Burns Night Disgrace 111

As Robert Burns lay dying, he was plagued by his debts and creditors and worried about the future of his family. He wrote an anguished letter to Montrose to his first cousin James Burnes, begging him to send £20 to pay off, among other things, the tailor for Robert’s customs officer uniform. James, not for the first time, sent the money uncomplainingly to his beloved cousin.

Robert (who was christened Robert Burnes) had visited James at least twice in Montrose. The family home which James built was later the birthplace of his grandson Alexander Burnes, the great explorer, spy and diplomat whose biography I have written, and of his almost equally remarkable brother James. Alexander’s father, also James Burnes, was the first of four successive generations of Burnes born in the family house to become Provost of Montrose.

I detailed in my book Sikunder Burnes that, when I visited the house ten years ago, it was derelict and most of the features had been robbed out. It has continued to deteriorate. This has been quite deliberate and the owner, an auctioneer, had been systematically robbing it of fireplaces, cornices, the provost lamp, and other items of value and auctioning them off. Shocking new photos reveal that he completed this work of destruction to an astonishing degree, and the items of interest – like some amazing Victorian baths and sinks – that remained in the property when I saw it a decade ago have also gone.

The work of destruction complete, this historic building, built by one of Scotland’s most truly remarkable families, is now a shell and up for auction to a property developer. I had contacted Historic Environment Scotland, Angus Council and the Scottish Government to attempt to have something done, but with no result.

So tonight as we recite those great poems, remember a life full of humanity, and get maudlin drunk, let us consider how much we really care about Burns and his heritage. I am an emotional old fool I know, and got attached to Alexander when researching his life, but these images made me cry.

If anybody still has not read my biography of Alexander Burnes, if you can afford to do so please buy it, otherwise your local library will be able to get it for you.

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111 thoughts on “Burns Night Disgrace

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  • David Jonson

    “As Robert Burns lay dying, he was plagued by his debts and creditors and worried about the future of his family.”
    He was lucky they didn’t recite his poetry at him though…

    • Republicofscotland

      Burns was an internationist, he took great interest in the US and French revolutions. His works were first translated into German, Karl Marx once published Burns works in a paper, and even today German’s hold Burns suppers.

      I’d imagine the EU warms to the fact that Burns was an internationalist, and not a isolationist.

      • Loony

        Unless Burns loathed and despised southern Europeans and did all in his power to permanently impoverish them then I would not imagine the EU to care one way or the other about Burns.

        Maybe some redemption could be found if he hunted down the descendents of Italians in Wisconsin and sought to destroy their businesses there.

  • Republicofscotland

    British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, is to destroy all documents relating to the Chinook helicopter crash over Mull that happened in 1994.

    Aboard the helicopter were 25 of the most senior members of the Northern Ireland Intelligence community, as well as four RAF staff, who were intially blamed for the crash.

    Williamson and the MoD have been urged by family members of the dead, to not destroy the documents as they could be vital in clearing the matter as to what really happened.

    The then Defence Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, said that there remains unsolved matters with regards to the crash.


    Sounds to me as though by destroying the files the MoD could be trying to permanently cover up something they don’t want the families, or the public at large to know.

    Britain’s Seal team six, on a larger scale.

  • Tatyana

    Burns’ poems translated by Marshak, turned into songs by Oleg Pozharski (aka Knyazz)
    you can listen to a sample here
    That sample shows how we in Russia understand Scottish folk music and lyrics

    Samuel Marshak was very popular in Soviet Russia for his childrens books and he was an outstanding translator. He translated for us Shakespere, Wordsworth, Kipling, Milne, Keats, Austen etc.

  • N_

    Countdown co-presenter Rachel Riley says she will get extra security on the Channel 4 quiz show after somebody put out some “tweets” criticising her for involving herself in the Zιοnazi hate campaign against the Labour party.

    Will she come onscreen flanked by Zιοnazi soldiers in battle helmets and carrying Uzis?

    • Goose

      The story looks like an attempt to smear and resurrect a story that never did have much substance to begin with, by the Murdoch press:

      – Who are #GTTO #JC4PM, are they affiliated to Labour or just lone individuals, campaigners?

