Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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The tune is in the Dancing Master, 1697, and both words and music in Durfey's Pills, 1719^ v. 88. The hero obviously was one of the many soldiers of fortune whom Scotland shed, and a trooper in the army of Montrose, who was executed in Edinburgh in 1650. The licentious and satirical ballad relates the adventures of Donald in London, where he went to seek his fortune. The music was sufficiently well known to attract the attention of the writer of the Highland Host, 1697, where it is named as a dance tune. The music in our text (not the same as the English tune) was printed originally in the Museum. In Aird's Airs, 1782, ii. No. 12, is a much corrupted copy of that in Durfey's Pills.
*No. 356. O'er the moor amang the heather. The only excuse for insert­ing here this fine song is the fact that it was entirely unknown until it was printed in the Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. 328, from Burns's MS. The explicit account of the authoress by Burns in the Interleaved Museum forbids its entrance among his works. How much or how little is his own cannot be ascertained ; but as the discoverer, at least, he will always be associated with it. His extraordinary statement is as follows: ' This song is the composition of a Jean Glover, a girl who was not only a w— but also a thief; and in one or other character has visited most of the correction houses in the west. She was born, I believe, in Kilmarnock. I took the song down from her singing as she was strolling the country with a slight-of-hand blackguard.' Some previous verses with the title must have existed, because the tune O'er the muir amang the heather is in Bremner's Reels, 1760, 77, published, according to'C. K. Sharpe, when Glover was only two years old. The tune was well known, for it is repeated in Stewart's Peels, 1761, 0 ; Campbell's Peels, 1778, ij, and else­where. A tune We'll all go ptill the hadder is named in Gedde's Saints Recreation, 1683.
*No. 357. As I lay on my bed on a night. Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. j8i. Stenhouse remarks: ' This fragment of an ancient ballad, with its melody, was recovered by Burns, and transmitted to Johnson for the Museum.' {Illust. p. 498.) There is no Burns MS. to confirm this statement. It is quite certain that Burns knew the melody Go from my •window, love, do, for when he was comparatively young he wrote for it one of his earliest songs ; see No. 30-]. More than three hundred and fifty years ago a popular song with a similar title was parodied in The gude andgodlie Ballads, and the imitation begins:— ' Quho is at my windo ? quho, quho ? Go from my windo, go, go! Quho callis thair sa lyke a strangair? Go from my windo, go.'
(Reprint Scottish Text Soc.) The ' profane' song was not confined to Scotland, for there were several versions and at least two different melodies of the song current in England for nearly a century. In 1588 a licence was granted to print a black-letter ballad Goe from the Window. In Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle, 1611, Old Merrythought sings:—
' Begone, begone, my juggy, my puggy; Begone, my love, my dear; The weather is warm, 'Twill do thee no harm, Thou canst not be lodged here.' Different songs of the same rhythm were sung in the dramas of the close of the sixteenth and early part of the seventeenth centuries. The English tune ' Goe from my window' is in A new book of Tablature, 1596; and as follows without words in the Fitzwilliam MS. c. 1650 (1895, i. iff). The words are from Beaumont's burlesque:—