Robert Burns letter 'shows his spirit in failing health'
4th August 2010
A previously unknown letter that sheds new light on Scottish
Robert Burns in the year of his death has been discovered.
The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) unveiled a letter
written by Burns' superior officer John Mitchell in 1796, in which
he described the writer as 'reduced and shattered' but said his
'wit and humour remained'.
In addition, the message proves that Burns made a ten-mile
journey from Brow on Solway to Dumfries on July 14th 1796 to
collect his Customs and Excise salary - despite being urged not to
because of his failing health.
George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, commented:
'This is the sort of find we as archivists always hope is just
around the corner. The letter is of huge significance to our
understanding of the life of Robert Burns.'
He also revealed that the letter will become the centrepiece of
the NAS' exhibition on the poet's last days, which is called 'I
have not been idle - Robert Burns' farewell'.
In June, the NAS revealed that a team of international
historians and archivists will examine a 700-year-old letter
thought to have once been in the possession of Scottish hero Sir
William Wallace to learn more of its origins.