Burns and his friend Ainslie arrived at Veitch’s Forest Inn in Selkirk with rain running off them. The inn was crowded and Ainslie inquired if they could join a table with two spaces available. However the host of the table, Dr Clarkson was decidedly unimpressed at the two muddied, drenched travellers before him. He remarked that “one sounded nearly like a gentleman’ but the other was ‘a drover-looking chap’”.
It was the next day before he learned that his drover was Burns himself. Mortified, as a genuine admirer of Burns’s work, Dr Clarkson hurried off to make amends at the inn where the pair had eventually found lodgings. But Burns was “in bed, drying out, feeling jaded to death”. While Burns did not have modern day paparazzi to contend with, it has been suggested that he was perhaps realising his own fears of being on constant display. He refused to see Dr Clarkson, who spent the rest of his life regretting his high-handed attitude and the failure to dine with one of Scotland’s most famous men.
Today a plaque on West Port lays claim to the site of the old Veitch inn and of Clarkson’s humiliation, but it is also said the inn could have lain where the newly refurbished Hammermen’s Hall now sits.