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and restless love. At any rate my other song, Green grow the rashes, will never suit. That song is current in Scotland under the old title, and to the merry old tune of that name, which of course would mar the progress of your song to celebrity. Your book will be the standard of Scots songs for the future : let this idea ever keep your judgment on the alarm.
I send a song, on a celebrated toast in this country, to suit Bonnie Dundee. I send you also a ballad to the Mill mill 0.*
The last time I came o'er the moor, I would fain attempt to make a Scots song for, and let Ramsay's be the English set. You shall hear from me soon. When you go to London on this business, can you come by Dumfries? I have still several MS. Scots airs by me which I have pickt up, mostly from the singing of country lasses. They please me vastly; but your learned lugst would perhaps be disa pleased with the very feature for which I like them. I call them simple ; you would pronounce them silly, Do you know a fine air called Jackie Hume's Lament? I have a song of considerable merit to that air. I'll enclose you both the song and tune, as I had them ready to send to Johnson's Museum. I
• The song to the tune of Bonnie Dundee, is that in No. XVI. The ballad to the Mill mill 0, is that beginning,
“ When wild war's deadly blast was blawn." + Ears. * The song here mentioned is that given in No. XVIII. O kon ye what Meg o' the mill has gotten 2 This song is surely Mr Burns's own writing, though he does not generally praise his own songs so much.
Note by Mr Thomson.
send you likewise, to me, a beautiful little air, which I had taken down from viva voce.*
MR BURNS to MR THOMSON.
MY DEAR SIR,
April, 1793. I HAD scarcely put my last letter into the postoffice, when I took up the subject of The last time I came o'er the moor, and, ere I slept, drew the outlines of the foregoing. How far I have succeeded, I leave on this, as on every other occasion, to you to decide. I own my vanity is flattered, when you give my songs a place in your elegant and superb work; but to be of service to the work is my first wish. As I have often told you, I do not in a single instance wish you, out of compliment to me, to insert any thing of mine. One hint let me give you---whatever Mr Pleyel does, let him not alter one iota of the original Scottish airs : I mean in the song department; but let our national music preserve its native features. They are, I own, frequently wild and irreducible to the more modern rules ; but on that very eccentricity, perhaps, depends a great part of their effect.
* The air here mentioned is that for which he wrote the ballad of Bonnic Jean, to be found p. 61.
E. + The song alluded to here will be found in a subsequent part of this volume.
MR THOMSON to. Ma BURNS.
Edinburgh, 26th April, 1793.I HEARTILY thank you, my dear Sir, for your last two letters, and the songs which accompanied them. I am always both instructed and entertained by your observations; and the frankness with which you speak out your mind, is to me highly agreeable. It is very possible I may not have the true idea of simplicity in composition. I confess there are several songs, of Allan Ramsay's for example, that I think silly enough, which another person, more conversant than I have been with country people, would. perhaps call simple and natural. But the lowest scenes of simple nature will not please generally, if copied precisely as they are. The poet, like the painter, must select what will form an agreeable as well as a natural picture. On this subject it were easy to enlarge; but at present suffice it to say, that I consider simplicity, rightiy understood, as a most essential quality in composition, and the ground-work of beauty in all the arts. I will gladly appropriate your most interesting new ballad When wild war's deadly blast, &c. to the Mill, mill O, as well as the two other songs to their respective airs; but the third and fourth lines of the first verse must undergo some little alteration in order to suit the mu, · sic. Pleyel does not alter a single note of the songs. That would be absurd indeed! With the airs which he introduces into the sonatas, I allow him to take.
such liberties as he pleases; but that has nothing te do with the songs.
P.S. I wish you would do as you proposed with your Rigs of Barley. If the loose sentiments are threshed out of it, I will find an air for it;' but as to this there is no hurry.
MR BURNS to MR THOMSON.
June, 1793. When I tell you, my dear Sir, that a friend of mine, in whom I am much interested, has fallen a sacrifice to these accursed times, you will easily allow that it might unhinge me for doing any good among ballads. My own loss, as to pecuniary mat. ters, is trifling; but the total ruin of a much-loved friend, is a loss indeed. Pardon my seeming inattention to your last commands.
I cannot alter the disputed lines in the Mill, mill 0.* What you think a defect I esteem as a posi
* The lines were the third and fourth. See p. 41.
And mony a widow mourning." ' As our poet had maintained a long silence, and the first number of Mr Thomson's Musical Work was in the press, this gentleman ventured, by Mr Erskine's advice, to substitute for them in that publication, " And eyes again with pleasure beam'd
That had been blear'd with mourning."
tive beauty; so you see how doctors differ. I shall now with as much alacrity as I can muster, go on with your commands..
You know Frazer, the hautboy-player in Edinburgh-he is here, instructing a band of music for a fencible corps quartered in this country. Among many of his airs that please me, there is one, well known as a reel, by the name of The Quaker's Wife ; and which I reinember a grand aunt of mine used to sing by the name of Liggeram Cosh, my bonnie wee lass. Mo Frazer plays it slow, and with an expres. sion that quite charmıs me. I became such an en. thusiast about it, that I made a song for it, which I here subjoin ; and inclose Frazer's set of the tune. If they kit your fancy, they are at your service; if not, return me the tune, and I will put it in Johnson's Museum. I think the song is not in my worst manner..
Though better suited to the music, these lines are inferior to the original. This is the only alteration adopted by Mr Thomson, which Burns did not approve, or at least assent to. E.