LIZ Lochhead's banal comparison of Robert Burns to Harvey Weinstein on the basis of a single boastful letter to a male friend (“Anger over Burns ‘sex pest’ claim”, The Herald, January 15) tells us more about the current fashion for jumping on bandwagons than it does about the alleged sexual indiscretions of a man in his twenties who died more than 200 years ago.

The scene Burns describes may be bawdy, but it hardly constitutes evidence of rape. Nor does it suggest that Jean Armour wasn't a willing participant in the encounter. Burns, indeed, was clearly prone to exaggerating, given the note of braggadocio in a letter he wrote to his brother William the following year in which he describes himself as a “'veteran in these campaigns – so let me advise you”.

Ms Lochhead also dredges up the old canard about the poet's unfulfilled intention to become an overseer on a plantation in Jamaica. I would suggest that this may have been part of a plan to make his way to America, much as the half-brother of his friend, Helen Craik, had done some 30 years earlier. Dr James Craik, as one of George Washington's “brothers in arms” would certainly have been a useful contact.

In any event, if the poet's' behaviour was so reprehensible, why did Ms Lochhead accept an invitation to speak at a formal Burns event? Wouldn't she be better advised to direct her fire to James Boswell?

David J Black,

6 St Giles Street, Edinburgh.