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GIFT OF 
Mrs. W. W. Kemp 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/centenarybookofbOOburnrich 



1820-1920. 



Centenary Book 

. OF . 

THE BURNS CLUB OF 
DUMFRIES 



With Full Account of the Anniversary Dinner on 
23rd January, 1920, and Historical Sketch of the 
Club since its Formation on 18th January, 1820 




WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS 



THE COURIER AND HERALD PRESS 

111-113 High Street, Dumfries 

' 1920 




-^t£^f ' "Zt*L,. *^ ^-. jfe*''^ 






FOREWORD. 



' I "HE Centenary Dinner of the Dumfries Burns Club was in 
* many ways an event of so much interest that the Dumfries 
and Galloway Courier and Herald have decided to issue a book 
from a Report of the Proceedings. There could be no more 
fitting publishers, for John M 'Diarmid, the first Proprietor and 
Editor of the Courier, and his son, William Ritchie M 'Diarmid, 
were for more than fifty years chief among those who upheld the 
honour of Burns in Dumfries. William Ritchie M 'Diarmid was 
Secretary of Dumfries Burns Club for no less than 33 years. 
Again, it was as Editor of the Courier that Thomas Aird gave 
his poetic and gentle presence to Dumfries for 30 years, and all 
lovers of Burns of the last Dumfries generation had also a tender 
place for Aird. 

The Burns Dinner of 1920 was a wonderful tribute to the 
vitality of the love of the Poet, for the number who sat down to 
the " cup of kindness " more than doubled the highest previous 
record during the hundred years of the Club* s existence. It was 
specially favoured by the number of distinguished guests from a 
distance, who honoured the Club by joining them in paying tribute 

to The Immortal Memory, and by the quality of their 

speeches. Most remarkable of all was the spirit of the whole 
gathering. There were 140 men present who neither spoke nor 
sang, but one felt, in a way seldom experienced, that everyone 
present had an active and responsive part in the spirit of the 
meeting. It would have been a thousand pities had there been 
no permanent record of so notable a communion of spirit. 



M300638 



Perhaps the Editor will allow me as Chairman of the 
meeting to put on record here the deep gratitude of everybody to 
the Secretary of the Club — Mr John M 'Burnie. The Burns 
Club seems to have entered upon a new life, full of vigour and 
enthusiasm, and of this Mr M 'Burnie is the begetter. For the 
dinner itself, and all that pertained to it, his arrangements were 
perfection. It is a special fortune that at this important time in 
its life the Club should have such a Secretary. The members of 
Committee also are entitled to warm thanks. It is significant of 
their harmonious spirit that, while every member of Committee 
individually worked hard to ensure success, scarcely any formal 
meetings of Committee were necessary. 

Another thing I should like to note with satisfaction is that 
for the first time the Club had the honour of having as its guest 
Mr John Maxwell, the President of the other principal Club in 
the Town— the Burns Howff Club, which meets annually in the 
very room where Burns was so often ' ' blithe wi' comrades- 
dear. 

One other thing I would like to say. Its relevancy may not be 
apparent to everyone, but if this book goes, as it will, all over 
the world, there are many who read it who will understand. F 
want to pay a tribute to the influence of the old Edinburgh 
University Dumfries and Galloway Students' Society (the " D. 
& G.," as it is called), now flourishing in at least the 70th year 
cf its life. Of that Society I was in my day a devoted member and 
in a small way an office-bearer, but its principal relation to the 
Centenary Dinner is this. The Minute Books of the Society record 
that Sir James Crichton- Browne was a zealous member, and no 
doubt there laid the foundations of his delightful eloquence. Sir 
James Barrie, to whom the Burns Club is so much indebted, also 
took his fair share in the work of the University Society, and the 
honoured name of Dr George Neilson is also found on the roll 
of members. John Foster's wit, in my day, played around the 
walls of the Civil Law Class- Room where the Society 
met, and R. W. MacKenna was just beginning there 
to try his literary 'prentice hand, which has 
since attained such perfection of craftsmanship. Shortly 
after my time, Joseph Hunter led the Society, as he so- 
well led many things in the University, and no one will readily 



forget the delightful warmth and delicacy of expression with 
which he welcomed to Dumfries our distinguished guests on the 
23rd January. The old " D. & G." had, therefore, no small 
share in the" success of our Centenary meeting. 

May this book, as it goes on its journey, not only be a bond 
between Dumfries, where Burns lived and died, and those who 
love him everywhere, but may it also remind many far away of 
the old home and kindly faces in the Queen of the South. 

R. A. GRIERSON, 

President, 

Dumfries Burns Club. 



THE 



CENTENARY DINNER 



Verbatim Reports of Memorable 
Speeches — Gifts of Interesting 
:: :: Burns Relics :: :: 



The Burns Club of Dumfries, founded 
on 18th January, 1820, celebrated its cen- 
tenary on Friday night, 23rd January, 
1920, on the occasion of the anniversary 
dinner in memory of the Poet. These 
anniversary dinners had been in abey- 
ance during the War, and it was a happy 
circumstance that their resumption under 
conditions of Peace should have fallen 
in the year of the centenary of the Club 
which inaugurated them, and which has, 
in that and other useful and signal ways, 
helped to keep the memory of the National 
Poet fresh and green in the old town in 
which his remains rest. Elsewhere, in 
this book, there will be found related at 
some length the circumstances in which 
the Club came into being and its history 
generally during these past 100 years. A 
most interesting story it is, linking up 
the present with the names of those 
who, as contemporary friends of the 
Poet, raised soon after his death the 
Mausoleum which stands over his grave 
and thereafter established the Club. The 
centenary dinner was in every way 
worthy of the occasion. Indeed it will rank 
as probably the most successful Burns 
event that has ever taken place in the old 



8 

burgh. The company was large and re- 
presentative, numbering about 160, and 
including not a few Dumfriesians of note 
and other distinguished guests, Among 
the latter we may, without invidiousness, 
mention Sheriff Morton, K.C., Sheriff of 
Dumfriesshire and Galloway; Lord St. 
Vigeans, chairman of the Scottish Land 
Court and formerly Sheriff in this Sheriff- 
dom; Sir Herbert E. Maxwell of Mon- 
reith, Bart., eminent alike as a writer, a 
scholar, and a sportsman; Sir James 
Crichton-Browne, F.R.S., whose name is 
an honoured household word throughout 
his native district and far beyond ; Sir J. 
Lome MacLeod, LL.D., ex-Lord Provost 
of Edinburgh; Dr George Neilson, stipen- 
diary of Glasgow, and distinguished 
archaeologist; Dr E. W. MacKenna, of 
Liverpool, author of " The Adventure of 
Death " and other works of note ; Mr 
Joseph Laing Waugh, Edinburgh, author 
of " Thornhill and Its Worthies/' "Robbie 
Doo," etc. ; Mr John Foster, Sheriff Clerk 
of Elgin, author of " The Searchers " and 
other successful romances; Mr Holbrook 
Jackson, editor of " To-day," an able 
London journalist. The speaking through- 
out the evening was on a remarkably 
high level of excellence, the note being 
given by the unusually fine oration with 
which the able and popular President of 
the Club (Mr R. A. Grierson, town clerk) 
proposed " The Immortal Memory/' From 
first to last there was not a tedious or 
uninteresting moment, and when, well 
into " the wee sma' oors," the company 
at length joined in singing " Auld Lang 
Syne," they did so with the unanimous 
feeling that the evening spent had been 



one of unqualified edification and delight. 
Altogether the organisers of the occasion 
had every reason to be deeply gratified at 
its great success, and in this connection 
•special acknowledgment was made of the 
valued services of the hon. secretary of 
the Club, Mr John M'Burnie, Sheriff 
Clerk of Dumfriesshire. 

The dinner was held in the Eoyal Re- 
staurant, in the new premises adjoining 
the upstairs tea-room, which were opened 
temporarily for the occasion, and large 
as the dining-room was, all the available 
space was fully taxed. The long, snow- 
white tables with their complement of 
glittering silver and decorations of cut 
flowers presented an attractive appear- 
ance. Occupying a prominent place on 
the chairman's table was the punch bowl 
of Spode ware which was first used at the 
Club dinner in 1820, along with the four 
companion jugs for carrying the toddy 
round, and the snuff-mull which was 
purchased at the same time. The glasses 
were of % the same kind as those which 
were used at the first dinner. On the 
east wall of the dining-room hung the 
original portrait of the Bard, presented 
to the Club by Gilfillan at the 1822 meet- 
ing, and a replica of the companion por- 
trait of Bonnie Jean. 

Mr R. A. Grierson, president of the 
Club, presided. He carried the famous 
Burns whistle (used in the drinking 
contest celebrated in the song), with 
which he regulated the proceedings. 
He explained that it had been very 
kindly sent for use that night from 
Craigdarroch, through their friend, Mr 
Irving Edgar. It was very interesting to 



10 

have it, and it would add a great deal to 
the fascination of the evening. In addi- 
tion to her kindness in lending the whistle, 
Mrs Smith Cuninghame of Craigdarroch 
had also presented a photograph of the 
whistle to the Club. Mr Grierson was 
accompanied on the right and left by- 
Sheriff Morton. K.C., Sheriff of 
Dumfries and Galloway; Provost Macau- 
lay, O.B.E., Dumfries; Sir Herbert E. Max- 
well, Bart, of Monreith ; Sir J. Lome Mac- 
Leod, LL.D., ex-Lord Provost of Edinburgh ; 
Colonel J. Beaufin Irving of Bonshaw, 
county commandant, 3rd V.B., K.O.S.B. : 
ex-Provost Nicholson, Maxwelltown ; Dr R. 
W. MacKenna, Liverpool (son of the late 
Rev. R. MacKenna, Dumfries) ; and Lieut.- 
Colonel P. Murray Kerr, formerly officer 
commanding the l-5th Battalion K.O.S.B. ' r 
Mr John M'Burnie (secretary of the Club); 
Lord St. Vigeans (formerly Sheriff of Dum- 
fries and Galloway); Sir James Crichton- 
Browne, Crindau; Mr J. W. Whitelaw, soli- 
citor (a former president) ; Dr George Neil- 
son, stipendiary magistrate, Glasgow; Mr Jos- 
eph Laing Waugh ; Mr John Foster ; Mv John 
Maxwell (president of the Burns Howff 
Club). The croupiers were — Mr G. B. Car- 
ruthers, Mr W. A. Hiddleston, Dr Joseph 
Hunter, and Judge D. H. Hastie. 

The following others were seated at the 
Chairman's table: — Sheriff-substitute Ballin- 
gall, Rev. J. Montgomery Campbell, Mr Jas. 
Geddes, Judge O'Brien, Mr John Robson 
(county clerk), Dr J. Maxwell Ross (medical 
officer for the county), Mr J. E. Blacklock, 
Mr R. D. Maxwell (editor of "Courier and 
Herald"), Judge Smart, Bailie M'Lach- 
lan, Mr Jas. Reid (editor of "Dumfries 
Standard"), Mr Holbrook Jackson (London), 
Mr John Maxwell (H.M. Commissioner for 
the Gold Coast). . 



11 

There were also present : — Members 
— Mr Alexander Bryson, Mr Thomas Dykes. 
L.D.S., Mr Robert Austin, Mr John White, 
Mr R. J. J. Sloan, Mr R. Y. Mackay. Mr 
Andrew Millar, Mr Eric A. Gibson, Mr Wm. 
Gibson, Mr John Henderson, Mr James 
Henderson, Mr W. H. Hall, Mr W. Black, 
Mr John Thomson, Bailie D. Brodie, Mr R. 
Lindsay Carruthers. Mr A. Coulson, Mr 
David Robertson, Mr David Manson, Mr 
William J. Stark, Mr W. F. Crombie, Mr 
John Johnstone, Mr James Wyllie (Tinwald 
Downs), Mr Peter Biggam, Mr W. G. John- 
stone, Mr Bertram M'Gowan. Mr John Gib- 
son, Mr David Fergusson, Mr Robert Mor- 
rin, Mr G. W. Shirley, Mr Patrick Egan, Mr 
Henry B. Reid, Dr J. M, Donnan, Mr W. J. 
Laurie, Mr George Will, Mr W. B. Spence, 
Mr Sam Dickie, Mr Walter Henderson, Mr 
Frank W. Michie, Mr Stewart Ritchie, Mr 
G. B. Fraser, Mr John Barker, Mr W. Ban- 
nerman, Mr Graham F. Macara. Mr R. L. 
Robertson, Mr David G. Grieve, Mr Alfred 
Corrigall, Mr James Arthur M'Kerrow, Mr 
M. H. M'Kerrow, Mr James C. M'George, Mr 
John Lennox, Mr F. J. Pidwell, Mr Robert 
Dinwiddie, Mr Walter S. Johnstone. Mr J. 
N. Chicken, Mr George Dougal, Mr John 
Irving (solicitor) ; Mr John Irving (saddler), 
Mr John Grierson (grocer), Mr Charles 
M'Lelland, Mr J. M. Bowie, Mr Robert 
Oughton, Mr J, A. Gibson, Mr John Hen- 
derson (Shawhead), Rev. John Wilson, Mr 
J. H. Chicken, Mr Irving Edgar, Mr A. D. 
Robison, Mr John Dickie, Mr Robert Adam- 
son, Mr James Wyllie, Mr James Wyllie, 
junr., Mr Matthew S. Wyllie, Mr H. J. Robi- 
son, Dean Lockerbie, Rev. Walter M'ln- 
tyre, Major C. R. Dudgeon, Dr A. J. Gordon 
Hunter, M.C., Mr James Kirkland, Mr John 
S. Stobie, Mr John Kerr, Mr Charles 
Chicken, Mr D. H. Hastie, junr., Mr D. H. 
C. Higgins, Mr James Reid, Mr George Hut- 
ton, Mr W. Clark, Mr George Bryson, Dr H.. 



12 

A. G. Dykes, Dr T. S. Macaulay, Mr Philip 
Mackie, Mr R. O'Connor, Mr George Gor- 
don, Mi Thomas Grierson, Mr Wm. Dinwid- 
die, Mr James Egans, Mr William King, Mr 
Arthur Robson, Mr David M'Jerrow, Mr Dun- 
can Moir, Mr Duncan Macleod, Dr Burnett, 
Mi Tom Oliver, Mr James Dickie, Mr E. A. 
Hornel, Mr William Johnston, junr., Mr 
James A. Morrin, Mr Leslie Macdonald, Mr 
G. H. Reed, Mr William Kemp, Mr D. H. 
Hunter, Mr Thomas Gibson, Mr T. J. John- 
slone, Mr James Houston, Mr James Flett. 

Apologies for Absence. 

