As Maurice Lindsay has said, `a song so genuine in its resigned passion that it relegates the other nine songs he had written for her, full of `sensibility' and drawing-room manners to the realms of the insignificant'. In January 1792 Nancy sailed from Greenock aboard the Roselle --- ironically the ship that should have carried Burns to Jamaica five years earlier.
On 6 December 1791, in Edinburgh, Burns met Mrs McLehose for the last time. She had decided to join her now-prosperous husband in Jamaica (a disastrous decision as it turned out) and her parting gift to Burns was a lock of her hair which he had set in a ring. On his return to Dumfries, Burns sent `Ae Fond Kiss' (and two other songs) to Mrs McLehose on 27 December. Burns' song was influenced by Robert Dodsley's `The Parting Kiss', included in The Charmer (1749), which begins: `One kind kiss before we part,/Drop a tear, and bid adieu:/Tho' we sever, my fond heart,/Till we meet, shall pant for you.' A past master of the valedictory mode, Burns far surpasses Dodsley.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae fareweel, and then forever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. Who shall say that Fortune grieves him, While the star of hope she leaves him? Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me, Dark despair around benights me. I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy: Naething could resist my Nancy! But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love for ever. Had we never lov'd sae kindly, Had we never lov'd sae blindly, Never met --- or never parted --- We had ne'er been broken-hearted. Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest! Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, every Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure! Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae farewell, alas, for ever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.