The epigram is distilled from a longer prose notebook entry that DGR wrote about Burns, apparently in 1869.
Two manuscript texts of the epigram are known, one in the British Library,
the other (copied from the former) in the Rosenbach library.
The epigram was first published in WMR's 1886. WMR later printed as well the prose comment on Burns from which the epigram derives.