Robert Burns the...


FINANCIAL WIZARD: After completion of the Farmhouse at Ellisland he was pressed by the builder Thomas Boyd for payment of £20.00. In June 1791 he wrote to Boyd to settle accounts by taking a bill of Alexander Crombie's for £20.00 in lieu of cash, "Mr Crombie cannot take it amiss that I endeavour to get myself clear of his bill in this manner, as you owe him and I owe you."


SELECTOR OF MINISTERS: He met the Rev. William Inglis while at Ellisland and attended his Church in Dumfries. When asked why, he replied "I go to hear Mr Inglis because he preaches what he believes and practices what he preaches".


OBSERVER OF INTERNATIONAL EVENTS: On 14 October 1788 his landlord Patrick Miller of Dalswinton had a test sailing of his pioneer paddle steamer on Dalswinton Loch on the east side of the River Nth. Many watched from the bank, among them Robert Burns. This was the first use of power from an engine being used for human transportation anywhere in the world. The age of transport took its first step and he was there.


BON VIVEUR: A drinking contest took place on 16th October 1789 at Friars Carse, a truly mighty contest where the participants set out to drink one another under the table. The winner was to have the Whistle as the trophy. Burns was there as an observer and records the event in the poem The Whistle.


FRIEND OF THE LADIES: The saying that his life was 'a story of barren ground and fertile lassies' has truth. In brief, his situation at Ellisland was:
Marriage to Jean Armour acknowledged and solemnly bound before the Kirk Session of Mauchline on 5th August 1788.
Correspondence with Agnes McLehose, Clarinda, throughout his stay at Ellisland.
Jenny Clowe, Mrs McLehose' maid servant, becomes pregnant and has a baby.
Anna Park, an employee of the Globe Inn, Dumfries becomes pregnant in the summer of 1790 and gives birth to Elizabeth on 31st March 1791.
Jean Armour Burns gives birth to William Nichol on 9th April 1791.
The baby Elizabeth was sent to Mossgiel and later came to join the family at Ellisland, to be brought up by Jean Armour Burns.
Burns meets Jean Lorimer, Chloris, whose father William took over the lease of Kemys Hall in 1790. Jean Lorimer was then about 15 and there is no suggestion that Robert Burns did anything more than admire her fine looks at this time.
Suffice that Jean Armour Burns is reported as saying, "our Rab should habe had twa wives".


THE POET AND LETTER WRITER: During his stay at Ellisland he produced some 130 ~ about a quarter ~ of his songs and poems, and 230 of his 700 letters.


THE POLLUTER OF RIVERS: In the Elegy on Willie Nichol's Mare it is quite clear that the dead horse was put into the River Nith:
'But now she's floating down the Nith,
For Solway fish a feast'
Times have changed and prosecution would follow if this was done today!


GOOD COMPANY: 'Willie Brewed a Peck o' Maut' says it all


HARD WORKER: To create a farm virtually from scratch whilst carrying out the duties of an Excise Officer was hard work. To find time to write so many letters, poems and songs was amazing.


THE BUILDER'S DISATISFIED CLIENT: Having written to Mr Boyd on 8th February 1789 complaining of lack of progress he wrote again on 1st March 1789: "... was a good deal surprised to find my house still lying like Babylon in the prophecies of Isiah ..."
Ref, Isiah 13: vs 19-20: 'Babylonia is the most beautiful kingdom of all, it is the pride of its people. But I, the Lord will overthrow Babylon as I did Soddom and Gomorrah. No one will ever live there again. No wandering shepherd will ever pitch his tent there, and no shepherd will ever pasture his flock there.'
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