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Now's the day, and now's the hour ;
Chains and slaverie !
Wha will be a traitor-knave ?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains !
But they shall be free?
Lay the proud usurpers low!
God ever defend the cause of Truth and Liberty, as he did that day !-Amen.
P.S. I shewed the air to Urbani, who was highly pleased with it, and begged me to make soft verses for it, but I had no idea of giving myself any trouble on the subject, till the accidental recollection of that glorious struggle for freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient, roused my rhyming mania. Clarke's set of the tune, with his bass, you will find in the Museum ; though I am afraid that the air is not what will entitle it to a place in your elegant selection.
MR. BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
will begin to think my correspondence is persecution. No matter, I can't help it; a ballad is my hobbyhorse ; which, though otherwise a simple sort of harmless, idiotical beast enough, has yet this blessed headstrong property, that when once it has fairly made off with a hapless wight, it gets so enamoured with
the tinkle-gingle, tinkle-gingle of its own bells, that it is sure to run poor pilgarlick, the bedlam jockey, quite beyond any useful point or post in the common race of man.
The following song I have composed for, Orangaoil, the Highland air that you tell me in your last, you have resolved to give a place to in your book. I have this moment finished the song ; so you have it glowing from the mint. If it suit you, well! if not, 'tis also well !
Behold the hour, the boat arrive ;
Thou goest, thou darling of my heart :
But fate has will'd, and we must part.
Yon distant isle will often hail :
“ There latest mark'd her vanish'd sail."
Along Along the solitary shore,
While flitting sea-fowl round me cry,
I'll west-ward turn my wistful eye:
say, Where now my Nancy's path may be ! While thro' thy sweets she loves to stray,
O tell me, does she muse on me!
MR. THOMSON TO MR. BURNS.
Edinburgh, 5th Sept. 1793.
I BELIEVE it is generally allowed that the greatest modesty is the sure attendant of the greatest merit. While you are sending me verses that even Shakespeare might be proud to own, you speak of them as if they were ordinary productions ! Your heroic ode is to me the noblest composition of the kind in the Scottish language. I happened to dine yesterday with a party of your friends, to whom I read it. They were all charmed with it, intreated me to find out a suitable air for it, and reprobated the idea of giving it a tune so totally devoid of interest or grandeur as Hey tuttie taitie. Assuredly your partiality for this tune must arise from the ideas associated in your mind by the tradition concerning it, for I never heard any person, and I have conversed again and again with the greatest enthusiasts for Scottish airs, I say, I never heard any one speak of it as worthy of notice.
I have been running over the whole hundred airs, of which I lately sent you the list; and I think Lewie Gordon is most happily adapted to your ode; at least with a very slight variation of the fourth line, which I shall presently submit to you. There is in Lewie Gordon more of the grand than the plaintive, particularly when it is sung with a degree of spirit, which your words would oblige the singer to give it. I would have no scruple about substituting your ode in the room of Lewie Gordon, which has neither the interest, the grandeur, nor the poetry that charactarize your verses. Now the variation I have to suggest upon the last line of each verse, the only line too short for the air, is as follows :
Verse ift, Or to glorious victorie.