Happy BURNS DAY, this January 25th! But did you know our national bard’s future respect very nearly didn’t happen? He, very nearly, became an outlawed, unwelcome, citizen of the city.
A plaque on the side wall of Glasgow’s M & S records his stays in Glasgow.Staying, as he did on occasions, in the Black Bull Inn (aka Marks & Spencers-Argyle St) he had already committed to signing up and had paid his nine guineas deposit for passage on the ‘Nancy’ in 1786, as a job awaited him, a 3 year contract as bookkeeper on an estate in Jamaica, West Indies.
But for the success of the poetry of his ’Kilmarnock Edition’ of poems that autumn, our national poet, once an exciseman also, would have earned his crust on this slave plantation! This was, at the time, when only translated forms of Bible and church hymnaries were being produced and distributed.
‘Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect’, commonly known as the Kilmarnock Edition, a collection of poetry by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, was first printed and issued by John Wilson of Kilmarnock on 31 July 1786. It was the first published edition of Burns' work. It cost three shillings and only 612 copies were printed.
If someone, within that tavern hadn’t talked Burns out of leaving Scotland, and to take a chance with his poems, we might noy be celebrating either today, Burns or even, God forbid, haggis suppers. Not worth thinking about. Slainte, Kevin