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The Burns Encyclopedia
Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Peebles, The Reverend William (1753 - 1826)

Born at Inchture and educated at Edinburgh, he became minister at Newton-upon-Ayr in 1778, and clerk of the Ayr Presbytery in 1782. A rigid supporter of the 'Auld Lichts', he denounced M'Gill's Practical Essay on the Death of Jesus Christ, which led to M'Gill's case being taken up by the General Assembly, and prompted Burns to write 'The Kirk's Alarm'. In the poem, Peebles figures as 'Poet Willie':
"Poet Willie, Poet Willie, gie the Doctor a volley,
Wi' your 'liberty's chain' and your wit;
O'er Pegasus' side ye ne'er laid a stride
Ye only stood by where he sh-,
Poet Willie! Ye only stood by where he sh-."

Peebles had attracted some ridicule by a line in a poem of his own on the Centenary of the Revolution of 1688:

"And bound in Liberty's endearing chain"

In 'The Twa Herds' he is described as 'Peebles shaul' (shallow). He was the author of several works on religious topics of interest in his own day, and of a poem, The Crisis, published in 1803.

In his entertaining yet profound study of Burns, the Christian Rebel, Bawdy Burns, Cyril Pearl writes: 'From time to time, of course, ministers of the kirk, still smarting under the lashes of Burns's satire, repeated their denunciations of the irreverent sinner who had dared to laugh at their imbecilities. In 1811, the Rev. William Peebles... showed his real Christian spirit by attacking the dead poet - anonymously - in a turgid work titled Burnomania; the celebrity of Robert Burns considered in a Discourse addressed to all real Christians of every Denomination. 'In this, Peebles called Burns an 'irreligious profligate' who wrote 'vile scraps of indecent ribaldry'.

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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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