22 NOVEMBER 1930, Page 42


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sin,—Mrs. Carswell's letter in the Spectator of November 8th is interesting and pregnant. She says, " On the eve of publication steps were even taken by the Burns Federation to have my book suppressed or mutilated. The attempt had to be withdrawn as futile." This is a somewhat grave charge, because the Burns Federation represents the Federated Clubs of the world. Its affairs are in the hands of its Executive Council, and no action can be taken without the consideration and consent of that Council, of which I am a member. No action or even whisper of such action as stated by Mrs. Carswell ever came before the Burns. Federation or its Executive Council. If, therefore, Mrs. Carsweli's statement is correct, the action which she imputes to the Burris Feder's.

Lion was wholly unauthorized, and if so taken was not taken by the Burns Federation, but by some person or persons presuming to act in its name. Perhaps Mrs. Carswell will state categorically who intervened, and in what form ?

May I venture upon another point of interest ? Whatever views may be held regarding Mrs. Carswell's biography of Burns as a poet and a man, it is generally conceded that his songs are pre-eminently the expression of the human heart, and that as such they form one of the links in the human chain which helps to bind together not only Scotsmen, but largely the Commonwealth of the English-speaking peoples. Now the birth-cottage at Alloway, the focal point of interest, and the extraordinarily valuable collection of his MS. and other national treasures in the adjoining museum are held by many people to be at the risk of destruction by fire. The Ayrshire Association of Federated Burns Clubs, of which I am President, has for the past three years pressed this matter upon the trustees in charge, but without result. The ex-Firemaster of Edinburgh in his recent report to the Ayrshire Clubs has specifically stated what arc in his opinion the points of danger. Our three annual reports together with the relative correspondence with the trustees, have just been published ; and if you can find space for this letter, dealing with that of Mrs. Carswell, and the efforts after the protection and safeguarding of a notable poetic shrine, of possible interest to your many readers, I shall be very greatly obliged.—I am, Sir, &c.,


8 Hall Terrace, Cumnock, Ayrshire.