Herring in Salt, A
DESCRIPTION: "I hae laid a herring in saut Lass, gin ye lo'e me, tell me now." The singer gives reasons for her to "tell me now": "I hae brew'd a forpit o' maut," "a calf that will soon be a cow," "a house upon yon moor," ... but "I canna come ilka day to woo"
AUTHOR: James Tytler (1747-1805) (source: broadside NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(127b))
EARLIEST DATE: 1776 (Herd); 1843 (Whitelaw-Song) [see NOTES]
KEYWORDS: courting farming humorous
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
GreigDuncan4 890, "I Hae Laid a Herrin' in Saut" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Song, pp. 335-336, "Lass Gin Ye Lo'e Me" with Herd's ("I hae layen three herring a' sa't") (1 text)
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads fol. 25, "A Herring in Salt" ("I ha'e laid a herring in salt"), J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838
NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(127b), "Lass, Gin Ye Lo'e Me," Poet's Box (Glasgow), 1856
NOTES: NLScotland commentary to broadside L.C.Fol.70(127b): "This broadside not only gives the reader the song, as reworked by James Tytler [1747-1805] in the 'Scots Musical Museum' (c. 1790) but also [like Whitelaw] gives the older version of 'Lass, gin ye Lo'e Me', as it appeared in Herd's 'Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs' (1776). The first line of Tytler's version is, 'I hae laid a herring in saut', and the older version begins, 'I ha'e layen three herrings a-sa't'."
Not all of the arguments presented by the singer are entirely convincing. "I hae a hen ... That ilka day lays me an egg" but the hen has "a happitie leg." "I hae a cheese upon my shelf" but "soon wi' mites 'twill rin itself." The house is big enough that "three sparrows may dance upon the floor." Money may not run fast and free: "a penny to keep, and a penny to spen'." The Herd fragment is hardly more convincing and also speaks more of potential than present wealth: the calf would be a cow, as in Tytler, and a grice would be a sow. As in Tytler, the suitor is too busy to "cum ilka day ... to lilt and to woo." - BS
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