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Rambles Through the Land of Burns
Chapter 6


THE WALLACE TOWER--THE TAM O’SHANTER INN--DROUTHIE CRONIES--SCENERY IN THE VICINITY OF AYR--THE CHAPMAN’S FORD--"THE MEIKLE STANE"--THE COT IN WHICH BURNS WAS BORN--ITS APPEARANCE AND DESCECRATION--ITS ERECTION --WHEN AND HOW IT WAS TURNED INTO A PUBLIC-HOUSE--MILLAR GOUDIE--CURRAN’S VISIT--WHAT KEATS HAD TO SAY ABOUT "THE FLUMMARY OF A BIRTHPLACE"--THE FIRST BURNS CLUB.

The name of Wallace appears to be greatly revered by the people of Ayr, for a little above Kirk Port, at the corner of a lane leading to the Ducat stream--as a ford referred to in "The Brigs of Ayr" is termed--there is a handsome Gothic tower one hundred and thirteen feet high to his memory. It is a striking object; but the lank, ungainly figure of the hero, peeing from a niche in its front, is a decided failure as a work of art, for it has a closer resemblance to an inebriated individual assuming a sober appearance than to the burly wight who

"Dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride."

An old tower, with which several juvenile traditions of Wallace are connected, occupied the site, but in an attempt to repair it the walls gave way, and the whole was removed to ensure the safety of the lieges. It was a rude square block with arrow slits, and possibly some place of strength in former times, for its situation was close to the site of a port or gate of the town. That Wallace was imprisoned in it is possible, but there is no authority but oral tradition for the statement.

A short distance above this memorial tower, and on the same side of High Street, an antique thatched-covered public house attracts attention. It is two storeys in height, and has a large oil painting over its doorway, the subject of which is Tam o’ Shanter taking leave of his friend, Souter Johnnie. Tam is mounted on his mare Meg, and is gesticulating with his cronie, who, to all appearance, has somewhat more than "a wee drap in his e’e," while the landlord holds aloft a lantern, and the landlady shelters in the doorway. The daub is good enough in its way, but the following announcement is the bait to lure customers:--"THE HOUSE WITHIN TAM O’ SHANTER AND THE SOUTER HELD THEIR MEETINGS. CHAIRS AND CAP ARE IN THE HOUSE." Now, what pilgrim to the land of Burns could resist the temptation of having a bicker of ale in what is stated to be the veritable house wherein "the Souter tauld his queerest stories," and Tam o’ Shanter got "o’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious?" So it must be confessed that I yielded to temptation and entered, notwithstanding the fact that I have often looked upon relics which had the appearance of having been manufactured to serve the purpose. Being met on the threshold by a courteous, neatly-attired young lady, I was conducted up a narrow staircase, and ushered into a low-roofed oblong apartment in which a merry group of lads and lasses were seated, who to all appearance were "out for the day." A reaming measure being placed before me, I began to look around, and was not a little surprised to find the walls literally covered with pictures illustrating scenes in the life and writings of Burns, and also with Masonic emblems sufficient to satisfy the most enthusiastic brother of "the mystic tie." From these my eyes wandered to the far end of the room, where, in a darkened window, stood a life-sized bust of Burns, and before it a small table with a quaint arm chair on each side, with brass plates affixed to their backs bearing quotations from "Ram o’ Shanter," and the affirmation that the one was the favourite seat of the redoubtable Tam and the other that of his friend the Souter. There was also a moderately-sized silver-hooped wooden caup out of which the celebrated topers are said to have quaffed the "reaming swats that drank divinely," which was being merrily pushed about by the company referred to , but not in a selfish manner, for it was handed me, and I had the pleasure of drinking to the memory of Tam and the Souter. In the course of conversation I more than hinted that I was doubtful of the authenticity of the caup and chairs, but my scepticism being scouted, I took my departure rejoicing that the genius of Robert Burns exercises such an influence over the hearts of his countrymen that the remotest thing connected with him and his writings commands reverence.