The Secretary intimated apologies for 
absence from the following: — 

Sir J. M. Barrie, Bart. ; Sir George Dou- 
glas, Bart. ; Sir John R. Findlay ; Professor 
John Edgar, St. Andrews; Colonel R. J. 
Geddes, C.B., D.S.O.; Mr H. Cavan Irving, 
C.B.E., of Burnfoot ; Mr Norman M'Kinnel, 
London; Mr D. M'Naught, President of the 
Burns Federation ; Mr Thomas Carmichael, 
S.S.C., Edinburgh; Mr Frank Miller, Annan; 
Professor John H. Miller, Edinburgh; Mr 
Wellwood Anderson ; Rev. J. C. Higgins, 
Tarbolton; Mr Phillip Sulley, Elgin (who 
acted as secretary to the 1896 Centenary 
Committee) ; Mr John Mackechnie (a former 
secretary of the Club) ; Mr Alexander Car- 
lyle, Edinburgh; Major William Murray, 
O.B.E., M.P. ; Captain R. W. Campbell, Cor- 
sock ; Dr Livingston ; Dr T. Bowman Edgar, 
Kirkconnel; Mr J. W. Critchley; Mr Matt. 
S. M'Kerrow; Mr Alfred D. Calvert; Mr 
Hugh S. Gladstone ; Mr Jas. Kissock, Banff ; 
and the following ex-Presidents: — Mr J. C. 
R. Macdonald, W.S. ; Sheriff Campion, Mr 
John Grierson, Mr James Carmont, Right 
Rev. A. Wallace Williamson, D.D. ; Mr J. 
H. Balfour-Browne, K.C. ; Dr J. Maxwell 
Wood ; Mr John Symons, Dr Fred H. Clarke, 
Mr H. Sharpe Gordon. 



13 

Appended are some of the messages re- 
ceived : — 

Sir J. M. Barrie— "Hearty thanks to the 
Burns Club for their kind invitation. I am 
sorry I can't be present at this anniversary, 
but social functions are somewhat out of my 
line, and besides, I could not get North at 
that time. My very best wishes, though, to 
you all for a great and worthy evening." 

Professor John Edgar: — "I have to thank 
you for your kind invitation, but alas I my 
time is full up with University work and 
on Friday, especially, as luck would have it, 
there is a most important business meeting 
which I must attend. I shall be thinking 
of your gTeat gathering and of the distin- 
guished company of your guests, and I wish 
the privilege of being present had been 
granted me. May the dinner be a great suc- 
cess ! I am certain that the speeches will 
be worthy of the occasion, and I hope some- 
one of the speakers will recall the great 
words of the Poet: — 

'The man o' independent mind 
Is king o' men for a' that.' 

The spirit of the words made Scotsmen a 
power in the world, but I sometimes fear 
that our countrymen are beginning to forget 
them." 

Mr H. Cavan Irving: — "Many thanks for 
your kind invitation to the dinner to be held 
on the 23rd, of which I am sorry I must de- 
cline the pleasure as I do not feel up 
to such entertainments in the dirty, dark 
nights such as we are getting now, as a very 
little upsets me after my recent illness. 
Please express for me my appreciation of the 
honour that the Dumfries Burns Club have 
done me and my thanks for their kindness." 

Mr Norman M'Kinnel : — "Will you please 
convey my thanks to the Club for their very 
kind invitation and my great regret that I 



14 

•cannot accept it? The play I am in at pre- 
sent looks like running till Easter at least, 
and 'nights off,' except under medical ad- 
vice, are not allowed. I should like to have 
revisited the auld toon under the auspices 
of the Burns Club, but will have to pay the 
penalty of success and bow to the inevita- 
ble." 

Mr D. M'Naught: — "Much as I feel hon- 
oured by your kind invitation for the even- 
ing of the 23rd, I regret that a family ber- 
eavement compels me to decline any such 

engagements this year With best 

wishes for the success of your centenary 
meeting and salutations to all the brethren." 

Mr Thomas Carmichael: — "I have received 
your kind invitation to attend the centenary 
dinner of the Dumfries Burns Club on the 
23rd. It would have afforded me great plea- 
sure) to be present on the occasion, but I 
regret to say that considerations of health 
prevent me being with you at the dinner. I 
regret this very much, but I hope you will 
liave a most successful and enjoyable cele- 
bration." 

Mr Frank Miller: — "I value highly your 
kindness in sending me an invitation to the 
anniversary dinner of the Dumfries Burns 
Club, but ,1 fear must deny myself the 
pleasure of accepting it on account of the 
state of my health. Will you do me the 
favour to convey to your Club my thanks, 
and express my regret at my inability to 
attend?" 

Mr Wellwood Anderson: — "I received 
your pressing invitation to attend the cen- 
tenary dinner. Very many thanks, but I 
fear I cannot be present at this most inter- 
esting gathering. The list of speakers is well 
worthy of the historic occasion. Fain would 
I have listened to our dear old friend's 
•oration for he will, I know, shed lustre on 



15 

the scene, and give you a most interesting 
, .and brilliant speech. 

'While terra firma on her axis 

Diurnal steers on, 
Count on a friend in faith an' practice 
In Robert Grierson.' 
There will, alas! be many familiar faces 
missing from the festive board, and while 
honouring our beloved Burns and drinking 
to his Immortal Memory, our thoughts will 
surely turn to our fallen heroes in the Great 
War. With best wishes for a most enjoyable 
meeting. 

'Lord send you aye as weel's I want ye. 
And then ye'll do.' " 

Mr Phillip Sulley: — "I regret very much 
that it will not be possible for me to attend 
the centenary meeting of Dumfries Burns 
Club. Though not the oldest, it is clearly 
the most important by its direct connection 
with the Poet and his friends, with his sons, 
and by the possession and custody of so 
many important personal relics. I am very 
proud of being connected with it, and send 
heartiest greetings and congratulations to 
the brethren." 

Mr John Mackechnie: — "I shall be unable 
to be present, but I hope the centenary 
dinner will prove a great success, and I 
have not the slightest doubt that the presi- 
dent will rise to the occasion." 

Mr Alexander Carlyle: — "I deeply regret 
to have to inform you that I shall be un- 
able to be with you on the 23rd at your 
dinner owing to the state of my health. 
Will you please accept my thanks and re- 
grets, and express to your Club my feeling 
of gratitude for the honour they have done 
me in inviting me to the centenary dinner, 
and my great disappointment at being 
obliged to forego the pleasure of being pre- 
sent on so memorable and interesting an 
•occasion." 



16 

Major Wm. Murray: — "I am sorry to have 
to fail you. I regret very much that I am 
unavoidably prevented from coming to the 
Burns dinner to-morrow, and beg you will 
accept my most regretful apologies." 

Mr J. C. R. Macdonald: — "As I am not. 
going out in the evenings this winter I re- 
gret that I cannot be present at the dinner 
on the occasion of the centenary of the Club' 
on the 23rd inst., and specially so as I be- 
lieve I now stand very near the top of the 
list of surviving past presidents." 

Sheriff Campion: — "I much regret not 
being able to put in an appearance at this 
notable Burns Club gathering. Since it was 
my happy fate to be appointed to Dumfries 
thirty years ago, this is, I think, the first 
one I have missed. With best wishes to 
fellow-members and all friends." 

Right Rev. Wallace Williamson: — "I have 
your kind letter and invitation to the cen- 
tenary meeting of the Burns Club. I should 
have been glad to accept the invitation had 
it been possible, but I much regret my en- 
gagements will prevent my being present. 
I regret this all the more as I have- most 
pleasant recollections of the kind welcome 
I received from the members of the Club 
some years ago. I trust you will have a 
happy and successful celebration." 

Captain Campbell: — "I regret, indeed, that 
owing to the pressure of literary and other 
duties I am unable to be with you on this 
historic occasion, and trust you will excuse 
my inability to attend. By maintaining the 
interest in Burns you do a great work. 'There 
are more things in Heaven and earth' than 
4 overtime ' and a pound of flesh. In recall- 
ing the nobility and grandeur of Burns you 
project a happy sunbeam into a 
material world. We are all sickened 
with militarism, dollar patriotism,. 



17 

and bawlmg commercialism. By uplifting 
idealism and romance you may save our 
souls." 

Greetings From Other Clubs. 

The following greetings from other clubs 
were intimated: — 

Burns Clubs :— Coquetdale, Hamilton, Allo- 
way, Hawick, Govan ("Ye Cronies"), Irvine, 
Govan Fairfield, Glasgow Albany, Gareloch- 
head, Hamilton Mossgiel ; Thornllebank, 
Birmingham, Cupar, Hamilton Junior, Dun- 
dee, Bridgeton, Hull, Dunfermline United, 
Gourock, Stane Mossgiel, Derby, Galashiels, 
Kilmarnock ("Jolly Beggars"), Portobello, 
Dalmuir, Port Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Kelso, 
London, East. Stirlingshire, Mid-Argyll, 
Montrose, North Berwick, Gourock ("Jolly 
Beggars"), Edinburgh ("Ninety"), Elgin, 
Liverpool, Birtley, Annan, Glencraig, Charle- 
ston, Paisley, Howff (Dumfries), St. James' 
(Paisley), St. John's (Greenock), and New- 
castle and Tyneside. The Burns Federation : 
and the following: — Ballarat and District 
Caledonian Society; Caledonian Society of 
Sheffield; The Saint Andrews Society, Glas- 
gow; Leeds Caledonian Society; North Staf- 
fordshire and District Caledonian Society; 
Birmingham and Midland Scottish Society; 
Jesmond Constitutional Club. From Mr 
Walter Scott, New York, a life member of 
the Club, was received the following cable, 
"Star of Robert Burns in brilliancy is greater 
than ever." 

Grace having been said by the Rev. J. 
Montgomery Campbell of St. Michael's, 
dinner was served. While it was being 
partaken of music was discoursed by an 
orchestra led by Mr J. Cheadle; and by 
pipers, under Pipe-Major T. H. B'oyd, 
who played Burns airs, 



IS 

In the service of the dinner the Royal 
Restaurant firm excelled itself. All 
the time-honoured dishes found a place 
on the menu. The haggis, " Great chief- 
tain o' the puddin' race," was ushered in 
to the tune of the pipes, and having been 
carried aloft round the dining-room, was 
finally placed in front of the Chairman, 
who with uplifted hands recited Burns' 
address : — 

Fair fa' your honest sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the puddin' race. 
Aboon them a' ye tak' yer place, 
Painch, tripe, and thairm, 
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace 
As lang's ma' airm. 

The menu card and toast list was a 
work of art, designed by Major W. F. 
Crombie, and printed by Messrs Maxwell 
and Son, High Street. A facsimile is 
reproduced elsewhere. The greeting sent 
to other clubs, which was printed on the 
back of the menu, consisted of lines 
written by Mr William Grierson, the first 
secretary of the Club, and afterwards 
found among the papers of General 
M'Murdo of Mavisgrove, now lodged in 
the Public Library. 

The musical programme, detailed on 
the toast list, was very much enjoyed, 
all the artistes having a hearty reception. 
The pianoforte accompaniments were 
ably played by Mr J. Johnstone. 

The toast of " The King " was proposed 
from the chair, and was received with 
cheers, followed by the singing of the 
National Anthem. " The Queen, the 
Queen Mother, and other Members of 
the Royal Family " was also proposed 
by the Chairman, and was pledged with 
enthusiasm. 



19 

Sheriff Morton, K.C., proposed the 
toast of the " Imperial Forces." He re- 
membered, he said, that when he was in 
the habit of going first to public dinners 
the toast that he had the honour to pro- 
pose that night was worded as the " Navy, 
Army, and Reservo Forces." Ho thought 




Sheriff Morton, K.C. 

that the reason why the designation of 
that toast had had to be altered was due 
to the fact that our fighting forces, with- 
in the last twenty years at any rate, 
had assumed a complexity that they 
did not possess previously and an ex- 
tension beyond the territory from which 
they were drawn that, he thought, the 
oldest or the youngest of them there 
never expected to see. (Applause.) The 
first occasion upon which anybody could 
have expected that the British Empire 



20 

would be able to rally any more than- 
the sons born in Great Britain was dur- 
ing the South African war, but even 
there the contingent sent by our Colonies 
was small indeed compared with what 
was sent during the last tremendous 
struggle. There was one thing certain 
now, it was plain to every nation upon 
the globe that when they engaged in 
arms with the British Empire they en- 
gaged with all its sons in that very far- 
flung dominion. (Applause.) One 
thing he thought they were entitled to 
take out of that struggle was that the 
prestige and the power that brought us 
our Empire lived in the descendants of 
the farthest part of it at this present 
time. In the newspapers as they read 
them from day to day during the last 
struggle they found sometimes that a 
contingent from Canada was getting the 
praise of the day, at another time a con- 
tingent from Australia, und at another 
time some battalion or some division or 
the home forces, and they were not only 
united in the determination with which 
they went into this struggle but they 
were united as brothers in arms in re- 
spect that each contingent from wherever 
it was drawn proved itself to be worthy 
of the comrades with whom it fought 
side by side. We had great cause to 
take courage for the future of the British 
Empire when we considered that our 
Imperial Forces were not only more num- 
erically than they were before, but that 
they were imbued with the very same spirit 
that had brought our Empire to its high 
pitch among civilised peoples. Even in the 
Navy, where we did not expect we would 



21 

have a contingent from the Dominions, 
we found that when they were chasing 
the " Emden " there was one battleship 
sent by Australia, not only manned but 
provided by the Commonwealth, and it 
was within the recollection of all how 
worthily indeed that contingent did its 
work. (Applause.) There was this 
further to be said, not only had we ex- 
tended the territory from which we drew 
our fighting forces but we had also ox- 
tended the nature of the fighting arm 
that defended this Imperial. Dominion. 
(Applause.) For the first time in the 
history of civilisation or of the globe our 
fighting forces had included an Air Ser- 
vice. He was not really competent to 
discuss the Air Service, but one thing 
that struck him was this, that the great 
thing that seemed to be absolutely per- 
manent among the British people from 
wherever drawn was the power of initia- 
tive and the power of utilising science for 
the benefit of the British people. There 
was this further to be said of the fighting 
forces — they were not in any way bound by 
mere tradition. They were willing to ac- 
cept service from wherever it came, will- 
ing even to accept new ideas which some 
Government departments did not' seem 
to be over-willing to accept, and from 
whatever quarter they came the fighting 
forces were willing to utilise all the help 
they could get. What had brought this 
Empire to its present pitch was the in- 
domitable courage of our people, and if 
the last war demonstrated anything it 
had shown to the whole of Europe and 
the whole of mankind that that indomit- 
able courage was as great at the present 
time as it ever had been. (Applause.) 



Colonel J. Beaufm Irving of Bonshaw, 
in responding, said the Navy had 
fought three important battles, the 
Battle of the Bight, the Battle of 
Falkland, and the Battle of Jutland. In 
the days of Waterloo the Army were said 
to be chiefly ploughmen, but in this 




Colonel J. Beaufin Irving. 

great war they were of every possible 
sort from dukes to labourers, and 
professional men of all kinds. Even 
the parsons took up a rifle to do 
their duty to their God, their King, and 
their country, and quite right too. (Ap- 
plause.) The whole Empire as a body 
had pulled together in the most wonder- 
ful way, and every Colony, even the very 
smallest as well as the biggest, gave 
something in money and men to help 
the Mother Country. He knew of one 
small colony that was an illustration of 



23 

this — New Guinea — which had formed 
just a company and five or six officers, 
but still had shown goodwill in trying to 
pull together and help. It was marvel- 
lous the numbers we were able to put in 
the field. He read somewhere that *re 
put altogether six million men in the 




Colonel P. Murray Kerr. 

field, and the way they had fought was 
never surpassed in any war we had ever 
been engaged in. (Applause.) 

