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the poet while on this farm served to bring out the sterling qualities of their gifted son, for he shrank not from sharing their hardships and doing his utmost to alleviate them. He, the child of poverty and toil, when a mere boy, performed the work of a man, and when his com peers in the towns and villages were attending school and fully occupied with the games and pursuits of youth, he followed the plough, or made the grain dance under his flail on the barn floor.
In 1777 the poet's father succeeded in ridding himself of the lease which bound him to the sterile soil of Mount Oliphant, and removed to Lochlea-a farm in the parish of Tarbolton. The Rev. Hately Waddel gives a beautiful imaginative description of the “flitting" in his elaborate edition of the poet's works. It is as follows :-“Best tables, chairs, and presses piled carefully aloft on all available carts or cars about the steading; friendly neighbours assisting with horses and gear; Agnes and the weans' securely nestled among bedding and straw ; Robert or his father at the horse's head, solemn; and Gilbert with 'Luath ' at his heels contemplative, like the forerunners of the patriarch, in charge of the beiss' before. Thus marshalled in succession, they take leave of Mount Oliphant in the morning--a blossom or two torn off from the old crab tree in the close for a keepsake, as they go; and pitch, after noon, at Lochlea."
There are many pleasant rambles in the vicinity of Mount Oliphant to repay those who have time to seek for them. For my part, I retraced my steps, and in a short time found myself once more in the vicinity of the cottage in which Robert Burns was born. People hurried out and in its door, and flocked past to view the classic scenes in its immediate vicinity, but my mind was too much occupied to notice their various peculiarities, so, with a last fond look at the lowly dwelling, I leisurely strolled towards Alloway Kirk, which I found to be something less than a quarter of a mile distant. When it is first sighted, it bears a closer resemblance to a roofless barn than a time-shattered sanctuary ; but with Hew Ainslie it may be said,
“ Alloway, that night ye were
Hell's place o' recreation-
Than a' your consecration.
“ The bit whar fornicators sat
To bide their pastor's bang
Whar Nanny lap an' flang.
His wig did weekly wag,
Whar Satan blew his bag." Yes, the old building is hallowed by the muse of Burns, and on that account is better known throughout the civilized world than Melrose Abbey and other ecclesiastical edifices whose sculpture-bedecked walls lie prostrate at the feet of Time.
As I moved towards the celebrated ruin, I passed the field in which the first public demonstration in honour of Burns took place. It occurred on Tuesday, the 6th August, 1844, and was attended by a concourse of 80,000 persons of all ranks and conditions in life, who had come from all parts of the United Kingdum to do honour to the memory of the ploughman poet. A temporary erection of sufficient dimensions to accommodate 2000 individuals was put up in the field, as also tents wherein visitors could obtain rest and refreshments ; but the gathering together of the greater bulk of the vast assemblage took place in the Low Green, Ayr, at ten o'clock forenoon. There the various societies taking part in the demonstration formed in procession, and with their bands, banners, and devices marched to the place of festivity. To quote from a report of the proceedings published in Glasgow at the time :
“When fully marshalled, the immense body moved onwards, the bands striking up the well-known air of A man's a man for a' that,' along the south side of Wellington Square. The procession was formed three deep, and extended nearly a mile in length. It had a very imposing effect. down Sandgate, up the High Street, and on to the Maybole road, every window was thronged with onlookers, and the streets were densely crowded. As they proceeded, the bands played the national airs of Green grow the rashes,' • This is no' my ain house,' 'My love she's but a lassie yet,' Wat ye wha's in yon town,' &c. The road all along was greatly crowded ; so much so that it was with difficulty the mass
could keep moving. The walls, houses, and gates were everywhere lined with anxious observers, and various platforms were constructed for the accommodation of ladies.
