PROBABLY neither knew on this occasion who the other was, but their acquaintance was not to stop there.
We are enabled (says a writer in Chambers’s Journal) to continue its history by John Blane, who was at this time Burns’s plough-boy and bed-fellow. there was a singing-school at Mauchline, which Blane attended. Jean Armour was also a pupil, and he soon became aware of her superior natural gifts as a vocalist. One night there was a “rocking” at Mossgiel, where a lad named Ralph Sillar sang a number of songs in what was considered rather good style.
When Burns and Blane had retired to their sleeping place in the stable-loft, the former asked the latter what he thought of Sillar’s singing, to which Blane answered that the lad thought so much of it himself, and had so many airs about it, that there was no occasion for others expressing a favourable opinion – yet, he added, “I would not give Jean Armour for a score of him.”
“You are always talking of this Jean Armour,” said Burns, “I wish you could contrive to bring me to see her.”
Blane readily consented to do so; and next evening, after the plough was loosed, the two proceeded to Mauchline for that purpose. Burns went into a public-house, and Blane went into the singing-school, which chanced to be kept on the floor above. When the school was dismissing, Blane asked Jean Armour if she would come to see Robert Burns, who was below and anxious to speak to her. Having heard of his poetical talents, she said she would like much to see him, but was afraid to go without a female companion. This difficulty being overcome by the frankness of a Miss Morton – the Miss Morton of the six Mauchline Belles – Jean went down to the room where Burns was sitting, and from that time her fate was fixed.