To James Burness 
Lochlea, 21st June 1783
Dear Sir,
My father received your favor of the 10th Current, and as he has been for some months very poorly in health, & is in his own opinion, & indeed in almost ev'ry body's else, in a dying condition; he has only, with great difficulty, wrote a few farewell lines to each of his brothers-in-law; for this melancholy reason I now hold the pen for him to thank you for your kind letter, & to assure you Sir, that it shall not be my fault if my father's correspondence in the North die with him.- My brother writes to John Caird, & to him I must refer you for the news of our family. I shall only trouble you with a few particulars relative to the present wretched state of this country. Our markets are exceedingly high; oatmeal 17 & 18d per peck, & not to be got even at that price; We have indeed been pretty well supplied with quantities of white pease from England & elsewhere, but that resource is likely to fail us; & what will become of us then, particularly the very poorest sort, Heaven only knows. - This country, till late was flourishing incredibly in the Manufactures of Silk, Lawn & Carpet Weaving, and we are still carrying on a good deal in that way but much reduced from what it was; we had also a fine trade in the shoe way, but now entirely ruined & hundreds driven to a starving condition on account of it.- Farming is also at a very low ebb with us. Our Lands, generally speaking, are mountainous & barren; and our Landholders, full of ideas of farming gathered from the English, and the Lothians and other rich soils in Scotland; make no allowance for the odds of the quality of land, and consequently stretch us much beyond what, in the event, we will be found able to pay. We are also much at a loss for want of proper methods in our improvements of farming; necessity compels us to leave our old schemes; & few of us have opportunities of being well informed in new ones. In short, my dear Sir, since the unfortunate beginning of this American war, & its as unfortunate conclusion, this country has been, & still is decaying very fast.
Even in higher life, a couple of our Ayrshire Noblemen, and the major part of our Knights & squires, are all insolvent. A miserable job of a Douglas, Heron, & Co.'s bank, which no doubt you have heard of, has undone numbers of them; and imitating English, and French, and other foreign luxuries & fopperies, has ruined as many more.- there is great trade of smuggling carried on along our coasts, which, however destructive to the interests of the kingdom at large, certainly enriches this corner of it; but too often indeed at the expence of our Morals; however, it enables individuals to make, at least for a time, a splendid appearance; but fortune, as is usual with her when she is uncommonly lavish of her favours, is generally even with them at the last; & happy were it for numbers of them if she would leave them no worse than when she found them-
My mother sends you a small present of a cheese, 'tis but a very little one as our last year's stock is sold off; but if you could fix on any correspondent in Edinburgh, or Glasgow, we would send you a proper one in the season. Mrs Black promises to take the cheese under his care so far, and then to send it to you by the Stirling carrier.
I shall conclude this long letter with assuring you that I shall be very happy to hear from you or any of our friends in your country when opportunity serves.-
My Father sends you, probably for the last time in this world, his warmest wishes for your welfare and happiness; and mother & the rest of the family desire to inclose their kind Compliments to you, Mrs Burness and the rest of your family along with
Dear Sir, Your affectionate Cousin,

Robt Burness
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