The Dumfries Volunteers

As if to prove his loyalty he joined the Dumfries Volunteers, founded in 1795 to counter the threat from France. Its commanding officer was Arentz Schulyer de Peyster, a Dutchman who had fought in the American War of Independence. He had married the daughter of a former Provost of Dumfries and had retired to the town.

Dumfries by Alexander Reid
Dumfries by Alexander Reid

Some time before, Burns had lost the friendship of Mrs Dunlop, an Edinburgh correspondent, because of his political leanings and he now sent her this song, the ‘Dumfries Volunteers’:

Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir!
There’s WOODEN WALLS upon our seas,
And VOLUNTEERS on shore, Sir:
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
The Criffel sink in Solway
Ere we permit a foreign foe
On British ground to rally!
We’ll ne’er permit a foreign foe
On British ground to rally!

Photograph of Carsethorn
Carsethorn

This song became popular throughout Britain.


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