The Belles of Mauchline


In Mauchline there dwells six proper young belles, The pride of the place and its neighbourhood a'; Their carriage and dress, a stranger would guess, In Lon'on or Paris, they'd gotten it a'. Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland's divine, Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw: There's beauty and fortune to get wi' Miss Morton, But Armour's the jewel for me o' them a'.

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Robert Carlyle

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1784 and is read here by Robert Carlyle.

More about this song

First printed in 1800 in the Currie edition, this song is in praise of six of Mauchline's most attractive young women, who have caught the poet's eye. 'Miss Miller' is Helen Miller, sister of the 'Merchant Master Miller'; the bridegroom of A Mauchline Wedding.

The other belles mentioned in the poem are Helen's sister 'Miss Betty', Jean Markland, Jean Smith, Christina Morton, and of course Jean Armour - 'the jewel for me o' them a'' - who met Burns in late 1784 (which is probably the time around which this poem was written). Jean Armour was acknowledged as Burns' wife in April 1788.

Juliet Linden Bicket

Themes for this song

beauty drink

Locations for this song

Mauchline

Selected for 25 February

Jean Armour, the poet's wife, was born on February 25, 1767. In recent years, exactly a month after her husband's commemoration, more and more suppers have been held in honour of Jean Burns. These events honour a woman of extraordinary tolerance, generosity and forgiveness. Towards the end of his life, however, Burns wrote several songs for a different Jean, Jean Lorimer and this can cause confusion, now as then. Today's poem praises the 'right' Jean, Ms Armour ... eventually, after a longish list of local rivals. Her position in the hierarchy of her husband's heart would change from time to time, but the 'jewel of them all' she remained.

Donny O'Rourke

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