Erskine, David Stewart, Earl of Buchan 1742 - 1849
34th Grand Master Mason 1782-84
During the evening of the inauguration the Earl gave a patronising note to Burns, this is represented in the painting with the Earl of Buchan handing a note to Alexander Cunningham who is occupying the seat next to where Burns sat when he visited the Lodge. Burn wrote back;
'Your Lordship touches the darling chord of my heart when you advise me to fire my muse at Scottish story and scenes. I wish for nothing more than to make a leisurely Pilgrimage through my native country; to sit and muse on those once hard contended fields, where Caledonia, rejoicing, saw her bloody lion borne through broken ranks to victory and fame; and catching the inspiration, to pour the deathless Names in Song.' But, Burns reminded the Earl, he had to live, and forthatreason: 'must return to my rustic station, and, in my wonted way woo my rustic Muse at the Ploughtail.'
In August 1791, the Earl invited Burns to the crowning of a bust of the poet Thomson, and suggested that Burns might write an appropriate poem. Burns replied that he could not attend because of the harvest. However, he sent the stanzas 'Address to the Shade of Thomson, on Crowning his Bust at Ednam, Roxburghshire, with a Wreath of Bays'. In the event, the bust was smashed in a drunken frolic before the ceremony could take place, and the Earl had to lay the wreath on a volume of Thomson's poems! Burns sent him a copy of 'Scots Wha Hae' in January 1794.