[Page 198]

1. I have met with many printed editions of this beautiful ballad, but scarcely two of them alike; the best appeared in the "Scots Magazine" for 1803, p. 130; a very inferior one was published in the same work in 1802, p. 594. The present version is printed from two manuscripts in the author's handwriting, a copy of the poem in the handwriting of her sister Mrs Brown, and from Miss Thomson's collection, mentioned in the preface; which collection, I may here add, was procured by Miss Rowlands directly from the author, they being related. Miss Thomson's set of the ballad is almost the same as that published in the "Scots Magazine" for 1803, with the exception of some verbal differences of very little consequence. Besides these differences, the stanza beginning "In vain I sought in music's sound," and the last half of the concluding stanza, are wholly omitted; a circumstance easily enough accounted for, by the carelessness of transcription. I have, of course, used this copy as my chief guide, with a word here and there from the other manuscripts, when I thought they were to be preferred; for I have been exceedingly solicitous of giving a correct edition of this exquisite ballad, which has now stood the test of public opinion for upwards of half a century, and by the aid of the author's copies to free it from those interpolations which have so much disfigured it, and marred its engaging simplicity. For this endeavour I hope to obtain the approbation of every lover of lyric poetry; for, on comparing the present with the former editions, I am confident its superiority will be at once acknowledged. How much it occupied the author's thoughts, and the care she bestowed on its composition, will be manifested by contrasting the first rough sketch of the poem given at the end of this note, with that of the perfected copy in the text. Besides, it is a matter of real interest to mark the elaboration of any poem which has become established in our literature; one which, like "The Nabob" has so long clung to the affections of the lovers of song on both sides of the Border; which has charmed the social meetings of all classes of the community, and claimed for its simple beauties, and touching imagery, the willing tear from both old and young. I have heard it sung in the south of Scotland, when both singer and auditors were weeping. In the first copy we find the name Peter afterwards changed to that of Donald; perhaps Peter was the actual name of the faithful domestic, as the poem was founded on an incident which actually occurred. The first three stanzas are almost the same as that in the text; the remainder is as follows:
Some hafflin' chiels, a new sprung race,
Wad next their welcome pay,
Wha shudder'd at my Gothic walls,
And wish'd my groves away:
"Cut, cut those odious trees," they cried,
"And low lay yonder pine:"
Deed no; your fathers' names grow there,
Memorials o' langsyne!
When time has change o' seasons brought;
When flowers begin to fade;
When summer suns haste down the sky,
And autumn thins the shade;
When wintry blasts are whistling round,
Your hearts will feel like mine;
And e'en a sang will maist delight
That minds ye o' langsyne.
To wean me frae these antique thoughts,
They drew me to the toun;
But there on brows where beauty sat
I saw a siller croun:
At balls they pointed to a nymph,
Whom all declare divine;
But sure her mother's blushing cheek
Was fairer far langsyne!
Dear youths, an auld man's warning take,
Nor ance allow the mind
To dwell on scenes that can't return,
Or friends ye nae mair find;
But as the fleeting moments pass,
To present joys incline;
And for the hour prepare some bliss
That asks nought frae langsyne.
The ills o' life thus to beguile
Be still your constant aim;
Nor let the joyful days o' youth
Too soft remembrance claim;
Else, tho' the mavis sweetly sings,
The woods and flowers combine
Wi' mony a friend to charm the heart,
'Twill sigh for auld langsyne!
It may be worth while to remark that, on the paper in which the above is written, there is a song entitled "Song for the Carlisle Hunt, November, 1788;" which date may probably indicate the year in which "The Nabob" was composed. It is to be found inR. A. Smith's "Scottish Minstrel" vol. vi. p. 41, beautifully arranged.

Air Traveller's Return.
1 WHEN silent time, wi' lightly foot,
2. A real incident. Mrs Brown.
2 Had trod on thirty years,
3 I sought again my native land
4 Wi' mony hopes and fears:
5 Wha kens gin the dear friends I left
6 May still continue mine?
7 Or gin I e'er again shall taste
8 The joys I left langsyne?
9 As I drew near my ancient pile,
10 My heart beat a' the way;
11 Ilk place I pass'd seem'd yet to speak
12 O' some dear former day;
13 Those days that follow'd me afar,
14 Those happy days o' mine,
15 Whilk made me think the present joys
16 A' naething to langsyne!
[Page 199]
17 The ivy'd tower now met my eye,
18 Where minstrels used to blaw;
19 Nae friend stepp'd forth wi' open hand,
20 Nae weel-kenn'd face I saw;
21 Till Donald totter'd to the door,
22 Wham I left in his prime,
23 And grat to see the lad return
24 He bore about langsyne.
25 I ran to ilka dear friend's room,
26 As if to find them there,
27 I knew where ilk ane used to sit,
28 And hang o'er mony a chair;
29 Till soft remembrance threw a veil
30 Across these een o' mine,
31 I clos'd the door, and sobb'd aloud,
32 To think on auld langsyne!
[Page 200]
33 Some pensy chiels, a new sprung race,
34 Wad next their welcome pay,
35 Wha shudder'd at my Gothic wa's,
36 And wish'd my groves away:
37 "Cut, cut," they cried, "those aged elms,
38 Lay low yon mournfu' pine:"
39 Na! na! our fathers' names grow there,
40 Memorials o' langsyne.
41 To wean me frae these waefu' thoughts,
42 They took me to the town;
43 But sair on ilka weel-kenn'd face
44 I miss'd the youthfu' bloom.
45 At balls they pointed to a nymph
46 Wham a' declar'd divine;
47 But sure her mother's blushing cheeks
48 Were fairer far langsyne!
[Page 201]
49 In vain I sought in music's sound
50 To find that magic art,
51 Which oft in Scotland's ancient lays
52 Has thrill'd through a' my heart:
53 The sang had mony an artfu' turn;
54 My ear confess'd 'twas fine;
55 But miss'd the simple melody
56 I listen'd to langsyne.
[Page 202]
57 Ye sons to comrades o' my youth,
58 Forgie an auld man's spleen,
59 Wha 'midst your gayest scenes still mourns
60 The days he ance has seen:
61 When time has past, and seasons fled,
62 Your hearts will feel like mine;
63 And aye the sang will maist delight
64 That minds ye o' langsyne!


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Title (in Source Edition): THE NABOB.
Genres: song

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Blamire, Susanna, 1747-1794. 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: John Menzies, 61 Princes Street; R. Tyas, London; D. Robertson, Glasgow; and C. Thurnam, Carlisle. MDCCCXLII., 1842, pp. 198-202.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [42.256].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Susanna Blamire