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Oliver Brown
Robert Burns

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 Bay.

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 offered him.

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.



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