1759 (before the poet was six months old), it is absurd to suppose them his!]
MEMORANDA OF OLD BALLADS RECOVERED BY BURNS.
No fewer that sixteen old ballads, which seem never to have been previously
printed, were picked up by Burns, and published in Johnson's Museum. Of these
we consider it proper, at this stage of our labours, to record a list, with such
remariis concerning them as may appear necessary. Croniek, in ISIO, printed
six fragments of old ballads, which the bard had enclosed in a letter to old
Tytlerof Woodhouselee, which letter and fragments, although preserved by
Hogg and Motherwell, have mysteriously disappeared from other standard
editions of Burns. Cromek has misdated this letter — "August, 1790," instead
of 1787. The poet never was in Edinburgh during the month of August of any
year, excepting that of 1787, and he was not in that city during any part of the
year 1790. As a further corroboration of the erroneous date, it need only be
stated that No. 3 of the pieces enclosed, was the old fragment of Bonie Dnndee
■with a stanza added by himself, as inserted in the first volume of the Museum,
published in 1787, which he could never have thought of sending to Tytler in
1790, as something new. The letter referred to is short, and therefore we give it
here entire : —
' ' To William Tytler, Esq., of Woodhouselee.
" SiE, — Inclosed I have sent you a sample of the old pieces that
are etill to be found among our peasantry in the West. I had once a great many
of such fragments, and some of these entire ; but as I had no idea then that
anybody cared fur them, I have forgotten them. I invariably hold it sacrilege
to add anything of my own to help out the shattered wrecks of these venerable
old compositions ; but they have many various readings. If you have not seen
these before, 1 know they will flatter your true old-style Caledonian feelings;
at any rate, I am truly happy to have an opportunity of assuring you how
sincerely I am, revered Sir, your gratefully indebted, humble servant,
"Lawnmabket, August, 1787."
Those who feel interested in this species of literature will find, on comparing
Burns' versions of popular ballads with those given by the most noted collectors,
that his copies are generally of a superior and more readable cast; and, not-
withstanding what he says in the foregoing letter, about the " sacrilege " of
helping out the shattered wrecks of ancient minstrelsy with his own additions
or alterations, wo suspect that Oromek is right when he tells us that " Burns
did not chuse to be quite correct in stating that his copies of ballads, such as
Ilughie Graham, were given altogether from oral tradition;" and, moreover,
we consider that he was not, in this particular, one whit less faithful to tradition
and coarsely printed broadsides, tlian the best of those collectors who affect bo
much veneration for ;iure 7-ulbioh, simply because it is said to bo ancient.
( 353 )
BALLADS FROM JOHNSON'S FOURTH VOLUME.
1.— HUGHIE GEAHAM.
[See extracts given with remarks, at page 290, ante.]
II.— FINE FLOWEES IN THE VALLEY.
[In Herd's collection, a ballad is given having the same title ; but, otherwise,
it is quite a different subject from that recovered by Burns, which is exquisitely
pathetic and powerful in its mystery. Omitting the refrain, it is short, and
therefore we shall thus print it Herd gives a fragment in another part of his
worli, which is evidently a portion of this ballad.
" She sat her down, below a thorn,
And there she has her sweet babe born.
' Smile na sae sweet, my bonie babe,
'An ye smile sae sweet, ye'll smUe me dead.'
She's taen out her little penknife,
And twined the sweet babe o' its Life.
She's howket a grave by the light o' the moon,
And there she's buried her sweet babe in.
As she was going to the church,
She saw a sweet babe in the porch.
' O sweet babe, 'an thou wert mine,
I'd deed thee in the silk sae fine.'
* mother dear, when I was thine,
You didna prove to me sae kind.'"
(Addition by Motherwell.)
" ' mother, Heaven is very high!
And that's where thou wilt never win nigh.
And oh, mother. Hell is deep !
And there thou'll enter, step by step.' "
III.— LOED EONALD, MY SON.
