asks: 'Why all the fuss about Robert Burns?...We have produced other towering literary figures like Allan Ramsay, Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd, and the incomparable Robert Louis Stevenson. But we don't make a fuss about any of them'. This is indeed true, but I would also ask: What other lyric poet writing in any form of English has had comparable impact on world literature? Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats? I think not. But then, though he might not be regarded as a 'towering literary figure', James Macpherson probably exerted a literary influence, and particularly outside the narrow Anglophone sphere, equal to anyone barring Shakespeare. That 'we' are not prepared to acknowledge this almost certainly testifies to ignorance, and probably (misplaced) embarrassment and shame.
Len Murray certainly knows and loves his Burns and it was a real pleasure
to read his article. Except for one oddity. He refers to the House of Hanover 'presiding over' the greatest carnage in the history of Scotland. He stops short of saying that they caused the carnage, indeed a little earlier in his article he seems to point his finger at the seven men of Moidart as the cause. But they, just like the House of Hanover, were caught up in currents of history over which they had little control. Now if you're really looking for the greatest carnage in the history of Scotland, by which I mean wilful slaughter of innocents in pursuit of a political end, surely the rape of Buchan would be a strong candidate? And Robert the Bruce wasn't just presiding over the country at the time, he ordered that slaughter.
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