'A new edition of the life & heroick actions of the renown'd Sir William Wallace'

Date:
1770 
Location:
Dundee 
Creator:
William Hamilton, Author; H Galbraith, publisher 
Object Number:
3.3145

Summary

As with many aspiring poets, the books Robert read in his youth inspired his later work. This book, one of his favourites, recorded the exploits of William Wallace who fought for Scotland’s independence from English rule.

Wallace became a hero to the young Burns and ignited his interest in Scottish history. Burns later wrote 'The story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice in my veins which will boil along there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest.'

His reverence for William Wallace and the War of Independence no doubt helped to inspire Scots Wha Hae. Burns borrowed some of his material from Hamilton’s text.

Hamilton’s The Battle of Biggar:
'They trembling fly by conquering Scots oppress'd,
And the broad ranks of battle lie defac'd;
A false usurper sinks in every foe,
And liberty returns with every blow,
Before the prince the mangled subjects die,
The slaughter swells and groans ascend the sky.'

Burns’s Scots Wha Hae:
‘Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us Do- or Die!!! ‘

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