The poet had been a popular and respected figure in Dumfries and his
premature death brought a genuine feeling of regret and sorrow.
There was a realisation of the loss that the town had suffered and
immediately preparations were made for a fitting funeral.
As he was a Volunteer, a military ceremony was arranged. The
Fencible Infantry of Angusshire and the Cinque Ports Cavalry were
stationed in Dumfries at the time and they offered their services.
Funeral procession, High St., Dumfries
Funeral procession at St. Michael's Churchyard
On Monday 25th July 1796 an enormous crowd assembled to watch the
funeral procession. His body had been transferred to the Midsteeple
on the Sunday evening. To the strains of the Dead March from
Handelís ĎSaulí, the procession moved slowly to St Michaelís Church,
where his remains were buried in the north east corner of the
churchyard. On the same day his wife gave birth to another son who,
with unconscious irony, was named Maxwell after the doctor whose
advice had finally brought about Burnsí death. Throughout Scotland
there was a feeling of loss and self reproach for failing to
appreciate and foster so extraordinary a genius. Immediately Syme,
Maxwell and Alexander Cunningham, a friend of Burnsí in Edinburgh,
started a subscription to provide for the poetís widow and children.
In Dumfriesshire alone over £100, a large amount for those days, was
raised in less than three months.
It was also their intention that a biography of Burns should be
written as soon as possible and the profits used to aid Mrs Burns.
Dr James Currie, a Liverpool physician who came originally from Annan
was chosen as biographer. The biography, published in 1800, was an
immediate success and raised £1400. However, the treatment of Burns
in the book has left misconceptions about his life which prevail to
Currie, a reformed alcoholic, chose to put a moral slant on Burnsís
life and painted a picture of drunkenness and excess in the poetís
later years. Even by the 1830s, Currie was being called "a man of
narrow intellect" and it was said that "under the mask of benevolence
of his [Burnsí] family he stabbed his reputation with certainty and