Thursday, 16 April 2009

Victorian sculptor, Benjamin Spence Born 1822 - Died 1866

Dear Sir or Madame:

My name is Barbara Behan, and I am a descendant of the Victorian sculptor, Benjamin Spence. (Benjamin's brother was my direct ancestor. This brother eventually emigrated to Canada, and one of his sons was my grandmother's father, settling in Montana.)

I'm interested in learning more about Benjamin Spence's work and life. I understand from online articles from a Liverpool newspaper that three of his sculptures were vandalised in 2005. I wonder if these were repaired?

I'd like any information on them that you have. I did also find, online, a photograph of "Highland Mary" that appeared to have been taked in 2009, but I couldn't verify this date.

Would you mind letting me know if these sculptures were repaired? Also, if you could give me a brief overview of other information you may have on Spence and his work, I'd also appreciate that.

Many thanks to you,

Barbara C. Behan
Missoula, Montana

1 comment:


    The " Castle of Montgomery" referred to in this beautiful effusion was that of Collsfield, near Tarbolton. Mary Campbell lived in that house as dairymaid. Though not a beauty, she possessed a sweet temper and an obliging disposition, while her mental qualifications were of a high order.

    " After a pretty long tract of the most ardent reciprocal attachment, we met, says Burns, by appointment, on the second Sabbath of May, in a sequestrated spot, by the banks of the Ayr, where we spent a day in taking a farewell before she should embark for the West Highlands to arrange matters with her friends for a projected change of life." " This adieu," says an admirer of Burns, " was performed with all those simple and striking ceremonies which rustic sentiment has devised to prolong tender emotions, and to inspire awe.

    The lovers stood on each side of a small purling brook ; they laved their hands in its limped stream, and, holding a Bible
    between them, pronounced their vows to be faithful to each other." At the close of the following autumn Mary crossed the sea to meet " the poet" at Greenock. Soon after getting on shore she was seized with a malignant fever, which carried her off before Burns could arrive to bid her a last farewell.

    The remains of " Highland Mary" repose in the West Churchyard of Greenock.

    Ye banks and braes and streams around
    The Castle o' Montgomery,
    Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
    Your waters never drumlie !
    There simmer first unfolds her robes,
    An' there they longest tarry;
    For there I took the last fareweel
    O' my sweet Highland Mary.

    How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk,
    How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
    As underneath their fragrant shade
    I clasp'd her to my bosom !

    The golden hours, on angel wings,
    Flew o'er me and my deary;
    For dear to me as light and life
    Was my sweet Highland Mary.

    Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
    Our parting was fu' tender;
    An', pledging aft to meet again,
    We tore oursel's asunder;
    But, Oh ! fell Death's untimely frost,
    That nipt my flower sae early !
    Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay
    That wraps my Highland Mary.

    Now cauld and pale, those rosy lips
    I aft ha'e kissed fu' fondly !
    An' closed for aye the sparkling eye
    That looked on me sae kindly ;
    An' mouldering now in silent dust
    The heart that lo'ed me dearly !
    But still within my bosom's core
    Shall live my Highland Mary.