No. 1. O, once I lov'd a bonie lass.
Note.—The greater number of the Music Books, referred to in the following Notes, are undated. To avoid defacement by innumerable brackets the ascertained year of publication follows the title and precedes the volume or page of the book quoted. The works with and without dates of publication are shown in the Bibliography.
The Notes marked with an asterisk * refer to the Songs now printed for the first time as the works of Burns.
I. LOVE-SONGS: PERSONAL.
No. 1. O, once I lov'd a bonie lass. Burns remarks in his Commonplace Book, prior to copying this song, ' I never had the least thought or inclination of turning poet till I got once heartily in love,' and records it as ' the first of my performances, and done at an early period of life, when my heart glowed with honest warm sImplicity; unacquainted, and uncorrupted, with the ways of a wicked world. The performance is, indeed, very puerile and silly; but I am always pleased with it, as it recalls to my mind those happy days when my heart was yet honest and my tongue was sincere' (Commonplace Book, Edin. 1872, f). The song was written in 1774 (the above note is dated April, 1783), in honour of Nelly Kilpatrick, ' who sang sweetly,' a farm servant, and daughter of a village blacksmith who in former days had lent the boy Burns romantic chap-books to read. Burns did not publish the song, and it was first printed posthumously in the Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. jji, without the Fal de lal chorus in the original copy.
I cannot trace the tune I am a man unmarried—the favourite reel of the girl—for which Burns wrote the verses; and the music to which the verses were set in the Museum, and there printed for the first time, has not the ' ancient' character assigned to it by Stenhouse, and there is no evidence that Burns knew the tune as printed.