That Burns had real personages in his eye when he wrote "Tam o’ Shanter" has never been disputed, but who the personages were was long a matter of dispute, and, in fact, various individuals have been vain enough to aspire to the dubious honour of being one or other of the leading characters in the poem. However, this identity is now fully established, for it is agreed by all parties that Douglas Graham of Shanter--a farm between Turnberry and Culzean --was none other than the redoubtable Tam, and that his "drouthy cronie," Souter Johnny, was a shoemaker named John Davidson who dwelt in the immediate neighbourhood of the Shanter farm. Besides farming, Graham dealt in malt (for publicans brewed their own ale at the period) and to the business of shoemaking Davidson added that of a "dealer in leather." Being big men in a small way, their avocations brought them very often to Ayr, which then, as now, was the market town, and on such journeys they generally bore each other company. Davidson, after transacting, his own business, often accompanied his neighbour, the malster, through his customers, for in every shop where he made a sale he was in the habit of calling a gill for "the good of the house," and toshow gratitude for orders received. Having more liquor on these occasions than he could well make use of, there is little wonder

"That frae November till October
Ae market day he wasna sober,"

and was glad of the Souter or any other person to help him to consume it. Now, like all who tipple at the "barely bree," Graham had a favourite call-house--a taver (possibly the one mentioned) at which he regularly put up. It was kept by a Carrick man named Benjamin Graham, who occasionally shared the good things of his table with them. To make some slight return for this hospitality, Graham and Davidson resolved to have " a nicht o’t" at his home, and give him a treat in return. The time appointed arrived, and found the guidman o’ Shanter

"Planted unco richt,
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy, crony."

The social hours winged past, and about "the wee short hour ayont the twal" Graham mounted his mare and started home alone, amid a storm of wind and rain. When crossing Carrick Hills his bonnet blew off, but he was too far gone to recover it, it being as much as he could do to keep on the mare’s back. Being "sensible drunk," however, he noted the place it fell, resolving to return and recover it before people stirred, for in its lining were secreted the bank-notes he had drawn the day before. Mrs. Graham was of a very superstitious turn of mind, and to account for the loss of his bonnet Tam trumped up a story about having seen a dance of witches in Alloway Kirk, and of being chased by them to the Bridge of Doon, where, thanks to his mare, he escaped with the loss of his bonnet. That there was row in the farmhouse of Shanter no one need doubt; but the domestic storm would likely be allayed when the bonnet was found in a whin brush next morning with its contents uninjured.

This, courteous reader, according to Chambers and local authority, is the myth-divested story of Tam o’ Shanter. Burns knew Graham, and doubtless heard of the exploit when he resided with his uncle at Ballochneil and attended school at Kirkoswald. Although but nineteen years of age then, he got introduced to the half-farming, half-smuggling class in the district--of whom the guidman o’ Shanter was a specimen, and, to use his own words. "Here he first learned to fill his glass and to mix without fear in a drunken squabble."

Upon leaving the Tam o’ Shanter inn I gleefully sped on to the birthplace of Burns, to

"Gaze on the scenes he loved and sung,
And gather feelings not of earth,
His fields and streams among."

What a din there is at the top of the High Street of Ayr on a fine day! Every conceivable vehicle, and every skinful of bones about the town resembling a horse, seems to be brought into requisition to convey visitors to and from the monument of the banks of Doon. The car-men have quick eyes, and intuitively single out strangers from the passers by, but to their cry of "The Monument, the Monument!" I turned a deaf ear, and strove to get beyond the precinct of the town as quickly as possible; for dearer far to me are the hedge-bordered, foliage-shaded highways and byways of the open country, than the rattling of wheels and the busy hum of life in those hives of industry called towns. Gradually the business portion of Ayr was left behind, and the suburbs reached. Passing the cattle-market, and on through a tollbar, and by several neat villa residences, a gorgeous natural panorama--which I enjoyed for some time as I strolled along --burst upon my vision. In the distance, Carrick Hill spread its brown bosom to the sunshine and formed a most romantic background to the wood-interspersed scene which lay between it and the town. The blue waters of the Frith and the wave-washed isle of Arran in the far distance, and the rugged margin of the bay sweeping into dim perspective, with the old castle of Grenan frowning over the surge "like a monarch, gray and grim," went to make up a scene of beauty which was doubly interesting from its historic and poetic associations. Of course the face of the country and the characteristics of the locality have undergone a great change since Burns wrote the glowing piece of descriptive imagery, but there are sufficient landmarks remaining to indicate the route pursued by worthy Tam o’ Shanter, as he

"Skelpit on through dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whyles holding fast his guid blue bonnet;
Whyles crooning o’er some auld Scotch sonnet;
Whyles glow’ring round wi’ prudent cares
Lest bogles catch him unawares."

