MS: 'In the character of a ruined Farmer'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


This song tells of the worries a ruined farmer faces, woebegone at the thoughts of how his wife and children will fare. Again Burns turns to the welcome peace of the grave but that would not resolve the problem of caring for his family.

In the first page Burns paints a picture of darkness in a stormy environment. The ruined farmer sits alone fretting over his bad turn of fortune. He looks down on his wife sleeping with the children close to her and he with a heavy heart.

On the last page Burns tells how the farmer, who could once help relieve the hardship of others, now could barely support his own family. Death would be one way out, but how would his family fare? The farmer, careworn, has nowhere to turn and does not see any relief in the future.

Robert Burns's father moved his family to Lochlie farm near Tarbolton in 1777. After a good start, however, he was taken to court by his landlord for arrears in rent seven years later. William Burnes eventually won his case but at great personal cost to his health such that he died two weeks after his appeal was heard by the court of sessions in January 1784. It is probable that Robert Burns based this song on the experience of his own father's misfortunes.

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