« AnteriorContinuar »
What makes me aye turn cauld as death
When I tak leave o' thee?
Thou'lt dearer grow to me;
May gar thy fancy jee.
Then I'll sit down and moan,
Just by yon spreadin' tree,
I'll ca't a word frae thee.
Which thou wi' roses tied :
I strove my love to hide.
I'll doat on ilka spot
Where I hae been wi' thee;
By every burn and tree.
Though lovers absent be;
When Maggy and I were acquaint,
noddle fu' hie;
* John, eventually second Marquis of Tweeddale, born in 1645-died 1713. This is evident from the dedication of Scott of Satchells' “ History of the House of Scott," where the Marquis is complimented for his poetical abilities. He was a distinguished statesman in the reigns of William and Anne, and married the only daughter of the Duke of Lauderdale, considered the greatest heiress in the kingdom. He was one of the principal instruments in carrying through the Union, being at the head of the party called the Squadrone Volante. Macky, in his curious work of that period, describes him as a great encourager and promoter of trade and the welfare of his country. “ He hath good sense,” he adds, “ is very modest,
Nae lintwbite in a' the gay plain,
Nae gowdspink sae bonnie as she !
I woo'd, but I cam nae great speed;
And lay my banes far frae the Tweed.
My tears did my passion express :
And the women loe sic a man less.
Her pride had my ruin decreed;
And lay my banes far frae the Tweed.
What beauties does Flora disclose!
How sweet are her smiles upon Tweed !
Both nature and fancy exceed.
Not all the gay flowers of the field,
Such beauty and pleasure does yield.
The warblers are heard in the grove,
The linnet, the lark, and the thrush;
With music enchant ev'ry bush.
much a man of honour, and hot when piqued; is highly esteemed in his country, and may make a considerable figure in it now. He is a short brown man, towards sixty years old.” The song must have been written before 1697, when he ceased to be Lord Yester, by succeeding his father. Neidpath Castle, near Peebles, which overhangs the Tweed, must be the locality of the song—that being then the property, and one of the residences, of the Tweeddale family. The song first appeared in Mr Herd's Collection, 1776.
Come, let us go forth to the mead;
Let us see how the primroses spring;
And love while the feather'd folk sing.
the long day ?
While happily she lies asleep?
Kind nature indulgin' my bliss,
I'd steal an ambrosial kiss.
'Tis she does the virgins excel ;
No beauty with her may compare ;
She's fairest where thousands are fair.
Oh, tell me at morn where they feed ?
Or the pleasanter banks of the Tweed ? *
THE DEIL'S AWA WI' THE EXCISEMAN.
The deil cam fiddling through the toun,
And danced awa wi' the exciseman;
The deil's awa wi' the exciseman;
He's danced awa wi' the exciseman !
* Burns has stated the heroine of this song to have been Mary Stuart, a young lady of the Castlemilk family, afterwards Mrs Ritchie. But Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to the second canto of Marmion, asserts that it was written in honour of Mary Lilias Scott, of the Harden family, otherwise remarkable as the second Flower of Yarrow; a lady with whom he was acquainted at a period of her life when age had injured the charms which procured her that honourable epithet. "The song appeared for the first time in the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724.
We'll mak our maut, we'll brew our drink,
We'll laugh, sing, and rejoice, man;
That danced awa wi' the exciseman.
There's threesome reels, there's foursome reels,
There's hornpipes and strathspeys, man;
Was, The deil's awa wi' the exciseman.*
* Mr Lockhart, in his excellent Life of Burns, gives the following account of the composition of this poem :-" At that period, (1792), å great deal of contraband traffic, chiefly from the Isle of Man, was going on along the coasts of Galloway and Ayrshire, and the whole of the revenueofficers from Gretna to Dumfries, were placed under the orders of a superintendent residing in Annan, who exerted himself zealously in intercepting the descent of the smuggling vessels. On the 27th of February, a suspicious-looking brig was discovered in the Solway Frith, and Burns was one of the party whom the superintendent conducted to watch her motions. She got into shallow water the day afterwards, and the officers were enabled to discover that her crew were numerous, armed, and not likely to yield without a struggle. Lewars, a brother exciseman, an intimate friend of our poet, was accordingly sent to Dumfries for a guard of dragoons ; the superintendent, Mr Crawford, proceeded himself on a similar errand to Ecclefechan, and Burns was left, with some men under his orders, to watch the brig, and prevent landing or escape. From the private journal of one of the excisemen, (now in my hands,) it appears that Burns mani. fested considerable impatience while thus occupied, being left for many hours in a wet salt-marsh, with a force which he knew to be inadequate for the purpose it was meant to fulfil. One of his friends hearing him abuse Lewars in particular, for being slow about his journey, the man answered, that he also wished the devil had him for his pains, and that Burns, in the meantiine, would do well to indite a song upon the sluggard. Burns said nothing; but after taking a few strides by himself among the reeds and shingle, rejoined his party, and chanted to them the wellknown ditty, 'The Deil's awa wi' the Exciseman.' Lewars arrived shortly after with the dragoons; and Burns, putting himself at their head, waded, sword in hand, to the brig, and was the first to board her. The crew lost heart, and submitted, though their numbers were greater than those of the assailing force. The vessel was condemned, and, with all her arms and stores, sold by auction next day at Dumfries; upon which occasion Burns, whose behaviour had been highly commended, thought fit to purchase four carronades, by way of trophy. But his glee,” continues Mr Lockhart, "s went a step farther; he sent the guns with a letter to the French Convention, requesting that body to accept them as a mark of his admiration and respect. The present, and its accompaniment, were intercepted at the customhouse at Dover; and here, there appears to be little room to doubt, was the principal circumstance that drew on Burns the notice of his jealous superiors. We were not, it is true, at war with France; but every one knew and felt that we were to be so ere long; and nobody can pretend that Burns was not guilty, on this occasion, of a most absurd and presumptuous breach of decorum."
TO DANTON ME.
TUNE-To danton me.
The blude-red rose at Yule may blaw,
To danton me, and me sae young,
For a' his meal, for a' his maut,
His gear may buy him kye and yowes,
He hirples twa-fauld, as he dow,
TO DANTON ME.
To danton me, and me sae young, And guid King James's auldest son ! 0, that's the thing that ne'er can be ; For the man is unborn that'll danton me! 0, set me ance on Scottish land, My guid braidsword into my hand,
* From Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, vol. II. 1788.