Welcome to the fourth title in The Heritage Collectors™ Ballads Bookshelf. This volume focuses on the two published song and ballad works of George Ritchie Kinloch, esq. (1796-1877). Mr. Kinloch, lawyer, Writer to the Signet, antiquarian, poet, and philanthropist, is actually best remembered for his work as a collector of ballads and the publication of his two works, a book titled Ancient Scottish Ballads; recovered from Tradition and never before Published with Notes, Historical and Explanatory: with an Appendix, Containing the Airs of several of the Ballads, and a pamphlet titled A Ballad Book. He was friends, through the Maitland Club, a nationalist Scottish literary society, with other ballad scholars of the period including William Motherwell and David Laing. He also carried on a correspondence with Sir Walter Scott and, through William Macmath, Kinloch provided a copy of his manuscripts to Professor Francis James Child.
Kinloch’s reputation for thoroughness and accuracy placed him in high esteem with all of his contemporaries. In Ballad Books and Ballad Men, Sigurd Hustvedt notes:
“In G.R. Kinloch we meet at length an editor whose texts are almost unquestionable. The pieces in his Ballad Book and his Ancient Scottish Ballads, both published in 1827, are not only traditional in origin, but they have undergone very little alteration at the hands of the editor
Kinloch often collected from source singers. Hustvedt continues:
“... particularly illustrative of Kinloch’s methods of collecting in that about one third of the forty-six items are derived, according to the collector’s explicit testimony, from one reciter. Of this woman, Mary Barr of Lesmahago, Kinloch gives a brief account in a manuscript note. An old woman in 1827, she knew a large number of ballads, none of which she had got from a printed page, but all of which she had learned from her mother or from older women some fifty years before.”
Both publications were released in 1827. The larger work, Ancient Scottish Ballads, is dedicated to Robert Dundas of Arniston (1758-1819), Judge and Chief Baron of the Exchequer Court in Scotland and dated February 1827. It focuses mostly on a wealth of materials from Kinloch’s family’s home region in some of the more northerly areas such as Clydesdale and Kincardineshire. This immediately separates the work from the earlier collecting of Sir Walter Scott and Scott’s inner circle along the border regions in the south of Scotland. In Kinloch’s own words from his Prefatory Notes to the Ancient Scottish Ballads:
“Whilst, therefore the works alluded to are chiefly confined to the South of Scotland, the present collection is almost entirely composed of ballads obtained in the ‘North Countrie,’ a district hitherto but little explored, though by no means destitute of traditionary poetry.”
The second piece, The Ballad Book, is a short pamphlet of 29 ballads, sometimes noted with a suggested popular tune of a different title, and very little other annotations from Mr. Kinloch. It is a collection of the songs sung by a local Aberdeen ballad-monger by the name of Charles Lesly, better known as “Mussel mou’d Charlie.” In his introduction to “The Queen’s Marie” in The Valet’s Tragedy, Andrew Lang says of Mr. Lesly:
“The known person least unlike Mr. Courthope’s late ‘maker’ was ‘Mussel-mou’d Charlie Leslie,’ ‘an old Aberdeenshire minstrel, the very last, probably, of the race,’ says Scott. Charlie died in 1782. He sang, and sold PRINTED ballads. ‘Why cannot you sing other songs than those rebellious ones?’ asked a Hanoverian Provost of Aberdeen. ‘Oh ay, but--THEY WINNA BUY THEM!’ said Charlie. ‘Where do you buy them?’ ‘Why, faur I get them cheapest.’ He carried his ballads in ‘a large harden bag, hung over his shoulder.’ Charlie had tholed prison for Prince Charles, and had seen Provost Morison drink the Prince’s health in wine and proclaim him Regent at the Cross of Aberdeen. If Charlie (who lived to be a hundred and two) composed the song, ‘Mussel-mou’d Charlie ‘ (‘this sang Charlie made hissel’’), then this maker could never have produced ‘The Queen’s Marie,’ nor could any maker like him. His ballads were printed, as any successful ballad of 1719 would probably have been, in broadsides.”
Professor Child was intimately familiar with Kinloch’s collections and writings. He often cited Kinloch in his own notes and made extensive use of many of the lyric sets in Kinloch’s publications. In the Advertisement to Part I [ESPB I: vii], Child indicated that he had actually gone to the length of acquiring first a copy of and then the original Kinloch manuscripts:
“Next in extent to the Motherwell collections come those of the late Mr Kinloch. These he freely placed at my disposal, and Mr William Macmath, of Edinburgh, made during Mr Kinloch’s life an exquisite copy of the larger part of them, enriched with notes from Mr. Kinloch’s papers, and sent it to me across the water. After Mr Kinloch’s death his collections were acquired by Harvard College Library, still through the agency of Mr Macmath, who has from the beginning rendered a highly valued assistance, not less by his suggestions and communications than by his zealous mediation.”
This Heritage Muse Publishing™ Digital Edition contains the entire text of the both of Mr. Kinloch’s ballad works, in searchable and printable form, enhanced with automated indices, additional editorial notes, computer playable audio files of the tunes published in Ancient Scottish Ballads, and active hyperlinks to The Heritage Collectors™ The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (digital edition).