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will bear down to posterity a record of the Society's connection with the Mauchline Burns Memorial. In all probability these documents will never again see the light, but should the day ever come to pass when Macaulay's traveller from New Zealand shall “ take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's,” then it is quite within the bounds of possibility that, in the remote future, some Antipodean archæologist may, in the course of his explorations, unearth the treasure from the ruined tower. (Applause.). Mr. Kirkpatrick has spoken in very kindly terms of the Society's work in connection with the Memorial, and I can assure you that we value his opinion all the more coming, as it does, from one who, as chairman of the Burns Exhibition in Glasgow, knows the amount of work such a scheme entails. (Applause.) The response to our appeal has exceeded our most sanguine expectations. We have found that the words “Burns” and “Mauchline” are names to conjure with. On behalf of the Society I have to thank you for your kind response to the toast, and I think I speak for all the members when I say that we rejoice that we have been able to assist in a small way in the endeavour to discharge the debt which Mauchline owes to the genius of the Poet. (Loud applause.)
Mr. Thomas Killin, in proposing the toast of “Mauchline and Bonie Jean,” said
I rise as a Mauchline man to propose the memory of a Mauchline lady. That she was a lady is perhaps not far off the mark. Her father, James Armour, was a master mason and large contractor in Mauchline, employing many men, and fulfilling such contracts as the erection of Loch Norris, the Marquis of Bute's mansion-house at Cumnock, the Howford Bridge, etc.
He was also possessed of considerable property in Mauchline, and was quite fitted to give his daughter the best education of the day, and from the fac-similes of her handwriting, which recently appeared in one of the Glasgow evening papers, such seems to have been the case. At the time of Burns's first acquaintance with her, at the end of April, 1784, she was nineteen years of age, was a bright, sprightly, affectionate girl, rather above the medium height, her person well formed and firmly knit, her movements at all times graceful and easy. Her features were, perhaps, rather plain than aristocratic, but, being a brunette, her freshness of complexion, ruddy cheeks, and healthful appearance combined to make an attractive, smiling face, which was lighted up by a pair of bewitching black eyes. Add to this personal appearance, a manner frank and unaffected, combined with a kindly and winning disposition, and we need not wonder that she was said to be her father's “tae e'e,” and was altogether a person who would have captivated Saint Anthony himself, let lone a man of Burns's poetic nature and temperament. Her first meeting with Burns was in Hugh Morton's ballroom (next door to Mauchline Castle) at the penny reels. While dancing, Burns's dog persisted in following him through the figures of the dance, much, no doubt, to his chagrin, and led him to exclaim, in the hearing of all, “I wish I could get a lass to lo’e me as weel as my dog." A few days afterwards he was passing through the Mauchline Bleaching Green, between the Castle and Netherplace, again accompanied by his dog, when it ran across some clothes Jean Armour had out bleaching. She asked him to call off his dog, which he did. Jean smilingly put the question, “ Hae ye got ony lassie to lo’e ye as weel as your doug yet?” Such a question was sufficient to set aglow the latent fire of love that always lay in Burns's bosom for the fair
It was, perhaps, meet that a ploughman poet who sang so much of the homely ways, the joys and sorrows of the sons and daughters of the soil, should have for his “blackfit” to his future wife his constant companion and faithful friend, his dog. (Applause.) It is said, no doubt with truth, that “the course of true love never runs smooth.” Sometimes it is the fault of the parents, sometimes of the lovers themselves. Ať any rate, Jean and Burns passed through an unusual amount of “unsmoothness" for a time, but in the end he was united to his “Bonie Jean,” and took up house with her in Mauchline. That she loved Burns passionately from the beginning goes without saying. She made an honest and industrious housewife, a devoted mother as well as wife. She worshipped the very ground on which he trod, and would hear no ill of him. While acknowledging that it was nae joke being a poet's wife,” she knew the value of the man, his genius, his large mindedness, his nobility of sentiment. She could sympathise with all his poetic wayward fancies, whether in his rollicking moods when composing "Tam o'Shanter," or his more thoughtful, sublime, and serious, when inspired with “To Mary in Heaven.” When composed, he read over most of his pieces to her, and made her his critic. A tendency has risen in the present day to raise to the seventh heaven the objects of some of his poetic fancies at the expense of belittling the wife of his bosom. We entirely object to this. We think a better wife for Burns could not have been chosen.
(Applause.) I do not wish to canonise, but one action alone makes her almost worthy of such. I refer to the time when she took to her own home the wee helpless lammie,” placed her beside her own child, and brought her up as her own daughter. The daughter of that adopted daughter told me not many days ago that Mrs. Burns was the best woman that ever lived, and since then Mrs. Sarah Burns Hutchinson has corroborated the statement. Her love for her husband was so great that, though receiving several good offers of marriage after his death, she remained a widow to the end. She survived her husband for thirtyeight years, died full of years, and lies beside the Poet in the Mausoleum at Dumfries. Wherever she was known her memory is still preserved as a sweet smelling savour. (Applause.) I propose for your acceptance the memory of Mrs. Burns, or, as we dearly love to call her, “Bonie Jean.” (Loud applause.)
