Page images

of tune ; so until he rectify that matter, 'he cannot stoop to terrestrial affairs. .

He sends you six of the Rondeau subjects, and if more are wanted, he says you shall have them.


Confound your long stairs !




August, 1793. Your objection, my dear Sir, to the passages in my song of Logan Water, is right in one instance, but it is difficult to mend it: if I can, I will. The other passage you object to, does not appear in the same light to me.

I have tried my hand on Robin Adair, and you will probably think, with little success; but it is such a cursed, cramp, out-of-the-way measure, that I despair of doing any thing better to it.


[merged small][ocr errors]

While larks with little wing, .. Fann'd the pure air,

Tasting the breathing spring,

Forth I did fare;
Gay the sun's goiden ere,
Peep'd o'er the mountains high ;
Such thy morn! did I cry,

Phillis the fair.

In each bird's careless song,

Glad did I share ;
While yon wild flowers among,

Chance led me there;
Sweet to the opening day,
Rosebuds bent the dewy spray;
Such thy bioom! did I say,

Phillis the fair.

Down in a shady walk,

Doves cooing were;
I mark'd the cruel hawk

Caught in a snare;
So kind may fortune be,
Such make his destiny,
He who would injure thee,

Phillis the fair.

So much for namby-pamby. I may, after all, try my hand on it in Scots verse. There I always find myself most at home.

I have just put the last hand to the song I meant for Cauld Kal in Aberdeer. If it suits you to insert it, I shall be pleased, as the heroine is a favourite of mine: if not, I shall also be pleased ; because I


wish, and will be glad, to see you act decidedly on the business.* 'Tis a tribute as a man of taste, and as an editor, which you owe yourself,




August, 1993. . I CONSIDER it one of the most agreeable circumstances attending this publication of mine, that it has procured me so many of your much valued epistles. Pray make my acknowledgments to St Stephen for the tunes : tell him I admit the justness of his complaint on my staircase, conveyed in his laconic postscript to your jeu d'esprit, which I perused more than once, without discovering exactly whether your discussion was music, astronomy, or politics : though a sagacious friend, acquainted with the convivial habits of the poet and the musician, offered me a bet of two to one, you were just drowning care together ; that an empty bowl was the only thing that would deeply affect you, and the only matter you could then study how to remedy !

I shall be glad to see you give Robin Adair a Scottish dress. Peter is furnishing him with an English suit for a change, and you are well matched together. Robin's air is excellent, though he cer. tainly has an out-of-the-way measure as ever poor

* The song herewith sent, is that in p. 24 of this volume.

Parnassian wight' was plagued with. " I wish you would invoke the muse for a sigle elegant stanza to be substituted for the concluding objectionable verses of Down the Burn Davie, so that this most exquisite song may no longer be excluded from good company. .

Mr Allan has made an inimitable drawing from your John Anderson my Jo, which I am to have engraved as a frontispiece to the humorous class of songs ; you will be quite charmed with it I promise you. The old couple are seated by the fireside. Mrs Anderson, in great good humour, is clapping John's shoulders, while he smiles, and looks at her with such glee, as to shew that he fully recollects the pleasant days and nights when they were first acquent. The drawing would do honour to the pencil of Teniers. .

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

August, 1793. That crinkum-crankum tune, Robin Adair, has run so in my head, and I succeeded so ill in my last attempt, that I have ventured in this morning's walk, one essay more. You, my dear Sir, will remember an unfortunate part of our worthy friend Co's story, which happened about three years ago. That struck my fancy, and I endeavoured to do the idea justice as follows: '


Had I a cave on some wild, distant shore,
Where the winds howl to the waves dashing roar :

There would I weep my woes,
There seek my lost repose,
Till grief niy eyes should close,

Ne'er to wake more!
Falsest of womankind, canst thou declare,
All thy fond-plighted vows-fleeting as air !

To thy new lover hie,
Laugh o'er thy perjury;
Then in thy bosom try,
What peace is there!


By the way, I have met with a musical Highlander in Breadalbane's Fencibles, which are quartered here, who assures me that he well remembers his mother's singing Gaelic songs to both Robin Adair and Gramachree. They certainly have more of the Scotch than Irish taste in them.

This man comes from the vicinity of Inverness : so it could not be any intercourse with Ireland that could bring them ;-except, what I shrewdly suspect to be the case, the wandering minstrels, harpers, and pipers, used to go frequently errant through the wilds both of Scotland and Ireland, and so some favourite airs might be common to both. A case in point-They have lately in Ireland, published an

« PreviousContinue »