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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. M.DCCC.LVI.
EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY, PAUL'S WORK.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL SIR JAMES EDWARD ALEXANDER, K.L.S., AND K.ST.J.,
A DISTINGUISHED TRAVELLER, A GALLANT OFFICER, AND A PATRIOTIC SCOTSMAN,
THIS THIRD VOLUME
The Modern Scottish Minstrel
WITH SENTIMENTS OF RESPECT AND GRATITUDE,
HIS VERY OBEDIENT, FAITHFUL SERVANT,
SCOTTISH AND HELLENIC MINSTRELSY:
BY JAMES DONALDSON, A.M.
Men who compare themselves with their nearest neighbours are almost invariably conceited, speak boastingly of themselves, and disrespectfully of others. But if a man extend his survey, if he mingle largely with people whose feelings and opinions have been modified by quite different circumstances, the result is generally beneficial. The very act of accommodating his mind to foreign modes of thought expands his nature; and he becomes more liberal in his sentiments, more charitable in his construction of deeds, and more capable of perceiving real goodness under whatever shape it may present itself. So when a Scotsman criticises Scotch poetry viewed by itself alone, he is apt to be carried away by his patriotism,—he sees only the delightful side of the subject, and he ventures on assertions which flatter himself and his country at the expense of all other nations. If, however, we place the productions of our own country side by side with those of another, the excellences and the deficiencies of both are seen in stronger relief; the contrasts strike the mind, and the heart is widened by sympathising with goodness and beauty diversely conceived and diversely portrayed. For this reason, we shall attempt a brief comparison of Hellenic and Scottish songs.
Before we enter on our characterisation of these, we must glance at the materials which we have to survey. Greek lyric poetry arose about the beginning of the eighth century before the Christian era, and continued in full bloom down to the time when it passed into drama on the Athenian stage. The names of the poets are universally known, and have become, indeed, almost part of our poetic language. Every one speaks of an Anacreon, a Sappho, and a Pindar; and the names of Archilochus, Alcman, Alcaeus, Stesichorus, Simonides, Ibycus, and Bacchylides, if not so often used, are yet familiar to most. Few of these lyrists belonged to Greece proper. They belonged to Greece only in the sense in which the Greeks themselves used the word, as including all the colonies which had gone forth from the motherland. Most of the early Greek song-writers dwelt in Asia Minor—some were born in the islands of the Cyclades, and some in Southern Italy; but all of them were proud of their Greek origin, all of them were thorough Greeks in their hearts. It is only the later bards who were born and brought up on the Greek mainland, and most of these lived to see the day when almost all the lyric poets took their grandest flights in the choral odes of their dramas. These odes, however, do not fall within the province of our comparison. The lyrical efforts both of AEschylus and Sophocles were inwoven with the structure of their plays, the chorus in AEschylus being generally one of the actors; and they have their modern representatives, not in the songs of the people, but in the arias of operas. Setting these aside, we have few genuine efforts of the Greek lyric muse belonging to the dramatic period—the most important being several songs sung by the Greeks at their banquets, which have fortunately been preserved. After this era, we have no lyric poems of the Greeks worth mentioning. The verse-writers took henceforth to epigrams—epigrams on everything on the face of the earth. These have been collected into the "Greek Anthology;" but the greater part of them are contemptible in a poetic point of view. They are interesting as throwing light on the times; but they are weak and vapid as expressions of the beatings of the human heart, and they are full of conceits. Besides these, there are the Anacreontic odes, known to all Greek scholars and to a great number of English, since they have been frequently translated. With one or two exceptions, they were all written between the third and twelfth centuries of the Christian era, though some scholars have boldly asserted that they were forgeries even of a later date. Most of them seem to be expansions of lines of Anacreon. They are in general neat, pretty, and gaysome, but tame and insincere. There is nothing like earnestness in them, nothing like genuine deep feeling; but thus they are all the more suited for a certain class of lovers and drinkers, who do not wish to be greatly moved by anything under the sun.
Scotch lyric poetry may be said to commence with the lyrics attributed to James I., or with those of Henryson. There is clear proof, indeed, that long before this time the Scotch were much given to song-making and song-singing; but of these early popular lilts, almost nothing remains. Henryson's lyrics, however, belonged more to the class that were intended to be read than to be sung, and this is true of a considerable number of his successors, such as Dunbar, and Maitland of Lethington, who were learned men, and wrote with a learned air, even when writing for the people. The Reformation, as surely as it threw down every carved stone, shut up the mouth of every profane songster. Wedderburne's "Haly Ballats" may have been spared for a time by the iconoclasts, because they had helped to build up their own temple; but they could not survive long,—they were cast in a profane mould, they were sung to profane tunes, and away they must go into oblivion. Our song-writers, for a long time after, are unknown minstrels, who had no character to lose by making or singing profane songs,—they were of the people, and sang for them. So matters continued, until, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, Scottish songs began to be the rage both in England and Scotland, and an eager desire arose to gather up old snatches and preserve them. Henceforth Scotch poetry held up its head, and a few remarkable poets won their way into the hearts of large masses of the people. At last appeared the emancipator of Scottish song in the form of a ploughman, stirring the deepest feelings of all classes with songs that may be justly styled the best of all national popular songs, and for ever settling the claims of a song-writer to one of the highest niches in the temple of Fame.
The first thing that strikes us, on dipping into a book of Greek songs, and then a book of Scotch, is the different position of the poets. The Greek poet was regarded as a kind of superior being—an interpreter between gods and men; and, supposed to be under the special protection of Divinity, he was highly honoured and reverenced wherever he went. The Scotch bard, on the other hand, is a poor wanderer, whose name is unknown, who received little respect, and whose knowledge of God and the higher purposes of life cannot be reckoned in any way great. There may be a few exceptions. We find nobles sometimes writing popular songs, and occasionally a learned man may have contributed strains; but these are generally not superior either in wit, pathos, or morality, to the verses of the unknown and hard-toiling. This striking contrast arises from a change that had taken place in the history of song. In Greece, all the teeming ideas of the fertile-minded people found expression in harmonious measures, and their songs touched every chord of their varied existence. This was partly owing to their innate love of melody, and partly to the public life which they led. From the earliest ages, they were fond of sweet sounds; and their continual public gatherings gave innumerable opportunities for using their vocal powers unitedly, and turning music to all its best and noblest purposes. They sang sacred songs as they marched in procession to their temples; and on entering, they hymned the praises of the gods. When they rushed on to battle, they shouted their inspiring war-songs; and if victory crowned the fight, the battle-field rang with their joyous paeans, and their poets tuned their lyres in honour of the brave that had fallen. A victor in the Olympic games would have lost one of his greatest rewards, if no poet had sung his fame. Then, in their banquets, the Greeks amused themselves in stringing together pretty verses, and joined in merry and jovial drinking-songs. If there happened to be a marriage, the young people assembled round the house, and late in the evening and early in the morning sang the praises of bride and bridegroom, prayed for blessings on the couple, and sometimes discussed the comparative blessedness of single and married life. Or if a notable person happened to die, his dirge was sung, and the poet composed an encomium on him, full of wise reflections on destiny, and the fate that awaits all. There was, in fact, no public occasion which the Greeks did not beautify with song.
It is entirely different with us. Our minister now performs the function of the Greek poet at marriages and funerals. Our funeral sermons and newspaper paragraphs have taken the place of the Greek encomiums. Our fiddles or piano do duty instead of the Greek dithyrambs, hyporchems, and other dancing songs. Our warriors are either left unsung, or celebrated in verse that reads much better than it sings. The members of the "Benevolent Pugilistic Association" do not stand so high in the British opinion as the wrestlers of old stood in the Greek; and our jockeys have fallen frightfully from the grand position which the Greek racers occupied in the plains of Olympia. Very few in these days would think the champion of England, or the winner of the Derby, worth a noble ode full of old traditions and exalted religious aspirations. Through various causes, song has thus come to be very circumscribed in its limits, and to perform duty within a comparatively small sphere in modern life.
Indeed, song in these days does exactly what the Greeks rarely attempted: it concerns itself with private life, and especially with that most characteristic feature of modern private life—love. Love is, consequently, the main topic of Scottish song. It is a theme of which neither the song-writer nor the song-singer ever wearies. It is the one great passion with which the universal modern mind sympathises, and from the expressions of which it quaffs inexhaustible delight. This holds true even of the cynical people who profess a distaste for love and lovers. For love has for them its comic side,—it appears to them exquisitely humorous in the human weakness it causes and brings to light; and if they do not enjoy the song in its praise, they seldom fail to laugh heartily at the description of the plights into which it leads its devotees.
Perhaps no country contains a richer collection of love-songs than Scotland. We have a song for every phase of the motley-faced passion,—from its ludicrous aspect to its highest and most rapturous form. Every pulsation of the heart, as moved by love, has had its poetic expression; and we have lovers pouring out the depths of their souls to all kinds of maids, and in all kinds of situations. And maids are represented as bodying forth their feelings, also, under the sway of love. Many of these feminine lyrics are written by women themselves. Some of them exult in the full return which their love meets; but for the most part, it is a keen sorrow that forces women to poetic composition. They thus contribute our most pathetic songs—wails sometimes over blasted hopes and blighted love, as in "Waly, Waly;" or over the death of a deeply-loved one, as in Miss Blamire's "Waefu' Heart;" or over the loss of the brave who have fallen in battle, as in Miss Jane Elliot's "Flowers of the Forest."
