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MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL;
THE SONGS OF SCOTLAND OF THE PAST HALF CENTURY.
Memoirs of the Poets,
SKETCHES AND SPECIMENS IN ENGLISH VERSE OF THE MOST CELEBRATED MODERN GAELIC BARDS.
CHARLES ROGERS, LL.D. F.S.A. SCOT.
IN SIX VOLUMES;
ADAM & CHARLES BLACK, NORTH BRIDGE, BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS TO HER MAJESTY.
EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY, PAUL'S WORK.
WILLIAM STIRLING, ESQ. OF KEIR, M.P.,
AN ENLIGHTENED SENATOR, AN ACCOMPLISHED SCHOLAR, AND AN INGENIOUS POET,
THIS FIRST VOLUME
The Modern Scottish Minstrel
WITH HIS KIND PERMISSION, MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
HIS VERY OBEDIENT, FAITHFUL SERVANT,
Scotland has probably produced a more patriotic and more extended minstrelsy than any other country in the world. Those Caledonian harp-strains, styled by Sir Walter Scott "gems of our own mountains," have frequently been gathered into caskets of national song, but have never been stored in any complete cabinet; while no attempt has been made, at least on an ample scale, to adapt, by means of suitable metrical translations, the minstrelsy of the Gael for Lowland melody. The present work has been undertaken with the view of supplying these deficiencies, and with the further design of extending the fame of those cultivators of Scottish song—hitherto partially obscured by untoward circumstances, or on account of their own diffidence—and of affording a stimulus towards the future cultivation of national poetry.
The plan of the work is distinct from that of every previous collection of Scottish song—the more esteemed lyrical compositions of the various bards being printed along with the memoirs of the respective authors, while the names of the poets have been arranged in chronological order. Those have been considered as modern whose lives extend into the past half-century; and the whole of these have consequently been included in the work. Several Highland bards who died a short period before the commencement of the century have, however, been introduced. Of all the Scottish poets, whether lyrical or otherwise, who survived the period indicated, biographical sketches will be supplied in the course of the publication, together with memoirs of the principal modern collectors, composers and vocalists. The memoirs, so far as is practicable, will be prepared from original materials, of which the Editor, after a very extensive correspondence, has obtained a supply more ample and more interesting than, he flatters himself, has ever been attained by any collector of northern minstrelsy. The work will extend to six volumes, each of the subsequent volumes being accompanied by a dissertation on a distinct department of Scottish poetry and song. Each volume will be illustrated with two elegant engravings. In the course of the work, many original compositions will be presented, recovered from the MSS. of the deceased poets, or contributed by distinguished living bards.
For the department of the "Modern Gaelic Minstrelsy," the Editor has obtained the assistance of a learned friend, intimately familiar with the language and poetry of the Highlands. To this esteemed co-adjutor the reader is indebted for the revisal of the Gaelic department of this work, as well as for the following prefatory observations on the subject:—
"Among the intelligent natives of the Highlands, it is well known that the Gaelic language contains a quantity of poetry, which, how difficult soever to transfuse into other tongues and idioms, never fails to touch the heart, and excite enthusiastic feelings. The plan of 'The Modern Scottish Minstrel' restricts us to a period less favourable to the inspirations of the Celtic muse than remoter times. If it is asked, What could be gained by recurring to a more distant period? or what this unlettered people have really to shew for their bardic pretensions? we answer, that there is extant a large and genuine collection of Highland minstrelsy, ranging over a long exciting period, from the days of Harlaw to the expedition of Charles Edward. The 'Prosnachadh Catha,' or battle-song, that led on the raid of Donald the Islander on the Garioch, is still sung; the 'Woes of the Children of the Mist' are yet rehearsed in the ears of their children in the most plaintive measures. Innerlochy and Killiecrankie have their appropriate melodies; Glencoe has its dirge; both the exiled Jameses have their paean and their lament; Charles Edward his welcome and his wail;—all in strains so varied, and with imagery so copious, that their repetition is continually called for, and their interest untiring.
"All that we have to offer belongs to recent times; but we cannot aver that the merit of the verses is inferior. The interest of the subjects is certainly immeasurably less; but, perhaps, not less propitious to the lilts and the luinneags, in which, as in her music and imitative dancing, the Highland border has found her best Lowland acceptation.
"We are not aware that we need except any piece, out of the more ancient class, that seems not to admit of being rivalled by some of the compositions of Duncan Ban (Macintyre), Rob Donn, and a few others that come into our own series, if we exclude the pathetic 'Old Bard's Wish,' 'The Song of the Owl,' and, perhaps, Ian Lom's 'Innerlochy.'
"But, while this may be so far satisfactory to our readers, we are under the necessity of claiming their charitable forbearance for the strangers of the mountain whom we are to introduce to their acquaintance. The language, and, in some respects, the imagery and versification, are as foreign to the usages of the Anglo-Saxon as so many samples of Orientalism. The transfusion of the Greek and Latin choral metres is a light effort to the difficulty of imitating the rhythm, or representing the peculiar vein of these song-enamoured mountaineers. Those who know how a favourite ode of Horace, or a lay of Catullus, is made to look, except in mere paraphrase, must not talk of the poorness or triteness of the Highlander's verses, till they are enabled to do them justice by a knowledge of the language. We disdain any attempt to make those bards sing in the mere English taste, even if we could so translate them as to make them speak or sing better than they do. The fear of his sarcasms prevented Dr Johnson from hearing one literal version during his whole sojourn in the Highlands. Sir Walter Scott wished that somebody might have the manliness to recover Highland poetry from the mystification of paraphrase or imposture, and to present it genuine to the English reader. In that spirit we promise to execute our task; and we shall rejoice if even a very moderate degree of success should attend our endeavours to obtain for the sister muse some share of that popularity to which we believe her entitled."
In respect of the present volume of "The Modern Scottish Minstrel," the Editor has to congratulate himself on his being enabled to present, for the first time in a popular form, the more esteemed lays of Carolina, Baroness Nairn, author of "The Laird o' Cockpen," "The Land o' the Leal," and a greater number of popular lyrics than any other Caledonian bard, Burns alone excepted. Several pieces of this accomplished lady, not previously published, have been introduced, through the kindness of her surviving friends. The memoir of the Baroness has been prepared from original documents entrusted to the Editor. For permission to engrave "The Auld House o' Gask," Lady Nairn's birth-place, the Editor's thanks are due to Mr Paterson, music-seller in Edinburgh.
While the present volume of "The Modern Scottish Minstrel" is offered to the public with becoming diffidence, the Editor is not without a faint ray of hope that, if health and sufficient leisure are afforded him, the present publication may be found the most ample and satisfactory repository of national song which has at any period been offered to the public.
ARGYLE HOUSE, STIRLING, April 18, 1855.
PAGE JOHN SKINNER, 1 Tullochgorum, 11 John o' Badenyon, 13 The ewie wi' the crookit horn, 17 O! why should old age so much wound us? 20 Still in the wrong, 22 Lizzy Liberty, 24 The stipendless parson, 28 The man of Ross, 31 A song on the times, 33
WILLIAM CAMERON, 35 As o'er the Highland hills I hied, 37
MRS JOHN HUNTER, 39 The Indian death-song, 41 My mother bids me bind my hair, 41 The flowers of the forest, 42 The season comes when first we met, 43 Oh, tuneful voice! I still deplore, 44 Dear to my heart as life's warm stream, 44 The lot of thousands, 45
ALEXANDER, DUKE OF GORDON, 46 Cauld kail in Aberdeen, 48
MRS GRANT OF CARRON, 50 Roy's wife of Aldivalloch, 52
ROBERT COUPER, M.D., 53 Kinrara, 55 The sheeling, 55 The ewe-bughts, Marion, 56
LADY ANNE BARNARD, 58 Auld Robin Gray, 64 " " Part II., 65 Why tarries my love? 68
JOHN TAIT, 70 The banks of the Dee, 72
HECTOR MACNEILL, 73 Mary of Castlecary, 82 My boy, Tammy, 83 Oh, tell me how for to woo, 85 Lassie wi' the gowden hair, 87 Come under my plaidie, 89 I lo'ed ne'er a laddie but ane, 90 Donald and Flora, 92 My luve's in Germany, 95 Dinna think, bonnie lassie, 96
MRS GRANT OF LAGGAN, 99 Oh, where, tell me where? 104 Oh, my love, leave me not, 106
JOHN MAYNE, 107 Logan braes, 110 Helen of Kirkconnel, 111 The winter sat lang, 113 My Johnnie, 114 The troops were embarked, 115
JOHN HAMILTON, 117 The rantin' Highlandman, 118 Up in the mornin' early, 119 Go to Berwick, Johnnie, 121 Miss Forbes' farewell to Banff, 121 Tell me, Jessie, tell me why? 122 The hawthorn, 123 Oh, blaw, ye westlin' winds! 124
JOANNA BAILLIE, 126 The maid of Llanwellyn, 132 Good night, good night! 133 Though richer swains thy love pursue, 134 Poverty parts good companie, 134 Fy, let us a' to the wedding, 136 Hooly and fairly, 139 The weary pund o' tow, 141 The wee pickle tow, 142 The gowan glitters on the sward, 143 Saw ye Johnnie comin'? 145 It fell on a morning, 146 Woo'd, and married, and a', 148
WILLIAM DUDGEON, 151 Up among yon cliffy rocks, 152
WILLIAM REID, 153 The lea rig, 154 John Anderson, my jo (a continuation), 155 Fair, modest flower, 157 Kate o' Gowrie, 157 Upon the banks o' flowing Clyde, 159
ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, 161 Now winter's wind sweeps, 165 The hawk whoops on high, 166
MRS DUGALD STEWART, 167 The tears I shed must ever fall, 168 Returning spring, with gladsome ray, 169
ALEXANDER WILSON, 172 Connel and Flora, 179 Matilda, 179 Auchtertool, 182
CAROLINA, BARONESS NAIRN, 184 The ploughman, 194 Caller herrin', 195 The land o' the leal, 196 The Laird o' Cockpen, 198 Her home she is leaving, 200 The bonniest lass in a' the warld, 201 My ain kind dearie, O! 202 He 's lifeless amang the rude billows, 202 Joy of my earliest days, 203 Oh, weel's me on my ain man, 204 Kind Robin lo'es me 205 Kitty Reid's house, 205 The robin's nest, 206 Saw ye nae my Peggy? 208 Gude nicht, and joy be wi' ye a'! 209 Cauld kail in Aberdeen, 210 He 's ower the hills that I lo'e weel, 211 The lass o' Gowrie, 213 There grows a bonnie brier bush, 215 John Tod, 216 Will ye no come back again? 218 Jamie the laird, 219 Songs of my native land, 220 Castell Gloom, 221 Bonnie Gascon Ha', 223 The auld house, 224 The hundred pipers, 226 The women are a' gane wud, 227 Jeanie Deans, 228 The heiress, 230 The mitherless lammie, 231 The attainted Scottish nobles, 232 True love is watered aye wi' tears, 233 Ah, little did my mother think, 234 Would you be young again? 235 Rest is not here, 236 Here's to them that are gane, 237 Farewell, O farewell! 238 The dead who have died in the Lord, 239
JAMES NICOL, 240 Blaw saftly, ye breezes, 242 By yon hoarse murmurin' stream, 242 Haluckit Meg, 244 My dear little lassie, 246
JAMES MONTGOMERY, 247 "Friendship, love, and truth," 253 The Swiss cowherd's song in a foreign land, 254 German war-song, 254 Via Crucis, via Lucis, 255 Verses to a robin-redbreast, 257 Slavery that was, 258
ANDREW SCOTT, 260 Rural content, or the muirland farmer, 263 Symon and Janet, 265 Coquet water, 268 The young maid's wish for peace, 269 The fiddler's widow, 271 Lament for the death of an Irish chief, 272 The departure of summer, 273
SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART., 275 It was an English ladye bright, 289 Lochinvar, 290 Where shall the lover rest, 292 Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, 294 Hail to the chief who in triumph advances, 295 The heath this night must be my bed, 297 The imprisoned huntsman, 298 He is gone on the mountain, 299 A weary lot is thine, fair maid, 300 Allen-a-Dale, 300 The cypress wreath, 302 The cavalier, 303 Hunting song, 304 Oh, say not, my love, with that mortified air, 315
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METRICAL TRANSLATIONS FROM THE MODERN GAELIC MINSTRELSY.
