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Robert Burns

Manuscript letter, Robert Burns

18th Century

This holograph manuscript letter is from Robert Burns to William Stewart, discussing his requirements for workers when he starts farming at Ellisland.




Sir, I have at last fairly signed my tack with Mr Miller, and must commence operations at Whitsunday. I am an entire Stranger in your Country; and Heaven knows shall need advice enough: will you be so good as take a poor devil of a sojourning Rhymster under your care? I assure you I keep the scripture in my eye, for I "ask in faith, nothing wavering." [1] - Old Kent, in Shakespeare, says to poor king Lear, that he wished to be in his service "Because he had that in his face he could like to call Master": [2] forgive/ me, Sir, when I say, you have something in like manner I could wish to call friend. I shall be at Brownhill for any thing I know on Thursday night: will you be able to spare me an hour or two on Friday? I want two men servants for the summer: if you know of any, please bespeak me them, or direct me to them. I could like one of them a married man, as I can give him a house, and perhaps for this summer, a cow's grass; but I won't make a custom of that any more than this season. If you did not know me for a Scots Poet, I dare say you would suspect me for a Hibernian -


"Hibernia fam'd, bove every other grace,


For matchless intrepidity of face" [3]


Forgive my freedom; and believe me to be sincerely Sir, your very humble Servant


[signed] Robert Burns.


Mauchline, 21st March 1789 [1788]


[1] James 1:6 [2] "King Lear", Act I, sc. 4 [3] Churchill: "The Rosciad", lines 339-40.

Place of Production:
Mauchline, Ayrshire
length 226mm, width 190mm
Robert Burns House, Dumfries
Accession number:
Digital Number:
BHBN003a; BHBN003b
Creation Date:
21 March 1788
Dumfries Burns Club

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