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Tell me honestly how you like it; and point out whatever you think faulty.
I am much pleased with your idea of singing our songs in alternate stanzas, and regret that you did not hint it to me sooner. In those that remain, I shall have it in my eye. I remember your objections to the name Philly ; but it is the common abbreviation of Phillis. Sally, the only other name that suits, has to my ear a vulgarity about it, which unfits it for any thing except burlesque. The legion of Scottish poetasters of the day, whom your brother editor, Mr Ritson, ranks with me, as my coevals, have always mistaken vulgarity for simplicity : wirereas, simplicity is as much eloignee from vulgarity, on the one hand, as from affected point and puerile conceit on the other.
I agree with you as to the air, Craigie-burn-Wood, that a chorus would in some degree spoil the effect; and shall certainly have none in my projected song to it. It is not however a case in point with Rothies murche; there, as in Roys Wife of Aldivaloch, a chorus goes, to my taste, well enough. As to the chorus going first, that is the case with Roy's Wife, as well as Rothiemurche. In fact, in the first part of both tunes, the rhythm is so peculiar and irregular, and on that irregularity depends so much of their beauty, that we must e'en take them with all their wildness, and humour the verse accordingly. Leaving out the starting note, in both tunes, has, I think, an effect that no regularity could counterbalance the want of.
So Roy's Wife of Aldivalochi.
o lassie wi' the lint-white locks. and Compare with,
S Roy's Wife of Aldivaloch.
Lassie wi' the lint-white locks. Does not the tameness of the prefixed syllable strike you? In the last case, with the true furor of genius, you strike at once into the wild originality of the air ; whereas in the first insipid method, it is like the grating screw of the pins before the fiddle is brought into tune. This is my taste; if I am wrong, I beg pardon of the cognoscenti.
The Caledonian Hunt is so charming that it would make any subject in a song go down ; but pathos is certainly its native tongue. Scottish Bacchanalians we certainly want, though the few we have are excellent. For instance, Todlin Hame, is, for wit and humour, an unparalleled composition ; and Andrew and his cutty Gun, is the work of a master. By the way, are you not quite vexed to think that those men of genius, for such they certainly were, who composed our fine Scottish lyrics, should be unknown? It has given me many a heart-ache. Apropos to Bacchanalian songs in Scottish ; I composed one yesterday, for an air I like much-Lumps o Pudding.
Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair,
I whyles claw the elbow o' troublesome thought ;
A towmond o' trouble, should that be my fa',
Blind chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way;
If you do not relish this air, I will send it to Johnson.
Since yesterday's penmanship, I have framed a couple of English stanzas, by way of an English song to Roy's Wife. You will allow me that in this instance, my English corresponds in sentiment with
Is this thy plighted, fond regard,
Thus cruelly to part, my Katy?
Carst thou, de
Farewell! and ne'er such sorrows tear
That fickle heart of thine, my Katy !
Wall! I think this to be done in two or three tures across my room, and with two or three pinches «'Irisà Backguard is not so far smiss You see I
am determined to have my quantum of applause from somebody.
Tell my friend Allan (for I am sure that we only want the trifling circumstance of being known to one
Stay, my Willieyet believe me,
Tell me that thou yet are true,
And a' my wrongs shall be forgiven,
Stay my Willie, &c.
But to think I was betrayed,
That falsehood e'er our loves should sunder!
Stay my Willie, fc.
Could I hope thou’dst ne'er deceive,
Celestial pleasures might I choose 'em,
Stay my Willie, &c.
It may amuse the reader to be told, that on this occasion the gentleman and the lady have exchanged the dialects of their respective countries. The Scottish bard makes his address in pure English: the reply on the part of the lady, in the Scottish dialect, is, if we mistake not, by a young and beautiful Englishwoman,