ROBERT MACKAY (ROB DONN), 309 The song of winter, 311 Dirge for Ian Macechan, 315 The song of the forsaken drover, 315 Isabel Mackay—the maid alone, 318 Evan's Elegy, 321
DOUGAL BUCHANAN, 322 A clagionn—the skull, 326 Am bruadar—the dream, 330
DUNCAN MACINTYRE, 334 Mairi bhan og (Mary, the young, the fair-haired), 335 Bendourain, the Otter Mount, 336 The bard to his musket, 347
JOHN MACODRUM, 351 Oran na h-aois (the song of age), 352
NORMAN MACLEOD (TORMAID BAN), 355 Caberfae, 357
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MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL
Among those modern Scottish poets whose lives, by extending to a considerably distant period, render them connecting links between the old and recent minstrelsy of Caledonia, the first place is due to the Rev. John Skinner. This ingenious and learned person was born on the 3d of October 1721, at Balfour, in the parish of Birse, and county of Aberdeen. His father, who bore the same Christian name, was parochial schoolmaster; but two years after his son's birth, he was presented to the more lucrative situation of schoolmaster of Echt, a parish about twelve miles distant from Aberdeen. He discharged the duties of this latter appointment during the long incumbency of fifty years. He was twice married. By his first union with Mrs Jean Gillanders, the relict of Donald Farquharson of Balfour, was born an only child, the subject of this memoir. The mother dying when the child was only two years old, the charge of his early training depended solely on his father, who for several years remained a widower. The paternal duties were adequately performed: the son, while a mere youth, was initiated in classical learning, and in his thirteenth year he became a successful competitor for a bursary or exhibition in Marischal College, Aberdeen. At the University, during the usual philosophical course of four years, he pursued his studies with diligence and success; and he afterwards became an usher in the parish schools of Kemnay and Monymusk.
From early youth, young Skinner had courted the Muse of his country, and composed verses in the Scottish dialect. When a mere stripling, he could repeat, which he did with enthusiasm, the long poem by James I. of "Christ-kirk on the Green;" he afterwards translated it into Latin verse; and an imitation of the same poem, entitled "The Monymusk Christmas Ba'ing," descriptive of the diversions attendant on the annual Christmas gatherings for playing the game of foot-ball at Monymusk, which he composed in his sixteenth year, attracting the notice of the lady of Sir Archibald Grant, Bart. of Monymusk, brought him the favour of that influential family. Though the humble usher of a parish school, he was honoured with the patronage of the worthy baronet and his lady, became an inmate of their mansion, and had the uncontrolled use of its library. The residence of the poet in Monymusk House indirectly conduced towards his forming those ecclesiastical sentiments which exercised such an important influence on his subsequent career. The Episcopal clergyman of the district was frequently a guest at the table of Sir Archibald; and by the arguments and persuasive conversation of this person, Mr Skinner was induced to enlist his sympathies in the cause of the Episcopal or non-juring clergy of Scotland. They bore the latter appellation from their refusal, during the existence of the exiled family of Stewart, to take the oath of allegiance to the House of Hanover. In 1740, on the invitation of Mr Robert Forbes, Episcopal minister at Leith, afterwards a bishop, Mr Skinner, in the capacity of private tutor to the only son of Mr Sinclair of Scolloway, proceeded to Zetland, where he acquired the intimate friendship of the Rev. Mr Hunter, the only non-juring clergyman in that remote district. There he remained only one year, owing to the death of the elder Mr Sinclair, and the removal of his pupil to pursue his studies in a less retired locality. He lamented the father's death in Latin, as well as in English verse. He left Scolloway with the best wishes of the family; and as a substantial proof of the goodwill of his friend Mr Hunter, he received in marriage the hand of his eldest daughter.
Returning to Aberdeenshire, he was ordained a presbyter of the Episcopal Church, by Bishop Dunbar of Peterhead; and in November 1742, on the unanimous invitation of the people, he was appointed to the pastoral charge of the congregation at Longside. Uninfluenced by the soarings of ambition, he seems to have fixed here, at the outset, a permanent habitation: he rented a cottage at Linshart in the vicinity, which, though consisting only of a single apartment, besides the kitchen, sufficed for the expenditure of his limited emoluments. In every respect he realised Goldsmith's description of the village pastor:—
"A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a-year; Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wish'd to change his place."
Secluded, however, as were Mr Skinner's habits, and though he never had interfered in the political movements of the period, he did not escape his share in those ruthless severities which were visited upon the non-juring clergy subsequent to the last Rebellion. His chapel was destroyed by the soldiers of the barbarous Duke of Cumberland; and, on the plea of his having transgressed the law by preaching to more than four persons without subscribing the oath of allegiance, he was, during six months, detained a prisoner in the jail of Aberdeen.
Entering on the sacred duties of the pastoral office, Mr Skinner appears to have checked the indulgence of his rhyming propensities. His subsequent poetical productions, which include the whole of his popular songs, were written to please his friends, or gratify the members of his family, and without the most distant view to publication. In 1787, he writes to Burns, on the subject of Scottish song:—"While I was young, I dabbled a good deal in these things; but on getting the black gown, I gave it pretty much over, till my daughters grew up, who, being all tolerably good singers, plagued me for words to some of their favourite tunes, and so extorted those effusions which have made a public appearance, beyond my expectations, and contrary to my intentions; at the same time, I hope there is nothing to be found in them uncharacteristic or unbecoming the cloth, which I would always wish to see respected." Some of Mr Skinner's best songs were composed at a sitting, while they seldom underwent any revision after being committed to paper. To the following incident, his most popular song, "Tullochgorum," owed its origin. In the course of a visit he was making to a friend in Ellon (not Cullen, as has been stated on the authority of Burns), a dispute arose among the guests on the subject of Whig and Tory politics, which, becoming somewhat too exciting for the comfort of the lady of the house, in order to bring it promptly to a close, she requested Mr Skinner to suggest appropriate words for the favourite air, "The Reel of Tullochgorum." Mr Skinner readily complied, and, before leaving the house, produced what Burns, in a letter to the author, characterised as "the best Scotch song ever Scotland saw." The name of the lady who made the request to the poet was Mrs Montgomery, and hence the allusion in the first stanza of the ballad:—
"Come gie 's a sang, Montgomery cried, And lay your disputes all aside; What signifies 't for folks to chide For what was done before them? Let Whig and Tory all agree," &c.
Though claiming no distinction as a writer of verses, Mr Skinner did not conceal his ambition to excel in another department of literature. In 1746, in his twenty-fifth year, he published a pamphlet, in defence of the non-juring character of his Church, entitled "A Preservative against Presbytery." A performance of greater effort, published in 1757, excited some attention, and the unqualified commendation of the learned Bishop Sherlock. In this production, entitled "A Dissertation on Jacob's Prophecy," which was intended as a supplement to a treatise on the same subject by Dr Sherlock, the author has established, by a critical examination of the original language, that the words in Jacob's prophecy (Gen. xlix. 10), rendered "sceptre" and "lawgiver" in the authorised version, ought to be translated "tribeship" and "typifier," a difference of interpretation which obviates some difficulties respecting the exact fulfilment of this remarkable prediction. In a pamphlet printed in 1767, Mr Skinner again vindicated the claims and authority of his Church; and on this occasion, against the alleged misrepresentations of Mr Norman Sievewright, English clergyman at Brechin, who had published a work unfavourable to the cause of Scottish Episcopacy. His most important work, "An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, from the first appearance of Christianity in that kingdom," was published in the year 1788, in two octavo volumes. This publication, which is arranged in the form of letters to a friend, and dedicated, in elegant Latin verse, "Ad Filium et Episcopum," (to his son, and bishop), by partaking too rigidly of a sectarian character, did not attain any measure of success. Mr Skinner's other prose works were published after his death, together with a Memoir of the author, under the editorial care of his son, Bishop Skinner of Aberdeen. These consist of theological essays, in the form of "Letters addressed to Candidates for Holy Orders," "A Dissertation on the Sheckinah, or Divine Presence with the Church or People of God," and "An Essay towards a literal or true radical exposition of the Song of Songs," the whole being included in two octavo volumes, which appeared in 1809. A third volume was added, containing a collection of the author's compositions in Latin verse, and his fugitive songs and ballads in the Scottish dialect—the latter portion of this volume being at the same time published in a more compendious form, with the title, "Amusements of Leisure Hours; or, Poetical Pieces, chiefly in the Scottish dialect."
Though living in constant retirement at Linshart, the reputation of the Longside pastor, both as a poet and a man of classical taste, became widely extended, and persons distinguished in the world of letters sought his correspondence and friendship. With Dr Gleig, afterwards titular Bishop of Brechin, Dr Doig of Stirling, and John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, he maintained an epistolary intercourse for several years. Dr Gleig, who edited the Encyclopaedia Britannica, consulted Mr Skinner respecting various important articles contributed to that valuable publication. His correspondence with Doig and Ramsay was chiefly on their favourite topic of philology. These two learned friends visited Mr Skinner in the summer of 1795, and entertained him for a week at Peterhead. This brief period of intellectual intercourse was regarded by the poet as the most entirely pleasurable of his existence; and the impression of it on the vivid imagination of Mr Ramsay is recorded in a Latin eulogy on his northern correspondent, which he subsequently transmitted to him. A poetical epistle addressed by Mr Skinner to Robert Burns, in commendation of his talents, was characterized by the Ayrshire Bard as "the best poetical compliment he had ever received." It led to a regular correspondence, which was carried on with much satisfaction to both parties. The letters, which chiefly relate to the preparation of Johnson's Musical Museum, then in the course of publication, have been included in his published correspondence. Burns never saw Mr Skinner; he had not informed himself as to his locality during the prosecution of his northern tour, and had thus the mortification of ascertaining that he had been in his neighbourhood, without having formed his personal acquaintance. To Mr Skinner's son, whom he accidentally met in Aberdeen on his return, he expressed a deep regret for the blunder, as "he would have gone twenty miles out of his way to visit the author of 'Tullochgorum.'"
