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the bosom of its woods, came in view, as also Craigie Hill and the rugged chain of eminences running east. At Peaceand-Plenty the miners were preparing for toil, and several smoked their pipes with a gusto which showed how they enjoyed the beauty of the flowers which decked the little plots in front of their dwellings, and the glorious sunlight which the burrowing nature of their employment would shut from their gaze. One sturdy fellow gifted me a its radiant gems were not so dear to my heart as the simple daisies and buttercups which grew by the dusty wayside and spangled the fields in its vicinity-for, as I trudged along, they were scattered here and there in little clusters, and nodded in the breeze as if courting attention.
The daisy has ever been a favourite with poets and children. Chaucer in his quaint way tells that he loved it, and Wordsworth does the same, but Montgomery sings of it so sweetly that a stave or two from his address deserves quoting :
“ This small flower to nature dear,
While moon and stars their courses run,
Companion of the sun.
To sultry August spreads its charms,
And twines December's arms.
On moory mountains catch the gale,
The violet in the vale :
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Peeps round the fox's den.
It shares the sweet carnation bed,
In honour of the dead.
its crimson gem, The wild bee murmurs on its breast, The blue fly bends its pensile stem
That decks the skylark's nest.
" 'Tis Flora's page in every place,
And blossoms everywhere.
Its humble buds unheeded rise ;
The daisy never dies."
“ Even thou whoʻmourn'st the daisy's fate,
That fate is thine-no distant date ;
Full on thy bloom,
Shall be thy doom.” It may be added that botanists class the “ bonnie gem " in the order of compositae, or composite-flowered plants, because each head or gowan is composed of a cluster of distinct but minute flowerets, each of which consists of a single petal—a fact doubtless which will astonish many young readers ; but let them, when next out for a ramble, pluck one, and it will be found that none
“ But He that arched the skies,
And pours the dayspring's living flood,
Could raise the daisy's purple bud,
Its fringéd border nicely spin,
That set in silver gleams within.
O’er hill, and dale, and desert sod,
At every step the stamp of God.” About a mile beyond the miners' dwellings referred to the road rises over an eminence named Spittalhill, and as the pedestrian nears the summit he has a capital view of Kilmarnock and its surroundings, and also of a vast track of country along the coast-indeed, I was so much charmed with the prospect that I leaned on a fence and earnestly gazed on the
tranquil landscape unmindful alike of the fleeting moments and the melody of a skylark which rendered the air musical with its morning lay. Beyond the height a long vista of road came in view, but before entering it I paused beneath the shade of a gigantic willow which casts its broad arms over the roadway, and admired the rhododendrons and laurels, and their more majestic companions- the larch and spruce firs, which line the pleasant drive to Coodham House, the residence of W. H. Houldsworth, Esq. The fragrance was delightful, but the trees bending over the monotonous stone wall by the side of the footpath seemed to beckon me to their shade, and I hastened onward. Beyond Bogend Toll the country opens up, and on the summit of an eminence called Barnweil Hill the Wallace Monument stands boldly out from a belt of wood; while to the north, in a hollow near some rising ground, the ruin of Craigie Castle raises its shattered form on the plain. It was long the residence of a branch of the Wallace family, but on their removal to the castle of Newton-upon-Ayr it gradually got out of repair, and its sculpture-decked halls ultimately succumbed to the ravages of time and decay, and
now, with the exception of two gables and some portion of side walls, vaults, and ramparts, it is one mass of weed-covered debris. A stone, bearing a curious heraldic device, was found amongst the ruins some years ago, and may be seen in the wall of an out-house on the adjacent farm. It is well worth the attention of the curious, and the necessary deviation from the highway will be amply repaid.
The Wallaces of Riccarton and Craigie were a family of considerable note in Ayrshire, and being a branch of that which gave birth to “The Knight of Ellerslee,” Burns makes mention of it in a stanza of “ The Vision,” when referring to Sir John Wallace, a memorable lord of the domain, who was second in command at the battle of Sark :
“ His country's saviour, mark him well :
In high command ;
His native land."
died of his wounds in the Castle in the 59th year of his age, and his body is interred in the now almost forgotten family vault in Craigie churchyard.
The hill on which the monument stands is said to derive the name of Barnweil, or Burnweel, from the circumstance of Sir William Wallace laconically remarking—“The barns o' Ayr burn weel," as he paused in his flight on its summit to view the flames he so dexterously raised. An excellent view of Ayr is obtained from the site of the monument, but unfortunately for the tradition the district bore the descriptive Celtic term Barnwiel, or Barnwield, long before the days of Wallace—therefore, as the author of The History of the County of Ayr pertinently remarks, the statement is nothing more than “
an unsupported vulgar tradition.” Beyond “the half-way"--as à roadside public-house and favourite halting place between Kilmarnock and Ayr is termed-I passed the road leading to Symington, a sequestered commercially-forgotten village which nestles beneath the shade of some old trees a short distance from the highway. The little place possesses a curious old church and burying-ground of considerable historic interest, but otherwise calls for little notice.
A mile beyond Symington the road makes a sudden descent, and the pedestrian unexpectedly encounters an excellent view of the cradle-land of Burns—indeed, I stood enraptured and mutely gazed on the scene. Away in the distance lay the hills of Carrick-hills on whose brown bosom it may be safely inferred the boy-poet sported, and “pu'd the gowans fine,” for it was under their shade he first saw the light. More near, and “in a sandy valley spread," Ayr nestled among green fields and patches of woodland, interspersed with gentlemen's residences, near the broadbosomed Frith, at a point where it bends into a fine bay. As my eye wandered over the delightful scene, it rested on the Castles of Newark and Greenan, and ultimately on the ruggedly grand heights of Arran, behind which, there is little doubt, the bard of Coila often watched the red sun go down, and that too after having industriously plied the flail on the threshing floor, or followed the plough on the braeside of Mount Oliphant.
After enjoying this imperfectly-described scene, I renewed
the journey, and having passed the plantation which encircles the mansion-house of Rosemount, reached a wood-fringed pasture field in which a herd of Kyle cows tentedly browsing. There was nothing remarkable in the scene, so far as the cattle were concerned, but a monument of an ancient weather-beaten appearance, partly concealed among trees on a neighbouring height, excited my curiosity to such a degree that I determined to examine it, and for that purpose entered a traffic-worn path in proximity to the wood in which it was embowered. The wild roses with which the hedge was decked, and the bramble bushes trailing their long prickly stems on the grass, looked luxuriant, and called to mind the joyous days of boyhood and the well-known lines of Ebenezer Elliott, which I give out of genial sympathy with their spirit:
“Thy fruit full well the school-boy knows,
Wild bramble of the brake !
gone, The hawthorn flower is dead, The violet by the moss'd grey stone Hath laid her weary head; But thou, wild bramble ! back dost bring, In all thy beauteous power, The fresh green days of life's fair spring, And boyhood's blossomy hour. Scorn'd bramble of the brake ! once more Thou bidst me be a boy, To gad with thee the woodlands o'er In freedom and in joy."