Colonel P. Murray Kerr, who also 
responded, paid a tribute to Colonel 
Irving. Perhaps some of the younger 
men present were unaware that Colonel 
Irving as a young soldier began his 
fighting career in the Abyssinian cam- 
paign, and was very seriously wounded 
there. In conclusion, he said that in 
the recent war, as on all previous occa- 
sions in history, the British Army had 
covered itself with glory. (Applause > 



24 
" THE IMMORTAL MEMORY." 

Burns' Charter of Manhood. 

The President, in rising to propose "The 
Immortal Memory," was warmly cheered. 
He said: — We are, in this room in Dum- 
fries to-night, very specially near to 




Mr R. A. Grierson, President. 

Robert Burns. For we are met 

to mark that, on the 25th day of January 
in the year 1820, some 40 Dumfries men, 
most of whom had known Burns in life, 
sat down in the old King's Arms Inn for 
the first time as a Burns Club. Rather 
I should say we are here in continuity of 
that meeting — in unity ol heart and 
thought with those men whose love for 
Robert Burns has lived in the brother- 
hood of this Club throughout a hundred 
years. That meeting in 1820 — which was, 
even in Dumfries, not actually the first, 



but was among the first held anywhere — 
was the beginning of the fulfilment of 
those oft-quoted words of Burns: — "Don't 
be afraid ; I'll be more thought of a hund- 
red years after my death than I am to- 
day." But could even his poetic, 
prophetic eye have foreseen the fulness 
of the realisation that to-night— 100 years 
after that little gathering of his own 
townsfolk — it should be, that by 
his genius, " the whole round earth 
is everyway bound with a gold 
chain" of common love and common 
thought? (Applause.) There is 

no land, however remote, where there are 
not a few faithful met to think of home 
and Robert Burns. (Applause.) And the 
eyes of men everywhere are turned to- 
night, not to the stately Cathedrals where 
lie the great statesmen of the days when 
Burns lived, but to that old Churchyard 
where lies a man who died in a little 
room, in a poor house, in a mean street, 
of a small Scotch burgh. That is to me 
one of the very wonderful things of the 
world. (Applause.) And here, at the 
joining place of that golden chain, linked 
up for us as it is by the traditions of these 
100 years, and in the presence of so many 
of our distinguished guests, I do honestly 
feel how difficult it is to say for you what 
you would wish me to say. It is not pos- 
sible for any ordinary man at this time 
of day to say anything new, which is 
true, of Burns. For myself, I have 
neither the knowledge nor the skill to do 
more than follow him along the main 
road. And perhaps it is as well. For 
Burns — and when I say Burns, I mean 
not alone the man who lived and died at 



26 

the end of the eighteenth century, not 
alone the Burns who has lived after 
death, but the Burns who lived and died, 
and the Burns who lives still, one and 
indivisible — Burns has walked down the 
broad highway of life among common 
men and women. He has created for 
them by the wayside no poetic and im- 
aginary Island Valleys of Avilrom 
Rather he has gathered as he 
went, because they were also his 
own, all their thoughts and loves 
and hopes and fears, and their 
faults and frailties too. He has faced 
w^th them the blast and the cold, he has 
stumbled and fallen with them on the 
muddy road, but has stood up with them 
and rejoiced, when it shone, in the 
honest warmth of the good Scots sun. 
(Applause.) That is why Burns has lived 
throughout the century. 

Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire, 

That's a' the learnin' I desire, 

Then tho' I drudge thro' dub and mire 

Wi' plough or cart ; 
My Muse, tho' namely in attire, 

May touch the heart. 

(Applause.) But the broad road has been 
broken and washed away by the tides 
of war. We have struggled through, 
and stand, rather doubtfully, on 
the other side, while from a red 
sky the wild wind blows, shaking 
the old watch towers which we thought 
used to guard the way. And the question 
is, has Burns as a vital force gone from 
us, and are we but taking to-night "a 
cup of kindness yet for the days of Auld 
Lang Syne "? Or has he crossed with u& 
and is he still the companion of our 



27 

journey? I think he is. And this is why. 
Burns would, I suppose, be called a man 
of letters, a literary man. But all letters 
which are immortal, imperishable, are 
so. in so far as they have ceased to be 
" Letters," and have become of the ful- 
ness of the lives of men. Not in a blind 
spirit of hero-worship — for years ago when 
I began the study of Burns, I was then 
something of a sceptic — and accepting for 
the moment the worst that his critics, 
moral and literary, can say, I do soberly 
believe, with a people's voice down the 
century and over the world for witness, 
that Burns was not only great as a poet, 
but was one of the few whom Heaven has 
sent to speak the truth from the hearts 
of men. (Applause.) He formulated no 
new systems of government, he set forth 
no fresh creeds, he taught no new rules 
of life. He sang because he must. Every 
one of us feels the joy of the strength of 
life and the beauty of its tenderness and 
all the majesty and soft sweetness of 
Nature, and we know somehow that these 
things have in their fuller development 
a deeper and more lasting meaning than 
what we immediately see and feel, but 
we cannot express what that is. We are 
dumb. We feel, Scotsmen not least, 
almost with pain sometimes, that we can- 
not speak even to ourselves of what are 
our deepest emotions. Burns is the 
tongue of the eternal thoughts of ordi- 
nary men and women. (Applause.) He 
does not preach to us. He sings for us the 
songs of our own hearts. (Applause.) 

I have used the figure of the road, and it 
is interesting to note how much in litera- 
ture, which has the claim to be great and 



lasting, is the story of a pilgrimage or a 
journey, beginning with the early story 
of Moses' march in the desert. In our 
own land there are many instances, from 
the days when Chaucer travelled with 
his pilgrims from the Tabard at South- 
wark to the Shrine at Canterbury, to the 
modern times when Stevenson wandered 
with his donkey in the Cevennes. And 
it has struck me that in aH of them, ac- 
cording to the form of their story, there 
is either the promised land or the lights 
of the city or the warmth of the inn and 
the end of the road. Burns, as I have 
said, was a wayfarer too. He did not 
write at a study desk nor look from a col- 
lege window. The Muse was his com- 
panion as he followed the plough. He 
wrote "To Mary in Heaven" lying on his 
back in the stackyard at Ellisland. "Tarn 
o' Shanter" came to him as he wandered 
by the banks of the Nith at Dumfries. 
And clearly he, too, saw the lights at the 
end of the road. It is an old hope, but 
it had seemed something rather transcen- 
dental and unattainable for a work-a-day 
world. Burns tells us of it in the Scot- 
tish tongue straight to our Scottish 
hearts : — 

For a' that and a' that, 
It's coming yet for a' that, 
That man to man the warld o'er 
Shall brithers be for a' that. 
(Applause.) He seems to make it more 
possible for ordinary folk, and especially 
as he gives us in the same song the simple 
Charter of our right of way to it— 

A man's a man for a' that. 
(Applause.) This song is sometimes used 
in a limited and political sense, and 



29 

therefore some people are rather afraid 
of it. But it is our own Charter, and we 
cannot be afraid of it. (Applause.) It is 
the common Charter, and no one can 
limit it. It is a declaration of unity and 
and not of division. (Applause.) This 
may be noticed. There were dining 
clubs at the beginning of last century, 
many of them political, Pitt Clubs and 
Fox Clubs. No Tory would have sat at 
a Fox dinner, and no Whig would have 
eaten with the Pittites. But although 
the concrete theme of " A man's a man for 
a' that " was an attack upon what Burns 
saw as the pretensions of the aristocracy 
and upper classes of his own day, yet to- 
night, here and everywhere, men from 
castle, villa, and cottage sit together at 
the feast. (Applause.) Because, though 
it is a legitimate practical weapon when- 
ever and wherever arrogance and pre- 
tence are found, the essential meaning 
is deeper and more lasting than its ap- 
plicability to the special conditions of 
any particular time. Had Burns at- 
tacked, however powerfully, only the 
immediate questions of his own time in 
Church or State, he would to-day have 
been buried on the forgotten shelves of 
old libraries. He does a great deal more 
than attack. He distils the perpetual 
essence of that manhood which has the 
right to possess the road. It is not Con- 
servatism nor Liberalism nor Socialism, 
nor social rank nor the want of it. It is 
a simple thing, but very great. It is 
"pith o' sense and power o' worth/' (Ap- 
plause.) 

Then let us pray that come it may, — 
As come it will for a' that, — 



30 

That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, 
May bear the gree, and a' that. 

(Applause.) It is this "pith o' sense and 
power o 5 worth" which has saved this 
nation in times past. (Applause.) It is 
the great need to-day. (Applause.) It 
is the Charter of plain men of whatever 
degree. The world is not to be won by 
men with their heads in the intellectual, 
political, financial, or social clouds, often 
with feet of clay, and never by what Car- 
lyle calls "shrill and wire-drawing men." 
It will be won by men with their heads 
set square on broad shoulders, and their 
feet, with the joy of life, ringing on the 
hard road — men in whom the red blood 
flows warm and clean and strong to 
the steady beat of honest hearts. 
(Loud applause.) These are the men 
whom Burns elsewhere places in the cen- 
tre of the King's highway and gives 
royal honours : — 

For thus the royal mandate ran 
Since first the human race began, — 
The social, honest, friendly man, 

Whate'er he be, 
'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan, 

And nonei but he. 

{Applause.) This declaration of manhood 
does not stand alone. The whole of 
Burns' work, and not least his song, 
if we read it aright, is woven 
round it. It is the centre of the com- 
plete web of life. There is no time to say 
more of that to-night, except that the 
qualities of manhood as Burns defines 
them are not self-grown and solitary 
things. They are sown in the home, they 
blossom and bear fruit in the market 
place. And Burns is often in the market 



31 

place, and there his humour, among the 
deepest and most pervading of all his 
gifts, has play. He lived in a time of 
famous wits who were verbal epicures. 
But his wit is never on the surface; it 
is a full, deep human sense which seeks 
right into the springs of life. (Applause.) 
Sometimes so keen and true is it that it 
approaches to something akin to sadness. 
There is no quality, in the sense in which 
Burns had it, which is a more real part 
of the nature of full statured men. It is 
a thing of wisdom, the solvent of the 
rasping wheels of life: — 

O wad some power the gifiie gie us 
To see oorsels as ithers see us, 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us 
Or foolish notion. 

And Burns' humour is always human— 
about people, never about the machine. 
It seldom touches the political machine, 
and, when it does, it is, as in the Elec- 
tion Ballads, more about men than mat- 
ters. Though he lived in Dumfries, he 
hardly ever speaks of the municipal 
machine, for which the Provosts, 
Bailies, and Town Clerks of his day were 
no doubt profoundly thankful. (Laugh- 
ter.) But he gossips at the Cross about 
ministers and doctors, lairds and far- 
mers, schoolmasters and lawyers, all in 
some relationship to that grimly humor- 
ous old gentleman, " Auld Hornie, Satan, 
Nick, or Clootie." (Laughter.) But, far 
beyond these things, he brings out from 
all the homely scenes of life that richness 
of humour which is not jest but fulness 
of insight and sympathy. 

The luntin' pipe and sneeshin' mull 
Are handed oot wi' richt guid-will ; 



32 

The canty auld folk crackin' crouse, 
The young anes rantin' thro' the house ; 
My heart has been sae fain to see them 
That I for joy hae barkit wi' them. 
But when we speak of Burns' Charter of 
manhood, the question is asked, did he 
uphold it himself? I would not trouble 
to speak of that, did it not honestly dis- 
turb so many people. After all, do those 
things which the kindly earth has 
covered for 125 long years really matter 
now? But Burns is entitled to be tried, 
not by a judge in the white robes of 
justiciary, but by a jury of his peers. 
(Applause.) He sums it all up himself: — 

Thou know'st that Thou hast formed me 

With passions great and strong, 
And listening to their witching voice 

Hag often led me wrong. 
Where human weakness has come short, 

Or frailty crept aside, 
Do Thou, All Good ! for such Thou art, 

In shades of darkness hide. 

And when Burns has thus submitted 
himself with confidence at the great 
Judgment seat, why need we bring our 
petty police court complaints against 
him? (Applause.) He had many faults, 
but of the great master sin of hypocrisy, 
which I think may be the most difficult 
to answer for at the Day of Judgment, he 
was free. He was open as the day. (Ap- 
plause.) There is no offence he com- 
mitted, hardly any morbid thought of 
his mind, which he does not in his poems 
or his letters confess to the world. 
How many of us are of sufficient 
stature to dare do that? He opened 
the windows of his soul that the 
sun's rays might search out the dark 



33 

places and the soft winds cleanse and 
purify. And reading again, as I have 
done closely, his Life and his poems— his 
poems in all their varying moods, and 
his Life in all its fitful phases — I do be- 
lieve that whenever the Lantern-bearer 
stood at the door and knocked, the por- 
tal of Burns' soul flew open wide. And 
in the dark days he was himself a lan- 
tern-bearer, letting the light shine on 
"puir auld Scotland." (Applause.) Can 
we think that this light, which shines so 
free and bright even to-day, could come 
from a vessel which was essentially im- 
pure? No, to the jury of plain men, 
Burns is in right of his Charter, the 
qualities so mixed in him that Nature 
might stand up and say to all the world, 
" Here was a Man !" (Loud applause.) 

There is nothing more simple and touch- 
ing than the part which Burns himself 
hoped he might take in the working out 
of " great Nature's plan." In the troub- 
lous days when Burns lived the people 
were faced, though in somewhat different 
outward form, with the same great pro- 
blems which are ours to-day. There is 
this difference, that in those days of Lord 
Braxfield and his contemporaries many 
thought that things were as they were, 
because it was the way of the world and 
so must always be. To-day we are all 
agreed that the great social evils should 
be removed, and that there should be a 
fuller, freer, more beautiful and more 
equal life for us all. (Applause.) We 
still differ bitterly, and perhaps legitim- 
ately, about the methods. To-night is 
not the time to discuss these differences, 



34 

nor are we here to forget these 
great questions. We are here with 
Burns, to try for a moment to realise 
the great common measure of hope and 
purpose. Burns did not ask to drive the 
chariot of wealth and power, or to ride 
on the whirlwind of revolution. He 
wanted to do a very simple, loyal and 
loving thing. 

That I for puir auld Scotland's sake 
Some useful plan or book might make, 
Or sing a sang at least. 

