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Oft have I met your social band,
And spent the cheerful, festive night;
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw !
May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
And you, farewell! whose merits claim,
To him, the Bard that's far awa'.1
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 ;
For me I would be mair than proud
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
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,
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.
Fair is the morn in flowery May,
There all her charms she does compile;
Oh, had she been a country maid,
The lily's hue and rose's dye
Bespoke the lass o' Ballochmyle.