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Contemporaries of Burns and their descendants.-Town and county of Ayr.-Effect of poor rates.-Bonny lasses.-River Doon.Dalrymples of Langlands, and of Orangefield, and their kindred.-Governor Macrae.-Lord Glencairn.-Dr. David Shaw. Dr. Andrew Shaw.-Dr. Dalrymple.-Robert Aiken and his descendants. Dr. Currie. Grace Aiken.—Mr. Ballantine, his sister and his nephew.-Mrs. General Stewart of Stair and Afton Lodge.--Mr. Cunninghame of Enterkine.— Mr. Campbell of Fairfield.-Sir Alexander Boswell. -His Duel with Mr. Stuart.-Professors Dugald Stewart, Thomas Brown, and Sir John Leslie.-Lord Jeffrey, Henry Mackenzie. -The Rev. Archibald Alison. Scott's meeting with Burns.

ULD Ayr whom ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses."

is a borough with a charter from William the Lion in the 13th century, finely situated near the river of that name and on the shore of the firth of Clyde. A beach of firm sand extends for more than a mile from the mouth of the Ayr and its harbour to the mouth of the river Doon, and on the intermediate shore there is sea bathing in the clear salt water of the Clyde at almost every hour of the day. The opposite coast of Argyleshire and the volcanic peaks of Goatfell in Arran, are the grand boundary northwards of a channel 20 miles in breadth. The heads of Ayr and Greenan Castle beyond the Doon are very picturesque, and there is fine rocky scenery ex


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tending towards Culzean Castle, the seat of the Earls of Cassillis, and Ailsa Craig, the solitary haunt of Soland geese, and innumerable sea fowl.

The language of England and of the Scottish lowlands in the 14th and 15th centuries, was nearly the same, as may be seen by comparing Chaucer and Barbour. The progress of Scotland in civilization and wealth was slower than in England. The salaries of judges and public officers and the fees to advocates were less, the habits of all ranks were more frugal, and persons of superior education and manners engaged in employment, that in England might have been deemed unsuitable for them. Burns gladly accepted an inferior post in the excise. Merchants in small towns, shipmasters or shipowners, some of whom commanded their own vessels, intermarried with the families of the gentry.

The town of Ayr as known to Burns was little changed when I first saw it in 1807; but since then the unsightly structure of the old Tolbooth, which blocked up the main street, has been removed. Wellington Square, containing the New Courts of justice and Town Hall of elegant design, adjacent streets well built and commodious, villas in a good style of architecture have been erected, and will continue to increase. But considering the advantages of Ayr as a commercial port and as a watering place, it seems surprising that its growth has not been more rapid.

It is said that Lord Brougham's first appearance as an advocate was in a civil action tried in the small court of the old Tolbooth. The venerable old church finely situated on the river Ayr has been restored. The collections at the church door on Sundays, used nearly to suffice for the relief of the poor, which did not require more than £500 a year, till the year 1830. Poor rates were long resisted in Scottish parishes, and the deficiency in the collections was made up by voluntary contributions from the landed proprietors or principal inhabitants. But the poor law, as in England,



has changed for the worse the independent spirit, the prudent and economical habits of the working classes, who too often spend in drink and in luxury, what they used before to save to provide for their aged parents and their children, who are now left to be maintained by poor rates at an expense seven or eight times greater than formerly. The academy was in high repute, and the cost of good education there for boys living with their friends, did not exceed a few guineas a year. The classics were taught fairly, and French very thoroughly by foreign masters. The Rector's classes for Euclid, geography, elements of astronomy, and English grammar and composition, were also well taught.

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As to the bonny lasses, Lord Cockburn wrote in 1844, in his memorials, "I find that Ayr still boasts of its peculiar female beauty; I scarcely ever knew a pro"vincial town that did not. Ayr is not behind hand: “but though on the look out, I can't say my eyes were particularly dazzled. There was one fair figure, however, that haunted my memory; that of her who "in former days was Marion Shaw, and is now the "widow of Sir Charles Bell. Beauty such as hers was enough for one city. That portion of it which belongs to the mind is as bright and as graceful as ever; and there are few forms with which time has "dealt so gently. But the place knows her no more.”