      – What have those with these specific hashtags actually posted that’s abusive? This is important, because of course unfair characterisations are going to be challenged and they have every right to defend themselves and the Lab party from such scurrilous nonsense coming from those with ulterior motives. Is it these who are making unacceptable threats? If so, why hasn’t she reported them?

      – The far-right are traditionally the worst offenders in this area.

    • giyane

      Playing the victim role for all it’s worth.
      The answer to that is what JC does so brilliantly which is not to step into the carpet slippers laid out for you to be the missing aggressor.

      He just mutters ” stupid woman ” into his beard when he sees the lady playing that boring female card. Now that observers have cracked the language of unspeak by lipreading he should mouth a different word as code.

      What about ‘umbilical ‘ or ‘ sausage rolls ‘?
      And junket could use ‘ plus .ca change ‘ or ‘ rien de rien ‘ to get through those moments when the bull sees the red flag’. I’m 64 years old and I still don’t understand the physiological change I undergo when I hear a lie is in fact my “bullshit” alarm being detonated , to borrow Craig’s excellent phrase.

      Holocaust day tomorrow . Where can I get some those blue plastic caps to put over my BS alarms ?

    • Dungroanin

      Lols as the narrative control refuses to endure.

      Don’t think anyone knew what religion the youngglambumreplacementofoldCaroleFlabbYbum was, until she suddenly started a song and dance about it!

      What a waste of a university degree – didn’t she get ‘talent’ spotted on University Challenge? – all that education just to end up being daytime tv wank fodder.

      Or was her career trajectory planned?

      Same goes for the ever-growing-nosed
      Bagshawe/Mensche – her current output seems to indicate an urgent return to her rhinoplasty factory.

      The II/IoS: SCL crowd are like the proverbial English aristos they are, seem to be ignoring their lying liars works being revealed.
      The MSM failure to even acknowledge the state sponsored conspiracy of fakenews confirms their guilty association.
      State sponsored – private profits.
      Cadwalladr – Mensch – the Blairite rump – Riley… it seems they can’t keep refusing the natural process of Parliamenntry Democracy much longer and let the people decide. Hence the multi-front attack on the representatives of social democracy and anti-Rupert(*).

      Attempts at by-passing the already well delayed GE are getting more desperate by the day – invoking Betty indeed!

      They are fucked and they know they are!

  • Mary

    I have your book. Did you know that Thomas Carlyle helpe to provide a pension for his widow? Crowdfunder?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Think posters are taking Freemasonry too seriously. Many people, mostly men, never grow up.

    Even Brougham was a Mason when he was young.

  • M.J.

    I woinder if it could be made into a museum cum cafe restaurant dedicated especially to Scottish food and history, with a special sections on the poet Burns and diplomat Burnes? There’s a name for you – Burns & Burnes! Perhap it could earn the distinction of having two bliue plaques.

    Perhaps the most likely sponsors or starting shareholders would be wealthy people from Scottish backgrounds in Canada and the USA?

  • Maxwell

    I was at the house at Christmas wit pip hills founder of the malt whisky society. Never mind the history, which I grant you is extraordinary, as is your book it’s a nice house.
    Happy to try and kick up an article on the P and J if you want or maybe the SundsyHerald but we will have to do it now.
    We met with Hugh. Kerry and I reviewed yourbook

  • Tony M

    SCOTS, wha hae wi’ WALLACE bled,
    Scots, wham BRUCE has aften led,
    Welcome to your gory bed,
    Or to Victorie!
    Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
    See the front o’ battle lour;
    See approach proud Edward’s power–
    Chains and Slaverie!

    Wha will be a traitor knave?
    Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
    Wha sae base as be a Slave?
    Let him turn and flee!
    Wha, for Scotland’s King and Law,
    Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
    FREE-MAN stand or FREE-MAN fa’
    Let him on wi’ me!

    By Oppression’s woes and pains!
    By your sons in servile chains!
    We will draw our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!
    Lay the proud Usurper’s low!
    Tyrant’s fall in every foe!
    LIBERTY’S in every blow!–
    Let us Do–or Die!

    Robert Burns

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