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Fenway wha hae Robert Burns again, next week

The US chapter of the National Trust for Scotland announces that the Fenway's long missing statue of Robert Burns and his dog, Luath, will be formally re-unveiled in its original location in the Back Bay Fens on Wednesday.

Henry Hudson Kitson's statue of Burns had originally been unveiled in the Fens in 1920, in a ceremony led by then Gov. Calvin Coolidge. But proving that the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley, it was unceremoniously moved to Winthrop Square downtown in 1975 as a favor from City Hall to the developer who had restored the building at 1 Winthrop Square, but who was unable to convince a Back Bay church to give up its statue of John Winthrop and who didn't want to pay to commission a new statue of the person the square was named for.

Burns' and Luath's return trip across town became possible when Millennium Partners, building a new tower where a municipal parking garage used to be, decided they'd rather have a fountain in the little Winthrop Square plaza instead of a poet and a dog striding through the moors. The Fenway Civic Association requested the statue be returned to its place near the statue of John Boyle O'Reilly and one thing led to another.

The celebration of the statue's return, starting at 2 p.m., is free and open to the public, but the National Trust requests you RSVP, so they know how many scones to bake.

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But the fact that hurts is that, like all West Indian plantations, the Douglas enterprise was firmly built on black slave labour. Some commentators play the 'get-out-of-jail-free card' to RB here. He was 'only to be the bookkeeper'.


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Robert Burns and Slavery

says he accepted, but never actually began, a job managing that plantation.

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Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do or die!

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Just to clarify - it's not a random 'Back Bay church', it's John Winthrop's church. First Church was established by Winthrop and the Puritans in 1630 - before the founding of the city.

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Winthrop established the First Church in Boston on July 30, 1630. But The First Church, Boston that is located in today's Back Bay became a Unitarian church in the 19th century, then later became a Unitarian Universalist church in the middle of the last century, when those two denominations joined.

Winthrop would not recognize their U.U. faith today and would be rolling over in his grave to see their heresy, for which they would have been banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Winthrop's day.

So, while the First Church in Boston was Winthrop's church, this church is anything but.

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Actually, he would be tolerated at Arlington UU.

Heretic: What to call anyone who disagrees - on the basis of the puffery of religion.

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Found this on Commonwealth magazine's website:

For the US Centennial in 1876, Massachusetts sent two statues to the US Capitol to stand in Statuary Hall: a marble statue of John Winthrop carved by Richard Saltonstall Greenough, and one of Samuel Adams, a replica of which stands outside Faneuil Hall today.

On Boston’s 250th anniversary in 1880, a bronze replica of the Winthrop statue was placed upon a pedestal at one of the busiest intersections of the city, near the site now occupied by the entrance to the MBTA’s Government Center station.

For 23 years, there Winthrop stood, until subway construction forced the statue’s removal in 1903, saving the moralistic Puritan from having to watch Scollay Square devolve into Boston’s vice district frequented by sailors on shore leave.

While lesser figures in Boston history are given prominent perches in the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue mall, Winthrop’s statue was relocated to the Unitarian Universalist First Church in Boston, where it is all but ignored on Marlborough Street. With Boston’s quadricentennial on the horizon in 2030, the Boston Art Commission and Massachusetts Historical Society could work with the First Church to consider more visible locations for Boston’s founder.

More prominent is the Founders Memorial, erected in 1930 on the Boston Common, beside Beacon Street. It depicts William Blackstone, the first European settler in Boston, welcoming Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop’s words are memorialized on the monument along with quotes of two other elected leaders: the governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, and the mayor of Boston at the time, Jim Curley.

In the most enduring act of cultural appropriation in Boston history, there Curley mocked the Brahmin penchant for using three names (e.g., Henry Cabot Lodge, Samuel Elliott Morrison) by styling himself for posterity as “James Michael Curley.” According to another three-named professor, Jonathan Beecher Field, Curley got the last laugh when the monument’s sculptor, John Paramino, could find no historical likeness of Boston’s first colonial resident. For his model for William Blackstone, the artist used Curley.

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Sam Allis told the story in The Boston Globe back in 2010:


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This famous Burns poem is inscribed inside the Scottish Parliament, in Edinburgh. It's praise for the common man, reverse snobbery against the nobleman, and use of the Guid Scots Tongue (rather than the King's English of the time) shows Burns would rather be in Southie or Dorchester.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hangs his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave - we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodden grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

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