Home  »  Volume IX: English FROM STEELE AND ADDISON TO POPE AND SWIFT  »  § 20. Songs from David Herd’s Manuscript and other Collections

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIV. Scottish Popular Poetry before Burns

§ 20. Songs from David Herd’s Manuscript and other Collections

Towards the later half of the eighteenth century and during it, various anonymous songs, more or less indelicate in tone, found their way into broadsides. Some were preserved by Herd, either from recitation or from print, and several are included, in whole or in part, in his 1769 and 1776 editions; others, too liberal in their humour for general reading, are, with quite unobjectionable songs, included in the limited edition of Songs from David Herd’s Manuscript, edited by Hans Hecht, 1904. Of these, a few have not appeared at all in other collections, and the others only in a garbled form. Neither the MS. collection of Peter Buchan nor his Gleanings of Scotch, English and Irish Ballads (1825), nor Robert Hartley Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song (1810), can be regarded as trustworthy authorities in regard either to texts or sources. Rare copies of broadsides occur containing songs of a certain literary merit and interesting for their glimpses of the characteristics of rustic life in the eighteenth century; but several are not likely ever to be included in collections. Thus, by a careful examination of existing broadsides, much that, for various reasons, deserves preservation might be found; and, in any case, since of certain songs which are known to have first appeared in broadsides no copies in that form exist, not a few songs of some merit are likely to have perished with the broadsides containing them.