A good test of society is the tolerance which it shows
towards its critics. By this test 18th century Scotland ranks high in its
treatment of Burns who was against Church and State and yet continued to
remain a Government employee despite a war fever which sent Muir to Botany
It is true that Burns in a fever of anxiety wrote
pseudo-patriotic verses which no-one sings and only Willie Ross quotes -
no doubt in similar anxiety about a government job.
It is strange to think that, but for the success of his
first book of poems, Robert Burns would have gone to Jamaica as a slave
driver - he, the Poet of Freedom! For this is what the British Empire
Degenerate Scots (that is, patriotic North Britons)
claim Burns as one of them, because of his "poems" such as
"Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat?" which are quoted as
evidence that he was one of their kind. They were merely a part of a
feverish, anguished attempt to prevent his dismissal from the Civil
Service because of his Jacobin sympathies, which were almost as dangerous
in his time as Communist associations are today. No one ever sings them
now because unlike his other poems, they bear the impress of insincerity.
The real tragedy of Burns’ life is the Burns orator.
His real attitude was expressed without ambiguity in
his letter to Mrs Dunlop (10/471790):
"Alas," have I often said to myself
"what are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from the
Union that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence, and
even her very name.
He was not one of those patriots who wait for a
commission of enquiry in order to find out if national obliteration has
not the justification of a cash equivalent.