Page images

Ah, wretch! how can life be worthy thy care !
To lengthen its moments but lengthens despair.

(Few riters have been found to mention Blacklock's verse with approbation. Burns alludes to his songs, but never praises them ;they are indeed very well as smooth lines run

* A happy tuneful vacancy of sense.')



Born 1722.-Died 1808.

'Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing,

And sweetly the nightingale sung from the tree;
At the foot of a rock, where the river was flowing,

I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee.
Flow on, lovely Dee, flow on, thou sweet river,
Thy bank's purest streams shall be dear to me ever ;
For there I first gain’d the affection and favour

Of Sandy, the glory and pride of the Dee.
But now he's gone from me, and left me thus mourning,

To quell the proud rebels—for valiant is he; And, ah! there's no hope of his speedy returning

To wander again on the banks of the Dee. He's gone, helpless youth! o’er the rude-roaring billows, The kindest and sweetest of all the gay fellows; And left me to stray ’mongst the once-lovely willows,

The loneliest maid on the banks of the Dee.

But time and my prayers may perhaps yet restore him;

Blest peace may restore my dear shepherd to me; And when he returns, with such care I'll watch o'er

He never shall leave the sweet banks of the Dee.
The Dee then shall flow, all its beauties displaying ;
The lambs on its banks shall again be seen playing ;
While I with my Sandy am carelessly straying,

And tasting again all the sweets of the Dee.

[" The Banks of the Dee' 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, and 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 river in Scotland."-BURNS.]

any other



Born 1720-Died 1771.

The smiling plains, profusely gay,
Are drest in all the pride of May;
The birds, on every spray above,
To rapture wake the vocal grove ;
But, ah ! Miranda, without thee,
Nor spring nor summer smiles on me;
All lonely in the secret shade
I mourn thy absence, charming maid !

() soft as love! as honour fair!
Serenely sweet as verbal air !
Come to my arms; for thou alone
Canst all my absence past atone.
O come! and to my bleeding heart
The sovereign balm of love impart ;
Thy presence lasting joy shall bring,
And give the year eternal spring.



Born 1734-Died 1788.

And are ye sure the news is true?
And are ye sure he's weel?
Is this a time to talk o' wark ?
Ye jades, fling by your wheel !
Is this a time to think of wark,
When Colin's at the door ?
Gie me my cloak ! I'll to the quay,
And see him come ashore.-
For there's nae luck about the house,

There's nae luck ava ;
There's little pleasure in the house,

When our gudeman's awa'.

Rise up, and mak a clean fire-side,
Put on the muckle pot;
Gie little Kate her cotton gown,
And Jock his Sunday coat;

And mak their shoon as black as slaes,
Their hose as white as snaw;
It's a' to please my ain gudeman,
He likes to see them braw.
There's twa hens upon the bauk,
Been fed this month and mair,
Mak haste and thra their necks about,
That Colin weel may fare ;
And spread the table neat and clean,
Gar ilka thing look braw;
It's a' for love of my gudeman,
For he's been lang awa’.
Ogie me down my bigonets,
My bishop-sattin gown;
And rin an' tell the Baillie's wife
That Colin's come to town :
My Sunday shoon they maun gae on,
My hose o' pearl blue;
It's a' to please iny ain gudeman,
For he's baith leal and true.
Sae true his words, sae smooth his speech,
His breath like caller air !
His very foot has music in't
When he comes up the stair :
And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak ?
I'm downright dizzy with the thought,
In troth I'm like to greet.
The cauld blasts of the winter wind,
That thrilled through my heart,
They're a' blawn by ; I hae him safe,
'Till death we'll never part :

But what puts parting in my head,
It may be far awa';
The present moment is our ain,
The neist we never saw!

Since Colin's well, I'm well content,
I hae nae mair to crave;
Could I but live to mak him blest,
I'm blest aboon the lave.
And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak ?
I'm downright dizzy with the thought,
In troth I'm like to greet.

[" This is one of the most beautiful songs in the Scots, or any other language. The two lines,

And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak !

as well as the two preceding ones, are unequalled almost by any thing I ever heard or read : and the lines,

The present moment is our ain
The neist we never saw-

are worthy of the first poet."--BURNS.

“For a while this song,” says Mr. Cunningham,“ had no author's riame; at last, it passed for the production of an enthusiastic old woman of the west of Scotland, called Jean Adam, who kept a school and wrote verses, and claimed this song as her own composition, It happened, however, during the period that Mr. Cromek was editing his collection of Scottish Songs, (with notes by Burns) that Dr. Sim discovered among the manuscripts of Mickle, the translator of the Lusiad, an imperfect, altered, and corrected copy of the song, with all the marks of authorship about it. The changes which the poet had made were many and curious, and were conclusive of his claim to the honour of the song : his widow added decisive testimony to this, and said that her husband wrote a copy-said it was his own, and ex. plained the Scottish words."

The last verse but one of this song is ascribed to Dr. Beattie.]

« PreviousContinue »