Air,—“Lord Balgownie's Favourite."


Arranged by Mr. R. A. Smith.

GLOOMY Winter's now awa,
Saft the westlan breezes blaw ;
Mang the birks o Stanely shaw
The mavis sings fu cheerie, O ;

Sweet the crawflower's [1] early bell
Decks Gleniffer's dewy dell,
Blooming like thy bonnie sel,
My young, my artless dearie, O.

Come my lassie, let us stray
O'er Glenkilloch's [2] sunny brae,
Blythely spend the gowden day,
Midst joys that never weary, O.

Tow'ring o'er the Newton wuds, [3]
Lav'rocks fan the snaw white clouds,
Siller saughs, wi downy buds,
Adorn the banks sae briery, O.

Roun the sylvan fairy nooks,
Feath'ry breckans fringe the rocks,
Neath the brae the burnie jouks,
And ilka thing is cheerie, O.

Trees may bud, and birds may sing,
Flowers may bloom, and verdure spring,
Joy to me they canna bring,

Note by R. A. Smith in the "Harp of Renfrewshire," page xxxiv.— "Tannahill was particularly adverse to enter the company of people above his own station of life. As an instance of this I shall relate one little anecdote :­Miss—— of—— was particularly fond of the Scottish melody, ‘Lord Balgownie's Favourite,’ and had expressed a wish to see it united to good poetry. I accordingly applied to my friend, who produced his song ‘Gloomy Winter's now awa,’ in a few days. As soon as I had arranged, the air, with symphonies and accompaniment for the pianoforte, I waited on the lady, who was much delighted with the verses, and begged of me to invite the author to take a walk with me to the house at any leisure time. I knew that it would be almost impossible to prevail on Robert to allow himself to be introduced by fair means, so, for once, I made use of the only alternative in my power by beguiling him thither during our first Saturday's ramble, under the pretence of being obliged to call with some music I had with me for the ladies. This, however, could not be effected till I promised not to make him known, in case any of the family came to the door ; but how great was his astonishment when Miss—— came forward to invite him into the house by name. I shall never forget the awkwardness with which he accompanied us to the music room. He sat as it were, quite petrified, till the magic of the music and the great affability of the ladies reconciled him to his situation. In a short time Mr.—— came in, was introduced to his visitor in due form, and, with that goodness of heart and sim­plicity of manner, for which he is so deservedly esteemed by all who have the pleasure of knowing him, chatted with his guest till near dinner time, when Robert again became terribly uneasy, as Mr.—— insisted on our staying to dine with the family. Many a rueful look was cast to me, and many an ex­cuse was made to get away ; but, alas ! there was no escaping with a good grace, and, finding that I was little inclined to understand his signals, the kind request was at length reluctantly complied with.

* * * * After a cheerful glass or two, the restraint he was under gradually wore away, and he became tolerably communicative. I believe that, when we left the mansion, the poet entertained very different senti­ments from those with which he had entered it. He had formed an opinion that nothing save distant pride and cold formality was to be met with from people in the higher walks of life, but on experiencing the very reverse of his imaginings, he was quite delighted, and when Mr.——'s name happened to be mentioned in his hearing afterwards it generally called forth expressions of respect and admiration. ‘ Gloomy winter's now awa’ became a very popular song, and was the reigning favourite in Edinburgh for a considerable time."

Note by Ramsay.—" This melody was published in Nathaniel Gow's collection under the name of ‘Lord Balgonie's Favourite,’ as a very ancient air. Afterwards, however, it was claimed by Alexander Campbell, who asserts in ‘Albyn's Anthology,’  Vol. I., that it was originally composed by him as a strathspey."

Mr. Ramsay further said—"The song  ‘Gloomy Winter's now awa’ was written by Tannahill for Smith, who adapted the melody to the words, and published it in the key C Minor about the year 1808. It became very popular, and was the reigning favourite in Edinburgh for a considerable time. Twenty years afterwards, when the song was, comparatively speaking, forgotten, its popularity was renewed from the inimitable manner of Miss E. Paton's singing ; and Smith was induced to publish a new edition, with an entirely new arrangement and a third lower, and more suitable for the generality of voices."

The young lady referred to in the foregoing notes was Miss Elizabeth Wilson, daughter of John Wilson, Esq., Hurlet, a very worthy and highly respected gentleman, who took a deep interest in the affairs of Renfrewshire. Miss Elizabeth Wilson was then 18 years of age, is still living, and is now in the 85th year of her age. On Monday, 25th May, 1874,—ten days before the Centenary of Tannahill, the Crathie choir came to Balmoral Castle, where Queen Victoria was residing at the time, and sang the following selection of music in honour of Her Majesty's Birthday (the preceding day) :—“Auld Langsyne,” “Banks and Braes o' bonnie Doon,” “A wee bird Cam' tae oor ha' door,” “Tam Glen,” “Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,” “GLOOMY WINTER'S NOW AWA,” “The hundred pipers,” “Ca' the ewes to the knowes,” and the “National Anthem.”—Ed.

[1] The flower here referred to is the Wild Hyacinth, or Harebell. Hyacinthus Non Scriptus. Abundant in Gleniffer woods and hedges. Root, a coated egg-shaped bulb. Leaves long, narrow, and grass green. Flower stem, six to twelve inches. Flowers in a long drooping raceme of fine purplish blue, pen­dent, and pointing one way. Tannahill did not refer to the yellow flower of the Crowfoot, Ranunculus Repens, so common in pasture fields, known by the common name of Buttercups.—Ed.

[2] Glenkilloch.—The farm of Killoch is situated in Neilston parish, in the Fereneze portion of the mountainous range dividing that parish from the parish of Paisley ; and, having a southern exposure, the lyric poet has described the place as “Glenkilloch's sunny brae.” In Killoch Glen there are a succession of beautiful cascades, or falls of water, before the Killoch burn sinks into the bosom of the Levern rivulet at Broadley Mill.—Ed.

[3] The lands of Newton, situated at a short distance to the north-west of Stanely Castle, are bounded on the west by the Ald Patrick burn ; on the north, by the road to Beith ; and on the east, by the Fulbar road. The eastern portion was covered with plantations, and several hundreds of the trees are still growing, reminding the present generation of Tannahill's Newton Woods. These lands were acquired by Robert Alexander in 1670, and he and his descendants were the respected landlords for upwards of a hundred years. He was the ancestor and founder of the present Southbar and Ballochmyle families of Alexander.—Ed.

[Semple 70]