Volume VI, song 546 page 565 - 'The Dumfries Volunteers' -...
Volume VI, song 546 page 565 - 'The Dumfries Volunteers' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Does haughty Gaul invasion threat, Then let the louns beware, Sir, There's wooden walls upon our seas, And Volunteers on shore, Sir. The Nith shal rin to Corsincon, The Criffel sink in Solway, E're we permit a foreign foe, On British ground to rally, We'll ne'er permit a foreign foe, On British ground to rally.' 'Louns' means 'rascals'.
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.
This stirring song of British patriotism was written by Burns for the 'Museum'. According to William Stenhouse (1853), the tune to which Burns adapted his words was composed by Stephen Clarke (1735-97), an Edinburgh musician and music teacher. John Glen (1900) writes that the song 'is a good martial air, somewhat in the style of 'Hearts of Oak''. Given Burns's sympathies for the deposed Stewarts and an independent Scotland, it is interesting to consider why Burns wrote such a strong piece of British propaganda? It could be that he was thinking about his application to join the Customs as an exciseman when he wrote this song. The song lyrics are very similar to 'Rule Britannia'.