ROBERT BURNS (376 pp.)David DaichesRmehart ($3.50).
Robert Burns "first committed the sin of rhyme," as he put it himself, at 15:
0 once I lov'd a bonny lass
Ay and I love her still
And whilst that virtue warms my breast
I'll love my handsome Nell.
It was a minor offense, for 15. Posterity was shortly to commit a greater one in typing Robert Burns's career as a rake's progress. An early prohibitionist named Curne gave the legend a head start 150 years ago; in a biography written shortly after Burns's death, he portrayed him as a kind of Paul Bunyan of literary bad boys: a convivial...