MS: Letter from Robert Burns to Captain Richard Brown, dated Mauchline, 7 March 1788

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


Robert wrote this letter to Captain Richard Brown, of the Ship 'Mary and Jean', on 7 March 1788.

Captain Richard Brown met Burns in autumn 1781 when Robert was working in Irvine as a flax dresser On the first page, Burns writes that he has been 'out of the country' [in England] and has 'been looking at farms; and after all, perhaps I may settle in that character.' He admits to being indolent - 'have got such a vicious bent to idleness' and goes on to say 'that it will take no ordinary effort' to bring his mind round 'to the routine of business'. The page ends with Burns offering a sort of philosophical treatise on the condition of minds.

On the second page, Burns explains his philosophy on the human condition. For him, 'the truest auxiliary in the warfare of the world' is not 'reason' belonging to 'Men of grave geometrical minds', rather 'an honest passion, or native instinct'. Reason, for Burns, in the use of simile as 'an unlucky wife to a poor devil of a husband' is there, only 'to add her reproaches to his other grievances. -'. Burns describes Jean's condition (heavily pregnant) in maritime allegory - 'cargo', 'moored', 'Harbour', and 'unload'. Burns also reveals he has been reading Shakespeare in his quotation from Othello, and this page closes with the Poet's plans, 'I go for Edin' on Monday' and tells Brown when to expect the Directory.

On the final page, Burns is bringing this letter to a close. He tells Brown that he has received 'a letter from my Edin correspondent' and, consequently is 'very angry with him'. This is because Burns's 'Edin correspondent' failed to forward a copy of the Directory to Brown - hence the Poet's discontent. Burns offers Brown his regards; 'Prosperity and safe return attend you!'

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