BURNS, ROBERT (1759-1796, Scottish poet)
Lot 33
BURNS, ROBERT (1759-1796, Scottish poet)
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Lot Details
BURNS, ROBERT (1759-1796, Scottish poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS CELEBRATED POEM 'A POET'S WELCOME TO HIS LOVE-BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER', here entitled 'A Poet's welcome to his bastart wean', with the motto 'The vigorous offspring of a stolen embrace - Pope's Homer', the text comprising 48 lines in eight six-line stanzas, on three pages of conjoined quarto, the fourth page with his deleted autograph first stanza comprising 8 lines from 'Musing on the ocean's roaring...' (described by Dovaston as an 'unpublished Sketch') taken from an album once belonging to J.F.M. Dovaston (1782-1854), endorsed in Dovaston's hand 'In the Bard's manner - I think much of this...' and with a note 'Copied by W.W.C.', also with a note on the first page 'C v 2 fo 279' (probably referring to James Currie's edition of 1800), 4 pages in all, quarto, slight slitting at folds professionally repaired, minor traces of mounting [c.1785-1791]


  • Thou's welcome wean! mishanrer fa' me,
    If thoughts o' thee, or yet thy Mammy,
    Shall ever dauntin me or awe me,
    My sweet, wee lady;
    Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me,
    Tyta or Daddie.
    Tho' now they ca' me Fornicator,
    And tease my name in countra clatter...

    ...For if thou be what I would hae thee,
    And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
    I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee,
    The cost nor shame o't;
    But be a loving Father to thee
    And brag the name o't.

    'ONE OF BURNS'S MOST ENDEARING PERSONAL STATEMENTS', 'A Poet's Welcome', is also described by Burns's editor James Kinsley (III, 1067-1068) as a 'generous and affectionate poem'. It was first published as 'Burns's Address to His Illegitimate Child' in The Henpeck'd Husband [1799], having been prompted by the birth of a baby, named Elizabeth, to his then current mistress, Elizabeth Paton, on 22 May 1785. Ian McIntyre, Dirt & Deity (1995, p. 38), describes the poem as 'one of the best and most characteristic poems of his early maturity.'

    The present version, which differs slightly in the heading and in the additional superscribed motto, is unrecorded by Kinsley or in the Index of English Literary Manuscripts (Vol. III, part 1, 1986, p. 156), where three other autograph versions are recorded (Burns Cottage, National Library of Scotland and the Rosenbach Library, Philadelphia), besides an unlocated one formerly owned by John Gribbel and a transcript made by Francis Douce. The only other recorded autograph manuscripts of the first stanza of the song usually rendered as 'Musing on the roaring ocean' are two similarly deleted copies in the Hastie Manuscript (British Library Add. MS 22307) and one at Burns Cottage (Index, p. 141).

    The writer J.F.M. Dovaston, a Burns enthusiast who owned and evidently much valued the present manuscript, records in his journal of 1825 a visit to Burns's widow, Jean Armour (whom the poet had married in 1788), when she received him 'very kindly' and 'inclined now to plumpness', seemed to him 'of very pleasing manners, and her voice mild and melodious.'
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