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suitable to the supposed gentle character of the fair mourner who speaks it.
MR. BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
July 2d, 1793.
MY DEAR SIR,
I HAVE just finished the following ballad, and as I do think it in my best stile, I send it you. Mr. Clarke, who wrote down the air from Mrs. Burns's wood-note wild, is very fond of it; and has given it a celebrity by teaching it to some young ladies of the first fashion here. If you
do not like the air enough to give it a place in your collection, please return it. The song you may keep as I remember it.
There was a lass and she was fair,
At kirk and market to be seen;
The fairest maid was bonie Jean.
ay she wrought her mammie's wark,
sang sae merrilie;
Had ne'er a lighter heart than she.
But hawks will rob the tender joys
That bless the little lintwhite's nest;
And love will break the soundest rest.
Young Robie was the brawest lad,
The flower and pride of a' the glen ;
And wanton naigies nine or ten.
He gaed wi’ Jeanie to the tryste,
He danc'd wi' Jeanie on the down ;
Her heart was tint, her peace was stown,
As in the bosom o' the stream,
The moon-beam dwells at dewy e'en;
* In the original MS our poet asks Mr. Thomson if this stanza is not original ?
And now she works her mammie's wark,
And ay she sighs wi' care and pain ;
Or what wad mak her weel again.
But did na Jeanie's heart loup light,
And did na joy blink in her e'e,
Ae e'enin on the lily lea?
The sun was sinking in the west,
The birds sang sweet in ilka grove ;
And whisper'd thus his tale o' love.
O Jeanie fair, I loe thee dear ;
O canst thou think to fancy me!
And learn to tent the farms wi' me.
At barn or byre thou shalt na drudge,
Or naething else to trouble thee;
Now what could artless Jeanie do?
She had na will to say him na:
And love was ay between them twa.
I have some thoughts of inserting in your index, or in my notes, the names of the fair-ones, the themes of my songs.
I do not mean the name at full ; but dashes or asterisms, so as ingenuity may find them out.
The heroine of the foregoing is Miss M. daughter to Mr. M. of D., one of your subscribers. I have not painted her in the rank which she holds in life, but in the dress and character of a cottager.
MR. BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
July, 1793. I ASSURE you, my dear Sir, that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary parcel. It degrades me in my own eyes. However, to return it would savour of affectation; but, as to any more traffic of that debtor and creditor kind; I swear by that HONOUR which crowns the upright statue of ROBERT BURNS'S INTEGRITY-on the least motion of it, I will indignantly spurn the by-past transaction, and from that moment commence entire stranger to you! Burns's character for generosity of sentiment and independence of mind, will, I trust,
long outlive any of his wants, which the cold, unfeeling ore can supply: at least, I will take care that such a character he shall deserve.
my copy of
your publication. Never did my eyes behold, in any musical work, such elegance and correctness. Your preface, too, is admirably written; only your partiality to me has made you say too much : however, it will bind me down to double every effort in the future progress of the work. The following are a few remarks on the songs in the list you sent me. I never copy what I write to you, so I may be often tautological, or perhaps contradictory.
The flowers of the forest, is charming as a poem; and should be, and must be, set to the notes; but, though out of your rule, the three stanzas, beginning,
“ I hae seen the smiling o' fortune beguiling" are worthy of a place, were it but to immortalize the author of them, who is an old lady of my acquaintance, and at this moment living in Edinburgh. She is a Mrs. Cockburn; I forget of what place; but from Roxburgh-shire.
What a charming apostrophe is
“ O fickle fortune, why this cruel sporting,