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widely different colour from those of either Burns or Dr Rogers. All the ascertained facts point to the Burneses having kept clear of the Stuart broils of both 1715 and 1745. They retained possession of the ancestral farms upon the Inchbreck estate, on the braes of Glenbervie, far into the reign of George III. Bogjordan remained in the hands of the third William, who held that farm until 1784, when he died and it passed out of the family. Brawlinmuir was tenanted by Burneses until 1807. These two dates are far more suggestive of their having led lives of peaceful agricultural industry than of their having taken an active part in the Jacobite risings. As for Robert of Clochnahill and his sons William and Robert, the Poet's father and uncle, they may have been out in the '45. It was within their option to fight for Prince Charlie, but they were under no such feudal obligation to do so as Robert Chambers insists upon, and that they actually did take up arms is well-nigh incredible. They had other things to think about. At May, 1745, a crisis was reached in the domestic life of Clochnahill which had no connection with the Stuart struggle to regain a throne, and might well have shut it out of view of the sorrowing and beaten home circle at the farm.
There also lie the causes of the family decline. Clochnahill proved a hard bargain fo Robert Burnes. A speaker at one of the Mearns Centenary gatherings said that “after a hard struggle upon the muirland farm of Clochnahill against bad crops and low prices, the great frost of 1740 reduced the family to beggary.” It was, in truth, a terrible season, the most disastrous of the century to farmers, and for many a year afterwards the countryside teemed with sad and harrowing tales of privation, suffering, and even death from famine and cold. From this it appears that no single catastrophe overwhelmed the Burneses. They were slowly worn down and impoverished by a long course of adversity, and the dreadful season of 1740 only brought a continuous series of misfortunes to a climax. The life of the household was spent in battling with hardship and ill Juck, and yet surrender was never thought of until May, 1745, when Robert renounced his lease and left Clochnahill. He was then behind with his rent, and otherwise immersed in financial difficulties. Even when he left the farm he could not free himself from the clutches of what looked like an adverse fate. Retiring from Clochnahill at Whitsunday '45, Robert went into Kinneff, and the farm at once passed into the occupancy of the new tenant, John Duncan. In the course of the Jacobite campaign of that year, however, the Highland clansmen who followed the standard of Prince Charles lived chiefly by foraging. They levied supplies upon many Mearns farms, and Clochnahill suffered with the others. The result was that Duncan could not fufil his engagement to Robert Burnes to pay for the standing crop and the other charges due him as outgoing tenant. Harassed in other ways, this disappointment proved too much for the impoverished and rapidly ageing farmer. He sought remeid in a court of law, and from the papers in the lawsuit, Burnes V. Duncan, the facts here detailed are taken. Thus worsted on every side, Robert Burnes gave up the battle of life and went to reside at Denside, Dunnottar.
What William and the younger Robert were doing during the few years after 1745 is not quite clear. Their self-denying conduct towards their father hardly needs comment. They fought adversity by his side, and clung to the family homestead until virtually compelled to leave it. Their loyal bearing brings into striking relief a very beautiful family trait of the Burneses—their love of kindred, and their strong attachment to home. So far, furthermore, the narrative throws a new and clear light upon one or two previously obscure points in the history of the family. The first is that while Robert Burnes suffered grievously in consequence of the Jacobite rising, it was in a manner widely different from the Poet's imagining. The second is that, be the cause what it may, no Burnes ever rose in the world by farming.
We know that there were Burneses in Inchbreck in 1547. In spite of the gilding of Dr Burnes and Dr Rogers, we also know that the tillers of the several farms in Glenbervie could not, by any stretch of imagination, be looked upon as men of substance. They were tenant- farmers of the poorer sort, who knew nothing of what would now be considered ordinary com
fort, and to whom luxury was only a Strength of will, solidity of moral principle, and force of character taught them to endure, but did nothing towards sweetening life by ameliorating its conditions. They fenced themselves round with “the small economics,” partook of hard fare, lived in comfortless dwellings, and practised the most vigilant frugality. The plain truth is that, for at least two centuries, the Burneses engaged in a hand-to-hand fight with poverty. In the sixteenth century we see them settled upon Inchbreck ; in the eighteenth, we see two young men inspired by filial duty, pride in fa:nily independence, and love of those nearest them in blood-father, mother, and sisters--still fighting the family enemy, and doing it against an overwhelming combination of misfortunes which must at length have assumed the shape of predestined ruin. At last we see them involved in the defeat of Robert Burnes, their father.
