by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
the many books written to commerate the 250th birthday of Robert
Burns, a handful stand out and can be judged to be exceptional. In this
case, Chris Rollie’s Robert Burns in England is in that top
tier of books on Burns and, in one regard, stands alone in that he is only
the third person to have the privileged opportunity to hold in his hands and
study Burns’ original journal kept by the Bard while crossing into the
“foreign land” of England on three different occasions. The other two were
James Currie in 1800 and Alan Cunningham in 1834.
This Burns journal has been in the hands of the John
Murray publishing family for nearly 200 years and has been kept out of
public eye except for the two times mentioned above. Much has been written
about the other tours of Burns, and all are well documented. This journal of
Burns, kept while on horseback during his forays into England, is eye
opening regarding his feelings while traveling south of Scotland. Published
by the New Cumnock Burns Club, Rollie’s book sheds new light on this
important time in Burns life which, until now, has been largely untouched by
other authors. I feel we are indeed fortunate to have this treasure chest of
fresh information presented to us for the first time. What a joy you will
have exploring these pages on Burns.
Good friend and top Burns scholar Ken Simpson has stated
that this book represents “a major contribution to Burns scholarship” due to
the wealth of new information and goes on to say that “having access to the
MS (manuscript) was a major scoop; hence a lot of material is here made
available for the first time”. Everyone will be talking and writing about
the “new information” found in Rollie’s book. I have had the opportunity to
review a draft of the publication and concur with Dr. Simpson’s endorsement.
I cannot wait for the book itself to be in my hands and in my library.
Rollie’s book may well be the most significant one
published in the year of The Homecoming as to new material on Burns. One
thing is for sure, Robert Burns in England is a significant
event for Burns scholars, Burnsians, and lay readers like me. If you have
ever been excited about finding something in a field or beside the road, get
ready for some more excitement. What Rollie has accomplished with his book
will give you the same rush! For the first time we have the writings and
feelings of Burns regarding his trips into England, or into “foreign soil”
as described by the author. Can you imagine the excitement Burns felt when
he crossed over into England with his friend Ainslie after his first view of
England from Lanton Edge? Rollie gives us this recording from the journal:
“Monday – Coldstream – went over to England – Cornhill – glorious river
tweed – clean & majestic – fine bridge”. The celebration that followed has
been left for you to read in the book.
This was the first of the three trips by Burns into
England. Keep in mind that on the other trips Burns went as far south as
Newcastle and then over to Carlisle. He made these trips on his own newly
purchased horse, Jenny Geddes. Many of us have visited these places by car
or train without even knowing Burns had visited them before us. Now we know!
The subscription proposal to secure your copy follows.
There will only be 350 copies of the book printed. (FRS: 5.28.09)
J a n u a r y
P R O
P O S A L S
BURNS IN ENGLAND’
by Chris Rollie.
Price for the paperback is £10 plus s/h and
anyone interested can email him for details at
The work (c160pp with colour plates) to be elegantly printed
and bound in One Volume, octavo, in a limited hardback Subscribers' Edition
of some 350 copies, with each copy numbered, signed and dated by the
Author. Price £15 (UK sterling).
As the Author has not the most distant Mercenary view
in Publishing, as soon as so many Subscribers appear as will defray the
necessary Expense, the
Work will be sent to the Press.
Set out the
brunt side o your shin,
For pride in Poets is nae sin;
for which they rin,
And Fame's their jo;
And wha blaws best the horn shall win:
And wharefore no?
We, under Subscribers,
engage to take the above mentioned Work on the conditions specified. (£15
UK sterling plus £4 surface parcel post/£7 airmail for USA/Canada)
Replies to: Chris Rollie,
22 Main Street, St John’s Town of Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire DG7 3UW,
Scotland, UK or email@example.com
based on the sole surviving copy of the proposals for Burns's Kilmarnock