Letter to Robert Graham of Fintry, January 7 1788

St James’ Square, Monday morn:
( 7th January 1788 )


When I had the honor of being introduced to you at Atholehouse, I did not think of putting that acquaintance so soon to the test.
When Lear, in Shakespeare, asks old Kent why he wished to be in his service, he answers, “Because you have that in your face I-could like to call Master:” for some such similar reason, Sir, do I now solicit your Patronage.

– You know, I dare say, of an application I lately made to your Board, to be admitted an Officer of Excise. – I have, according to form, been examined by a Supervisor, and today I give in his Certificate with a request for an Order for instructions. – In this affair, if I succeed, I am afraid I shall but too much need a patronising Friend. – Propriety of conduct as a Man, and fidelity and attention as an Officer, I dare engage for; but with any thing like business, I am totally unacquainted.

– The man who till within these eighteen months was never the wealthy master of ten guineas, can be but ill-acquainted with the busy routine. – I had intended to have closed my late meteorous appearance on the stage of Life, in the country Farmer; but after discharging some filial and fraternal claims, I find I could only fight for existence in that miserable manner, which I have lived to see repeatedly throw a venerable Parent in the jaws of a Jail; where, but for the Poor Man’s last and often best friend, Death, he might have ended his days.

– I know, Sir, that to need your goodness is to have a claim on it: may I therefore beg your Patronage to forward me in this affair till I be appointed to a Division; where, by the help of rigid Economy, I shall try to support that Independance so dear to my soul, but which has too often been so distant from my situation.-

I have the honor to be, Sir,
your most humble servant
Robert Burns

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