Robert Burns, pp.184-189.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

   BURNS’S POEMS, First. or Kilmarnock Edition, in original boards, with one leaf uncut. Poems, / chiefly in the / Scottish Dialect, / By / Robert Burns. / (Ornament) / 

The Simple Bard, unbroke by rules of Art, 

He pours the wild effusions of the heart; 

And if inspir’d, ‘tis Nature’s pow’rs inspire; 

Her’s all the melting thrill, and her’s the kindling tire. 


   / (Ornament) / Kilmarnock: / Printed by John Wilson. / (Double rule) / M,DCC,LXXXVI. 

   The Edition consisted of 600 copies. John Wilson, the publisher of the volume, was the ‘Wee Johnny’ of the well-known epitaph-  

Whoe’er thou art, o Reader, know 

That Death has murder’d Johnny, 

And here his body lies fu’ low, 

For saul, he ne’er had ony. 

(See Fig. 130.) 

(712) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   BURNS’S POEMS, First Edinburgh Edition, with autograph presentation from ‘the Author’ to Mr. Nicoll, High School, Edinburgh, the ‘Willie’ of ‘Willie brewed a peck o’ maut.’ 

   ‘Poems / chiefly in the / Scottish Dialect / By / Robert Burns / Edinburgh Printed for the Author / and sold by William Creech / MDCCLXXXVII. /’ 

   William Creech, a magistrate, and Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Edinburgh, was the most prominent Scottish publisher of his time. A poetical epistle was addressed to him from Selkirk by the poet, shortly after the issue of the Edinburgh edition, Creech being at that time on business in London. 

   It has been long known that in different copies of this edition there are variations of more or less consequence – one, for example, being, in the address ‘To a Haggis,’ the word skinking, while other copies have stinking

   The present has the former reading- 

‘Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware 

                               That jaups in luggies.’ 

   Lately Mr. J. Barclay Murdoch made a minute critical comparison of various copies, finding conclusive proofs that there have been two impressions from separate settings of type – the total variations in one from another numbering nearly 200. Both impressions have passed indiscriminately as the first Edinburgh edition, 1787. 

It has not yet been decided which of these two impressions has priority. 

(713) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   MS. OF THE POET BURNS. Unpublished holograph letter, with lines written in Friar’s Carse Hermitage, dated 23d July 1789. 2 pages foolscap. 

(717) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   MSS. OF THE POET BURNS. First fair copy of Elegy on Captain Matthew Henderson, ‘a gentleman who held the patent for his honours immediately from Almighty God,’ and signed note ‘Robert Burns.’ Dated 23d July 1790. 8 pages, 4to. 

(718) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   ORIGINAL WRITINGS OF BURNS, the property of the Irvine Bums Club, consisting of ‘The Cottar’s Saturday Night,’ ‘The Twa Dogs,’ ‘Scotch Drink.’ 

(726) Lent by the IRVINE BURNS CLUB. 

   ‘THE AUTHOR’S EARNEST CRY AND PRAYER,’ ‘THE HOLY FAIR,’ ‘ADDRESS TO THE DEIL.’ These are the original manuscripts from which the first or Kilmarnock Edition of the Poet’s works was printed. They bear the master printer’s marks or directions before being put into the hands of the compositor. 

(725) Lent by the IRVINE BURNS CLUB, per JAS. DICKIE. 

   MS. OF BURNS’S POEM, ‘THE WHISTLE.’ (See also p. 186.) 


   BURNS’S MSS., ‘The Silver Tassie,’ and ‘Lines written in Glenriddel Hermitage, Friar’s Carse,’ with readings varied from those on the Pane of Glass. The first eight lines are the same as on the glass, except that in line four ‘counsels’ is substituted for ‘maxims.’ (See below, No. 723.) The remainder, entirely different, is as follows- 

Then Youth and Love with sprightly dance, 

Beneath thy morning-star advance, 

Pleasure with her Siren-air 

May delude the thoughtless Pair: 

Let Prudence bless Enjoyment’s cup, 

Then raptured sip and sip it up. 

As thy day grows warm and high, 

Life’s meridian flaming nigh, 

Dost thou spurn the humble vale? 

Life’s proud summits would’st thou scale? 

Check thy climbing step elate. 

Evils lurk in felon wait. 

Dangers, eagle-pinion’d, bold. 

Soar around each cliffy hold; 

While chearful Peace with linnet song. 

Chants the lowly dells among, 

When thy shades of evening close 

Beckoning thee to long repose. 

(705) Lent by JAMES LENNOX. 

   PANE OF GLASS from the Hermitage, Friar’s Carse, with lines written by Burns, commencing ‘Thou whom chance may hither lead.’ (See Fig. 131.) 

(723) Lent by THOMAS NELSON. 

   POEM OF THE ‘WOUNDED HARE,’ with letter to Alexander Cunningham, a frequent correspondent of the poet. The letter is dated from Ellisland, May 4, 1789, and referring to this poem he says, ‘I have just put my hand to a little poem which I think will be something to your taste.’ 

(720) Lent by THOMAS NELSON. 

   ELECTIONEERING BALLAD, authenticated by Burns’s son. 

(721) Lent by THOMAS NELSON. 

   SEPIA VIEW OF FRIAR’S CARSE, 1805, on the back of which is the history of the Pane of Glass. 

