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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Friar's Carse

A beautiful estate on the River Nith, once owned by Captain Robert Riddell of Glenriddell. The house was built on the former site of a small monastic establishment. This particularly fertile part of Nithsdale had once been owned by the monks of Melrose. The Carse, which extended eastwards, was bordered by shrubberies, which reached almost to Ellisland. Riddell had given Burns a key to the grounds, and the poet frequently wandered through the estate, meditating in a little house, or hermitage, which the Captain had built. On 28th June 1788, Burns produced the first version of his lines, 'Written in Friar's Carse Hermitage'. The first version and the altered one both appear in Burns's Second Commonplace Book.
"Thou whom chance may hither lead,
Be thou clad in russet weed,
Be thou deckt in silken stole,
Grave these counsels on thy soul.
Life is but a day at most,
Sprung from night — in darkness lost;
Hope not sunshine ev'ry hour,
Fear not clouds will always lour."

On Robert Riddell's death in 1794, his widow could have allowed the property to go to her brother in law, Walter Riddell, who, under the terms of his brother's will, would have had to pay the widow an annuity. But the widow so hated Walter Riddell that she refused to exercise this option and the property was sold.

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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...