"Jean I found banished, like a martyr - forlorn destitute and friendless: All for the good old cause. I have reconciled her to her fate, and I have reconciled her to her mother. I have taken her a room. I have taken her to my arms. I have given her a mahogany bed. I have given her a guinea, and I have fucked her till she rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But, as I always am on every occasion, I have been prudent and cautious to an astonishing degree. I swore her privately and solemnly never to attempt any claim on me as a husband, even though anybody should persuade her she had such a claim (which she had not), neither during my life nor after my death. She did all this like a good girl, and I took the opportunity of some dry horse-litter, and gave her such a thundering scalade that electrified the very marrow of her bones. Oh, what a peacemaker is a guid weel-willy pintle! It is the mediator, the guarantee, the umpire, the bond of union, the solemn league and covenant, the plenipotentiary, the Aaron's rod, the Jacob's staff, the prophet Elisha's pot of oil, the Ahasuerus' Sceptre, the sword of mercy, the philosopher's stone, the Horn of Plenty, and Tree of Life between Man and Woman."
(letter to Robert Ainslie, 3rd March 1788)
Firstly, it is nice to get another confirmation that I am not the only one with a really high opinion of my dick and that it is perfectly normal and justified. Although I refuse to call it "pintle", I just don't like the word. Now "the Ahasuerus' Sceptre", "the sword of mercy", "the peacemaker" and "the Horn of Plenty" on the other hand are not bad at all.
“Scalade” apparently is a variant of “escalade" (so some say that is not a word that implies consent).
And that's what Hugh Douglas (Burns biographer) thinks about that puzzling "dry horse-litter" in "Robert Burns: The Tinder Heart":
"It is possible to reconstruct the scene: they went to the stable to discuss matters in private since there would not be a lot of privacy in a small farmhouse. Jean must have been frantic and wept and begged him to stand by her and help her, which would be enough to send the unsure, insecure Burns into a rage. He always reacted furiously whenever he was put on the defensive, and he threw the first thing that came to hand at her, which was the horse-litter. Dry dung never injured anyone, as anybody brought up on a farm can confirm, but it would have terrified Jean into promising never to lay claim to him as her husband. Then he made his peace in the only way he knew (apart from writing a poem) by offering sexual satisfaction."
I find this pretty hard to imagine and the mental image that I got (as a non-native speaker of course) was him doing her on the hay on the floor of that stable rather than him throwing dry dung at her.
What do you think people? Should Burns be forgotten and his books burned?
And yeah, all that "I swore her privately and solemnly never to attempt any claim on me as a husband" didn't work out, she broke him like a little bitch and he married her the very year he wrote that letter.