Peculiarly characteristic of Scotland are the songs that describe the development of love, after the lovers have been married. Here the comical phase is most predominant. For the most part, the Scottish songster delights in describing the quarrels between the goodman and the goodwife—the goodwife in the early poems invariably succeeding in making John yield to her. Sometimes, however, there is a deeper and purer current of feeling, to which Burns especially has given expression. How intensely beautiful is the affection in "John Anderson, my Jo!" And we have in "Are ye sure the news is true?" the whole character of a very loving wife brought out by a simple incident in her life,—the expected return of her husband. Some of these songs also have been written by poetesses, such as Lady Nairn's exquisite "Land of the Leal;" and really there is such delicacy, such minute accuracy in the portrayal of a woman's feelings in "Are ye sure the news is true?" that one cannot help thinking it must have been written by Jean Adams, or some woman, rather than by Mickle:—
"His very foot has music in 't, As he comes up the stair."
What man has an ear so delicate as to hear such music?
The contrast between Greek poetry and Scotch is very marked in this point. There is not one Greek lyric devoted to what we should designate love, with perhaps something like an exception in Alcman. In fact, while moderns rarely make a tragedy or comedy, a poem or novel, without some love-concern which is the pivot of the whole, all the great poems and dramas of the ancients revolve on entirely different passions. Love, such as we speak of, was of rather rare occurrence. Women were in such a low position, that it was a condescension to notice them,—there was no chivalrous feeling in regard to them; they were made to feel the dominion of their absolute lords and masters. Besides this, the greater number of them were confined to their private chambers, and seldom saw any man who was not nearly related. Those who were on free terms of intercourse with men, were for the most part strangers, whose morals were low, and who could not be expected to win the respectful esteem of true lovers. The men enjoyed the society of these—their tumbling, dancing, singing, and lively chat; but the distance was too great to permit that deep devotion which characterises modern love. Moreover, when a Greek speaks of love, we have to remember that he fell in love as often with a male companion as with a woman—he admired the beauty of a fair youth, and he felt in his presence very much as a modern lover feels in the presence of his sweetheart. We have, therefore, to examine expressions of love cautiously. Anacreon says, for instance, that love clave him with an axe, like a smith; but it seems far more likely that the reference is to the affection excited by some charming youth. We have a specimen remaining of the nonchalant style in which he addressed a woman, in the ode commencing "O Thracian mare!"—Schneidewin, Poet. Lyr. Anac. fr. 47.
The great poet of Love was not Anacreon, but Sappho, whose heart and mind were both of the finest. Her life is involved in obscurity, but it is probable that she was a strong advocate of woman's rights in her own land; and as she found men falling in love with other men, so she took special pains to win the affections of the young AEolian ladies, to train them in all the accomplishments suited to woman's nature, and to initiate them into the art of poetry,—that art without which, she says, a woman's memory would be for ever forgotten, and she would go to the house of Hades, to dwell with the shadowy dead, uncared for and unknown. We have two poems of hers which have come down to us tolerably complete, both, we think, addressed to some of her female friends, and both remarkably sweet, touching, and beautiful.
The Scottish songs devoted to other subjects than love are few, and almost exclusively descriptive. Our sense of the humorous gives us a delight in queer and odd characters, in which the Greeks probably would not have participated. Though they had an abundance of wit, and a keen perception of the ridiculous, no songs have reached us which are intended to please by their pure absurdity and good-natured foolishness. Archilochus and Hipponax wrote many a jocular song; but the fun of the thing would have been lost, had the sting which they contained been extracted.
Nor do the Greeks seem to have cared much for descriptive songs. They frequently introduced their heroes into their odes, but these were ever living, ever present to their minds; and several of the songs written on particular occasions were probably sung when the singer had no connexion with the events. But they lived, like boys, too much in the present, to throw themselves back into the past. They wished to give utterance to the feelings of the moment in their own persons, and directly; while we are content to be mere listeners, and are often as much pleased by the occurrences of another's life as by the sentiments of our own hearts.
We are remarkably deficient in what are called class-songs. The Greeks had none of these, for there scarcely existed any classes but free and slave. The people were all one—had the same interests and the same emotions. There was far less of individuality with them than with us, and there was still less of that feeling which divides society into exclusive circles. A Greek turned his hand to anything that came in his way, while division of labour has reached its utmost limit among us. We can find, therefore, no contrast here between Greek and Scotch songs; but we find a very marked one between Scotch and German. We have no student-songs, very few expressive of the feelings of soldiers (Lockhart's are almost the only), sailors, or of any other class.
Indeed, we are deficient not only in class-songs, but in social-songs. The Scotch propensity to indulge in drink is, unfortunately, notorious; and yet our drinking-songs of a really social nature would be comprised in a few pages. One sings of his coggie, as if he were in the custom of gulping his whisky all alone; many describe the boisterous carousals in which they made fools of themselves; not a few extol the power and properties of whisky, and incite to Bacchanalian pleasures; and we have several good songs suitable for singing at the close of an evening pleasantly spent, but almost none which express the feelings that naturally well-up when one sees his friends around him, becomes exhilarated through pleasant social intercourse, and finds the path of life smoothed and sweetened by the aid of his brothers.
The reason of this peculiar circumstance is not far to seek. It lies in the distinctive character of the two great classes into which the Scotch have been divided since the Reformation, called, at the early period of Scottish song, the Covenanters and the Cavaliers. The one party bowed before religion, most scrupulously abstained from all worldly pleasures, and regarded and denounced as sin, or something akin to it, every approach to levity or frivolity. The other party was a wild rebound from this. Sanctimoniousness was hateful in their eye; and not being able to find a medium, they abjured religion, and rushed into the pleasures of this life with headlong zest. The poets, in accordance with their joy-loving natures, allied themselves to the latter class. There was thus in Scotland a deep, dark gulf between the religious and the poetical or beautiful, which has not yet been completely bridged over. The consequence is, that the elder Scottish songs, of all songs, contain the fewest references to the Divine Being. The name of God is never mentioned unless in the caricatures of the Covenanters; and a foreigner, taking up a book of Scottish songs written since the Reformation, and judging of the religion of the Scotch from them alone, would be prone to suppose that, if Scotland had any religion at all, it consisted in using the name of the devil occasionally with respect or with dread. The Cavaliers, in their most energetic moods, swore by him and by no other; while the Covenanters had no songs at all, scarcely any poetry of any kind, and doubtless would have regarded as impious the tracing of any but the most spiritual pleasures to God. The words, for instance, which Allan Cunningham puts into the mouth of a Covenanter, "I hae sworn by my God, my Jeanie" (p. 17 of this volume), would still be regarded by many people as profane.
The case was the very opposite with the Greeks. Every joy, every sorrow, was traced to the gods. They almost never opened their lips without an allusion to their divinities. They sang their praises in their processions and in all their public ceremonials. Wine was a gift from a kind and beneficent god, to cheer their hearts and soothe the sorrows of life. And they delighted in invoking his presence, in celebrating his adventures, and in using moderately and piously the blessings which he bestowed on them. Then, again, when love seized them, it was a god that had taken possession of their minds. They at once recognised a superior power, and they worshipped him in song with heart and soul. In fact, whatever be the subject of song, the gods are recognised as the rulers of the destinies of men, and the causes of all their joys and sorrows. We cannot expect such a strong infusion of the supernatural in modern lays, but still we have enough of it in German songs to form a remarkable contrast to Scotch. Take any German song-book, and you will immediately come upon a recognition of a higher power as the spring of our joys, and upon an expressed desire to use them, so as to bring us nearer one another, and to make us more honest, upright, happy, and contented men. Let this one verse, taken from a song of Schiller's, in singing which a German's heart is sure to glow, suffice:—
"Joy sparkles to us from the bowl! Behold the juice, whose golden colour To meekness melts the savage soul, And gives despair a hero's valour!
"Up, brothers! Lo, we crown the cup! Lo, the wine flashes to the brim! Let the bright foam spring heavenward! 'Up!' TO THE GOOD SPIRIT—this glass to HIM!
"Praised by the ever-whirling ring Of stars and tuneful seraphim— TO THE GOOD SPIRIT—the Father-king In heaven!—this glass to Him!"
We meet with the contrast in the Reformers of the respective nations—Knox and Luther. Knox, ever stern, frowning on all the amusements of the palace and the people, and indifferent to every species of poetry; Luther, often drinking his mug of ale in a tavern, making and singing his tunes and songs, and though frequently enough tormented by devils, yet still ready to throw aside the cares of life for a while, and enjoy himself in hearty intercourse with the various classes of the people. Who would have expected the German Reformer to be the author of the couplet—
"He who loves not women, wine, and song, Will be a fool his whole life long."
And yet he was. And his songs, sacred though most of them be, have a place in German song-books to this day.
Though Scottish songs seldom refer to a Divine Being, yet they are very far from being without their noble sentiments and inspirations. On the contrary, they have frequently sustained the moral life of a man. "Who dare measure in doubt," says William Thom in his "Recollections," "the restraining influences of these very songs? To us, they were all instead of sermons.... Poets were indeed our priests. But for those, the last relict of our moral existence would have surely passed away!"
Yet there is a marked contrast between the very aims of Scottish and Greek song-writers. The Scottish wish merely to please, and consequently never concern themselves with any of the deeper subjects of this life or the life to come. There is seldom an allusion to death, or to any of the great realities that sternly meet the gaze of a contemplative man. There may be a few exceptions in the case of pious song-writers, like Lady Nairn; but even such poets are shy of making songs the vehicle of what is serious or profound. The Greeks, on the other hand, regarding their poets as inspired, expected from them the deepest wisdom, and in fact delighted in any verse which threw light on the great mysteries of life and death. Thus it happens that the remains of the Greek lyric poets, especially the later, such as Simonides and Bacchylides, are principally of a deeply moral cast. The Greeks do not seem to have had the extravagant rage which now prevails for merely figurative language. They sought for truth itself, and the man became a poet who clothed living truths in the most appropriate and expressive words.
