Robert Burns Collection: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Diann Benti.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Manuscripts Department
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© 2015
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Overview of the Collection

Title: Robert Burns Collection
Dates (inclusive): 1784-1829
Bulk dates: 1784-1796
Collection Number: mssHM 2584, etc.
Additional Collection Numbers: mssHM 2584, mssHM 7394, mssHM 13021-13061, mssHM 16300, mssHM 34699
Creator: Burns, Robert, 1759-1796.
Extent: approximately 45 items in 1 box (26 folders) and 18 loose cases and volumes
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: This collection contains approximately 45 pieces of correspondence and manuscripts chiefly in the hand of Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), dating from 1784. Within the documents, there are approximately 36 different pieces of verse by Burns, including poems, ballads, and songs. The correspondence, often containing lines of verse, primarily consists of one to two letters from Burns to various friends and patrons.
Language: English.

Access

Items are available with curatorial approval. Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

Administrative Information

Publication Rights

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Robert Burns Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Provenance

The collection was assembled from various sources, including:
  • HM 2584, acquired from H.V. Jones, December 1918 (no. 256)
  • HM 7394, received as part of the Gable Collection.
  • HM 13029 and HM 13031, purchased by Henry E. Huntington from William K. Bixby through the Anderson Galleries (Sale 1280, Lots 588 and 589), February 1917.
  • HM 13036-13039, acquired from William K. Bixby, date unknown.
  • HM 13061, acquired from the collection of Henry G. Bohn.
  • HM 34699, acquired from G. D. Smith.

Processing/Project Information

  • HM 16300, removed from the Geddes Burns (Call number: 151851).
  • HM 13051, 13053-6, and 13058 were originally bound together as a volume of Burns manuscripts and disbound by Huntington Library staff in November 1971.

Biographical Note

Robert Burns (1759-1796) was a Scottish poet and lyricist. His first volume of poems, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, was published in 1786.

Scope and Content

This collection contains approximately 45 pieces of correspondence and manuscripts chiefly in the hand of Scottish poet Robert Burns, dating from 1784. Within the documents, there are approximately 36 different pieces of verse by Burns, including poems, ballads, and songs. The correspondence, often containing lines of verse, primarily consists of one to two letters from Burns to patrons and friends including Robert Cleghorn, Frances Anna Dunlop, Robert Muir, John Richmond, and Burns's printer William Creech. In addition there are also a few later letters consisting of a letter from Burns's brother Gilbert Burns to "Dobie," a letter from painter Alexander Nasmyth to William Cribb, and a letter from Jean Jeffrey Renwick to Henry Brevoort.

Related materials in the Huntington Library

Arrangement

The collection consists of material organized in the following 2 series:
  • Manuscripts
  • Correspondence
Items listed in the finding aid are chiefly housed in individual folders in 1 box, with 18 items separately housed in decorative gilt leather volumes or pull-off cases.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

Subjects

Burns, Robert, 1759-1796 -- Archives.
Poets, Scottish -- 18th century.

Forms/Genres

Letters (correspondence) -- Scotland -- 18th century.
Poems -- Scotland -- 18th century -- Archives.
Songs -- Scotland -- 18th century.

Added Entries

Bixby, William K. (William Keeney), 1857-1931, former owner.
Creech, William, 1745-1815, recipient.


Collection Contents

 

Collection

Access Information

Items are available with curatorial approval. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.
 

Manuscripts

Arrangement

Items arranged alphabetically by author, and then alphabetically by title.

Related Material

See the correspondence section in this finding aid for letters within the collection that contain verse:
  • "Behold my love, how green the groves…" in Burns, Robert. Letter to Lady Mary Douglas. 1795 May 2. (HM 2584)
  • "Elegy on Captain Matthew Henderson" in Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Cleghorn. 1790 July 23, (HM 13054.)
  • "The Humble petition of Bruar Water to the noble Duke of Athole." In Burns, Robert. Letter to Josiah Walker. 1787 September 5. (HM 13027)
  • "Lassie wi' the lint-white locks, …" [Burns, Robert]. Letter to [Alexander Findlater?] [1794 September]. (HM 13057)
  • "My Chloris, mark how green the groves, …" in Burns, Robert. Letter to Lady Mary Douglas. 1795 May 2. (HM 13042)
  • "The Wedding Day, A Song, Tune, The Seventh of Nov." in Burns, Robert. Letter to [Robert Riddell]. [1788 September 16]. (HM 13034)
  • "Why should na poor people mow." Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Cleghorn. 1792 December 12. (HM 34699)
Box 1

 HM 13044. [Burns, Robert]. "A down winding 'Nith I did wander …" [1793]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

Song titled: "Song-Tune, Geordie's byre." Annotation of explanation in the author’s hand at the end of the song. "To Miss Phillis McMurdo--with the Bard's most respectful Complnts."
Pull-off case

 HM 13023.  [Burns, Robert]. Epithalamium [a poem] and Epitaph for H… L… Esqr. Of L…, Hic jacet wee Johnie Wilson, and Hic jacet Johannes Fusius, … [three epitaphs]. [c. 1800?]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 2 p.

