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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Bachelors' Club, Tarbolton

A debating club founded on 11th November 1780, by Burns, Gilbert Burns, Hugh Reid, Alexander Brown, Thomas Wright, William M'Gavin and Walter Mitchell, all young men of Tarbolton parish. At this first meeting, in the house of John Richard, Burns was unanimously elected president for the night. Rules were drawn up, the tenth and most significant of which read: 'Every man proper for a member of this Society, must have a frank, honest, open heart; above anything dirty or mean; and must be a professed lover of one or more of the female sex. No haughty, self-conceited person, who looks upon himself as superior to the rest of the Club, and especially no mean spirited, worldly mortal, whose only will is to heap up money shall upon any pretence whatever be admitted.' The subjects included: 'Whether do we derive more happiness from Love or Friendship?'; 'Whether is the savage man or the peasant of a civilised country in the most happy situation?'; 'Suppose a young man, bred a farmer, but without any future, had it in his power to marry either of two women, the one a girl of large fortune, but neither handsome in person or agreeable in conversation but who can manage the household affairs of a farm well enough; the other of them a girl every way agreeable in person, conversation and behaviour, but without any fortune, which of them shall he choose?'. The poet, of course, was for the fortune-less lass!

Members' names added to the list of founders included that of David Sillar. The Club remained active for some years after Burns left the district. Its meeting place is now preserved as a museum.

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Robert Burns Store

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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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