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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Auchincruive

An estate in the parish of St Quivox, Ayrshire, the ancient seat of the Cathcarts, bought in 1764 by Richard Oswald, a London merchant and a commissioner in Paris for peace negotiations with the Americans. After his death in 1784, his widow (nee Mary Ramsay) remained in occupation. She, however, died in London in December 1788. Her body was brought back to St Quivox for burial beside her husband. Dead, the poor woman provoked Burns to one of his most savage outburst of ill nature. He recounted the circumstances in a letter to Dr Moore, dated 23rd March 1798: 'In January last, on my road to Ayrshire, I had put up at Bailie Whigham's, in Sanquhar, the only tolerable inn in the place... My horse and I were both much fatigued with the labors of the day, and just as my friend the Bailie and I were bidding defiance to the storm over a smoking bowl, in wheels the funeral pageantry of the late great Mrs Oswald, and poor I am forced to brave all the horrors of the tempestuous night, and jade my horse... twelve miles further on.' Undoubtedly exasperating. But the dead woman could not be blamed, and, although detested by servants and tenants with the 'most heartfelt cordiality', as Burns told Moore, could hardly be said to have deserved a Pindaric ode containing venomous lines like:
"View the wither'd beldam's face-
Can thy keen inspection trace
Aught of Humanity's sweet, melting grace?
Note that eye, tis rheum o'erflows,
Pity's flood there never rose...."

Auchincurive passed to Mrs Oswald's son, Richard Alexander Oswald, a government contractor during the American War, and to Burns a 'plunderer of armies'. It is now a teaching farm, owned by the West of Scotland Agricultural College.

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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