Eighteenth-century Scots was clearly a language rich in synonyms for this last pastime, and Burns makes use of most of them in his poetry. Even after his marriage to the long-suffering Jean Armour, he continued to take advantage of the numerous opportunities for sexual conquest opened up by his personal charm and powers of persuasion. Although Burns was a poet who was forced to earn his living by means of agricultural labour for much of his life, the Ayrshire communities in which he lived were not entirely deprived of contact with the currents of thought emanating from Edinburgh, the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment. Crawford lists the many formal and informal social networks promoting the development of individual culture and literary activity to which Burns belonged. Through his membership of the Freemasons, his participation in the Tarbolton “Bachelors Club”, and his friendship with like-minded people of his own class and background, he found ready support and assistance for his earliest poetic efforts, and encouragement for his desire to have his songs and poems published.
more from the TLS here.