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Ramble Round Kilmarnock
Part 4


At five o’clock a public dinner took place in the George Hotel in connection with the demonstration. About 150 gentlemen sat down to an excellent repast. Provost Sturrock presided, supported on the right by Mr. Charles Gairdner, Mr. John Spiers, Provost Steele, Ayr; Mr. A. Maclae law-agent of the Kay trustees; Mr. Henry Leck of Hollybush; Bailies Craig and Wilson, Kilmarnock; Mr. Comyn Macgregor, Paisley; and Bailie Wilson, Glagow; and on the left by Sir James Fergusson, Bart., Mr. R.W. Cochran-Patrick, Mr. Robert Wyllie, Provincial Grand Secretary of Freemasons; the Rev. Mr. Inglis, Kilmaurs, chapain; Mr. Robert Burns Begg, grand-newphew of the bard; Mr. A.V. Begg, great-grand-nephew; Bailie Cuthbertson, and Mr. Campbell, Greenock, a relative of Highland Mary. The duties of croupier were discharged by Bailie Baird, who was supported on the right by Mr. A. Turnbull, the Rev. J. B. Hamilton, Messrs James Rose, Archibald M’Kay, and W. G. Stevenson; Councillor A. Douglas, the Rev. Dr. Charles Rogers, and the Rev. Wm Howie Wyllie; and on the left by Dr. M’Alister, Councillor of M’Culloch, Mr. D.W. Stevenson; Captain Anderson, Galston; Lieut. H.S. Dunn; and Mr. William Scott Douglas, Edinburgh.

The Rev. Mr. Inglis asked the blessing, and the Rev.Robert Kerr, of Iowa, U.S., returned thanks

The usual loyal toasts having been given from the chair, THE CROUPIER, in proposing, "The Army, Navy and Reserve Forces," said--For some years past, during the piping times of peace, we have been accustomed to drink this toast as if British arms were quite invincible; but recent events in Africa have proved to us that the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Our defeat at Isandula has since been partially wiped out, and there is no doubt that very soon we shall hear of the complete subjugation of the Zulus. This appears to be a mere matter of time. It is to be hoped, however, that in future our Government-- whether it may be Whig or Tory--will exhaust every possible means of settling disputes before engaging in a war of this kind, where there is everything to lose and nothing to gain. It is sad to think how many brave soldiers--the gallant young Prince Napoleon among the number--have lost their lives in this miserable Zulu war. (Applause.) Although the ships of our navy are no longer composed of "hearts of oak," the hearts of our jolly tars are the same stern stuff as of your when "Blake and mighty Nelson" led  them on. We are assured that our navy never was in a more efficient state than at the present time. Our reserve forces are also in a most satisfactory condition. It surely says much for the loyal spirit of the nation that we have an army of upwards of two hundred thousand volunteers, citizen soldiers thoroughly drilled, equipped, and ready to fight in defence of our Queen and our country, should invasion ever be attempted. I ask you then, gentlemen, to drink to "The Army, Navy, and Reserve Forces," and to couple with the toast the health of Captain Sturrock. (Applause.)


The CHAIRMAN, in proposing "The Health of Colonel Alexander, M.P., said: --No man perhaps could have been more appropriately selected to perform the unveiling ceremony to-day than Colonel Alexander, who has come from London, at very great inconvenience to himself, in compliance with our invitation. His family have long been the owners of the lands of Mossgiel, which were farmed by Burns, and while the poet resided there they took a warm interest in his welfare. The Colonel himself has for a long time represented the southern division of the county, and performs his duties in a most satisfactory way, and I think we are under special obligations to him for the manner in which he has discharged his duties to-day. I ask you to give with all the honours "The Health of Colonel Alexander."

The proposal was very cordially responded to.

