Obrázky na stránke


[ocr errors]

Ye gales, that gently wave the sea,

And please the canny boat-man,
Bear me frae hence, or bring to me
My brave, my bonny Scot-man!

In haly bands

We join'd our hands,
Yet may not this discover,

While parents rate

A large estate
Before a faithfu' lover.

[ocr errors]

But I'd lieuer choose in Highland glens

To herd the kid and goat, man,
Ere I cou'd for sic little ends
Refuse my bonny Scot-man.

Wae worth the man,

Wha first began
The base ungenerous fashion-

Frae greedy views,

Love's art to use,
While strangers to its passion!

Frae foreign fields, my lovely youth,

Haste to thy langing lassie,
Wha pants to press thy bawmy mouth,

And in her bosom hawse thee!



Love gi’es the word,

Then haste on board !-
Fair winds and tenty boat-man,

Waft o'er, waft o'er,

Frae yonder shore,
My blithe, my bonny Scot-man!

This is a lyric of ardent passion embodied in very pleasant strains.

The constant and disinterested attachment of the “langing lassie” is finely portrayed ; and that easy and winning simplicity, which lends the sweetest grace to song, is happily diffused over all.Ramsay was seldom possessed by intense and rapturous enthusiasm ; with him, love was a prudent and reasonable emotion. He calls the song the “Bonny Scot," to the tune of the “ Boatman;" but the ancient verses which belonged to the melody have long since been lost. “Scotman” has always seemed to me a clumsy compound, and not very intelligible. The air presents many obstructions to facility of composition, and Ramsay, in several of his songs, was not over solicitous about liquid ease and harmonious grace of expression. A singer, formerly, overcame such difficulties with the voice as would not be tolerated now. We are more correct, but far less natural.


My sweetest May, let love incline thee,
T accept a heart which he designs thee;
And as your constant slave regard it,
Syne for its faithfulness reward it.
'Tis proof a-shot to birth or money,
But yields to what is sweet and bonny;
Receive it then with a kiss and a smily,
There's my thumb, it will ne'er beguile ye.

How tempting sweet these lips of thine are !
Thy bosom white, and legs sae fine are,
That, when in pools I see thee clean 'em,
They carry away my heart between 'em.
I wish, and I wish, while it gaes duntin,
O gin I had thee on a mountain !
Though kith and kin and a' shou'd revile thee,
There's my thumb, I'll ne'er beguile thee.

Alane through flow'ry hows I dander,
Tenting my flocks lest they shou'd wander;
Gin thou'll gae alang, I'll daute thee gaylie,
And gi'e my thumb I'll ne'er beguile thee.
O my dear lassie, it is but daffin,
To haud thy wooer up aye niff naffin.
That na, na, na, I hate it most vilely,
O say, yes, and I'll ne'er beguile thee.


This song is the composition of Allan Ramsay, but on perusing it the fancy is borne away to a far earlier period, and the name of the air suggests a lyric which may have made the heroes of Otterburn or Flodden smile. Indeed if Ramsay knew the old song,

and posed his verses on the principle of purity which he states in his preface, there is an end to my lamentation; for if the old words exceeded his by a shade or so in indelicacy, it was wise in our ancestors to forget them. There is a curious remnant of ancient manners recorded in the song-presenting the thumb to be touched, as a pledge of perfect sincerity. It is known among rustics by the name of “lick thumb.” At school all the little bargains which the boys make with each other are sealed by this mystic ceremony. Each wets his thumb with his tongue, then they join them together, then hook them into each other, and finally both ratify all in rhyme:

Ring thumbs, ring the bell-
Them that rue first gang to hell.

In Johnson's Musical Museum may be found a song as old as Ramsay's, adapted to the same air, which seems a half English and half Scottish production. In the same work there is a song called “Sweetest May,” written by Burns. Part is a parody on Allan's song, and what is not parodied is borrowed :

Sweetest May, let love inspire thee-
Take a heart which he designs thee:

As thy constant slave regard it;
For its faith and truth reward it.

Proof oʻshot to birth or money ;
Not the wealthy, but the bonnie,-
Not high born, but noble minded,
In love's silken band can bind it.


When first my dear laddie gade to the green hill,
And I at ewe-milking first sey'd my young skill,
To bear the milk-bowie nae pain was to me,
When I at the bughting forgather'd with thee.

When corn-riggs wav'd yellow, and blue heather-bells
Bloom'd bonny on moorland and sweet-rising fells,
Nae birns, brier, or bracken gave trouble to me,
If I found but the berries right ripen'd for thee.


When thou ran, or wrestled, or putted the stane,
And came aff the victor, my heart was aye fain:,
Thy ilka sport manly gave pleasure to me,
For nane can put, wrestle, or run swift as thee.

Our Jenny sings saftly the “Cowden Broom-knowes," And Rosie lilts sweetly the “Milking the Ewes;"

« PredošláPokračovať »