At Slaphouse--a neat farm-steading near the wayside--the road makes a gradual descent and passes over a bridge through which a burnie flows as it wimples on its way to the sea. Some 150 yards below the spot the celebrated

----:Ford,
Where in the snaw the chapman smoor’d,"

is still pointed out and shows that the road Burns had in his mind when penning "Tam o’ Shanter" ran in a more westerly direction than the present modern and probably more commodious highway. After resting on the parapet of the bridge for a space, I moved slowly forward, but again stopped before proceeding many yards to note another point in the route of "honest Tam." It was the

-----"Meikle stane
Where drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane."

This stone rests in a small garden which lies behind a rustic cottage and is easily perceived from the road, being little more than twenty yards distant. That an individual, who was oftener "the waur o’t" than was either good for soul or body, actually broke his neck by stumbling over the obstacle when in such a condition that he could scarce

"Free the ditches,
Or hillocks, stanes, and bushes, ken aye
Frae ghaists and witches,"

tradition states; but who or what he was no one at this date knows. Having tarried rather long by the above-mentioned objects, I stepped out to make up for lost time. Machines to and from the Monument passed in quick succession and man pedestrians rubbed shoulders with me on the narrow footpath,

"For roads were clad frae side to side
Wi’ mony a weary body
In droves that day."

I enjoyed the scenery very much as I plodded slowly along, holding converse with Nature and my own heart, feeling thankful that I was released from the cankering cares of life for the time being. When about two miles from town, the rounding of a slight curve in the road brought me somewhat unexpectedly to a row of humble cottages clustering together on the right hand side of the highway. The clanking of an anvil made know that a "Burnewin" was hard at work, and that some one was bringing

"Hard ower hip, wi’ sturdy wheel,
The strong fore hammer,
Till block and study ring and ree
Wi’ dinsome clamour."

As I passed his door, I saw the flaming forge and heard the bellows blow; but did not linger, for--by the animated scene in front of a straw-covered cot a few yards off--I knew that I had reached the birthplace of Robert Burns, the bard whose name has gone forth through all countries. Indeed, while gazing on the bit biggin’ and the fields which lie around it, I felt that I knew the poet better, and could hold closer converse with him than in his pages.

"The Cottage," as it is termed, is a low-roofed, one storeyed structure of a very humble order, with rudely-lettered signboards on its front, of which the following is a facsimile:--

BURNS’ COTTAGE.
ROBERT BURNS, THE AYSHIRE POET,
WAS BORN UNDER THIS ROOF
ON THE 25TH JANUARY, A.D. 1759.
DIED 21ST JULY, A.D. 1796,
AGED 37 YEARS

A. HUNTER,

LICENSED TO RETAIL

WINES,

SPIRITS, & ALES,

The sound of mirth,

"And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind,"

issued from the interior as I entered and was shown into a small whitewashed, plainly-furnished apartment on the right, from which a company of holiday seekers were making their exit. The place was impregnated with the fumes of tobacco and whiskey, but with my mind full of its associations I threw myself into a chair, laid aside my hat and stick, and began to look around.

The tables were strewn with empty measures and glasses, and swam with spilled liquor; but the most noticeable feature was that every portion of the walls and ceiling were covered with names and addresses in pencil. Indeed, the very furniture was cut and initialed with jack-knives in a very wanton manner, and one table was so much hacked that it would have been difficult to have found space for another letter of the alphabet. Notwithstanding this scrawling on the walls, and the fact that repeated layers of whitewash concealed coatings of names, the room was scrupulously clean, and presented a rather tidy appearance. A glance at the neatly-attired damsel who entered to attend to my wants was sufficient to convince me we had met before, but where I could not recall to mind, nor did I until she mentioned the name of my family physician. In this instance the simple fact of being known was of immense service, for it not only procured a formal introduction of the amiable landlady, but the liberty of viewing the house and gathering such information regarding it and the district as is not usually accorded to strangers.

From the room described I passed into the memorial, or shrowroom, for it is fitted up with a counter and glass cases, in which are displayed photographs of the poet, albums, and a great assortment of ornaments "made of wood which grew on the banks of Doon," any of which can be purchased by visitors for a trifle, and carried away as souvenirs of a visit to a Meca to which thousands of pilgrims annually flock. Here also is kept a ponderous "visitors’ book," whose closely-written pages contain names by the thousand, which have been inscribed by individuals in all ranks of life and from all parts of the world. Truly great indeed is the genius of the peasant poet when the noble, the wise, and the beautiful come from all countries as pilgrims to the place of his birth.