There is a remarkable contrast between the Scotch and Greeks in their historical songs. The lyric muse sings at great epochs, because then the deepest emotions of the human heart are roused. But since, in Greece, the states were small, and every emotion thrilled through all the free citizens, there was more of determined and unanimous feeling than with us, and consequently a greater desire to see the heroic deeds of themselves or their fellows wedded to verse. And then, too, the poet did not live apart; he was one of the people, a soldier and a citizen as well as others, and animated by exactly the same feelings, though with greater rapture. This is the reason why the Greeks abounded in songs in honour of their brave. At the time of the resistance to the Persian invasion, there was no end to the encomiums and paeans. Almost every individual hero was celebrated, and these songs were made by the acknowledged masters of the lyre, such as AEschylus and Simonides. With us, great deeds have to wait their poets. Distance of time must first throw around them a poetic hue; and after the hero has sunk unnoticed into a nameless grave, the bard showers his praises on him, and his worth is universally recognised. Or if his merits are discerned before his death, song is not one of the appointed organs through which our people demand that he should be praised. If a heroic action gets its poet, the people will listen; but if it pass unsung, none will regret it. Besides, we do not discern the poetry of the present so strongly as the Greeks did. Everything with them seems to have been capable of finding its way into verse. Alcman delights in speaking of his porridge, and Alcaeus of the various implements of war which adorned his hall. The real world in which the Greeks moved had the most powerful attraction for them. This is also, in a great measure, true of the unknown poets, who have contributed so much to Scottish minstrelsy in the days of the later Stuarts. There is no squeamishness about the introduction of realities, whatever they be; and the people took delight in a mere series of names skilfully strung together, or even in an enumeration of household articles or dishes.
This pleasure in the contemplation of the actual things around us, is not nearly so great in modern cultivated minds. We are continually trying to get out of ourselves, to transport ourselves to other times, and to throw ourselves into bygone scenes and characters. Hence it is that almost all our best historical songs, written in these days, have their basis in the past; and the one which moves us most powerfully, "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled," actually carries us back to the times of Robert the Bruce.
It is rather singular that most of the Scottish songs which refer to our history, are essentially aristocratic, and favourable to the divine right of kings. The Covenanters—our true freemen—disdained the use of the poet's pen. They uttered none of their aspirations for freedom in song, and thus the Royalists had the whole field of song-writing to themselves. Such was the state of matters until Burns rose from amidst the people, and sang in his own grand way of the inherent dignity of man as man, and of the rights of labour. It is one of the frequent contradictions which we see in human nature, that the very same people who sing "A Man's a Man for a' that," and "Scots wha hae," mourn over the unfortunate fate of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and lament his disasters, as if his succession to the throne of Scotland would have been a blessing. Notwithstanding, however, what Burns has done, Scotland is still deficient in songs embodying her ardent love of freedom. Liberty and her blessings are still unsung. It was not so in Greece, especially in Athens. The whole city echoed with hymns in its praise, and the people wiled away their leisure in making little chants on the men who they fancied had given the death-blow to tyranny. The scolia of Callistratus, beginning, "I'll wreathe my sword in myrtle bow," are well known.
Few of the patriotic songs of the Greeks are extant, and it is probable that they were not so numerous as ours. Institutions had a more powerful hold on them than localities. They were proud of themselves as Greeks, and of their traditions; but wherever they wandered, they carried Greece with them, for they were part of Greece themselves. Thus we may account for the absence of Greek songs expressive of longing for their native land, and of attachment to their native soil. We, on the other hand, have very many patriotic songs, full of that warm enthusiasm which every Scotsman justly feels for his country, and containing frequently a much higher estimate of ourselves and our position than other nations would reckon true or fair. In these songs, we are exceedingly confined in our sympathies. The nationality is stronger than the humanity. We have no such songs as the German, "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?"
Perhaps there is no point in which the Greeks contrast with the Scotch and all moderns more strikingly than in their mode of describing nature. This contrast holds good only between the cultivated Greek and the cultivated modern; for the cultivated Greek and the uncultivated Scotsman are one in this respect. Perhaps we should state it most correctly, if we say that the Greek never pictures natural scenery with words—the modern often makes the attempt. There is no song like Burns's "Birks o' Aberfeldy," or even like the "Welcome to May" of early Scottish poetry, in the Greek lyric poets. The Greek poet seizes one or two characteristic traits in which he himself finds pleasure; but his descriptions are not nicely shaded, minute, or calculated to bring the landscape before the mind's eye. No doubt, the Greek was led to this course by an instinct. For, first, his interest in inanimate nature was nothing as compared to his strong sympathies with man. He had not discovered that "God made the country, and man made the town." The gods, according to his notion, ruled the destinies of man, and every thought and device of man were inspirations from above. He saw infinitely more of deity in his fellow-men—in his and their pleasures, pursuits, and hopes—than in all the insentient things on the face of the earth; and consequently he clung to men. He delighted in representations of them; and in embodying his conceptions of the gods, he gave them the human form as the noblest and most beautiful of all forms. Nature was merely a background exquisitely beautiful, but not to be enjoyed without the presence of man. And, secondly, though the Greeks may not have enunciated the principle, that poetry is not the art suited for picturing nature, still they probably had an instinctive feeling of its truth. Poetry, as Lessing pointed out in his Laocoon, has the element of time in it, and is therefore inapplicable in the description of those things which, while composed of various parts, must be comprehended at one glance before the right impression is produced. Look how our modern poet goes to work! He has a fair scene before his fancy. He paints every part of it, with no reason why one part should be placed before another,—and as you read it, you have to piece each part together, as in a child's dissected map; and after you have constructed the whole out of the fragments, you have to imagine the effect. The Greek told you the effect at once,—he gave up the attempt to picture the scene in words. But when he had to deal with any part of nature that had life or motion in it—in fact, any element of time—then he was as minute as the most thorough Wordsworthian could wish. How admirably, for instance, does Homer describe the advance of a foam-crested wave, or the rush of a lion, the swoop of an eagle, or the trail of a serpent!
The Greeks were as much gladdened by the sight of flowers as moderns. Did they not use them continually on all festive occasions, public and private? But minuteness of detail was out of the question in poetry. The poet was not to play the painter or the naturalist. And it had not yet become the fashion to profess a mysterious inexpressible joy in the observation of natural scenery. Nor had men as yet retired from human society in disgust, or in search of freedom from sin, and betaken themselves to the love of pure inanimate objects instead of the love of sin-stained man. It had not yet become unlawful, as it did with the Arabs afterwards, to represent the human form in sculpture. Human nature was not looked on as so contemptible, that it would be appropriate to represent human bodies writhing under gargoyles, as in Gothic churches, or beneath pillars, as in Stirling Palace. The human form was then considered diviner than the forms of lions or flowers.
In bold personification of natural objects, the Greeks could not be easily surpassed. In reality, it was not personification with them,—it was simply the result of the ideas they had formed regarding causation. If a river flowed down, fringed with flowery banks, they imagined there must be some cause for this, and so they summoned up before their fancy a beautiful river-god crowned with a garland. Even in the more common process of making nature pour back on us the sentiments we unconsciously lend her, the Greeks were very far from deficient. The passage in which Alcman describes the hills, and all the tribes of living things as asleep, and the celebrated fragment of Simonides on Danae, where she says, "Let the deep sleep, let immeasurable evil sleep," are only two out of very many instances that might be quoted.
Perhaps the most marked instance of the poetic instinct of the Greeks, is their avoiding descriptions of personal beauty. Though they were permeated by the idea, and thrillingly sensitive to it, it is easier to tell what a Scotch poet regards as elements of beauty than what a Greek did. A beautiful person with the Greek is a beautiful person; and that is all he says about the matter. This is not true of the Anacreontics, or of the Latin poets. Now, in Scotland, again, there is little feeling of beauty of any kind. A Scottish boy wantonly mars a beautiful object for mere fun. There is not a monument set up, not a fine building or ornament, but will soon have a chip struck off it, if a Scotch boy can get near it. And the Scotsman, as a general matter, sees beauty nowhere except in a "bonnie lassie." Even then, when he comes to define what he thinks beautiful features, he is at fault, and there are songs in praise of the narrow waist, and other enormities—
"She 's backet like a peacock; She 's breasted like a swan; She 's jimp about the middle, Her waist you weel may span— Her waist you weel may span; And she has a rolling e'e, And for bonnie Annie Laurie I 'd lay down my head and die."
It is needless to say that we are very far from having exhausted our subject. Few contrasts could be greater than that which exists between Greek and Scotch songs, and perhaps mainly for this reason, that Scotland has felt so very little of the influence of Greek literature. German poetry had its origin in a revived study of the great Greek classics; and such a study is the very thing required to give breadth to our character, and to supplement its most striking deficiencies.
 Later writers attributed to Anacreon immoralities in Paiderastia of which they themselves were guilty, but of which there is not the slightest trace in him, or indeed in any of the early bards. Welcker (Sappho von einem herrschenden Vorurtheile befreit) has successfully defended the character of Sappho from the accusations of a later age, and it would be easy to do the same both for Alcaeus and Anacreon.
 Schiller's Poems and Ballads, by Bulwer, vol. ii., p. 122. The whole song should be read. Bulwer calls it a "Hymn to Joy," Schiller himself, simply, "To Joy."
