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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, but burst into tears."
Matters were not in this miserable situation when I saw the cottage. “J. Boyd” was sober, and the place was shown me by a decent-looking woman. In one room a young lady was selling little souvenirs, photographs and the like; in the other room, where Burns first saw the light, a bright fire was burning, and several bumpkins sat smoking long pipes. They looked like stupid, well-meaning young men from town, who wished to go away and tell their friends that they had drank “a glass o' bitter" and smoked a pipe in the identical room where “Bobby Burns" was born.
Alloway Kirk, where Tam O'Shanter saw the devil and all, is standing roofless, as it has for years. The bell is still in position, as of yore, and all is venerable, but a very new-looking, stiff parish church stands opposite, and near by I heard the noise of a steam threshing machine. Progress, real and false, was there. I could appreciate the threshing machine, but “Old Alloway,” even in ruins, looked more like a church to me than New Alloway. In the kirk-yard of the old edifice is buried the father of Burns, (whose name was always spelled Burness,) and the tombstone is the second one erected to his memory, the first having been broken to pieces and carried off by relic-plundering louts. One of the singular results of the fame of Burns has been to make this churchyard a fashionable place of sepulture. I believe it had fallen into disuse at one time, but of later years many persons of quality have been buried there. I saw the monument of a Mr. Broke, who, if I mistake not, was the son of Captain Broke who commanded the Shannon in her encounter with the Chesapeake,
where we lost our Lawrence and our navy gained an everlasting watchword.
You go on from the church and down a slope, and you come to the monument, and across the way there are some houses. One of them is an inn, and displays the arms of Burns. These, of course, are manufactured for the occasion, for Burns himself said:
“I have not the most distant pretensions to assume that character which the pye-coated guardians of escutcheons call a gentleman. Wheu at Edinburgh last winter I got acquainted in the herald's office, and looking through that granary of honors I there found almost every name in the kingdom; but for me
'My ancient but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood.' Gules, Purpure, Argent, &c., quite disowned me."
The monument is a very elaborate and costly affair. Its erection was the result of a meeting held at Ayr, attended by but two persons, one of whom was a Mr. Boswell, of the family who furnished the biographer of Dr. Johnson. The monument is situated in a garden filled with dahlias and other showy foreign flowers. I would have built this monument where grows only the green grass, the thistle, that “symbol dear” that Burns turned aside the plow to spare, and here and there some "gowans fine."
From the monument you see the bridge crossed by O'Shanter in his flight, and where the gray mare was curtailed. Douglas Graham, the original of “Tam,” is buried not many miles away, and on his tombstone is sculptured his mare, sorrowful and tailless.
It is not without a little thrill that one hears that the brown stream brawling close by among the trees, is the “bonnie Doon."
The lamps were lit in the streets when I got back to Ayr,
and after supper I went out and stood on the “auld brig.” It is indeed very old. The balustrade is worn away as if by the hands that have rested on it during so many centuries. It was a dim, moonlit night; the river shone, but it was with a cold and sullen gleam. A chill wind crept down toward the sea. It was a ghostly place, and made one think of the fate of the man who had made it immortal. He saved others, himself he could not save. But the words he made the “auld brig” speak have turned out a prophecy. “I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn,” said the “auld brig” to the new one, and it is even so: the new bridge has partially fallen, and has been condemned; the “auld brig,” which Burns evidently loved the most, still stands for the benefit of foot passengers; stands fast, not only in fair weather, but stands when
“Auld Ayr is just one lengthened, tumbling sea." I saw Ayr by day and night, and it struck me unpleasantly. Too many people of the poorer sort were drunk on the streets. Possibly if they had been hilariously inebriated, I would have liked them better; but these poor creatures were not "o'er all the ills of life victorious," but simply dirty, disheveled, maudlin, desolately drunk. The old town looked poverty-stricken; the new, stiff, and—I use the word because I can think of no other hypocritical. I daresay Ayr is a good town enough; Burns said it was famous for “honest men and bonnie lasses;" but as to the first, I had not time to make their acquaintance, and as to the last, they certainly were not on the streets at the time of my visit. It is but justice to say, that the only citizen of the town I had any considerable talk with (the town clerk), was a civil-spoken and intelligent gentleman. He spoke of a fact that I have often noticed, that Burns is a favorite with men who know no other poet.
He told me that James Baird, an immensely wealthy iron-master of the vicinity, not long since deceased — a man supposed to be entirely devoted to business, and to know nothing else - once astonished and electrified a company by repeating Tam O'Shanter from beginning to end.
In going by rail from Ayr to Dumfries, you pass through a country covered all over, I may say, by the poetry of Burns. These “banks and braes and woods around” all echo still his
Little streams which but for him had never been heard of, are now in men's mouths as commonly as the Mississippi or the Amazon or the Ganges. Scotland has been happy in this, that her rockiest hillsides have been made famous by the pen of genius. Her humblest scenes have been ennobled; and what is stranger and greater still, her lowliest people have been made the objects of the world's sympathy. A poor dairymaid will live forever as “Highland Mary," and the world will never forget the story of humble Helen Walker, the “Jeanie Deans” of Scott's most touching story. The route I have spoken of leads through Mauchline, near which Burns lived several years, and passes near Tarbolton. You are scarcely ever out of sight of the waters of the Nith, or some other of the winding streams along which the poet wandered, and you pass in sight of Drumlanrig Castle, once the property of a Duke of Queensberry, for whom Burns had an especial dislike. A visit to this castle delayed me a day on my way to Dumfries.
Sunshine does wonders in Scotland, but it could not brighten Dumfries, where I passed an hour. There may be a clean street in Dumfries, but I did not see it; and, on this occasion, misery was added to uncleanliness. It was the day preceding what is
called the "Rood Fair,” and all the wretchedness of the surrounding country had collected at Dumfries. All the hoarse-voiced ballad-singers, the one-legged pipers and blind fiddlers in Scotland had apparently gathered in. I never saw together before such a number of blind people. I hurried through this mass of mendicant misery, to the churchyard, where is located the monument of Burns. It is a dome, supported by pillars, and they have put in glass till it looks like a great lantern. You can flatten your nose against the glass for nothing, or can pay threepence for going in. How Burns would have despised all this, could he have foreseen it!
I had intended to stay at Dumfries some hours. I was glad to leave it by the first train, and did not feel relieved until I got to where I could see for myself that “Maxwelton braes are bonnie."
Scotland has changed in many things since the days of Burns. The high farming of our day was something unknown when he followed the plow; for, as I noticed at Kirk Alloway, the threshing machine has taken the place of the "weary flingintree,” yet for all that, a copy of Burns's poems may be taken for a guidebook of the region in which he lived. One could, by taking isolated lines and putting them together, write a description of Ayrshire. You meet a witness to the faithfulness of Burns's descriptions very often in the country: I speak of the Scotch collie, or shepherd dog, the most kindly and useful dog in the world, with an eye like a woman's. He it is that speaks for the poor, in the dialogue of the “Twa Dogs." You recognize him by
_"His towzie back,