[Sir Walter Scott, in the Border Minstrelsy, printed an extension of this
fragment, under the title of " Lord Eandal," ^vith historic notes, the aim of
which is to prove that the ballad commemorated the death of Eandolph, Earl of
Murray, at Pinkie House, in 1332, said by tradition to have been caused by
poison. Burns more usefully records that the simple old air to which it is sung,
is evidently the progenitor of Lochaber no more.}
IV.— AS I CAM' DOUN BY YON CASTLE 'WA'.
[This antique little piece is stated by the poet to be a very popular song in
[This beautiful and complete ballad was too tempting to be let alone by Peter
Buchan, who manufactured from it a composition which he called "Gight'a
Lady," and produced it as the veritable original.]
( 354 )
VI.— THE POOB THBESHER.
[In the note accompanjing this piece, the poet says: "It is rather too long,
but it is very pretty, and never, that I know of, was printed hofore." It is
written In pure English, and has evidently travelled from south of the Tweed.
Cromek rejected it from the Reliques, and from his Select Scottish Son^s.]
VII.— LADY MAEY ANN.
[We have printed this pretty ballad at page 313, Vol. I.]
VIII.— AS I WENT OUT AE MAT MORNING.
[This ballad — rather indelicate in subject — is very like The Lass that made the
bed to me, in several parts. Stenhouse remarks: "Some of the verses seem to
have been retouched by our bard ; but it would have been better had he altered
a little more of it."]
BALLADS FROM JOHNSON'S FIFTH VOLUME.
IX.— TAM LIN.
[This is far superior to the version printed in the Border Minstrelsy under the
title of "The Young Tamlane," which. However, is especially valuable for the
elaborate essay on fairy supersntion which is appended to it. Stenhouse
observes that " many of the stanzas in Sir Walter Scott's version, if not by him-
self, are evidently the work of a modern hand. The language itself betrays the
era of the writer." A fragment of this ballad, under the title of "Kerton Ha';
or, the Fairy Court," appears in David Herd's collection.]
X.— THE LORD O' GORDON HAS THREE DAUGHTERS.
[Johnson has omitted IS verses of this ballad, for want of room on the pago
but the whole of it is printed in Ritsoris Scottish Son/fs. The incidents are
historical, and belong to the middle or latter part of the 16th century.]
XI.— THE ROWIN'T IN HER APRON.
[The scene of this ballad is laid in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The old
Castle of Terreagles stood on the banks of the Nith, near its junction with the
Cluden. — (See page 304, Vol L) The piece, although rather indelicate in
subject, ends well, thus: —
" ' Young Terreagles he is nae clown, he is the toss o' Edinburgh town,
And he'll buy me a braw new gown, for the rowin't in my apron.'
' It's I hae castles, I hae towers, I hae bams and I hae bowers, —
A' that is mine it sail be thine, for the rowin't in thine apron." "]
XII.— LEEZIE LINDSAY.
[We have Inserted this at page IG of present volume.]
( 355 )
XIII.— AND WE DAUENA GAE DOUN TO THE BROOM ONY MAIR.
[This records a tragical story of an incestuous intrigue betwixt "Lady
Margaret and Sir Richard her brother," and its sad results: Motherwell has
added some stanzas to it, in order to complete the ballad.]
XIV.— THE RANTIN LADDIE.
[This is a ballad concerning the Earl of Aboyne, which the poet picked up
during his northern tour. It is of no great interest.]
XV.— GUDE WALLACE.
[This is a lyrical version of an incident described by Blind Han-y.]
XVI.— THE LOCHMABEN HARPER.
[This appeared in Johnson's sixth vol., and therefore was not published till
Scott had produced his version in the Border ilinsirelsij. Sir Walter does not
state from what source he obtained it. It varies considerably from that in the
XVIL— KATHERINE JAFPRAY.