 There is a curious instance of this in the song, "The Blithesome Bridal."—Chambers's "Scottish Songs," p. 71.
 Sibbald's "Chronicle of Scottish Poetry," vol. iii., p. 193.
 Campbell has translated this fragment, but he has not retained the simplicity of the original.
ALLAN CUNNINGHAM, 1 She 's gane to dwall in heaven, 9 The lovely lass of Preston mill, 10 Gane were but the winter cauld, 12 It's hame, and it's hame, 13 The lovely lass of Inverness, 14 A wet sheet and a flowing sea, 15 The bonnie bark, 16 Thou hast sworn by thy God, my Jeanie, 17 Young Eliza, 19 Lovely woman, 20
EBENEZER PICKEN, 22 Peggie wi' the glancin' e'e, 24 Woo me again, 25
STUART LEWIS, 27 Lanark mills, 30 O'er the muir, 31
DAVID DRUMMOND, 34 The bonnie lass o' Levenside, 36
JAMES AFFLECK, 38 How blest were the days, 39
JAMES STIRRAT, 40 Henry, 41 Mary, 42
JOHN GRIEVE, 43 Culloden; or, Lochiel's Farewell, 46 Lovely Mary, 48 Her blue rollin' e'e, 48
CHARLES GRAY, 50 Maggie Lauder, 52 Charlie is my darling, 53 The black-e'ed lassie, 54 Grim winter was howlin', 55
JOHN FINLAY, 57 O! come with me, 59 'Tis not the rose upon the cheek, 60 I heard the evening linnet's voice, 61 Oh! dear were the joys, 62
WILLIAM NICHOLSON, 63 The braes of Galloway, 65 The hills of the Highlands, 66 The banks of Tarf, 67 O! will ye go to yon burn-side? 68
ALEXANDER RODGER, 71 Sweet Bet of Aberdeen, 73 Behave yoursel' before folk, 74 Lovely maiden, 76 The peasant's fireside, 78 Ah, no! I cannot say "Farewell," 79
JOHN WILSON, 81 Mary Gray's song, 86 The three seasons of love, 88 Prayer to Sleep, 90
DAVID WEBSTER, 91 Tak it, man; tak it, 92 Oh, sweet were the hours, 94 Pate Birnie, 95
WILLIAM PARK, 97 The patriot's song, 99
THOMAS PRINGLE, 102 Farewell to bonnie Teviotdale, 106 The exile's lament, 107 Love and solitude, 108 Come awa', come awa', 109 Dearest love, believe me, 110
WILLIAM KNOX, 112 The dear Land o' Cakes, 114 The lament, 116 To Mary, 116
WILLIAM THOM, 118 Jeanie's grave, 121 They speak o' wiles, 122 The mitherless bairn, 123 The lass o' Kintore, 124 My hameless ha', 125
WILLIAM GLEN, 126 Waes me for Prince Charlie! 128 Mary of sweet Aberfoyle, 129 The battle-song, 131 The maid of Oronsey, 134 Jess M'Lean, 136 How eerily, how drearily, 137 The battle of Vittoria, 139 Blink over the burn, sweet Betty, 140 Fareweel to Aberfoyle, 141
DAVID VEDDER, 143 Jeanie's welcome hame, 146 I neither got promise of siller, 147 There is a pang for every heart, 148 The first of May, 149 Song of the Scottish exile, 150 The tempest is raging, 151 The temple of nature, 152
JOHN M'DIARMID, 155 Nithside, 158 Evening, 159
PETER BUCHAN, 162 Thou gloomy Feberwar, 164
WILLIAM FINLAY, 166 The breaking heart, 167 The auld emigrant's fareweel to Scotland, 167 O'er mountain and valley, 169
JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART, 171 Broadswords of Scotland, 177 Captain Paton's lament, 178 Canadian boat-song, 183
THOMAS MATHERS, 184 Early love, 185
JAMES BROWN, 186 My Peggy's far away, 187 Love brought me a bough, 188 How 's a' wi' ye, 189 Oh! sair I feel the witching power, 192
DANIEL WEIR, 194 See the moon, 196 Love is timid, 196 Raven's stream, 197 Oh! our childhood's once delightful hours, 198 Could we but look beyond our sphere, 199 In the morning of life, 200 On the death of a promising child, 201 The dying hour, 202 The midnight wind, 203
ROBERT DAVIDSON, 206 Farewell to Caledonia, 207 On visiting the scenes of early days, 208 To wander lang in foreign lands, 210
PETER ROGER, 212 Lovely Jean, 214
JOHN MALCOLM, 215 The music of the night, 217 The sea, 218
ERSKINE CONOLLY, 220 Mary Macneil, 221 There 's a thrill of emotion, 222
GEORGE MENZIES, 223 The braes of Auchinblae, 224 Fare thee weel, 225
JOHN SIM, 226 Nae mair we 'll meet, 227 Bonnie Peggy, 227 Now, Mary, now the struggle 's o'er, 229
WILLIAM MOTHERWELL, 230 Jeanie Morrison, 233 Wearie's Well, 236 Wae be to the orders, 238 The midnight wind, 239 He is gone! he is gone! 240
DAVID MACBETH MOIR, 242 Casa Wappy, 245 Farewell, our fathers' land, 249 Heigh ho, 250
ROBERT FRASER, 252 Oh, I lo'ed my lassie weel, 253
JAMES HISLOP, 254 The Cameronian's dream, 257 How sweet the dewy bell is spread, 259
ROBERT GILFILLAN, 261 Manor braes, 262 Fare thee well, 263 The first rose of summer, 264 The exile's song, 264 The happy days o' youth, 266 'Tis sair to dream, 267
METRICAL TRANSLATIONS FROM THE MODERN GAELIC MINSTRELSY.
WILLIAM ROSS, 271 The Highland May, 272 The Celt and the stranger, 274 Cormac's cure, 274 The last lay of love, 276
LACHLAN MACVURICH, 279 The exile of Cluny, 280
JAMES M'LAGGAN, 282 Song of the royal Highland regiment, 284
* * * * *
MODERN SCOTTISH MINSTREL.
Allan Cunningham was born at Blackwood, in Nithside, Dumfriesshire, on the 7th December 1784. Of his ancestry, some account has been given in the memoir of his elder brother Thomas. He was the fourth son of his parents, and from both of them inherited shrewdness and strong talent. Receiving an ordinary elementary education at a school, taught by an enthusiastic Cameronian, he was apprenticed in his eleventh year to his eldest brother James as a stone-mason. His hours of leisure were applied to mental improvement; he read diligently the considerable collection of books possessed by his father, and listened to the numerous legendary tales which his mother took delight in narrating at the family hearth. A native love for verse-making, which he possessed in common with his brother Thomas, was fostered and strengthened by his being early brought into personal contact with the poet Burns. In 1790, his father removed to Dalswinton, in the capacity of land-steward to Mr Miller, the proprietor, and Burns' farm of Ellisland lay on the opposite side of the Nith. The two families in consequence met very frequently; and Allan, though a mere boy, was sufficiently sagacious to appreciate the merits of the great bard. Though, at the period of Burns' death, in 1796, he was only twelve years old, the appearance and habits of the poet had left an indelible impression on his mind.
In his fifteenth year, Allan had the misfortune to lose his father, who had sunk to the grave under the pressure of poverty and misfortune; he thus became necessitated to assist in the general support of the family. At the age of eighteen he obtained the acquaintance of the Ettrick Shepherd; Hogg was then tending the flocks of Mr Harkness of Mitchelslack, in Nithsdale, and Cunningham, who had read some of his stray ballads, formed a high estimate of his genius. Along with his elder brother James, he paid a visit to the Shepherd one autumn afternoon on the great hill of Queensberry; and the circumstances of the meeting, Hogg has been at pains minutely to record. James Cunningham came forward and frankly addressed the Shepherd, asking if his name was Hogg, and at the same time supplying his own; he then introduced his brother Allan, who diffidently lagged behind, and proceeded to assure the Shepherd that he had brought to see him "the greatest admirer he had on earth, and himself a young aspiring poet of some promise." Hogg warmly saluted his brother bard, and, taking both the strangers to his booth on the hill-side, the three spent the afternoon happily together, rejoicing over the viands of a small bag of provisions, and a bottle of milk, and another of whisky. Hogg often afterwards visited the Cunninghams at Dalswinton, and was forcibly struck with Allan's luxuriant though unpruned fancy. He had already written some ingenious imitations of Ossian, and of the elder Scottish bards.
On the publication of the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," in 1805, Cunningham contrived to save twenty-four shillings of his wages to purchase it, and forthwith committed the poem to memory. On perusing the poem of "Marmion," his enthusiasm was boundless; he undertook a journey to Edinburgh that he might look upon the person of the illustrious author. In a manner sufficiently singular, his wish was realised. Passing and repassing in front of Scott's house in North Castle Street, he was noticed by a lady from the window of the adjoining house, who addressed him by name, and caused her servant to admit him. The lady was a person of some consideration from his native district, who had fixed her residence in the capital. He had just explained to her the object of his Edinburgh visit, when Scott made his appearance in the street. Passing his own door, he knocked at that of the house from the window of which his young admirer was anxiously gazing on his stalwart figure. As the lady of the house had not made Scott's acquaintance, she gently laid hold on Allan's arm, inducing him to be silent, to notice the result of the proceeding. Scott, in a reverie of thought, had passed his own door; observing a number of children's bonnets in the lobby, he suddenly perceived his mistake, and, apologising to the servant, hastily withdrew.
