Robert “Robbie” Burns
The poet reputedly composed the final verse of “Address to a Haggis” off the cuff at a dinner party in Mauchline, East Ayrshire where he lived from 1784 – 1788. Spontaneous though it might have been on the night it has had staying power for more than 200 years. Recited at Burns Nights held on the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s best loved bard.
He was the eldest son of seven children born to a struggling tenant farmer and worked at a young age on the farm, probably weakening his constitution. At the same time though, he was receiving literary education from both his mother and father: everything from English literature to the Bible. He also read French and knew all the Scottish traditions. He had begun to write poetry by 1784 when his father died.
He published 600 copies of “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect” to raise money to emigrate to the West Indies. His plans were aborted but his book was such a success that Burns went to Edinburgh where he was that winter’s literary sensation.
Burns tries his hand at farming again and also took a post in the Excise Service in 1789. He was recruited and supervised by Alexander Findlater, known as Old Uncle Alex, whose nephew – also Alexander – was one of the founders of wine merchants Findlater Mackie Todd and Co Ltd, which was acquired by the Partnership in 1993. Old Uncle Alexander was reputedly the last person to administer the last morsel of food to Burns on his death bed.
Tribute to Burns!
The passion for Robbie Burns is carried on up to today by Christopher Tait, a Partner at John Lewis Edinburgh. He hosts Burns Nights throughout Scotland and has been doing so for many years. He has won recognition from the Scottish Parliament and the City Council’s “Poetry in the Park”, continuing the love of Burns poetry and ballards such as ” A Red, Red Rose” and Auld Lang Syne, still sung today.