Councillor ARMOUR, in proposing "The Kay Trustees." said:--The toast which I have the honour to propose will, I am confident, receive that merited approbation worthy of this important occasion. In 1866 the late Alexander Kay of Glasgow bequeathed through his Trustees the munificent sum of £10,000 to purchase land and lay out a Public Park for the use of the inhabitants of his native town, Kilmarnock. Although 13 years have elapsed since then, no loss has been sustained. While we of Kilmarnock were fretting and waiting, the trustees--gentlemen worthy of the trust reposed in them--were conferring and consulting, and the £10,000 was accumulating. And now we are virtually in possession of the Kay Park. Hoping that the community will avail themselves of the privileges conferred upon them this day, and that in after years, as the 9th August comes round, they will dedicate a sentiment in memory of the donor and his trustees, I have much pleasure in proposing "The Kay Trustees," couple with Mr. Charles Gairdner. (Applause)

Mr. CHARLES GAIRDNER, in replying, said--"The Kay Trustees would indeed be very hard to please if not satisfied with the results of their labours as manifested to-day. Our administration has lasted for a much longer time than we at first expected, but it was of no fault of ours, and it has not been without some fruit, for through the accumulation that took place in the funds by reason of the enforced delay in the purchase of land, we have been able to purchase a considerably larger extent of land than otherwise we could have done, or indeed was intended or expected by the testator. We have therefore something to congratulate ourselves upon even in respect of the delay; but if any one was so very rigid as to found a grievance on that, I think the result to-day--the completion of our labours by the transference of the park to the permanent trustees, the scene that we witnessed, the beauty in the weather, and the admirable manner in which everything seemed to go on--owing, I have no doubt, to the careful arrangements that were made before-hand--would satisfy even the most particular. And I am sure we are under obligations to the Provost and all those gentlemen in Kilmarnock who have aided in the carrying out of these arrangement. I return thanks with none the less sincerity because I confess that I am not a very enthusiastic admirer of that greatly-revered individual, the "pious founder," whose benefactions often originate in vanity, and sometimes in course of generations tend to the disadvantage instead of the advantage of those whom they were intended to benefit. In England in particular, many of those mortifications, as they are expressly called, have turned out very unfortunately. But in this case the founder has shown great prudence in what he has done. With regard to the schools he has founded, I think that even after what has been done of late years to bring the means of education within the reach of even the lowest stratum of society, these schools have conferred a great boon on the community, while in regard to this Park, it is impossible that it can have any other influence than one beneficial to all concerned. (Applause.) I think that in every respect, therefore, the arrangements of the trust and the manner in which they have received their completion to-day, give us cause of congratulation. I am sorry to say that my friend Mr. Spiers is the only member of the trust present with me at this table, except our law agent Mr. Maclae, to whom we are greatly indebted for his services. I am sorry that none of the other trustees were able to remain to hear your good wishes and thanks, but we shall repeat to them what you have said to us, and I have no doubt that they will join with me in tendering you our cordial thanks. (Applause.)

Ex-Bailie WILSON, Glasgow, in proposing "The Burns Monument Committee," said that the 9th August, 1879, was a red-letter day in the history of the county of Ayr, and that everything connected with the unveiling of the statue had been greatly successful. There was only one cloud, namely, the domestic calamity which had befallen their friend, Mr. James M’Kie, whom, he was sure, they all wished a happy issue out of his troubles. He hoped the day was not distant when there would be a bust of Burns in Westminster Abbey. This would have been an accomplished fact had it not been for the commercial disasters which had come upon the country. He knew that such an honour to the memory of the immortal bard was favoured not only by Dean Stanley, but he was sure would have the sympathy of the Queen herself; for they all knew that Her Majesty had taken great delight in hearing Burn’s poems read by their noble, broad-chested countryman, Dr. M’Leod. He hoped, when the time came for the people of Scotland to give their shillings for such a bust, Kilmarnock would not be behind in doing honour to the poet Burns. (Applause.) Having had something to do with the Burns monument in Glasgow, he knew from experience that the committee could have no sinecure in getting up the monument so successfully inaugurated that day in Kilmarnock, and while those present were there to applaud and give their countenance to those wondrously-success proceedings, no one except the members of the committee themselves could have a proper idea of the immense labour they had undergone during the last twelve months. But everything had turned out well, and they had now in Kilmarnock, he ventured to say, one of the most magnificent monuments in Scotland erected for the poet Burns or for any other poet that ever existed. The monument here, and the statue within the monument, were a credit to all concerned, and he believed thee was no county but the county of Ayr which could have produced such a tribute to the memory of Burns. (Applause.)

