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SYMON Brodie had a cow :
The cow was lost, and he couldna find her :
Let Mahomet drink wine,
And Mercury drink nectar ;
As Oliver's * Protector. The reader will find Burns's own opinion of this favourite war-song, in the following letter, which was written by him, at Dumfries, on the 5th of December 1793, to a country gentleman of Perthshire, who was residing there in command of a party of Fencibles. I am indebted for this very interesting document, which is here printed with all the literal peculiarities of the original, to Mr Stewart of Dalguise. It is perhaps one of the most characteristic letters Burns ever wrote:
“ Heated as I was with wine yesternight, I was perhaps rather seemingly impertinent in my anxious wish to be honoured with your acquaintance. You will forgive it: 'twas the impulse of heartfelt respect. He is the father of the Scotch County Reform, and is a man who does honour to the business, at the same time that the business does honour to him !' said my worthy friend Glenriddel, to somebody by me, who was talking of your coming to this country with your corps. Ther, I replied, I have a woman's longing to take him by the hand, and say to him, Sir, í honour you as a man to whom the interests of humanity are dear, and as a Patriot to whom the Rights of your Country are sacred.
“ In times such as these, sir, when our Commoners are barely able, by the glimmer of their own twilight understandings, to scrawl a frank; and when Lords are -what gentlemen would be ashamed to be; to wliom shall a sinking country call for help? To the independant country gentleman ! To him who has too deep a stake in his country, not to be in earnest for her welfare; and who, in the honest pride of man, can view with equal contempt, the insolence of office, and the allurements of corruption.
“I mentioned to you a Scots ode or song I had lately composed, and which, I think, has some merit. Allow me to enclose it. When I fall in with you at the Theatre, I shall be glad to have your opinion of it. Accept of it, sir; as a very humble, but most sincere tribute of respect, from a man, who, dear as he prizes Poetic Fame, yet holds dearer an Independant Mind.
« I have the honor to be,
“ Your very humble servt.
“ ROBT. BURNS.
- Tuesday morning."
* “ A Bailie and Apothecary in Peterhead; a boon companion, not only for Crambe, but also refers to his father's keeping a brewery."-Note by the Collector.
When he had done what man could do,
Honest auld Symon Brodie,
I'll awa to the North countrie,
Symon Brodie bad a wife,
And, wow ! but she was braw and bonnie ; She took the dish-clout aff the buik, And preen'd it to her cockernonie.
Honest auld Symon Brodie, &c.*
And blythe awakes the morrow ;
Can yield me nocht but sorrow.
I hear the wild birds singing,
And care his bosom wringing ?
Fain, fain would I my griefs impart,
Yet dare na for your anger ;
If thou shalt love anither,
* From Herd's Collection, 1776.
When yon green leaves fade frae the tree,
Around my grave they'll wither. *
UP IN THE AIR.
Tune-Up in the Air.
The wind's drifting hail and snaw
The man in the moon
Is carousing aboon;
Up in the air,
It drives away care ;
* The heroine of this song was a Miss Lorimer, who resided at Craigieburn, near Moffat, in Annandale, and who was the Chloris of so many other songs of Burns. It refers to a passion which Mr Gillespie, an inti. mate friend of the poet, entertained for Miss Lorimer. The lady afterwards married a Mr Whelpdale. The woods of Craigieburn and Dumcrieff, the last of which contained the seat of his respected editor, Dr Cur. rie, were at one time favourite haunts of the poet.
Steek the doors ; keep out the frost;
Up wi't ! there, there!
Dinna cheat, but drink fair.
THROUGH THE WOOD, LADDIE.
TUNE-Through the Wood, Laddie.
Thy presence could ease me,
When naething can please me;
Though woods now are bonnie, and mornings are clear,
Wbile lavrocks are singing,
And primroses springing;
That I am forsaken, some spare not to tell ;
I'm fash'd wi' their scornin'
* From the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724. There is an old ballad (of which, however, I have been unable to procure a copy) that appears to have given the poet the first hint of this composition. It represents a tyrannical uncle pursuing a young gentleman, his nephew, who had just been paying his addresses to his cousin, the daughter of the said uncle. The youthful lover has had the good sense to leave behind a servant, or companion, with instructions to mislead the vengeful man, in case he should come up and inquire which way the fugitive had gone. When the uncle comes up, this individual answers to his inquiries, that the person he was in quest of
" is up in the air On his bonpie gray mare,
And I see him, and I see him, and I see him yet." The effect of which bamboozling is such as to permit the lover's escape.
Their jeering gaes aft to my heart wi' a knell,
Then stay, my dear Sandy, nae langer away ;
But, quick as an arrow,
Haste here to thy marrow, Wha's living in languor till that happy day, When through the wood, laddie, thegither we'll gae.*
BIDE YE YET.
TUNE-Bide ye yet.
Oh,'had I a house and a cantie wee fire,
And bide ye yet, and bide ye yet,
a-field and come bame at e'en, I'll find my wee wifie fu' neat and fu' clean ; And a bonnie wee bairnie upon her knee, That 'll cry Papa, or Daddie, to me.
I carena a button for sacks fu' o' cash ;
And if there ever should happen to be
* From the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724.