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complished circle, among whom David Hume, John Home, Lord Monboddo, and many other men of name, were frequently to be found. Her evening parties were very frequent, and included society distinguished both for condition and talents. The petit souper which always concluded the evening, was like that of Stella, wbich she used to quote on the occasion:
A supper like her mighty self,
Four nothings on four plates of delf. But they passed off more gaily than many costlier entertainments.
“ She spoke both wittily and well, and maintained an extensive correspondence, which, if it continues to exist, must contain many things highly curious and interesting. My recollection is, that her conversation brought her much nearer to a Frenchwoman than to a native of England; and, as I have the same impression with respect to ladies of the same period and the same rank in society, I am apt to think that the vieille cour of Edinburgh rather resembled that of Paris than that of St James's, and particularly that the Scotch imitated the Parisians in laying aside much of the expense and form of those little parties in which wit and goodhumour were allowed to supersede all occasion of display. The lodging where Mrs Cockburn received the best society of her time, would not now offer accommodation to a very inferior person.
The publication of Mr David Herd, in 1769, was an immense accession to the stores of Scottish song. This work, of which a second edition appeared in 1776, was the compilation of a man of equal industry with Ramsay, and of more antiquarian and more classic taste. It was divided into several parts; the first of which comprehended a considerable variety of ballads, or legendary narratives, partly selected from former works, but mostly drawn from the mouth of tradition. In those other parts of the work which contain the various sorts of song, there is found, besides
an extensive selection from Ramsay, a great multitude of first-rate compositions, which the editor had been at the pains to take down from recitation, and which, in all probability, would have otherwise been lost. A glance over the pages of the present collection would satisfy the reader as to the great debt we owe to David Herd; but, that he may see at one view what songs were, by this man, and at that time, presented to the public, I subjoin a list.
Argyle is my name; My wife has ta'en the gee; Walifou fa' the cat ; Alas! my son, you little know; Bess the gawkie; There's nae luck about the house ; The drunken wife o' Galloway; Fause love, and hae ye played me this ! For lack of gold; M.Pherson's rant; Gude day to ye, Robin ; Turnimspike; The Flowers of the forest (both sets); Kirk wad let me be; Get up and bar the door; The humble beggar; Nae dominies for me, laddie ; I ha'e laid a herring in saut; Hey, Jenny, come down to Jock; The Lowlands of Holland; My sheep I neglected ; The Highland Queen ; Our gudeman cam hame at e’en; 01 this is my departing time; O! as I was kist yestreen; The rock and the wee pickle tow ; Pinkie House; The runaway
bride; The banks of Forth ; Sae merry as we twa ha'e been ; The baigrie o't; Fee bim, father; Was ye e'er in Crail town? The brisk young lad; Tweedside (old set); Roslin Castle ; The jolly beggar ; Tranent muir; My wife's a wanton wee thing; Kind Robin loes me; Woo'd, and married, and a'; The Battle of Sheriff-muir ; The mucking of Geordie's byre ; Patie's courtship; Tibbie Fowler; Blink over the burn, sweet Betty; Haud awa' frae me, Donald (second set); Old King Coul; 0! an ye war deid, gudeman ; Maggie Lauder ; Symon Brodie ; Bide ye yet; Oh! gin my love were yon red rose ; Jenny's Bawbee ;
others of inferior merit. Up to this period, it does not seem to have ever been judged necessary, by any editor of Scottish songs, to give a single word of prose regarding their probable
date, the occasion of them, or even the names of their authors. To remedy, in some measure, this unfortunate error, Mr William Tytler of Woodhouselee published, in 1779, a “ Dissertation on Scottish Song and Music,” in which he endeavoured to fix the eras of a great variety of the most popular airs. Almost all Mr Tytler's speculations have since been found fanciful and wrong ; but his Essay is, nevertheless, a meritorious performance, partly from the strong feeling of devotion to the subject which pervades it, and still more so, from its containing a certain number of useful and interesting facts. Tytler was the first man who had attempted to discover any thing illustrative of the early history of Scottish song: he was the Columbus of all enquirers into the subject; and, if he did not bring back a ship-load of gold by the first voyage, we may say, in the gentle spirit of Melibæus,
“ Non equidem invideo : miror magis." But it was not by his “ Dissertation" that Mr Tytler was destined to do his most essential service to Scottish Song. He obliged his country in a much greater degree, by projecting and assisting in the publication of “ Johnson's Scots Musical Museum ;" a work which may be said to have completed that task of collection which Ramsay and Herd had only begun. This grand repertory of Scottish music and musical poetry was commenced in 1786. It was the undertaking of an ingenious young engraver in Edinburgh, of the name of James Johnson.