As a man of ingenuity, various acquirements, and agreeable manners, Mr Skinner was held in much estimation among his contemporaries. Whatever he read, with the assistance of a commonplace-book, he accurately remembered, and could readily turn to account; and, though his library was contained in a closet of five feet square, he was abundantly well informed on every ordinary topic of conversation. He was fond of controversial discussion, and wielded both argument and wit with a power alarming to every antagonist. Though keen in debate, he was however possessed of a most imperturbable suavity of temper. His conversation was of a playful cast, interspersed with anecdote, and free from every affectation of learning. As a clergyman, Mr Skinner enjoyed the esteem and veneration of his flock. Besides efficiently discharging his ministerial duties, he practised gratuitously as a physician, having qualified himself, by acquiring a competent acquaintance with the healing art at the medical classes in Marischal College. His pulpit duties were widely acceptable; but his discourses, though edifying and instructive, were more the result of the promptitude of the preacher than the effects of a painstaking preparation. He abandoned the aid of the manuscript in the pulpit, on account of the untoward occurrence of his notes being scattered by a startled fowl, in the early part of his ministry, while he was addressing his people from the door of his house, after the wanton destruction of his chapel.
In a scene less calculated to invite poetic inspiration no votary of the muse had ever resided. On every side of his lonely dwelling extended a wild uncultivated plain; nor for miles around did any other human habitation relieve the monotony of this cheerless solitude. In her gayest moods, Nature never wore a pleasing aspect in Long-gate, nor did the distant prospect compensate for the dreary gloominess of the surrounding landscape. For his poetic suggestions Mr Skinner was wholly dependent on the singular activity of his fancy; as he derived his chief happiness in his communings with an attached flock, and in the endearing intercourse of his family. Of his children, who were somewhat numerous he contrived to afford the whole, both sons and daughters, a superior education; and he had the satisfaction, for a long period of years, to address one of his sons as the bishop of his diocese.
The death of Mr Skinner's wife, in the year 1799, fifty-eight years after their marriage, was the most severe trial which he seems to have experienced. In a Latin elegy, he gave expression to the deep sense which he entertained of his bereavement. In 1807, his son, Bishop Skinner, having sustained a similar bereavement, invited his aged father to share the comforts of his house; and after ministering at Longside for the remarkably lengthened incumbency of sixty-five years, Mr Skinner removed to Aberdeen. But a greater change was at hand; on the 16th of June 1807, in less than a week after his arrival, he was suddenly seized with illness, and almost immediately expired. His remains were interred in the churchyard of Longside; and the flock to which he had so long ministered placed over the grave a handsome monument, bearing, on a marble tablet, an elegant tribute to the remembrance of his virtues and learning. At the residence of Bishop Skinner, he had seen his descendants in the fourth generation.
Of Mr Skinner's songs, printed in this collection, the most popular are "Tullochgorum," "John o' Badenyon," and "The Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn." The whole are pervaded by sprightliness and good-humoured pleasantry. Though possessing the fault of being somewhat too lengthy, no song-compositions of any modern writer in Scottish verse have, with the exception of those of Burns, maintained a stronger hold of the Scottish heart, or been more commonly sung in the social circle.
Come gie 's a sang, Montgomery cried, And lay your disputes all aside, What signifies 't for folks to chide For what was done before them: Let Whig and Tory all agree, Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory all agree, To drop their Whig-mig-morum; Let Whig and Tory all agree To spend the night wi' mirth and glee, And cheerful sing alang wi' me The Reel o' Tullochgorum.
O Tullochgorum 's my delight, It gars us a' in ane unite, And ony sumph that keeps a spite, In conscience I abhor him: For blythe and cheerie we'll be a', Blythe and cheerie, blythe and cheerie, Blythe and cheerie we'll be a', And make a happy quorum; For blythe and cheerie we'll be a' As lang as we hae breath to draw, And dance, till we be like to fa', The Reel o' Tullochgorum.
What needs there be sae great a fraise Wi' dringing dull Italian lays? I wadna gie our ain Strathspeys For half a hunder score o' them; They're dowf and dowie at the best, Dowf and dowie, dowf and dowie, Dowf and dowie at the best, Wi' a' their variorum; They're dowf and dowie at the best, Their allegros and a' the rest, They canna' please a Scottish taste, Compared wi' Tullochgorum.
Let warldly worms their minds oppress Wi' fears o' want and double cess, And sullen sots themsells distress Wi' keeping up decorum: Shall we sae sour and sulky sit, Sour and sulky, sour and sulky, Sour and sulky shall we sit, Like old philosophorum? Shall we sae sour and sulky sit, Wi' neither sense, nor mirth, nor wit, Nor ever try to shake a fit To th' Reel o' Tullochgorum?
May choicest blessings aye attend Each honest, open-hearted friend, And calm and quiet be his end, And a' that's good watch o'er him; May peace and plenty be his lot, Peace and plenty, peace and plenty, Peace and plenty be his lot, And dainties a great store o' them: May peace and plenty be his lot, Unstain'd by any vicious spot, And may he never want a groat, That 's fond o' Tullochgorum!
But for the sullen, frumpish fool, That loves to be oppression's tool, May envy gnaw his rotten soul, And discontent devour him; May dool and sorrow be his chance, Dool and sorrow, dool and sorrow, Dool and sorrow be his chance, And nane say, Wae 's me for him! May dool and sorrow be his chance, Wi' a' the ills that come frae France, Wha e'er he be that winna dance The Reel o' Tullochgorum.
JOHN O' BADENYON
When first I cam to be a man Of twenty years or so, I thought myself a handsome youth, And fain the world would know; In best attire I stept abroad, With spirits brisk and gay, And here and there and everywhere Was like a morn in May; No care I had, nor fear of want, But rambled up and down, And for a beau I might have past In country or in town; I still was pleased where'er I went, And when I was alone, I tuned my pipe and pleased myself Wi' John o' Badenyon.
Now in the days of youthful prime A mistress I must find, For love, I heard, gave one an air And e'en improved the mind: On Phillis fair above the rest Kind fortune fix'd my eyes, Her piercing beauty struck my heart, And she became my choice; To Cupid now, with hearty prayer, I offer'd many a vow; And danced and sung, and sigh'd and swore, As other lovers do; But, when at last I breathed my flame, I found her cold as stone; I left the girl, and tuned my pipe To John o' Badenyon.
When love had thus my heart beguiled With foolish hopes and vain; To friendship's port I steer'd my course, And laugh'd at lovers' pain; A friend I got by lucky chance, 'Twas something like divine, An honest friend 's a precious gift, And such a gift was mine; And now whatever might betide A happy man was I, In any strait I knew to whom I freely might apply. A strait soon came: my friend I try'd; He heard, and spurn'd my moan; I hied me home, and tuned my pipe To John o' Badenyon.
Methought I should be wiser next, And would a patriot turn, Began to doat on Johnny Wilkes And cry up Parson Horne. Their manly spirit I admired, And praised their noble zeal, Who had with flaming tongue and pen Maintain'd the public weal; But e'er a month or two had pass'd, I found myself betray'd, 'Twas self and party, after all, For a' the stir they made; At last I saw the factious knaves Insult the very throne, I cursed them a', and tuned my pipe To John o' Badenyon.
What next to do I mused awhile, Still hoping to succeed; I pitch'd on books for company, And gravely tried to read: I bought and borrow'd everywhere, And studied night and day, Nor miss'd what dean or doctor wrote That happen'd in my way: Philosophy I now esteem'd The ornament of youth, And carefully through many a page I hunted after truth. A thousand various schemes I tried, And yet was pleased with none; I threw them by, and tuned my pipe To John o' Badenyon.
And now, ye youngsters everywhere, That wish to make a show, Take heed in time, nor fondly hope For happiness below; What you may fancy pleasure here, Is but an empty name, And girls, and friends, and books, and so, You 'll find them all the same. Then be advised, and warning take From such a man as me; I 'm neither Pope nor Cardinal, Nor one of high degree; You 'll meet displeasure everywhere; Then do as I have done, E'en tune your pipe and please yourselves With John o' Badenyon.
 This song was composed when Wilkes, Horne, and others, were exciting a commotion about liberty.
THE EWIE WI' THE CROOKIT HORN.
Were I but able to rehearse My Ewie's praise in proper verse, I 'd sound it forth as loud and fierce As ever piper's drone could blaw; The Ewie wi' the crookit horn, Wha had kent her might hae sworn Sic a Ewe was never born, Hereabout nor far awa'; Sic a Ewe was never born, Hereabout nor far awa'.
I never needed tar nor keil To mark her upo' hip or heel, Her crookit horn did as weel To ken her by amo' them a'; She never threaten'd scab nor rot, But keepit aye her ain jog-trot, Baith to the fauld and to the cot, Was never sweir to lead nor caw; Baith to the fauld and to the cot, &c.
Cauld nor hunger never dang her, Wind nor wet could never wrang her, Anes she lay an ouk and langer Furth aneath a wreath o' snaw: Whan ither ewies lap the dyke, And eat the kail, for a' the tyke, My Ewie never play'd the like, But tyc'd about the barn wa'; My Ewie never play'd the like, &c.
A better or a thriftier beast Nae honest man could weel hae wist, For, silly thing, she never mist To hae ilk year a lamb or twa': The first she had I gae to Jock, To be to him a kind o' stock, And now the laddie has a flock O' mair nor thirty head ava'; And now the laddie has a flock, &c.
I lookit aye at even' for her, Lest mishanter should come o'er her, Or the fowmart might devour her, Gin the beastie bade awa; My Ewie wi' the crookit horn, Well deserved baith girse and corn, Sic a Ewe was never born, Hereabout nor far awa'; Sic a Ewe was never born, &c.
Yet last ouk, for a' my keeping, (Wha can speak it without greeting?) A villain cam' when I was sleeping, Sta' my Ewie, horn, and a': I sought her sair upo' the morn, And down aneath a buss o' thorn I got my Ewie's crookit horn, But my Ewie was awa'; I got my Ewie's crookit horn, &c.
