11-16-2008 11-16-2008
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2433 Boston
November 16, 2008 11:00AMCalender

Attributed to Burns, Robert (1759-1796)

Auction: Books & Manuscripts - 2433 Location: Boston Date / Time: November 16, 2008 11:00AM


Attributed to Burns, Robert (1759-1796), Rare autograph manuscript draft of a poem titled "The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie, my ain pet ewe, an unco melancholy story," and Mailie's "Elegy," c. 1793, four pages, folio, (silked); together with a facsimile of a Robert Burns letter, and an autograph letter to Cadell Davis concerning a publication of Burns' work.

Note: Burns, Scotland's revered National poet, and proponent of Scottish dialect, based this poem on an actual incident, later titling it "The Death And Dying Words Of Poor Mailie, the Author's Only Pet Yowe, An Unco Mournfu' Tale." Based on Burns' brother Gilbert's recollections, he and Robert were going out to work their fields, when they came across a neighbor, Hugh Wilson. Gilbert describes him as a "curious looking, awkward boy, clad in plaiding." Hugh, called Hughoc in the poem, plaintively related to the Burns that Robert's ewe was tangled in her tether and lying in a ditch. Hugh's appearance and anxiety so amused Robert, that he composed the poem, and related it to Gilbert later that evening. This manuscript includes "Note: Hughoc was an odd, glow ran, gapin callan; about three fourths as wise as other folks."
Estimate $3,000-5,000

As full disclosure demands; this lot has been examined by Peter Westwood, the editor of The Burns Chronicle, who agrees with its authencity. It has also been shown to the National Library of Scotland, who do not believe in its authenticity.


Robert Burns, Scotland, Hugh Wilson, revered National poet , Gilbert, The Burns Chronicle, Peter Westwood, editor , National Library of Scotland