Mr. TURNBULL, with whose name, as convener of the committee, the toast was coupled, replied. In the course of his remarks he said:--I do not claim, nor does any member of committee claim, that we were appointed on account of any special fitness for the duties we have had to discharge. We were appointed, I dare say, like a great many other committees, somewhat accidentally, but I venture to say that we have endeavoured to carry out our duties in a way which I hope, after to-day’s proceedings, has merited the approval of those who appointed us. (Applause.) I think it would be altogether out of place to refer to the services that individual members of the committee have rendered. All having worked so enthusiastically it would be invidious to particularise. At the same time I cannot but allude to the circumstances in which our friend Mr. M’Kie is unfortunately placed, and in doing so I can only say how heartily I endorse the very kind and suitable remarks made use of by Colonel Alexander and Bailie Wilson is expressing their sympathy with Mr. M’Kie in his present affliction. In conjunction with him, as joint secretary, Mr. Rose has had a large amount of work to do, and he has done it in that obliging, unassuming way characteristic of the man (Applause.) On behalf of the committee I have to thank you very kindly for this recognition of our services. The success which has attended the whole movement is the best possible reward that the Burns Monument Committee could have had for the work they have done. (Applause.)

Bailie CUTHBERTSON proposed the next toast. He said-- The toast put into my hands, which I have now the honour and pleasure of proposing, is one that only requires to be mentioned to commend itself to the warmest reception of this company. It is: "Mrs. Crooks, the donor of the Fountain." (Applause.) That fountain, sir, is a magnificent gift; like the Monument and the Park, itself "a thing of beauty," and sure to be a source of joy and admiration to many succeeding generations. Of the numerous handsome donations for the people’s enjoyment which have lately fallen to our lot in Kilmarnock, this gift from Mrs. Crooks may well be ranked among the foremost. (Applause.) That lady, sir, has always delighted in deeds of benevolence and generosity. Often has she made the heart of the widow and of the fatherless to rejoice, yet she is one of those whose left hand knoweth not what the right hand doeth. In her case truly charity has been twice blessed, for she was ever a most cheerful giver. There is, I think, something particularly graceful and befitting in this special act of her liberality towards the evening of a useful and an honoured life, as she was long identified with those taking the most active part in our public affairs, and the deepest interest in the welfare of Kilmarnock, her father having been Provost Strang and her husband Bailie Crooks, father of ex-Provost Crooks, whose presence among us to-day, with our other surviving ex-Provost, Mr. Donald, had their health permitted, would have been a gratification to us all. (Applause.) That Fountain, sir, will ever be looked upon as a monument of Mrs. Crook’s kindness, and a memorial of the families which she represents. Allow me now, gentlemen, to ask you to pledge a bumper in honour of that lady, "Mrs. Crooks, the donor of the Fountain." (Applause.)

Mr. THOMAS STEWART said--I beg to thank you, Bailie Cuthbertson, for the very kind and gracious way in which you have proposed Mrs. Crook’s health, and you, gentlemen, for the very warm manner in which you have responded to the toast. If Mrs. Crooks could to-day have seen the many happy faces round the Fountain, and have witnessed its usefulness so well tested, she would have been more than repaid for her kind gift. Bailie Wilson, of Glasgow, in his glowing description of Kilmarnock, has placed it as one of the first cities in Scotland. Though exactly a city, we have a few adornments now which will make it more like other towns. As "the mother" in the "Cottar’s Saturday Night" says she is well pleased to see her bairns "respecket like the lave," I am sure Mrs. Crooks will be well pleased that Auld Killie can now take her place amongst her neighbours, and that her gift will add to it one other attraction. (Applause.)

