On The Late Captain Grose's Peregrinations Through Scotland Quotes

Robert Burns

"A Chiel's Amang You, Taking Notes"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Captain Grose was an antiquarian and friend of Robert Burns, who had published many of his findings on the cultural history of Scotland, including Antiquities of Scotland and his Treatise on Ancient Armor and Weapons. Burns comments humorously on both the man and his work: of the man, he says it would be better had he fallen in battle than left the army. For his work, Burns has humorous ridicule, commenting that Captain Grose has porridge pots dating from before Noah's Flood, a cinder from Eve's first fire, Tubalcain's fire-shovel and fender, and the Witch of Endor's brassbound broomstick. Burns even suggests that the antiquary is a colleague of the devil, a man to make ghosts, warlocks, and witches all "quake at his conjuring hammer." In the first stanza the poet warns his fellow Scots that no one is safe from Grose's inquisitive mind, that he takes notes on everything, great or small, significant or of no consequence, in order to get it into print:

Hear, Land o' Cakes, and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groats;–
If there's a hole in a' your coats,
I rede you tent it;
A chiel's amang you, taking notes,
And faith, he'll prent it.