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100 BURNS FACTS

THE BORDER TOUR

(Facts 51-54)

51. On 5 May 1787, with Robert Ainslie, Burns left Edinburgh on his tour of the Borders. His route lay through Haddington, Gifford, Longformacus, Duns, Coldstream, Cornhill-on-Tweed, back to Coldstream, Kelso, Roxburgh, Jedburgh, Wauchpe, Kelso, Melrose, Dryburgh, Selkirk, Innerleithen, Caddonfoot, Galashiels, Earlston, Duns, Berwick, Eyemouth, Dunbar, Duns, Alnwick, Morpeth, Newcastle, Hexham, Longtown, Carlisle, Annan and Dumfries which he reached on 1 June. At Jedburgh and Dumfries he was made a freeman of the burgh.


52. The only letter written by Burns in the vernacular was sent from Carlisle on 1 June 1787, addressed to William Nichol in Edinburgh.

53. In the spring of 1787 Burns had a brief affair with Margaret Cameron, a serving wench in Edinburgh. On arrival at Dumfries he found a letter saying that the girl was pregnant and in July she took out a writ against him. Burns was sceptical that he was the father. Margaret Cameron (born at Fortingall in August 1766) either miscarried or it was a false alarm, which brought an end to the matter, Burns being freed of the writ on 15 August. Margaret married her cousin Mungo Forbes in September 1788.


54. On the return from his Border Tour, Burns found that the hostility of the Armour family had evaporated. Jean was 'as delicious an armful' as ever, and her parents positively threw her at him. Inevitably she conceived again, and bore twin girls on 9 March 1788. The first was still-born or died at birth, and was buried on 10 March. The second died un-baptised and was buried on 22 March (two of the seven unbaptised infants buried at Mauchline - out of 19 burials in February to May 1788.)


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