PROVOST STEELE, Ayr, in giving "The Masonic Fraternity and the Provincial Grand Master, Mr. Cochran-Patrick," said they were all aware how much they were indebted to the brethren of the mystic tie for adding so much to the eclat of such public occasions. Whenever anything of national interest came to the front they could calculate on their Masonic brethren coming, though at great inconvenience and from a long distance, to take part in it. The spectacle that day had been very much improved by their presence, and to Mr. Cochran-Patrick they were much indebted for the graceful and admirable manner in which he had performed his duties. (Applause.) Provost Steele went on to say that if he might be allowed to make a little digression, he would offer his congratulations to Provost Sturrock and the other gentlemen associated with him on the great success which had attended the day’s proceedings. It had been specially gratifying to witness the excellent arrangement and complete results--results which would go far to redound to the credit of Kilmarnock and even to the honour of Scotland. It witnessing the magnificent spectacle of the day, he could not help feeling that it was like a repentant nation trying to make some amends for past neglect. He was sure the people of Kilmarnock, and specially the members of the Burns Monument Committee, would feel proud of the share they had taken in trying to redeem the nation from the stigma arising from its neglect of the poet; and what had been so well done by the people of Kilmarnock would stimulate others to go and to likewise. (Applause.)

Mr. COCHRAN-PATRICK, replying, said he was sure that there were few occasions on which the Masonic fraternity had experienced greater pleasure than on the present one. The Province of Ayshire was the oldest province in Scotland; it was also the largest, and the object of their meeting on this occasion was to honour the memory of one who himself had been an honoured member of the Masonic fraternity. (Applause.) It must have been a great gratification to Provost Sturrock and the whole community that such an important movement, commenced under some difficulites, had that day been consummated with a success--both in respect of the numbers present and the absence of accidents --almost unexampled in the history of public demonstrations. (Applause.) A great deal of the credit was due to the admirable arrangements made before-hand. He could only say in conclusion, on behalf of the Masonic fraternity, that if the community should desire to make the park a place where all the heroes of Scotland would be represented in bronze or marble, the Masonic body would be as ready as before to turn out and lend their cordial assistance. (Laughter and applause.)

Mr. P. COMYN MACGREGOR, in a humorous speech, gave "The Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council of Kilmarnock" coupled with the health of Bailie Craig, who in suitable terms replied. In the unavoidable absence of Mr. M’Kie, Mr. TURBULL gave "The Strangers." He said they had that day had many strangers present who were eminent alike in arms, science, art, and literature. Colonel Alexander occupied an honorable position in connection with the army, and they were happy to see now present one who unfortunately had not arrived in time to take that part in the Masonic ceremony which his position in the Mother Lodge required--a gentleman who not only in the army, but also in the governorship of an important colony had done good service to the country. (Applause.) In connection with  science they had their old friend, a Kilmarnock man, Mr. James Thomson, who was eminent as a geologist. In art they had Mr. W.G. Stevenson, and his brother Mr. D.W. Stevenson--no less eminent than himself as a sculptor. In literature they had Dr. Rogers, whose name was one to conjure with; the Rev. Mr. Wyllie, who had acted as adjudicator in the competition of poems; the Rev. Mr. Kerr, himself no mean poet, who had come all the way from America; and Mr. Scott-Douglas, whose name was not unknown in Kilmarnock--a gentleman who, perhaps next to Mr. M’Kie, was one of the most enthusiastic admirers of Burns to be found in broad Scotland, and who, after editing two editions of the poet’s works for Mr. M’Kie, was now superintending the edition published by Mr. Paterson, Edinburgh. He also observed present Mr. Gregory Thomson, from New York. He had the consent of Mr. Douglas, whose name was coupled with this toast, to ask Sir James Fergusson also to say a few words in reply. (Applause.)

