« ForrigeFortsett »
Oh, age has weary days,
And nights o' sleepless pain !
Why com’st thou not again!
I would be obliged to you if you
procure me a sight of Ritson's collection of English songs, which
you mention in your letter, I will thank you for another information, and that as speedily as you please. Whether this miserable drawling hotchpotch epistle has not completely tired you of my correspondence,
MR. THOMSON TO MR. BURNS.
Edinburgh, 27th October, 1794.
I AM sensible, my dear friend, that a genuine poet can no more exist without his mistress than his meat. I wish I knew the adorable she, whose bright eyes and witching smiles have so often enraptured the Scottish bard! that I might drink her sweet health when the toast is going round. Craigie-burn-wood, must certainly be adopted into my family, since she is the object of the song; but in the name of decency I must beg a new chorus verse
O to be lying beyond thee dearie, is perhaps a consummation to be wished, but will not do for singing in the company of ladies. The songs in your, last will do you lasting credit, and suit the respective airs charmingly. I am perfectly of your opinion with respect to the additional airs. The idea of sending them into the world naked as they were
born was ungenerous. They must all be clothed and made decent by our friend Clarke.
I find I am anticipated by the friendly Cunningham in sending you Ritson's Scottish collection Permit me, therefore, to present you with his English collection, which you will receive by the coach. I do not find his historical essay on Scottish song
interesting. Your anecdotes and miscellaneous remarks will, I am sure, be much more so. Allan has just sketched a charming design from Maggie Lauder. She is dancing with such spirit as to electrify the piper, who seems almost dancing too, while he is playing with the most exquisite glee. I am much inclined to get a small copy, and to have it engraved in the stile of Ritson's prints.
P.S. Pray what do your anecdotes say concerning Maggie Lauder? was she a real personage, and of what rank? You would surely spier for her if you ca'ed at Anstruther town.
MANY thanks to you, my dear Sir, for your present : it is a book of the utmost importance
I have yesterday begun my anecdotes, &c. for your work. I intend drawing it up in the form of a letter to you, which will save me from the tedious dull business of systematic arrangement. Indeed, as all I have to say consists of unconnected remarks, anecdotes, scraps of old songs, &c. it would be impossible to give the work a beginning, a middle, and an end; which the critics insist to be absolutely necessary in a work. * In my last I told
* It does not appear whether Burns completed these anecdotes, &c. Something of the kind (probably the rude draughts) was found amongst his papers, and appears in vol. II,
my objections to the song you had selected for, My lodging is on the cold ground. On my visit the other day to my fair Chloris (that is the poetic name of the lovely goddess of my inspiration) she suggested an idea, which I, in my return from the visit, wrought into the following song.
My Chloris, mark how
And wave thy flaxen hair.
The lav'rock shuns the palace gay,
And o'er the cottage sings:
To shepherds as to kings.
Let minstrels sweep the skilfu' string
In lordly lighted ha':
Blithe, in the birken shaw.
The princely revel may survey
Our rustic dance wi' scorn;
Bencath the milk-white thorn,