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MANY COPIES OF POEMS SENT TO AIKEN.
is clear proof that Cunningham was entirely wrong in his view of the matter. I have some cause to regret that my aunt so liberally gave so many of those literary treasures “to admirers” of the bard; not a few of whom had no other claim to her generosity than their wish to possess them. Yet in 1835 she had still “ten or twelve original copies of his best poems.” Those did not include the “Cotter's Saturday Night," nor his own epitaph on himself, both of which I received from her. The “Cotter's Saturday Night” I hope may long be preserved by my son and his descendants. The epitaph, which I highly prized, I gave to a Scotch gentleman of large fortune, to whose kindness, hospitality and valuable friendship I was at that time much indebted; and to whom nothing that had only a pecuniary value would have been so appropriate a gift. Mr. Chambers, who had an interview with my Aunt, mentions that she then possessed Burns' autograph copy of his epistle in rhyme to Miss Ferrier, enclosing a copy of his elegy on Sir James Hunter Blair, and Burns sent another copy to my Grandfather not made by himself, but on the fly leaf he wrote to him the only original letter of Burns in my possession, already quoted and dated in July 1787. See page 12.
Sir David Hunter Blair, son and heir of Sir James, I have met at Doonholm, and there for the last time, at the funeral of his cousin, my grand-uncle Mr. Hunter, who was buried in the churchyard of Ayr.
In 1790 Burns composed “Tam O'Shanter” and gave it to Grose to be published in his antiquities. He wrote to Dr. Moore from Ellisland, 28th February, 1791. “I do not know, Sir, whether you are a subscriber “to Grose's antiquities of Scotland. If you are, the “ enclosed poem will not be altogether new to you. “ Captain Grose did me the favour to send me a dozen “copies of the proof sheet of which this is one." Another of the twelve copies was sent to my grandfather in one of the lost letters, and was in his daughter's possession with a few notes in Burns' handwriting.
After this refutation the reader may be prepared to
adopt Mr. Lockhart's account of the matter which Cunningham mistook and misrepresented.
“By what arguments Armour prevailed on his “ daughter to take so strange and painful a step we “know not; but the fact is certain, that at his urgent “ entreaty she destroyed the document, which must have “ been to her the most precious of her possessions; the “ only evidence of her marriage."
Happily it was an evidence which Burns was both able and willing to restore at a future day, when he and his bride went to the office of Mr. Gavin Hamilton and made such declarations as proved an irregular but legally valid marriage.
In page 146 of the illustrated edition of the life and works of Burns, edited by Dr. H. Waddell, is the following letter which the editor states “came to light in Glasgow at the centenary celebration of the poet's birth, and was acquired for the late James Crum, Esq., of Busby, a devout admirer of his genius,” and is the only known autograph letter to Robert Aiken extant, except that in my possession dated six or seven months later. On the 12th December, 1786, Burns wrote to Robert Aiken's friend Mr. Ballantine, in a letter above quoted, “I intend to write to my first kind patron Mr. Aiken," and two days afterwards he wrote the following letter to Robert Aiken.
“DEAR PATRON OF MY VIRGIN MUSE, “I wrote Mr. Ballantine at large all my operations “and eventful story,' since I came to town. I have “found in Mr. Creech, who is my agent forsooth, and “Mr. Smellie who is to be my printer, that honour and “goodness of heart which I always expect in Mr. “Aiken's friends. Mr. Dalrymple of Orangefield I shall “ever remember: my Lord Glencairn I shall ever pray “for. The Maker of man has great honour in the “workmanship of his lordship's heart. May he find “that patronage and protection in his guardian angel “that I have found in him! His lordship has sent a “parcel of subscription bills to the Marquiss of Graham.
“with downright orders to get them filled up with all “the first Scottish names about Court.He has like“wise wrote to the Duke of Montague and is about to “write to the Duke of Portland for their Grace's interest “in behalf of the Scotch Bard's subscription.
“You will very probably think, my honored friend, “that a hint about the mischievous nature of intoxicated “vanity may not be unseasonable ; but alas ! you are “wide of the mark.-Various concurring circumstances “have raised my fame as a Poet to a height which I am “ absolutely certain I have not merits to support; and I “look down on the future as I would into the bottom“less pit.
“ You shall have one or two more bills when I have “an opportunity of a Carrier.
“I am ever,
“ROBERT Burns." “ Edinr., 16th Dec., 1786.”
With these conclusive proofs Mr. Cunningham's theory of quondam or broken friendship and its alleged cause may be dismissed as groundless.
Contemporaries of Burns and their descendants.-Town and county
of Ayr.-Effect of poor rates, - Bonny lasses.-River Doon. Dalrymples of Langlands, and of Orangefield, and their kindred.-Governor Macrae.-Lord Glencairn.- Dr. David Shaw.-Dr. Andrew Shaw,-Dr. Dalrymple.---Robert Aiken and his descendants. — Dr. Currie. — Grace Aiken. - Mr. Ballantine, his sister and his nephew.—Mrs. General Stewart of Stair and Afton Lodge.--Mr. Cunninghame of Enterkine. — Mr. Campbell of Fairfield.—Sir Alexander Boswell. His Duel with Mr. Stuart.- Professors Dugald Stewart, Thomas Brown, and Sir John Leslie, -Lord Jeffrey, Henry Mackenzie. -The Rev. Archibald Alison. Scott's meeting with Burns.
ULD Ayr whom ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses."
is a borough with a charter from William the Lion in the 13th century, finely situated near the river of that name and on the shore of the firth of Clyde. A beach of firm sand ex
tends for more than a mile from the mouth of the Ayr and its harbour to the mouth of the river Doon, and on the intermediate shore there is sea bathing in the clear salt water of the Clyde at almost every hour of the day. The opposite coast of Argyleshire and the volcanic peaks of Goatfell in Arran, are the grand boundary northwards of a channel 20 miles in breadth. The heads of Ayr and Greenan Castle beyond the Doon are very picturesque, and there is fine rocky scenery ex
tending towards Culzean Castle, the seat of the Earls of Cassillis, and Ailsa Craig, the solitary haunt of Soland geese, and innumerable sea fowl.
The language of England and of the Scottish lowlands in the 14th and 15th centuries, was nearly the same, as may be seen by comparing Chaucer and Barbour. The progress of Scotland in civilization and wealth was slower than in England. The salaries of judges and public officers and the fees to advocates were less, the habits of all ranks were more frugal, and persons of superior education and manners engaged in employment, that in England might have been deemed unsuitable for them. Burns gladly accepted an inferior post in the excise. Merchants in small towns, shipmasters or shipowners, some of whom commanded their own vessels, intermarried with the families of the gentry.
The town of Ayr as known to Burns was little changed when I first saw it in 1807; but since then the unsightly structure of the old Tolbooth, which blocked up the main street, has been removed. Wellington Square, containing the New Courts of justice and Town Hall of elegant design, adjacent streets well built and commodious, villas in a good style of architecture have been erected, and will continue to increase. But considering the advantages of Ayr as a commercial port and as a watering place, it seems surprising that its growth has not been more rapid. · It is said that Lord Brougham's first appearance as an advocate was in a civil action tried in the small court of the old Tolbooth. The venerable old church finely situated on the river Ayr has been restored. The collections at the church door on Sundays, used nearly to suffice for the relief of the poor, which did not require more than £ 500 a year, till the year 1830. Poor rates were long resisted in Scottish parishes, and the deficiency in the collections was made up by voluntary contributions from the landed proprietors or principal inhabitants. But the poor law; as in England,