The Book of Scottish Song/The Nabob

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Nabob.

[Air, "Traveller's Return."—This simple, natural, and affecting production is to be found in almost every Scottish song-book of the present century, with the name "Miss Blamire" attached as the authoress; but who "Miss Blamire" was, what part of the country she belonged to, and whether she was living or dead, were questions which none or very few could answer, until the recent publication of a volume with the following title, "The Poetical Works of Miss Susanna Blamire, 'the muse of Cumberland;' now for the first time collected by Henry Lonsdale, M. D.; with a Preface, Memoir, and Notes, by Patrick Maxwell: Edinburgh, 1842." From this elegant little volume we learn, that Susanna Blamire was a native of Cumberland, and born at Cardew Hall, about six miles from Carlisle, on the 12th of January, 1747; that her father was a respectable gentleman of the county, William Blamire, Esq. ot the Oaks; that her mother died early in life, and Susanna was brought up chiefly with a benevolent and rich aunt, Mrs. Simpson of Thackwood; that in 1767 her eldest sister Sarah married Colonel Graham of Gartmore, after which period she spent a considerable portion of her time at her sister's residence in Scotland; that the latter years of her life were afflicted by infirm health, and that she died at Carlisle on the 5th of April, 1794, at the age of forty-seven. "She had," according to her biographer Mr. Maxwell, who has displayed unwearied research in gathering the particulars of her life from sources that were fast dying away, "a graceful form, somewhat above the middle size, and a countenance—though slightly marked with the smallpox—beaming with good nature; her dark eyes sparkled with animation, and won every heart at the first introduction. She was called by her affectionate countrymen 'a bonnie and varra lish young lass,' which may be interpreted as meaning a beautiful and very lively young girl. Her affability and total freedom from affectation, put to flight that reserve which her presence was apt to create in the minds of her humbler associates; for they quickly perceived she really wished them happiness, and aided in promoting it by every effort in her power. She freely mingled in their social parties, called merry neets in Cumberland; and by her graceful figure, elegant dancing, and kind-hearted gayety, gave a zest to the entertainments, which without her presence would have been wanting." Miss Blamire's productions consist of a variety of pieces in the English language, a considerable number of Scottish Songs, and some songs in the Cumberland dialect. None of them were printed in her lifetime with her name, but most of them were distributed in MS. among her friends and relations. Of her Scottish songs, the following is the most universally popular. We give it here with Mr. Maxwell's permission, from his own copy, collated with two manuscripts in the authoress's handwriting and other MS. copies.]

When silent time, wi' lightly foot,
Had trod on thirty years,
I sought again my native land
Wi' mony hopes and fears:
Wha kens gin the dear friends I left
May still continue mine?
Or gin I e'er again shall taste
The joys I left langsyne?

As I drew near my ancient pile,
My heart beat a' the way;
Ilk place I pass'd seem'd yet to speak
O' some dear former day;
Those days that follow'd me afar,
Those happy days o' mine,
Whilk made me think the present joys
A' naething to langsyne!

The ivy'd tower now met my eye,
Where minstrels used to blaw;
Nae friend stepp'd forth wi' open hand,
Nae weel kenn'd face I saw;
Till Donald totter'd to the door,
Wham I left in his prime,
And grat to see the lad return
He bore about langsyne.

I ran to ilka dear friend's room,
As if to find them there,
I knew where ilk ane used to sit,
And hang o'er mony a chair;
Till soft remembrance threw a veil
Across these een o' mine,
I clos'd the door, and sobb'd aloud,
To think on auld langsyne!

Some pensy chiels, a new sprung race,
Wad next their welcome pay,
Wha shudder'd at my Gothic wa's,
And wish'd my groves away:
"Cut, cut," they cried, "those aged elms.
Lay low yon mournfu' pine:"
Na! na! our fathers' names grow there,
Memorials o' langsyne.

To wean me frae these waefu' thoughts,
They took me to the town;
But sair on ilka weel-kenn'd face
I miss'd the youthfu' bloom.
At balls they pointed to a nymph
Wham a' declar'd divine;
But sure her mother's blushing cheeks
Were fairer far langsyne!

In vain I sought in music's sound
To find that magic art,
Which oft in Scotland's ancient lays
Has thrill'd through a' my heart:
The sang had mony an artfu' turn;
My ear confess'd 'twas fine,
But miss'd the simple melody
I listen'd to langsyne.

Ye sons to comrades o' my youth,
Forgi'e an auld man's spleen,
Wha 'midst your gayest scenes still mourns
The days he ance has seen:
When time has past, and seasons fled,
Your hearts will feel like mine;
And aye the sang will maist delight
That minds ye o' langsyne!