Cunningham's elder brother Thomas, and his friend Hogg, were already contributors to the Scots' Magazine. Allan made offer of some poetical pieces to that periodical which were accepted. He first appears in the magazine in 1807, under the signature of Hidallan. In 1809, Mr Cromek, the London engraver, visited Dumfries, in the course of collecting materials for his "Reliques of Robert Burns;" he was directed to Allan Cunningham, as one who, having known Burns personally, and being himself a poet, was likely to be useful in his researches. On forming his acquaintance, Cromek at once perceived his important acquisition with respect to his immediate object, but expressed a desire first to examine some of his own compositions. Allan acceded to the request, but received only a moderate share of praise from the pedantic antiquary. Cromek urged him to collect the elder minstrelsy of Nithsdale and Galloway as an exercise more profitable than the composition of verses. On returning to London, Cromek received from his young friend packets of "old songs," which called forth his warmest encomiums. He entreated him to come to London to push his fortune,—an invitation which was readily accepted. For some time Cunningham was an inmate of Cromek's house, when he was entrusted with passing through the press the materials which he had transmitted, with others collected from different sources; and which, formed into a volume, under the title of "Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song," were published in 1810 by Messrs Cadell and Davies. The work excited no inconsiderable attention, though most of the readers perceived, what Cromek had not even suspected, that the greater part of the ballads were of modern origin. Cromek did not survive to be made cognizant of the amusing imposition which had been practised on his credulity.
Fortune did not smile on Cunningham's first entrance into business in London. He was compelled to resume his former occupation as a mason, and is said to have laid pavement in Newgate Street. From this humble position he rose to a situation in the studio of Bubb, the sculptor; and through the counsel of Eugenius Roche, the former editor of the "Literary Recreations," and then the conductor of The Day newspaper, he was induced to lay aside the trowel and undertake the duties of reporter to that journal. The Day soon falling into the hands of other proprietors, Cunningham felt his situation uncomfortable, and returned to his original vocation, attaching himself to Francis Chantrey, then a young sculptor just commencing business. Chantrey soon rose, and ultimately attained the summit of professional reputation; Cunningham continued by him as the superintendent of his establishment till the period of his death, long afterwards.
Devoted to business, and not unfrequently occupied in the studio from eight o'clock morning till six o'clock evening, Cunningham perseveringly followed the career of a poet and man of letters. In 1813, he published a volume of lyrics, entitled "Songs, chiefly in the Rural Language of Scotland." After an interval of nine years, sedulously improved by an ample course of reading, he produced in 1822 "Sir Marmaduke Maxwell, a Dramatic Poem." In this work, which is much commended by Sir Walter Scott in the preface to the "Fortunes of Nigel," he depicts the manners and traditions he had seen and heard on the banks of the Nith. In 1819, he began to contribute to Blackwood's Magazine, and from 1822 to 1824 wrote largely for the London Magazine. Two collected volumes of his contributions to these periodicals were afterwards published, under the title of "Traditional Tales." In 1825, he gave to the world "The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern, with an Introduction and Notes," in four volumes 8vo. This work abounds in much valuable and curious criticism. "Paul Jones," a romance in three volumes, was the product of 1826; it was eminently successful. A second romance from his pen, "Sir Michael Scott," published in 1828, in three volumes, did not succeed. "The Anniversary," a miscellany which appeared in the winter of that year, under his editorial superintendence, obtained an excellent reception. From 1829 to 1833, he produced for "Murray's Family Library" his most esteemed prose work, "The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects," in six volumes. "The Maid of Elvar," an epic poem in the Spenserian stanza, connected with the chivalrous enterprise displayed in the warfare between Scotland and England, during the reign of Henry VIII., was published in 1832. His admirable edition of the works of Robert Burns appeared in 1834, and 5000 copies were speedily sold. In 1836, he published "Lord Roldan," a romance. From 1830 to 1834, he was a constant writer in The Athenaeum, to which, among many interesting articles, he contributed his sentiments regarding the literary characters of the times, in a series of papers entitled "Literature of the Last Fifty Years." He wrote a series of prose descriptions for "Major's Cabinet Gallery," a "History of the Rise and Progress of the Fine Arts," for the "Popular Encyclopaedia;" an introduction, and a few additional lives, for "Pilkington's Painters," and a life of Thomson for Tilt's illustrated edition of "The Seasons." He contemplated a great work, to be entitled "Lives of the British Poets," and this design, which he did not live to accomplish, is likely to be realised by his son, Mr Peter Cunningham. His last publication was the "Life of Sir David Wilkie," which he completed just two days before his death. He was suddenly seized with an apoplectic attack, and died after a brief illness on the 29th October 1842. His remains were interred in Kensal-green Cemetery. He had married, in July 1811, Miss Jane Walker of Preston Mill, near Dumfries, who still survives. Of a family of four sons and one daughter, three of the sons held military appointments in India, and the fourth, who fills a post in Somerset House, is well known for his contributions to literature.
Allan Cunningham ranks next to Hogg as a writer of Scottish song. He sung of the influences of beauty, and of the hills and vales of his own dear Scotland. His songs abound in warmth of expression, simplicity of sentiment, and luxuriousness of fancy. Of his skill as a Scottish poet, Hogg has thus testified his appreciation in the "Queen's Wake":—
"Of the old elm his harp was made, That bent o'er Cluden's loneliest shade; No gilded sculpture round her flamed, For his own hand that harp had framed, In stolen hours, when, labour done, He stray'd to view the parting sun.
* * * * *
That harp could make the matron stare, Bristle the peasant's hoary hair, Make patriot breasts with ardour glow, And warrior pant to meet the foe; And long by Nith the maidens young Shall chant the strains their minstrel sung. At ewe-bught, or at evening fold, When resting on the daisied wold, Combing their locks of waving gold, Oft the fair group, enrapt, shall name Their lost, their darling Cunninghame; His was a song beloved in youth, A tale of weir, a tale of truth."
As a prose writer, Cunningham was believed by Southey to have the best style ever attained by any one born north of the Tweed, Hume only excepted. His moral qualities were well appreciated by Sir Walter Scott, who commonly spoke of him as "Honest Allan." His person was broad and powerful, and his countenance wore a fine intelligence.
 See vol. ii., p. 223.
 Besides Thomas and Allan, the other members of the family afforded evidence of talent. James, the eldest son, with a limited education, was intimately familiar with general literature, and occasionally contributed to the periodicals. He began his career as a stone-mason, and by his ability and perseverance rose to the respectable position of a master builder. He died at Dalswinton, near Dumfries, on the 27th July 1832. John, the third brother, who died in early life, evinced a turn for mechanism, and wrote respectable verses. Peter, the fifth son, studied medicine, and became a surgeon in the navy; he still survives, resident at Greenwich, and is known as the author of two respectable works, bearing the titles, "Two Years in New South Wales," and "Hints to Australian Emigrants." Of the five daughters, one of whom only survives, all gave evidence of intellectual ability.
 Writing to Mr Gabriel Neil of Glasgow, in January 1834, along with a copy of the first volume, Cunningham remarks, "I hope you will like the Life; a third of it is new, so are many of the anecdotes, and I am willing to stand or fall as an author by it." Mr Neil, it may be added, contributed to Cunningham a great deal of original information as to the life of the poet, and also some of his unpublished poems.
SHE 'S GANE TO DWALL IN HEAVEN.
She 's gane to dwall in heaven, my lassie, She 's gane to dwall in heaven: "Ye 're owre pure," quo' the voice o' God, "For dwalling out o' heaven!"
Oh, what 'll she do in heaven, my lassie? Oh, what 'll she do in heaven? She 'll mix her ain thoughts wi' angels' sangs, And make them mair meet for heaven.
She was beloved by a', my lassie, She was beloved by a'; But an angel fell in love wi' her, An' took her frae us a'.
Lowly there thou lies, my lassie, Lowly there thou lies; A bonnier form ne'er went to the yird, Nor frae it will arise!
Fu' soon I 'll follow thee, my lassie, Fu' soon I 'll follow thee; Thou left me naught to covet ahin', But took gudeness sel' wi' thee.
I look'd on thy death-cold face, my lassie, I look'd on thy death-cold face; Thou seem'd a lily new cut i' the bud, An' fading in its place.
I look'd on thy death-shut eye, my lassie, I look'd on thy death-shut eye; An' a lovelier light in the brow of Heaven Fell Time shall ne'er destroy.
Thy lips were ruddy and calm, my lassie, Thy lips were ruddy and calm; But gane was the holy breath o' Heaven, That sang the evening psalm.
There 's naught but dust now mine, lassie, There 's naught but dust now mine; My soul 's wi' thee i' the cauld grave, An' why should I stay behin'?
THE LOVELY LASS OF PRESTON MILL.
The lark had left the evening cloud, The dew was soft, the wind was lowne, The gentle breath amang the flowers Scarce stirr'd the thistle's tap o' down; The dappled swallow left the pool, The stars were blinking owre the hill, As I met amang the hawthorns green The lovely lass of Preston Mill.
Her naked feet, amang the grass, Seem'd like twa dew-gemm'd lilies fair; Her brow shone comely 'mang her locks, Dark curling owre her shoulders bare; Her cheeks were rich wi' bloomy youth; Her lips had words and wit at will, And heaven seem'd looking through her een, The lovely lass of Preston Mill.
Quo' I, "Sweet lass, will ye gang wi' me, Where blackcocks crow, and plovers cry? Six hills are woolly wi' my sheep, Six vales are lowing wi' my kye: I have look'd lang for a weel-favour'd lass, By Nithsdale's holmes an' mony a hill;" She hung her head like a dew-bent rose, The lovely lass of Preston Mill.