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With some allowance for the lapse of thirty years since Lord Cockburn thus wrote of the friend and relation of my grandfather's family, and my own much valued and esteemed friend from early youth till now, I can still confirm his statement.

Beloved and respected by many in London and elsewhere, among other worthy employments of her prolonged life, she has promoted the circulation of the valuable scientific works of her distinguished husband Sir Charles Bell, who ranks with the Hunters, the Harveys, the Jenners of his noble profession. Not long ago on the publication of a volume of his correspondence, chiefly with his also eminent brother George Joseph Bell, advocate, author of a work of



first-rate authority on commercial law, a principal clerk of session, and professor of Scotch law in the university of Edinburgh, Lady Bell contributed to it a well written pleasing memoir of her late husband; and in 1874 she published the ninth edition of his "Bridgwater Treatise on the Hand," with his own beautiful illustrations, and preceded by an account of his "Discoveries on the Nervous System," by her brother Mr. Alexander Shaw.

Miss Shaw was not, however, the sole representative of female loveliness in Ayr before her marriage. Among her fair compeers at that time may be mentioned two daughters of Mr. Richard Campbell, who, with his wife and handsome family, lived in Ayr before he succeeded by the death of his brother, to his fortune and fine estate of Craigie, near Ayr. We were often there, and the reputation of the old city was fully sustained by Miss Jane Campbell, who married Sir Thomas Monro, Governor of Madras, and her sister Margaret, who became Lady Gordon by her first marriage, and by her second, Madame de Barnevelt. I had the pleasure of meeting them both again after they returned from India as widows, but neither of them survive. Their eldest brother, James Campbell, advocate, the friend of Lords Jeffrey and Cockburn, inherited Craigie from his father.

The town and county of Ayr, its fine rivers and beautiful scenery; Alloway Kirk, and the "Auld brig of Doon," attract innumerable visitors since Burns made them famous. Genius such as his imparts a certain degree of notoriety to persons as well as to places. Hence the interest felt by the admirers of his works in memorials of those whose names and characters he has made memorable.

Although the subject has been almost exhausted by his biographers, especially by Mr. Robert Chambers, I find that the taste for such information, at least with Scotchmen, still survives, and it may yet be gratified by some few particulars not generally known.

When Burns was born, his father, William, was



overseer and gardener to Mr. Fergusson of Doonholm, who, when young, so greatly admired the rare beauty of the place, that he then cherished the wish which his future success enabled him to gratify, by purchasing and making it his residence. He was a very amiable and kind man, and his daughter, Mrs. Hunter, to whom he left Doonholm, inherited also her father's good and estimable qualities, and they both had that tender love of animals which was characteristic of Burns. When his father removed to Mount Oliphant (the farming profits on which were insufficient to maintain his family) Mr. Fergusson assisted him with £100; and the death of their kind landlord was a great misfortune, for they fell into the hands of a stern factor. Mr. Fergusson had three other daughters, one of whom married Colonel Kelso, of Dankeith, in Ayrshire, another, Mr. Fleming, of Barochan, in Renfrewshire, who kept up the ancient sport of falconry. His estate, which came to him through a long line of ancestors, was left by a son to a distant relation. Miss Fergusson lived with Mr. and Mrs. Hunter, and in summer many friends and relatives enjoyed their hospitality at Doonholm. Mrs. Hunter died there, beloved and much regretted, 4th July, 1838. My two brothers and I through their kindness, generally spent the most of our happy holidays there every week and during the vacation. The name is descriptive of the holms or meadow lands through which the Doon's dark, clear stream flows over its rocky, pebbly bed to the sea. course is there overshadowed by trees, and its banks and braes slope upwards to the higher ground on which the house stands. The other neighbouring proprietors were Messieurs Crawford of Doonside, Cathcart, afterwards Lord Alloway, of Blairstone, or Auchendrain; Fergusson of Monkwood; William Fullerton of Skeldon, advocate, who married Miss Whiteside, granddaughter of Dr. Dalrymple. The river has its source in Loch Doon, near to the village of Dalmellington, and to the estate of Craigengillan, to whose owner Burns addressed some verses.


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