Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/454

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442

��SCOTISH MUSIC.

��Ritson's time, it does not surprise one to find him saying in his letters (1791) that 'the Scot- ish airs that could be satisfactorily proved to have existed earlier than the Restoration are in all only twenty-four.' If from these are de- ducted all that do not fall under the head of folk-music, then his estimate must be reduced by nearly a half, for he included part-songs such as '0 lusty May'; several tunes now known to be English ; and, notwithstanding his noted scepticism, even the air which, for want of an earlier name, is called 'Hei tuti taiti' ; appending this note however ' said, without the slightest probability, to have been King Robert Bruce's march to Bannockburn ' These MSS. enlarge this estimate considerably. Leaving out the English airs and foreign dances, upwards of fifty tunes must be added to it. Some of them are in a rather rudimentary state, but distinctive traits serve to identify them with certain known tunes. The versions of others are simple and beautiful, often greatly preferable to those of the same airs handed down traditionally. Although the number of melodies that can thus be traced in the 1 7th century is still comparatively small, yet it must be evident to all who have studied the subject, that a much larger number, then in existence, did not appear either in print or in manuscript tilt the following century. Not till then do we find 'Aye waukin 0,' 'Waly waly/ ' Barbara Allan,' Ca the yowes,' ' Gala water,' 'I had a horse,' and many others equally old. Ramsay and Thomson (1725) omitted these and similar simple airs from their collections, while florid tunes such as ' John Hay's bonnie lassie ' and ' Love is the cause of my mourning ' abound in their volumes The taste of their times was for ornament, in ours it is for simplicity ; indeed the very simplicity which we prize they seem to have despised.

The extreme rarity of MSS. such as those mentioned is greatly to be regretted. The never- ceasing wars upon the borders, and the private feuds throughout the rest of the kingdom, with their consequent destruction of castles and keeps, abbeys and cathedrals, have had much to do with the sweeping away of musical records of ancient date which would otherwise have come down to us

From some anecdotes told of Charles II. he seems to have had a great liking for Scotish music, and certainly from the Restoration it be- came popular in England. This is shown by the almost innumerable imitations of the style that are to be found in the various publications of John Playford. They are usually simply called ' Scotch tunes,' but sometimes the name of the composer is given, showing that no idea of strict nationality attached to them. In general they are worthless ; but occasionally excellent melodies appear among them, such as 'She rose and let me in,' Over the hills and far away,' 'De'il take the wars/ 'Sawney was tall' (Corn rigs), 'In January last' (Jock of Hazeldean), all of which, with many others of less note, have been incorporated in Scotish Collections, at first from ignorance,

��SCOTISH MUSIC.

afterwards from custom, and without further en- quiry. There are however many tunes, not to be confounded with these, which two or even three centuries ago were common to the northern counties of England and the adjoining counties of Scotland, the exact birthplace of which will never be satisfactorily determined ; for we agree with Mr. H. F. Chorley in believing that the first record in print does not necessarily decide the parentage of a tune.

Among these though rather on account of the words than the music may be classed the famous song 'Tak your auld cloak about ye,' which having been found in Bishop Percy's Ancient MS. has been claimed as entirely English. The Rev. J. W. Ebsworth, a very high authority, believes it to be the common property of the Border counties of both nations. Probably it is so; yet it seems strange that so excellent a ballad, if ever popularly known in England, should have so utterly disappeared from that country as not to be even mentioned in any English work, or by any English author with the exception of Shakspere, who has quoted one stanza of it in Othello. Not a line of it is to be found in the numerous ' Drolleries ' of the Restoration, in the publications of Playford and D'Urfey, or in the ' Merry Musicians ' and other song-books of the reign of Queen Anne. Even the printers whose presses sent forth the thousands of black- letter ballads that fill the Roxburgh, Pepys, Bagford and other Collections, ignore it entirely. Allan Ramsay, in 1728, was the first to print it, nearly forty years before Bishop Percy gave his version to the world, confessing to have corrected his own by copies received from Scotland. The question naturally arises, where did Allan Ram- say get his copy of the ballad, if not from the singing of the people. Certainly not from England, for there it was then unknown.

The ancient Percy MS. contains, however, several excellent stanzas not found elsewhere, as well as some others that by the total absence of sense as well as of rhymes show they are corrupt. In the last stanza the transcriber of the MS. has given the sound rather than the sense, as con- veyed by the words of the Scotish Version. These are

Nocht 's to be won at woman's ban'

Unless you gie her a' the plea ; Sae I '11 leave aff where I began And tak my auld cloak about me.

' To give one all the plea,' is a common Scotisb phrase for giving up the whole subject that is in debate. The Percy MS. says

It 's not for a man with a woman to threape

Unless he first give over the play : We will live now as we began

And 111 have myne old cloak about me.

A critical comparison in detail of the two- versions would be out of place here, but it will well repay the trouble, and reveal many small points of difference in the national character of the two countries.

The half century after the Revolution was a busy one both with Jacobite poetry and music ; of the former the quantity is so great as to

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