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sparingly, and for several years butcher's meat was a stranger in the house ; while all the members of the family exerted themselves to the utmost of their strength-and rather beyond it-in the labours of the farm. My brother, at the age of thirteen, assisted in threshing the crop of corn, and at fifteen, was the principal labourer on the farm-for we had no hired servant, male or female."--Gilbert's Narrative.
Mrs. Begg has noted that her brother possessed Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany at an early period, and also a collection of songs called The Lark.
“The mother of Dr. Paterson, now physician in Ayr, and widow of one of the established teachers there, frequently invited my father and mother to her house on Sundays, when she met them at church. When she came to know my brother's passion for books, she kindly offered us the use of her late husband's library, and from her we got the Spectator, Pope's translation of Homer, and several other books that were of use to us.”—Gilbert's Narrative. FIRST SONG 1773.
Song:0 once I loved a bonie lass. (AGE 14-16)
“My father struggled on till he reached the freedom EARLY in his lease, when he entered on a larger farm, about LYRICAL ten miles farther in the country.”-Autobiography. ATTEMPTS. 1776.
Song: I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing.-(AGE 17.)
“These two stanzas I composed at the age of seven
teen, and are among the oldest of my printed pieces.”--Reliques.
FRAGMENT: Though fickle Fortune has deceived me.
“I was, I think, about eighteen or nineteen, when I sketched the outlines of a Tragedy, forsooth! but the bursting of a cloud of family misfortunes, which had for some time threatened us, prevented myfarther progress.”—Reliques,
“My father took the farm of Lochlea, of 130 acres, in the parish of Tarbolton, of Mr. then a merchant
in Ayr, and now  a merchant in Liverpool. He re1777. moved to this farm at Whitsunday, 1777, and possessed (AGĘ 18.) it only seven years. No writing had ever been made out
of the conditions of the lease ; a misunderstanding took place respecting them; the subjects in dispute were submitted to arbitration, and the decision involved my father in ruin.”—Gilbert's Narrative.
Song : 0 Tibbie, I hae seen the day.
“A CIRCUMSTANCE in my life which made some altera-
nineteenth summer a smuggling, coast, a good 1777. distance from home, at a noted school, to learn men(AGE 18.) suration, surveying, dialling, &c., in which I made a
pretty good progress ; but I made a greater progress in the knowledge of mankind.”-Autobiography.
The young poet was then in the district where his mother's relatives resided, and here he is said to have first picked up the story which
SUMMER AT KIRKOSWALD.
LIFE AT LOCHLEA AND TARBOLTON.
furnished the materials for bis future Tam o' Shanter. Here also, it is supposed, the first idea was formed of his ultimate vocation of Exciseofficer, for undertaking the technical duties of which post, he was then unconsciously being trained.
The name of the "charming fillette” who interrupted his studies, was Peggy Thomson, and, according to Mrs. Begg, he renewed acquaintance with her at a later period of life, when his . Song composed in August received a brushing up into its published shape. Song : Now westlin winds and slaught'ring guns.
“The seven years that we lived in Tarbolton parish were not marked by much literary improvement; but, during this time, the foundation was laid of certain
habits in my brother's character, which afterwards 1778-79. became but too prominent, and which malice and envy (AGE 19-20.) have taken delight to enlarge upon. He was constantly
the victim of some fair enslaver. The symptoms of his passion were often such as nearly to equal those of the celebrated Sappho. I never, indeed, knew that he fainted, sunk, and died away;' but the agitations of his mind and body exceeded anything of the kind I ever knew in real life.”-Gilbert's Narrative.
Song : The Ronalds of the Bennals.
“My 'Montgomerie's Peggy' was my deity for six or eight months. She had been bred in a style of life rather elegant, but (as Vanburgh says in one of his plays) my 'damned star found me out' there too; for although I began the affair merely in a gaieté de cour, it will scarcely be believed that a vanity of showing my parts in courtship, particularly my abilities at a billet-doux (which I always piqued myself upon), made me lay siege to her.”—Common-place Book, 1785.
“How Mr. D. runs into the mistake of saying that Mrs. Begg, in her account of Ellison Begbie, represented her as the same with ‘Montgomerie's Peggy,' is to me incomprehensible. She has ever said the very reverse; for they were as distinct as two women with two souls can be. Montgomerie's Peggy' was housekeeper at Coilsfield, not to Colonel Montgomery, but to his father, A. Montgomery, Esq. The poet and she had met frequently at Tarboth Mill (The Willie's Mill' of Dr. Hornbook): they sat in the same church, and had had a good deal of intercourse; but she was engaged to another before ever they met; so, on her part, it was nothing but amusement, and on Burns' part, little else, from the way he speaks of it.”—Agnes Begg.
