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and lonely life of those who composed them, who were often mere shepherds, tending their flocks in the solitary glens, or folding them among the naked hills. Many of these rustic bards have passed away without leaving a name behind them; nothing remains of them but these sweet and touching little songs, which live like echoes about the places they once inhabited. Most of these simple effusions are linked with some favourite haunt of the poet; and in this way, not a mountain or valley, or town or tower, green shade or running stream, in Scotland, but has some popular air connected with it, that makes its very name a key-note to a whole train of delicious fancies and feelings."
“Although it be acknowledged," says Allan Ramsay, " that our Scot s tunes have not lengthened variety of music, yet they have an agreeable gaiety and natural sweetness, that make them acceptable wherever they are known, not only among ourselves, but in other countries. They are for the most part so cheerful, that on hearing them well played or sung, we find a difficulty to keep ourselves from dancing." +
What does Burns say in praise of his country's lyrics—~ Those who think," says the great poet, “ that composing a Scotch song is a trifle should set themselves down and try.”
To make suche trifels it asketh some counnynge.-SKELTON.
* Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, p. 25. † Preface to Tea Table Miscellany.
# Works, VI. 195.
“ The genuine and peculiar natural song of Scotland,” Ritson justly remarks,“ is to be found not in the works of Hamilton, Thomson, Smollett, or even Ramsay, but in the productions of obscure anonymous authors, of shepherds and milkmaids, who actually felt the sensations they describe-in this point of view the English have nothing equal in merit, nor in fact any thing of the kind.” This is one of the truest observations Ritson ever made, the songs of England and Ireland are the productions, almost without exception, of their poets, the authors of volumes, but many of the very best Scottish songs are the compositions of country lads and lasses ; every district being rich in sentimental, humorous and descriptive songs. The Scotch are a nation of songsters, king and statesman, warrior and titled lady, poet, gentleman, herd-boy and shepherd-lass alike contributing to the lyrical stores of their country. Cowley writes that ' poetry was born among the shepherds':-in Scotland, it still lives among the shepherds !
Critics have objected to the songs of Scotland on ‘account of their rhymes, sometimes they are correct, oftener otherwise, and frequently their verses are bare of rhyme altogether,-- let these critics, if there still be any, remember that Dr. Johnson objects to the Lycidas of Milton! because 'the rhymes are. uncertain. The majority of the songs thus objected
• Scottish Songs, p. lxxx.
to, critics should recollect were never composed for a printer's type,-the thoughts were strung together for the lips of maidens, who by a skilful voice melted the rhymes into order and beauty. “I sometimes imagine," said Burns, " that it might be pos. sible for a Scotch poet with a nice judicious ear ; to set compositions to many of our most favourite airs, independent of rhyme altogether !"* One should look rather to the sentiment than the rhyme.
These little volumes are sent forth by one, conscious of the numerous beauties they contain, and not ignorant of the Editorial faults they abound in. All who love simplicity and pathos, sprightliness and true humour, the tender and the beautiful, music and song, (for there is as much melody in true poetry, as there is in the strings of a harp or lute), all who love the tuneful harmony of verse with the complaints and adorations of the loving and the loved, cannot fail to be delighted with the natural outbursts of true feeling and true poetry stamped on these pages :
all we know Of what the blessed do above Is that they sing and that they love I-WALLER.
* Works VI. p. 41.