Monday, January 26, 2009

Robert Burns - Orangeman and Freemason?!

A few folk have contacted me today following the BBC interview last evening, with my brief reference to Robert Burns having celebrated the centenary of the 1688 landing of William of Orange.

This excerpt is from Willie Drennan's most recent book, Big Lang Danner:

"On November 5th, 1788 in Dunscore, he (Burns) attended a church centennial commemoration of the landing of William at Torbay. Afterwards, in a letter, he spoke of the Stuarts and addressed “the folly of their attempts in 1715 and 1745” and followed with “that they failed I bless my God most fervently but cannot join in the ridicule against them.” Ay, Burns was firm in his political beliefs and yet liberal and hence his enthusiastic support for the American Revolution.

In the same letter he said, “I dare say, the American Congress, in 1766, will be allowed to have been as able and as enlightened, and a whole empire will say, as honest as the English Convention in 1688; and that on the 4th of July will be as sacred as their posterity as the 5th of November is to us."

[a fuller explanation of this is available here]. The connection between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the American Revolution of 1776 has recently been explored by American political commentator Michael Barone in his 2007 book Our First Revolution - the Remarkable British upheaval that inspired America's Founding Fathers.

So whether Williamite or Jacobite, of a Presbyterian family, possibly of Covenanter descent, and of course a dedicated Freemason (see the famous images below) - Burns was an enigma, and not just the lefty/radical/proto-Nationalist that he is often packaged as these days.

PG 946.jpg