Contains some strong language

Lines To A Gentleman


Kind Sir, I've read your paper through, And faith, to me, 'twas really new! How guessed ye, Sir, what maist I wanted? This mony a day I've grain'd and gaunted, To ken what French mischief was brewin; Or what the drumlie Dutch were doin; That vile doup-skelper, Emperor Joseph, If Venus yet had got his nose off; Or how the collieshangie works Atween the Russians and the Turks, Or if the Swede, before he halt, Would play anither Charles the twalt; If Denmark, any body spak o't; Or Poland, wha had now the tack o't: How cut-throat Prussian blades were hingin; How libbet Italy was singin; If Spaniard, Portuguese, or Swiss, Were sayin' or takin' aught amiss; Or how our merry lads at hame, In Britain's court kept up the game; How royal George, the Lord leuk o'er him! Was managing St. Stephen's quorum; If sleekit Chatham Will was livin, Or glaikit Charlie got his nieve in; How daddie Burke the plea was cookin, If Warren Hasting's neck was yeukin; How cesses, stents, and fees were rax'd. Or if bare arses yet were tax'd; The news o' princes, dukes, and earls, Pimps, sharpers, bawds, and opera-girls; If that daft buckie, Geordie Wales, Was threshing still at hizzies' tails; Or if he was grown oughtlins douser, And no a perfect kintra cooser: A' this and mair I never heard of; And, but for you, I might despair'd of. So, gratefu', back your news I send you, And pray a' gude things may attend you.

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John Sessions

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1790 and is read here by John Sessions.

More about this poem

The full title 'Lines to a Gentleman who had Sent a Newspaper, and offered to Continue it Free of Expense' has lead some editors to identify the Gentleman of the poem as Peter Stuart, editor of the Edinburgh Star and Evening Advertiser but this was doubted by James Kinsley.

Poets often sent their poems to the editors of local newspapers to be inserted for public delectation and it was probably one of the best ways to 'up' your profile. Stuart wrote to Burns in May 1789 asking him to regularly contribute poetry to the newspaper and offering a small salary.

However, Burns did not want to confine himself to one newspaper but agreed to send occasional poems. This poem, written in early 1790, reviews recent events.

Jennifer Orr

Themes for this poem

humour politics

Selected for 15 November

Glasgow's first newspaper, 'The Courant', made its debut on November 15th, 1715. That was the year of the Jacobite rising and there was plenty to report. Here the Bard gives us a summary of the sorts of things to be found in a publication equivalent to the 'Courant' 75 years later. The items highlighted encompass world events, celebrity gossip and the scabrous rumour of sexual indiscretion: SO unlike the tabloids of today!

Donny O'Rourke

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