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name it bore. It was at the corner or side, moreover, of the village, retired from the general bustle, and most easily accessible from Hamilton's grounds, which it skirted. I do not know if any proverbial Scottish expression describes an out-of-theway place as an elbow," " but it is curious that Burns on first taking up residence in lonely Ellisland, used this phrase: "Here I am, at the elbow of existence." Possibly Burns had an image of Mauchline in his mind when he used this odd expression. At present, the "Elbow" lane has only one house in it. Opposite this house there formerly was a tanyard, and close by the tanyard was the tavern kept by "The Old Tar." In later days, before it was pulled down, it was used as a shelter for cattle. This was the place, there can be small doubt, which Train noted down as “a small ale-house called the Elbow." In common talk it would be indicated as the "Elbow Alehouse," just as a city clerk speaks of the "Ludgate Hill Bar" -meaning thereby, not that the bar is Ludgate Hill, but that there is in Ludgate Hill a place of refreshment.
I pass on to point out how little changed the Mauchline of to-day is from the Mauchline of Burns's time. The Parish Church was re-built about sixty years ago; and the Armours' house and Johnny Dow's Inn have been altered—the latter being replaced by a shop. Gavin Hamilton's house, in which Burns was married to his Jean, has been unoccupied for two years, and is fast becoming as much of a ruin as the ancient
Castle to which it is attached. Hamilton's business room-the very room in which Burns wrote "The Calf," and where he took Jean for better or worse-i -is now a kind of dungeon, with boarded-up windows, a dank resort of graveyard rats and other vermin. Everything else in the village is much as Burns left it, and the noticeable thing about the place is its compactness. Never was any phase of a poet's life "staged" in such small compass as Burns's life in Mauchline. The plan given on page 54 exhibits all the buildings associated with him, and they lie within a square of one hundred yards. There is the garden in which, of a Sunday, Gavin Hamilton would walk up and down tending his cabbages and gooseberry bushes in sight of Daddy Auld's congregation, greatly to the scandal of the " unco guid." There was the village washinggreen where Burns and Jean spoke first to each other. There was Johnny Dow's tavern, from the back parlour-window of which Burns used to sign to Jean to steal from her father's cottage. There was Poosie Nancy's, where the poet studied "The Jolly Beggars." There was Nance Tinnock's ale-house, from which Burns would step into the churchyard, his eye aglow with the humours of the "Holy Fair;" and directly opposite, the single room that Burns took for Jean when she was about to become a mother for the second time. There is the ruined castle where Mary Campbell used to meet Burns, and a few yards beyond, was the "Elbow," where Train says Burns and Richmond and Captain Montgomery came together in somewhat strange circumstances; and all within a compass, as we have said, of a hundred yards. There too, in the graveyard, lie dozens of men and women Burns knew and wrote about. His own infant daughters lie buried there; and above them lie the bones of old Armour, and next their graves is the tombstone of Jean's brother:-"To the memory of Robert Armour, many years a merchant in London, who died in that city on the 9th day of February, 1846, aged 62 years." Robert began life as a weaver, and died a rich man. In the graveyard, too, lies Gavin Hamilton, once known in the village as "the friend of the poor." Neither poor nor rich have put any memorial on his grave but I have been told that this "careless desolation " is what Gavin desired might surround his resting-place. Standing in the shadow of the Church and looking round, we see that this sleeping hamlet gave up its very core to be the
theatre of Burns's life-drama; the leading events of which were enacted within the small space of set scenery before us.
In the manse I was allowed to look through the Kirk-Session Records, and found them to contain very strange reading. The following items I take from the Mauchline (or "Machlin") Records, as material interesting to all Burns enthusiasts.
"APRIL 2ND, 1786.-The Session being informed that Jean Armour, an unmarried woman, is said to be with child, and that she has gone off from the place of late, to reside elsewhere, the Session think it their duty to enquire But appoint James Lamie and William Fisher to speak to the parents."
"APRIL 9TH, 1786.-James Lamie reports that he spoke to Mary Smith, mother to Jean Armour, who told him that she did not suspect her daughter to be with child, that she was gone to Paisley to see her friends, and would return soon."
"JUNE 18TH, 1786.-Jean Armour, called, compeared not, but sent a letter directed to the Minister, the tenor whereof follows:
'I am heartily sorry that I have given and must give your Session trouble on my account. I acknowledge that I am with child and Robert Burns in Mossgiel is the father. I am with great respect, Your most humble servant,
MACHLIN, 13TH JUNE, 1786.'"
The officer is ordered to summond Robert Burns to attend this day eight days.
"JUNE 25TH, 1786.-Compeared Robert Burns and acknowledges himself the father of Jean Armour's child(ren).*
(Signed) ROBERT BURNS."
"AUGUST 6TH, 1786.-Robert Burns, John Smith, Mary Lindsay, Jean Armour, and Agnes Auld, appeared before the Congregation professing their repentance for the sin of fornication, and they having each appeared two several Sabbaths formerly were this day rebuked and absolved from the scandal."+
"AUGUST 5TH, 1788.-Compeared Robert Burns with Jean Armour his alledged spouse. They both acknowledged their irregular marriage and their sorrow for that irregularity and desiring that the Session will take such steps as may seem to them proper in order to the solemn confirmation of the said marriage.
The Session taking this affair under their consideration agree that they both be rebuked for their acknowledged irregularity and that they
*The letters in brackets appear to have been added in at a later time, in lighter ink than that employed for the rest of the word.
+There are no Session-Book entries about the two previous appearances of Burns, but we know from a letter of his to Richmond (Scott Douglas, IV. 134), that the date of one of these appearances was July 9th.
Any ! 5 Sifo Com. Compeared Robust Burns
Rebost Bems with Sean Armour))
to them proper in order to the Solemn Comfomain.
of the said marriage
note for behoof of the poor
Monday first for behoef of
Mr Burns 9 Ausf. Instinations
was track from the tend that the Seals in of the Qurch be Bett upon