THE object of the authors
of this book has been to bring together into one group some gifted women
whose songs are known wherever the Scotch foot treads or the Scotch
language lingers. It was the part of famous Frenchwomen to reign in
French salons, it has remained for this unique group of Scotchwomen to
reign alike "in the kitchen and the ha," in the cottage as well as the
The records of these
song-writers already published do not bring them together and show them
as representing a delightful branch of art. They are deficient likewise
in other important particulars. The present writers therefore thought
that an attempt to supply such deficiencies before it was too late would
be acceptable to the general public. They have endeavoured to represent
these singers amid their local surroundings, and the contemporaries with
whom they were on terms of intimacy, so that side-lights might thus be
cast both on the singers and their songs.
In one instance the
authors have been fortunate in finding quite fresh material. Through the
kind liberality of Miss Douglas, Cumin Place, Grange, Edinburgh, and of
other friends, they have had access to a large portion of Alison
Cockburns fine old letters, on which Sir Walter Scott set great store.
These letters afford a wonderfully perfect picture of the woman, and at
the same time give quaint glimpses into the social life of the Edinburgh
of the past.