Mr. SCOTT-DOUGLAS said he would be much pleased if Sir James would reply to the toast, as the speech he had prepared was rendered unsuitable by the absence of Mr. M’Kie.

SIR JAMES FERGUSSON, who was received with domonstrative cheering, said:--I feel somewhat in the position of a young clergyman who is called at short notice to take the place of a senior brother who has lost his sermon. (Laughter.) My friend has a speech in his pocket which he says is not applicable. I am called to evolve one out of my inner consciousness, having none in my pocket at all. (Laughter) But I am at no loss to return thanks for such a hearty welcome as we strangers have had. I deeply regret that I was not present here in time to take my place in the Mother Lodge, or make anything like a public appearance at the most interesting ceremony of this day. But, gentlemen, having tried for many years to be in two places at once I have given it up and now only endeavour to be in one place as soon as possible after another. (Laughter.) I was not able to be here to-day till after three o’clock, and the interest in the proceeding was so great that I found it impossible to get within sixty yards of the platform; but my position enabled me to be a most interested spectator of the remarkable enthusiasm which attended the inauguration of your beautiful monument, as I stood in the serried ranks of citizens and strangers who had come together for a common purpose. There was no room to move, and hardly room to breathe, but I can testify to the excellent conduct which disintuited that vast multitude--the good humour which prevailed, and the rapt attention with which they listened. I heard every word of that admirable address which fell from the lips of Colonel Alexander--(applause)--and address, I make bold to say, unsurpassed for its eloquence and for the magnificent voice with which it was delivered. (Renewed applause.) It was indeed a treat, and it was worthy of the great occasion. It was indeed a privilege to be present among so many thousands to witness a monument, which does so much honour to our town, inaugurated with such disintuited success. I am sure it will be the object of many visits--perhaps almost as many as the Burns Monument at Ayr. (Applause.) Some speakers have said this evening that we are wiping away a reproach in giving tardy recognition to the merits of our great poet. I cannot say that in my own generation we have had much to reproach ourselves with in that particular, for I remember well the magnificent way in which the centenary of the poet’s birth was celebrated in this county when I had the honour to preside at the great demonstration at Ayr. (Applause.) But I have no doubt that the great example which has been set by Kilmarnock will not be lost. I am proud indeed to have been prenock will not be lost. I am proud indeed to have been present during any part of these interesting proceedings. I thank you, gentlemen, for your most affable reception of the strangers and myself, and it will always give me pleasure to be among you when I receive such a kind invitation as was given me in connection with the demonstration of to-day. (Applause.)

Mr. SCOTT-DOUGLAS said that some six or eight weeks ago the committee had written to him asking him to meet them in Edinburgh and along with them examine the statue in the sculptor’s studio. He was delighted with it, and all the more so because it represented Burns exactly at the time of life when his face and figure were familiar in the streets of Kilmarnock. It was a credit to the sculptor, and presented the most magnificent idea of the poet that could have been given. (Applause.)

Mr. ROSE, in proposing "The Sculptor of the Statue," said:--We have this day been engaged in adding our stone to the cairn which has arisen "The wide world o’er" to the memory of Scotland’s national bard, the brightest genius that ever shone amongst her gifted sons. Kilmarnock, though tardily, has shown how deeply it has appreciated the intimate connection that existed between it and Robert Burns. In fact, we have said,

"We gift this marble monument
To thy fulfill’d renown,
A nobler heirship than the thrones
To princes handed down."

