On this day in 1759 Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s flawed but freakishly able sons, was born. We mark the anniversary with a quote – not from his poems but from his letters. It’s a simple but beautifully put manifesto that reveals the warmth of Burns’ poet heart:


‘No doubt there is much I’ll have to answer for, yet my philosophy was simple enough. Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others – that is my criterion of goodness. Whatever injures society as a whole or any person in it – that is my measure of iniquity and, if I could, believe me I would, wipe all tears from all eyes.’


And if you’re celebrating this evening with friends, you might want to take heed of this lovely piece of Burnsian advice…


Then catch the moments as they fly

And use them as ye aught man

Believe me, happiness is shy

And comes not aye when sought man’

[A Bottle and a Friend]