The Coulter Burns Collection: MS 23150

Acquired at auction in 1986, the trail of ownership of this manuscript is quite intriguing, and the manuscript is named after one of its previous owners, Adam Sim of Coulter. The composite volume contains three poems of Burns and three of his letters.

The poems include 'Epistle to John Lapraik', 1785, the only known manuscript of 'O'er the moor amang the Heather', and 'The sons of Old Killie' with the annotation by the Master of the Lodge, William Parker, recording: 'This song wrote by Mr Burns was sung by him in the Kilmarnock Kilwinning Lodge in 1786'.

The letters in the volume are: (1) a letter (1788) to George Lockhart, and (2) a draft letter to Francis Grose, the Antiquary, with (3) a draft of a letter to Professor Dugald Stewart on the reverse, both July 1790. The other item in the manuscript in the hand of Burns is a fragment of a glossary with an annotation recording — erroneously — 'A portion of the glossary of the first edition of Burns' poems in the poet's own handwriting'.

The remaining items in the manuscript are strictly speaking 'Burnsiana'. One is a letter, dated September 1807, of Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), the poet and songwriter, in which he asks John Struthers to write an ode for use at the next anniversary meeting of the Paisley Burns Club, which he helped found in 1803. This letter illustrates rather well the speed with which Burns's memory was taken up by his fellow-countrymen, and home and abroad, and used as a reason to meet and make merry.

The other item is a letter of Allan Cunningham to James Cochrane. The rest of the volume is filled with memorabilia, newspaper cuttings and notes relating to the provenance of this curious pulling-together of Burns and Burns-related items.

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