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*Federation No. 2085*

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Forum Home > ROBERT BURNS THE FARMER > Robert Burns' own comments - Flax Trade

ladyalexandria
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Posts: 118

Robert Burns' own comments about those months

[1781-82, aged 22-23]

'My twenty third year was to me an important era. Partly through whim, and partly that I wished to set about doing something in life, I joined with a flax-dresser in a neighbouring town, to learn his trade and carry on the business of manufacturing and retailing flax. This turned out a sadly unlucky affair. My partner was a scoundrel of the first water who made money by the mystery of thieving; and to finish the whole, while we were giving a welcome carousal to the new year, our shop, by the drunken carelessness of my partner's wife, took fire and was burnt to ashes, and left melike a true Poet, not worth sixpence.'

('O why the deuce should I repine, and be an ill-forboder? I'm twenty-three, and five-feet-nine, - I'lI go and be a sodger!') 'I was obliged to give up business [this flax-dressing scheme]: the clouds of misfortune were gathering thick round my father's head, the darkest of which was, he was visibly far gone in a consumption; and to crown all, a belle-fille whom I adored [? Ellison Begbie], and who had pledged her soul to meet me in the field of matrimony, jilted me with peculiar circumstances of mortification. The finishing evil that brought up the rear of this infernal file, was my hypochondriac complaint being irritated to such a degree that, for three months, I was in diseased state of body and mind, scarcely to be envied by the hopeless wretches who have got their mittimus - "Depart from me, ye cursed".' [autobiographical letter to Dr John Moore, 1787].

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January 12, 2010 at 8:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Geoff
Member
Posts: 79

Was Burns a man before his time? Did flax not become a better prospect a few years after he gave up farming? The whole plant, from its linseed up, was used for numerous things from cattle feed to clothing (linen). Today, flax is emerging as one of the most important materials for textile industry and an important material for other branches of industry: paper industry, medical, chemical, defence, and automobile industries.

His friend, Patrick Miller, introduced the neep to Scotland and both were involved in cattle breeding. 

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January 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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