IN the spring after Burns died, Thomas Nimmo, a native of Carnwath, having received his discharge from the army in England, was travelling home with a comrade. Passing through Dumfries, they inquired the way to St. Michael’s Churchyard to visit the poet’s grave. Following a footpath through the wilderness of ornaments, which deck death in that famous burying-ground, they looked around for a stone to tell them where he slept. Not finding anything of the sort, they made up to a female in deep mourning, who was sitting on the ground a little farther on.
Nimmo thus addressed her: “Mistress, we are strangers, and would feel obliged if you could show us the grave of Burns.”
Pointing to the narrow mound at her feet, and bursting into tears, she replied –
“That, soldiers, is his grave, and I am his widow.”
The poor fellows felt hurt at having intruded on her in such circumstances, apologised for their abruptness, tendered their simple but heartfelt condolence, and went on their way.
This would have been a good subject for a painter: Jean Armour at the grave of Burns, while yet no monument marked the spot; and it might have been called “Sorrow weeping over genius,” which had been consigned to an early and too premature grave.