« PreviousContinue »
received. “ There,” said Macrae, as he handed the servant five guineas, “take that; you are a piece of capital stuff.” “ Thank you,” replied the man, quite astonished at the result of the combat, “and if it please your honour I'll take a thrashing every day for the same amount.'
As I closed the wicket of Monkton Churchyard, and stepped into the avenue, I felt sad, sad—for beneath the turf which my feet had pressed innumerable beings moulder and silently fulfil the immutable decree which pronounces man to be dust, and declares that to dust he must return. What wisdom, valuable experience, misery, injustice, wrong, and misfortune lie buried in the bosom of mother earth! But we are comforted by the ennobling faith in immortality - the knowledge that the thinking something in man survives the silence of the grave—and this ray of hope illumes the dark hours of terrestrial existence.
Thoughts like these occupied my mind as I strolled towards the manse—a plain two-storied building, delightfully situated in a tastefully laid out plot of ground.
At present (1878) it is the residence of the Rev. W. F. Lorraine, minister of the united parishes of Monkton and Prestwick, but was for thirty-four years that of his predecessor, the Rev. George James Lawrie, D.D., a grandson of the worthy minister of Loudoun, who was the means of introducing Burns to the literati of Edinburgh, and whose intercourse with the bard is noticed at length in another chapter. Being long in delicate health, he resigned his charge and removed to Elm House, Hythe, Kent, the residence of a very near and dear relative, and there “fell asleep” on the morning of the 14th February, 1878, in the 82nd year of his age. Like Goldsmith's preacher,
“ To relieve the wretched was his pride,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way. He was not only sensible, upright, and kind-hearted, but possessed a highly-cultured mind, as his Songs und Miscellaneous Pieces (which, undoubtedly, will perpetuate his
name) amply testify. The following popular lines by the worthy Doctor will awaken an echo in
LANG, LANG SYNE.
Tune" John Peel."
Whaur we guddled in the burn,
Do ye mind the sunny braes,
We gaed slippin' hame at e'en,
Do ye mind the miller's dam,
We took leg-bail ane and a',
What famous fun was there,
Through the woods on Winny Hill,
Where are those bright hearts noo
In life's changeful destiny,
Now life's sweet Spring is past,
We shall sleep without a dream
FROM MONKTON TO AYR-SCENERY-ORANGEFIELD-JAMES DAL
RYMPLE-A WORTHY—“THE POW BRIG"--PRESTWICK KIRK
WICK-HISTORICAL NOTES--KINGCASE WELL AND LAZARHOUSE
-A TRADITION OF KING ROBERT THE BRUCE.
Upon re-entering the highway, I turned my face towards Ayr. In the distance lay the somewhat scattered village of Prestwick, with its roofless barn-like church topping a mound in its vicinity, while westward the heights of Arran towered from the glistening Frith in all their rugged grandeur. The coast here is studded with barren sand-hills, and were it not for a few scattered villas along the shore the scene would be monotonous and dreary in the extreme. Notwithstanding this, the landscape to the east of the road is verdant and the soil productive, but there is nothing to engage the attention of the pedestrian, save the mansion house of Orangefield—a residence already referred to—which stands a short distance off the road. It was long the residence of James Dalrymple, the friend and correspondent of Burns, who, it will be remembered, introduced the bard to his cousin James, fourteenth Earl of Glencairn, and subscribed for ten copies of the first edition of his works. Robert Chambers describes him as having been “a warm-hearted, high-pulsed man, enthusiastically given to masonry and an occasional scribbler of verses," and adds that it was he who furnished Burns with the pony on which he rode to Edinburgh. From a letter to Gavin Hamilton, we learn that he stood high in the estimation of the poet, and that he interested himself in his affairs in the same enthusiastic manner as Mr Aitken and the few patrons who took notice of his early poetic days. This stay of struggling genius was the last of the Dalrymples of Orangefield, for being a fast liver, his requirements swamped his fortune, and the estate was sold. Since then it has passed through several hands.
A short distance beyond Orangefield, I paused on a substantial stone bridge which crosses the Pow Burn, and leaning over the parapet watched the minnows sporting in the clear shallow stream. By its side stands the very handsome church of the united parishes of Prestwick and Monkton, which forms a conspicuous object on the landscape. Near to the same structure stood the humble residence of Thomas King, a wellknown village character who held the office of sexton in Monkton churchyard for the long period of thirty years. Thomas is now over eighty, and from the infirmities of age is no longer able to wield the mattock and spade. When young, however, he was a great pedestrian, and made long journeys, but the chief event of his life was a visit to London. The journey being performed under peculiar circumstances, it continued the subject of gossip in the district for the proverbial nine days, and afterwards became a theme for the muse of Robert Fisher, a Prestwick bard. As the verses flow smoothly, and have a homely ring, they are subjoined
The Pow BRIG.
Crossing the road, I entered the unenclosed commion, and directed my steps to the old church of Prestwick and soon arrived at the burying-ground by which it is surrounded. Seeing a group of children playing at“ hide and seek” among the grave stones, I vaulted the low wall and began to explore this rugged unkept place of burial, for it is sterile and bleak in appearance, being unadorned with shrubbery and totally exposed to the chill sea breeze.
The roofless sanctuary in its centre has no feature of interest, but notwithstanding this great antiquity is ascribed to it. It was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and granted along with Monkton Church to the Monastery of Paisley by Walter, the son of Allan, the first High Steward of Scotland. After the Parishes of Prestwick and Monkton were united it fell into disrepute, for the minister of the latter place of worship only preached in it every third Sabbath. This arrangement the Court of Teinds brought to a close by erecting the commodious church noticed above. Upon its completion, Prestwick Church, like its sister fabric in Monkton, was gutted and unroofed, and left like a gaunt skeleton to battle with the elements, and as such its bare walls remain a prominent object on the landscape, and are seen to advantage from road, rail, and sea.
When wandering among the graves I deciphered many a stony page, read many a holy text and disjointed couplet containing sage advices and moral lessons, but cannot say that any curious or remarkable inscription came under my notice. One stone, announcing that it is “IN MEMORY OF CAPTAIN JOHN BOGG OF THE BRIG MERCUARY OF GREENOCK, WHO WAS LOST OFF AYR THE 3RD OF NOVEMBER, 1807," tells a woeful tale of the sea—a tale whose incidents are by far too often repeated in this era of rotten ships. Many stones to the memory of Prestwick freemen stud the sandy soil, but the most interesting to be met with are those which are said to cover the graves of Knights Templar. They are weather-worn and decayed, but bear no inscription, save a rude tracing of something resembling a cross. In the records of the Burgh of Prestwick repeated mention is made of Templar lands, and of sums of money derived from them which were paid yearly to a person named “Sanct John of Irvine.” From this it is probable not only that knights of the order were at one time