(Applause.) The genius of Poetry may be said to have a twin sister whose name is Sculpture. The one gives expression to the divine thoughts within in "words that burn," the other carves the "stone" into the living, breathing representations of the same imperishable thoughts. It was meet therefore that we should call to our aid the possessor of the sister genius, while we sought to erect a monument to the possessor of the genius of poetry. Most nobly has that help been rendered, as the assembled thousands to-day have witness and testified. The statue, which enriches and completes our monument, bears on it and about it the marks of the "hand of a master," and the cunning skill which is the true outcome of the spirit within. (Applause.) In the conception, execution, and completion, the sculptor has shown that he understood the nature of his work, and had the power to carry it to a faithful finish. In the statue this day unveiled we truly see that man and the poet. It is worthy of mention that the popular opinion at once, in the model competition, fixed on the work of our artist as the best; that that opinion never varied; that the verdict then given was confirmed by the full-sized model, and finally set at rest by the sight of the finished statue. The work itself has now become public property, and I think I may safely say that the decision of the Kilmarnock public and the Monument committee will be fully and heartily endorsed by all who see it. (Applause.) The wisdom of the course of open competition has in our case been fully justified; a young and talented artist has been brought into notice who might otherwise have been less widely known; the Kilmarnock Burns Monument has been enriched by a work of genius and made perfect in itself. It is true, as Eliza Cook says--

"Till the good and beautiful utterly perish,
Oh! bonnie, sweet Robin is nae dead and gone."

It is equally true that so long the Kilmarnock Burns Statue remains, and may that be years upon years, so long will the person and memory of the poet remain visible to the eye and be enshrined I the hearts of the folk of "Auld Killie" and the people of Scotland. Gentlemen, I give you the health of the sculptor, Mr. W.G. Stevenson, and may his Kilmarnock commission be the forerunner of numberless others. (Applause.)

Mr. W.G. STEVENSON, in replying, said--Accept my sincere thanks for the kindly sentiment to which you have just so heartily responded. With regard to Mr. Rose’s flattering estimate of my work, I can assure you that from the first sketch till the finished marble it has been to me a labour of love. I would express the hope that in future, when your enthusiasm has cooled down, you will find the figure to please you as well as it does now, and that future generations may have the same opinion. (Applause.) I can assure the subscribers to the monument fund that the committee worked very earnestly and gave a thorough supervision to every- thing that came before them. (Applause.)

Dr. M’ALISTER proposed the next toast--"The Architect of the monument, Mr. R.S. Ingram." He said:--My connection with to-days proceeding was of such a nature as entirely to deprive me of the pleasure of hearing any of the eloquent addresses which were delivered at the monument, and therefore any hope of inspiration from that source is totally defeated; but it seems to me an easy graduation to pass from the sculptor of the beautiful and life-like statue of Burns to the architect of the temple in which the representation of the poet now stands. Having fervently expressed our admiration of the exquisite beauty of the gem, it is natural that we should turn our attention to the setting, and I am satisfied all will agree that the monument we have this day inaugurated is an edifice of unwonted beauty and grandeur. (Applause.) Built in the Mosaic Scottish baronial style with the details of French Gothic, we have a structure that reflects the greatest possible credit, not only on the ability and artistic power of the architect, Mr. R.S. Ingram, but on all concerned in the erection of the building. As a monument to the memory of Burns, it is unsurpassed--I might almost venture to say unequalled. (Applause.) I am exceedingly sorry that recent family bereavements have deprived us of the presence of Mr. Robert Ingram or any of the members of the firm, yet I am sure all present will join me in wishing that health and prosperity may attend their future progress. We have only to look around us for monuments of their ability. Whether we look at the beautiful church at Hurlford, the Grange Free Church, the Exchange Buildings, Mr. Finnie’s offices, or the Opera Buildings, we see works of great enterprise and architectual skill so happily carried out till that crowning glory amongst the public buildings of Kilmarnock, the monument we have to-day inaugurated. (Applause.)

In the absence of Mr. INGRAM,

Mr. J.G. HAMILTON returned thank on behalf of that gentleman.

Bailie WILSON, in proposing "The Builder of the Monument, Mr. Calerwood," said that gentleman was one of the most enterprising young men in Kilmarnock. Hard-working and industrious, he was one of the right sort to get on in the world, and he had raised some very fine structures, chief amongst which was the Burns Monument.

