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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Erskine, The Hon. Henry (1746 — 1817)

Second son of the tenth Earl of Buchan. He became an advocate, and was elected Dean of the Faculty in 1786. He twice held the office of Lord Advocate; in 1783 and in 1806 — 7. He was noted for his legal skill, his vigorous pleading and his humour.

In his 'Extempore in the Court of Session' Burns humorously compares Erskine's style with that of Sir Ilay Campbell, the Lord Advocate, who was a poor orator.

"Collected, Harry stood awe,
Then open'd out his arm, man;
His Lordship sat wi' ruefu' e'e,
And ey'd the gathering storm, man;
Like wind driven hail it did assail,
Or torrents owre a lin', man;
The BENCH sae wise lift up their eyes,
Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man."

Burns first mest him at a meeting of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, when Dalrymple of Orangefield introduced the poet to Erskine as the Past Master. In his Life of Lord Jeffrey, Lord Cockburn referred to Erskine's popularity: 'nothing was so sour as not to be sweetened by the glance, the voice, the gaiety, the beauty of Henry Erskine.' On a tablet later affixed to his birthplace, there are the words: 'No poor man wanted a friend while Harry Erskine lived.'

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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

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...