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sixth Chapters of the First, and of the second, seventh, and twelfth Chapters of the Second Wolume. The Illustrations contained in the present volumes are reproduced by the courteous permission of the proprietors of the Graphic, in which journal they accompanied Mr. Williamson's short Memoir already referred to. The Editor takes this opportunity of returning thanks on his own behalf and on that of his coadjutor to several ladies and gentlemen who have lent valuable autograph letters, or given aid in other ways to the undertaking, and who are in some cases more especially mentioned or alluded to in the
course of the work.
RICHARD HERNE SHIEPHERD.
5, ISRAMERTON STIREET, KING's Road, CHELskA. June, 1881.
EccLEFECHAN was once one of the most picpupils, turesque of Scottish lowland hamlets. * ca. . It lies in Annandale, some ten miles y10. over the border from Carlisle, and is shut in on almost all sides by rounded and wooded hills. Numerous rivulets flowing fronu the hill-sides unite into a babbling and shallow burn, which flows impetuously through the hamlet, from end to end, to join Mein Water, before the latter loses itself in the Annan river a quarter of a mile or so down the valley. This shallow stream was once crossed by numberless bridges, and flanked by a double row of beechtrees. But both trees and bridges have now disappeared. Five years ago, in a short-lived WOL. I. - l
* ' ' ' ". LIFE of Thomas CARLYLE. [1705.
lmania for ‘improvement,’ the bridges were removed, and all the upper part of the burn was bricked over. Before this time the beech-trees had been gradually removed, and now two solitary stumps are all that remain of the ancient avenue. Before, however, it parted
with its picturesqueness, Ecclefechan had lost
its importance. The construction of the Caledonian Railway took from it the briskness and profit it derived from being a stopping-place of the London, Carlisle, and Glasgow coaches. Its far-famed cattle-fairs, too, are things of the past, for they have been moved further north, to Lockerbie. The diversion of the turnpike road to higher ground, to avoid the hollow in which Ecclefechan lies, has completed its ruin. To-day the village seems dead; the arrival of a strange pedestrian brings the inhabitants to their doors. In ancient days, a pious Celt named St. Fechan, is said to have chosen this quiet spot to raise a church, and antiquarians derive from Ecclesia Fechanis the present name of the village. Yet, despite its present unimportance, the name of Ecclefechan is written deep into the -annals of Scottish and British literature. A moss-grown dilapidated stone in the tiny kirkyard, bearing the inscription, “Here lyes Robert Peal, who lived in Ecclefechan. ... He died April 4, 1749, aged 57,” marks the resting-place of the ancestor of one of the greatest of England's modern statesmen. Hard by, a more pretentious monument covers the grave of Dr. Arnott, the friend of Napoleon, who returned from the death-bed of his chief at St. Helena to spend his declining years in his native village. But the name of Ecclefechan is linked with greater memories than these. It is identified, curiously i enough, in more ways than one, with Robert Burns. It is the birth-place of Nicol, the school-tyrant of his early years, and the poet himself visited the village in ..., 1795. He was on supervising duties, and arrived at Ecclefechan in the midst of a snow-storm still spoken of for its exceptional severity. The roads were blocked, and the snowed-up poet wrote to his friend Thomson narrating the adventure. He said he had arrived in “this unfortunate, wicked little village " (the amiable Dr. Currie here interjecting, “The poet must have been tipsy indeed to abuse sweet Ecclefechan at this rate ’’), that he had gone forward, but snows of ten feet deep impeded his progress, that he had tried to “gae back the gait I cam’ again,” but found himself shut in by the same insuperable barriers. To add to his misfortunes a fiddler had been “torturing catgut" with excruciating sounds ever since dinner, and Burns Was in a dilemma, “either to get drunk, to forget these miseries; or to hang myself to get rid of them.” Of two evils he chose the less, tand got very drunk, as he confesses, and as the handwriting of the letter abundantly testifies. This incident alone would be enough to confer fame on the little village, which the poet has further celebrated in his song, “The Lass of Ecclefechan.” But the name of another illustrious Scotchman is bound up with this favoured spot of earth. With what interest would Robert Burns have looked upon a humble dwelling at the lower end of the village street, how would his magnificent eyes have lighted up, if he could have known that ten brief months after his visit there would be born under that roof an infant who was destined to become his own most appreciative exponent, and one of the greatest of his countrymen. Tuesday, 4th December 1795," was the day
* In Chap. i. of Thomas Carlyle: a Biography, with Autobiographical Notes,
took published in the Biographical Mag
blunders. azine, June 1877, r.Frederick Martin, the author, astor first favouring us with some
six pages of the unsifted sweepings of village gossip respecting the father and mother and the uncles of Carlyle, gives the date of his birth as “Tuesday, the 5th of November 1795.” The passage is such a wonderful instance of bootian blundering and coufusion