(722) Lent by THOMAS NELSON. 

   BLIND HARRYS METRICAL HISTORY OF SIR WILLIAM WALLACE, Perth, Morrison, 1790, 3 vols. This is the copy which belonged to Burns, and it contains his autograph on the fly-leaf of vol. i. 

   The interest of these volumes lies in the fact that they were the property of Burns, who was a subscriber for the edition, and had an intense appreciation of the work of the blind minstrel. The basis of Blind Harry’s work was a Latin narrative by John Blair, and the earliest edition of the work was issued in 4to, Black Letter, by R. Lekpreuik, Edinburgh, in 1570. It begins ‘The actis and Deidis of the Illuster and Vailzeand Campioun, Schir W. W. Knicht of Ellerslie.’ 

(714) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   ALLAN RAMSAY’S POEMS, Edinburgh, 1720. This was the first volume issued by the poet, and its contents had previously been issued by himself in the form of separate broadsheets, from his shop in High Street, opposite Niddry Street, in a building which still remains. The fly-leaf bears these two inscriptions:- ‘From Mr. James Gray to Mr. William Dunbar 1780,’ and from him ‘to his ingenious friend, Mr. Robert Burns, the Bard of Airshire,’ in 1788. Mr. Dunbar was a Writer to the Signet and an intimate correspondent of the poet. He is the ‘Rattling, roaring Willie’ of Burns’s song. 

(706) Lent by JAMES LENNOX. 

   A SILVER-MOUNTED DIRK, bearing the Inscription, ‘Dr. Currie of Edinburgh – To his friend Robert Burns, Jan. 29, 1780.’ 

(711) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE. 

   MSS. OF REV. WM. AULD, Minister of Mauchline, the ‘Daddy Auld’ of Bums, containing inter alia the original of his address to Burns and Jean Armour, dated July 1786. 

(709) Lent by REV. JOHN W. RITCHIE. 

   MASONIC APRON, used by Burns at meetings of the craft. This apron came into the possession of Mr. Lennox through the Rev. Hamilton Paul of Ayr (author of Life and Works of Burns, Ayr, 1819, and the writer of Odes for the Burns Anniversaries at the cottage in 1801 and subsequent years). 

(707) Lent by JAMES LENNOX. 

   SWORD-STICK WHICH BELONGED TO ROBERT BURNS. This stick was presented by Burns to Johm Richmond, Writer, and was given to the present owner’s father by Richmond’s daughter. It is referred to in one of his letters. 

(728) Lent by JOHN FOULDS. 

   ‘THE WHISTLE,’ the subject of Burns’s poem bearing that name (Fig. 132). This is a small ebony whistle, which was brought to Scotland by a Danish gentleman of the suite of Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI. of Scotland. This gentleman claimed to have won and kept the trophy at all the Courts of Europe, the contests for which it was the prize being drinking-bouts, at which the person last able to blow the whistle was the victor. In a contest the whistle was won from its original owner by Sir Robert Laurie of Maxwellton, father of the famous ‘Annie Laurie.’ The contest at which Burns was present was at Friar’s Carse on 16th October 1789, and the combatants were a descendant of Sir Robert Laurie, bearing the same name, Mr. Riddel of Glen Riddel, and an ancestor of the present owner, Alexander Fergusson of Cragdarroch, who was declared by the poet-umpire to be the victor. (See facsimile fragment of the poem. Fig. 133.) 

(729) Lent by CAPTAIN R. C. FERGUSSON. 

   BURNS’S EXCISE ROD. This rod was given about the year 1805, by the widow of Robert Burns, to Mr. Brown, afterwards factor to Alexander Murray, M.P., of Broughton, then learning land-surveying at Dumfries with Mr. Lewars. Mr. Brown retained the rod for nearly forty years as a valuable relic of the poet, but at length bestowed it on the Rev. George Murray, minister of the parish of Girthon, who solicited it from Mr. Brown solely for the purpose of placing it in the hands of Mr. Joseph Train, the antiquarian correspondent and friend of Sir Walter Scott. 

(727) Lent by MRS DRYDEN. 

   ANTIQUE MASONIC CHINA PUNCH SET, used by the poet Burns in Tarbolton. 

(708) Lent by REV. JOHN RITCHIE. 

   LOOKING-GLASS, which formed part of the plenishing of Jean Armour, wife of the poet Burns. 


   AUTOGRAPH LETTER BY WILLIAM BURNS, the Poet’s father, dated 8th Sept. 1780. 

(703) Lent by DAVID MURRAY, LL.D. 

   AUTOGRAPH LETTER BY GILBERT BURNS, dated 5th June 1824, addressed to John Tennant of Creoch, the Poet’s earliest friend, and a witness of his baptism. 

(704) Lent by DAVID MURRAY, LL.D. 

   POEMS BY DAVID SILLAR. Kilmarnock, John Wilson, 1789. Original boards. 

(715) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   POE.MS BY JOHN LAPRAIK. Kilmarnock, John Wilson, 1788. In original boards. 

(716) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   These volumes are shown as products of the press from which issued the first edition of Burns’s Poems. 

   THE ORIGINAL COPY OF ‘THE WHISTLE,’ by Robert Bums, written in 1789 on Excise paper. (See Fig. 133.) 

(719) Lent by THOMAS NELSON. 

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