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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Ferguson, Dr Adam (1723 — 1816)

Born at Logierait in Perthshire, he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University in 1759, and Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1764. He published his Essay on Civil Society in 1767, and a History of the Roman Republic in 1783.

His house was in a street called the Sheens, or Sciennes (which derived its name from its nearness to the ruins of an ancient monastery dedicated to St Catherine of Sienna), and was the meeting place of the Edinburgh literati. Sir Walter Scott described Dr Ferguson's house in Edinburgh as: 'a general point of reunion among his friends, particularly of a Sunday, where there generally met, at a hospitable dinner party, the most distinguished literati of the old time who still remained, with such young persons as were thought worthy to approach their circle, and listen to their conversation'.

One 'such young person' was Scott himself, who, as a lad of 16, was keenly eager to meet Burns. This he did (the only recorded meeting) at Adam Ferguson's house. Burns had been very much affected by a picture on the wall of a dead soldier, with his widow, child and dog beside him in the snow. Underneath, was a verse. Burns turned to the assembled distinguished company, and asked if anyone knew the author. No one did, until the young Scott remarked: 'They're written by one Langhorne.' Whereupon Burns said Scott, in a letter to Lockhart in 1827, 'rewarded me with a look and a word, which, though in mere civility, I then received, and still recollect, with great pleasure.'

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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...