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Martial and Patriotic Songs.
The words of this ballad are by Sir Walter Scott. Mary Eussell Mitford, writing of it, says: " Nothing seems stranger, among the strange fluctuations of popularity, than the way in which the songs and shorter poems of the most eminent writers occasionally pass from the highest vogue into the most complete oblivion, and are at once forgotten as though they had never been. Scott's spirited ballad, ' The Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee,' is a case in point. Several persons (among the rest, Mrs. Hughes, the valued friend of the author) have complained to me, not only that it is not included amongst Sir Walter's ballads, but that they were unable to discover it elsewhere. Upon mentioning this to another dear friend of mine, the man who, of all whom I have known, has the keenest scent for literary game, he threw himself upon the track, and, failing to obtain a printed copy, succeeded in procuring one in manuscript, taken down from the lips of a veteran vocalist, not, as I should judge, from his recitation, but from his singing. * * * * At all events, the transcript is a curiosity. The whole ballad is written as if it were prose. I endeavored to restore the natural division of the verses; and having since discovered a printed copy, buried in the " Doom of Devorgoil,' where of course nobody looked for it, I am delighted to transfer to my pages one of the most stirring and characteristic ballads ever written."
The air of " Bonnie Dundee," under that title, dates from 1628.