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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BI 0 GRAPH I C AL SKETCHES. 131 Glasgow did not enter into the scheme with that alacrity which had been anticipated- the city having previously expended vast sums in deepening the Clyde. A company was no doubt formed, and the canal ultimately cut as far as Johnstone; but, for want of funds, it never went farther. Notwithstanding the lack of that encouragement he had expected, Lord Eglinton continued to prosecute, single-handed, the herculean task undertaken, although at a much slower pace than he could have wished. He left no means untried to keep the work advancing, having not only sold several valuable portions of his estate, but incurred debt to a large extent ; indeed, it is understood that, previous to his death, he had expended on the harbour alone upwards of &70,000, without the satisfaction of having completed what had been so much an object of his solicitude. The Earl died at an advanced age in 1819, after having for many years honourably discharged the duties of Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Ayr, which were somewhat arduous, especially during the three latter years of his life,’ His lordship was created a Baron of Great Britain and Ireland in 1806, by the title of Baron Ardrossan of Ardrossan. He was also a Knight of the order of the Thistle. The character of the late Earl, like that of all other persons who take a decided part in public affairs, has been variously represented. Firmly attached to the Government, and resolute in repelling civil innovation, as well as foreign aggression, his opinions were of necessity not in unison with those whose politics were of a less conservative description. In the army he was known to be a strict disciplinarian ; and, even at the head of his own Fencibles, he sometimes occasioned excitement by the severity of his punishments.’ Apart from these considerations, the Earl was deservedly held in estimation. No man possessed a greater degree of public spirit, or could be more magnificent in his undertakings. In the case of the canal and harbour of Ardrossan, the result proved his lordship to have been too sanguine ; and his estates certainly felt the paralysing effects of such a severe encroachment on his resources ; yet the speculation employed many hands, and fed many families. In time it is to be hoped it will produce a portion of the good anticipated from it. As one of the most steady of the very few resident proprietors of Ayrshire, the Earl of Eglinton had an undoubted claim to respect. Except when called away by his parliamentary and other public duties, he remained constantly at home ; and while he stimulated industry in his own neighbourhood, by his presence and example, he was on all occasions the patron and active promoter of whatever might tend to the improvement and prosperity of the country at large. In seasons of com- So very active and efficient indeed were his lordship’s services in that capacity, that he obtained the approbation and applause of all parties. In the Justiciary Hall of the County Buildings, Ayr, there is a painting of the Earl, in the costume of the West Lowland Fencibles, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn, from the original picture in Eglinton Castle. Thii portrait was done by subscription, aud placed in the Hall as a tribute of respect to his lordship’s memory. It ought to be stated, in vindication of the Earl, that he had very bad materials to deal with. As every one that offered %-as enlisted in the Fencible regiments, they were consequently greatly mixed, and almost proverbial for the many bad characters to be found in the ranks.
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132 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. mercial stagnation his lordship was ever ready to enter into any scheme of relief; and to the necessitcus generally he was a constant friend. In domestic life he displayed much of the spirit and manners of the ancient baron. He was always accessible to his numerous tenantry ; and notwithstanding a certain austerity of manner, lived on terms of familiarity with those around him.’ He was much devoted to niusic as an evening amusement-performed on the violin with considerable skill-and composed the popular tunes called “ Lady Montgomerie’s Reel,” and “ Ayrshire Lasses,” besides several other admired airs-a selection of which was recently arranged for the pianoforte, and published by Mr. Although for several years a member of the House of Commons, and deeply interested in the political questions of the day, the Earl was never distinguished for his oratory. Better qualified for the camp or for the field, he wisely refrained from attempting to contend in the arena of debate ; but in all practical matters his assistance was equally ready and efficient. The following lines by Burns are truly descriptive of his character.:- Turnbull of alas’“, OW. “ Thee, sodger Hugh,2 my watchman stented, If bardies ere are represented : I ken, if that your sword were wanted, Ye’d lend your hand ; But when there’s aught to say anent it, Ye’re at a stand.3 The Earl married Eleanore, fourth daughter of Robert Hamilton, Esq. of Eourtreehill, in the county of Ayr, and sister to Jean Countess of Crawford and Lindsay ; and had by her two sons and two daughters. The eldest, Archibald Lord Montgomerie, died while abroad for his health in 1814.‘ He was Major-General, and a gallant officer; much esteemed and Among the privileged characters who used to frequent the Castle, Daft WiZZ Speir, well known in that quarter, was the most regular. On his way from the kitchen one day after dinner, where he had heeu plentifully supplied, Will wa.9 met by his lordship, who inquired where he had been. “Ou, ay,” replied Will, in the act of polishing a pretty roughish bone, “plenty 0’ freen’s whan a body has ocht. Yesterday, ye ne’er looked the road I was on.” Although Will knew that nothing provoked the Earl so much as passing through his policies, yet he generally took the nearest way, independent of all ohstructions. In the act of crossing a fence one day, he was discovered by his lordship, who called out-“Come back, sir, that’s not the road.” “DO ye ken,” said Will, “ whaur I’m gaun ? ” “ Wee1 how the dei1 do ye ken whether this be the road or no 2” (The Earl was particularly careful about his policies, and frequently prosecuted offenders with much severity.) “ No,” replied the Earl. * He was at that time Major Montgomerie. These lines, although omitted in the “Earnest Cry and Prayer,” are given in Cunninghame’s edition of Burns, from the poet’s MSS. Lord Montgomerie married Lady Mary Montgomerie, eldest daughter of Archibald, the eleventh Earl of Eglinton, by whom he had two aons. The eldest, a boy of great promise, died when about eix years of age. He was much caressed by his grandfather, with whom he resided ; and who caused an elegant column of white marble to be erected to his memory in a sequestered spot among the woods, near Eglinton Castle. The second son, Archibald, born in 1812, succeeded to the title, During his minority it is understood the estate WBS relieved of many of the burdens
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