With HM 13021-13025. A forgery?
Box 1

 HM 13041. Burns, Robert. Excise. 87th Year, 1st Q[uarte]r 1793. Dumfries Collection & District, D 1st Division, 2d Round Abstract. 1793

Physical Description: A.D.S. 2 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].
Box 1

 HM 13026. Burns, Robert. "The friend who wild from Wisdom's way…" [after 1793]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 1 p.

A poem of two quatrains. Addressed to "Mr. S. McKenzie."
Box 1

 HM 13048. [Burns, Robert]. "Fy, let us a' to Kirk-t, …" [1795]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 1 p.

Incomplete: only line 1-28 of The Heron Ballad [Ballad II], titled "A Ballad-Tune, Fy let us a' to the bridal."
Case

 HM 13061. [Burns, Robert]. Glenriddel Hermitage, June 28th 1788. [1789]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 2 p.

A poem.
Box 1

 HM 13046. [Burns, Robert]. "And I'll kiss thee yet, yet …" [1788-1789?]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

Two songs: "And I'll Kiss thee yet, yet …" titled "Tune--Brae's o' Balquidder," with "Green sleeves and tartan ties …" on verso.
Box 1

 HM 13058. [Burns, Robert]. The Kirk's Alarm--A Ballad -- Tune, Push about the brisk bowl. [1789 July-August]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 3 p.

Annotations of explanation and corrections in the author's hand.
Box 1

 HM 13050. [Burns, Robert]. [Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn]. [between 1791 January and 1791 October]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

An elegy; missing the first two verses. Corrections in author's hand.
Box 1

 HM 13049. [Burns, Robert]. "The last time I came o'er the moore…" [1793?]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

A song in three verses. Corrections in the author's hand. On the verso: "Acct. of Books Bot. in to the Mankland Society's Library."
Volume

 HM 13036. [Burns, Robert]. "No Churchman am I for to rail and to write …" A Song. [1783-1784]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 2 p.

Pasted on sheet in bound volume with HM 13037-13039.
Titled "Tune--Prepare, my dear brethren, to the tavern let's fly." With annotations of explanation in author's hand. Author's signature pasted on verso by James Portes; also history of manuscript given on verso by Portes.
Box 1

 HM 13056. [Burns, Robert]. On a Scotch Bard, gone to the West Indies. [1786 after April]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.
Box 1

 HM 13055. [Burns, Robert]. On Captn. Grose's present peregrination through Scotland collecting the Antiquities of that Kingdom. [after 1789 April]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

A poem with corrections in the author's hand.
Pull-off case

 HM 13025. [Burns, Robert]. On Mr. Pit's Hair-Powder Tax. [1795]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 1 p.

With HM 13021-13024. A poem of four lines concerning the hair-powder excise tax begun under the prime-ministership of William Pitt.
Pull-off case

 HM 13022. [Burns, Robert]. To Miss Jeany Cruikshank, a very young lady, only child of Mr. Cruikshank of the High School- Edinr. Written on the blank of a Song-book presented to the young lady by Mr. B--.

Physical Description:

With HM 13021-13025. A poem beginning "Beauteous Rosebud young & gay,…"
Pull-off case

 HM 13021. [Burns, Robert]. To Miss Susan Logan, Park[house]--With Beattie's Poems. 1787 January 1.

Physical Description: A.Ms. 1 p.

Edinburgh, [Scotland].

Bound with HM 13022-HM 13025. A poem of three quatrains.
Pull-off case

 HM 13024. [Burns, Robert]. To Mr. McMurdo, with a Pound of Lundiefoot Snuff. [1789]

Physical Description: A.Ms.S. 1 p.

With HM 13021-13025. A poem of two quatrains. Addressed to: "John McMurdo Esq.--with a parcel."
Box 1

 HM 13040. [Burns, Robert]. To Mrs. Mc-- Alias Clarinda [with On Scaring Some Water-Fowl in Loch Turit]. [1787-1788]

Physical Description: A.Ms.S. 2 p.

2 poems. The poem "To Mrs. Mc---" is signed "Sylvander." The poem "On Scaring Some Water-Fowl …" is incomplete and includes only the last 16 lines.
Box 1

 HM 13051. [Burns, Robert]. Queen Mary's Lament. [1791?]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 3 p.

A poem.
Box 1

 HM 13045. [Burns, Robert]. "Their groves o' sweet myrtles let Foreign Lands reckon …" [1795]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 4 p.

Consists of two songs titled "Song--Tune, Humors of glen" (beginning "Their groves o' sweet myrtles …") and Johnie B---'s lament-Tune The babes o' the wood" (beginning 'Twas in the seventeen hunder year…")
Box 1

 HM 13047. [Burns, Robert]. "There was an auld man and he has a bad wife …" [before 1792]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

This is either an early version of "Kelly Burn Braes" or a traditional ballad.
Pull-off case

 HM 13035. [Burns, Robert]. "Thou lingering star with lessening ray …" [1789 approximately November]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 2 p.