O! gin I had the loon that did it, Sworn I have as well as said it, Though a' the warld should forbid it, I wad gie his neck a thra': I never met wi' sic a turn As this sin' ever I was born, My Ewie, wi' the crookit horn, Silly Ewie, stown awa'; My Ewie wi' the crookit horn, &c.
O! had she died o' crook or cauld, As Ewies do when they grow auld, It wad na been, by mony fauld, Sae sair a heart to nane o's a': For a' the claith that we hae worn, Frae her and her's sae aften shorn, The loss o' her we could hae born, Had fair strae-death ta'en her awa'; The loss o' her we could hae born, &c.
But thus, poor thing, to lose her life, Aneath a bleedy villain's knife, I 'm really fleyt that our guidwife Will never win aboon 't ava: O! a' ye bards benorth Kinghorn, Call your muses up and mourn, Our Ewie wi' the crookit horn Stown frae 's, and fell'd and a'! Our Ewie wi' the crookit horn, &c.
O! WHY SHOULD OLD AGE SO MUCH WOUND US?
O! why should old age so much wound us? There is nothing in it all to confound us: For how happy now am I, With my old wife sitting by, And our bairns and our oys all around us; For how happy now am I, &c.
We began in the warld wi' naething, And we 've jogg'd on, and toil'd for the ae thing; We made use of what we had, And our thankful hearts were glad, When we got the bit meat and the claithing; We made use of what we had, &c.
We have lived all our lifetime contented, Since the day we became first acquainted: It 's true we 've been but poor, And we are so to this hour, But we never yet repined or lamented; It 's true we 've been but poor, &c.
When we had any stock, we ne'er vauntit, Nor did we hing our heads when we wantit; But we always gave a share Of the little we could spare, When it pleased a kind Heaven to grant it; But we always gave a share, &c.
We never laid a scheme to be wealthy, By means that were cunning or stealthy; But we always had the bliss— And what further could we wiss?— To be pleased with ourselves, and be healthy; But we always had the bliss, &c.
What though we cannot boast of our guineas? We have plenty of Jockies and Jeanies; And these, I 'm certain, are More desirable by far Than a bag full of poor yellow steinies; And these, I am certain, are, &c.
We have seen many wonder and ferly, Of changes that almost are yearly, Among rich folks up and down, Both in country and in town, Who now live but scrimply and barely; Among rich folks up and down, &c.
Then why should people brag of prosperity? A straiten'd life we see is no rarity; Indeed, we 've been in want, And our living 's been but scant, Yet we never were reduced to need charity; Indeed, we 've been in want, &c.
In this house we first came together, Where we 've long been a father and mither; And though not of stone and lime, It will last us all our time; And I hope we shall ne'er need anither; And though not of stone and lime, &c.
And when we leave this poor habitation, We 'll depart with a good commendation; We 'll go hand in hand, I wiss, To a better house than this, To make room for the next generation; We 'll go hand in hand, I wiss, &c.
Then why should old age so much wound us? &c.
 This tune requires O to be added at the end of each of the long lines, but in reading the song the O is better omitted.
STILL IN THE WRONG.
It has long been my fate to be thought in the wrong, And my fate it continues to be; The wise and the wealthy still make it their song, And the clerk and the cottar agree. There is nothing I do, and there 's nothing I say, But some one or other thinks wrong; And to please them I find there is no other way, But do nothing, and still hold my tongue.
Says the free-thinking Sophist, "The times are refined In sense to a wondrous degree; Your old-fashion'd faith does but fetter the mind, And it 's wrong not to seek to be free." Says the sage Politician, "Your natural share Of talents would raise you much higher, Than thus to crawl on in your present low sphere, And it 's wrong in you not to aspire."
Says the Man of the World, "Your dull stoic life Is surely deserving of blame? You have children to care for, as well as a wife, And it 's wrong not to lay up for them." Says the fat Gormandiser, "To eat and to drink Is the true summum bonum of man: Life is nothing without it, whate'er you may think, And it 's wrong not to live while you can."
Says the new-made Divine, "Your old modes we reject, Nor give ourselves trouble about them: It is manners and dress that procure us respect, And it 's wrong to look for it without them." Says the grave peevish Saint, in a fit of the spleen, "Ah! me, but your manners are vile: A parson that 's blythe is a shame to be seen, And it 's wrong in you even to smile."
Says the Clown, when I tell him to do what he ought, "Sir, whatever your character be, To obey you in this I will never be brought, And it 's wrong to be meddling with me." Says my Wife, when she wants this or that for the house, "Our matters to ruin must go: Your reading and writing is not worth a souse, And it 's wrong to neglect the house so."
Thus all judge of me by their taste or their wit, And I 'm censured by old and by young, Who in one point agree, though in others they split, That in something I 'm still in the wrong. But let them say on to the end of the song, It shall make no impression on me: If to differ from such be to be in the wrong, In the wrong I hope always to be.
TUNE—"Tibbie Fowler i' the Glen."
There lives a lassie i' the braes, And Lizzy Liberty they ca' her, When she has on her Sunday's claes, Ye never saw a lady brawer; So a' the lads are wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, there 's ow'r mony wooing at her!
Her mither ware a tabbit mutch, Her father was an honest dyker, She 's a black-eyed wanton witch, Ye winna shaw me mony like her: So a' the lads are wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, wow, sae mony 's wooing at her!
A kindly lass she is, I 'm seer, Has fowth o' sense and smeddum in her, And nae a swankie far nor near, But tries wi' a' his might to win her: They 're wooing at her, fain would hae her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, there 's ow'r mony wooing at her!
For kindly though she be, nae doubt, She manna thole the marriage tether, But likes to rove and rink about, Like Highland cowt amo' the heather: Yet a' the lads are wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, wow, sae mony 's wooing at her.
It 's seven year, and some guid mair, Syn Dutch Mynheer made courtship till her, A merchant bluff and fu' o' care, Wi' chuffy cheeks, and bags o' siller; So Dutch Mynheer was wooing at her, Courting her, but cudna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty has ow'r mony wooing at her.
Neist to him came Baltic John, Stept up the brae, and leukit at her, Syne wear his wa', wi' heavy moan, And in a month or twa forgat her: Baltic John was wooing at her, Courting her, but cudna get her; Filthy elf, she 's nae herself, wi' sae mony wooing at her.
Syne after him cam' Yankie Doodle, Frae hyne ayont the muckle water; Though Yankie 's nae yet worth a boddle, Wi' might and main he would be at her: Yankie Doodle 's wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, wow, sae mony 's wooing at her.
Now Monkey French is in a roar, And swears that nane but he sall hae her, Though he sud wade through bluid and gore, It 's nae the king sall keep him frae her: So Monkey French is wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty has ow'r mony wooing at her.
For France, nor yet her Flanders' frien', Need na think that she 'll come to them; They 've casten aff wi' a' their kin, And grace and guid have flown frae them; They 're wooing at her, fain wad hae her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, wow, sae mony 's wooing at her.
A stately chiel they ca' John Bull Is unco thrang and glaikit wi' her; And gin he cud get a' his wull, There 's nane can say what he wad gi'e her: Johnny Bull is wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Filthy Ted, she 'll never wed, as lang 's sae mony 's wooing at her.
Even Irish Teague, ayont Belfast, Wadna care to speir about her; And swears, till he sall breathe his last, He 'll never happy be without her: Irish Teague is wooing at her, Courting her, but canna get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty has ow'r mony wooing at her.
But Donald Scot 's the happy lad, Though a' the lave sud try to rate him; Whan he steps up the brae sae glad, She disna ken maist whare to set him: Donald Scot is wooing at her, Courting her, will maybe get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, wow, sae mony 's wooing at her.
Now, Donald, tak' a frien's advice— I ken fu' weel ye fain wad hae her; As ye are happy, sae be wise, And ha'd ye wi' a smackie frae her: Ye 're wooing at her, fain wad hae her, Courting her, will maybe get her; Bonny Lizzy Liberty, there 's ow'r mony wooing at her.
Ye 're weel, and wat'sna, lad, they 're sayin', Wi' getting leave to dwall aside her; And gin ye had her a' your ain, Ye might na find it mows to guide her: Ye 're wooing at her, fain wad hae her, Courting her, will maybe get her; Cunning quean, she 's ne'er be mine, as lang 's sae mony 's wooing at her.
THE STIPENDLESS PARSON.
TUNE—"A Cobbler there was," &c.
How happy a life does the Parson possess, Who would be no greater, nor fears to be less; Who depends on his book and his gown for support, And derives no preferment from conclave or court! Derry down, &c.
Without glebe or manse settled on him by law, No stipend to sue for, nor vic'rage to draw; In discharge of his office he holds him content, With a croft and a garden, for which he pays rent. Derry down, &c.
With a neat little cottage and furniture plain, And a spare room to welcome a friend now and then; With a good-humour'd wife in his fortune to share, And ease him at all times of family care. Derry down, &c.
With a few of the Fathers, the oldest and best, And some modern extracts pick'd out from the rest; With a Bible in Latin, and Hebrew, and Greek, To afford him instruction each day of the week. Derry down, &c.
What children he has, if any are given, He thankfully trusts to the kindness of Heaven; To religion and virtue he trains them while young, And with such a provision he does them no wrong. Derry down, &c.
With labour below, and with help from above, He cares for his flock, and is bless'd with their love: Though his living, perhaps, in the main may be scant, He is sure, while they have, that he 'll ne'er be in want. Derry down, &c.
With no worldly projects nor hurries perplex'd, He sits in his closet and studies his text; And while he converses with Moses or Paul, He envies not bishop, nor dean in his stall. Derry down, &c.
Not proud to the poor, nor a slave to the great, Neither factious in church, nor pragmatic in state, He keeps himself quiet within his own sphere, And finds work sufficient in preaching and prayer. Derry down, &c.
In what little dealings he 's forced to transact, He determines with plainness and candour to act; And the great point on which his ambition is set, Is to leave at the last neither riches nor debt. Derry down, &c.
Thus calmly he steps through the valley of life, Unencumber'd with wealth, and a stranger to strife; On the bustlings around him unmoved he can look, And at home always pleased with his wife and his book. Derry down, &c.
And when, in old age, he drops into the grave, This humble remembrance he wishes to have: "By good men respected, by the evil oft tried, Contented he lived, and lamented he died!" Derry down, &c.
THE MAN OF ROSS.
TUNE—"Miss Ross's Reel."
When fops and fools together prate, O'er punch or tea, of this or that, What silly poor unmeaning chat Does all their talk engross! A nobler theme employs my lays, And thus my honest voice I raise In well-deserved strains to praise The worthy Man of Ross.
His lofty soul (would it were mine!) Scorns every selfish, low design, And ne'er was known to repine, At any earthly loss: But still contented, frank, and free, In every state, whate'er it be, Serene and staid we always see The worthy Man of Ross.
