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Heavy, heavy, is the task,
Hopeless love declaring :
Sighing, dumb, despairing !
In my bosom swelling;
Soon maun be my dwelling.
25th June, 1793. Have you ever, my dear Sir, felt your bosoma ready to burst with indignation on reading of those mighty villains who divide kingdom against kingdom, desolate provinces, and lay nations waste, out of the wantonness of ambition, or often from still more ignoble passions? In a mood of this kind to-day, I recollected the air of Logan Water; and it occurred to me that its querulous melody probably had its origin from the plaintive indignation of some swelling, suffering heart, fired at the tyrannic strides of some public destroyer ; and overwhelmed with private distress, the consequence of a country's ruin. If I have done any thing at all like justice to my feelings, the following song, composed in three-quarters of an hour's meditation in my elbow chair, ought to have some merit.
Tuner. LOGAN WATER.]
O LOGAN, sweetly didst thou glide,
Again the merry month o' May
Within yon milk-white hawthorn bush,
0, wae upon you, men o' state, That brethren rouse to deadly hate !
As ye make many a fond heart mourn,
............ Do you know the following beautiful little fragment in Witherspoon's Collection of Scots Songs ?
gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa';
Into her bonnie breast to fa'!
This thought is inexpressibly beautiful; and quite, so far as I know, original. It is too short for a song, else I would forswear you altogether, unless you gave it a place. I have often tried to eke a stanza to it, but in vain. After balancing myself for a musing five minutes, on the hind-legs of my elbowchair, I produced the following
The verses are far inferior to the foregoing, I
The widow's tears, the orphan's cries."
frankly confess ; but if worthy of insertion at all, they might be first in place; as every poet, who knows any thing of his trade, will husband his best thoughts for a concluding stroke.
O, were my love yon lilach fair,
Wi' purple blossoms to the spring;
When wearied on my little wing.
How I wad mourn, when it was torn
By autumn wild, and winter rude!
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew'd.
MR THOMSON to MR BURNS.
Monday, 1st July, 1793. I am extremely sorry, my good Sir, that any thing should happen to unhinge you. The times are terribly out of tune ; and when harmony will be restored, Heaven knows. .
The first book of songs, just published, will be dispatched to you along with this. Let me be fa. voured with your opinion of it frankly and freely. .
I shall certainly give a place to the song you have written for the Quaker's Wife; it is quite enchanting. Pray will you return the list of songs with such airs added to it as you think ought to be ia
cluded. The business now rests entirely on myself, the gentlemen who originally agreed to join the speculation having requested to be off. No matter, a loser I cannot be. The superior excellence of the work will create a general demand for it as soon as it is properly known. And were the sale even slower than it promises to be, I should be somewhat compensated for my labour, by the pleasure 'I shall receive from the music. I cannot express how much I am obliged to you for the exquisite new songs you are sending me; but thanks, my friend, are a poor return for what you have done : as I shall be benefited by the publication, you must suffer me to inclose a small mark of my gratitude,* and to repeat it afterwards when I find it convenient. Do not return it, for, by Heaven, if you do, our correspondence is at an end : and though this would be no loss to you, it would mar the publication, which under your auspices cannot fail to be respectable and interesting
Wednesday Morning. I THANK you for your delicate additional verses to the old fragment, and for your excellent song to Logan Water ; Thomson's truly elegant one will follow, for the English singer. Your apostrophe to statesmen is admirable ; but I am not sure if it is quite suitable to the supposed gentle character of the fair mourner who speaks it.