[These verses first appeared in the Aldine edition, 1839, taken from the poet's
MS. : they are merely the first four verses of a long ballad which was published
in the Border Minstrelsy— Qxst edition under the title of "The Laird of Laming-
ton ;" enlarged in after editions, and called " Katharine Jaufarie." Motherwell
published a version of the same ballad under the title of " Katherine Johnstone."
This piece of old minstrelsy is interesting, as having formed the foundation of
Sir Walter Scott's much admired ballad of "Lochinvar,"— the main difference
in the plot being that, in the original, Lochinvar loses the bride, while in the
ballad from Marmion, he wins her.]
XVIII.— THE BRAES 0' YARROW.
[This is one of those fragments already referred to as having been sent by the
poet to Mr. Tytler of Woodhouselee in 1787. It contains ten verses, apparently
taken from several distinct ballads, some of these being part of the beautiful
love-story in the fragment preserved in the Tea-Table Miscellany, — " Rare WiUie
drowned in Yarrow/' which theme has been so pathetically followed out by
Logan, and more recently by Wordsworth; and the other verses forming part
of a fragment preserved by Herd, beginning—" I dream'd a dreary dream last
night," which is apparently a portion of the old ballad that suggested the
one by Hamilton of Bangour, and was afterwards dressed up into the tragic
ballad published by Scott in the Border Minstrelsy, called " The Dowie Deus of
Yarrow." Besides these, Bums' Yarrow fragment contains some verses which
clearly belong to a ballad called " The Duke of Athol's Nurse,"— to be found in
the collections of Kinloch and Professor Ayton. Beyond all this it contains a
verse or two belonging to " Sir James the Rose." Nevertheless, mongrel iu
character as Bm-ns' contribution to the Yarrow minstrelsy undoubtedly is, two
of the stanzas are transcendently beautiful, and never were seen before, there-
fore we give them a place here.]
" Nae birdies sang the mii-ky hour,
Amang the braes o' Yarrow ;
But skimber'cl on the dewy boughs
To wait the waukening morrow."
( 356 )
[The preceding verse, beyond all controversy, is Burns' own: the other stanza
seemB to bear the impress of antiquity, yet may be his too, notwithstanding.]
" She's taen three links o' her gowden hair,
That hung down lang and yellow ;
And she's tied them round sweet Willie's waist,
And drawn him out o' Yarrow."
XIX.— YOUNG BOB ROT.
[This forms number two of the fragments sent to Tytler, and consists of nine
verses of four lines each. We have examined the same ballad as printed in the
best collections, and are persuaded that any thing which has been added to the
piece since it came from Burns' hand is modern, and wretchedly executed.
Yet, how few are there that could succeed in piecing up a fragment like this ? —
" Be content, be content, be content to stay, leddie ;
For thou art my wedded wife, until thy dying day, leddie,
Bob Eoy was my father ca'd, Macgregor was his name, leddie,
He led a band o' heroes bauld, and I am here the same, leddie.
He was a hedge about his freends — a heckle to his foes, leddie, _
Kvery one that durst him wrang, he took him by the nose, leddie.
I'm as bold, I'm as bold, I'm as bold, and more, leddie;
He that daurs dispute my word, shall feel my gude claymore, leddie."]
XX.— BONIE DUNDEE.
[Already given in Vol. I., page 202. The first four lines of verse second are,
however, thus varied: —
" May blessings light on thy sweet wee lippie I
May blessings light on thy bonie ee-bree!
Thou smiles sae like my sodger laddie,
Thou's dearer — dearer ay to me ! "]
XXL— YOUNG HYNHOEN.
[This is a compact little romantic ballad, which afterwards, in the hands oi
Motherwell and Peter Buchan, was dragged out into a tedious jingle, three times
as long. The former observes that Oromek, in recording it without a single
remark, seems not to have been aware of the jewel he had picked up.]
XXII.— AY WAUKIN, O.
[Here the poet introduces the chorus and two verses of the song given at page
240, Vol. L]
XXIII.— YE'RE LIKE TO THE TIMMER.
