Page:Merry Muses of Caledonia.djvu/15

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( ix )

At the outset, it may be interesting to enquire as to the sources of Burns's ballad lore apart from oral tradition. With the works of Fergusson and Ramsay he was specially familiar, and his writings also testify that the English poets and dramatists were not unknown to him, but these must be adjudged indifferent aids in his researches. D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy was published in 1719; Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany in 1724; and William Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius about the same date. Previous to these, however, the Watson Collection was in circulation, having been published in 1709.[1] Of the last-named work. Burns says that it was "the first of its nature which has been published in our own native Scots dialect." A Collection of Loyal Songs, Poems, &c., is referred to by Stenhouse as having been published in 1750, and the following year Yair's Charmer was issued. The Blackbird, edited by William Hunter, appeared in 1764; Bishop Percy's Reliques, 1605, the Dublin Collection in 1769; and Herd's Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, &c. (referred to by Burns as Wotherspoon's Collection), in 1776.[2] Nearer the close of Burns's career we find Pinkerton's Collection in 1786; Lawrie and Symington's Collection in 1791; Ritson's in 1794; and Dale's, which Robert Chambers assigns to a period anterior to Burns without mentioning the exact date. In this list, which does not pretend to be either accurate or complete, we have disregarded such collections as Oswald's (1740), and MacGibbon's (1762), for the reason that they deal less with the poetical than the musical side of the subject. It is perhaps too

  1. Choice Drollery: Songs and Sonnets, was published in 1656; Westminster Drolleries, in 1672; and Merry Drollery, in 1691. These are more closely connected with English literature.
  2. A First Edition.