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(7.) Mrs DUNLOP TO GILBERT BURNS.
[DUNLOP,) July 21, 1799. DEAR SIR, I had last night the pleasure of your very obliging and kind letter, and assure you the picture which Robt. Armor left with me I found a great Regal, and it now adorns the spot where Daniel and all his lions used to reign ; and, at least for a time, Scots simplicity, I dare say, must be thought a blessed exchange for eastern oppression, however counter-balanced by Devout, pious Resignation, whose reward seems a very faint shadow of security in the picture, far indeed out of sight of hope that I can promise an Idea as pleasant as Allan here offers. I shall take care of it till I see some of your family to whom I can deliver it in safety, and meanwhile contemplate it with various feelings and remembrances, some pleasing and some painful too, but none of which I would willingly lose, and for all which I sincerely thank the Donor, who has so obligingly considered the Value I would put on the Compliment thus paid me, which I assure you affords me more enjoyment than I can well express. As to Mrs Burns's goodness to me in the offer she makes, I know not how to thank her sufficiently for a present which, I am perfectly conscious, I ought not to accept, yet beg to assure her every instance of goodwill from her or any of the family I feel with pleasure, Pride, and gratitude.
I am sorry your Hay is coming on hand, since I fear, as well as prevent your going to Air, it may make it inconvenient for you to send the Boys to see me this last time that in all probability they will visit Air Shire, and when I think I had half a promise of your doing me this favour last year ; but I will not recurr to that argument, but trust to that constant inclination I have always seen you have, to do every thing reasonably to be expected, and even perhaps sometimes a little more to please me, as I gratefully perceive in your intention. With regard to the book, of which you are, however, certain I would make no bad use, as I should shew it to nobody without the Doctor's leave, as well as your own, should you agree on a premature indulgence of my curiosity, a Curiosity springing from various motives, some of which I can hardly explain to myself or imagine can be guessed by any one else, yet I feel have a powerful force to whet my impatience, even at the expense of costing you some trouble. Among all your Plans I hope you never exclude one circumstance, which is, a look of Dunlop before you quit this Country. The time when, as most easie or agreable to yourself, never can come wrong to a place where every one is always glad to see you. My service to Frank, to whom I address the following lines, which he may connect if He pleases with a promise he made me last year of a letter, and which I now claim ; Robert has no right to laugh at Him on this account, till He shall have fulfilled his own promise of writing Rachel. Farewell! Compliments to your Wife and Sister, and good wishes to the whole fire side. - From your obed.
FRAN. A. DUNLOP.
Humbly inscribed to Mr Francis Burns.
JOSEPH TRAIN, F.S.A. (SCOT.)
HE subject of this sketch claims credit from his fellow
countrymen on various grounds, but chiefly because he rescued from destruction numerous priceless relics of the past, and from oblivion a vast quantity of our native folk-lore. His life over-lapped that of Robert Burns, and in a certain sense ran on parallel lines to it.
The surname Tran, Trane, or Train is said to be derived from the Gaelic treun, brave. It is common in Ayrshire, and a most respectable family of that name was long settled in Irvine, had considerable property there, and gave several Provosts and Councillors to the Burgh in the 17th century. Joseph Train was born at Sorn on 6th November, 1779.
His father was land steward to Mr Farquhar-Gray of Gilmilnscroft ; and the estate then, as now, had coalpits and lime quarries. As the owner held these in his own hands, the work, centred in the home farm offices, was varied and interesting. Workmen's wages then ranged from 9d. to is. 2d. a day. The river Ayr, with its windings and steep rocky banks, adds much beauty to the neighbourhood ; and from Blackside Hill the view stretches across the whole county, with the Galloway Hills, the Irish Channel, Arran, Bute, parts of Argyll, Renfrew, and Lanark, in the distance. What a geography lesson the parish schoolmaster could have given from the top of this hill! Perhaps Mr John Reid sometimes led his flock to these hill pastures ; for he appears to have been both a
wag and a scholar. We know from the parish registers that he wrote a good hand, and he prefixes his new marriage register with these lines from Horace :
“ Felices ter et amplius
Suprema citius solvet amor die.
the family removed to the Townhead of Ayr, where his scanty school education was completed, and he became a weaver's apprentice. His childhood passed amongst beautiful surroundings; in his boyhood he “ often climbed the Brown Hill and traversed the shores of Carrick," and he had learned to love the country life ; but now the hard fates cooped him up in a weaver's shop. What a life for a tall, sturdy stripling, eager for open air exercise, having a keen interest in every natural object and a poet's love of the beautiful! The working hours were from 6 a.m. till dusk in summer, and till 10 p.m. at least in winter. His first daily duty was to awake his master in the morning ; and he occupied the interval till the latter's arrival in cleaning up. Poor Tannahill underwent this discipline about the same period at Paisley, but he had to work at the loom until he could no longer endure the burden of life. Train's “Invocation to the shade of Robert Tannahill” bears internal evidence that the two poets had met :
“'Twas there by thee a vow was made
To which I witness was alone,
While in this lonely wild I stray.” But Train was cast in a different mould. He pluckily worked out his seven years' apprenticeship, and afterwards took the first opportunity to escape. During the war fever of 1799, when the Ayrshire Militia was called out, he became a substitute for a farmer whose name had been drawn in the ballot, and we next hear of him with his regiment at Inverness, where he was noted among his comrades for his quiet and studious habits. In 1800 Sir David Hunter-Blair, Colonel of the regiment, saw a copy of Currie's Burns, just published, price 31s. 6d., lying on the counter of an Inverness book-seller, and was surprised to hear that it had been ordered by a private called Train. He thereupon paid for it himself and presented it to the student in whom ever after he continued to take an interest. In 1802, after the Peace of Amiens, the regiment was disbanded and Train returned to his trade. About this time he obtained, through the recommendation of Mr Hamilton of Pinmore, an agency for Messrs James Finlay & Co., of Glasgow. Things now looked bright to him and the light of love began to sparkle in his eye. The following is an extract from the Ayr Register :
30th April, 1803.-Joseph Train, weaver, and Mary Wilson, both in Air, gave in their names to be proclaimed in order for marriage, and after proclamation were married accordingly.” She was daughter to Robert Wilson, gardener in Ayr, and had an uncommon share of beauty and common-sense. They had been acquaintances long before marriage, and during their subsequent life together they lived up to the Horatian standard of his Sorn teacher—“Felices ter et amplius,” etc.
He had now to “buckle to” to support his wife and family; but he also wrote verses, and in 1806 appeared his first little book, Poetical Reveries. In 1808, at the instance of Sir D. H. Blair, he received an Excise officer's commission and was attached to the Ayr District. This was a happy change for Train, for the steady nature of the new employment relieved his mind from anxiety, although the cast-iron regulations tended to stamp out ambition and individuality. It was not, however, an unsuitable occupation for an antiquarian, and if Train was sometimes harassed and punished unjustly in the Excise, yet it afforded him an opportunity of studying the antiquities and folk-lore of many parts of Scotland, which otherwise he might never have seen. His service record is. as follows:
A.D. 1808, Assistant
When we reflect that each of these names represents a wide tract with which he had to make himself thoroughly familiar, we realise how well he was enabled to pursue his natural bent and to leave
his country so much the richer for his researches. Indeed, when we consider all its advantages, we can think of no other occupation that could afford such good opportunities to a poor man for pursuing antiquarian studies. When he was assisting to put down illicit distillation in Breadalbane and smuggling across the High