Let misers hug their worldly store, And gripe and pinch to make it more; Their gold and silver's shining ore He counts it all but dross: 'Tis better treasure he desires; A surer stock his passion fires, And mild benevolence inspires The worthy Man of Ross.
When want assails the widow's cot, Or sickness strikes the poor man's hut, When blasting winds or foggy rot Augment the farmer's loss: The sufferer straight knows where to go, With all his wants and all his woe; For glad experience leads him to The worthy Man of Ross.
This Man of Ross I 'll daily sing, With vocal note and lyric string, And duly, when I 've drank the king, He 'll be my second toss. May Heaven its choicest blessings send On such a man, and such a friend; And still may all that 's good attend The worthy Man of Ross.
Now, if you ask about his name, And where he lives with such a fame, Indeed, I 'll say you are to blame, For truly, inter nos, 'Tis what belongs to you and me, And all of high or low degree, In every sphere to try to be The worthy Man of Ross.
A SONG ON THE TIMES.
TUNE—"Broom of the Cowdenknows."
When I began the world first, It was not as 'tis now; For all was plain and simple then, And friends were kind and true: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! The times that I now see; I think the world 's all gone wrong, From what it used to be.
There were not then high capering heads, Prick'd up from ear to ear; And cloaks and caps were rarities, For gentle folks to wear: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! &c.
There 's not an upstart mushroom now, But what sets up for taste; And not a lass in all the land, But must be lady-dress'd: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! &c.
Our young men married then for love, So did our lasses too; And children loved their parents dear, As children ought to do: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! &c.
For oh, the times are sadly changed— A heavy change indeed! For truth and friendship are no more, And honesty is fled: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! &c.
There 's nothing now prevails but pride, Among both high and low; And strife, and greed, and vanity, Is all that 's minded now: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! &c.
When I look through the world wide, How times and fashions go, It draws the tears from both my eyes, And fills my heart with woe: Oh, the times, the weary, weary times! The times that I now see; I wish the world were at an end, For it will not mend for me!
William Cameron, minister of Kirknewton, in the county of Edinburgh, was educated in Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he was a pupil of Dr Beattie, "who ever after entertained for him much esteem." A letter, addressed to him by this eminent professor, in 1774, has been published by Sir William Forbes; and his name is introduced at the beginning of Dr Beattie's "Letter to the Rev. Hugh Blair, D.D., on the Improvement of Psalmody in Scotland. 1778, 8vo:"—"The message you lately sent me, by my friend Mr Cameron, has determined me to give you my thoughts at some length upon the subject of it."
He died in his manse, on the 17th of November 1811, in the 60th year of his age, and the 26th year of his ministry. He was a considerable writer of verses, and his compositions are generally of a respectable order. He was the author of a "Collection of Poems," printed at Edinburgh in 1790, in a duodecimo volume; and in 1781, along with the celebrated John Logan and Dr Morrison, minister of Canisbay, he contributed towards the formation of a collection of Paraphrases from Scripture, which, being approved of by the General Assembly, are still used in public worship in the Church of Scotland. A posthumous volume of verses by Mr Cameron, entitled "Poems on Several Occasions," was published by subscription in 1813—8vo, pp. 132. The following song, which was composed by Mr Cameron, on the restoration of the forfeited estates by Act of Parliament, in 1784, is copied from Johnson's "Musical Museum." It affords a very favourable specimen of the author's poetical talents.
 Forbes's "Life of Beattie," vol. i. p. 375.
AS O'ER THE HIGHLAND HILLS I HIED.
TUNE—"As I came in by Auchindoun."
As o'er the Highland hills I hied, The Camerons in array I spied; Lochiel's proud standard waving wide, In all its ancient glory. The martial pipe loud pierced the sky, The bard arose, resounding high Their valour, faith, and loyalty, That shine in Scottish story.
No more the trumpet calls to arms, Awaking battle's fierce alarms, But every hero's bosom warms With songs of exultation. While brave Lochiel at length regains, Through toils of war, his native plains, And, won by glorious wounds, attains His high paternal station.
Let now the voice of joy prevail, And echo wide from hill to vale; Ye warlike clans, arise and hail Your laurell'd chiefs returning. O'er every mountain, every isle, Let peace in all her lustre smile, And discord ne'er her day defile With sullen shades of mourning.
M'Leod, M'Donald, join the strain, M'Pherson, Fraser, and M'Lean; Through all your bounds let gladness reign, Both prince and patriot praising; Whose generous bounty richly pours The streams of plenty round your shores; To Scotia's hills their pride restores, Her faded honours raising.
Let all the joyous banquet share, Nor e'er let Gothic grandeur dare, With scowling brow, to overbear, A vassal's right invading. Let Freedom's conscious sons disdain To crowd his fawning, timid train, Nor even own his haughty reign, Their dignity degrading.
Ye northern chiefs, whose rage unbroke Has still repell'd the tyrant's shock; Who ne'er have bow'd beneath his yoke, With servile base prostration;— Let each now train his trusty band, 'Gainst foreign foes alone to stand, With undivided heart and hand, For Freedom, King, and Nation.
MRS JOHN HUNTER.
Anne Home was born in the year 1742. She was the eldest daughter of Robert Home, of Greenlaw, in Berwickshire, surgeon of Burgoyne's Regiment of Light Horse, and afterwards physician in Savoy. By contracting an early marriage, in which affection overcame more prudential considerations, both her parents gave offence to their relations, who refused to render them pecuniary assistance. Her father, though connected with many families of rank, and himself the son of a landowner, was consequently obliged to depend, in the early part of his career, on his professional exertions for the support of his family. His circumstances appear subsequently to have been more favourable. In July 1771, Miss Home became the wife of John Hunter, the distinguished anatomist, to whom she bore two children. She afforded evidence of her early poetical talent, by composing, before she had completed her twenty-third year, the song beginning, "Adieu! ye streams that smoothly glide." This appeared in the Lark, an Edinburgh periodical, in the year 1765. In 1802, she published a collection of her poems, in an octavo volume, which she inscribed to her son, John Banks Hunter.
During the lifetime of her distinguished husband, Mrs Hunter was in the habit of receiving at her table, and sharing in the conversation of, the chief literary persons of her time. Her evening conversazioni were frequented by many of the more learned, as well as fashionable persons in the metropolis. On the death of her husband, which took place in 1793, she sought greater privacy, though she still continued to reside in London. By those who were admitted to her intimacy, she was not more respected for her superior talents and intelligence, than held in esteem for her unaffected simplicity of manners. She was the life of her social parties, sustaining the happiness of the hour by her elegant conversation, and encouraging the diffident by her approbation. Amiable in disposition, she was possessed of a beautiful countenance and a handsome person. She wrote verses with facility, but she sought no distinction as a poet, preferring to be regarded as a good housewife and an agreeable member of society. In her latter years, she obtained amusement in resuming the song-writing habits of her youth, and in corresponding with her more intimate friends. She likewise derived pleasure in the cultivation of music: she played with skill, and sung with singular grace.
Mrs Hunter died at London, on the 7th January 1821, after a lingering illness. Several of her lyrics had for some years appeared in the collections of national poetry. Those selected for the present work have long maintained a wide popularity. The songs evince a delicacy of thought, combined with a force and sweetness of expression.
THE INDIAN DEATH-SONG.
The sun sets in night, and the stars shun the day, But glory remains when their lights fade away. Begin, ye tormentors, your threats are in vain, For the son of Alknomook will never complain.
Remember the arrows he shot from his bow; Remember your chiefs by his hatchet laid low. Why so slow? Do you wait till I shrink from the pain? No! the son of Alknomook shall never complain.
Remember the wood where in ambush we lay, And the scalps which we bore from your nation away: Now the flame rises fast; ye exult in my pain; But the son of Alknomook can never complain.
I go to the land where my father is gone; His ghost shall rejoice in the fame of his son. Death comes, like a friend, to relieve me from pain, And thy son, O Alknomook! has scorn'd to complain.
MY MOTHER BIDS ME BIND MY HAIR.
My mother bids me bind my hair With bands of rosy hue, Tie up my sleeves with ribbons rare, And lace my boddice blue.
"For why," she cries, "sit still and weep, While others dance and play?" Alas! I scarce can go or creep, While Lubin is away.
'Tis sad to think the days are gone, When those we love were near; I sit upon this mossy stone, And sigh when none can hear.
And while I spin my flaxen thread, And sing my simple lay, The village seems asleep or dead, Now Lubin is away.
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
Adieu! ye streams that smoothly glide, Through mazy windings o'er the plain; I 'll in some lonely cave reside, And ever mourn my faithful swain.
Flower of the forest was my love, Soft as the sighing summer's gale, Gentle and constant as the dove, Blooming as roses in the vale.
Alas! by Tweed my love did stray, For me he search'd the banks around; But, ah! the sad and fatal day, My love, the pride of swains, was drown'd.
Now droops the willow o'er the stream; Pale stalks his ghost in yonder grove; Dire fancy paints him in my dream; Awake, I mourn my hopeless love.
 Of the "Flowers of the Forest," two other versions appear in the Collections. That version beginning, "I've heard the lilting at our yow-milking," is the composition of Miss Jane Elliot, the daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, Lord Justice-Clerk, who died in 1766. She composed the song about the middle of the century, in imitation of an old version to the same tune. The other version, which is the most popular of the three, with the opening line, "I 've seen the smiling of fortune beguiling," was also the composition of a lady, Miss Alison Rutherford; by marriage, Mrs Cockburn, wife of Mr Patrick Cockburn, advocate. Mrs Cockburn was a person of highly superior accomplishments. She associated with her learned contemporaries, by whom she was much esteemed, and died at Edinburgh in 1794, at an advanced age. "The forest" mentioned in the song comprehended the county of Selkirk, with portions of Peeblesshire and Lanarkshire. This was a hunting-forest of the Scottish kings.
THE SEASON COMES WHEN FIRST WE MET.
The season comes when first we met, But you return no more; Why cannot I the days forget, Which time can ne'er restore? O! days too sweet, too bright to last, Are you, indeed, for ever past?
The fleeting shadows of delight, In memory I trace; In fancy stop their rapid flight, And all the past replace; But, ah! I wake to endless woes, And tears the fading visions close!
OH, TUNEFUL VOICE! I STILL DEPLORE.
Oh, tuneful voice! I still deplore Those accents which, though heard no more, Still vibrate in my heart; In echo's cave I long to dwell, And still would hear the sad farewell, When we were doom'd to part.
Bright eyes! O that the task were mine, To guard the liquid fires that shine, And round your orbits play— To watch them with a vestal's care, And feed with smiles a light so fair, That it may ne'er decay!
DEAR TO MY HEART AS LIFE'S WARM STREAM.
Dear to my heart as life's warm stream, Which animates this mortal clay; For thee I court the waking dream, And deck with smiles the future day; And thus beguile the present pain, With hopes that we shall meet again!
