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Carron his heart still turned. Into the life of the metropolis of the West he cast himself with no little enthusiasm. For meetings of all sorts he was greatly sought after, and in a few years he began to feel himself a part of the city's life. He was in favour of a hymnal for his Church, and deeply lamented the lowering tendencies of the discussion of that subject in the Free Assembly. He was also in favour of union with the United Presbyterians. It is idle to speculate on the literary and theological harvests Professor Burns might have reaped after the back of his college work had been fairly broken. In March, 1872, he had a severe attack of hemorrhage, from which he never recovered. His illness was painful and distressing, and he knew his end had come. Having loved the service of the Lord, it was probably a drop of bitterness in his cup, that some more of that work, which he could have done so well, he was not permitted to perform. But he had lived an uncomplaining life, and he died an uncomplaining death. When the cloud was darkening, his friend Dr. Blaikie asked him if he felt himself sustained by the comforts of the Gospel. He answered, with his old rare truthfulness, "I am too weak to feel much—but nothing to the contrary." He wished his friend to pray for two things, "an abundant entrance," and " for a blessing on those I leave behind." And so his gentle, lovable spirit passed. And having fought the good fight of faith, he laid hold on eternal life.
A Successful Family—The Bairds—Sagacity and Enterprise— Their Works — Connection with Kilsyth—Coke Making— Members of Firm in i860—Tradition—History—Alex. Baird of Kirkwood—Alex. Baird of Woodhead—An Anecdote—First Mining Ventures—Merryston—Gartsherrie—"William Baird & Co."—List of Mineral Estates—Varied Family GiftsWilliam Baird—M.P.—Chairman of Caledonian Railway— Deputy Governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal—John Baird of Woodhead—Alex. Baird of Urie—James Baird—Townhead Church—Portrait—Hot Air Blast—Patent Rights Lawsuit—Auchmedden Romance—Deep Religious Convictions— Robert, Douglas, and George Baird—Alex. Whitelaw—His Business Capacity—Isaac Disraeli—A Baconian Maxim Refuted—Present Members of Firm.
The Bairds are the autocrats of our Scottish commercial prosperity. They have, probably more than any other Scottish family, participated in the enormous industrial development of the last fifty years of the national life. But if they have greatly succeeded they have greatly deserved to succeed. Bacon says the ways to great fortune are often foul. But it has not been so with the Bairds. The firm of William Baird & Company is a' household word in the west of Scotland, and it is now and has always been regarded as a very embodiment of integrity and uprightness. The various members have been held in estimation as much for their probity and high sense of honourable dealing as for their business sagacity and enterprise. The history of the family is as.
notable a witness to the triumph of moral rectitude as to the success which attends intellectual intrepidity and astuteness. Immersed in the affairs of the world, they have never shut their ears to the demands of religion. Their giving has been princely; and no better examples could be found of those who have scattered and yet have
increased. If they have come to have the privileges of wealth, they have certainly realised in the fullest measure its grave responsibilities.
The Bairds are the largest employers of labour in Scotland, and it is somewhat difficult to realise the full extent of their operations and engagements. Their business not only extends throughout the west of Scotland, they have also extensive mining interests in England and Spain. They both lease and own extensive coalfields. They have 36 bjast furnaces, capable of producing 1200 tons of iron per day. They are also extensive manufacturers of chemicals, of briquettes, and of coke. Altogether they employ about 10,000 men and boys; and, from the beginning of the firm until now, so perfect is the book-keeping system which they have instituted, that every workman can have his wages at call, and every transaction in the most remote departments be immediately brought into view. It is at once apparent that the growth of such a firm, so extensive in its ramifications, and so perfect in its management, is a credit to Scotland, and may well claim the attention both of the philosopher and political economist.
With the parish of Kilsyth the Bairds are very closely identified. Coal had been known to exist from Reforma- \ tion times, but until they entered the field its enormous and valuable resources lay to a large extent dormant. . Their capital and energy have made Kilsyth largely , what it is. If it had been possible for them to have | spoiled the natural beauty of its configuration they must have done so long ago. Wherever one turns one's eyes one sees those vast hills, than which there could be no more potent witness of the enormous activity of the armies of coal and ironstone miners far down in the dark bowels of the earth. They have covered the parish with a net-! work of railways. All the day their locomotives are seen scudding along the lines; all the livelong night is' heard the sobbing of their engines at the numerous pits. There are no paths so sequestered where you do not meet groups of men, for the work goes on night and day
all the year round without intermission. At night the deep oranges and reds and blues of the hearths, where the ironstone is calcined, lend to the landscape a lurid and somewhat fearful appearance. The Kilsyth coal is largely used for the manufacture of coke. It is first broken by concentric wheels; then, in a form resembling rough quarry powder, it is poured into fire-brick ovens, where it undergoes the process of conversion. The grinding mill and ovens at Kilsyth cover several acres of ground, and the coke-works themselves form a very valuable local industry. Everything to which the Bairds set their hands bears the stamp of progress and enlightenment. In every department they stand in line with the scientific discoveries of the day. In the past year they have utilised the enormous waste of heat which formerly took place in the coke ovens. With the generated gas they now heat the boilers of one of their most important pits closely adjoining. But, notwithstanding all this mining activity, the country is neither black nor bleak. The rainfall is more than usually abundant, and the parish preserves all the year round an appearance singularly fresh and green.
The Bairds first got a footing in Kilsyth in i860, when they took a thirty years' lease of Currymire. The firm then consisted of the following members :—William Baird, Esq., of Elie; James Baird, Esq., of Cambusdoon and Auchmedden; George Baird, Esq., of Strichen; Alexander Whitelaw, Gartsherrie House; and David I Wallace, residing at Glasgow, all ironmasters, and carrying on business at Gartsherrie, in the parish of Old Monkland. In 1869 the firm entered on the lease of , the Haugh, and the members were the same, with the exception that William Baird of Elie having died, William Weir, Crookedholm, was now assumed into partnership.
The history of the Bairds is to be found in the estate