( xviii )
this Dumfries volume was ever reprinted, but edition after edition of "Merry Muses" continued to be issued from the disreputable press in all parts of the kingdom, and sold privately for dishonourable gain. These, for the most part, are merely receptacles for the floating obscenity of their periods, and bear the same relation to the Dumfries edition as they do to the other sources which they laid under contribution. We have sifted no fewer than seven of these editions and reprints. On every one of the title pages appears a doggerel stanza, which will be found in situ in the present volume.
As the text of the original Dumfries edition is reproduced in this volume, whatever is necessary in the way of elucidation will be found in the notes appended to the individual compositions.
No. II. curtails the title to "The Merry Muses—a choice Collection of Favourite Songs;" and it bears on the lower part of the title page, "Dublin—Printed for the Booksellers—Price three shillings." There is no date. It measures 8 inches by 4½.
No. III. expands the title to "The Merry Muses—a choice collection of Favourite Songs Gathered From Many Sources—by Robert Burns—to which is added Two of his letters and a poem— hitherto suppressed—and never before printed." At the top of the title page is—"Not for maids, ministers, or striplings;" and at the bottom, "Privately Printed—(Not for sale)—1827." On the reverse appears, "Only 99 copies printed." This edition has also a preface of some length. It measures 6½ inches by 4¾.
No. IV. has the same title as No. II., but bears, "Dublin—Printed for the Booksellers—1832." It measures 5⅛ inches by 3⅜.
- The measurements apply to the copies examined.