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ANECDOTES OF BURNS.
BY MISS SPENCE.
[For the following anecdote of Burns we are indebted to the politeness of Miss Spence, who collected them during a visit to Dumfries, in 1822.] At one of Burns's convivial dinners, he was requested to say the
grace, when he gave the following impromptu :
O Lord, we do thee humbly thank
For that we little merit :
And Will, bring in the spirit. The Misses S. informed me that their house was the last which Burns visited before his death. He was then very ill, and very dejected. The sun shown brightly in at the drawing-room windows where he was seated; its rays fell so ardently upon him as almost to inconvenience him ; the ladies begged him to remove to another chair. “No,' said he, mournfully, ‘the sun will not shine on me long in this world; but I trust it will shine many a day as sweetly on my grave.' The ladies never saw him again.
The mansion of the Misses S- is situated a mile from Dumfries, on a steep elevation, its wooded banks sloping to the verge of the broad pellucid river. The windows command a view of a fine extent of landscape, with the town resting on the plain, its spires and ancient bridges, agreeably sheltered by the green hills of Galloway. Miss Spointed out to me from the window Burns's monument, which is plainly discernible in the distance.
I afterwards visited the churchyard in which the monument stands ; it was designed by Turnerelli, and simply represents the figure of the Scottish bard, on a marble pedestal, resting on a plough, with the genius of Scotland descending to enfold him in her mantle. The design is taken from the following description of the poet, as given by himself, in a letter to one of his correspondents :
• The Genius of my country found me, as the prophetic Bard Elijah did Elisha, at the plough, and threw her inspiring mantle over me. She bid me sing the loves, the joys, the rural scenes, and rural pleasures of my native soil in my native tongue. I tuned my wild artless notes as she desired.'
On the pedestal which supports the figure is simply the word
The monument is neither shaded by cypress nor funereal yews, characteristic of so sacred a spot, but it is gaily decorated with lively flowering shrubs. I, however, gathered a sprig of the Scottish Thistle, which I brought away as a memento of the spot where Burns reposes. On the erection of the monument the remains of the poet were removed from the grave where, for almost twenty years, they had been suffered to decay in cold neglect, ungraced by ' storied urn' or ' monumental bust,” then, though not now, there seemed to be
A tear for all that die,
A mourner o'er the humblest grave, for Mrs. Burns was often seen to steal at early morn, or beneath twilight's soft shade, to pour forth her tears over his humble grave. But since his formerly long-neglected shade has been visited by multitudes of idle and curious strangers, (to such of whom a book is presented by the sexton to inscribe their names), Mrs. Burns has entirely withdrawn herself, nor has ever had the curiosity to visit the public tribute of respect now erected to the memory of her departed husband.
During my stay at Dumfries, I spent two mornings with Mrs. Burns. I had known her some years before, and on leaving my card at her house she was so polite as to come into town on purpose to see me, being at the time on a visit to Mrs. Dunlop, the great patroness and benefactress of Burns. the friend who never deserted him when all the world beside looked coldlý upon him.
Mrs. Burns, though designated by her husband as his . Bonny Jean.' had. no pretensions to beauty even in her youthful days; her figure is short and clumsy ; but there is much shrewdness and sense in her countenance: and her dark eyes beam with intelligence. Mrs. Burns is so accustomed to be visited by strangers that she is neither embarrassed or offended when they call upon her. Her manners are frank, easy, and kind by nature, and she evinces much friendly warmth of heart to those persons with whom she is intimately acquainted.
She readily shewed the young friend who accompanied me the room in which her husband died; but since my former visit to Mrs. Burns I missed the poet's library, which she told me her son had taken with him to India : also a handsome snuff-box, with the picture of Mary Queen of Scots on the lid, and which was presented to Burns by Lady Winifred Constable. Several coloured prints hung round her neat little parlour, illustrating the poem of the Cottar's Saturday Night, supposed to be the venerable parents of the poet. I could not help expressing admiration at the extreme nicety, comfort, and cleanliness of her dwelling, nor avoid complaining of the close confined situation of my lodgings, together with the pettishness of the servants ; I wad na,' she replied, “ gie mine aine wee bit hausel for a' the lodging houses in the closes in Dumfries !'
If Burns could ever inhale health it must have been in his own 'wee bit hausel,' as Mrs. Burns denominated one of the prettiest small dwellings I ever entered, and which exhibited that appearance of extreme cleanliness which we are apt to think exclusively belongs to our English habitations. On my departure she gave me a scrap of her husband's hand-writing, but told me that she had scarcely a relic left.
With regret I bid Mrs. Burns adieu ; there is a genuine simplicity, a sincerity and kindness in her manners, that convinces you that all she does and says spring from the spontaneous dictates of the heart.
The dark weed looks over our desolate home,
SKETCHES OF FEMALE CHARACTER.-No. I.
With green leaves hide his rugged trunk, and spread,
I've drawn some portraitures to prove tis true
SKETCHES OF FEMALE CHARACTER.-No. II.
IF ere you take Mimosa for a 'Friend'
She is good tempered, that we must admit,
so wear my waist :
These are her foibles, and we may esteem
BY THE REVEREND W. L. BOWLES.
The mower sweeps his whistling blade,
When green the meadow grows, The honey-cups and cowslips fade,
All scattered as he goes.
So toiling time, as in despite,
Of youth's delightful hours,
And mows the fairest flowers.
I grieve not for the sweets that fade,
Since he in whom I trust,
And raise me from the dust.