Quo' I, "Sweet maiden, look nae down, But gie 's a kiss, and gang wi' me:" A lovelier face, oh! never look'd up, And the tears were drapping frae her e'e: "I hae a lad, wha 's far awa', That weel could win a woman's will; My heart 's already fu' o' love," Quo' the lovely lass of Preston Mill.
"Now wha is he wha could leave sic a lass, To seek for love in a far countrie?" Her tears drapp'd down like simmer dew: I fain wad kiss'd them frae her e'e. I took but ane o' her comely cheek; "For pity's sake, kind sir, be still! My heart is fu' o' ither love," Quo' the lovely lass of Preston Mill.
She stretch'd to heaven her twa white hands, And lifted up her watery e'e— "Sae lang 's my heart kens aught o' God, Or light is gladsome to my e'e; While woods grow green, and burns rin clear, Till my last drap o' blood be still, My heart shall haud nae other love," Quo' the lovely lass of Preston Mill.
There 's comely maids on Dee's wild banks, And Nith's romantic vale is fu'; By lanely Cluden's hermit stream Dwells mony a gentle dame, I trow. Oh, they are lights of a gladsome kind, As ever shone on vale or hill; But there 's a light puts them a' out, The lovely lass of Preston Mill.
GANE WERE BUT THE WINTER CAULD.
Gane were but the winter cauld, And gane were but the snaw, I could sleep in the wild woods, Where primroses blaw.
Cauld 's the snaw at my head, And cauld at my feet, And the finger o' death 's at my een, Closing them to sleep.
Let nane tell my father, Or my mither dear: I 'll meet them baith in heaven, At the spring o' the year.
IT 'S HAME, AND IT 'S HAME.
It 's hame, and it 's hame, hame fain wad I be, An' it 's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie! When the flower is i' the bud, and the leaf is on the tree, The lark shall sing me hame in my ain countrie; It 's hame, and it 's hame, hame fain wad I be, An' it 's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie!
The green leaf o' loyalty 's beginning for to fa', The bonnie white rose it is withering an' a': But I 'll water 't wi' the blude of usurping tyrannie, An' green it will grow in my ain countrie. It 's hame, and it 's hame, hame fain wad I be, An' it 's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie!
There 's naught now frae ruin my country to save, But the keys o' kind Heaven to open the grave, That a' the noble martyrs who died for loyaltie, May rise again and fight for their ain countrie. It 's hame, and it 's hame, hame fain wad I be, And it 's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie!
The great now are gane, a' who ventured to save, The new grass is springing on the tap o' their grave; But the sun through the mirk blinks blithe in my e'e: "I 'll shine on ye yet in your ain countrie." It 's hame, an' it 's hame, hame fain wad I be, An' it 's hame, hame, hame, to my ain countrie!
THE LOVELY LASS OF INVERNESS.
There lived a lass in Inverness, She was the pride of a' the town; Blithe as the lark on gowan-tap, When frae the nest but newly flown. At kirk she won the auld folks' love, At dance she was the young men's een; She was the blithest aye o' the blithe, At wooster-trystes or Hallowe'en.
As I came in by Inverness, The simmer-sun was sinking down; Oh, there I saw the weel-faur'd lass, And she was greeting through the town: The gray-hair'd men were a' i' the streets, And auld dames crying, (sad to see!) "The flower o' the lads of Inverness Lie dead upon Culloden-lee!"
She tore her haffet-links of gowd, And dighted aye her comely e'e; "My father's head 's on Carlisle wall, At Preston sleep my brethren three! I thought my heart could haud nae mair, Mae tears could ever blin' my e'e; But the fa' o' ane has burst my heart, A dearer ane there couldna be!
"He trysted me o' love yestreen, Of love-tokens he gave me three; But he 's faulded i' the arms o' weir, Oh, ne'er again to think o' me! The forest flowers shall be my bed, My food shall be the wild berrie, The fa' o' the leaf shall co'er me cauld, And wauken'd again I winna be."
Oh weep, oh weep, ye Scottish dames, Weep till ye blin' a mither's e'e; Nae reeking ha' in fifty miles, But naked corses, sad to see. Oh spring is blithesome to the year, Trees sprout, flowers spring, and birds sing hie; But oh! what spring can raise them up, That lie on dread Culloden-lee?
The hand o' God hung heavy here, And lightly touch'd foul tyrannie; It struck the righteous to the ground, And lifted the destroyer hie. "But there 's a day," quo' my God in prayer, "When righteousness shall bear the gree; I 'll rake the wicked low i' the dust, And wauken, in bliss, the gude man's e'e!"
A WET SHEET AND A FLOWING SEA.
A wet sheet and a flowing sea, A wind that follows fast, And fills the white and rustling sail, And bends the gallant mast; And bends the gallant mast, my boys, While, like the eagle free, Away the good ship flies, and leaves Old England on the lee.
Oh for a soft and gentle wind! I hear a fair one cry; But give to me the snoring breeze, And white waves heaving high; And white waves heaving high, my boys, The good ship tight and free— The world of waters is our home, And merry men are we.
There 's tempest in yon horned moon, And lightning in yon cloud; And hark the music, mariners! The wind is piping loud; The wind is piping loud, my boys, The lightning flashing free— While the hollow oak our palace is, Our heritage the sea.
THE BONNIE BARK.
O come, my bonnie bark! O'er the waves let us go, With thy neck like the swan, And thy wings like the snow. Spread thy plumes to the wind, For a gentle one soon Must welcome us home, Ere the wane of the moon.
The proud oak that built thee Was nursed in the dew, Where my gentle one dwells, And stately it grew. I hew'd its beauty down; Now it swims on the sea, And wafts spice and perfume, My fair one, to thee.
Oh, sweet, sweet 's her voice, As a low warbled tune; And sweet, sweet her lips, Like the rose-bud of June. She looks to sea, and sighs, As the foamy wave flows, And treads on men's strength, As in glory she goes.
Oh haste, my bonnie bark, O'er the waves let us bound, As the deer from the horn, Or the hare from the hound. Pluck down thy white plumes, Sink thy keel in the sand, Whene'er ye see my love, And the wave of her hand.
THOU HAST SWORN BY THY GOD, MY JEANIE.
Thou hast sworn by thy God, my Jeanie, By that pretty white hand o' thine, And by a' the lowing stars in heaven, That thou would aye be mine; And I hae sworn by my God, my Jeanie, And by that kind heart o' thine, By a' the stars sown thick owre heaven, That thou would aye be mine.
Then foul fa' the hands that loose sic bands, And the heart that would part sic love; But there 's nae hand can loose my band But the finger o' God above. Though the wee, wee cot maun be my bield, And my claithing e'er sae mean, I wad lap me up rich i' the faulds o' luve, Heaven's armfu' o' my Jean.
Her white arm wad be a pillow for me, Fu' safter than the down; And luve wad winnow owre us his kind, kind wings, And sweetly I 'll sleep, an' soun'. Come here to me, thou lass o' my love, Come here and kneel wi' me; The morn is fu' o' the presence o' God, And I canna pray without thee.
The morn-wind is sweet 'mang the beds o' new flowers, The wee birds sing kindlie an' hie; Our gudeman leans owre his kale-yard dyke, And a blithe auld bodie is he. The Beuk maun be ta'en when the carle comes hame, Wi' the holie psalmodie, And thou maun speak o' me to thy God, And I will speak o' thee.
Come, maid, upon yon mountain brow, This day of rest I 'll give to you, And clasp thy waist with many a vow, My loved, my young Eliza.
'Tis not that cheek, that bosom bare, That high arch'd eye, that long brown hair, That fair form'd foot, thine angel air,— But 'tis thy mind, Eliza.
Think not to charm me with thine eye, Those smiling lips, that heaving sigh, My heart 's charm'd with a nobler tie,— It is thy mind, Eliza.
This heart, which every love could warm, Which every pretty face could charm, No more will beat the sweet alarm, But to my young Eliza.
The peasant lad unyokes his car, The star of even shines bright and far, And lights me to the flood-torn scaur, To meet my young Eliza.
There is the smile to please, where truth And soft persuasion fills her mouth, While warm with all the fire of youth, She clasps me, young Eliza.
My heart's blood warms in stronger flow, My cheeks are tinged with redder glow, When sober matron, Evening slow, Bids me to meet Eliza.
The bard can kindle his soul to flame, The patriot hunts a deathless name; Give me the peasant's humble fame, And give me young Eliza.
The warlock glen has tint its gloom, The fairie burn the witching broom, All wear a lovelier, sweeter bloom, For there I meet Eliza.
Then come that mind, so finely form'd, By native truth and virtue warm'd, With love's soft simplest lay is charm'd, Come to my breast, Eliza.
 This song, which is a juvenile production of the poet, has been communicated by his niece, Miss Pagan of Dumfries. The heroine of the song, Eliza Neilson, eldest daughter of the Reverend Mr Neilson of Kirkbean, still lives, and is resident in Dumfries.
I 've rock'd me on the giddy mast, Through seas tempestuous foamin', I 've braved the toil of mountain storm, From dawning to the gloamin'; Round the green bosom'd earth, sea-swept, In search of pleasure roamin', And found the world a wilderness, Without thee, lovely woman!
The farmer reaps his golden fields, The merchant sweeps the ocean; The soldier's steed, gore-fetlock'd, snorts Through war-field's wild commotion; All combat in eternal toil, Mirk midnight, day, and gloamin', To pleasure Heaven's divinest gift, Thee, lovely, conquering woman!
