Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

Peter Hill 1754-1837


When Burns met Peter Hill in 1787, he was still a clerk in Creech's bookshop, but in 1788, he set up his own bookselling business. Hill acted as a kind of Edinburgh banker for Burns, and a number of the poet's letters to him deal solely with business matters. Others deal in part with the ordering of books, either for Burns's own personal library, or for the Monkland Friendly Society, which Burns and Robert Riddell organised early in 1789. But there are many personal observations in Burns's side of the correspondence, and sometimes double entendres. Writing from Mauchline on 18th July 1788, when Hill had complained of Burns's neglect of him, the poet said:

'You injured me, my dear Sir, in your construction of the cause of my silence. From Ellisland in Nithsdale to Mauchline in Kyle, is forty and five miles; there, a house a-building, and farm enclosures and improvements to tend; here, a new — not so much indeed a new as a young wife — Good God, sir, could my dearest Brother expect a regular correspondence from me! I who am busied with the sacred Pen of Nature, in the mystic Volume of Creation, can I dishonour my hand with a dirty goose feather, on a parcel of washed old rags? I who am "called as was Aaron" to offer in the Sanctum Sanctorum, not indeed the mysterious bloody types of future MURDER but the thrice hallowed quintessence of future EXISTENCE; can I — but I have apologised enough...'