Mr. CALDERWOOD , in acknowledging the compliment, remarked that he had given to the building as much of his time and as much of his money as he could spare--(laughter) --and expressed his indebtedness to his foreman, Mr. Brown, and the carver, Mr. Robertson.

The CHAIRMAN, in proposing the "Health of Mr. M’Kie and Mr. Rose, the joint secretaries," remarked that while credit was due to the committee as a whole, if it had not been for these two gentlemen and Mr. Calderwood that monument would not have been built. He did not know how they could adequately thank Messrs M’Kie and Rose for all the trouble they had taken, which certainly had been enormous. (Applause.)

Mr. HUGH SHAW then proposed "The Chairman," and ex-Bailie MITCHELL gave "The Croupier," referring to the fact that Bailie Baird had been the prime mover in the undertaking for the erection of the Monument.

The proceedings were being brought to a close with "Auld Langsyne," when

Mr. JAMES WILSON called attention to the omission of an important toast, that of "The Clergy," which he begged to propose, coupled with the name of the Rev. Mr. Inglis, who had so worthily performed an important part in the Masonic ceremony of the day.

The toast having been duly honoured,

The Rev. Mr. INGLIS replied, and expressed the great pleasure which it had given him to take part in the proceedings. Referring to the Masonic body, he remarked that while, as in every class, there might be some masons who did not always walk on the perpendicular and act on the square, the fraternity were distinguished for the orderliness of their proceedings and the respect they paid to religion, as was shown by the fact that every lodge had it chaplin. Upon Burns he passed a glowing eulogium, remarking that his faults were not to be wondered at--it was rather surprising that they were not greater, considering the circumstances in which he was placed--and the service rendered by the poet in denouncing hypocrisy was in harmony with the work of the clergy, which was to tear the mask from hypocrisy of every kind. He hoped that on such occasions as this in  future they would find not one only, but many clergymen present. He congratulated all concerned on the great success of the proceedings of the day, and contended that as a clergyman he was doing a right and proper thing in being say--to give the meeting his countenance. (Applause.)

The proceedings then terminated with "Auld Langsyne."

During the events the admirable singing of a number of part songs by a quartette party, consisting of Messrs W.H. Dixon, Joseph Wilson, David Harvey, and Robert Paterson, added greatly to the pleasure of the company.


We give below the poem of Mr. Anderson, the "Railway Surfaceman," which was awarded the first place in the competition for the medal, but which, on account of its length, was disqualified by the Committee. As already stated, the Committee presented a special medal to Mr. Anderson in recognition of the high merits of his poem.

Ho! stand bre-brow’d with me to-day, no common name we sing,
And let the music in your hearts like the thunder marches ring,
We hymn a name to which the heart of Scotland ever turns--
The master-singer of us all--the ploughman, ROBERT BURNS.

How shall we greet such name that stands a beacon in the years?
With smiles of love and joy, or bursts of laughter and sweet tears!
Greet him with all, a fitting meed for him that wove around
Our lowly life the magic spells of soul-entrancing sound.

What toil was his--but know ye not, that ever in their pride,
The unseen heaven-sent messengers were walking by his side;
He felt their leaping fire, and heard far whispers shake and roll,
While visions, like the march of kings, went surging through his soul.

"Thou shalt not sing," they cried, "of men low-set in sordid life,
Nor statesmen strutting their brief hour in rancor and in strife,
Nor the wild battlefield where death stalks red, and where the slain
Lie thicker than in harvest fields the sheaves of shining grain.

"Sing thou the thoughts that come to thee to lighten all thy brow,
When, with a glory around, thou standest by the plough;
Sing the sweet loves of lad and lass, the streams that glance along,
And let the music of the lark leap light within thy song.

