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people ever depicted youtliful passion in all its varieties
of joy and sorrow with more heart-felt fervour and irre-
sistible fascination. These bards, many of them nameless,
make no pretence to be refined; yet amidst their rudest
snatches we often light upon the happiest thoughts, expressed
in the happiest manner, and with refinement that no poets in
any age have excelled. The stream of their song is a true
Pactolus. There may be small flowers and weeds upon its
banks; but it runs over golden sands, and abounds in trea-
sures that may be had for the seeking, even when the current
appears most turbid and least promising.
We may sum up its characteristics in one word, — earnest-
ness. Scottish song is earnest in love and friendship, earnest
in war, earnest in patriotism, and earnest even in drinking.
Though the moralist might wish that, in the latter respect,
the Scottish bards were not quite so emphatic, we must take
the defects with the virtues, and be thankful that we have a
literature with so few faults and so many beauties, and, above
all, with so much heart in it, as they have given to us.
In a collection limited to one volume it is manifestly impos-
sible that we could have included more than " the cream" —
perhaps we might say, "the cream of the cream" — of such vast
stores of song as have been accumulating for the last three
centuries. We think, however, that it will be found, even by
those readers the best acquainted with the subject, that this
volume contains all, or nearly all, the most celebrated, beautiful,
and characteristic of the Scottish songs, whether pastoral, ama-
tory, patriotic, convivial, or Jacobite ; and that the selections
under each of these heads are as copious as is consistent with
the design. We have been reluctantly compelled to omit the
songs of living writers, not from any unwillingness on the part
of the most distinguished among them to allow their composi-

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