Volume I, song 012, page 13 - 'The Bonny Scot-man' -...
Volume I, song 012, page 13 - 'The Bonny Scot-man' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Ye Gales that gently wave the Sea, and please the canny Boatman, bear me frae hence, or bring to me my brave; my bonny Scot-man! In haly Bauds we joyn'd our hands,/ yet may not this discover, while Parents rate a large Estate before a faithfu' Lover.' 'Haly bauds', directly translated into English, means 'holy bads', which can be taken as meaning that they were in a very bad situation indeed!
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
Glen, in 'Early Scottish Melodies' (1900), calls this song 'The Boatman', which may be the name of the melody. The tune was included in the first edition of William Thomson's 'Orpheus Caledonius' (1725) and Glen could find no record of it having been published earlier. Thomson did ascribe it to David Rizzio (c. 1533-66), Mary, Queen of Scots' Italian secretary, but, according to Glen, 'The assertion is quite absurd'.