After looking around the memorial chamber, I was next conducted to the most hollowed part of the cottage--namely, the kitchen, for in it, on a humble pallet, Robert Burns was ushered into the world. Its walls echoed the first tones of his voice, and its spacious hearth was the altar round which William Burness and his family assembled to hymn the Creator’s praise. The bed in which the poet was born is in a recess in the wall, it being in Scotch parlance "set in." The fireplace is in its original form, but otherwise alterations of all kinds have been made in and about the cottage, which have materially interfered with its original appearance. With the exception of an old dresser which belonged to the poet’s father there are no relics of importance shown.

This lowly kitchen has many associations. In it

"Ablast o’ Janwar win’
Blew hansel in on Robin."

and that so lustily that it threw down the gable of the house and whistled through the apartment I which the new-born poet lay in his mother’s bosom. In it, too, the wayfaring gipsy "keekit" in his tiny loof, and predicted that whoever lived would

"See the proof--
The waly boy was be nae coof,
And thought they’d ca’ him Robin."

Yes, and chalked out his future career pretty accurately--that is, if we are to believe what tradition and the "rantin’, rovin’ boy" have told us about the event. In it he spent the first seven years of his life, and gamboled and sported on its floor with youthful companions, and when his mind began to expand listened to old Betty Davidson as she unfolded her legendary store of ghost and witch stories.

While standing on the centre of the floor in silent contemplation I felt ashamed and humiliated that this humble but celebrated shrine of genius is converted into a common drinking shop--that it is the resort of the drunken, the thoughtless: yea of people who are incited by no higher feeling than that of vulgar curiosity. One freight of boisterous visitors no sooner left than another arrived. They wandered unceremoniously through the rooms, smoked, spat, and drank whisky in the kitchen, and behaved in such an unbecoming manner that I felt glad when the obliging hostess beckoned and ushered me into a handsome apartment designated "the Hall." This spacious and beautifully fitted up room is an addition to the cottage, and was added with the idea of increasing its accommodation and extending its usefulness as an inn or house of entertainment. Its first stone was laid with Masonic honours by the late much respected Maxwell Dick, Esq., Deputy Grand Master of Mother Kilwinning, on the 25th January, 1849, and since then its walls have rung with the mirth and plaudits of many a social gathering, and echoed many a eulogistic piece of eloquence in honour of the bard.

A very notable, and, it may be added, one of the most enthusiastic companies ever assembled in it was that which celebrated the Burns Centenary in 1859. The Rev. Hately Waddell presided on the occasion, and delivered a long and eloquent speech on the genius and character of him who could

"alternately impart
Wisdom and rapture in his page,

And brand each vice with satire strong."

Besides a copy of the above oration, and six portraits and a bust of Burns, the walls are crowded with pictures illustrative of his writings, and with neatly framed pieces of verse composed in his honour or to his memory. Many of these are of considerable merit, but the most noteworthy are, "To a rose from Alloway Kirk," by Fitz Green Hallock; "Stanzas to the memory of Burns," by Eliza Cook; and "Lines written in Burns’ Cottage," by R.S. Bowie, V.D.M., Dunfermline, which I quote.

LINES WRITTEN IN BURN’S COTTAGE.

O Burns! the matchless, deathless, and divine,
Here in the "cottage" to thy memory dear,
We sit and ponder o’er that life of thine
Which oft hath made us shed the silent tear.
O Bard of Scotia!--nay, of all the earth--
Here pilgrims from all lands together meet
To do obeisance at the shrine of worth;
Here strangers rest and hold communion sweet
With those ne’er known before, because of thee!
O! how thy songs can melt auld Scotland’s faes,
And make them in her sons their brothers see;
Aye, e’en the flowers that bloom on Doon’s sweet braes
Are loved and honored for the poet’s sake,
And in our hearts their emotions wake.*

[Besides this neat sonnet, Mr. Bowie is the author of many highly meritorious pieces of verse, and has given to the world a small volume, entitled "Fireside Lyrics;" also, a Hymnal "respectfully dedicated to all who believe in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man," which contains many pieces from his pen of a truly graceful and devotional character which will bear favourite comparison with the productions of our best hymn writers. It is a pity that he is so little known.]

It need scarce be chronicled that I lingered some time in this apartment examining the many interesting objects which it contains, or that I drank to the immortal memory of of Burns before leaving. But as "nae man can tether time or tide," I was compelled reluctantly to depart, for several miles had to be traversed before "a blink o’ my ain fireside" would be obtained. When taking leave of my new friends at the cottage door, I was surprised at the number of visitors passing in and out, and at the number who lovingly lingered "over a wee drappie o’t." By a side glance I noticed that the room I first entered was full, and that while stentorian voices sang "There was a lad was born in Kyle,"

"Drink gaed round in cogs and caups
Among the forms and benches;
And cheese an bread frae women’s laps
Was dealt about in lunches
And dauds that day."