(Applause.) It is ours in this new and 
complex world to make and do some 
" useful plan" to help men's progress. 
It was his to sing. If there be contro- 
versy as to his life or literary criticism 
of some of his other work there is none 
as to his place as a lyric poet. If there 
be dispute as to the meaning of the 
" Divine Right " of Kings or the limits of 
the Voice of the People as the Voice of 
God, this is sure, that the songs of a 
people are their divine inheritance. (Ap- 
plause.) There were songs and singers 
in Scotland long before Burns. Had 
there not been so, there would have been 
no Scotland and no Burns. But he 
breathed into the nation's minstrelsy a 
newer, sweeter, stronger voice, and left 
it to us. our heritage for ever. He sang, 
and to this day all Scottish hearts are 
vibrant with his melody. (Applause.) I 
shall not quote; you will hear his songs 
to-night from voices sweeter than mine. 
These songs are not descriptive of 
Nature. They are Nature — themselves 
the note of the song of the birds, the 
very sound of running waters. (Ap- 



35 

plause.) They are not apart from the 
manhood and womanhood of which we 
have been speaking, but rather the sweet- 
ness which comes from their strength, 
the power which comes from their tender- 
ness. 

And they are carolled and said, 
On wings are they carried. 

Although the maker is dead 
And the singer is buried. 

And with these songs singing in their 
hearts the people go, not singly, but to- 
gether. A social system there must be, 
organisation there must be, high politics 
and even party politics are needful, but 
neither aristocracy nor democracy, 
neither monarchy nor republicanism, 
neither labour nor capital, neither 
socialism nor individualism, will take us 
to the end of the road unless the motive 
power within it is manhood, brave, sin- 
cere and free. (Applause.) Free it must 
be above all — not kept down by powerful 
men or deadened by the overweight of the 
organisation. Freedom is but the full 
realisation of manhood. 

Upon that tree there grows such fruit, 
Its virtues a' can tell, man; 

It raises man aboon the brute, 
It makes him ken himsel', man. 

And only when the mass of men in all 
lands bear God's " guinea stamp " of 
*' pith of sense and power of worth " — 
when " sense and worth o'er a' the world 
do bear the gree for a' that" — then, and 
only then, will the gates of the nations 
be lifted up and the people shall pass 
through, from the rough highway, over 



36 

the streets of the City of Peace to the 
warmth and brotherhood of the world's 
great inn. (Applause.) Is it a dream? 
I cannot and may not discuss that in a 
religious or mystical sense except to say 
this, that it has been the hope of all 
nations since the world began, the cen- 
tral points of all faiths, even those which 
were non-theistic and material. Our 
forefathers in the uplands of Dumfries- 
shire and Galloway read from the big 
ha' Bible as they looked towards the 
gateways of their hills — 

Lift up your heads, o ye gates! and bo 
ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors ! that the 
King of Glory may enter in. 

But let us look at it in relation to Burns. 
During the five years of war since last we 
met, when all our minds were troubled,, 
it sometimes occurred to me, when I was 
thinking of the possibility of presiding on 
the next Burns birthday — Is it any use 
meeting about Burns and speaking of his 
memory as nothing less than " immor- 
tal/' if the central part of his message 
to us was a vain delusion, and men are 
to go out for ever, without hope, spin- 
ning the same ** weary pun' o' tow"? 
Men of " pith of sense " will not travel 
a road which leads them nowhere. 
Burns' life, despite the joy of existence 
which a man with so great and free a 
spirit must have had, was a tragedy. 
Without saying that the tragedy was 
necessary to the message, the two are in 
our minds inseparably bound together. 
Was all this agony of this great spirit 
only to sing to us, in however ' magic- 
music, of a false hope? We ourselves 



37 

have seen, what none before us have, the 
fulfilment of Burns' hope and prayer 
that, when need came, " a virtuous popu- 
lace would stand a wall of fire around 
our much-loved isle." (Applause.) 
Those who stood in that " wall of fire " 
did not guard for us a Slough of 
Despond, but a Highway of Hope. 
And the souls of the brave will surely 
go with us to the end of the way and will 
pass with us or those who come after 
us through the uplifted gates into the 
Promised Land. It may be a long way 
to go, but, come it soon or late, we re- 
member that Burns first began to pray 
for it and then changed his note and fore- 
told it with confidence — 

Then let us pray that come it may, — 
As come it will for a' that, — 

That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, 
May bear the gree and a' that. 

For a' that and a' that, 
It's coming yet for a' that, 
That man to man the world o'er 
Shall brithers be for a' that. 

<Loud applause.) In the silence, there- 
fore, not of sorrow, but of fulness of 
knowledge of what he has been and is 
for Scotland and for us, we drink " The 
Immortal Memory of Robert Burns." 

The company then rose and pledged 
the Memory in solemn silence. After- 
wards there was a spontaneous and pro- 
longed outburst of cheering in tribute to 
the eloquence and power of Mr Grierson's 
oration. 



38 

''DUMFRIES BURNS CLUB." 

Sir J. Crichton-Browne Presents Yaluable 

Relic From Sir James Dewar. 

Sir James Crichton-Browne, who was 
heartily received on rising to propose the 
toast of " The Burns Club of Dumfries/' 
said: — I am a mere satellite this evening 




Sir J. Crichton-Browne. 

to our central orb, Mr Grierson, who has 
so worthily and eloquently proposed the 
familiar but ever-inspiring toast of " The 
Immortal Memory of Burns," and I shall 
be glad if I can in any degTee reflect his 
luminous enthusiasm in submitting to 
you the kindred toast of " The Dumfries 
Burns Club," which has reached its 
hundredth birthday, and exists in order 
to keep the immortal memory bright and 
untarnished. It has fallen to Mr Grier- 
son's lot to revive, after an interval, those 



delightful symposia of our Dumfries 
Burns Club which reach away so far into 
the past and have been, I might say, red- 
letter days in the annals of Dumfries. It 
is his, I hope, to inaugurate this evening 
a new series of these symposia which will 
stretch away down uninterruptedly into 
the peaceful future which is, we are told, 
in store for us, and keep alive in our 
children, and our children's children, the 
proud and grateful feelings which they 
never fail to arouse in us. (Applause.) 
For four years — terrible, harrowing, woe- 
ful, glorious years — our Burns Club festi- 
vals have been in abeyance, but I do not 
think that during these years Burns has 
been less in our thoughts than he would 
have been had our celebrations continued, 
for to those of us, early steeped in his 
poetry, throughout all the changeful 
vicissitudes of the war his words have, 
I am sure, recurred to us from time to 
time as the best possible expression of 
our surging emotions. (Applause.) 
Like us, Burns passed through troublous 
times, and his life indeed was one long 
warfare — a tragic conflict with adverse 
forces which, notwithstanding his cour- 
ageous resistance, wounded and crippled 
and finally overwhelmed him though vic- 
tory came after he was no more. Apart 
altogether from the difficulties in which 
his own indiscretions involved him, 
" affliction was enamoured of his parts 
and he was wedded to calamity/' Failure 
dogged the footsteps of this greatly-gifted 
man, and it is impossible to scan his 
biography without almost shuddering at 
the dark destiny that pursued him from 
his very boyhood, frustrating all his 



40 

manly endeavours for that modest com- 
petency which would have enabled him 
to give free play to his genius. Hard 
work and frugal living availed not to 
compensate for the poor soil and high 
rent of the farm of Mount Oliphant from 
which his father was ejected. The work- 
shop in Irvine, in which he had started 
flax-dressing, was burnt down and left 
him without a sixpence. The farm at 
Lochlea was a ruinous venture under a 
hard and grinding factor, and so was 
Mossgiel, to which he and his brother 
removed, for there backward seasons and 
bad crops again stranded them. 
Throughout the sudden and brilliant 
triumphs of Edinburgh he was harassed 
by the problem what he was to do to make 
a livelihood, and when he emerged from 
these and settled at Ellisland, bent on 
persevering industry, fresh trouble con- 
fronted him. There was no success. The 
very nag he had bought and got into good 
condition for the Dumfries Fair died sud- 
denly of an unsuspected affection of the 
spine ; the farm didn't pay its way, and 
even with his hard-earned stipend of £50 
a year as an exciseman, he could not 
make both ends meet. When launched 
on purely official life in our town of Dum- 
fries, he was threatened with ruin be- 
cause of some unguarded words which 
would to-day be described as mildly de- 
mocratic. Even on his death-bed he was 
haunted by a dun. Burns was indeed a 
man whom, 

Unmerciful disaster 

Followed fast and followed faster, 

and looking back on his career it is now 
impossible to say whether the disasters 



that befel him blunted or whetted his 
poetic powers. Clouds as well as sun- 
shine are necessary for the fruitful land. 
Of men, as well as of trees exposed to 
storms, it is sometimes true that " the 
firmer they root them the louder it 
blows." Had Burns enjoyed comfortable 
days and smug respectability we might 
never have had " Man was made to 
mourn," or " The Jolly Beggars." (Ap- 
plause.) Some of the sweetest of his 
songs were crooned in moments of the 
deepest despondency. His humour was 
the complement of his melancholy. His 
satiric wit was a protest against hypo- 
crisy and the slights put upon him. His 
tenderness and sympathy would have 
been impossible but for the sufferings he 
endured. Perhaps, on the other hand, he 
might have risen to still higher nights 
in the empyrean than those he achieved 
had he not been clogged by earthly 
cares; and this seems certain, that the 
hardships and disappointments he passed 
through and the anodynes to which they 
drove him cut ^hort his days and cur- 
tailed the volume of his production. He 
was only 37 when he died, and " full 
surely his greatness was a-ripening." 
(Applause.) The splendid elasticity of 
Burns' spirit and the inexhaustible good- 
ness of his heart are shown forth by the 
way in which through all his troubles he 
rallied from their crushing effects, poured 
forth again his stream of poesy, limpid 
and sparkling as ever, and exercised a 
personal charm and witchery that fasci- 
nated all who came within his sphere. 
As Syme, who knew and loved him, said, 
f He was burnt to a cinder;" but even 



42 

then he glowed with the old radiance, for 
within a few weeks of his death he com- 
posed that exquisite song which Men- 
delssohn caught up into heavenly har- 
mony, " O, wert thou in the cauld 
blast," and that witty election squib, 
"Who will buy my troggin?" (Applause.) 
There was one misfortune that befel 
Burns that had no redeeming quality or 
wholesome reaction, but was all evil, and 
that was the death in 1791, at the age of 
42, of his patron, the Earl of Glencairn, 
who was not only hig patron, but I ven- 
tuie to think, the best, the wisest, the 
most constant and helpful of his friends. 
(Applause.) Burns was introduced to 
Lord Glencairn, the 14th Earl, who took 
his title from one of the most picturesque 
upland valleys in our country, by his 
cousin-german, Mr James Dalrymple of 
Orangefield, Ayr, who also furnished 
Burns with the pony on which he jour- 
neyed to Edinburgh. Lord Glencairn 
had artistic tastes and a love of poetry, 
inherited, no doubt, from his mother — the 
daughter of a poor violinist and music 
master in Ayr, but adopted and enriched 
by an Indian Nabob — and so he at once 
appreciated Burns' merits, to use Burns' 
own words, " took him in hand," and 
carved out whatever success marked his 
future career. He it was who secured 
Burns' entrance to the best set of Edin- 
burgh society, who made him known to 
Dugald Stewart, Mackenzie, Blair, Mon- 
boddo, and all the men of light and lead- 
ing in the Scotland of the period, who 
introduced him to Creech, the publisher, 
who persuaded the Caledonian Hunt to 
subscribe for 400 copies of the Edinburgh 



43 

edition, who interested the Scottish 
nobility in the work, and who was in- 
strumental in securing the appointment 
in the Excise. He believed in Burns, and 
from first to last showed him steadfast 
kindness, and it was therefore a sad and 
ill-fated day for Burns when, in 1790, just 
when he and Jean were happy for a little 
at Ellisland, and when he had excelled 
himself in " Tarn o' Shanter," Lord 
Glencairn was attacked by illness which 
necessitated his wintering abroad, and 
carried him off in the prime of his life in 
January, 1791. No one who studies the 
relations between them will doubt that,, 
had Lord Glencairn survived, the last 
five critical years of Burns' life would 
have been very diffeient from what they 
were. Lord Glencairn was a man of high 
and upright character, and of a generous 
nature. He had great influence with 
Burns, who deferred to his judgment, and 
was deeply attached to him. Had he 
lived, he might have swayed him in the 
right direction; he would most probably 
have secured for him that promotion in 
the Excise which he desired and which 
would have freed him from sordid 
anxiety, and he would certainly never 
have allowed the pecuniary embarrass- 
ment and abject misery of his dying days 
But what Lord Glencairn's life might 
have prevented, his death precipitated. 
Burns felt the blow acutely, and it no 
doubt contributed to the recklessness of 
his later years. Burns liberally acknow- 
ledged his obligations to Lord Glencairn, 
and gave fervid utterance to the affection 
and gratitude with which he regarded 
him. During his lifetime he wrote to 



44 

him : — " Your Lordship's patronage and 
goodness have rescued me from obscurity, 
wretchedness, and exile/' and in the 
Lament on his death, amongst its elegiaic 
strains he dwelf on the same theme: — 
In Poverty's low barren vale, 

Thick mist obscure, involved me round, 
Tho' oft I turned the wistful eye 

Nae ray of fame was to be found ; 
Thou found'st me like the morning sun 

That melts the fogs in limpid air; 
The friendless Bard and rustic song 
Became alike thy fostering care. 

The bridegroom may forget the bride 

Was made his wedded wife yestreen ; 
The monarch may forget the crown 

That on his head an hour hath been ; 
The mother may forget the child 

That smiles sae sweetly on her knee ; 
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn, 

And a' that thou hast done for me. 

In a letter to Glencairn's sister, Lady 
Elizabeth Cunningham, in 1791, Burns 
wrote : — " If among my children I shall 
have a son that has a heart, he shall hand 
it down to his child as a family honour 
a,nd a family debt, that my dearest exist- 
-ence I owe to the noble heart of Glen- 
cairn." He named his fourth son, born 
12th August, 1794, three years after the 
Earl's death, James Glencairn Burns, 
and that son, who became Colonel Burns, 
now perpetuates the name of Glencairn 
on his tombstone on the wall of the mau- 
soleum in St. Michael's Churchyard. 
(Applause.) 

I think you will agree with me that 
Burns' association with Lord Glencairn 
was a moving and memorable episode in 
his history. Well, of that episode it is 
my privilege to present to the Burns Club 



45 

this evening what will, I think, be re- 
garded as an interesting and valuable 
souvenir. In Paterson's edition of 
Burns, published in Edinburgh in six 
volumes in 1891, and edited by Scott 
Douglas, I find the following under date 
January 25th, 1787.— "On this the Poet's 
birthday the Earl of Glencairn presented 
to him a silver snuffbox. The lid shows 
a five-shilling coin of the Reign of Charles 
I., dated 1644. On an inner and carved 
bottom of the box Burns has, with his 
own hand, recorded the fact and the date 
of presentation." That silver snuffbox 
presented to Burns by Lord Glencairn on 
his birthday exactly 133 years ago, at a 
dinner of the Caledonian Hunt, lies on 
the table before me, and I am commis- 
sioned by the owner, one of the most dis- 
tinguished men of science of the age, Sir 
James Dewar, to offer it to the acceptance 
of the Dumfries Burns Club. (Loud ap- 
plause.) On the 12th of July, 1894, at the 
close of the season, Sir James Dewar 
Jooked in at Christie's showroom in Lon- 
don, and noticed amongst other silver 
articles and coins this box. which at- 
tracted him by its artistic quality. On 
picking it up to look at it, he found that 
it had a double bottom, and on removing 
the outer casing he read this inscription, 
unmistakably, as regards the signature at 
any rate, in Ihe hand-writing of Burns: — 

Presented 

By my highly esteemed 

Patron and Benefactor, 

the Earl of Glencairn. 

25 January, A.D., 1787, 

Robt. Burns. 

Remuneratio ejus cum 

Altissimo. 



46 

Sir James had not seen the catalogue in 
which the box was correctly described as 
having belonged to Burns, and so he went 
back to the sale next day thinking that 
perhaps its special significance was not 
known, but determined anyhow to ac- 




Sir Jam<>s Dewar, F.R.S., LL.D., Etc. 

Donor of the Glencairn Snuff-box. 



quire the precious relic, for he is a pro- 
found and reverent admirer of Burns. 
(Applause.) The box was put up at a 
small figure, but was rapidly run up, and 
ultimately Sir James found that he had 
one competitor left, a man on the oppo- 
site side of -the room, who went on per- 
sistently bidding against him. But Sir 
James was more persistent still, and fin- 
ally the box was knocked down to him 




Silver Snuff-box presented to Burns by the Earl of Glencairn on the Poet' s birthday, 
1787 ; acquired by Sir James Dewar and gifted by him to the Club, through Sir 
James Crichton-Browne. 



48 



at a very large price. (Applause.) When 
the sale was over, Sir James went to the 
man who had been bidding against him 
and said, " I suppose you are a Burns 
worshipper like me and are sorry to have 
missed the box?" " Burns !" the man re- 
plied, " I didn't know the box had any- 
thing to do with Burns. I have been 
bidding on behalf of a Scottish nobleman 
(naming him) who very much wants the 
rare Carolus coin let into the lid of the 
box to add to his collection!" (Laugh- 
ter.) And that leads me, parenthetically, 
to say that apart from its Burns connec- 
tion, this box is very valuable because of 
this coin, which is generally known to 
collectors as the " Oxford Crown," of 
which only eleven specimens are known 
to exist, and as all are in fine condition 
it most probably was never put into cir- 
culation, and is therefore a pattern. The 
dies for this coin were made by Thomas 
Rawlins, Chief Engraver to the King, 
who, when the Tower Mint was seized by 
the Parliament in 1642, removed to Ox- 
ford and produced this extremely fine 
piece of work, all the details of which 
are, as you will see, executed with much 
care. But, for us, the inscription is more 
curious and alluring than the coin. 
Burns had a partiality for scratching on 
glass, and many window panes have 
borne traces of his diamond ring, but 
here we have him scratching on silver 
and essaying a Latin motto — " Remuner- 
atio ejus cum Altissimo " — which means, 
"his recompense is with the Most High," 
and is a graceful compliment to the 
donor of the box. Burns was fond ot 
using scraps of French in his correspond- 



49 

ence, and says in his autobiography that 
he and his brother Gilbert studied Latin 
with John Murdoch, but he could hardly 
have written of his own accord, " Remun- 
eratio ejus cum Altissimo," which looks 
like a quotation, but has not been found 
in any concordance, and which it has 
been suggested was perhaps supplied to 
him by his friend William Nicol, who was 
a classical master in the Edinburgh High 
School. 

What has been the history of this snuff- 
box since Burns' death in 1796 till it ap- 
peared in Christie's saleroom in 1894? 
We may be sure that Burns never parted 
with so dear a memento, and it is un- 
likely that his widow would do so. She 
was left in poverty, but subscriptions 
were immediately got up on her behalf, 
and she continued to live in the house in 
which her husband died until her own 
death in 1834. Then it was ,that Burns' 
household effects, furniture, linen, china, 
etc., were brought to the hammer, and 
that, as Burns' fame had by that time 
risen by leaps and bounds, extraordinaiy 
prices were realised, a tin tea kettle 
bringing £2, an eight-day clock £35, and 
a small wooden chair £3 7s. Then, no 
doubt, it was at that sale that this snuff- 
box was sold, and I think I have dis- 
covered a clue to the purchaser. About 
the date of the sale at Christie's (just 
before it) a newspaper paragraph ap- 
peared in which the reporter said : — " At 
the house of Mr Robert Hepburn, 9 Port- 
land Place, was found a silver snuffbox 
which had been presented to the Poet 
Burns by the Earl of Glencairn." Nov/, 
Hepburn is a Dumfries name. There 



50 

was a Mr John Hepburn selling land in 
the burgh in 1564, and a Mr Hepburn 
apparently in the Town Council in 1715, 
and I can distinctly remember that in 
1854 — that is to say, just 20 years after 
the Burns sale — there was a family of the 
name of Hepburn, a branch, I believe, of 
the Buchan-Hepburns of Haddington- 
shire, who were the owners of Castle- 
dykes. There can be little doubt, I think, 
that some member of that family bought 
the box at the Burns' sale and that it 
remained in the possession of that family 
until 1894. (Applause.) Since 1894 the 
box has been in the hands of Sir James 
Dewar, and has been an object of interest 
and veneration to the many distinguished 
people who have frequented Lady Dewar's 
salon. But Sir James recently made up 
his mind that it should go to some public 
body for permanent preservation, and he 
has happily decided on the Burns Club 
of Dumfries. (Loud applause.) He has 
been urged to bestow it on the British 
Museum, on South Kensington, on the 
Edinburgh Portrait Gallery, on the Anti- 
quarian Society, and in other quarters, 
but has felt that it should go to the place 
where the Poet's ashes rest and where his 
memory is kept green. (Applause.) 
When he hinted to me that he thought 
of our Club, you may depend upon it 
that I did not discourage the notion. 
(Applause.) Sir James Dewar has visited 
Dumfries more than once, has with me 
lingered by the grave of Burns, and by 
the 

Lonely heights and howes, 
Where he paid Nature tuneful vows 
Or wiped his honourable brows. 
Redeemed with toil — 



51 

he has felt the Burns glamour of 
Dumfries, and now pays his tri- 
bute to the memory of the Bard. (Ap- 
plause.) I wish Sir James could have 
been here this evening, but he writes 
to me — " The last thing I want is 
any notoriety about this presentation. 
It is because of my love for you 
that I wish to see the box located 
in your native town." (Applause.) Sir 
James may shrink from notoriety, but 
he cannot escape our heartfelt acknow- 
ledgment of his gift. (Loud applause.) 
The box is really a national treasure 
and will be an heirloom in our Club. 
A new value is, I think, added to 
it by the fact that it comes to us from 
an illustrious man of science, the suc- 
cessor of Davy, and, Faraday, and Tin- 
dall, who, while enlarging the boundaries 
of knowledge, has kept in communion 
with poetry, music, and art, and who is 
a countryman of Robert Burns. (Loud 
applause.) 

The toast was honoured with great en- 
thusiasm. 

The Chairman, in calling upon Mr 
J. W. Whitelaw, said it was a very 
great pleasure to him and to all 
the old members of the Club to 
think that one who had been so 
long associated with the Club, not 
only personally but in a hereditary 
way as Mr Whitelaw had been, was 
there to acknowledge the toast of the 
Club and to speak for them in acknow- 
ledging this gift. (Applause.) 



52 

Mr J. W. Whitelaw, in respond- 
ing to the toast, said: — I have a 
very pleasant duty to perform,., 
namely, to tender our sincere thanks 
to Sir James Crichton-Browne foT 
the able manner in which he has pro- 
posed the toast of the Dumfries Burns 




Mr J. W. Whitelaw. 

Club. He has alluded to the forma- 
tion of the Club 100 years ago, and 
I would venture in reply to add 
to what Sir James has so well 
said a few remarks regarding those three 
gentlemen who were the original office- 
bearers of the Club. They were Mr John 
Commelin, Mr John Syme, and Mr 
William Grierson. Mr Commelin was 
a native of the Stewartry, and was 
proprietor of King's Grange, in the 



53 

parish of Urr. He was for a 
time in business as a writer in Kirk- 
cudbright, but afterwards came to Dum- 
fries, and ultimately became agent 
of the British Linen Bank here. 
He was a man of excellent liter- 
ary taste and a good classical 
scholar. Mr William Grierson was 
a successful draper in Dumfries, and 
lived in Irish Street, where his son, th« 
late Dr Grierson, of Thornhill, was born. 
He seems also to have been interested in 
agricultural matters, as he was tenant of 
the farm of Boatford, near Thornhill, and 
on retiring from business in Dumfries he 
went to reside at Grovehill, which is quite 
near Boatford. He was a Justice of the 
Peace for the county of Dumfries, and 
seems to have taken a somewhat promin- 
ent part in the public life of the town and 
district. It was Mr John Syme, how- 
ever, who had most intimate relations 
with the Poet. He also was connected 
with the Stewartry, although not, I think, 
a native of it. His father was a success- 
ful Writer to the Signet, and owned the 
property of Barncailzie, in the parish of 
Kirkpatrick-Durham. John Syme at first 
studied law, but gave that up and joined 
the Army, and ultimately took up farm- 
ing at Barncailzie. Subsequently 
that property had to be sold on ac- 
count of the failure of the Ayr Bank, in 
which his father was involved. John 
Syme then came to Dumfries and took up 
residence at Ryedale, when he became 
distributor of stamps for the district. 
His office was on the ground floor of the 
house near the foot of Bank Street — then 
known as the Wee Vennel — on the first 



54 

floor of which Burns occupied three or 
four rooms when he came to Dumfries 
from Ell island. A great friendship 
sprang up between the two men, and- 
Burns was very frequently at Kyedale ; 
it was with Syme that he made his 
famous tour through Galloway, and Mr 
Syme showed many acts of kindness to 
the Poet during his lifetime, and to his 
widow and family after his death. Mr 
Syme seems to have had very consider- 
able literary ability, and there was at 
one time a question as to whether 
he should be the editor of the "Work 
and Life of Burns," published after 
the Poet's death . for the benefit of 
his widow and family, and which 
produced quite a considerable sum. 
In the end Dr Currie, of Liverpool, 
who was a Dumfriesshire boy, was 
chosen as editor, and Mr Syme was 
at very considerable trouble in col- 
lecting material for and in otherwise 
assisting Dr Currie, who was a per- 
sonal friend of his own. Those 
three gentlemen to whom I have 
referred were the leaders of a coterie 
of Burns enthusiasts in Dumfries 
who, before the formation of the Club, 
used to meet every 25th of January and 
celebrate the Poet's birthday ; it was that 
coterie who initiated the movement 
which resulted in the building of the 
mausoleum; and at the dinner of 25th 
January, 1819, held in the Globe Inn, they 
resolved to purchase a punch bowl for 
use by the subscribers on similar occa- 
sions. I mention this fact as it was the 
nucleus out of which the Club sprang. 
The bowl was obtained from a well-known- 



55 

manufacturer of the time, Spode of 
Staffordshire, at a cost of £15, and was 
exhibited at a business meeting of the 
subscribers on 18th January, 1820; and at 
that meeting it was resolved to form the 
subscribers, whose names are given on 
the bowl, into a society to be called the 
Burns Club of Dumfries — (applause) — 
and Mr Commelin was appointed presi- 
dent, Mr Syme vice-president, and Mr 
Grierson secretary and treasurer of the 
Society. At the dinner held a week later 
in the King's Arms Inn, the bowl was 
' han'selled," and it became a great 
feature of the annual dinner for 
many years. It still exists, though 
in a rather dilapidated condition, and 
I am glad to see it on the table to- 
night. Such was the origin of the 
Dumfries Burns Club, and it is well 
that we should have in our memories 
to-night the three gentlemen who 
acted as sponsors for us at our 
nativity. I wonder if these gossips 
" keekit in the loof " of the baby club and 
in their imagination foresaw that their 
original number of thirty-five would a 
century later expand to a membership of 
176, and that many Burns Clubs would 
spring up not only in this coun- 
try but all over the world wher- 
ever a little band of Scotsmen 
were gathered together. (Applause.) 
In addition to proposing this toast, Sir 
James has, with his well-known charm of 
phraseology, made a very valuable and 
interesting presentation on behalf of Sir 
James Dewar. This is of such import- 
ance that I think it warrants full official 
recognition, and as our secretary is also 
I 



56 

to say a few words in reply, I leave him 
to deal with the matter. I think, Mr 
Secretary, I have kept within the time 
limit you set me, but if you will bear 
with me a minute longer I would also 
like to make a presentation to the Club, 
although on a much lower plane that the 
one I have just referred to. When 
Mr Syme's effects were distributed 
by public roup after his death, my 
father purchased at the sale a wooden 
toddy ladle, and the tradition of the 
time was that this ladle was fre- 
quently in use on the occasion of 
Burns' visits to Ryedale. Therefore it 
may possibly be a link with the Poet, 
and it undoubtedly is one with, his 
friend, Mr John Syme, who was one of 
the authors of our existence. I beg that 
the Club will become custodiers of it, if 
they will condescend to accept so humble 
a gift. (Applause.) Sir James, I have 
again to thank you for your proposal of 
this toast. (Applause.) To the Burns 
Club my personal thanks are due for the 
very great honour they have done me in 
asking me to respond to their toast on 
this the centenary meeting of the Club. 
(Applause.) Long may the Dumfries 
Burns Club continue to nourish, to keep 
green the memory of the Bard, and to 
preserve that spirit of Scottish nationality 
of which he was the embodiment, and 
which, fused to a white heat by the fire 
of his immortal genius, shines through 
and illuminates his Works. (Loud ap- 
plause.) 

The Chairman, in calling upon Mr 
M'Burnie, referred to him as the " heart 
and marrow of Dumfries Burns Club." 



57 

Mr M'Burnie, in reply, said: — It is 
scarcely fair that an ex- Dean of the 
Faculty of Procurators should pass on 
the important duty of thanking, in name 
of the Club, the generous donors of the 
gifts which have been presented to us 
this evening, but I shall endeavour to do 




Mr J. M'Burnie. 

so briefly. It is not often in the history 
of our club that such a valuable relic 
comes our way unsought. I think 
you will all agree that the snuff-box 
which you see on the table is a hand- 
some gift, and the unassuming way in 
which Sir James Dewar has asked it 
should be given to us stamps it with the 
true spirit which should animate 
every gift, in that it is the spon- 
taneous freewill offering of the giver. 
(Applause.) Sir James Crichton-Browne 



58 

has truly said, however, that the fact of 
this gift being presented to us cannot 
remain hidden, and I am certain that our 
friends of the Press will see that Sir 
James Dewar's generosity to us is known 
from John o' Groats to Land's End, aye^ 
and also in those Dominions beyond the 
seas where our National Poet's name 
and works are loved, honoured, and re- 
vered as warmly and as worthily as they 
are in the old town of Dumfries. (Ap- 
plause.) The gift is doubly valuable to 
us, coming as it does through one 
of our oldest surviving vice-presidents, 
our illustrious townsman, Sir James 
Crichton-Browne. (Applause.) I should 
like to draw your attention to Sir James 
Crichton-Browne's own modesty in con- 
nection with this matter. I think if he 
had told his own part as fully as he has 
given us the history of the gift, we should 
find that, but for his friendship with the 
giver and his judicious mention of our 
Club, we might very possibly now be 
hearing that some one of those other in- 
stitutions which he mentioned was glory- 
ing in being the proud possessor of this 
wonderful prize. I think you gentlemen, 
who know Sir James so well, and appre- 
ciate his persuasive eloquence, will not 
forget to connect him in our thoughts 
with that other Sir James when you 
think of our good fortune, and I im- 
agine I can hear some of you saying 
" They're a worthy pair." (Applause.) 
One might enlarge indefinitely on this 
theme, but the time at my disposal to- 
night forbids, so we can only con- 
gratulate ourselves and mark our grati- 
tude to the giver as best we may. (Ap- 



59 

plause.) Mr Whitelaw is one of our- 
selves, and his bringing with him some 
tangible: token of his affection for the 
Club, of which he is now one of the old- 
est members, is only what we might ex- 
pect. (Applause.) But, gentlemen, we 
do not always get what we expect, or 
^ven what* we sometimes consider w& 
might justly claim as our due, more 
especially in the way of Burns relics, 
and his action to-night is therefore all 
the more to be commended as an ex- 
ample for others to emulate. (Applause.) 
The article he has handed over to-night 
was the property of a gentleman who was 
not only one of the first members of our 
Club, but who was also one of the clos- 
est friends of the Poet during these last 
trying years in Dumfries. It therefore 
serves to remind us both of Burns and 
of Syme, and so will prove an interesting, 
addition to that collection in the Burns 
House, which we are anxious to enrich. 
(Applause.) I have now to hand over to the 
Club, on behalf of Mr James Craik, Dal- 
grange, Cambuslang, an old son of Dum- 
fries, a bread basket said to have been 
the property of " Bonnie Jean," and an 
old banner which was carried in the pro- 
cession on the occasion of the Dumfries 
Centenary celebrations in 1859. Mr 
Craik narrates that the bread basket was 
given by Jean Armour to an old woman: 
who used to work for her, called Mary 
Burnie, and was given by the latter to 
a member of his own family. He states 
that his father had many times gone 
messages for " Bonnie Jean," as their 
houses were not far apart. The history 
of the banner he does not know quite 



so well, but he is aware of the fact that it 
was some time in the Wilson family, one 
of the members of which, Alex. Wilson, 
cabman, died recently in Dumfries, and 
that it was carried in the 1859 proces- 
sion, which he states he well remembers, 
because in his anxiety to see his father, 
who was in the company, he overbal- 
anced himself, and fell on his head on 
to the pavement below, necessitating a 
close acquaintance with sticking plaster, 
this fact impressing the matter in his 
memory. (Laughter.) Some of you 
gentlemen may remember Mr Craik, 
as I myself recollect a brother 
who carried on business at the 
Pent House End. He wishes to 

present these gifts to us in name of his 
late mother, who resided at the Pent 
House End for over half a century. 
(Applause.^ I have already thanked Mr 
Craik in your name, but I am sure you 
will wish him to know that you appre- 
ciate his kindness in returning these 
articles to Dumfries, and making them 
over to your care. (Applause.) You 
have before you to-night, I think, the 
first gift made to our Club, the portrait 
of Burns, painted by J. Gilfillan, minia- 
ture painter, who joined our Club in 1821, 
and who presented this portrait to the 
Club, along with a companion portrait of 
" Bonnie Jean," the following year. 
These portraits graced the dinner in 
1822, and while only one of them is here 
to-night, it is accompanied by a replica 
of its companion, the original being now 
in the National Portrait Gallery in Edin- 
burgh. How it came there is a story too 
long to tell to-night, but we are satisfied 



61 

that in the replica before you, which 
was presented to the Club by Sir John 
Findlay, Edinburgh, in amicable settle- 
ment of a long standing dispute, we have 
secured a work of art well worthy of 
hanging in the place from which the 
original has been removed. (Hear, 
hear.) In addition to those brought 
under your notice by Mr Whitelaw, I 
should like to mention only one of those 
original members whose name is on 
the old punch bowl, Mr G. W. Boyd, 
W.S., a brother of the Mrs Maxwell of 
Gribton of that day. It had been lon^ 
thought that the last survivor of our 
original members was the late, Mr 
William Gordon, writer, father of Mr 
Henry Gordon, sheriff clerk, and Mr H. 
Sharpe Gordon of Glense, who both some- 
time held the office of secretary of our 
Club, but I find a minute in Mr Henry 
Gordon's handwriting stating that at 
the time of his father's death he had dis- 
covered Mr Boyd was then surviv- 
ing, and resident at that time in the Isle 
of Man. I find Mr Boyd survived 
until 1887, so that he was a member of 
this Club for no less than 67 years, and 
at the time of his death was not only our 
oldest member but was also the oldest 
member of the W.S. Society, of which 
he had been a member for the long period 
of 71 years. I do not know his age at the 
time of his death, but you will see from 
the figures given that his membership of 
these societies had certainly not impaired 
his vitality. (Laughter.) Mr Whitelaw 
has mentioned the house in Bank Street, 
and it may therefore be fitting to read at 
this stage a communication dealing with 



62 

this subject, sent to me by Dr J. Maxwell 
Wood, Edinburgh, a former president of 
the Club, with a request that I should 
bring it before you in the course of our 
proceedings to-night. His letter is ad- 
dressed to the chairman and members of 
the Dumfries Burns Club at the Centen- 
ary celebrations 1920, and is as follows: — 

May I, as a life-member, be privileged to 
express the deep pleasure I feel at the very 
immediate prospect of the Dumfries Burns 
Club attaining its centenary? Much water 
has flowed underneath Devorgilla's bridge 
since the 18th January, 1820, when the 
Club came into existence, which, expressed 
as a century of consistent and useful ex- 
istence, must give us pause. And now the 
question arises— at least for those of us not 
in immediate touch — of how this happy com- 
pletion of years is to be notched in the post 
of practical appreciation. For myself, it has 
been a cherished thought for many years 
that some day, not alone would the house 
where the Poet died have its doors thrown 
wide to the Burns Pilgrim, but also that the 
house in Bank Street, where the Bard dwelt 
on retiring from Ellisland, would come to be 
an additional shrine in Dumfries for his 
devotees. In a word, is it not possible for 
the Dumfries Burns Club to acquire posses- 
sion of the Bank Street House, restore it as 
far as possible to the semblance of its ori- 
ginal condition, and so preserve and throw 
open to the public an important landmark 
of the Dumfries period of Burns's life? A fur- 
ther elaboration of the scheme might be the 
restoration of Syme's tax-office below, which 
could be utilised as a repository for such 
things as would appeal to the visitor, much 
as the "Old Edinburgh" bookseller's shop at 
the base of John Knox's house here. It may 
be,however,that other plans have been made, 



63 

or that great difficulties are in the way. 
Nevertheless, I take this unique opportunity 
of making the suggestion. 

I hold in my hand the original minute 
book of the Club, which contains 
most interesting information, but time 
forbids us going into it at any 
length to-night. One is, however, 
impressed with the care with which 
the then secretary recorded that 
"the company was highly respect- 
able," all the more that he concludes 
his report of several of those early din- 
ners with the note, " three of the Club 
glasses were broken at the dinner table 
by accident." (Laughter.) Gentlemen, 
I think we may feel quite entitled to 
class ourselves under the description 
given by that secretary of his company 
— (laughter and hear, hear> — but I am very 
certain that your present secretary will 
have no occasion to add a note to his 
minute reporting any disaster to our 
table appointments to-night. (Laughter.) 
It is interesting to recall that one 
of those present at the Club din- 
ner in 1822 was James Hogg, the 
"Ettrick Shepherd," who was then 
an honorary member of the Club, 
and that he was one of the singers 
who on that occasion entertained 
the company. At that same din- 
ner there were admitted as honorary 
members rather a famous group, 
and it might not be amiss to give 
their names— Robert, William, and 
James Glencairn Burns, sons of the 
Poet; Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Moore, 
Thomas Campbell, James Montgomery, 
Allan Cunningham, George Thomson, 



General Dirom of Mount Annan, 
W. R. Keith Douglas, M.P., and 
Professor William Tennant, Dollar. 
(Applause.) Before sitting down I 
might mention two other recent gifts to 
the Club, the one by Sir J. M. 
Barrie when he purchased for a hand- 
some figure the items on exhibition in the 
Burns House which had belonged to the 
late Provost James Lennox, and the other 
by our good friend and fellow-member, 
Walter Scott, of New York, who pur- 
chased, also for a very considerable sum, 
and again restored to our custody, the 
MSS. connected with the Dumfries Cen- 
tenary celebrations in 1896. Mr Scott 
is a gentleman who never forgets 
to send us a greeting as each 
Christmas and anniversary day 
comes round, and one who does 
much more good work for Burns Clubs 
and other societies of every description 
than ever comes to the knowledge of the 
majority of our members. (Applause.) 
These have already been fully brought 
to your notice, but as this is our 
first dinner since they were received 
I may be pardoned for recalling 
them to your memory on this his- 
toric anniversary. Gentlemen, I must 
now conclude, and I ask you to 
accord your hearty thanks to the 
donors of the valuable and interesting 
gifts by which the Club has to-night been 
enriched, and I shall thereafter endea- 
vour to convey your appreciation to them 
in suitable form. (Loud applause.) 

The Chairman suggested that Dr Max- 
well Wood's letter be remitted to the Com- 



65 

mittee for their sympathetic considera- 
tion, and this proposal was adopted. 

The Chairman, in calling upon Lord 
St. Vigeans, said the fact that that 
gentleman had been Sheriff of Dumfries- 
shire and Galloway brought to his mind 
one sentence he was sure they would all 
wish him to say. There were a great 
many people there that night, but there 
was one vacant place which all of them, 
and especially the older members of the 
Club, felt created a great blank. In all 
his membership of the Club he had not 
seen the place of Sheriff Campion once 
vacant. Unfortunately that night 
Sheriff Campion was not present. He 
could conceive of no man who more fully 
met Burns' conception of simple, true, 
courteous, and gentle manhood than 
Sheriff Campion. • (Applause.) They 
hoped that before very long he would 
again be restored to his place in the 
Court, where he not only had the appre- 
ciation of all who practised before him 
but the confidence of every member of 
the public. (Applause.) He had already 
taken upon himself, in anticipation of 
what he knew was the desire of the 
members, to convey to Sheriff Campion 
by letter, so that he would receive it at 
the time the dinner was beginning, an 
expression of their sympathy with him 
and their feeling of regret that he was 
not able to be present. (Applause.) It 
was a great honour to them that Lord 
St. Vigeans should have come so far to 
renew at that board of friendship his 
associations with Dumfries. (Applause.) 

E 



"SCOTTISH LITERATURE. " 

Lord St. Vigeans, in proposing the 
toast of "Scottish Literature*/' said: — 
The importance and wide range of such 
a subject might well appal the stoutest 
heart, but my task becomes all the more 
onerous when I see the distinguished 
names of the men who are to reply — men 




Lord St. Vigeans. 

who have made their mark in the world 
of Letters, and have helped to swell the 
stream of Scottish Literature, which has 
flowed down to us from early times, in 
such rich and copious volume. Scot- 
land geographically is a small country, 
and was little known to Continental 
nations even in the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, except through the 
gallant bearing of her soldiers and the 
breadth of the erudition of her scholars 



67 

who sought glory and learning in the 
■Courts and Universities of Europe; but 
it early made its mark in history as the 
home of a shrewd and far-seeing race, 
gifted with no mean talent for grasping 
and expounding the eternal verities ot 
life. (Applause.) If we surveyed the 
whole arena of Scottish literature, ana 
-could claim no other names than those 
of Burns and Scott, Carlyle and Steven- 
son, Scotland might proudly say that 
she had made a memorable contribution 
to the roll of names of imperishable 
power and genius. (Applause.) The 
earlier literature of Scotland, from its 
archaic form, and its many obsolete 
words and phrases, is apt to repel the 
general reader, but it well repays perusal. 
In Barbour, Dunbar, Gavin Douglas and 
Sir David Lindsay, you find a genuine 
touch of the true spirit of poetry, in 
spite of the mediaeval forms in which 
their works are cast. Barbour's Brus 
may be taken as the earliest example of 
cur vernacular literature; and if noth- 
ing else in the Brus lived, his Apostrophe 
to Liberty is worthy of a place in our re- 
membrance-— 

Ah, Fredome is a noble thing, 
Fredome maks man to have liking, 
Fredome all solace to man gives; 
He lives at ease, who> freely lives ; 
A noble heart may have nane ease, 
Na ellys nocht that may him please, 

Giff Fredome faille ; 

He sulci think Fredome mair to prize 
Than all the gold in warld that is." 

(Applause.) That sentiment, ex- 

pressed by a poet who wrote in 
71375, has rung through the centuries in 



the hearts of Scotsmen, and even 
in our own day has inspired our 
men to stern deeds of valour. (Ap- 
plause.) But Barbour did more than 
bequeath to us these stanzas. He did for 
the Scots language what Chaucer did for 
English. He made it a living language,, 
fit for expressing all shades of emotion,. 
and capable of becoming a literary 
vehicle of thought. What is noteworthy 
of these early makaris is that they 
founded before the sixteenth century a 
distinctive national school of Scottish 
literature, created by men who had not 
only the power of vivid description, but 
also possessed the sacred gift of im- 
agination, besides being imbued with a 
lofty sense of patriotism and a love for 
the dignity and well-being of Scotland— 
that patriotism which has been called 
the most genuine, the most intense, and 
the most illogical thing in the world. 
(Laughter and applause.) These char- 
acteristics are further developed in the 
Scottish Ballads, which display so much 
genuine feeling, and exhibit, in its rar- 
est form, the depth and intensity of 
human emotion. As a distinguished 
critic has said, they are ardently poetic, 
and are inspired by a Homeric power of 
rapid narration. In Sir Patrick Spens 
you have a vivid description of a storm 
at sea: — 

They hadna gaen a league, a league, 

A league, but barely three, 
When the lift grew dark, the wind blew 
loud, 

And guiiy grew the sea. 
The anchors brak and the topmast lap, 

It was sic a deadly storm, 



69 

And the waves cam' o'er the broken ship. 
Till a' her sides were torn. 

Or take another aspect in a Ballad 
which is native to the South Country, 
"Fair Helen of Kirkconnell" :— 

Oh Helen fair, beyond compare, 
I'll weave a garland of thy hair, 

Shall bind my heart for evermair 
Until the day I dee. 

The years between what may be 
termed the ancient and modern writers 
in Scotland were, unfortunately, years 
of sturt and strife, filled with persecu- 
tions, polemical controversies, and sad 
bickerings on ecclesiastical questions. 
Those years produced much controver- 
sial literature which showed great learn- 
ing and an intricate knowledge of eccle- 
siastical subtleties, not unmixed with 
vicious bitterness. These controversies 
are, happily, in a large measure forgot- 
ten, and with them much if not all of 
"the literature to which they gave birth. 
Those years are unrelieved by any light- 
some spirit of poetry, save the homely 
pastorals of the gentle and joyous Allan 
Ramsay, and the outburst of song that 
centred round the person of the brave 
and handsome but unfortunate young 
Chevalier — touching and pathetic as be- 
came a lost cause. Their intensity is 
■only equalled by some of the later poems 
of the Highlands in which you hear the 
exile's passionate yearning for the lone 
sheiling of the misty Isle. 

Modern Scottish literature may be 
said to begin with Burns; but, of course, 
that subject is not permitted, and if it 



70 

were permitted, it would be perfectly un- 
necessary to add a single word to the elo- 
quent tribute which you have heard 
from your Chairman to-night. (Ap- 
plause.) Burns was followed by Scott 
and the coterje of brilliant intellectuals, 
such as Jeffrey, Cockburn, Francis Hor- 
ner, and Brougham, who, in the early 
part of the nineteenth century made 
Edinburgh as a centre of literature and 
erudition famous the world over. (Ap- 
plause.) But it would be presumption 
for me to say anything of Scott and his 
contemporaries, who only need to be- 
mentioned to remind you of all their 
glorious literary achievements. (Ap- 
plause.) 

Then a gigantic figure looms out of 
the darkness of a smoky den in Chelsea 
— Thomas Carlyle — (cheers) — who domi- 
nated the latter part of the century, and 
whom you may justly claim as a product 
of Dumfriesshire. (Applause.) It is 
sometimes said that Carlyle's day is- 
past, and that he is not read now as our 
fathers read him. But that criticism is 
beside the mark. He was above air 
things a prophet with a message, and I 
venture to think that his mission was 
accomplished. (Applause.) His philo- 
sophy, so far as it was sound, has sunk 
into the consciousness of the nation, and 
has become part of the intellectual pro- 
cesses of the individual. (Applause.) 
There let him rest — a great figure, a 
powerful intellect, and a mighty force 
which moved the nations to consider 
their ways and be wise. (Applause.) 
Then comes a tall, gaunt figure, wasted 



71 

by illness, but sustained by all the in- 
domitable spirit of his ancestors — Robert 
Louis Stevenson. (Applause.) Whether 
you travel with him from the inhospit- 
able shores of Mull across broad Scotland 
in company with vain-glorious but lov- 
able Allan Breck, or take a hand at the 
cartes with the fugitive Cluny Mac- 
pherson, in the cave on lonely Ben Alder, 
whether you float leisurely down the 
Flanders rivers listening to his shrewd 
comments on life and customs on the 
banks, or take a more, venturesome 
voyage to the South Seas to fight the 
pirates of Treasure Island, Stevenson is 
always delightful, an ideal expositor of 
style, and a past master of his craft. 
(Applause.) I am not going to dilate 
upon the work of J. M. Barrie, who is 
also one of the brilliant sons of Dum- 
friesshire, beyond saying that he has not 
only idealised the patient, humble vir- 
tues of the Scots peasantry, but by his 
plays has added to the gaiety of 
nations. (Applause.) On the man who 
has made famous the scenery of Gallo- 
way and its wild life in the olden days I 
will not venture to speak in a company 
like the present, in case I should, by 
some literary solecism, betray the fact 
that, after all, I am only an outsider — 
(laughter 1 ) — whose official connection 
with Dumfries and Galloway was all too 
short to enable me to be thoroughly im- 
bued with the spirit of the Moss-Haggs, 
but none too short to enable me to ap- 
preciate the all-pervading kindness and 
exquisite sympathy of their indwellers 
(Applause.) Now, I am done. One 
might be tempted to imitate the advo- 



72 

cate, who was prosing on in the forenoon, 
and when the visitor returned in the 
afternoon was still at it. When the visi- 
tor asked a bystander whether the advo- 
cate was not taking a long time : " Time/' 
said he, " he has long since exhausted 
time; he is now encroaching on eternity/* 
(Laughter.) I have not attempted to 
give any general characterisation of 
Scottish literature. I leave that to the 
more able hands of those who are to re- 
ply. 

I have to couple this toast with the 
names of Sir Herbert Maxwell and 
Joseph Laing Waugh. (Applause.) With 
regard to the first I will only quote the 
lines of Chaucer: 

He was a very parfit gentil Knight, 

And like the clerk of Oxenford, 

For him was leifer han at his beddes head 
A twenty bokes, cladde in black or red, 
Of Aristotle and his philosophic 
Than robes rich, ridel, or sautrie, 
But albeit that he was a philosophre. 

(Applause.) Sir Herbert Maxwell has 
discoursed delightfully upon men, man- 
ners, and nature, and has taken you on 
entrancing expeditions in pursuit of the 
elusive salmon, but besides all that he 
has done great and enduring work in 
archaeology and history, particularly in 
connection with Dumfries and Gal- 
loway. (Applause.) Mr W^augh 
has followed the footsteps of some 
of his great predecessors, and has 
cast the halo of romance round 
the lives and sayings of a Dumfries- 
shire village, which, for obvious reasons, 
will be nameless. (Laughter and ap- 



73 

plause.) These gentlemen are worthy 
successors of a Jong line of literary- 
Scotsmen, and are carrying on the best 
traditions of Scottish literature. (Ap- 
plause.) There is an old story in the 
Saga of Gisli, the outlaw, about Thor- 
grim, who was slain, like many other 
Scandinavians, in a blood feud. He was 
buried, as was then usual, in his ship, 
and preparatory to his journey to Val- 
halla, the hell shoon were bound securely 
on his feet according to the then sacred 
ritual, and the earth was heaped upon 
his howe or burial mound. In after 
years it was noticed that one side of 
Thorgrim's burial howe was never 
touched by frost or snow, but always re- 
mained green all through the Arctic 
winter of Iceland. The reason is ex- 
plained by the Sagaman to be that the 
Sun God Frey so loved his soul that he 
would never allow any frost or snow to 
come between them to chill their friend- 
ship. I never look across the cemetery 
of Dumfries but I think that as each 
year goes by, you, too, perform the same 
good offices for the spirit of Burns as 
did the Sun God Frey. Your annual 
festival keeps green the memory of the 
Immortal Bard. (Applause.) Gentle- 
men, I give you the toast of Scottish 
Literature. (Loud applause.) 

The toast was pledged with much cor- 
diality. 

The Chairman, in calling upon Sir 
Herbert Maxwell to respond, said he did 
so with feelings of grateful pride in the 
compliment Sir Herbert had done them 
in being present. (Applause.) 



Sir Herbert Maxwell said:— In rising 
to respond to the toast which has been 
proposed with such graceful eloquence 
by Lord St. Vigeans, I am torn between 
three emotions. The first is a sense of 
grave responsibility in having to repl> 
on behalf of Scottish Men of Letters, 




Sir Herbert E. Maxwell. 

past, present, and to come. The second 
is a feeling of deep diffidence at having 
my name associated with the great names 
which Lord St. Vigeans has brought to 
our recollection; and the third, and per- 
haps the most serious of all, is a dread 
lest I should, unconsciously, overstep 
the boundary of eternity. (Laughter.) I 
can assure you I shall do no such thing. 
My words will be very brief. There is 
only a single particular in which I may 
claim — and I do so proudly — to stand on 



75 



an equal footing with any of the great 
names in literature of the past. It is 
many years since I sent my first con- 
tribution to the " Times " newspaper and 
received the first remuneration I ever 
did for anything I had written. It was 
exactly the same in amount, namely £5, 
as Milton's publisher paid him for the 
first edition of " Paradise Lost." 
(Laughter.) There the parallel ceases. 
(Laughter.) Burns made a better start 
than Milton and I— (laughter)— I like 
that copula — (laughter) — because I believe 
Burns received £20 for the first edition 
of his first book, published at Kilmar- 
nock in 1786. If I am not mistaken that 
little volume brought a few years ago at 
a sale a sum close upon, if not up to, 
£1000. Perhaps you may think it sordid 
to dwell on these mercenary details, but 
after all poets, although they are not 
made on the principle of the penny-in-the 
slot machine, have to live, and there are 
many melancholy instances of their hav- 
ing been pretty hard put to it to do so, 
and prose writers also, which probably 
was in Dr Johnson's mind when he said 
that no one but a blockhead ever wrote 
except for money. (Laughter.) That 
was too sweeping a generality, and he in 
whose honour we are assembled to-night 
was a conspicuous instance of the con- 
trary. It is true that he received sub- 
stantial sums from Creech, the Edin- 
burgh publisher, but he never received a 
penny for the songs he wrote. It is a 
remarkable fact that is often overlooked 
that those imperishable lyrics which 
have endeared him above everything 
else to his countrymen and have made 



"6 



his name radiant throughout the world, 
were flung gratuitously upon the public. 
(Applause.) It would have been well 
had it been otherwise, for in spite of 
what my friend, Sir James Crich ton- 
Browne has said about disaster dogging 
Burns' footsteps, I think if he had taken 
a more practical view he might have es- 
caped many of his misfortunes. (Hear, 
hear.) He told a friend, "I will be 
•damned if I ever write for money." 
Would that he had realised that money 
is necessary to independence and may be 
earned as honourably by the pen as by 
the plough or by any other form of 
human energy. (Applause.) In bio- 
graphical literature there are two works 
which, by common consent, stand out 
above all others in the English language 
in that class, and both were written by 
Scotsmen. I refer to BoswelFs "Life of 
Johnson" and Lockhart's "Life of Scott." 
I do not know what Boswell received for 
his inimitable work, but it was some- 
thing certainly considerable, because he 
refused £1000 for the copyright of the 
second edition. But to Lockhart's last- 
ing honour be it said that, although the 
sale of Scott's Life was enormous and 
the profits very large, every penny of it 
he handed over to the creditors of his 
father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott. (Ap- 
plause.) An allusion has been made to 
Thomas Carlyle as the most eminent 
prose writer in Dumfriesshire, and I do 
not suppose anybody is prepared to chal- 
lenge it. But, unfortunately, there 
seems to have been overlooked a propo- 
sal which Carlyle made, I suppose in all 
seriousness, and it is really very disap- 



77 

pointing that it has never gone through. 
"There is a great discovery," he said, 
"still to be made in literature, that of 
paying literary men by the quantity they 
do not write. Nay, in sober truth, is not 
this actually the rule in all writing; and, 
moreover, in all conduct and acting? Not 
what stands above ground, but what lies 
unseen under it, as the root and subter- 
rene element it sprang from and em- 
blemed forth, determines its value." 
Therefore, gentlemen, I will apply 
that to the poor substitute for 
oratory which I have to offer you. I 
must ask you to take for granted a great 
deal I would have said had time per- 
mitted. I thank you very cordially foi 
the honour you have done me in coup- 
line: my name with such an honourable 
toast. (Applause.) 

Mr Joseph Laing Waugh, who also re- 
plied, said it was very fortunate for 
him that Sir Herbert Maxwell had pre- 
ceded him, because he had relieved him 
of considerable responsibility. In what 
he had so well said, Sir Herbert had pro- 
vided the substance — what a good 
mutton bone was to Scotch broth; 
and all that was expected of him (Mr 
Waugh) was a contribution of odd snip- 
pings of "namely kail." (Laughter.) 
He thought we had every reason to be 
proud of the contribution Scotsmen had 
made to literature. Since the days of 
"Blind Harry" scarce a generation had 
been without its historian, its balladlst 
or romancer, and from the latter part of 
the eighteenth century to the middle of 
the nineteenth we had in Scotland a con- 



78 

stellation of literary stars which, it 
might be truly affirmed, made Edinburgh 
the hub of the then literary world. (Ap- 
plause.) The lamp burned at its 
brightest then; it had often flickered 
since; but, thank God, it had never been 
allowed to go out; and never would it 




Mr Joseph Laing Waugh. 

be as long as there was an ear open and 
attuned to the sweetness of the mavis' 
song, or the whispering of the wind in the 
wispy birches, an eye seeing aright the 
glorious beauty of purple hills, meander- 
ing streams and flower-flecked meadow 
land, and a heart, warm-pulsing, appre- 
ciating to the full the rugged kindliness of 
heart, the humour, the emotion, and the 
sentiment which were the acknowledged 
characteristics of our race. (Applause.) 
We could not all be sweet-singing poets 



79 

and successful writers, but some of us 
might feel at times that we had a message 
to deliver, a sentiment to express, and 
if we approached our subject whole- 
heartedly with understanding and sym- 
pathy, if we spoke from the heart 
to the heart, then whatever our 
message might be and however 
simply garbed, it would not be denied a 
hearing. And in this expression not 
only might we be doing our little to keep 
the lamp burning, but we might be the 
humble medium of conveying to some poor 
home-sick exile a whiff of homeland air, 
a few stray notes of the mavis' song, of 
bringing once more to his mind's eye a 
bickering burn in a red cleugh side, 
a mist-wreathed glen 'mong his own 
Hills of Home, and visualising for 
him a lovable type of a lovable race, a 
replica of some old worthy he once knew 
and loved in the halcyon days of auld 
lang syne. (Applause.) 

Robert Burns, whose memory they kept 
green that night, in his vehemence and 
earnestness breathed this prayer: — 

Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire, 

That's a' the learnin' 1 desire, 

Then tho' I drudge thro' dub and mire, 

Wi' plough or cart; 
My Muse, tho'hamely in attire, 

May touch the heart. 

Many since the days of Robert Burns 
had prayed for that "ae spark o' 
Nature's fire," without which all writings 
and all speech were as nothing. The 
greater the spark the greater the 
warmth and illumination, and whatever 
comes from warm pulsing hearts 



80 

goes direct to other receptive hearts, 
gladly welcomed and treasured there as a 
classic. He had many such old-world 
works in his heart, many treasured 
friends on the shelves of his modest 
library at home. Among contemporary 
writers he gave pride of place to J. M. 
Barrie, Neil Munro, John Buchan, and 
his old friend, John Foster, to whose two 
later works he gave a very high place 
indeed. (Applause.) Mr Waugh pro- 
ceeded to refer to other literary notabili- 
ties, including Charles Murray, Violet 
Jacobs, Robert Wanlock, and Roger 
Quinn, and concluded by reciting with 
great elocutionary power the poem, "Me 
and Andra," by Robert Couston, which 
he described as a fine example of modern 
versification. The " Andra " of the 
verses is understood to refer to the late 
Mr Carnegie. 

We're puir bit craturs, Andra, you an' me. 
Ye hae a bath in a marble tub, I dook in 

the sea; 
Cafe au lait in a silver joog for breakfast 

gangs to you; 
I sup yit brose wi' a horn spuin an' eat till 

I'm fu'. 

An' there's nae great differ. Andra — 

hardly ony, 
My sky is as clear as yours, an' the 

cluds are as bonnie, 
I whussle a tune thro' my teeth to mysel' 

that costs nae money. 