[Here he sets down as ancient, the last four lines of his own favourite song,
given at page 277, Vol. L, beginning, " O moikle thinks my luve o' my beauty."]
( 357 )
MEMORANDA OF LYRICAL FRAGMENTS AND NOTES INSERTED BY BURNS
In the Glenriddel Copy of the "Museum."
L— THE BLATHEIE O'T.
rrhe poet remarks: "The following is a set of tliis song, which is the very
earliest song I remember to have got by heart. When a child, an old woman
Bung it to me, and I picked it up, every word, at first hearing : —
' O Willie, weel I mind, I lent you my hand,
To sing you a song which you then did demand ;
But my memory's so bad, I had amaist forgot
That you call'd it The gear and the Uathrie o't.
I sing na of confusion, delusion, or pride ;
I'll sing about a laddie was for a virtuous bride ;
For virtue is an ornament that time'Il never rot,
And far afore the gear and the blathrie o't.
Tho' my lassie hasna scarlets and silks to put on.
We envy not the great ones that hang about the throne ;
I wad rather hae my lassie, tho' she cam' but in her smock,
Than a princess wi' the gear and the blathrie o't.
Altho' we haena horses and menzie at command.
We will toil on our fit, and we'll work wi' our hand ;
For when wearied, we get rest that is sweet in any spot,
And we value not the gear and the blathrie o't.
If we hae onie babies, we'll count them a' as lent;
Hae we less — hae we mair— we sail ay be content ;
We've mair o' warld's pleasure in the winnin' o' a groat
Than the miser wi' his gear and the blathrie o't.
We fash na the affairs o' the Kirk or the Queen ;
They're nae matters for a sang — let them sink, let them svrim :
On your kirk we'll ne'er encroach, but we'll hold it still remote, —
Tak' ye this for The gear and the blathrie o't I' "]
II.— THE BEDS 0' SWEET KOSES.
[The poet says : " This song, so far as I know, for the first time appears here
in print. When I was a boy, it was very popular in Ayrshire. I remember to
have heard the Buchanites sing some of their nonsensical rhymes, which they
dignify with the name of hymns, to this air." As this song is little known, we
here insert a copy of it: —
" As I was a- walking one morning in May,
The little birds were singing delightful and gay.
Where I and my true love would often sport and play
Down amang tho beds o' sweet roses.
My daddie and my mammie, I've often heard them say
That I was a naughty boy, I was so fond of play;
But I never liked in all my life a girl that would say ' Nay !
Down amang the beds o' sweet roses.
If I had gold and silver in bags running o'er,
I'd part with all my money to the girl that I adore,
I'd part with all my money to meet my girl once more
Down amang the beds o' sweet roses."]
( 358 )
III.— O'EB THE MUm AMANG THE HEATHER.
[The poet says, — "This song is a composition of Jean Glover, a girl who was
not onlj' a whore, 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 Kil-
marnock. I took the song down from her singing as she was strolling through
the country with a sleight-of-hand blackguard."
The editor of The Contemporaries of Burns gives 31st October, 1758, as the date
of her birth, and she survived Burns about six years. The song is to bo found
in all Scots Collections.]
IV.— CAULD KAIL IN ABEEDEEN.
[Burns observes, — "The song in the Museum (No. 162) is by the Duke of
Gordon. The old words are these : —
'There's cauld kail in Aberdeen, and castocks in Strathbogie:
When ilka lad maun hae his lass, then, fye ! gie me my coggie.
My coggie, sirs, my coggie, sirs, I canna want my coggie;
I icadna gie my three-gird caup, for a' the queans on Bogie.
There's Johnie Smith has got a wife, that scrimps him o' his coggie,
If she were mine, upon my life, I'd douk her in a boggie!
My coggie, sirs,' " d'c.
