صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]



LADY ANNE LINDSAY (for that was Lady Barnard's name for more than twenty years after she wrote the beautiful ballad song of "Auld Robin Gray") was the eldest daughter of the fifth Earl of Balcarras. She was born on the 8th December 1750, at Balcarras, in Fifeshire. Her education was in keeping with her social position, and her talents maintained the character of the family to which she belonged.

Her father died in 1768, and she soon after left Balcarras to reside in Edinburgh with her mother, where she mixed in the literary society for which the northern capital was then so distinguished. She afterwards joined her sister Lady Fordyce, in London, and became acquainted with many of the leading literary and political men of the time,-Burke, Sheridan, Dundas, and Wyndham, being among the number of her acquaintances.

Her authorship of "Auld Robin Gray," though it was written in her twenty-first year, she kept a secret till within two years of her death, when she informed Sir Walter Scott of the circumstances out of which it arose. She was passionately fond of the old Scottish air, "The Bridegroom greits when the sun gaes down," the words of which were indelicate; so she determined to compose something more worthy of her favourite melody. Robin Gray was the name of an old shepherd at Balcarras, with whom she and the rest ofthe family were familiar when they were children. When in the act of writing it, a younger sister came into her room, and she informed her that she was writing a ballad, at the same time enumerating the four misfortunes to which she subjected the heroine, and asking her to suggest a fifth. "Steal the cow, Anne," said Elizabeth; and this was at once done.

It was long sung to the old Scottish air for which it was composed; but the

set, was composed by the Rev. William Leeves, an English clergyman.

In 1793, she married Andrew Barnard, Esquire, son of the Bishop of Limerick, whom she accompanied to the Cape of Good Hope, on his appoint-present beautiful melody, to which it is ment as secretary under Lord Macartney, governor of that colony. Mr Barnard died at the Cape in 1807, and Lady Barnard returned to London, and again took up her residence with her sister. In 1812, the latter re-married, and Lady Barnard continued to reside in Berkeley Square, where she died on the 6th May 1825.

Lady Barnard wrote a considerable number of other pieces, of which it was at one time thought to publish a selection; but the idea was abandoned. Some sketches of her youthful friends and surroundings are included in Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays.

Virst dere is de vine king, just landed at He vore little vigs, boys, when virst he Greenwich, came here, But dere is a brave king, dat still remains But now he has great vones, as you may banish; zee dere; He came a great way, to save dis poor And I have been told it, both over and people, Who, vor vear of de Pope, have made Ven he puts on de vine vig, no brains he choice of de Devil.


can cover.

Some zay he has brought us a great deal | Pray look now and zee, how he holds up of monish,

his head,

In hopes you'll give him and his children zome bread;

But if you look dere, it is vone, two, tree, Connish; Dis is de Hannover, and dose are his You may give dem zome sheese too, and bishes, if you tink fitt, Who vill gul de poor English of all deir But de devil sall take me if I give dem a brave rishes.

Dere is his wife, in de castle of stone,

And vat she is dere vor is very vell known;

Dere lies de poor man, too, vhose blood he did shed,

Vor planting of horns upon his dull head.

But now you sall zee him, and both his two Turks,

At mending deir stocking, because dey love work;

And dere dey are rubbing, and scrubbing his skin,


Look on dat zame voman, vor dhat is his vife,

Who ne'er was so vine all the days of her life;

She's as vat as a pork, he's as proud as a pimp,

And all de whole crew are a parcel of imp.

Cast but your eyes round, and view dat brave hero,

Who, if you'll assist him, vill kick out dis

Nero ;

Now he is de best king dat ever I knew, To keep de louse out, which he knows And it is great pity ye are not all true.

vold creep in.

Look, dere is de vine Prince, and don't he look pretty?

But do you all know, dat de vool is not vitty;

You zee de artillery, all kissing his hand, And will have him before dem, to valk and to stand.

I pray and I hope that you soon vill be vise,

And de false king instead of the true vone despise ;

And zure none will grudge vor to gie me vone guinea,

'Tis to drink a good health to noble king Jamie.

[blocks in formation]

BURNS'S is perhaps the only Scottish | remarkable for her ignorance, credulity, poetry that has never shown the least signs of diminished popularity; for there is hardly a year since his death in which an edition of it has not been published; and at present (1877), what promises to be the most complete and elaborate edition of his works that has yet been attempted, is passing through the press. The same may be remarked of his life, which has attracted, and still attracts, the study of the best thinkers, not only among his own countrymen, but among foreigners.