The savage in the desert dark, The monster's den exploring; The sceptre-swaying prince, who rules The nations round adoring; Nay, even the laurell'd-templed bard Dew-footed at the gloamin', Melodious wooes the world's ear, To please thee, lovely woman!
 This song appeared in the London Magazine, new edit., No. xxx. It was addressed to Mrs Pagan of Curriestanes, the poet's sister, who, it may be remarked, possessed a large share of the family talent. She died on the 5th February 1854, and her remains rest in the Pagan family's burying-ground, in Terregles' churchyard.
Ebenezer Picken was the only son of a silk-weaver in Paisley, who bore the same Christian name. He was born at the Well-meadow of that town, about the year 1769. Intending to follow the profession of a clergyman, he proceeded to the University of Glasgow, which he attended during five or six sessions. With talents of a high order, he permitted an enthusiastic attachment to verse-making to interfere with his severer studies and retard his progress in learning. Contrary to the counsel of his father and other friends, he published, in 1788, while only in his nineteenth year, a thin octavo volume of poems; and afterwards gave to the gay intercourse of lovers of the muse, many precious hours which ought to have been applied to mental improvement. Early in 1791 he became teacher of a school at Falkirk; and on the 14th of April of the same year appeared at the Pantheon, Edinburgh, where he delivered an oration in blank verse on the comparative merits of Ramsay and Fergusson, assigning the pre-eminence to the former poet. In this debate his fellow-townsman and friend, Alexander Wilson, the future ornithologist, advocated in verse the merits of Fergusson; and the productions of both the youthful adventurers were printed in a pamphlet entitled the "Laurel Disputed." In occupying the position of schoolmaster at Falkirk, Picken proposed to raise funds to aid him in the prosecution of his theological studies; but the circumstance of his having formed a matrimonial union with a young lady, a daughter of Mr Beveridge of the Burgher congregation in Falkirk, by involving him in the expenses of a family, proved fatal to his clerical aspirations. He accepted the situation of teacher of an endowed school at Carron, where he remained till 1796, when he removed to Edinburgh. In the capital he found employment as manager of a mercantile establishment, and afterwards on his own account commenced business as a draper. Unsuccessful in this branch of business, he subsequently sought a livelihood as a music-seller and a teacher of languages. In 1813, with the view of bettering his circumstances, he published, by subscription, two duodecimo volumes of "Poems and Songs," in which are included the pieces contained in his first published volume. His death took place in 1816.
Picken is remembered as a person of gentlemanly appearance, endeavouring to confront the pressure of unmitigated poverty. His dispositions were eminently social, and his love of poetry amounted to a passion. He is commemorated in the poetical works of his early friend, Wilson, who has addressed to him a lengthened poetical epistle. In 1818, a dictionary of Scottish words, which he had occupied some years in preparing, was published at Edinburgh by "James Sawers, Calton Street," and this publication was found of essential service by Dr Jamieson in the preparation of his "Supplement" to his "Dictionary of the Scottish Language." Among Picken's poetical compositions are a few pieces bearing the impress of genius.
 Andrew Picken, the only son of Ebenezer, a person of somewhat unprepossessing appearance, contrived to derive a tolerable livelihood by following the conjunct occupation of an itinerant player and portrait-painter. He was the writer of some good poetry, and about 1827 published a respectable volume of verses, entitled, "The Bedouin, and other Poems." He soon afterwards proceeded to America.
PEGGIE WI' THE GLANCIN' E'E.
Walkin' out ae mornin' early, Ken ye wha I chanced to see? But my lassie, gay and frisky, Peggie wi' the glancin' e'e. Phoebus, left the lap o' Thetis, Fast was lickin' up the dew, Whan, ayont a risin' hilloc, First my Peggie came in view.
Hark ye, I gaed up to meet her; But whane'er my face she saw, Up her plaidin' coat she kiltit, And in daffin' scour'd awa'. Weel kent I that though my Peggie Ran sae fast out owre the mead, She was wantin' me to follow— Yes, ye swains, an' sae I did.
At yon burnie I o'ertook her, Whare the shinin' pebbles lie; Whare the flowers, that fringe the border, Soup the stream, that wimples by. While wi' her I sat reclinin', Frae her lips I staw a kiss; While she blush'd, I took anither,— Shepherds, was there ill in this?
Could a lass, sae sweet an' comely, Ever bless a lover's arms? Could the bonnie wife o' Vulcan Ever boast o' hauf the charms? While the zephyrs fan the meadows, While the flow'rets crown the lea, While they paint the gowden simmer, Wha sae blest as her an' me?
WOO ME AGAIN.
TUNE—"On a Primrosy Bank."
Whan Jamie first woo'd me, he was but a youth: Frae his lips flow'd the strains o' persuasion and truth; His suit I rejected wi' pride an' disdain, But, oh! wad he offer to woo me again!
He aft wad hae tauld me his love was sincere, And e'en wad hae ventured to ca' me his dear: My heart to his tale was as hard as a stane; But, oh! wad he offer to woo me again!
He said that he hoped I would yield an' be kind, But I counted his proffers as light as the wind; I laugh'd at his grief, whan I heard him complain; But, oh! wad he offer to woo me again!
He flatter'd my locks, that war black as a slae, And praised my fine shape, frae the tap to the tae; I flate, an' desired he wad let me alane; But, oh! wad he offer to woo me again!
Repulsed, he forsook me, an' left me to grieve, An' mourn the sad hour that my swain took his leave; Now, since I despised, an' was deaf to his maen, I fear he 'll ne'er offer to woo me again!
Oh! wad he but now to his Jean be inclined, My heart in a moment wad yield to his mind; But I fear wi' some ither my laddie is taen, An' sae he 'll ne'er offer to woo me again.
Ye bonnie young lasses, be warn'd by my fate, Despise not the heart you may value too late; Improve the sweet sunshine that now gilds the plain; With you it may never be sunshine again.
The simmer o' life, ah! it soon flits awa', An' the bloom on your cheek will soon dow in the snaw; Oh! think, ere you treat a fond youth wi' disdain, That, in age, the sweet flower never blossoms again.
Stuart Lewis, the mendicant bard, was the eldest son of an innkeeper at Ecclefechan in Annandale, where he was born about the year 1756. A zealous Jacobite, his father gave him the name of Stuart, in honour of Prince Charles Edward. At the parish school, taught by one Irving, an ingenious and learned person of eccentric habits, he received a respectable ground-work of education; but the early deprivation of his father, who died bankrupt, compelled him to relinquish the pursuit of learning. At the age of fifteen, with the view of aiding in the support of his widowed mother, with her destitute family of other five children, he accepted manual employment from a relation in the vicinity of Chester. Subsequently, along with a partner, he established himself as a merchant-tailor in the town of Chester, where he remained some years, when his partner absconded to America with a considerable amount, leaving him to meet the demands of the firm. Surrendering his effects to his creditors, he returned to his native place, almost penniless, and suffering mental depression from his misfortunes, which he recklessly sought to remove by the delusive remedy of the bottle. The habit of intemperance thus produced, became his scourge through life. At Ecclefechan he commenced business as a tailor, and married a young country girl, for whom he had formed a devoted attachment. He established a village library, and debating club, became a diligent reader, a leader in every literary movement in the district, and a writer of poetry of some merit. A poem on the melancholy story of "Fair Helen of Kirkconnel," which he composed at this period, obtained a somewhat extensive popularity. To aid his finances, he became an itinerant seller of cloth,—a mode of life which gave him an opportunity of studying character, and visiting interesting scenery. The pressure of poverty afterwards induced him to enlist, as a recruit, in the Hopetoun Fencibles; and, in this humble position, he contrived to augment his scanty pay by composing acrostics and madrigals for the officers, who rewarded him with small gratuities. On the regiment being disbanded in 1799, he was entrusted by a merchant with the sale of goods, as a pedlar, in the west of England; but this employment ceased on his being robbed, while in a state of inebriety. Still descending in the social scale, he became an umbrella-maker in Manchester, while his wife was employed in some of the manufactories. Some other odd and irregular occupations were severally attempted without success, till at length, about his fiftieth year, he finally settled into the humble condition of a wandering poet. He composed verses on every variety of theme, and readily parted with his compositions for food or whisky. His field of wandering included the entire Lowlands, and he occasionally penetrated into Highland districts. In his wanderings he was accompanied by his wife, who, though a severe sufferer on his account, along with her family of five or six children, continued most devoted in her attachment to him. On her death, which took place in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, early in 1817, he became almost distracted, and never recovered his former composure. He now roamed wildly through the country, seldom remaining more than one night in the same place. He finally returned to Dumfriesshire, his native county; and accidentally falling into the Nith, caught an inflammatory fever, of which he died, in the village of Ruthwell, on the 22d September 1818. Lewis was slender, and of low stature. His countenance was sharp, and his eye intelligent, though frenzied with excitement. He always expressed himself in the language of enthusiasm, despised prudence and common sense, and commended the impulsive and fanciful. He published, in 1816, a small volume, entitled "The African Slave; with other Poems and Songs." Some of his lyrics are not unworthy of a place in the national minstrelsy.
AIR—"Miss Forbes' Farewell to Banff."
Adieu! romantic banks of Clyde, Where oft I 've spent the joyful day; Now, weary wand'ring on thy side, I pour the plaintive, joyless lay. To other lands I 'm doom'd to rove, The thought with grief my bosom fills; Why am I forced to leave my love, And wander far from Lanark Mills?