“WE, the following lads in the parish of Tarbolton,
namely-HUGH REID, ROBERT BURNESS, GILBERT BACHELORS' BURNESS, ALEXANDER BROWN, WALTER MITCHELL,
THOMAS WRIGHT, and WILLIAM M GAVIN, Resolved,
for our mutual entertainment, to unite ourselves into 1780. a Club, or Society, under such Rules and Regulations (AGE 21.) that, while we should forget our cares and labours in
Mirth and Diversion, we might not transgress the bounds of Innocence and Decorum; and after agreeing on these and other Regulations, we held our first meeting at Tarbolton, in the house of John Richard, upon the evening of the 11th November, 1780, commonly called Halloween, after choosing ROBERT BURNESS president for the night.”
“ THE belle-fille who caused his melancholy at Irvine, was the aforesaid Ellison Begbie, one for whom he
evidently had a most sincere respect, but who declined 1780-81. a nearer connection than friendship with him, for (AGE 21-22.) reasons known only to themselves ; but where the fair
one was amiable and prudent, the reasons may easily be imagined. She married soon after. The idea regarding Peggy
CLUB AT TARBOLTON.
A SERIOUS COURTSHIP.
ENTRY AS A FREEMASON.
Ellison' being a euphonious rendering of Ellison Begbie is fanciful, but very like truth. Mrs. Begg never
heard of any girl in the neighbourhood called 'Mary Morison.'”—Mrs. Begg, 1848.
Four letters to “ E,” dated “about 1780,” are printed in Currie's first edition.
Song : The Lass of Cessnock Banks.
“On 25th June, 1781, the St. James' Tarbolton Lodge, THE POET's No. 178, united with the St. David's Tarbolton Lodge,
No. 174. It was agreed that this united Lodge should
bear the name of St. David's. Burns was admitted an 1781. apprentice thereof, on 4th July, 1781, and passed and (AGE 22.) raised on 1st October thereafter.”--Excerpt from Lodge
Records, by Chambers. At the latter date, Burns was resident in Irvine, whence he must have travelled to Tarbolton to attend the Lodge meeting where he was affiliated. A disruption of this united Lodge took place in June, 1782, and the separating body, with Burns of their number, then reconstituted themselves under the old charter from Mother Kilwinning (dated 1771), as St. James' Tarbolton Lodge. Thenceforward, the name of Burns is found only in the books of the distinct St. James' Lodge.
“In Irvine, Robert had contracted some acquaintances of a freer manner of thinking and living than he had been used to, whose society prepared him for overleaping the bounds of rigid virtue which_had hitherto restrained him. During this period, also, he became a Freemason, which was his first introduction to the life of a boon companion. Yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, I do not recollect, during the seven years we were at Lochlea, nor till towards the end of his commencing Author-when his growing celebrity occasioned his being often in company-to have ever seen him intoxicated; nor was he at all given to drinking.”—Gilbert's Narrative.
“My twenty-third year was to me an important era. Partly through whim, and partly that I wished to set about
doing something in life, I joined a flax-dresser in a neigh1781-82. bouring town, to learn his trade. This was an unlucky (AGE 22-23.) affair. The flaxdresser was one Peacock, a relation
of his mother. “I was obliged to give up this [flaxdressing) scheme : the clouds of misfortune were gathering thick round my father's head; and what was worst of all, he was visibly far gone in a consumption ; and to crown my distresses, a belle-fille whom I adored [reference here, according to Mrs. Begg, to Lllison Begbie), and who had pledged her soul to meet me in the field of matrimony, jilted me with peculiar circumstances of mortification.”—Autobiography.
“Do you recollect a Sunday we spent together in Eglinton Woods ? You told me, on my repeating some verses to you, that you wondered I could resist the temptation of sending verses of such merit to a magazine. It was from this remark I derived that idea of my own power which encouraged me to endeavour at the character of a poet."Letter to Richard Brown, December 30, 1787.
Prayer in the Prospect of Death.
