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truth, energy, and feeling, that at once imparts kindred emotions to the breast of the reader, and leaves an impression on his mind that nothing can efface. Perhaps, therefore, it is not too much to assert of them, that as effusions of real passion, they are unrivalled by any similar compositions, either ancient or modern. Nothing can exceed the force and variety of their humour, the keenness of their wit, the vigour of their invective, the buoyancy of their hope, and not unfrequently the pathos of their despair.
Though much of the pleasure which is felt in Jacobite song may thus be ascribed to the force of its own peculiar charms, it cannot be denied that a large share of the interest which belongs to it is owing to the cause which it sung, and the events and recollections with which it is associated. On this account the greater portion of the pieces hitherto published, possess a value in the eyes of most Scotsmen, altogether independent of their poetical characteristics. Not that the principles of the Jacobites, or the objects for which they contended, are now held in particular veneration, for these, it is well known, warred alike against common sense and the natural liberty of mankind ; * but that there is felt in almost every
• The extravagant nature of Jacobite principles may be best ascer. tained by contrasting them with those of the Whigs and Tories, as they have been defined by Mr Hume the historian. “ A Tory,” says he, in one of his essays, “ may be defined in a few words:--to be a lover of monarchy, though without abandoning liberty, and a partiman of the family of Stuart; as a Whig may be defined to be a lover of liberty, though without renouncing monarchy, and a friend to the settlement in the British line. A Jacobite seems to be a Tory who has no regard to the constitution, but is either a zealous partizan of
breast a warm and irresistible admiration of the devoted constancy and heroic valour displayed by the partizans of the House of Stuart, and a melancholy sympathy for the misfortunes that pursued them. In spite of the equivocal motives which are known to have actuated many of those who took the lead in that luckless cause, we still admire the integrity of purpose as well as pathetic heroism displayed by the great body of its followers. We forget their mistaken views, their pernicious enthusiasm ; and only think of their romantic courage, their persevering fidelity, and their unshaken fortitude, through all the vicissitudes that marked their attempts to recover what they, at least, thought their own and their monarch’s right. But it is chiefly in contemplating the reverses of the Jacobites, and especially the grand catastrophe that followed their short lived triumphs in 1745, that we find our sympathies most powerfully awakened in their behalf. However much they may have erred both in politics and religion, we cannot but remember with pity the dreadful penalty which was paid for their attachment to them; their powerful and warlike bands broken up and dispersed, the frightful military execution by fire and sword inflicted on their country, their wives and children exposed to the horrors of famine, and they themselves, when they escaped the axe of the executioner, driven into hopeless exile. Remembering those accumulated ills, all their faults, and all the vices of their cause, are lost in commiseration of their fate; and to this feeling of compassion for the wretched, must we ascribe that general prepossession which still exists for every thing connected with the Jacobite cause and Jacobite times. Hence, also, the universally popular character of Jacobite Song.
absolute monarchy, or at least willing to sacrifice our liberties to the obtaining the succession in that family to which he is attached.”
During the whole of the period to which the Minstrelsy of this vo. lume refers, the people of England were divided into Whigs, Tories, and Jacobites; though the two last were closely allied to each other. But in Scotland, there were only two parties. All the Presbyterians, the great body of the people, were Whigs; and as the Episcopalians had no worldly motive for dissembling their sentiments, having been dispossessed at the Revolution, they were all nonjurors, and open and avowed Jacobites.
Independent, however, of the hold which these relics of the past thus have on the sympathies and affections of Scotsmen; and, besides the charm which they possess as spirited, graphic, and touching specimens of the muse, their practical use in illustrating many events of the period to which they refer, stamps them with an additional value, and renders them of no little estimation in the eye of the historical reader. In fact, when arranged consecutively, and with attention to chronological order, these songs and fragments form a delightful commentary on the memoirs of the time, and may almost be said to constitute an epitome of Jacobite history. Subservient in some degree to this end, and with a view to make them as useful as agreeable, have the pieces in the present collection been selected and arranged, and, on reference to their titles, it will be found that, taken in connection with the notes, they present such a series of political and personal details as may well serve the purpose of more legitimate memoirs.
In this point of view, the Jacobite Minstrelsy is chiefly of importance from the date
of the abdication of James the Second; for although there were numerous party songs in relation to the Stuarts at a much earlier period, few or none can be considered er. clusively Jacobite, till that family was shut out from the succession to the throne. The Revolution of 1668 is the grand era of Jacobite Song. Accordingly, as the first event in the series, it forms the subject of satire in several pieces, but particularly in Cakes o’ Crowdy. The next event was the attempt of Viscount Dundee to restore James, at the head of little more than three thousand Highlanders, when, though victorious over a larger Government force, under General Mackay, he was killed in battle. This is commemorated in Killiecranky. The character of King William is at the same time severely handled in some other contemporary productions ; but particularly in Willie Winkie's Testament, The famous Act of Succession, in 1703, follows in order, and it is immortalized in the ballad of the same
Some of the characters who moved it in Parliament are noticed in the notes. The more important measure of the Union succeeded to this Act, and a valuable commentary, satirical of the Whigs who were instrumental in passing it, is to be found in The Awkward Squad. Queen Anne's Ministers, and their measures, are also ridiculed at the same period in The Auld Gray Mare, The Riding Mare, and The Union. The accession of George the First, with his character, in The Wee, Wee German Lairdie, and The Sow's Tail to Geordie, complete the train of events
The famous Ad
Some of the characters who moved it in Parliament are noticed in the notes. The more important measure of the Union succeeded to this Act, and a valuable commentary, sati
, The Riding
, and The Sow's
till the celebrated insurrection under the Earl of Marr, in 1715.
Marr's attempt is memorable for its melancholy consequences, and these necessarily excited the tender and sympathetic strains of the Jacobite songsters. The pieces of that period, therefore, will be found particularly interesting. Though The Battle of Sheriff-Muir, and a few others, be ludicrous, the greater number are plaintive and touching in a very eminent degree; especially such as relate to the march into England, and the subsequent surrender of the rebels. The characters of the principal leaders in this insurrection are described in the notes.
The executions of the Lords Kenmure and Derwentwater, with the escape of Lord Nithsdale, are also copiously
The intermediate period betwixt Marr's insurrection, and the more important one of 1745, is occupied with various humorous and characteristic satires, some of them peculiarly caustic, in ridicule of the courts and characters both of George I. and George II.
But it is in relation to the events of 1745 and 1746 that the Jacobite songs must be deemed of the greatest and most permanent interest. This last attempt of the Stuarts is, if possible, still better illustrated by those pieces than any of the events that preceded it. Indeed, there is hardly an incident of any importance in Prince Charles' expedition that has not been commemorated by the muse.
To show this the more distinctly, it only requires to put the successive events in juxta-position with their corresponding songs in the present collection.