Can I forget th' ecstatic hours, When ('scaped the village evening din) I met my lass 'midst Braxfield bowers, Or near the falls of Corhouse Linn! While close I clasp'd her to my breast, (Th' idea still with rapture thrills!) I thought myself completely blest, By all the lads of Lanark Mills.
Deceitful, dear, delusive dream, Thou 'rt fled—alas! I know not where, And vanish'd is each blissful gleam, And left behind a load of care. Adieu! dear winding banks of Clyde, A long farewell, ye rising hills; No more I 'll wander on your side, Though still my heart 's at Lanark Mills.
While Tintock stands the pride of hills, While Clyde's dark stream rolls to the sea, So long, my dear-loved Lanark Mills, May Heaven's best blessings smile on thee. A last adieu! my Mary dear, The briny tear my eye distils; While reason's powers continue clear, I 'll think of thee, and Lanark Mills.
O'ER THE MUIR.
Ae morn of May, when fields were gay, Serene and charming was the weather, I chanced to roam some miles frae home, Far o'er yon muir, amang the heather. O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather, How healthsome 'tis to range the muirs, And brush the dew from vernal heather.
I walk'd along, and humm'd a song, My heart was light as ony feather, And soon did pass a lovely lass, Was wading barefoot through the heather. O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather; The bonniest lass that e'er I saw I met ae morn amang the heather.
Her eyes divine, mair bright did shine, Than the most clear unclouded ether; A fairer form did ne'er adorn A brighter scene than blooming heather. O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather; There 's ne'er a lass in Scotia's isle, Can vie with her amang the heather.
I said, "Dear maid, be not afraid; Pray sit you down, let 's talk together; For, oh! my fair, I vow and swear, You 've stole my heart amang the heather." O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather; Ye swains, beware of yonder muir, You 'll lose your hearts amang the heather.
She answer'd me, right modestly, "I go, kind sir, to seek my father, Whose fleecy charge he tends at large, On yon green hills beyond the heather." O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather; Were I a king, thou shou'dst be mine, Dear blooming maid, amang the heather.
Away she flew out of my view, Her home or name I ne'er could gather, But aye sin' syne I sigh and pine For that sweet lass amang the heather. O'er the muir amang the heather, O'er the muir amang the heather, While vital heat glows in my heart, I 'll love the lass amang the heather.
 The more popular words to the same tune and chorus, beginning, "Comin' through the Craigs o' Kyle," are believed, on the authority of Burns, to have been the composition of Jean Glover, a girl of respectable parentage, born at Kilmarnock in 1758, who became attached to a company of strolling players. Lewis is said to have claimed priority for his verses, and the point is not likely ever to be decided. This much may be said in favour of Lewis's claims, that he had long been the writer of respectable lyrics; while Jean Glover, though well skilled as a musician, is not otherwise known to have composed verses. One of the songs is evidently an echo of the other.
David Drummond, author of "The Bonnie Lass o' Levenside," a song formerly of no inconsiderable popularity, was a native of Crieff, Perthshire. Along with his four brothers, he settled in Fifeshire, about the beginning of the century, having obtained the situation of clerk in the Kirkland works, near Leven. In 1812, he proceeded to India, and afterwards attained considerable wealth as the conductor of an academy and boarding establishment at Calcutta. A man of vigorous mind and respectable scholarship, he had early cultivated a taste for literature and poetry, and latterly became an extensive contributor to the public journals and periodical publications of Calcutta. The song with which his name has been chiefly associated, was composed during the period of his employment at the Kirkland works,—the heroine being Miss Wilson, daughter of the proprietor of Pirnie, near Leven, a young lady of great personal attractions, to whom he was devotedly attached. The sequel of his history, in connexion with this lady, forms the subject of a romance, in which he has been made to figure much to the injury of his fame. The correct version of this story, in which Drummond has been represented as faithless to the object of his former affections, we have received from a gentleman to whom the circumstances were intimately known. In consequence of a proposal to become his wife, Miss Wilson sailed for Calcutta in 1816. On her arrival, she was kindly received by her affianced lover, who conducted her to the house of a respectable female friend, till arrangements might be completed for the nuptial ceremony. In the interval, she became desirous of withdrawing from her engagement; and Drummond, observing her coldness, offered to pay the expense of her passage back to Scotland. Meanwhile, she was seized with fever, of which she died. Report erroneously alleged that she had died of a broken heart on account of her lover being unfaithful, and hence the memory of poor Drummond has been most unjustly aspersed. Drummond died, at Calcutta, in 1845, about the age of seventy. He was much respected among a wide circle of friends and admirers. His personal appearance was unprepossessing, almost approaching to deformity,—a circumstance which may explain the ultimate hesitation of Miss Wilson to accept his hand. "The Bonnie Lass o' Levenside" was first printed, with the author's consent, though without acknowledgment, in a small volume of poems, by William Rankin, Leven, published in 1812. The authorship of the song was afterwards claimed by William Glass, an obscure rhymster of the capital.
 Glass was a house-painter in Edinburgh; he ultimately became very dissipated, and died in circumstances of penury about 1840. He published, in 1811, "The Album, a Collection of Poems and Songs," 12mo; in 1814, "Scenes of Gloamin'," 12mo; and in 1816, a third volume, entitled "Songs of Edina." The last is dedicated, by permission, to the Duke of Gordon. In the "Scenes of Gloamin'," Glass has included the "Bonnie Lass o' Levenside," as a song of his own composition.
THE BONNIE LASS O' LEVENSIDE.
AIR—"Up amang the Cliffy Rocks."
How sweet are Leven's silver streams, Around her banks the wild flowers blooming; On every bush the warblers vie, In strains of bosom-soothing joy. But Leven's banks that bloom sae bra, And Leven's streams that glide sae saucy, Sic joy an' beauty couldna shaw, An 't were not for my darling lassie; Her presence fills them a' wi' pride, The bonnie lass o' Levenside.
When sober eve begins her reign, The little birds to cease their singing, The flowers their beauty to renew, Their bosoms bathe in diamond dew; When far behind the Lomonds high, The wheels of day are downwards rowing, And a' the western closing sky Wi' varied tints of glory lowing, 'Tis then my eager steps I guide, To meet the lass o' Levenside.
The solemn sweetness nature spreads, The kindly hour to bliss inviting, Within our happy bosoms move, The softest sigh o' purest love; Reclined upon the velvet grass, Beneath the balmy, birken blossom, What words could a' my joy express, When clasped to her beating bosom; How swells my heart with rapture's tide, When wi' the lass o' Levenside.
She never saw the splendid ball, She never blazed in courtly grandeur, But like her native lily's bloom, She cheerfu' gilds her humble home; The pert reply, the modish air, To soothe the soul were never granted, When modest sense and love are there, The guise o' art may well be wanted; O Fate! gi'e me to be my bride The bonnie lass o' Levenside.
The "Posthumous Poetical Works" of James Affleck, tailor in Biggar, with a memoir of his life by his son, were published at Edinburgh in 1836. Affleck was born in the village of Drummelzier, in Peeblesshire, on the 8th September 1776. His education was scanty; and after some years' occupation as a cowherd, he was apprenticed to a tailor in his native village. He afterwards prosecuted his trade in the parish of Crawfordjohn, and in the town of Ayr. In 1793, he established himself as master tailor in Biggar. Fond of society, he joined the district lodge of freemasons, and became a leading member of that fraternity. He composed verses for the entertainment of his friends, which he was induced to give to the world in two separate publications. He possessed considerable poetical talent, but his compositions are generally marked by the absence of refinement. The song selected for the present work is the most happy effort in his posthumous volume. His death took place at Biggar, on the 8th September 1835.
HOW BLEST WERE THE DAYS!
How blest were the days o' langsyne when a laddie! Alane by a bush wi' my dog and my plaidie; Nae fop was sae happy, though dress'd e'er sae gaudy, Sae sweet were the days o' langsyne when a laddie.
Whiles croonin' my sonnet amang the whin bushes, Whiles whistling wi' glee as I pou'd the green rashes; The whim o' the moment kept me aye frae sorrow, What I wanted at night was in prospect to-morrow.
The nest o' a lintie I fondly explored, And plundering bykes was the game I adored; My pleasures did vary, as I was unsteady, Yet I always found something that pleased when a laddie.
The boy with great pleasure the butterfly chases; When manhood approaches, the maid he embraces; But view him at once baith the husband and daddie, He fondly looks back to the joys o' a laddie.
When childhood was over my prospects were greater, I tried to be happy, but, alas, foolish creature! The sports of my youth were my sweetest employment— Much sweetness in prospect embitters enjoyment.
But now I 'm grown auld, and wi' cares I 'm perplex'd, How numerous the woes are by which I am vex'd! I 'm tentin' the kye wi' my dog, staff, and plaidie; How changed are the days since langsyne when a laddie!
James Stirrat was born in the village of Dalry, Ayrshire, on the 28th March 1781. His father was owner of several houses in the place, and was employed in business as a haberdasher. Young Stirrat was educated at the village school; in his 17th year, he composed verses which afforded some indication of power. Of a delicate constitution, he accepted the easy appointment of village postmaster. He died in March 1843, in his sixty-second year. Stirrat wrote much poetry, but never ventured on a publication. Several of his songs appeared at intervals in the public journals, the "Book of Scottish Song," and the "Contemporaries of Burns." The latter work contains a brief sketch of his life. He left a considerable number of MSS., which are now in the possession of a relative in Ayr. Possessed of a knowledge of music, he excelled in playing many of the national airs on the guitar. His dispositions were social, yet in society he seldom talked; among his associates, he frequently expressed his hope of posthumous fame. He was enthusiastic in his admiration of female beauty, but died unmarried.