"Sing thou of Scotland till she feels the rich blood fill her veins,
And rush along like mimic storms at all thy glorious strains;
A thousand years will come and pass, and other poets be,
And still within her heart of hearts shall beat the soul of thee.

He came, and on his lips lay fire that wing’d his fervid song,
He scathed like lightning all that rose to walk behind a wrong;
He sung, and on the lowly cot, beside the happy stream,
A halo fell upon the thatch with heaven in its gleam.

And love grew sweeter at his touch, for full in him there lay
Its melting tones and sighs, and all its soft compelling sway;
He shaped its raptures of delight, for unto him was given
The power to wed to burning words the sweetest gift of heaven.

O! blessings on this swarthy seer who gave us such a boon,
And still kept in his royal breast his royal soul in tune.
Men looked with kindlier looks on men, and in far distant lands
His very name made brighter eyes, and firmer clasp of hands.

The ploughman strode behind the plough, and felt within his heart
A glory like a crown descend upon his peaceful art.
The cottar, bare of arm, that dug a use from out of the soil,
Rose up his rugged height, and bless’d the kingly guild of toil.

The sun-browned maidens in the fields among the swaying corn,
Their pulses beating with the soft delight of love new born,
Felt his warm music thrill their hearts and glow to finger tips,
As if the spirit of him who sung was throbbing on their lips.

What a gift was this of his--to hold his country’s darling lyre,
And strike with glowing eye the cords of passion’s softest fire!
Say, who can guess what beams were shed upon his upturned brow,
When, in the glory of his youth, he walk’d behind the plough?

What visions girt with glorious things, what whispers of far fame,
That from the Sinai of his dreams like radiant angels come;
What potent spells that held him down, or swift, and keen, and strong,
Lifted to mighty heights of though this peasant king of song.

Hush! think not of that time when fame her rainbow colours spread,
And all the rustling laurel wreath was bound about his head;
When in the city, mid the glare of fashion’s luring light,
He moved, the fleeting whim of those that wished to see the sight.

Oh Heavens! and was this all they sought, to please a moment’s pride,
Nor cared to know for one short hour him who was by their side,
But shook him off with dainty touch of well-gloved hand, and now--
Oh! would to God that all his life had been behind the plough!

And dare we hint that after this a certain canker grew,
That all his aspirations sank, and took a paler hue,
That dark and darker grew the gloom till in the heedless town
The struggling giant in his youth, heart-wearied, laid him down.

Thou carper, well we know at times he sang in wilder mirth,
Till the wrapt angel of his song had one wing on the earth;
But canst thou wild volcanoes tame to belch their hidden fire,
Without one darker streak of red to shame its glowing pyre?

Back to thy native here, and live thy little shrunken day,
And if thou sting--for sting thou must--let it be common clay,
Nor dare to step across the pale, but leave the right to Heaven
To judge how far this soul has dimm’d the splendours it had given.

For us who look with other eyes, he stands in other light--
A great one, stumbling on with hands outstretched to all the right,
Who, through his heart had shrunk beneath the doom that withers all,
Still wove a golden thread of song to stretch from cot to hall.

And now, as when the mighty gods had fanes in ancient days,
And up the fluted columns swept great storms of throbbing praise,
So we to all, as in our hearts, this day with tender hand
Uprear the marble shape of him--the Memnon of our land.

And sweeter sounds are ours than those which from that statue came,
When the red archer in the east smote it with shafts of flame;
We hear the melodies that made a glory crown our youth,
And wove around the staider man their spells of love and truth.

Lo! take the prophet’s reach of sight and pass beyond the gloom,
Where thousand of our coming kind in thronging columns loom,
They, too, will come, as we this hour, with passionate worship wrung,
And place upon those white mute lips the grand great songs he sung.

Ho, then! stand bare of brow with me, no common name we sing,
And let the music in your hearts like thunder marches ring;
We hymn a name to which the heart of Scotland ever turns,
The master-singer of us all--the Ploughman, ROBERT BURNS!




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