I just went through a couple of online bios of Robert Burns, and while there is much talk of the conflict between the high and low church during his lifetime, there is not one mention of the event that shaped the Scottish countryside, and was most influential to Scottish behavior, during Burns lifetime.
Burns was born in 1759; in 1746, Scotland had lost a civil war. Kilts were outlawed; swords were outlawed; military rifles were outlawed. Scotland was subject to SEVERE anti-sedition laws.
Burns loved Scotland, and he hated the English, and he spent most of his life "laying it between the lines."
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
Two old friends meet in a tavern, and one says to the other, "You pay for your own drink, and I'll pay for mine, but we'll remember the old days."
In other words, "There's no point in making a toast that will break the law, and get us both into trouble; I know what you want to say, and I agree with you, but not in public, and not today. But the day will come..."
Should ancient insult be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should honored dead forgotten lie, in this more peaceful time?
Let's raise a glass to friend, and foe, and let it be a sign,
That freedom's still worth dying for, as in days of Auld Lang Syne.
A few night's hence, a significant portion of the English speaking world will greet the new year with a toast to Charles Edward Stuart and the fallen of Cullodden in complete ignorance of what they are doing. And somewhere, Bobbie Burns will be grinning like a fool.
Here's to you, Mr. Burns; rest in peace.