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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Douglas, Dunbar, fourth Earl of Selkirk (1722 — 1799)

Dunbar Douglas, fourth Earl of Selkirk, succeeded to the earldom in 1744. He was Lord Lieutenant of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The Earl supported the government during the rebellion of 1745, and in 1770 took a prominent part in resisting ministerial influence in the election of Scottish representative peers.

Between late July and 2nd August 1793, Burns, in company with John Syme, toured Galloway. They spent 'a most happy evening' at St Mary's Isle, during which the poet was asked to recite his poem 'Lord Gregory'. Syme later told Currie: 'Such was the effect, that a dead silence ensued. It was such a silence as a mind of feeling naturally preserves... The fastidious critic may perhaps say some of these sentiments are of too elevated a kind for such a style of composition... But this is a cold-blooded objection, which will be said rather than felt.' Stenhouse described the air as a 'very ancient Gallowedian melody'. What Kinsley calls a 'grudging tribute' was paid by Burns to the Earl in the Heron ballad 'Wham will we send to London Town'.

"Tho wit and worth in either sex,
Saint Mary's Isle can show that;
Wi' Lords and Dukes let Selkirk mix,
For weel does Selkirk fa' that."

It was indeed, grudging because, Syme tells us, Burns arrived at St Mary's Isle in a bad temper, recalling that he was making for the 'seat of a Lord, yet that Lord was not an aristocrat, at least in his sense of the world.'

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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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