A song; with annotation in unknown hand: "Song-addressed to Mary in Heaven--!!!"
Box 1

 HM 13059. [Burns, Robert]. "'Twas where the birch and sounding thong are ply'd …" [before 1796 July]

Physical Description: A.M.S. 2 p.

A poem titled "A Tale," with corrections in the author's hand and annotations in pencil in an unknown hand at the end.
Box 1

 HM 13053. [Burns, Robert]. The Whistle--A Ballad--[and] The Prose Story of the Whistle. [1791?]

Physical Description: A.Ms. 4 pp.

With annotations of explanation in the author's hand.
 

Correspondence

Arrangement

Items arranged alphabetically by author and then by recipient and date.
Volume

 HM 13038.  Burns, Gilbert. Letter to Dobie. 1825 October 13.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Pasted on sheet in bound volume with HM 13036-13039.
Box 1

 HM 13054. Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Cleghorn. 1790 July 23.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 7 p.

Ellisland, [Scotland].

Includes "Elegy on Captain Matthew Henderson."
Box 1

 HM 34699. Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Cleghorn. 1792 December 12

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Sanquhar, [Scotland].

Includes verse "Why should na poor people mow."
Pull-off case

 HM 13031. Burns, Robert. Letter to Helen Craik. 1790 August 9

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Ellisland, [Scotland].

Box 1

 HM 13043. Burns, Robert. Letter to William Creech. [1793] February 28.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 1 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].

Box 1

 HM 13042. Burns, Robert. Letter to [William Creech]. [1795] May 30

Physical Description: A.L.S. 8 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].

Includes 17 epigrams and a song titled "A Song. -- Tune, My lodging is on the cold ground, beginning "My Chloris, mark how green the groves, …"
Box 1

 HM 2584. Burns, Robert. Letter to Lady Mary Douglas. 1795 May 2.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].

Includes a "Scotish Song--Tune, My lodging is on the cold ground" beginning "Behold my love, how green the groves…"
Box 1

 HM 13052. Burns, Robert. Letter to William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry. 1791 September 24.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Ellisland, [Scotland].

Box 1

 HM 13033. Burns, Robert. Letter to [Frances Anna Wallace] Dunlop. 1792 September 24.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].

Annotation in unknown hand.
Box 1

 HM 13057. [Burns, Robert]. Letter to [Alexander Findlater?] [1794 September]

Physical Description: A.L. 2 p.

Incomplete. Includes a portion of a song, "Lassie wi' the lint-white locks, …"
Box 1

 HM 16300. Burns, Robert. Letter to John Geddes. 1789 February 3

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Ellisland, [Scotland].

Removed from Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect ("The Geddes Burns") [1787], (Call number: 151851).
Volume

 HM 13037.  [Burns, Robert]. To [Margaret (Chalmers) Hay?]. [1787 January].

Physical Description: A.L. 1 p.

Pasted on sheet in bound volume with HM 13036-13039. Addressed to "My Dr. Countrywoman."
Pull-off case

 HM 13032. Burns, Robert. Letter to John McMurdo [1793 July?]

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.
Pull-off case

 HM 13028. Burns, Robert. Letter to Robert Muir. 1786 March 20.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 1 p.

Mossgiel.

Signed: "Robt. Burness"
Pull-off case

 HM 13029. Burns, Robert. Letter to John Richmond. 1786 July 30.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Old Rome, [Scotland].

Pull-off case

 HM 13030. Burns, Robert. Letter to [John Richmond]. 1787 October 25

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Edinburgh, [Scotland].

Pull-off case

 HM 13034. Burns, Robert. Letter to [Robert Riddell]. [1788 September 16]

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

Ellisland, [Scotland].

Includes "The Wedding Day, A Song, Tune, The Seventh of Nov." (the last two lines added later in pencil by an unknown hand).
Box 1

 HM 7394. [Burns, Robert]. Letter to Charles Sharp. 1791 April 22.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Dumfries, [Scotland].

Signed Johnie Faa. With an 1896 printed broadside: Johnston, J. "A Song for Burns's Birthday." Bolton, Jan. 25th, 1896.
Case

 HM 13027. Burns, Robert. Letter to Josiah Walker. 1787 September 5

Physical Description: A.L.S. 7 p.

Inverness, [Scotland].

Includes the poem: "The Humble petition of Bruar Water to the noble Duke of Athole."
Volume

 HM 13039.  Renwick, Jean Jeffrey. To Henry Brevoort. 1836 May 13.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 3 p.

Pasted on sheet in bound volume with HM 13036-13038.
Box 1

 HM 13060. Nasmyth, Alexander. Letter to William Cribb. 1829 August 23.

Physical Description: A.L.S. 2 p.

London, [England].

Letter gives an account of the author's walk and breakfast with Robert Burns in 1787.