchanged and returned to Scotland, where he married a respectable woman who lived only a few weeks. Thus Professor Child, in Ballads, 1890, i v. No. 22;, out of Maclaurin's Criminal Trials. For the crime of abducting Jane Key, aged 19, heiress of Edinbelly, Stirlingshire, and com­pelling her to go through a sham marriage ceremony, Robert Oig was tried, convicted, and executed in 1753 at the age of thirty-one. Abductions of various kinds were not uncommon in Scotland, and illustrate marriage by capture as late as the middle of the eighteenth century. The tune is that of Song No. 266.
•No. 354. Rob Roy was my father ca'd. The tune in the text was known in Scotland up to the year 1733 as Jenny beguiVd the webster, its title in tb« Orpheus Caledonius, 1733, No. _?7, as in the text. It is so named for a song in Ramsay's Miscellany, 1725, Afterwards it becomesjenny dang the weaver, as in Bremner's Reels, 1759, w, Stewart's Reels, 1701, ij ; Campbell's Reels, 177S, 2}; and the Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 127.
*Mo. 355. O, Donald Couper and his man. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. JJ4, entitled Donald Couper. On the authority of Stenhouse alone this is inserted as an amended fragment by Burns from Herd's Scottish Songs, 17 76, ii. 229, and further evidence is desirable. The verses are a reminiscence of an English ballad printed without music entitled A nosegay of pleasure growing in Venus's garden, in 180 Loyal Songs, 1685, 3S4> marked for 'the tune Daniel Cooper,' and beginning:—
'A bony lad came to the Court, His name was Donald Cowper; And-he petitioned to the king That he might be a Trowper.'