No. 297. How pleasant the banks.
No. 297. Thickest night, surround my dwelling. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 132, signed ' B': to the Tune, Strathallan's lament. The MS. is in the British Museum. Burns passed through Strathallan on August •28, 1787; shortly afterwards he wrote the song. William Drummond, Viscount Strathallan, was killed at Culloden. His son James, Viscount Strathallan, on whom the song was written, was attainted, and after the disas trous rout of the Chevalier's army fled to the hills, where he hid until he found an opportunity of escaping to France. He joined the Court of Prince Charles, remained abroad, and died an exile. From the Rebellion to the end of the eigh teenth century almost every poet wrote Jacobite songs more or less sympathetic. Burns made the following memorandum on Strathallan s lament: ' This air is the composition of one of the worthiest and best-hearted men living—Allan Masterton, School Master in Edinburgh. As he and I were both sprouts of Jacobitism, we agreed to dedicate the words and air to that cause. To tell the matter of fact, except when my passions were heated by some accidental cause, my Jacobitism was merely by way of vive la bagatelle' (Interleaved Museum). The accidental causes were frequent, and he never wrote anything on the Hanover family to show he had any affection for it.
Another MS. of the song differs from that in the text. The first line is 'Thickest darkness o'erhang my dwelling,' and the first half of the second stanza is as follows:—
' Farewell fleeting, fickle treasure, Between mishap and folly shar'd; Farewell peace and farewell pleasure, Farewell flattering man's regard.'
The melody cannot be mistaken for an old air.