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with the appearance of the first book. When you come to hear the songs sung and accompanied, you will be charmed with them.
The bonnie brucket Lassie, certainly deserves, better verses, and I hope you will match her. Cauld Kail in Aberdeen-Let me in this ae night, and several of the livelier airs, wait the muse's leisure : these are peculiarly worthy of her choice gifts : besides, you'll notice, that in airs of this sort, the singer can always do greater justice to the poet, than in the slower airs of The Bush aboon Traquair, Lord Gregory, and the like ; for in the manner the latter are frequently sung, you must be contented with the sound, without the sense. Indeed both the airs and words are disguised by the very slow, languid, psalmsinging style in which they are too often performed, they lose animation and expression altogether ; and instead of speaking to the mind, or touching the heart, they cloy upon the ear, and set us a yawning!
Your ballad, There was a lass and she was fair, is simple and beautiful, and shall undoubtedly grace my collection,
MY DEAR THOMSON,
August, 1793. I hold the pen for our friend Clarke, who at present is studying the music of the spheres at my elbow. The Georgium Sidus he thinks is rather out 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 !
MR BURNS to Mr THOMSON.
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.
PHILLIS THE FAIR.
While larks with little wing, --' Fann'd the pure air,
Tasting the breathing spring,
Forth I did fare ;
Phillis the fair.
In each bird's careless song,
Glad did I share ;
Chance led me there ;
Phillis the fair.
Down in a shady walk,
Doves cooing were ;
Caught in a snare;
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 Kail in Aberdeen. 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,
MR THOMSON to MR BURNS.
MY GOOD SIR, :
August, 1793. . 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 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.
* The song herewith-sent, is that in p. 24 of this volume.
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.
Mr BURNS to Mr THOMSON.
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 C.'s story, which happened about three years ago. That struck my fancy, and I endeavoured to do the idea justice as follows: