Scotland's National Bard

Answers to Recent Searches

Updates on recent searches
It is impossible to cover all aspects of Burns in one website. If you do a search which comes up without a satisfactory answer then please return to this site and I will regularly update this page. Recent searches have been on the following subjects.

John Anderson and the missing verse.
There were searches also for the tail-tree and I assume that this refers to the missing verse. In fact Burns version of John Anderson is a sanitised version of a traditional bawdy monologue of 6 verses in which a wife grumbles about her husband's declining powers. Burns took this and transformed it into a tender love-song for old age in which passion has given way to companionship and fidelity. There is no missing verse and certainly, the tail-tree is not in the Burns version.

Man's Inhumanity to Man This comes from the poem Man was made to Mourn. Verse 7.

Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Epistle to a Young Friend In this poem Burns moralises about man and his propensities for good and evil. This poem stands as a simple and eloquent testament of moral belief and is one of the clearest statements of his own simple creed that he ever penned. Men are a sad lot, but the genuinely wicked are rare.

I'll no say, men are villains a'
The real, harden'd wicked
Wha hae nae check but human law
Are to a few restricked
But, och! mankind are unco weak
An' little to be trusted
If Self the wavering balance shake
It's rarely right adjusted!

Burns then proceeds to give sensible advice about helping out a neighbour

Yet they wha fa' in Fortune's strife
Their fate we should na censure
For still, th'important end of life
They equally may answer
A man may hae an honest heart
Tho' poortith hourly stare him
A man may tak a neebor's part
Yet hae nae cash to spare him

The third verse which has been requested recently in the search page is

The fear o' Hell's a hangman's whip
To haud the wretch in order
But where ye feel your honour grip
Let that ay be your border
Its slightest touches, instant pause
Debar a' side-pretences
And resolutely keep its laws
Uncaring consequences

Wedding Marriage, Poems suitable for this occasion.
Full poems on Wedding Page

Burns Children See This Link

Willie Wastle Check down this page to the last answer where the first verse is printed

Toothache The Address was probably written about May 1789, when he wrote to Creech. Burns description of this is a delightful sensation of an omnipotent toothache so engross all my inner man. Fifty troops of infernal spirits are driving post, from ear to ear, along my jaw bones.

Burns Burial Burns died in Dumfries on 21st July 1796. He was given a military funeral on 25th July, his body being carried to St Michaels Churchyard to the Dead March from Handel's Saul. The whole town turned out to honour his memory, and the volunteers fired a volley on his grave. Nineteen years later, Burns was reinterred in the Mausoleum.

Full words, actions and translation on Address to a Haggis

Burns and his Lassies
How many affairs did Burns have?
This is difficult because even by looking at the songs, if we were to catalogue the lassies that received a song from Burns then the answer would undoubtedly be wrong.
For instance Peggy Chalmers turned down a proposal of marriage. It is also an accepted fact that the Burns and Nancy McLehose (Sylvander and Clarinda) affair was no more than an exchange of words and letters, yes, deep feeling for each other but not as far as Burns would have wanted to go.
We also have the affairs that we know about and to whom songs were never written - Jenny Clow for example.
The answer then is not to build a database of lassies mentioned in the songs.
What we do know is the number of children that Burns fathered and again is not as many as some people would like us to believe. The answer to that is 12, of which 9 were to Jean Armour and 1 each to Betty Paton, Anna Park, and Jenny Clow.
I am still unconvinced that Burns fathered the child to Meg Cameron although he most likely did have a one night stand with her.
Coming back to your original question, we do know from the above that he was "close" to Jean Armour and 4 others. Any more than this is pure conjecture. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt as there have been enough detractors, gossip mongers and plain untruths about the man over the centuries.

Masonic History Is this not a secret?
25th June 1781. The two lodges - St James and St Davids were united under the name of St Davids being the oldest charter.
4th July 1781, 9 days after the union Burns was entered an apprentice, his initiation fee was 12 shillings and 6 pence (62p)
1st October 1781 Burns was passed and raised
The union of the lodges was ill fated and St James reconstituted on 8th August 1782
Robert Burns was the only person to be initiated and later passed and raised in the united lodge.
27th July 1784 Burns was elected Depute Master of St James Lodge
23rd June 1786 he was re-elected to the Depute Mastership
He held this office up to 1788
12th January 1787 toasted as Caledonia's Bard in Lodge St Andrews Edinburgh
1st February 1787 affiliated into Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh.
19th May 1787 Burns and Ainslie made Royal Arch Masons in Lodge St Ebbe, Eyemouth. Ainslie paid 1 guinea but Burns was admitted gratis.

Burns Last Song Fairest Maid on Devon Banks was the last song to be sent to Thomson - on 12th July from the Brow Well during his last illness when he was sea bathing.
He returned to Dumfries on the 18th July and wrote his last letter to James Armour begging Jean's mother to come to look after her. In this letter his handwriting is so weak that he can only sign it RB.
However it is acknowledged that his last song was O wert thou in the cauld blast. Written for Jessie Lewars who tended him at the last.
He died on the 21st July.

Words by James Thomson
Music by James Booth

There is a star whose beaming ray
Is shed on ev'ry clime
It shines by night, It shines by day
And ne'er grows dim wi' time
It rose up on the banks of Ayr
It shone on Doon's clear stream
Two hundred years are gane and mair
Yet brighter grows it's beam

Let kings and courtiers rise and fa'
This world has mony turns
But brightly beams aboon them a'
The star o' Robbie Burns

Though he was but a ploughman lad
And wore the hodden grey
Auld Scotland's sweetest bards were bred
Aneath a roof o' strae
To sweep the strings o' Scotia's lyre
It needs nae classic lore
It's mither wit an' native fire
That warms the bosom's core


On fames emblazon'd page enshrin'd
His name is foremost now
And many a costly wreath's been twin'd
To grace his honest brow
And Scotland's heart expands wi' joy
When'er the day returns
That gave the world its peasant boy
Immortal Robbie Burns


Dunlop Mrs Frances Anna, 1730 - 1815. A friendship and correspondent (burns wrote more letters to her than to any other correspondent) which lasted from 1786 right through until an inexplicable break towards the end of Burns life.

My Father was a Farmer Burns wrote in his commonplace book under the date April 1784 that this song is a wild rhapsody, miserably deficient in versification but as the sentiments are the genuine feelings of my heart, for that reason I have a particular pleasure in conning it over.
The fifth stanza finely brings out the proud vaunt he so eloquently introduced in his Dedication to the Edinburgh Edition "I was born to the plough and am independent!"
The likely date for this song is 1782. The collapse of his Irvine adventure in 1781 had added much to his stock of experience of human life and human folly.

Golf Gowff is mentioned in the poem "When Guilford Good" Willie was the prime minister Wm Pitt.

Burns Signature The two most common signatures that Burns used were

Burns Signature

Burns Signature

The first was taken from the family register in his household bible. The second from a letter to William Tytler dated Aug 1787.

Coat of Arms Burns had a knowledge about the art of Heraldry ( possibly gained from Captain Grose ) and designed his own Coat of Arms.

Burns Coat of Arms
This logo is now the crest of the World Federation and copyright exists. Permission needs to be sought prior to its use.
Burns Coat of Arms was registered at the Court of the Lord Lyon. RB died before he could matriculate the arms.
Better a Wee Bush than nae Bield can also be found on the gravestone of Chloris ( Jean Lorimer ) in Newington. She is the Lassie wi' the Lint White Locks. The stone was erected under the auspices of the Ninety Burns Club in 1901.
The second motto Wood Notes Wild was taken from John Milton's poem "L'Allegro". It is also claimed that the words refer to Jean Armours clear singing voice.
There is also another Coat of Arms matriculated in 1837 by James Burns, grandson of James Burns, Montrose and full cousin to Robert Burns. This is James' own Coat of Arms but does include the RB portion on it.

Would na gie a button for her
Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed
The spot they ca'd it Lincomdoddie
Willie was a wabster guid
Could stown a clue wi' onybody
He had a wife was dour and din
O, Tinkler Maidgie was her mither
Sic a wife as Willie had
I wad na gie a button for her

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