Robert Burns was the son of William Burnes, a native of Kincardineshire, who left that district in youth, and after some time settled in Ayrshire, where he married Agnes Brown, a native of that county. The poet, their first-born, as he himself remarks, first saw the light on the stormy morning of January 25th, 1759, in a small cottage still standing, about a mile and a-half south of Ayr. He received a good English education and a smattering of French; and, with the example of his father, who was a man of sterling worth and intelligence, | aided by a few standard English and Scotch classics, the foundations of his character and of his literary stock, which may be said to have been select rather than extensive, were laid. Another element in his education may be best told in his own words :-"In my infant and boyish days, too, I owed much to

an old woman who resided in the family, (11)

and superstition. She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the country of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted towers, dragons, and other trumpery. This cultivated the latent seeds of poetry, but had so strong an effect on my imagination, that to this hour, in my nocturnal rambles, I sometimes keep a sharp look-out in suspicious places; and though nobody can be more sceptical than I am in such matters, yet it often takes an effort of philosophy to shake off these idle terrors.'

In 1766, Burns's father took a lease of the farm of Mount Oliphant, which turned out a very unprofitable speculation, notwithstanding all his efforts to work it economically. He was, therefore, at the end of six years, under the necessity of giving it up and removing to Lochlea, a larger farm, in the parish of Tarbolton. This turned out a more promising adventure, and for three or four years comparative prosperity smiled upon their efforts; yet, in consequence of the want of a written lease with his landlord, disputes arose which led to litigation, in the midst of which his health gave way, and death "saved him from the horrors of a jail," in February 1784.

Robert now became the male head

2 S

of the family, and with the sad experience of his father's struggles fresh in his mind, and his own increased responsibilities weighing upon him, he, with his brother Gilbert, shortly before their father's death, took a lease of the farm of Mossgiel, in the neighbourhood of Mauchline. To the plenishing of this farm the members of the family gave what little savings they had, and contributed their efforts to its working. | Here their misfortunes began early misfortunes aggravated by the poet's passionate imprudence—which impelled him to give up his share of the farm to his more sedate brother Gilbert, and to resolve upon leaving his native land for a situation in Jamaica.

claims to her as his wife. Such were the circumstances that determined his resolution of exiling himself.

Instigated by his friend Gavin Hamilton, and the necessity of providing means for his projected voyage, he determined to publish by subscription a collection of those poems which had hitherto only amused his rustic companions. The story of the publication can never be told so well as in his own words :-"I weighed my productions as impartially as was in my power: I thought they had merit; and it was a delicious idea that I should be called a clever fellow, even though it should never reach my ears-a poor negrodriver, or perhaps a victim to that inhospitable clime, and gone to the world of spirits! I can only say that, pauvre inconnu as I then was, I had pretty nearly as high an idea of myself and of my works as I have at this moment, when the public has decided in their favour. I threw off six

[ocr errors]

Some years before this, Burns, through the reflex action of a melancholic illness, had acquired a passionate fondness for social enjoyment, and he discovered a remarkable power of contributing to the entertainment of convivial gatherings by his ready eloquence and his poetic powers. To this has to be added an un-hundred copies, of which I got subscripcommon sensitiveness to the charms of tions for about three hundred and fifty. the fair sex. This latter propensity led My vanity was highly gratified by the to his having formed a clandestine con- reception I met with from the public; nection with Jean Armour, the daughter and, besides, I pocketed, all expenses of James Armour, a stone-mason in deducted, nearly twenty pounds. This Mauchline, to whom, in the prospect of sum came very seasonably, as I was becoming a mother, he gave a written thinking of indenting myself, for want acknowledgment of their private mar- of money to pay my passage. . . . I riage, a form of contract which is valid had been for some days skulking from by the law of Scotland. Jean's father, covert to covert under all the terrors of who appears to have been of a stern and a jail; as some ill-advised people had uncompromising disposition, and un- uncoupled the merciless pack of the law favourably impressed with Burns's char- at my heels. I had taken the last fareacter as a husband for his daughter, well of my few friends; my chest was destroyed the evidence of their mar- on the road to Greenock. I had comriage, and refused to admit Burns's posed the last song I should ever

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »