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Oft have I met your social band,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw !
May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
The glorious Architect Divine !
Shall be my prayer when far awa’.
And you, farewell! whose merits claim,
When yearly ye assemble a',
1 The person alluded to in the last stanza was Major-General James Montgomery (a younger brother of Hugh Montgomery of Coilsfield), who now enjoyed the dignity of the Worshipful Grand Master in this village lodge, while Robert Burns was Depute Master.
ON A PROCESSION OF THE ST. JAMES'S LODGE.
The St. James's Lodge at this time met in a small stifling back-room connected with the inn of the village a humble cottage-like place of entertainment kept by one Manson. On the approach of St. John's Day, the 24th of June, when a procession of the lodge was contemplated, Burns sent a rhymed note on the subject to his medical friend Mr. Mackenzie, with whom, it may be explained, he had lately had some controversy on the origin of morals.
FRIDAY first's the day appointed
To get a blad o' Johnnie's morals, liberal portion
The Master and the Brotherhood
Would a' be glad to see you ;
If Death, then, wi' skaith, then, hurt
That Saturday you'll fecht him. fight
MOSSGIEL, An. M. 5790.
THE SONS OF OLD KILLIE.
Burns joined on at least one occasion in the festivities of the Kilmarnock Lodge, presided over by his friend William Parker; on which occasion he produced an appropriate song.
YE sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another To sit in that honoured station.
I've little to say, but only to pray,
As praying's the ton of your fashion; A prayer from the Muse you well may excuse, 'Tis seldom her favourite passion.
Ye powers who preside o'er the wind and the tide,
Who marked each element's border;
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim,
Within this dear mansion may wayward Con
Or withered Envy ne'er enter;
May Secrecy round be the mystical bound,
THE BONNIE LASS O' BALLOCHMYLE.
The beautiful estate of Ballochmyle on the Ayr, near Mauchline, had recently been transferred from the Whitefoords to Mr. Claud Alexander, a gentleman well connected in the west of Scotland, who had realized a large fortune as paymaster-general of the East India Company's troops in Bengal. He had lately come to reside at the mansion-house. The steep banks of the river at this place form a scene of natural loveliness which has few matches, and Burns loved to wander there. In an evening of early summer, Miss Wilhelmina Alexander, the sister of the new laird, walking out along the braes after dinner, encountered a plain-looking man in rustic attire, who appeared to be musing, with his shoulder leaning against a tree. According to her own account: "The grounds being forbidden to unauthorized strangers the evening being far advanced, and the encounter very sudden she was startled, but instantly recovered herself, and passed on." During his walk homeward Burns composed a song descriptive of the scene and the meeting.
'Twas even the dewy fields were green, On every blade the pearls hang!1
The Zephyr wantoned round the bean, And bore its fragrant sweets alang; 1 Hang, Scotticism for hung.
In every glen the mavis sang,
All nature listening seemed the while, Except where greenwood echoes rang, Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle.
With careless step I onward strayed,
A maiden fair I chanced to spy.
Her air like Nature's vernal smile, Perfection whispered passing by,
Behold the lass o' Ballochmyle! 1
Fair is the morn in flowery May,
And sweet is night in Autumn mild, When roving through the garden gay,
Or wandering in the lonely wild : But woman, Nature's darling child!
There all her charms she does compile; Even there her other works are foiled By the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.
Oh, had she been a country maid,
And I the happy country swain, Though sheltered in the lowest shed That ever rose on Scotland's plain,
The lily's hue and rose's dye
Bespoke the lass o' Ballochmyle.