IN the month of April, 1919, a singular
honour was conferred upon me. The one who was never happier than when
planning for the happiness of others, Mrs Carnegie of Skibo brought me
all the way from Sutherland to New York to play my bagpipes at Miss
Margaret Carnegie’s marriage to Mr Roswell Miller. This was a complete
surprise to daughter Margaret, to whom I played years before at Skibo
The trip was an eventful one. Allowing myself ten days to be in time for
the wedding, I sailed from Liverpool on board the ship “Carmania”. The
very first night the ship was held up, and lay overnight in the Mersey.
Next day a large number of Canadian troops were embarked, and instead of
making for New York as I expected, Halifax had first to be reached to
disembark the troops. It was a very stormy passage, and progress was
slow, with waves mountains high to contend with.
Time passed and I began to get very uneasy as to whether I would arrive
in time for the purpose for which I had set out. I wondered on arriving
at Halifax whether it would be quicker to go over land from there, but
was advised by the ship’s officers not so, as, given reasonably good
weather, the ship would still get me there in time, and she did, but
only just in time. I arrived on the morning of the wedding, 22nd April.
Mrs Carnegie’s secretary, Mr Barrow, was there to meet me, and quickly
got me through the Customs, and in a speedy car we were soon at Two East
I had a tune on my pipes aboard ship and the good old bagpipe was
singing beautifully for the occasion. After a wonderful and
unforgettable welcome it only remained for me to play some of the young
bride’s favourite tunes of old, such as “The Highland Wedding”, “My Nut
Brown Maiden”, “I Lo’e no Laddie but Aine” and “Wooed Married and A‘ ”.
I accomplished something that will ever live green in my memory. I was
given a great holiday, visiting scenes I had known fourteen years
previously. Homeward bound on board the good ship “Aquitania”, I arrived
in Sutherland after an absence of six weeks.
It was a great joy being once again in the environment of the Carnegie
home, but to my regret I saw a great change in Mr Carnegie, who passed
away on the following 11th August, 1919, mourned by countless people of
all countries who understood his great benevolence to mankind.
When the death of Mr Andrew Carnegie took place on 11th August, 1919, it
required no spectacular newspaper headlines to reveal to the world that
a great man had passed away. Nothing, in my opinion, could have been
more impressive than the simple announcement in four words by “The
Scotsman” newspaper: “Andrew Carnegie is dead”, following which was an
editorial couched in words truly depicting a man who in many respects
was unequalled. To rise from bobbin boy to millionaire is surely unique,
and to know such a man intimately, as was my privilege, was a wonderful
Having had that privilege prompts me to record my personal knowledge of
the man who, when he retired from business, bequeathed of his great
wealth a sum exceeding seventy million sterling for the good of
humanity. First and foremost Mr Carnegie was a peace-loving man and to
this end he gave a great fortune so that the nations would arbitrate
their differences rather than resort to the hideous practice of war and
its consequent slaughter of millions of innocent lives and the
destruction of irreplaceable, valuable, and historic property.
It was quite apparent on August 4th, 1914, when the Great War broke out
that Mr Carnegie’s fondest hopes for world peace were now shattered, and
it had broken his heart. From then until he passed peacefully to his
rest, on 11th August, 1919, he appeared as a fading flower that had
added lustre and imperishable beauty to the works of God’s creation.
Mr Carnegie lived the simple life, and thus got the most and the best
out of it. Nothing, however, was spared that added to the joy of those
who had the privilege of staying at his home in Skibo Castle,
Sutherland, or Two East Ninety-First Street, New York, nor to those like
myself who had served him.
He was a lover of good music with which I am proud to say he associated
the music of the Highland bagpipe. He looked upon the bagpipe as a great
Scottish heritage, and to me it was a very great disappointment when
recently the Trustees in charge of the fund endowed by Mr Carnegie for
the preservation and encouragement of Art, Education, and Music refused
to recognise an appeal from the Glasgow College of Bagpipe Music for
Mr Carnegie could be seen at his best when he annually entertained to
dinner his old comrades and business associates at Two East Ninety-First
Street, New York. It was a stag party. No ladies. The ladies dined out
that night. It was a great joy to hear Mr Carnegie and “the Boys”, as he
affectionately called them, recount their business ups and down until
they controlled the greatest manufacturing business of steel in the
United States and probably the largest in the world.
When Mr Carnegie retired from business he was reputed to be the world’s
richest man. To his undying credit, along with his many other munificent
gifts, he endowed a fund to ensure that none of his old workmen or their
dependents would suffer through old age or by being incapacitated for
reasons of bad health. This fund was to his heart next to that with
which he endowed for its permanent welfare his native birthplace, the
town of Dunfermline.
Mr Carnegie’s gifts to both America and Great Britain and other
countries are so colossal that I would not trust my pen to touch upon
their magnitude. I have witnessed, however, many cases brought to Mr
Carnegie’s notice, which after being certified by some responsible
person as deserving, had his kindly consideration and generous support
with the provision that there be no publicity. So much is already known
and written about the wonderful achievements of Mr Andrew Carnegie that
it is with modest pride I venture' to record my simple tribute to a
truly great man who, to know, will ever shed the sunshine of happy
memories upon my sojourn.