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The brave poor sodger ne'er despise.
Nor count him as a stranger,
In day and hour of danger.
MEG O: THE MILL.
Airco O BONIE LASS WILL YOU LIE IN A BARRACK.”
O ken ye what Meg o' the Mill has gotten,
The Miller was strappin, the Miller was ruddy ;
The Miller he hecht her, a heart leal and loving:
O wae on the siller, it is sae prevailing;
MR. BURNS TO MR. THOMSON.
7th April, 1793. THANK you, my dear Sir, for your packet. You cannot imagine how much this business of composing for your publication has added to my enjoyments. What with my early attachment to ballads, your book, &c. ballad-making is now as completely my hobby-horse, as ever fortification was Uncle Toby's; so I'll e’en canter it away till I come to the limit of my race, (God grant that I may take the right side of the winning-post !) and then cheerfully looking back on the honest folks with whom I have been happy, I shall say, or sing, “ Sae merry “ as we a' hae been,” and raising my last looks to the whole human race, the last words of the voice
of Coila* shall be “Good night and joy be wi' you a'!" So much for my last words : now for a few present remarks, as they have occurred at random, on looking over your list.
The first lines of The last time I came o'er the moor, and several other lines in it, are beautiful ; but in my opinion-pardon me, revered shade of Ramsay! the song is unworthy of the divine air. I shall try to make, or mend. For ever Fortune wilt Ihou prove, is a charming song ; but Logan burn and Logan braes, are sweetly susceptible of rural imagery : I'll try that likewise, and if I succeed, the other song may class among the English ones. I remember the two last lines of a verse in some of the old songs of Logan Water, (for I know a good many different ones) which I think pretty :
“ Now my dear lad maun face his faes,
My Patie is a lover gay, is unequal.
“ His “ mind
* Burns here calls himself the Voice of Coila, in imitation of Ossian, who denominates himself the Voice of Cona. Sae merry as we a' bae been; and Good night and joy be wi' you a', are the names of two Scottish tunes.
“ mind is never muddy,” is a muddy expression indeed.
“ Then I'll resign and marry Pate,
This is surely far unworthy of Ramsay, or your · book. My song, Rigs of Barley, to the same tune,
does not altogether please me, but if I can mend it, and thresh a few loose sentiments out of it, I will submit it to your consideration. The lass o' Patie's mill is one of Ramsay's best songs; but there is one loose sentiment in it, which my much-valued friend Mr. Erskine, will take into his critical consideration. In Sir J. Sinclair's Statistical volumes, are two claims, one, I think, from Aberdeenshire, and the other from Ayrshire, for the honor of this song. The following anecdote, which I had from the present Sir William Cunningham, of Robertland, who had it of the late John, Earl of Lowdon, I can, on such authorities believe.
Allan Ramsay was residing at Lowdon castle with the then Earl, father to Earl John ; and one forenoon, riding, or walking out together, his Lordship and Allan passed a sweet, romantic spot on Irwine water, still called, “ Patie's Mill,” where a bonie lass was “ tedding hay, bareheaded on the green.”. My Lord observed to Allan, that it would be a fine
theme for a song. Ramsay took the hint, and lingering behind, he composed the first sketch of it, which he produced at dinner.
One day I heard Mary say, is a fine song; but for consistency's sake, alter the name “Adonis.” Was there ever such bans published, as a purpose of marriage between Adonis and Mary?. I agree with you that my song, There's nought but care on every band, is much superior to Poortith cauld. The original song The Mill mill O, though excellent, is, on account of delicacy, inadmissable ; still I like the title, and think á Scottish song would suit the notes best; and let your chosen song, which is very pretty, follow, as an English set. The Banks of the Dee, is, you know, literally, Langolee, to slow time. The song is well enough, but has some false imagery in it, for instance,
“ And sweetly the nightingale sung from the tree.”
In the first place, the nightingale sings in a low bush, but never from a tree; and in the second place, there never was a nightingale seen, or heard, on the banks of the Dee, or on the banks of any other river in Scotland. Exotic rural imagery is always comparatively flat. If I could hit on another Kanza, equal to The small birds rejoice, &c. I do my