Yet will it be as when the past Twined every joy, and care, and thought, And o'er our minds one mantle cast, Of kind affections finely wrought. Ah, no! the groundless hope were vain, For so we ne'er can meet again!
May he who claims thy tender heart, Deserve its love as I have done! For, kind and gentle as thou art, If so beloved, thou 'rt fairly won. Bright may the sacred torch remain, And cheer thee till we meet again!
 These lines were addressed by Mrs Hunter to her daughter, on the occasion of her marriage.
THE LOT OF THOUSANDS.
When hope lies dead within the heart, By secret sorrow close conceal'd, We shrink lest looks or words impart What must not be reveal'd.
'Tis hard to smile when one would weep, To speak when one would silent be; To wake when one should wish to sleep, And wake to agony.
Yet such the lot by thousands cast, Who wander in this world of care, And bend beneath the bitter blast, To save them from despair.
But Nature waits her guests to greet, Where disappointments cannot come, And Time guides, with unerring feet, The weary wanderers home.
ALEXANDER, DUKE OF GORDON.
Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon, was born in the year 1743, and died on the 17th of January 1827, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. Chiefly remembered as a kind patron of the poet Burns, his name is likewise entitled to a place in the national minstrelsy as the author of an excellent version of the often-parodied song, "Cauld Kail in Aberdeen." Of this song, the first words, written to an older tune, appeared in the second volume of Herd's "Collection," in 1776. These begin—
"Cauld kail in Aberdeen, And castocks in Strabogie; But yet I fear they 'll cook o'er soon, And never warm the cogie."
The song is anonymous, as is the version, first published in Dale's "Scottish Songs," beginning—
"There 's cauld kail in Aberdeen, And castocks in Strabogie, Where ilka lad maun hae his lass, But I maun hae my cogie."
A third version, distinct from that inserted in the text, was composed by William Reid, a bookseller in Glasgow, who died in 1831. His song is scarcely known. The Duke's song, with which Burns expressed himself as being "charmed," was first published in the second volume of Johnson's "Musical Museum." It is not only gay and animating, but has the merit of being free of blemishes in want of refinement, which affect the others. The "Bogie" celebrated in the song, it may be remarked, is a river in Aberdeenshire, which, rising in the parish of Auchindoir, discharges its waters into the Deveron, a little distance below the town of Huntly. It gives its name to the extensive and rich valley of Strathbogie, through which it proceeds.
CAULD KAIL IN ABERDEEN.
There 's cauld kail in Aberdeen, And castocks in Strabogie; Gin I hae but a bonnie lass, Ye 're welcome to your cogie. And ye may sit up a' the night, And drink till it be braid daylight; Gi'e me a lass baith clean and tight, To dance the reel o' Bogie.
In cotillions the French excel, John Bull loves country dances; The Spaniards dance fandangoes well; Mynheer an all'mande prances; In foursome reels the Scots delight, At threesomes they dance wondrous light, But twasomes ding a' out o' sight, Danced to the reel o' Bogie.
Come, lads, and view your partners weel, Wale each a blythesome rogie; I'll tak this lassie to mysel', She looks sae keen and vogie. Now, piper lads, bang up the spring, The country fashion is the thing, To pree their mou's ere we begin To dance the reel o' Bogie.
Now ilka lad has got a lass, Save yon auld doited fogie, And ta'en a fling upon the grass, As they do in Strabogie. But a' the lasses look sae fain, We canna think oursel's to hain, For they maun hae their come again, To dance the reel o' Bogie.
Now a' the lads hae done their best, Like true men o' Strabogie, We 'll stop a while and tak' a rest, And tipple out a cogie. Come now, my lads, and tak your glass, And try ilk ither to surpass, In wishing health to every lass, To dance the reel o' Bogie.
MRS GRANT OF CARRON.
Mrs Grant of Carron, the reputed author of one song, which has long maintained a favoured place, was a native of Aberlour, on the banks of the Spey, in the county of Banff. She was born about the year 1745, and was twice married—first, to her cousin, Mr Grant of Carron, near Elchies, on the river Spey, about the year 1763; and, secondly, to Dr Murray, a physician in Bath. She died at Bath about the year 1814.
In his correspondence with George Thomson, Burns, alluding to the song of Mrs Grant, "Roy's Wife," remarks that he had in his possession "the original words of a song for the air in the handwriting of the lady who composed it," which, he adds, "are superior to any edition of the song which the public has seen." He subsequently composed an additional version himself, beginning, "Canst thou leave me thus, my Katie?" but this, like others of the bard's conversions of Scottish songs into an English dress, did not become popular. The verses by his female friend, in which the lady is made to be the sufferer by misplaced affection, and commencing, "Stay, my Willie, yet believe me," though published, remain likewise in obscurity. "Roy's Wife" was originally written to an old tune called the "Ruffian's Rant," but this melody is now known by the name of its favourite words. The sentiment of the song is peculiarly pleasing. The rejected lover begins by loudly complaining of his wrongs, and the broken assurances of his former sweetheart: then he suddenly recalls what were her good qualities; and the recollection of these causes him to forgive her marrying another, and even still to extend towards her his warmest sympathies.
ROY'S WIFE OF ALDIVALLOCH.
Roy's wife of Aldivalloch, Roy's wife of Aldivalloch, Wat ye how she cheated me As I cam' o'er the braes of Balloch!
She vow'd, she swore she wad be mine, She said she lo'ed me best o' onie; But, ah! the fickle, faithless quean, She 's ta'en the carl, and left her Johnnie! Roy's wife, &c.
Oh, she was a canty quean, An' weel could dance the Hieland walloch! How happy I, had she been mine, Or I been Roy of Aldivalloch! Roy's wife, &c.
Her hair sae fair, her e'en sae clear, Her wee bit mou' sae sweet and bonnie! To me she ever will be dear, Though she's for ever left her Johnnie! Roy's wife, &c.
ROBERT COUPER, M.D.
Dr Couper was born in the parish of Sorbie, in Wigtonshire, on the 22d of September 1750. His father rented the farm of Balsier in that parish. With a view towards the ministry in the Scottish Church, he proceeded to the University of Glasgow in 1769; but being deprived of both his parents by death before the completion of the ordinary period of academical study, and his pecuniary means being limited, he quitted the country for America, where he became tutor to a family in Virginia. He now contemplated taking orders in the Episcopal Church, but on the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1776 he returned to Britain without fulfilling this intention. He resumed his studies at Glasgow preparatory to his seeking a surgeon's diploma; and he afterwards established himself as a medical practitioner in Newton-Stewart, a considerable village in his native county. From this place he removed to Fochabers, about the year 1788, on being recommended, by his friend Dr Hamilton, Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow, as physician to the Duke of Gordon. Before entering on this new sphere of practice, he took the degree of M.D. At Fochabers he remained till the year 1806, when he again returned to the south. He died at Wigton on the 18th January 1818. From a MS. Life of Dr Couper, in the possession of a gentleman in Wigton, and communicated to Dr Murray, author of "The Literary History of Galloway," these leading events of Dr Couper's life were first published by Mr Laing, in his "Additional Illustrations to the Scots Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 513.
Dr Couper published "Poetry, chiefly in the Scottish Language" (Inverness, 1804), 2 vols. 12mo. Among some rubbish, and much tawdry versification, there is occasional power, which, however, is insufficient to compensate for the general inferiority. There are only a few songs, but these are superior to the poems; and those following are not unworthy of a place among the modern national minstrelsy.
Red gleams the sun on yon hill-tap, The dew sits on the gowan; Deep murmurs through her glens the Spey, Around Kinrara rowan. Where art thou, fairest, kindest lass? Alas! wert thou but near me, Thy gentle soul, thy melting eye, Would ever, ever cheer me.
The lav'rock sings among the clouds, The lambs they sport so cheerie, And I sit weeping by the birk: O where art thou, my dearie? Aft may I meet the morning dew, Lang greet till I be weary; Thou canna, winna, gentle maid! Thou canna be my dearie.
TUNE—"The Mucking o' Geordie's Byre."
Oh, grand bounds the deer o'er the mountain, And smooth skims the hare o'er the plain; At noon, the cool shade by the fountain Is sweet to the lass and her swain. The ev'ning sits down dark and dreary; Oh, yon 's the loud joys of the ha'; The laird sings his dogs and his dearie— Oh, he kens na his singin' ava.
But oh, my dear lassie, when wi' thee, What 's the deer and the maukin to me? The storm soughin' wild drives me to thee, And the plaid shelters baith me and thee. The wild warld then may be reeling, Pride and riches may lift up their e'e; My plaid haps us baith in the sheeling— That 's a' to my lassie and me.
THE EWE-BUGHTS, MARION.
Oh, mind ye the ewe-bughts, my Marion? It was ther I forgather'd wi' thee; The sun smiled sweet ower the mountain, And saft sough'd the leaf on the tree.
Thou wast fair, thou wast bonnie, my Marion, And lovesome thy rising breast-bane; The dew sat in gems ower thy ringlets, By the thorn when we were alane.
There we loved, there thou promised, my Marion, Thy soul—a' thy beauties were mine; Crouse we skipt to the ha' i' the gloamin', But few were my slumbers and thine.
Fell war tore me lang frae thee, Marion, Lang wat'ry and red was my e'e; The pride o' the field but inflamed me To return mair worthy o' thee.
Oh, aye art thou lovely, my Marion, Thy heart bounds in kindness to me; And here, oh, here is my bosom, That languish'd, my Marion, for thee.
 These verses form a modernised version of the old and popular song, "Will ye gae to the ewe-bughts, Marion?" The air is extremely beautiful.
LADY ANNE BARNARD.
Lady Anne Lindsay was the eldest of a family of eight sons and three daughters, born to James, Earl of Balcarres, by his spouse, Anne Dalrymple, a daughter of Sir Robert Dalrymple, of Castleton, Bart. She was born at Balcarres, in Fife, on the 8th of December 1750. Inheriting a large portion of the shrewdness long possessed by the old family of Lindsay, and a share of talent from her mother, who was a person of singular energy, though somewhat capricious in temper, Lady Anne evinced, at an early age, an uncommon amount of sagacity. Fortunate in having her talents well directed, and naturally inclined towards the acquisition of learning, she soon began to devote herself to useful reading, and even to literary composition. The highly popular ballad of "Auld Robin Gray" was written when she had only attained her twenty-first year. According to her own narrative, communicated to Sir Walter Scott, she had experienced loneliness on the marriage of her younger sister, who accompanied her husband to London, and had sought relief from a state of solitude by attempting the composition of song. An old Scottish melody, sung by an eccentric female, an attendant on Lady Balcarres, was connected with words unsuitable to the plaintive nature of the air; and, with the design of supplying the defect, she formed the idea of writing "Auld Robin Gray." The hero of the ballad was the old herdsman at Balcarres. To the members of her own family Lady Anne only communicated her new ballad—scrupulously concealing the fact of her authorship from others, "perceiving the shyness it created in those who could write nothing."
