A farm servant to Burns at Mossgiel. When James Grierson recorded a conversation he had with Blane at Glasgow on 15th June 1814, Blane was then driver of the Lord Nelson Coach from Kilmarnock to Cumnock. Grierson's notes of Blane's conversation are not without interest, and are therefore appended, but perhaps savour slightly of 'improved' gossip recollected years later of a man since become famous.
'J.B. sat beside Burns in church on the day when the Incident occurred [sic] which gave occasion to the Poem of the Louse, & was surprised when Burns awakened him, the middle of the same night, & repeated to him all the stanzas, requesting his opinion of them, - this was the most surprising Proofs of the facility with which Burns composed, that came within J.B.'s knowledge
'In the laborious employment of husbandry, the Peculiarities of Burns's [sic] mind were easily discernable while engaged in Thrashing, it was evident that his mind was particularly occupied, from the varied alternations from slow to quick which rendered it dangerous & even impossible for another to Keep time with him but in an hour or two he was quite exhausted & gave in altogether.
'A simple occurrence commented on by Burns in his own commanding way, has never since failed to Impress this persons [sic] mind, in regard to Cruelty to animals. When walking together, J.B. having a whip in his hand gave a slight touch of it at a sparrow, & deprived it of some of its feathers Upon this occasion Burns made so solemn an appeal to his Conscience, upon the unnecessary & wanton barbarity of the action that he has Ever since been Influenced by his admonition to resist similar Temptation [sic] Burns uniformly digested & arranged his Compositions mentally, before he committed them to paper'