MS: 'The Hue and Cry of John Lewars'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


This poem was summed up by Burns in the sub-title: 'A poor man ruined by Robbery and Murder. Being an aweful warning to the young men of this age, how they look well to themselves in this dangerous, terrible WORLD.' The 'Robbery and Murder' was of the human heart.

The poem describes Agnes Woods as a thief and a murderer who stole John Lewars' heart and sent 'a murderous dart' into his peace. Although Burns describes her charms as evil wiles and witchery, she is described, at the end of the poem, as 'dear thief'.

Robert Burns moved to Ellisland farm near Dumfries in 1788. The following year he became an exciseman. In 1791 he moved to Dumfries to take up full-time duties for the Excise. A colleague and neighbour was John Lewars, whose sister Jessy helped with nursing Burns towards the end of his life.

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