More about this song
Juliet Linden Bicket
As in The Holy Fair, here Burns pokes fun at peasant manners and turns a wedding-scene into a brawl (making 'A Mauchline Wedding' fit into the brawl tradition, seen also in Sir John Suckling's 'Ballad upon a Wedding').
This poem is also a kind of literary revenge; however, as in a letter to Mrs Dunlop on 21 August 1788, Burns discusses William Millar, a merchant who has married a woman for a dowry of £500 (money left to her by her brother, who made his fortune in Jamaica).
Burns writes that 'A Sister of Miller's who was then Tenant of my heart for the time being, huffed my Bardship in the price of her new Connection; and I, in the heat of my resentment resolved to burlesque the whole business, and began as follows.'
So, annoyed at being rejected, Burns mockingly catalogues the wedding of 'Merchant Master Miller' with 'Nansie Bell / And her Jamaica siller'. Details of extravagant dress and manners are laughed at throughout.