A very happy continuation of this subject was written by William Eeid, of the
firm of Brash & Keid, printers, Glasgow.]
v.— THE FOUETEENTH OF OCTOBER
[Burns has inserted a note relative to this iit!e of an old tune, which we think
worth quoting here, to shew that Eitson and he have adopted quite opposite
opinions regarding it. Kitson's note is as follows :— " King James VII. was un-
doubtedly, both before and after his succession, a popular character in Scotland,
and The Fourteenth of October (his birth-day) is still a favourite t\xne."— Scottish
Burns, on the other hand, vsrites :— " The title of this air shows that it alludes
to the famous King Ci-ispian. the patron of the honourable corporation of shoe-
makers. St. Orispiau's day falls on the 14th of October, old style, as the proverb
tells. , 1, ,„
' On the fourteenth of October was ne er a sutor sober.
The air called the Shoemakers' March, for which the poet wrote words given at
page 2'14 of this vol., is quite a different tune from The Fourteenth of October.}
VI.— THE COLLIEE'S BONIE LASSIE.
[Burns notes thus:— "The first half-stanza is much older than the days of
Eamsay. The old words began as follows:—
'The collier has a dochter, and O she's wonder bonie;
A laird he was that socht her, rich baith in lands and money :
She wadna hae a laird, she wadua be aleddy,
But she wad hae a collier lad, the colour o' her deddic' "]
( 359 )
VII.— BLINK OWKE THE BUKN, SWEET BETTY.
[The poet says of tUs ancient ditty: — " The old words — all that I remember —
' Blink owre the burn, sweet Betty, it's a cauld winter night;
It rains, it hails, and it thunders, — the moon she gies nao light:
It's a' for the sake o' sweet Betty, that ever I tint my way ;
O sweet ! let me lie ayout thee, until it be break o' day!
It's Betty will bake my bread, and- Betty will brew my ale,
And Betty will be my love, when I come owre the dale :
Blink owre the burn, sweet Betty, blink owre the bum to me,
And while I hae life, dear lassie, my ain sweet Betty thou's be!' "
Burns has omitted to point out that one of the lines of this song is quoted in
King Lear, act iii., scene 6. Edgar, during his pretended raviog while the storm
was howling around the head of the frantic old king, cries out : — '• The foul fiend
haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale —
' Come o'er the bum, Bessie, to me.'' "
It is very remarkable that in this same scene Edgar chants a couplet which
at once suggests to us the opening lines of Burns' beautiful lyric, called, " The
poet's morning salutation to his mistress" — Sleep'st thou or wa/c'st thou, fairest
creature, — ^given at page 101, present volume. Edgar's coui^let is —
" Sleep'st thou or wak'st thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep he in the corn."
" The pelting of the pitiless storm " on this occasion, would naturally recall to
Edgar's mind the words of the old song of Sweet Betty, given above — "It rains,
it hails, and it thunders."]
VIIL— POMPEYS GHOST.
[Burns, in referring to the pathetic ballad of "Mary's Dream," by John Lowe,
adds: " He likewise wrote another beautiful song, called Pompey's Ghost." This
song (if such it can be called) used to be suug, or recited, by an early friend of
the poet — Mr. James Candlish, who carried oif the wittiest of the " six proper
young belles" of Mauchline. In November, 1787, the poet wrote thus to Cand-
lish, from Edinburgh, concerning this poem : — " I am engaged in assisting an
honest Scotch enthusiast — a friend of mine who is an engraver, and has taken
it into his head to publish a collection of all our songs, set to music, of which
the words and music are done by Scotchmen. This, you will easily guess, is an
undertaking exactly to my taste. I have collected, begged, borrowed, and stolen
all the songs I could meet with. Pompey's Ghost, words and music, I beg from
you immediately, to go into the second number, — the Urst is already published."
Candlish sent the words to the poet, but the music ho was unable to give in
consequence of his want of musical skill to note it down. The piece, therefore,
is not to be found in the Museum.