My thoughts and opinions are of little consequence, but I must give expression to them in this instance. A mausoleum in St. Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries, has been reared to the memory of our national poet, as also statues in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and America, not to speak of the beautiful monuments on the banks of the Doon and at Kilmarnock. All this has been done by the liberality of his countrymen, but why the cot wherein he first drew the breath of life has not been rescued and raised to something better than a road-side public house I know not. Englishmen have done for Shakespere what Scotchmen have failed to for Burns--they have saved his birthplace from degradation and secured it not only for the present age but for prosperity. Why is this? Can the bank of the Avon be considered more sacred than those of "bonnie Doon" and gurgling Ayr? Certainly not; so the sooner the clay biggin’ is retrieved from its present position the better, or else people of good taste and feeling will begin to look upon it with disgust. A brief summary of the history of the cottage will form a fitting conclusion to this chapter.

Some time after settling in Tyrshire, William Burness, the poet’s father, wooed and won the daughter of a Carrick farmer named Agnes Brown. Before being united to her he leased seven acres of land, and built upon it, with his own hands, a house wherein to lodge his bride. The walls were of clay, and the roof thatch; but to convey to the reader an accurate description of "the biggin’," it will be as well to quote what Gilbert Burns has said regarding it in a communication to Dr. Currie:--"That you may not think too meanly of this house, or my father’s taste in building, by supposing the poet’s description in the "Vision" (which is entirely a fancy picture) applicable to it, allow me to take notice to you that the house consisted of a kitchen in one end and a room in the other, with a fireplace and chimney; and that my father had constructed a concealed bed in the kitchen, with a small closet at the end, of the same materials with the house, and when altogether cast over, outside and in, with lime, it has a neat comfortable appearance, such as no family of the same rank, in the present improved style of living, would think themselves ill-lodged in." To this humble edifice, in December, 1757, William Burness led his bride, and in thirteen months thereafter, within its precincts, Robert Burns their illustrious son was born. When William Burness leased the ground, he did so with the idea of carrying on business as a market gardener, but this he shortly afterwards abandoned, and became gardener of the estate of Doonholm. After an eight years’ residence in "the clay biggin’," the worthy man removed with his family to Mount Oliphant, a cold-soiled farm about two miles distant, but after a twelve years’ struggle with poverty and a bad bargain, he removed to Lochlea--a more genial farm in the parish of Tarbolton. Either from straitened circumstances or a desire to break his connection with the district of Alloway, he then disposed of the cottage and grounds to the corporation of shoemakers in Ayr for 120, and to them it still belongs. [Its present rental is 110 a year.] Since the days of Burns the clay cot has undergone may changes, and, as already stated, is now incorporated with other buildings similar in construction and appearance.

The idea of turning the cottage into a public-house originated in the fertile brain of a person known as "Miller Goudie," He was born at Riccarton Mill on the banks of the Irvine, a short distance from Kilmarnock, but at an early age left the paternal roof and settled in Alloway, having obtained employment in the mill of that district. He married a sharp little woman named Flora Hastings, who made good the old adage, that "The grey mare is often the better horse." After their union they started "The sign of the bush" in a small thatched cottage that stood close to the auld brig o’Doon, and continued in it for a long series of years, but about the beginning of the present century, in response to what was to them a lucky idea, they removed their business to Burns cottage, and turned the interest it possesses in the eyes of travellers in a profitable speculation, and since then it has continued to be a house of entertainment. Flora took care of the cash and managed the business, and left her husband no other duty to perform than that of helping customers to consume surplus liquor. The consequence was that he was seldom or ever sober, and must have been in his wonted state of inebriety when Curran, the Irish orator, visited the cot in 1810. "We found," says he in his account of the visit, "the keeper of it tipsy. He pointed to the corner on one side of the fired, and, with a most mal-a-propos laugh, observed--’There is the very spot where Robert Burns was born.’ The genius and the fate of the man were already heavy on my heart; but the drunken laugh of the landlord gave me such a view of the rock on which he foundered, I could not stand it, and burst into tears." Since then full many a sympathetic admirer of the poet’s genius has shared the same feelings, and left the place overcome with disgust and shame.