Mr. Hugh ALEXANDER, in proposing the health of the “Chairman,” said that the committee wished him to accept from them, as a memento of the ceremony, a miniature spade of solid silver, with ebony handle, and bearing the following inscription :-“Presented by the members of the Glasgow Mauchline Society to the President, John Leiper Gemmill, Esq., on the occasion of his cutting the first sod for the National Burns Memorial and Cottage Homes, at Mauchline, 4th July, 1896."
The CHAIRMAN briefly returned thanks for the gift.
The Rev. WILSON BAIRD, in felicitous terms, proposed “The Croupiers.” Sheriff BRAND having replied, the proceedings terminated with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne."
COMMEMORATION CONCERT. The proceedings at Mauchline included, as a sort of afterpiece, a popular concert in the evening in the Temperance Hall. There was a crowded attendance. Mr. Marcus Bain, C.C., J.P., presided, and along with him on the platform were Miss Annie B. Burns, grand-daughter, and Miss Margaret Constance Burns Hutchinson, great-grand-daughter of the Poet; General Warren Walker, Sheriff Brand, Mr. Eugene Wason, ex-M.P., Rev. Messrs. Mitchell and Wilson Baird, Mr. and Mrs. J. Leiper Gemmill, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Killin, Mr. Hugh Alexander, Mr. W. S. M‘Millan, and Dr. Smith.
Mr. Bain, who was cordially received, said —
After to-day's most interesting ceremonies and flood of oratory, we are met to-night, less to listen to further speeches, than to hear some of Burns's immortal songs sung. It is, I am sure, to all of us particularly gratifying that one of our singers to-night, Mr. M'Ilveen, is a grandnephew of Bonie Jean. (Applause.) I very well remember reading Lord Young's speech in the early eighties at the banquet held at Dumfries on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of the Poet by Lord Rosebery. Lord Young told that in his childhood he had often visited Jean Armour and had tea from her. So vividly had her image been imprinted on his memory that he felt, he said, if he were an artist, and his hand were cunning enough, he could draw her. Lord Young further said that he knew well the grand-daughter who lived with Jean Armour, and he also knew and was personally acquainted with all Burns's sons, except the eldest, Robert. Hence we have, what is unique, and, I consider, very
remarkable—one of our Scottish Lords of Justiciary, and not the least eminent, connecting us at once with Jean Armour on the one hand, and on the other hand with the father and grandfather respectively of two of the ladies who have honoured us with their presence to-day, viz., Miss Burns and Miss Hutchinson. (Applause.) We are also honoured with the presence of Mrs. Burns Thomas. (Applause.) Of Burns himself I only wish to say a single word. Our sentiments towards him are too subtle and too real for words, and I'm not sure but the only true explanation is simply that “we like him," without being able to explain how and why. His letters are, I consider, entirely worthy of his poetry, and reveal a man of extensive reading, sterling integrity, and critical acumen. (Applause.) Compared with most of our modern productions and the drawing-room songs of the present day, the songs of Burns are high as heaven is above the earth. (Applause.) When these songs of a day are sung and have
passed into oblivion, Burns's songs will remain enshrined in the hearts of all true Scots, so long as Scotsmen love and Scottish lassies are worth awooing. (Applause.) If there is in Scotland now a broader and kindlier spirit, this step in true progress has, I think, partly at least, been made through the shock of that saddest day when God's choicest gift to Scotland drifted so mournfully into the quiet haven of death. On the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Poet we seek to bury the frailties of the man with the poor clay from whence they sprang, and to admire more and love better the good and noble, of which there was so much in his nature, holding dearer to our hearts and appreciating more and more the noble legacy of poetry and of song which has been bequeathed to us and to the world by the genius of Robert Burns. (Loud applause.)
At a later stage in the proceedings,
Mr. Wason, who was cordially received, delivered a short address.
He said this would always remain a red-letter day in the history of Mauchline, and the demonstration of this day brought to a fitting and successful close the remarkable series of centenary celebrations, begun on the previous Saturday at Irvine and continued during the week at Dumfries, Ayr, and Glasgow. With regard to the inauguration of the Irvine statue, he did not agree with some of the criticism which had been passed on the speeches of the Poet Laureate. He had not seen anything in Mr. Austin's speeches which was not eulogistic of Burns. But our National Poet had not always been admired by English critics. He commended to his hearers the study of the poems of Burns, from which they would always get some inspiration to help them amid the varied experiences of life. The leading ideas running through the poems of Burns were those of independence, honesty, and liberty; and no poet had ever sung so sweetly of the joys and affections of the human heart. (Applause.)
Songs were very tastefully and effectively rendered by Miss Gebbie, Miss M. Breckenridge, Mr. Walter M'Ilveen (grandnephew of “Bonie Jean”), Mr. James Lambie, and Mr. James Allan-Mrs. Andrew Walker ably presiding at the piano.
At the close, votes of thanks were heartily accorded to speakers, singers, etc., on the motion of Mr. Killin, and to the chairman, on the motion of the Rev. Mr. Mitchell.