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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

X. Burns

§ 17. Joanna Baillie

The Scottish literary revival inaugurated by Ramsay was associated with a widespread interest among educated and fashionable ladies in the old national airs and songs, and it is not therefore surprising that several of the most talented of them essayed song writing. Lady Grizel Baillie, Lady Ward-law, Mrs. Cockburn and Jane Elliot have been already mentioned. These and other ladies, besides songs that have been published, wrote various others which were circulated only privately among their friends; and the fashion continued into the nineteenth century. Here, however, our chronicle of poetesses begins with Joanna Baillie, who was more of a professional authoress than most of the others. In 1790, she published a volume of Fugitive Pieces; and, while she devoted her main efforts, occasionally with marked literary success, to playwriting, it is probably mainly by her songs that she will be remembered. In 1823 appeared Metrical Legends, and her poems were published in one volume in 1841. Burns considered her Saw Ye Johnie Comin, which appeared anonymously in volume I of Johnson’s Museum, unparalleled for “genuine humour in the verses and lively originality in the air.” Among her happier contributions to Thomson’s Scottish Airs are a version of Woo’d and Married and a’, beginning “My Bride she is winsome and bonnie,” and Poverty parts Good Company, both in the old Scottish manner; and the same sprightly humour manifests itself in some of her ballad tales, as It was on a morn and Tam o’ the Lin, a parody of the Tomy Lin ballad in Ritson’s Northern Chorister, which is related to a very old rime.