While still in the bloom of youth, the Earl of Balcarres died, and the Dowager Countess having taken up her residence in Edinburgh, Lady Anne experienced increased means of acquainting herself with the world of letters. At her mother's residence she met many of the literary persons of consideration in the northern metropolis, including such men as Lord Monboddo, David Hume, and Henry Mackenzie. To comfort her sister, Lady Margaret Fordyce, who was now a widow, she subsequently removed to London, where she formed the acquaintance of the principal personages then occupying the literary and political arena, such as Burke, Sheridan, Dundas, and Windham. She also became known to the Prince of Wales, who continued to entertain for her the highest respect. In 1793, she married Andrew Barnard, Esq., son of the Bishop of Limerick, and afterwards secretary, under Lord Macartney, to the colony at the Cape of Good Hope. She accompanied her husband to the Cape, and had meditated a voyage to New South Wales, that she might minister, by her benevolent counsels, towards the reformation of the convicts there exiled. On the death of her husband in 1807, she again resided with her widowed sister, the Lady Margaret, till the year 1812, when, on the marriage of her sister to Sir James Burges, she occupied a house of her own, and continued to reside in Berkeley Square till the period of her death, which took place on the 6th of May 1825.
To entire rectitude of principle, amiability of manners, and kindliness of heart, Anne Barnard added the more substantial, and, in females, the more uncommon quality of eminent devotedness to intellectual labour. Literature had been her favourite pursuit from childhood, and even in advanced life, when her residence was the constant resort of her numerous relatives, she contrived to find leisure for occasional literary reunions, while her forenoons were universally occupied in mental improvement. She maintained a correspondence with several of her brilliant contemporaries, and, in her more advanced years, composed an interesting narrative of family Memoirs. She was skilled in the use of the pencil, and sketched scenery with effect. In conversation she was acknowledged to excel; and her stories and anecdotes were a source of delight to her friends. She was devotedly pious, and singularly benevolent: she was liberal in sentiment, charitable to the indigent, and sparing of the feelings of others. Every circle was charmed by her presence; by her condescension she inspired the diffident; and she banished dulness by the brilliancy of her humour. Her countenance, it should be added, wore a pleasant and animated expression, and her figure was modelled with the utmost elegance of symmetry and grace. Her sister, Lady Margaret Fordyce, was eminently beautiful.
The popularity obtained by the ballad of "Auld Robin Gray" has seldom been exceeded in the history of any other metrical composition. It was sung in every fashionable circle, as well as by the ballad-singers, from Land's-end to John o' Groat's; was printed in every collection of national songs, and drew tears from our military countrymen both in America and India. With the exception of Pinkerton, every writer on Scottish poetry and song has awarded it a tribute of commendation. "The elegant and accomplished authoress," says Ritson, "has, in this beautiful production, to all that tenderness and simplicity for which the Scottish song has been so much celebrated, united a delicacy of expression which it never before attained." "'Auld Robin Gray,'" says Sir Walter Scott, "is that real pastoral which is worth all the dialogues which Corydon and Phillis have had together, from the days of Theocritus downwards."
During a long lifetime, till within two years of her death, Lady Anne Barnard resisted every temptation to declare herself the author of the popular ballad, thus evincing her determination not to have the secret wrested from her till she chose to divulge it. Some of those inducements may be enumerated. The extreme popularity of the ballad might have proved sufficient in itself to justify the disclosure; but, apart from this consideration, a very fine tune had been put to it by a doctor of music; a romance had been founded upon it by a man of eminence; it was made the subject of a play, of an opera, and of a pantomime; it had been claimed by others; a sequel had been written to it by some scribbler, who professed to have composed the whole ballad; it had been assigned an antiquity far beyond the author's time; the Society of Antiquaries had made it the subject of investigation; and the author had been advertised for in the public prints, a reward being offered for the discovery. Never before had such general interest been exhibited respecting any composition in Scottish verse.
In the "Pirate," published in 1823, the author of "Waverley" had compared the condition of Minna to that of Jeanie Gray, in the words of Lady Anne, in a sequel which she had published to the original ballad:—
"Nae langer she wept, her tears were a' spent; Despair it was come, and she thought it content; She thought it content, but her cheek it grew pale, And she droop'd like a snowdrop broke down by the hail!"
At length, in her seventy-third year, and upwards of half a century after the period of its composition, the author voluntarily made avowal of the authorship of the ballad and its sequel. She wrote to Sir Walter Scott, with whom she was acquainted, requesting him to inform his personal friend, the author of "Waverley," that she was indeed the author. She enclosed a copy to Sir Walter, written in her own hand; and, with her consent, in the course of the following year, he printed "Auld Robin Gray" as a contribution to the Bannatyne Club.
The second part has not acquired such decided popularity, and it has not often been published with it in former Collections. Of the fact of its inequality, the accomplished author was fully aware: she wrote it simply to gratify the desire of her venerable mother, who often wished to know how "the unlucky business of Jeanie and Jamie ended." The Countess, it may be remarked, was much gratified by the popularity of the ballad; and though she seems, out of respect to her daughter's feelings, to have retained the secret, she could not resist the frequent repetition of it to her friends.
In the character of Lady Anne Barnard, the defective point was a certain want of decision, which not only led to her declining many distinguished and advantageous offers for her hand, but tended, in some measure, to deprive her of posthumous fame. Illustrative of the latter fact, it has been recorded that, having entrusted to Sir Walter Scott a volume of lyrics, composed by herself and by others of the noble house of Lindsay, with permission to give it to the world, she withdrew her consent after the compositions had been printed in a quarto volume, and were just on the eve of being published. The copies of the work, which was entitled "Lays of the Lindsays," appear to have been destroyed. One lyric only has been recovered, beginning, "Why tarries my love?" It is printed as the composition of Lady Anne Barnard, in a note appended to the latest edition of Johnson's "Musical Museum," by Mr C. K. Sharpe, who transcribed it from the Scots Magazine for May 1805. The popular song, "Logie o' Buchan," sometimes attributed to Lady Anne in the Collections, did not proceed from her pen, but was composed by George Halket, parochial schoolmaster of Rathen, in Aberdeenshire, about the middle of the last century.
 The name of this old melody is, "The Bridegroom greets when the Sun gangs down."—See Stenhouse's Notes to Johnson's "Musical Museum," vol. iv. p. 280; the "Lives of the Lindsays," by Lord Lindsay, vol. ii., pp. 314, 332, 392. Lond. 1849, 3 vols., 8vo.
 "She was entertaining a large party of distinguished guests at dinner, when a hitch occurred in the kitchen. The old servant came up behind her and whispered, 'My lady, you must tell another story—the second course won't be ready for five minutes!'"—Letter of General Lindsay to Lord Lindsay, "Lives of the Lindsays," vol. ii. p. 387.
 The Rev. William Leeves, of Wrington, to whose tune the ballad is now sung.—See an account of Mr Leeves' claims to the authorship of the tune, &c., in Johnson's "Musical Museum;" Stenhouse's Notes, vol. iv. p. 231.
AULD ROBIN GRAY.
When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye 's come hame, And a' the warld to rest are gane, The waes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my e'e, Unkent by my gudeman, wha sleeps sound by me.
Young Jamie lo'ed me weel, and he sought me for his bride, But saving a crown-piece, he had naething beside; To make the crown a pound, my Jamie gaed to sea, And the crown and the pound they were baith for me.
He hadna been gane a twelvemonth and a day, When my father brake his arm, and the cow was stown away; My mither she fell sick—my Jamie at the sea; And auld Robin Gray came a-courting me.
My father couldna wark, and my mither couldna spin; I toil'd day and night, but their bread I couldna win;— Auld Rob maintain'd them baith, and, wi' tears in his e'e, Said, "Jeanie, oh, for their sakes, will ye no marry me?"
My heart it said na, and I look'd for Jamie back; But hard blew the winds, and his ship was a wrack; The ship was a wrack—why didna Jamie dee? Or why am I spared to cry, Wae is me?
My father urged me sair—my mither didna speak; But she look'd in my face till my heart was like to break; They gied him my hand—my heart was in the sea— And so Robin Gray he was gudeman to me.
I hadna been his wife a week but only four, When, mournfu' as I sat on the stane at my door, I saw my Jamie's ghaist, for I couldna think it he, Till he said, "I'm come hame, love, to marry thee."
Oh, sair, sair did we greet, and mickle say of a'; I gied him a kiss, and bade him gang awa';— I wish that I were dead, but I'm nae like to dee; For though my heart is broken, I'm but young, wae is me!
I gang like a ghaist, and carena much to spin; I darena think o' Jamie, for that wad be a sin; But I'll do my best a gude wife to be, For oh, Robin Gray, he is kind to me!
The spring had pass'd over, 'twas summer nae mair, And, trembling, were scatter'd the leaves in the air; "Oh, winter," cried Jeanie, "we kindly agree, For wae looks the sun when he shines upon me."
Nae langer she wept, her tears were a' spent; Despair it was come, and she thought it content; She thought it content, but her cheek was grown pale, And she droop'd like a snow-drop broke down by the hail.
Her father was sad, and her mother was wae, But silent and thoughtfu' was auld Robin Gray; He wander'd his lane, and his face was as lean As the side of a brae where the torrents have been.
He gaed to his bed, but nae physic would take, And often he said, "It is best, for her sake!" While Jeanie supported his head as he lay, The tears trickled down upon auld Robin Gray.
"Oh, greet nae mair, Jeanie!" said he, wi' a groan; "I 'm nae worth your sorrow—the truth maun be known; Send round for your neighbours—my hour it draws near, And I 've that to tell that it 's fit a' should hear.
"I 've wrang'd her," he said, "but I kent it o'er late; I 've wrang'd her, and sorrow is speeding my date; But a 's for the best, since my death will soon free A faithfu' young heart, that was ill match'd wi' me.
"I lo'ed and I courted her mony a day, The auld folks were for me, but still she said nay; I kentna o' Jamie, nor yet o' her vow;— In mercy forgi'e me, 'twas I stole the cow!
"I cared not for crummie, I thought but o' thee; I thought it was crummie stood 'twixt you and me; While she fed your parents, oh! did you not say, You never would marry wi' auld Robin Gray?
"But sickness at hame, and want at the door— You gi'ed me your hand, while your heart it was sore; I saw it was sore, why took I her hand? Oh, that was a deed to my shame o'er the land!
"How truth, soon or late, comes to open daylight! For Jamie cam' back, and your cheek it grew white; White, white grew your cheek, but aye true unto me. Oh, Jeanie, I 'm thankfu'—I 'm thankfu' to dee!
"Is Jamie come here yet?" and Jamie he saw; "I 've injured you sair, lad, so I leave you my a'; Be kind to my Jeanie, and soon may it be! Waste no time, my dauties, in mournin' for me."
