Caledonian Hunt, the
An association of noblemen and country gentlemen who shared a common interest in field sports, races, balls and social assemblies. Burns dedicated the first Edinburgh Edition of his Poems to the Hunt, some of whose members had befriended or patronised him in Edinburgh. The dedication is couched in his fullest-blown prose style:
'Though much indebted to your goodness, I do not approach you, my Lords and Gentlemen, in the usual stile of dedication, to thank you for past favours; that path is so hackneyed by prostituted Learning , that honest Rusticity is ashamed of it. Nor do I present this "Address" with the venal soul of a servile Author, looking for a continuation of those favors. I was bred to the Plough and am independent. I come to claim the common Scottish name with you, my illustrious Countrymen; and to tell the world that I glory in the title. I come to congratulate my Country, that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs uncontaminated; and that from your courage, knowledge and public spirit, she may expect protection, wealth and liberty...'
Included in the Minutes of the Meeting of the Caledonian Hunt at Edinburgh on 10th January 1787, is an acknowledgement of this dedication:
'A motion being made by the Earl of Glencairn, and seconded by Sir John Whitefoord in favour of Mr Burns, Ayrshire, who had dedicated the new edition of his poems to the Caledonian Hunt, the meeting was of the opinion that in consideration of his superior merit, as well as of the compliment paid to them, Mr Hogart should be directed to subscribe for one hundred copies in their name, for which he should pay Mr Burns £25, upon the publication of his book.'
Burns himself was enrolled as a member of the Caledonian Hunt on 16th April 1792.