On approaching the cottage where the poet was born, and where, as already mentioned, a splendid triumphal arch was erected, the bands struck up • There was a lad was born in Kyle; and the procession, uncovering, lowered their flags as they passed the humble but much endeared spot. As the long extended line approached Kirk Alloway, the bell (which still occupies the belfry) was set a-ringing, and continued so while the procession passed on under the triumphal arch along the New Bridge. Deploying round towards the Old Bridge, the circling line, partially obscured by the houses and trees, had a truly picturesque effect. The waving banners, the music of the bands, mellowed and echoed by the Bank and braes o' bonnie Doon,' imparted an inexpressibly agreeable sensation. On reaching the triumphal arch of the • Auld Brig,' venerable and grey with age, the bands struck up the air of Welcome, royal Charlie,' while the procession, uncovering and lowering their flags, passed over the rustic bridges in front of the platform, whereon the sons of Burns were elevated. On the platform, beside the Earl of Eglinton and Professor Wilson, we observed H. Glassford Bell, Colonel Campbell, Sir D. H. Blair, H. Onslow, R. Chambers, Mrs. General Hughs, W. A. Cunninghame; A. Boyle, Lord Justice General ; Alexander Hastie, M.P.; A. Buchanan, J. (). Fairlie, and a number of ladies. The sons of Burns seemed to feel deeply the compliment paid to them, and acknowledged it most cordially. The immense crowd which surrounded the platform seemed highly gratified by the opportunity afforded them of feasting their eyes upon the lineaments of the sons, where they sought to trace those of the father. The procession occupied at least an hour in passing from the New Bridge into the field, on entering which the whole of the bands played the tune of Duncan Gray,' followed by “The birks of Aberfeldy.' A large circle was then formed round the platform for the musicians in the field, and the whole company, led by professional vocalists, joined in the singing of Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon,' and `Auld Langsyne.' The bands were afterwards stationed in various quarters throughout the field -the regimental and Glasgow St. Andrew's bands in the
centre of the field, and the Kilwinning and Cumnock bands at the cottage, the bagpipes playing at a distance from the Pavilion. There were two inclosures for dancing-one towards the head of the field, and the other at the brow overlooking the water of Doon. Immediately after the procession was over, the crowd were astonished by the sudden appearance of Tam o' Shanter, “weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg,' and a flight of witches in full pursuit of him. Tam approached from the plantation near the cottage, and jogging along the road, put spurs to his ' noble Maggie' opposite the
auld haunted kirk,' when out the hellish legion sallied.' Maggie, of course, reached the key stane of the brig'in safety, but there left behind her .ain grey tail.' The enactment of this characteristic interlude created much amusement, The company began to enter the Pavilion almost immediately after the close of the procession, and the chair was taken about two o'clock.”
Nearly all the celebrated individuals mentioned in the above extract are now dead, and the great majority of that vast, enthusiastic assemblage have shared a like fate. The late Earl of Eglinton occupied the chair, and among other things said :-" This is not a meeting for the purpose of recreation and amusement; it is not a banquet at which a certain number of toasts printed on paper are to be proposed and responded to, which to-day marks our preparations; it is the enthusiastic desire of a whole people to pay honour to their countrynian ; it is the spontaneous offering of a nation's feelings toward the illustrious dead, and add to this the desire to extend a hand of welcome and friendship to those whom he has left behind. Here, on the very spot where he first drew breath-on the very ground which his genius has hallowed, beside the Old Kirk of Alloway which his verse has immortalized, beneath the Monument which an admiring and repentant people have raised to him, we meet, after the lapse of years, to pay our homage to the man of genius. The master mind who has sung the Isle of Palms, who has revelled in the immortal 5 Noctes,' who has already done that justice to the memory of the bard which a brother poet can alone do—Christopher himself—is here, anxious to pay his tribute of admiration to a kindred spirit. The historian who has depicted the most eventful period of the French
empire, the glorious triumphs of Wellington, is here—Clio, as it were, offering up a garland to Erato. The distinguished head of the Scottish bar is here—in short, every town and every district, every class, and every sex, and every age has come forward to pay homage to their poet. At his name every Scottish heart beats high. He has become a household word alike in the palace and the cottage. Of whom should we be proud—to whom should we pay homage—if not to our immortal Burns !” At the conclusion of the addresses the assemblage joined the noble chairman in pledging one overflowing bumper to “The memory of Burns.” When the deafening shouts of applause which followed ceased, Mr. Robert Burns, the poet's son (now dead) made a suitable reply, and was followed by the world-famous Professor Wilson of Edinburgh, who gave a long and vigorous speech, which was characterised throughout by masterly eloquence and fervour of feeling. Toasts, songs, and speeches followed in quick succession, which I would fain chronicle did space allow ; but suffice it to say, the “Festival,” as this demonstration is commonly termed, was one of the finest attestations to genius ever witnessed. A very pleasing glimpse of the Monument to the memory of Burns is obtained by the pedestrian as he nears the flight of steps leading to the stile or opening in the wall which admits visitors to Alloway Kirkyard. I paused on their landing and reverentially viewed the scene, but visitors in general seemed less impressed, for many romped amongst the grave-stones, and others cracked jokes at the expense of an oddlike personage attired in a broken-rimmed straw hat and rather soiled apparel, who, in a good round brogue, recites passages from “Tam o'Shanter,” and exhibits the rather weird objects of interest over which he appears to be the presiding genius. His story is always the same, and, however interrupted, he goes through it like a school-boy rehearsing a psalm. He evidently considers himself a part of the place, and indeed is so much a part of it that it would be unjust to describe it and omit him. Seemingly he picks up a scant livelihood by waiting on visitors, so, far be it from me to pen a word to injure him in their eyes. The ruin consists of two gaunt gables, and a front and back