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All the spirit and beauty of the old ballads, Miss Elliot threw into “The Flowers of the Forest;' though Miss Rutherford's song on the same subject, bas little of the olden grace about it, it is equally touching and sweet.
Burns has spoken of Skinner's two songs ' Tul. lochgorum' and 'John of Badenyon,' in raptures not easily accounted for, if we believe the poet wrote what he felt. “The first," says Cunningham, with justice, " is
gay and sprightly; the second belongs to that monitory class, which to the interest of a pleasant story adds two or three words of good counsel.”
• Bess the Gawkie,' and 'There's nae luck about the house,' are two most admirable songs. The latter speaks strongly to the heart.
'Mary's dream,' by Lowe, is a song full of pathos and sweetness; it has an additional merit, the thought is both beautiful and new.
Scotland has reason to be proud of her lady authors; they have contributed largely and ably to her collection of songs.
In magnanimity of soul and feeling, there is nothing in our language to surpass the Cherokee Indian's death song,—the true pathos and sublime of sorrow Mrs. Stewart threw into that “
song of genius,”—as Burns calls it
The tears I shed must ever fall.
Tenderness and beauty were happily mingled by Lady Lindsay in Auld Robin Gray,' by Miss Rutherford and Miss Elliot in 'The flowers of the forest.'
Lady Baillie, and a far greater poetess of the same name, Joanna Baillie, have likewise given their share of golden song to the same overflowing abundance.
The different excellencies observed in the songs already noticed, are found beautifully united in the lyrics of Robert Burns. In him, the humour and almost peculiar excellencies of Ramsay, the pastoral sweetness of Crawford, the tender elegancies of Hamilton and Thomson, and the rustic sprightliness and merriment of King James, are decked out in more than their native graces, and blended with a fervour, a beauty, and a reality belonging solely to himself. Whether he was sublimely addressing the lingering star again ushering in the day when his Highland Mary was torn from his breast, where pathos of sentiment, and an exquisitely unrivalled beauty of description excite our utmost admiration and cause our bosoms to thrill with the same feelings as vibrated through his own. Whether he sings of Bonnie Jean,' the 'Lass of Ballochmyle,' or celebrates in words and thoughts more sweet than music, the ‘ Banks and braes of bonnie Doun,' or gets his death
frae twa sweet een, Twa lovely een o' bonnie blue.
Whether he is changed from an idolization of beauty, and forces upon us, or as Johnson says, • sinks upon us,' the belief that he really cared for nought but big-bellied bottles and lasses wi' lumps of land. Whether he sings of himself as one of the
blythest hearts in Christendie,' and outstrips the former bounds of humour (but not the proper pale of humour) in “ Tam Glen,' and · Duncan Gray.' Whether he is in love or in drink, we are with him; we love those whom he loves, and delight in those things he delights in ; if 'tis beauty he admires, we are in love with something even more divine than woman, and if 'tis the wine-cup he endears, it flows over with the nectar of the gods. His matchless line of beauties, work upon us the same enchantment as they did within the breast of the heaven-inspired poet on the banks of the Doon, or behind the hills where flow the Lugar and Cluden. His loves are of no age; with them it will be continual spring, embalmed in the beauty and grace of song.
Hector Macneill has simplified simplicity, and mingled silliness with prettiness. He is never strong, seldom pretty, but always musical.
The tenderness and sweetness of Tannahill, would be more admired were his language more strong and his thoughts more original. He saw objects in no new light, what he has seen, others saw before him with the same charms of bloom and elegance. The music of his numbers should have beautified beauties of his own.
The aptness of illustration, the vividness of colouring, and the vehemence of diction contained in Sir Walter Scott's popular ballads of' Jock of Hazledean' and ' Young Lochinvar,' cannot be too much
admired. They are lyrics stamped with the spirit of the minstrel of Flodden Field. Sir Walter's sentimental songs are next to worthless.
There are not many Scottish songs of superior merit to the ‘ Hills of Gallowa,' by Thomas Cunningham. Few songs are stamped with the same beauty, and the same originality.
I will now string together some encomiums on the songs of Scotland.
of Scotland,” said Sir Walter Scott, are a part of our national inheritance, and something that we may truly call our own. They have no foreign taint ; they have the pure breath of the heather and the mountain breeze. All the genuine legitimate races that have descended from the ancient Britons—such as the Scotch, the Welsh, and the Irish,-have national airs. The English have none; because they are not natives of the soil, or, at least are mongrels. Their music is all made up of foreign scraps, like a harlequin's jacket, or a piece of mosaic. Even in Scotland, we have comparatively few national
songs in the eastern part, where we have had most influx of strangers. A real old Scottish song is a cairngorm, a gem of our own mountains; or rather, it is a precious relique of old times, that bears the national character stamped upon it, like a cameo, that shows what the national visage was in former days, before the breed was crossed.”
* Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, by W. Irving, p. 27.
The character of our songs,” says Allan Cun. ningham, “is peculiar. They are more simple in their language, more natural in their sentiments and wider in their range than the lyrics of the south : they unite sentiment with story, and the scenery of nature with both : they are not surpassed in pathos, and they are unequalled for humour, for sarcastic sallies, and happy delineation of manners. They are all stamped with the spirit and feeling of old Scotland, whether they are the work of the rustic or the scholar, the man of rank, or the mechanic; nor is it the least remarkable part of their history that some of the happiest and the most impassioned were written by a ploughman in honour of the country lasses around him.”
Speaking of English and Scottish Songs, Ritson says, “ the truth is, there is more of art than of nature in the English songs ; at all events they possess very little of that pastoral simplicity for which the Scottish are so much admired ; and which will be frequently found to give them the advan
ges which the beautiful peasant in her homespun russet, has over the fine town lady, patched, powdered, and dressed out, for the ball or opera in all the frippery of fashion.'
“ The Scottish songs," writes Washington Irving, “ in general have something intrinsically melancholy in them, owing, in all probability, to the pastoral
* Scottish Songs, 1794, lxxix.