« AnteriorContinuar »
which is still regularly incorporated in our collections, if not commonly sung among the populace. In the same year, Thomas Bassendyne, printer, Edinburgh, put forth “a psalme buik,” in the end whereof was found printed
ane baudy sang,” called “ Welcome fortunes.” In 1591, we find, in the book already quoted regarding the congress of witches at North Berwick Kirk, the names of two airs, which had appropriate words. The first was, “ Cummer, goe ye before,” two lines of which have been preserved and printed in this essay. The second was, “ The silly bit chicken, gar cast it a pickle, and it will grow
mickle." We are favoured by Mr Leyden with a whole stanza of the latter ingenious ditty, which he says is still popular in the south of Scotland:
The silly bit chicken, gar cast her a pickle,
And lay an egg to my little brude. As this, however, has only been rescued from the mouth of tradition since the beginning of the present century, we can only vouch for the title given in the witch-book, as an authentic relic of the song of the sixteenth century.
A song and air, called “ Bothwell bank, thou blumest fair," is mentioned in a book of date 1605, (see note to the song so called, in this Collection,) and as the incident by which the reference to it is introduced, is stated to have occurred “ of late years,” we may presume this to be also a composition of the sixteenth century
“ Tak your auld cloak about ye,” is a song of nearly the same era, being quoted in Shakspeare's Othello, which is supposed to have been writ. ten in 1611.
It may here be mentioned, by the way, that, in the edition of the “Godly and Spiritual Songs," published and Jock," and professed, erroncously, to be from Watson's Scots Poems.
by Andro Hart in 1621, there is one which unquestionably bears reference to a well-known puerile rhyme. It commences thus :
O man, rise up, and be not sweir,
My new year gift thou has in store :
Gif me thy heart, I ask no more. And there is a multitude of other verses. I cannot help thinking, that this has been a sacred imitation of the rhyme which, in my own youth, was cried by boys at the doors of the good burgesses of Peebles, for the purpose of calling forth the beneficent gift of an oatcake from the gudewife, then and there bestowed according to immemorial custom :
Get up, gudewife, and binna sweir,
And then ye'll neither need yill nor breid. If this has never been any thing more respectable than a childish rhyme, we may certainly find reason here to admire the minute attention which the reformers paid to this strange part of their duty, and the humility of the arts to which they condescended, for the purpose of promoting the good cause.
We have unquestionable evidence, that the old song descriptive of the adventures and fate of Gilderoy, the Highland robber, (a specimen of which is given in the notes to the modern ballad of Gilderoy, in this Collection,) was written and published almost immediately, if not immediately, after the death of that person, which took place in 1638.
We have now no further light upon the subject of Scottish
song, till we come to the latter part of the seventeenth century, when we are supplied, from a manuscript Cantus which belonged to the late Mr Archibald Constable, of Edinburgh, with a considerable variety of scraps arranged in the shape of a med
ley. The whole passage containing these scraps is here transcribed, in such a manner as to isolate each individual piece, so that the reader may readily scan the list.
The nock is out of Johne's bow.
First when Robin gude bow bare,
Was never bairne so bold.
Sing soft-a, sing soft-a;
Of our pins
Ye know the gins,
The mavis on a tree she sat,
Sing with notes clear.
What horse in the towne
Shall I ride on ?
Come all your old malt to me,
Come all your old malt to me;
Though all our dukes should die.
Thy love liggs sore bund and a'.
The reill, the reill of Alves,
Whaten a yeapin carle art thou ?
Johne Robison, Johne Robison,
I biggit a bouir to my lemane;
In land is none so fair.
The humlock is the best-a seed,
That any man may sow;
Give them a horne to blow.
The ring of the rash, of the gowan,
Come row me round about, bony dowie.
My gudame for ever and ay-a,
The fryare had on a coule of redd ;
Be soft and sober, I you pray.
I and my cummer, my cummer and I,
We have here fragments bearing a far more striking resemblance to the rude familiar ditties of the populace, or what is properly Scottish song, than
any thing which has hitherto fallen under our notice. The greater part of them are now unknown, or changed to something more refined ; but, fortunately, two or three are still preserved. For instance, the fragment beginning, “ Come all your old malt to me,” is the same with the song called “ the Mautman,” which Ramsay printed in his Tea-Table Miscellany, and of which the following clever verses may be given, as a specimen, from a copy lately sung to me by a friend. They were never before published.
Some say that kissing's a sin,
But I think it's nane ava,
Since ever that there was twa.t
O, if it wasna lawfu',
Lawyers wadna allow it;
Ministers wadna do it.
If it wasna modest,
Maidens wadna tak it;
Puir folk wadna get it !
Bring a' your maut to me,
Bring a' your maut to me;
Though a' my deukies should dee.
“ My gudame for ever and ay-a" is a very
old song, seeing that a parody of it was printed by Chepman and Myllar, in the year 1508. The last scrap is evidently a piece of the well-known song, “ My kimmer
+ To wit, the first pair.