Mr Tytler and Dr Blacklock appear to have acted as its literary editors; while Mr Samuel Clarke, the distinguished organist, superintended the arrangement and harmonization of the music. The size of the work was octavo; and, as an extensive sale was at once desired and expected, it was agreed that each volume, containing a hundred
songs, should be sold at the humble price of six shillings. The work was expected to extend to two volumes, or to more, as the public should desire,
In the very year when this great undertaking was commenced, a circumstance occurred, than which there could have been none more auspicious to its success -the appearance of that miracle of poetic genius, that oi acle of buman feeling, Robert Burns. This man l'ail, in his youth, possessed a tattered and blackened volume of what he himself has called " auld Scots sonnets ;” to pore over which was his amusement during labour and leisure, by night and by day. He had also sat much, in his boyhood, beside the knees of nurses and grandmothers, who possessed immense stores of these things, never committed to print. Thus he early acquired a decided taste for this department of poetic literature. When his period of passion arrived; when, to use his own glowing words,
youthful love, warm-blushing, strong,
Keen-shivering, shot his nerves along,
Th' adored name,
To soothe his flame.
What early taste and predilection disposed him to do, love soon enabled his genius to accomplish, and that in such a style as to throw into shade the whole of those artless lays of other times, at which, to use another expression of his own, his soul had originally caught fire. He became, indeed, a songster of the very first order, and that not only in regard to the limited sphere of Scotland, but even with respect to all the world besides, and to all ages of literature. His talent for poetry, originally much superior to that of any other person who had ever attempted a similar style of composition, enabled him to produce verses of infinitely superior intrinsic merit, while the warmth of his heart, and strong human sympathies, gave them an extensiveness of application which no former songs
had reached. Before the fervid, forceful eloquence of Burns's lyrics, the rude ditties of his native land, and the cold formal liturgies of the classic and English poets, sunk alike into contempt. The Song, in his hands, became something superior to what any former man had ever hoped or dared to make it.
Burns, on coming to Edinburgh, to superintend the new edition of his poems, became acquainted with Johnson as a matter of course ; and, when we consider how little he had of the mercenary about him, and with what enthusiasm he was devoted to the subject, we can easily conceive, that but small persuasion was required to make him lend bis utmost assistance to the 6 Scots Musical Museum." To show how warmly he patronised the undertaking, a quotation may be made from a letter which he wrote in the summer of 1787, to a Mr Candlish at Glasgow.
66 I am engaged,” he there expresses himself, “ in assisting an honest Scots enthusiast, (meaning Johnson,) a friend of mine, who is an engraver, and has undertaken to publish a collection of all our songs set to music, of which the words and music are done by Scotsmen. This, you will easily guess, is an undertaking exactly to my taste. I have collected, begged, borrowed, and stolen, all the songs I could meet with. Pompey's Ghost, words and music, I beg from you immediately, to go into his second number; the first is already published. I shall show you the first number when I see you in Glasgow, which will be in a fortnight or less. Do be so kind as send me the song in a day or two; you cannot imagine how much it will oblige me.
Such was the feeling with which Burns entered into this most patriotic enterprise. During the progress of the work, he not only supplied the publisher with various songs collected from his friends ; but likewise composed a very great number himself expressly for the work, which are admitted to be the finest productions of bis lyric muse. Burns was quite at home in composing for the “ Museum.” He seldom, indeed, al