Canvas 6 – Talk of the Town

6.Talk of the Town

If every door in Edinburgh opened to Burns in 1788, the one that led to below stairs was at most only kept ajar, but the fame of the supposedly ex-ploughboy had spread to kitchens all over the capital and the servants were all eager to get a glimpse of ‘Scotia’s darling’ and her national Bard. They crowded the stairs just out of the light so that they might see him ‘perform’, for this was a performance. Burns was a natural actor and it did not take him long to play the part expected of him. He knew himself that his novelty wouldn’t last long so he would enjoy it while he could. Besides, he was making more valuable contacts. He had discovered networking.

The servants knew he was still one of them no matter his fine clothes and polished English and every one of them, especially the serving girls, were proud of him. It was not always possible to widen his audience at these Edinburgh gatherings, but it is a mark of the man that he never forgot his roots despite his sudden vault into the first withdrawing rooms of the gentry where he walked across a carpet for the first time in his life.

Edinburgh was the watershed that changed Burns’ life forever. Thankfully it did not change the man.