A good many reflections have been made upon the Poet's want of success in farming, but we now see that he only followed in the wake of many poverty-stricken ancestral generations, and that his grandfather was compelled to give it up as a hopeless means of making a livelihood. Pushing the older Mearns farmers out of view, the remarkable and suggestive circumstance remains. that agriculture wrought havoc with the lives and fortunes of three successive generations of Burneses. Against none of them, including the Poet at Ellisland, could failure be urged as arising from moral causes. Read aright, there is no more eloquent, though melancholy, comment upon the conditions of the farming industry in Scotland than the record of the Burneses from Clochnahill to Mount Oliphant and Lochlea, thence to Mossgiel, and closing with the baffled Poet's exit from Ellisland. Beside Robert of Clochnahill's collapse, a second fact ranges itself, viz., that it was not wholly unforeseen. It was no sudden stroke that felled him, either political or climatic. For a long time prior to the ruinous experiences of 1740 and 1745, as the sons of Robert grew in years and intelligence, they must have seen that under no conceivable circumstances could they find a permanent home at Clochnahil). We are left to imagine the long and anxious con
sultations of the united family as to the future years before the wintry ravages of 1740.
The first gap in the home circle was made by the going of James. He was the first to venture out into the world, and in view of the shadow thrown with heartless deliberation by some of his biographers and commentators across the Poet's life, it cannot be made too clear that the family as a whole only began to make its mark, to inount the ascending road towards distinction, affluence, position and title, when farming was exchanged for other pursuits. For his branch of the family, the day on which James left home was big with fate. On it began the emancipation of kindred and descendants from the benumbing gloom of grinding poverty and obscure isolation. And how rapidly the inherited training in hardship told in “the bivouac of life" may be shown in a sentence. The son of the first James, of Montrose, was James, solicitor, the Poet's cousin and correspondent; the son of the latter was the third James, who became Provost of Montrose, and was latterly joint Town-Clerk ; of the Provost's sons one, Alexander, was knighted and with his brother Charles was massacred at Kabul in 1841 ; a grandson of the Provost also sacrificed his life to duty and patriotism at Luck
These are tragic events, but they are set round with many instances of success in life ; and, in any event, the tragedy is brilliant when placed against the sombre pathos of the earlier tragedy enacted by one generation of Burneses after another, between the wind-swept Braes of Glenbervie and the still more unsheltered slopes where Clochnahill lies on Carmount.
The exit of James, then, from the unlucky farm proved the starting-point of his race upon the upward way. Else a sorrowful enough figure, he seems as, some hundred and seventy years ago, he probably marched down the road between Carmount and Bruxie Hill—the same highway along which the Poet drove fifty years later, when on his Highland tour. Swinging round close by Drumlithie, crossing the Bervie water, and nearing Laurencekirk, James would be bound to feel the growing distance between himself and the cradle of his race. He was virtually a pioneer before
who n the unrealisable world, with all its hidden potentialities, was spread out. Passing Marykirk, he would cross the North Esk at Craigo, and, mounting the hill upon which Sunnyside now stands, he would see before him a splendid panorama of woods and grassy slopes, river-course, stormy North Sea and Eastern sky, and over on his right towards the South his goal--Montrose, to this day one of the stateliest and most picturesque of all the towns of the North..
Born at Kinmouth in 1717, James would be four years old when (1721) his father took Clochnahill. His experience of life at the farm extended from childhood well into youth, and, although he witnessed none of the darker scenes of 1740-45, he undoubtedly saw enough to make his boyhood little more than a depressing memory. His reasons for going to Montrose are sufficiently obvious. It was a rising town and becoming a centre of industry as well as of fishing, trade, and commerce. Further considerations likely to have had weight with him were that it was not very far from home, and that he had relatives there. The latter were two cousins, sons of his uncle James of Hawkhill and Bralinmuir; one of them, William, was in either the excise or customs and was stationed in Montrose ; the other was a farmer at Higham, near the town. Two years, 1732 and 1739, are mentioned in connection with James's going from Clochnahill, and although in so far as any known consequences are concerned, the question is of little importance, it may be noted that the earlier date is preferable. At fifteen James was old enough to nnderstand the downward drift of affairs at the farm, and he was much more likely at that age than at twenty-two to turn his attention to a new occupation. In his usual dogmatic way, Dr. Rogers says :
.“ Trained to merchandise, he in 1732 settled in Montrose.” A search for evidence that he was ever “ trained to merchandise has proved fruitless. The only occupation James is, with certainty, known to have followed, was the trade of wright, which he learned in Montrose. Of the passing years of apprenticeship and service, as journeyman, we know nothing, and that any intercourse was maintained between Montrose and Clochnahill is a matter of