They kiss'd his cauld hands, and a smile o'er his face Seem'd hopefu' of being accepted by grace; "Oh, doubtna," said Jamie, "forgi'en he will be, Wha wadna be tempted, my love, to win thee?"
* * * * *
The first days were dowie, while time slipt awa'; But saddest and sairest to Jeanie of a' Was thinking she couldna be honest and right, Wi' tears in her e'e, while her heart was sae light.
But nae guile had she, and her sorrow away, The wife of her Jamie, the tear couldna stay; A bonnie wee bairn—the auld folks by the fire— Oh, now she has a' that her heart can desire!
In an earlier continuation of the original ballad, there are some good stanzas, which, however, the author had thought proper to expunge from the piece in its altered and extended form. One verse, descriptive of Robin Gray's feelings, on observing the concealed and withering grief of his spouse, is beautiful for its simplicity:—
"Nae questions he spier'd her concerning her health, He look'd at her often, but aye 'twas by stealth; When his heart it grew grit, and, sighin', he feign'd To gang to the door to see if it rain'd."
Why tarries my love? Ah! where does he rove? My love is long absent from me. Come hither, my dove, I 'll write to my love, And send him a letter by thee.
To find him, swift fly! The letter I 'll tie Secure to thy leg with a string. Ah! not to my leg, Fair lady, I beg, But fasten it under my wing.
Her dove she did deck, She drew o'er his neck A bell and a collar so gay; She tied to his wing The scroll with a string, Then kiss'd him and sent him away.
It blew and it rain'd, The pigeon disdain'd To seek shelter; undaunted he flew, Till wet was his wing, And painful his string, So heavy the letter it grew.
It flew all around, Till Colin he found, Then perch'd on his head with the prize; Whose heart, while he reads, With tenderness bleeds, For the pigeon that flutters and dies.
John Tait was, in early life, devoted to the composition of poetry. In Ruddiman's Edinburgh Weekly Magazine for 1770, he repeatedly published verses in the Poet's Corner, with his initials attached, and in subsequent years he published anonymously the "Cave of Morar," "Poetical Legends," and other poems. "The Vanity of Human Wishes, an Elegy, occasioned by the Untimely Death of a Scots Poet," appears under the signature of J. Tait, in "Poems on Various Subjects by Robert Fergusson, Part II.," Edinburgh, 1779, 12mo. He was admitted as a Writer to the Signet on the 21st of November 1781; and in July 1805 was appointed Judge of Police, on a new police system being introduced into Edinburgh. In the latter capacity he continued to officiate till July 1812, when a new Act of Parliament entrusted the settlement of police cases, as formerly, to the magistrates of the city. Mr Tait died at his house in Abercromby Place, on the 29th of August 1817.
"The Banks of the Dee," the only popular production from the pen of the author, was composed in the year 1775, on the occasion of a friend leaving Scotland to join the British forces in America, who were then vainly endeavouring to suppress that opposition to the control of the mother country which resulted in the permanent establishment of American independence. The song is set to the Irish air of "Langolee." It was printed in Wilson's Collection of Songs, which was published at Edinburgh in 1779, with four additional stanzas by a Miss Betsy B——s, of inferior merit. It was re-published in "The Goldfinch" (Edinburgh, 1782), and afterwards was inserted in Johnson's "Musical Museum." Burns, in his letter to Mr George Thomson, of 7th April 1793, writes—"'The Banks of the Dee' is, you know, literally 'Langolee' to slow time. The song is well enough, but has some false imagery in it; for instance—
"'And sweetly the nightingale sung from the tree.'
In the first place, the nightingale sings in a low bush, but never from a tree; and, in the second place, there never was a nightingale seen or heard on the banks of the Dee, or on the banks of any other river in Scotland. Creative rural imagery is always comparatively flat."
Thirty years after its first appearance, Mr Tait published a new edition of the song in Mr Thomson's Collection, vol. iv., in which he has, by alterations on the first half stanza, acknowledged the justice of the strictures of the Ayrshire bard. The stanza is altered thus:
"'Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing, And sweetly the wood-pigeon coo'd from the tree; At the foot of a rock, where the wild rose was growing, I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee."
The song, it may be added, has in several collections been erroneously attributed to John Home, author of the tragedy of "Douglas."
THE BANKS OF THE DEE.
'Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing, And sweetly the nightingale sung from the tree, At the foot of a rock where the river was flowing, I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee. Flow on, lovely Dee, flow on, thou sweet river, Thy banks' purest stream shall be dear to me ever, For there first I gain'd the affection and favour Of Jamie, the glory and pride of the Dee.
But now he 's gone from me, and left me thus mourning, To quell the proud rebels—for valiant is he; And, ah! there's no hope of his speedy returning, To wander again on the banks of the Dee. He 's gone, hapless youth! o'er the rude roaring billows, The kindest and sweetest of all the gay fellows, And left me to wander 'mongst those once loved willows, The loneliest maid on the banks of the Dee.
But time and my prayers may perhaps yet restore him, Blest peace may restore my dear shepherd to me; And when he returns, with such care I 'll watch o'er him, He never shall leave the sweet banks of the Dee. The Dee then shall flow, all its beauties displaying, The lambs on its banks shall again be seen playing, While I with my Jamie am carelessly straying, And tasting again all the sweets of the Dee.
Hector Macneill was born on the 22d of October 1746, in the villa of Rosebank, near Roslin; and, to to use his own words, "amidst the murmur of streams and the shades of Hawthornden, may be said to have inhaled with life the atmosphere of a poet." Descended from an old family, who possessed a small estate in the southern district of Argyllshire, his father, after various changes of fortune, had obtained a company in the 42d Regiment, with which he served during several campaigns in Flanders. From continued indisposition, and consequent inability to undergo the fatigues of military life, he disposed of his commission, and retired, with his wife and two children, to the villa of Rosebank, of which he became the owner. A few years after the birth of his son Hector, he felt necessitated, from straitened circumstances, to quit this beautiful residence; and he afterwards occupied a farm on the banks of Loch Lomond. Such a region of the picturesque was highly suitable for the development of those poetical talents which had already appeared in young Hector, amidst the rural amenities of Roslin. In his eleventh year, he wrote a drama, after the manner of Gay; and the respectable execution of his juvenile attempts in versification gained him the approbation of Dr Doig, the learned rector of the grammar-school of Stirling, who strongly urged his father to afford him sufficient instruction, to enable him to enter upon one of the liberal professions. Had Captain Macneill's circumstances been prosperous, this counsel might have been adopted, for the son's promising talents were not unnoticed by his father; but pecuniary difficulties opposed an unsurmountable obstacle.
An opulent relative, a West India trader, resident in Bristol, had paid the captain a visit; and, attracted by the shrewdness of the son Hector, who was his namesake, offered to retain him in his employment, and to provide for him in life. After two years' preparatory education, he was accordingly sent to Bristol, in his fourteenth year. He was destined to an adventurous career, singularly at variance with his early predilections and pursuits. By his relative he was designed to sail in a slave ship to the coast of Guinea; but the intercession of some female friends prevented his being connected with an expedition so uncongenial to his feelings. He was now despatched on board a vessel to the island of St Christopher's, with the view of his making trial of a seafaring life, but was provided with recommendatory letters, in the event of his preferring employment on land. With a son of the Bristol trader he remained twelvemonths; and, having no desire to resume his labours as a seaman, he afterwards sailed for Guadaloupe, where he continued in the employment of a merchant for three years, till 1763, when the island was ceded to the French. Dismissed by his employer, with a scanty balance of salary, he had some difficulty in obtaining the means of transport to Antigua; and there, finding himself reduced to entire dependence, he was content, without any pecuniary recompense, to become assistant to his relative, who had come to the town of St John's. From this unhappy condition he was rescued, after a short interval. He was possessed of a knowledge of the French language; a qualification which, together with his general abilities, recommended him to fill the office of assistant to the Provost-Marshal of Grenada. This appointment he held for three years, when, hearing of the death of his mother and sister, he returned to Britain. On the death of his father, eighteen months after his arrival, he succeeded to a small patrimony, which he proceeded to invest in the purchase of an annuity of L80 per annum. With this limited income, he seems to have planned a permanent settlement in his native country; but the unexpected embarrassment of the party from whom he had purchased the annuity, and an attachment of an unfortunate nature, compelled him to re-embark on the ocean of adventure. He accepted the office of assistant-secretary on board Admiral Geary's flag-ship, and made two cruises with the grand fleet. Proposing again to return to Scotland, he afterwards resigned his appointment; but he was induced, by the remonstrances of his friends, Dr Currie, and Mr Roscoe, of Liverpool, to accept a similar situation on board the flag-ship of Sir Richard Bickerton, who had been appointed to take the chief command of the naval power in India. In this post, many of the hardships incident to a seafaring life fell to his share; and being present at the last indecisive action with "Suffrein," he had likewise to encounter the perils of war. His present connexion subsisted three years; but Macneill sickened in the discharge of duties wholly unsuitable for him, and longed for the comforts of home. His resources were still limited, but he flattered himself in the expectation that he might earn a subsistence as a man of letters. He fixed his residence at a farm-house in the vicinity of Stirling; and, amidst the pursuits of literature, the composition of verses, and the cultivation of friendship, he contrived, for a time, to enjoy a considerable share of happiness. But he speedily discovered the delusion of supposing that an individual, entirely unknown in the literary world, could at once be able to establish his reputation, and inspire confidence in the bookselling trade, whose favour is so essential to men of letters. Discouraged in longer persevering in the attempt of procuring a livelihood at home, Macneill, for the fourth time, took his departure from Britain. Provided with letters of introduction to influential and wealthy persons in Jamaica, he sailed for that island on a voyage of adventure; being now in his thirty-eighth year, and nearly as unprovided for as when he had first left his native shores, twenty-four years before. On his arrival at Kingston, he was employed by the collector of customs, whose acquaintance he had formed on the voyage; but this official soon found he could dispense with his services, which he did, without aiding him in obtaining another situation. The individuals to whom he had brought letters were unable or unwilling to render him assistance, and the unfortunate adventurer was constrained, in his emergency, to accept the kind invitation of a medical friend, to make his quarters with him till some satisfactory employment might occur. He now discovered two intimate companions of his boyhood settled in the island, in very prosperous circumstances, and from these he received both pecuniary aid and the promise of future support. Through their friendly offices, his two sons, who had been sent out by a generous friend, were placed in situations of respectability and emolument. But the thoughts of the poet himself were directed towards Britain. He sailed from Jamaica, with a thousand plans and schemes hovering in his mind, equally vague and indefinite as had been his aims and designs during the past chapter of his history. A small sum given him as the pay of an inland ensigncy, now conferred on him, but antedated, sufficed to defray the expenses of the voyage.