Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/31

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( xxv )

moral ground, I have just finished a bonfire of them—so here ends the matter." It is therefore a certainty that the Greenshields part of the Pickering collection is beyond recovery. "The Jolly Gauger"—an amended version of which is given at p. 422 of Vol. II. of same edition, taken along with the note attached—is a warning of the danger of allowing such commendable qualities as editorial conscientiousness and enthusiasm to run riot. In Vol. II. (pp. 60 and 62, Paterson's Ed.) reference is made to other two "Crochallan" songs—"The bonie Moor Hen," and "My Lord a-Hunting"—the former of which is mentioned in the Clarinda correspondence. What are we then to understand by "Crochallan" songs as distinguished from songs in the "Crochallan" collection? Was the "mean-looking volume" a faithful reflection of the pilfered MS., or was it, like its successors, composed of garbled extracts eked out by the canticular obscenity of its time? We cannot say, and we submit its contents with that reservation. From his tomb comes the lingering echo, "a very few of them are my own." What more is there in that confession than half the world, were it only half as honest, could confess of the "original sin" of bachelor stories in bachelor clubs, the modern demand for prurient novels, and the insatiable curiosity that centres in the proceedings of the Divorce Courts? Were the private confidences of either the celebrated or obscure of any age or time as ruthlessly violated as those of Burns have been, few would escape whipping. Our purpose will have been served if this publication be the means of furnishing the Poet's admirers with a sufficiency of fact wherewith to repel the calumnies and falsehoods which the cupidity of a few infamous publishers has heaped upon his name.