The poet, in common with all writers who have referred to this beautiful
poem, is mistaken in assigning its composition to Lowe. The editor is in pos-
session of a collection of songs, published at Edinburgh in 17(i-l, entitled, "The
Blackbird," in which this production is inserted, without note regarding its
authorship. Lowe was born in 1750, so, at the date of that publication, he was
barely fourteen years old. He attended Edinburgh College for one session in
1771, and was engaged as a tutor during the follo^ving year by Mr. M'Ghie of
Airds: while there, he comiaosed "Mary's Dream," and in 1773 he emigrated
to America. It would appear, then, that Lowe had picked up this poem in
Edinburgh — admired it — set it to music (for he was a musical amateur, and
( 3G0 )
composed the air to his own " Mary's Dream ) and in tliis way he would enjoy
the credit of being the author of Pompey's Ghost, which, however, is of a higher
order of poetry than anything he was ever known to compose, and never could
be the worls; of any school-boy. All other copies of rompeifs Ghost which the
editor is aware of, want not only the closing verse, but also the second line of
each stanza, the hiatus being supplied by a repetition of line third, — rendered
necessary to make it suit the music. In the Berean and Glassite hjonn-books,
printed during the latter portion of the eighteenth century, several of the hymns
composed in this peculiar measure, are dii-ected to be sung " to the tune of
A complete copy of a lyric which Burns felt so much interest in, and which,
on its own merits," is so worthy of preservation, is here recorded for the beneiit
of the reader.]
From perfect and unclouded day,
[Where Phoebus sheds no parching ray ;]
From joys complete without allay
And from a spring without decay
I come, by Cynthia's borrowed beams,
To visit my Cornelia's dreams,
And give them still subhmer themes.
I am the man you loved before
[He crossed the stream to yonder shore,] —
The streams have washed away my gore,
And Fompey now can bleed no more !
Yet vengeance shall not be withstood.
Nor unattended by a flood
Of Roman and Egyptian blood !
Caesar himself it shall pursue
[With cares which Pompey never knew ;]
His days shall troubled be and few.
And he shall fall by treason too !
He, by a sentence all divine.
Shall fall a victim to my shrine, —
As I was his, he shall be mine J
[Thy stormy life regret no more.
For Fate shall waft thee soon on shore, —
Yes, Fate shall waft thee gently o'er,
And to thy Pompey thee restore :
There guilty heads no crowns shall wear,
Nor my Cornelia shed one tear,
Nor Caesar be Dictator there !]
FIRST PRODUCED IN
CUNNINGHAM'S AND HOGG & MOTHERWELL'S EDITIONS-
a834 TO 1839.)
Dr. Josiah Walker in 1811, Alexander Peterkin m 1814, the Kev. Hamilton
Paul in 1819, and, best of all, J. G. Lockhart in 1828, had each produced in-
dependent memoirs of our poet, and freshly arranged editions of his poetry ;
yet although, during all these years, reprint after reprint of Dr. Carrie's Life
and Works of Burns, from time to time, were proceeding from the press,
the public seemed not to be satiated ; for, in 1833, announcements were now and
again made in the Athenxum, and other literary organs, that no less than three
poetically gifted men — namely, Allan Cunningham, James Hogg, and William
Motherwell, were busied in preparing new biographies and editions of the great
Scottish bard. The notion that a great poet can most effectively be edited and
niustrated by another poet, even of less note, had been demonstrated to be a
pure mistake, more than a century before that period, when the works of
Shakespeare, edited by Alexander Pope, were given to a disappointed public.
Cunningham's labours, comprising eight volumes, were, in 1834, published in
London in a splendid style, followed by numerous reprints in various forms.
Hogg and Motherwell's edition, in five voliunes, appeared in Glasgow in monthly
parts, commencing in 1834. Each of these editions contained sundry pro-
ductions of Burns which had not previously been given in any collected volume
of the poet's works, and these we now proceed to print in chronological order.