Epigrams on Lord Galloway

What dost thou in that mansion fair? Flit, Galloway, and find Some narrow, dirty, dungeon cave, The picture of thy mind. No Stewart art thou, Galloway, The Stewarts all were brave: Besides, the Stewarts were but fools, Not one of them a knave. Bright ran thy line, O Galloway, Thro' many a far-fam'd sire: So ran the far-famed Roman way, And ended in a mire. Spare me thy vengeance, Galloway! In quiet let me live: I ask no kindness at thy hand, For thou hast none to give.


Laura Fraser

About this work

This is an epigram by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by Laura Fraser.

More about this epigram

Burns thoroughly detested John Stewart (1736-1806), the seventh Earl of Galloway, both personally and politically, as the Earl endorsed High Tory values.

He was the victim of a severe lampooning in Burns’s third Election Ballad, ‘John Bushby’s Lamentation’, in addition to these epigrams.

However, Burns perhaps treated the Earl more savagely than was fair. According to contemporary accounts he was noted as a generous master to his servants, as well as a man of great piety.

The lawyer Alexander Young also defended him, and reports that the Earl himself said, ‘it would not become him when his good old master The King despised and disregarded the paltry attacks of a Peter Pindar, to feel himself hurt by those of a licentious, rhyming ploughman’.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this epigram

humour class

Selected for 02 August

Burns had been living and working in Dumfries since 1788 and the song collector in him was keen to find out more about his adoptive South West. In 1793, from the end of July until the beginning of August, Burns toured Galloway with his friend John Syme. 'Scots Wha Hae' was begun on that trip which also gave rise to this poem. Once again the Bard uses the usurped and banished Stuarts as a stick with which to beat an ignoble aristocrat, this one a 'Stewart' (sic) himself.

Donny O'Rourke

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