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of language and alacrity of humour, and lyric grace of composition, which distinguish many of Allan's songs. My Peggy is a young thing” is partly founded on an song
which commences thus
ye ca' in by our town As ye come frae the fauld.
If the wit and the humour of this ancient lyric were not enclosed with grossness and indelicacy, as a thistle bloom is beset with its prickles, it would be worthy of acceptation in any company.
THE YOUNG LAIRD AND EDINBURGH
Now wat ye
wha I met yestreen,
O Katy, wiltu' gang wi' me,
The blossom's sprouting frae the tree,
Soon as the clear goodman of day
gae to some burn-side and play,
There's into a pleasant glen,
Allan Ramsay wrote this very
natural song, and printed it in his collection in 1724. It was composed to take place of an old and licentious lyric of the same name; and it has been so successful, that its impure predecessor has wholly disappeared. There was a fine free spirit of enjoyment about Ramsay, and his verses exhibit a happy and pleasant mind. The prime of his life, from twenty-five to five and forty, he devoted to poetry: he began when observation came to the aid of fancy, and he desisted when the gravity of years admonished him to turn to more solemn thoughts than merry verse.
With him life seems to have glided more felicitously away than with many other poets-he had fortune and favour on his side, and had the good sense to be content.
BESSY BELL AND MARY GRAY.
O Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They are twa bonny lassies,
And theek'd it o'er wi' rashes.
And thought I ne'er could alter;
They gar my fancy falter.
Now Bessy's hair's like a lint-tap ;
She smiles like a May morning,
The hills with rays adorning :
White is her neck, saft is her hand,
Her waist and feet's fu' genty;
Her lips, O wow ! they're dainty.
And Mary's locks are like a craw,
Her een like diamonds' glances ;
She kills whene'er she dances :
She blooming, tight, and tall is;
O Jove, she's like thy Pallas.
Dear Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
Ye unco sair oppress us ;
Ye are sic bonny lasses :
To ane by law we're stented;
And be with ane contented.
The heroines of this song are not so much indebted to Allan Ramsay for their celebrity as to the affecting story which tradition associates with their names. Elizabeth Bell was the daughter of a gentleman in Perthshire, and Mary Gray was the daughter of Gray of Lyndoch. They were intimate friends, and very witty
very beautiful. ,When the plague visited Scotland in 1666, they built a bower in a secluded and romantic glen, near Lyndoch, and retiring to the spot, which is yet called “ Burnbrae,” hoped to survive the contagion. But they fell victims to their affections : they were visited by a young gentleman, either as a friend or admirer ; and the plague soon made them occupiers of the same grave. As they were friends in life, so in death they were not divided. The place where they lie buried is enclosed ; and their grave is respected by all who sympathise in their mournful story. Lyndoch, where they lie, is the property of Thomas Graham, Lord Lyndoch. Their fate was the subject of an old and pathetic song, of which the following fragment only remains :
O Bessie Bell and Mary Gray,
They were twa bonnie lasses,
And theekit it o'er wi' rashes :
They theekit it o'er wi' heather,
They thought to lie in Methven kirk,
Amang their noble kin,
To beak fornent the sun.