THE LAST OF
“I SEEM to be sent into the world to see and observe; THE PLOUGH and I very easily compound with the knave who tricks AND THE LYRE me out of my money, if there be anything original about RESUMED. him. Even the last, worst shift of the unfortunate and
1782. the wretched does not much terrify me. I forget that (AGE 23.) I am a poor, insignificant devil, unnoticed and unknown,
stalking up and down fairs and markets, when I happen to be there reading a page or two of mankind, while the men of pleasure jostle me on every side, as an idle encumbrance in their way!”—Letter to Murdoch, 12th January, 1783.
The death and dying words of poor Mailie.
“For four years we lived comfortably on this farm :
landlord as to terms, after three years tossing and 1783. whirling in the vortex of litigation, my father was just (AGE 24.) saved from the horrors of a jai), by a consumption, which,
after two years' promises, kindly stepped in, and carried him away to 'where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest!'"-Autobiography.
“When my father's affairs drew near a crisis, Robert and I took the farm of Mossgiel, consisting, of 118 acres, at the rent of £90 per annum, from Mr. Gavin Hamilton, as an asylum for the family in case of the worst. It was stocked by the property and individual savings of the whole family, and was a joint.concern among us. Every member of the family was allowed ordinary wages for the labour he performed on the farm. My brother's allowance and mine was £7 per annum, each.”— Gilbert's Narrative.
Mossgiel was a sub-let from Gavin Hamilton, who had leased it from the Earl of Loudoun.
“LOCHLEA, 17th February, 1784.- DEAR Cousin-On the 13th current, I lost the best of fathers. Though, to be sure, we have had long warning of the impending
stroke, still the feelings of nature claim their part; and 1784. I cannot recollect the tender endearments and parental (AGE 25.) lessons of the best of friends and ablest of instructors,
without feeling what perhaps the calmer dictates of reason would partly condemn.”—Letter to Mr. James Burness, Montrose. Epitaph for the Author's Father.
“I ENTERED on this farm with a full resolutionCome, go to, I will be wise !
“I now began to be known in the neighbourhood as 1784. a maker of rhymes. The first of my poetic offspring (AGE 25.) that saw the light was a burlesque lamentation on a
quarrel between two reverend Calvinists, both of them dramatis personce in my Holy Fair. With a certain description of the clergy, as well as the laity, it met with a roar of applause.”—Autobiography.
FRAGMENT: The Mauchline Lady.
JULY 27, 1784.- Elected Depute-master of St. James' Lodge, Tarbolton.
VERSES TO RANKINE: I am a keeper of the law.
The Poet's welcome to his illegitimate child.
“St. James' LODGE, TARBOLTON.-— The poet's attend. ROB MOSSGIEL. ances as Depute-master, were-in 1785—June 29, July 20,
1785. Aug. 2 & 18, Sep. 7 & 15, Oct. 26, Nov. 10, Dec. 1, Dec. (AGE 26.) 7 ; in 1786, Jan. 7, March 1:-At this meeting, Gilbert
Burns was passed and raised.' "- Notes from Lodge
21st, 1785. --Second Epistle to J. Lapraik. May, 1785.-Song: Rantin', rovin' Robin.
1785.—Song : Though cruel Fate.
1785. —Epistle to William Simpson, Ochiltree.
17th, 1785.- Epistle to Rev. John M'Math.
“The farm of Mossgiellies very high, and mostly on a cold
were very frosty, and the Spring was very late. Our 1786.
crops in consequence, were very unprofitable; and notJANUARY 1 to withstanding our utmost diligence and economy, we
APRIL 3. found ourselves obliged to giv up our bargain, with the (AGE 27.) loss of a considerable part of our stock. It was during
these years that Robert formed his connexion with Jean Armour; afterwards, Mrs. Burns. This connexion could no longer le concealed, about the time we came to a final determination to quit the farm. Robert durst not engage with a family in his poor, unsettled state ; but was anxious to shield his partner by every means in his power, from the consequences of their imprudence. It was agreed, therefore, between them, that they should make a legal acknowledgment of their marriage, -that he should go to Jamaica to push his fortune ; and that she should remain with her father, till it might please Providence to put the means of supporting a family in his power."--Gilbert's Narrative.
" APRIL 3RD, 1786.--My proposals for publishing I am just going to send to the press. I am ever, dear sir, yours, ROBERT BURNESS. Letter to Mr. Aiken.
This appears to be the last known instance of Burns spelling his name with two syllables. Chambers notes that, in the records of the St.