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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Tytler, James (1747-1805)

Son of the Reverend George Tytler, he studied medicine but was unsuccessful in setting up a practice. He got himself into debt, and only escaped being arrested by taking sanctuary at Holyrood Abbey, where he wrote a ballad called 'The Pleasures of the Abbey'. He edited the second and third editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for some years, and Burns made use of him in compiling the Scots Musical Museum. Tytler himself contributed several songs to this collection, including 'The Young Man's Dream', and two others, based on older songs, 'I hae laid a herring in saut', and 'The Bonnie Brucket Lassie'. Like Burns, too, Tytler clearly had access to the manuscript collection of David Herd. Burns wrote in his Commonplace Book about 'The Bonnie Brucket Lass'; 'The two first lines of this song are all of it that is old. The rest of the song, as well as those songs in the Museum marked T, are the works of an obscure, tippling, but extraordinary body of the name of Tytler commonly known by the name of "Balloon Tytler", from his having projected a balloon, a mortal who, though he drudges about Edinburgh as a common printer, with leaky shoes, a sky-lighted hat, and knee-buckles as unlike as George-by-the-Grace-of-God and Solomon-the-Son-of-David; yet that same unknown drunken mortal is author and compiler of three-fourths of Elliot's pompous Encyclopaedia Britannica, which he composed at half-a-guinea a week.'

Tytler was accidentally drowned in a clay-pit near Salem.

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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...