On a lovely July morning in 1818, John Keats, the poet, walked from Maybole to Ayr. As he crossed Carrick hills and came down by the old bridge of Doon, he was fairly enchanted with the scenery; but alas! his enthusiasm received a check when he crossed the threshold of the cottage. "A prophet," he writes, "is no prophet in his own country. We went to the cottage, and took some whiskey. I wrote a sonnet for the mere sake of writing some lines under the roof: they are so bad I cannot transcribe them. The man at the cottage was a great bore with his anecdotes. I hate the rascal.. His life consists in fuzy, fuzzy, and fuzziest. He drinks glasses, five for the quarter, and twelve for the hour; he is a mahogany-faced old jackass who knew Burns: he ought to have been kicked for having spoken to him. He calls himself a ‘curious old--,’ but he is a flat old dog. I should employ Caleb Vathek to kick him. Oh the flummery of a birthplace!" "The Miller’ appeared sensibly clear on one point, and that was that he had often seen and conversed with the poet. "The last time I saw him," he used to tell, "was whan he cam’ through frae Dumfries to tak’ his fareweel o’ here awa. We met roun’ by the auld kirk-yard dyke there, and he was walkin’ unco slow an’ dowie like. We gaed down t my bit house beside the auld brig an’ had just three gills, but I drank the maist o’ them, for he spak’ little, an’ only askit a question noo an’ than about auld ne’bours as he sate wi’ his brow restin’ on his hand." There was little wonder that the greater portion of the three gills fell to "the miller," for the thoughts that passed through the mind of Burns on the occasion must have been of the most saddening description.

"The miller," died in 1843, at the advanced age of eighty. His wife survived him a few years. Any reader wishing to see what the old couple looked like may turn up Blackie’s edition of Burns, where correct portraits of them will be found in the picture of "John Anderson my Joe, John."

The first meeting to celebrate the anniversary of the Poet’s birth was held in the cottage on the 25th January, 1801. The Rev. Hamilton Paul, who was present, says:--"The party from the circumstance of nearly one half of the company having their names associated with some of the most gratifying particulars in the poet’s history. The meeting consisted of the following friends and admirers of their far famed countryman: --William Crawfor, Esq. of Doonside, by whose father the father of Burns had been employed in the capacity of a gardener; John Ballantyne, Esq., to whom Burns addressed ‘The Twa Brigs;’ Robert Aitken, Esq., to whom Burns addressed "The Cottar’s Saturday Night;’ Patrick Douglas, Esq. of Garallan, by whose interest he was to have obtained a situation in Jamaica had he followed out his intention of repairing to that island; Primrose Kennedy, Esq. of Drumellan; Hew Ferguson, Esq., Barrackmaster, Ayr; David Scott, Esq., Banker, Ayr; Thomas Jackson, Esq., LL.D., Professor of Natural Philsophy in the University of St. Andrews; and the Rev. Hamilton Paul." This, the oldest Burns Club, is still in existence and meets annually in the hall attached to

"The Cottage" to
"Honour Scotia’s Bard,
And toast his name with feelings warm,
For oh! though many a lyre is heard,
‘Tis his that yields the sweetest charm."

The business carried on in the "the cottage" has changed hands several times since the decease of "Miller Goudie," but no landlord appears to have thriven by it. One is said to have shot himself, and another to have cut his throat. The land belonging to it is curtailed to five acres, and a sum of 3000, it is affirmed, has been asked for the whole. Some gentlemen, I am informed, offered 2000 for the house and land, in order that they may be kept in a creditable manner, and that the cottage of the pious father of the "Cottar’s Saturday Night" may be saved from further degradation. Unfortunately, they failed to procure it; but I trust the time is not far distant when the classic little property will fall into the hands of some respectable person, instead of being continued as a low public house, the disgust of the neighbourhood and of all strangers visiting a spot hallowed by so many interesting and affecting associations.

[The birthplace of Burns is now (February 1879) in the hands of Mr Thomas Morley, a retired soldier--and very curiously an Englishman--who deserves more than a passing notice from the circumstance that he took part in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and with the last remnant of that ill-fated squadron under his command cut his way through the Russian lines and rejoined the British forces when the blundering order which almost annihilated his regiment had been fulfilled. Finding that this and other heroic achievements performed by him during the ardous campaign were slightly passed over by the War Department, he joined the American Army, and during the civil war of that country rose to the post of Captain. When peace was restored, he returned to this country and became Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Ayshire Yeomanry Cavalry, and latterly tenant of "The Cottage." Under his judicious management, drink is no longer dispensed within its precincts, but is wholly confined to the adjoining slated house, where all visitors desirous of indulging must consume their potations.]


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