To the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt
Writes Nathaniel Gow in 1819, at the head of his latest book, The Beauties of Niel Gow. (His famous father wrote a lot of great tunes, so why not publish the best of them again and get some profit from them?)
The Editor would be wanting in candour and gratitude were he to omit, in presenting this work to the Public, to acknowledge the uniform and marked patronage his Father and Family (himself in particular) have received from the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt, and how much it was owing to their flattering approbation that they were encouraged to make any attempt to add their Compositions to the Stock of National Scottish Music, Composed prior to their time.
It is that approbation which now induces him to offer the present publication under the Title of
THE BEAUTIES OF NIEL GOW
The first piece in a collection often has a special relevance and implies an extra compliment paid to the dedicatee, so here we have Niel Gow’s Lamentation for Jas. Moray Esqr. of Abercarney. A footnote explains,
Mr Moray was the early and kind patron of the Author. The loss which Society sustained in the Death of that Gentleman was the cause of the production of this truly pathetic and beautiful Air.
We should, of course, remember that ‘pathetic’ meant ‘full of pathos’ and not the derogatory connotations which the word carries today!
When Karen was checking bibliographic details of the collection, she discovered that the Whittaker Library in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland does actually have a copy of The Beauties of Niel Gow, but not in one of the original editions. The Whittaker Library has a London reprint by C. Jefferys of 67 Berners Street, distributed by our own Bayley & Ferguson, of 54 Queen Street Glasgow and 2 Great Marlborough Street, London. Considering Charles W. Jefferys had been writing and translating lyrics since around 1835, and latterly also publishing light music until about 1880, Niel Gow’s Beauties had been on the go for well over half a century! It was more recently reprinted in Harrogate by Celtic Music in 1983, and in Pasadena, CA, by Fiddlers Crossing, circa 1990. His patrons would have been proud…