Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

The Hon Henry Erskine 1746 -1817

Dean of Faculty & Master of the Lodge 1780

Burns first meet Henry Erskine (known as Harry) at a meeting of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, when Dalrymple of Orangefield introduced the poet to Erskine as the Past Master. His brother David is also in the painting.


On the 7th December 1786, Burns wrote his famous letter to Gavin Hamilton in Mauchline, regarding meeting Erskine, 'I am in a fair way of becoming as eminent as Thomas a Kempis or John Bunyan..... My Lord Glencairn and the Dean of Faculty, Mr. H. Erskine, have taken me under their wing; and by all probability I shall soon be the tenth worthy, and the eighth wise man of the world.'


In his 'Extempore in the Court of Session' Burns humorously compares Erskine's style with that of Sir Ilay Campbell, the Lord Advocate, who was a poor orator.

"Collected, Harry stood awe,
Then open'd out his arm, man;
His Lordship sat wi' ruefu' e'e,
And ey'd the gathering storm, man;
Like wind driven hail it did assail,
Or torrents owre a lin', man;
The BENCH sae wise lift up their eyes,
Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man."