The bobolink pipes in the orchards white in 
your hame on the ither side ; 

Gray whaups cry up on oor muir t' me, white 
seamaws soom on oor tide. 



81 

An organ bums in your marble hall wi' 

mony a sough an' swell; 
I list to the roar o' the wind. an' the sea in 

the hollow o' a shell. 

An there's nae great differ. Andra— 

hardly ony ava', 
' For the measure that throbs thro' eternal 

things to me is as braw, 
An' it wafts me up to the gate o' God to 

hear His choir ana'. 



We are draglit bit craturs Andra, plowterin' 

i' the glaur, 
Paidlin' ilk in oor ain bit dub, and glowerin' 

ilk at his star; 
Rakin' up the clert o' the trink till oor 

Faither airts us hame, 
Whiles wi' a strap, whiles wi' a kiss, or 
carryin' us when we're lame. 

An' there's nae great differ, Andra, we're 

sib as peas in a pod, 
Ill-faured weans at the best — the draglit 

wi' the snod; 
An' we'll a' get peyed what we're ocht, 

Andra, when we gang hame to God. 

What if I win fame or gear, Andra, what if 

I fail, 
Be gleg as a fumart whittrork, or dull as a 

snail ? 
It'll be a' ane in a hunder year whether I 

sally or slide — 
The nicht sits as dark on a brawlin' linn as 

it broods on a sleepin' tide. 

An' there's nae great differ, Andra, 

whether ye bum or bizz; 
If no a wheel we may be a clink — If we 

canna pull we can bruiz; 
We maun tak' the world as we find it, 

lad, an' content wi't as it is. 



"DUMFRIES AND DUMFRIESIANS." 

Sir J. Lome MacLeod said: — I rise to 
propose the toast of r< Dumfries and 
Dumfriesians." Well, at this hour of the 
night it is a most comprehensive toast, 
including as it does burgh and county, 
town and shire, in-dwellers and out- 




Sir J. Lome MacLeod. 

dwellers, all connected with the county 
or burgh of Dumfries at home and 
abroad. I do not feel, gentlemen, that I 
can do adequate justice to the proposal. 
If it were pursued in a certain direction 
it might result in what I know none cf 
you desire, the promotion of a spate of 
mere self-congratulation, self-satisf action, 
and self-approval. Still on the night of 
Burns' celebration a certain expansion and 
exuberance is permissible. (Laughter.) 
We would be very far lacking in a proper 



83 

appreciation of the spirit of the great 
Poet whom we are commemorating to- 
night if we did not profess a most intense 
feeling of local patriotism, pride of race, 
pride of home, and pride of country. 
(Applause.) Burns, if I may just make 
this remark, demonstrated to the world 
that a spirit of this kind, intensity of 
local patriotism, is not at all inconsistent 
with larger nationality and universal 
brotherhood. A3 the Chairman so well 
brought out to-night pride of nationality 
and communion and brotherhood of the 
races of the world is founded upon local 
patriotism, local pride, local esteem, and 
local self-respect. (Applause.) If these 
qualities are not possessed by any com- 
munity they are not in a position to re- 
cognise the same rights and privileges 
of others! Dumfries, we all know, is a 
wonderful county, and the Dumfriesians 
are a wonderful people. (Applause.) I 
would not venture to say that it is the 
first of the counties or that they are the 
first of the peoples within this country. 
Still, it would be exceedingly difficult in 
the rivalry and stress and competition 
which we know exists between community 
"and community, and county and county, 
to dispossess the county of Dumfries, or 
the burgh of Dumfries, from a place in 
the very front rank among the communi- 
ties and peoples of this little country of 
Scotland, which has gained such a 
high place of eminence and prestige 
among the nations of the world. (Ap- 
plause.) It is no flattery to make an 
observation of that kind, because in 
Church, in State, in Law, in Literature, 
in Art, in Medicine, in Science, in the 



*4 



sphere of Arms whether on land or sea, 
in trade and commerce — in these- 
and in all other directions which 
have promoted the general progress, ad- 
vancement, and prosperity of this country, 
the county and burgh of Dumfries have 
made a distinct, eminent, and unchal- 
lengeable contribution. (Applause.) One 
need not at this hour begin to specify . 
names which are so well known to you 
all, but I think it would be difficult in- 
deed for any other county of Scotland, 
or of the United Kingdom, or any simi- 
lar area within the British Empire, to pro- 
duce a list of men of such talent and 
eminence in all the different walks of 
life as has been produced throughout 
centuries from this area. (Applause.) The 
people of Dumfries in the whole history 
of Scotland have cut and carved their 
names in every incident, and in every 
epoch of importance in our national 
affairs, going back to the earliest days, 
during the Wars of Independence, during 
the time of the Covenanters, and even 
possessing memories of the '45. In these 
great incidents in Scottish history Dum- 
fries played a notable part. In literature, 
which has been referred to already, the 
names of Carlyle and others have been 
given, and if I may just draw a blade 
with the distinguished speaker, Lord St. 
Vigeans, in his reference to Thomas Car- 
lyle, I am one of those who believe that 
his teaching of an apostolic character 
is the kind of message which has 
to be delivered to the people of this 
country to-day with increasing power, in 
his condemnation of mere material pros- 
perity as compared with the advancement 



85 

of things of the mind and of the soul. 
(Applause.) I know Lord St. Vigeans en- 
tirely approves of what I say at this 
moment, that Thomas Carlyle, notwith- 
standing the fact that he fell upon evil 
and flat and chill scientific days which 
discarded him, will once again assume 
his proper place as a man with a message 
to deliver, a message which will be of 
great importance and advantage to the 
people of this country to receive and 
digest. (Applause.) I am not going to 
trouble you further except to say that it 
is a very great pleasure indeed to be 
associated in some ways with the burgh 
of Dumfries, a connection of which I 
am veiy proud. I am very glad to associ- 
ate the toast with the name of my old 
municipal colleague, Provost Macaulay, 
who is held in the very greatest respect, 
and towards whom the greatest esteem 
is felt by his colleagues in municipal life 
throughout the country. (Applause.) I 
am glad to take this opportunity of mak- 
ing that observation to you gentlemen of 
Dumfries. I associate the toast with his 
name and also with the name of Dr 
MacKenna, who is one of the distin- 
guished products of Dumfries, and who is 
carrying on its fame and its greatness in 
the sphere of medicine. (Applause.) 

The Provost, in responding to the toast, 
thanked Sir John Lome MacLeod for the 
flattering remarks he had made regarding 
the burgh of Dumfries. He thought that 
during the last five years of war the burgh 
of Dumfries had done its duty. In the 
field of battle the young men of Dumfries 
had shown the true Border spirit. (Ap- 



86 

plause.) He thought the burgh of Dum- 
fries would compare very favourably with 
any other burgh in the numbers and ill 
the gallantry of the men who had gone 
out to fight their country's battles. (Ap- 
plause.) All of them had covered them- 
selves with glory. The record that had 




Provost Xacaulay, O.B.E., Dumfries. 

been set up by the K.O.S.B. was second 
to none, and the deeds of their Terri- 
torials would never be forgotten. (Ap- 
plause.) We had been called a nation of 
shopkeepers, but he thought the shop- 
keepers had shown that they could "lick" 
even soldiers who were trained for noth- 
ing else but fighting. The young men 
of Dumfries had followed in the foot- 
steps of Burns, who joined the Volun- 
teers to take his part in repelling the 
French when they threatened to invade- 



87 

this country. (Applause.) Men from 
Dumfries had made a name for them- 
selves all over the world. Wherever one 
went men from Dumfries and Dumfries- 
shire were to be found in the most re- 
sponsible positions. (Applause.) He 
hoped Dumfries would always retain tht> 
great name it had acquired among the 
sister burghs of Scotland. (Applause). 

Dr MacKenna, in replying, said : — I feel 
it a very high honour that I have been 
chosen to respond for the Dumfriesians 
to the toast proposed with so much elo- 
quence, with such felicities of phrase, 
and with such kindly sentiments by Sir 
John Lome MacLeod. But kind as be 
was to Dumfries and the Dumfriesians, 
I would put Dumfries and the Dumfries- 
ians even higher than he did, for it is 
probably within the recollection of some 
of you, though apparently he has for- 
gotten it, if he ever knew it, that some 
twenty years ago a publicist, not, I be- 
lieve a Dumfries man, went to the trouble 
of preparing a pamphlet to discover, to 
analyse, and to work out from whence 
the famous men of Great Britain came. 
The method upon which he proceeded 
was to take, I think, one thousand names, 
chosen from jists such as are found in 
" Who's Who/' and from other reposi- 
tories of the so-called greatness of man- 
kind. He made a careful analysis, and 
his conclusion, after something like a 
hundred pages of carefully worked out 
statistics, was this> that Dumfries town 
produced more famous men than any 
other town in the United Kingdom, and 
was run very closely by the county of 



Dumfries. (Laughter and applause.) 
Aberdeen was a very bad second. 
(Laughter.) Now, you may wonder why 
this should be, and I hope to explain to 
you very shortly: why this gentleman, who 
worked out these statistics, came to that 
conclusion. T know no town which for 




Dr MacKenna. 

its size, and no county which for its acre- 
age, sends so many of its sons furth its 
borders. One may wonder why that may 
he, and may discover some explanation 
of it in the ancient gibe attributed to 
Samuel Johnson, who is reputed to have 
said that "the pleasantest prospect a 
young Scotsman could see was the road to 
England." (Laughter.) As one of the 
main roads to England runs through 
the burgh of Dumfries, it is perfectly 



•easy to understand why so many Dum- 
fries boys and Dumfriesians migrate 
South of the Border. (Laughter.) And 
"there is something in Dumfries and Dum- 
friesshire that endows its sons with, I 
think, more than the ordinary proportion 
of commonsense. They are endowed with 
the " pith of sense " which our Bard was 
so fond of eulogising. In addition to 
that, they have a high sense of duty and 
they are not afraid of work, so that when 
they get outside their own township and 
outside their own country where they 
would have to compete with men 
of equal intellectual gifts with 
themselves, and where they might 
have a difficulty in making a 
living — (laughter) — they have absolutely 
no difficulty, when competing with other 
people who are not fortunate enough to 
be born here, in going rapidly to the 
top of the tree. (Laughter and applause.) 
You find Dumfries men and Dumfries- 
ians represented and holding positions of 
rionour and opportunity, not only all over 
England, but, what is a much more diffi- 
cult job, all over Scotland and right 
through the British Empire, and even in 
parts of the universe where the Union 
Jack does not yet fly. (Applause.) They 
are all very proud of their heritage, and 
they have every reason to be proud, be- 
cause I do not think there is any town or 
any county whose history is so indis- 
solubly linked up with the glorious his- 
tory of Scotland as the history of this 
burgh and the county of which it is the 
capital. (Applause.) When I was in 
France I frequently came across men 
whose tongue betrayed them, and having 



90 

a kindly ear for the Dumfries accent, I 
was invariably able to spot a lad front 
Dumfries as soon as he had opened his 
mouth. I used to say to him — just out of 
curiosity because, unfortunately, I have 
lived long enough south of the Border to 
have lost some of my Dumfries accent,, 
though I thank God I have lost none of 
my Dumfries backbone — (applause) — I 
used to say, " Where do you come from, 
my lad?" and invariably the lad would 
straighten himself up and say, " I come 
from a wee place in Scotland ca'ed 
Dumfries." (Applause.) And he said 
it with a pride that betokened that 
he felt he was " a citizen of no 
mean city." (Applause.) Anyone whose 
heritage it is to be a son of Dum- 
fries is proud of the fact. Burns 
once said of Ayr — 

Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a toon surpasses 
For honest men and bonnie lassies. 

But that was before he came to Dumfries. 
(Laughter.) When he came to Dumfries 
he had to modify his sentiments, and he 
said in a beautiful poem: — 

Fair are the maids on the banks of the Ayr, 
But by the sweet side of the Niih's wind- 
ing river, 
Are lovers as faithful and maidens as fair. 

(Applause.) If you ever discover a Scots- 
man out of Scotland, who has come to the 
top of the tree in his own particular line, 
whether it be in the Church, at the Bar, 
in Medicine, in Arts, or in Science, and 
you find he is not a Dumfries man, you 
are almost certain to find that his mother 
was a Dumfries woman or that he married 



91 

a Dumfries girl. (Applause.) We Dum- 
friesians are all enormously proud of our 
country. Probably many of you have 
heard the famous story of the K.O.S.B. 
soldier who was sitting beside an English 
soldier in a picture house in London at 
the time the Somme Battle picture was 
being exhibited. When the zero moment 
came and the young lieutenant threw 
down his cigarette and leapt over the 
parapet he was followed in a great wave 
by his faithful men. Well, in that pic- 
ture the regiment which was shown going 
over the top was an English regiment, 
I believe Che Bedfordshires. The English- 
man gave the K.O.S.B. man a nudge and 
said, " Jock, do you see those fellows 
going over the top?" and Jock, taking his 
pipe out of his mouth, replied, " Aye, 
what aboot it?" The Englishman said, 
"They are English. Don't you see 
it?" And Jock said, "Aye." The- 
Englishman said, "I thought nobody 
was doing any fighting in this war 
except you Scotch fellows. That 
is an English regiment. What do 
you make of it?" And Jock took 
his pipe out of his mouth again 
and said calmly in a good Dum- 
fries accent, "Well, I hae nae doot 
oor lads are away up in the Ger- 
man trenches haudin* the enemy back 
while you lads get your photographs 
ta'en." (Much laughter.) At this 
hour of the night I do not wish 
to detain you. I have to get to- 
bed some time to-night because I 
am being honoured with the duty 
of proposing "The Immortal Memory" 
at the Liverpool Burns Club to- 



92 



morrow night, and I have got some 
inspiration to-night from the most admir- 
able speech delivered by my old friend 
Mr Grierson. But before I sit down I 
should like to refer to the debt we all 
owe to those Dumfriesians who, when the 
country was in dire need, came gladly 
forward, giving up all they held dearest, 
to go and strike a blow, as Burns would 
have had them do, for liberty when it was 
threatened by the arrogant and armed 
might of the Central Powers. Some of 
them have come back from the in- 
ferno unscathed, some, unfortunately, 
have come back maimed and wounded, 
and will to their dying day carry 
upon them the scars of what they 
have suffered, scars which ought to 
be for them the inalienable pass- 
port to your affection and enduring 
admiration. And there are others, I 
am sure, whom you would wish to 
have in memory, who made the great 
sacrifice and who are sleeping on 
the shell-tom heights of Gallipoli, in 
the holy earth of Palestine, or amid 
the mud and clay of Flanders un- 
der a simple wooden cross. These 
men made the great sacrifice in 
order that those people who live 
here in Dumfries and in the county 
of Dumfries might have freedom 
and the right to live maintained for 
them. (Applause.) They have left be- 
hind them a great memory and a great 
stimulus, and I hope that in years to 
come a generation of Dumfries boys and 
Dumfriesians yet unborn will find in 
their great example something worthy of 
emulation. (Applause.) 



93 
" OUR GUESTS." 

Dr Hunter, proposing the toast of "Our 
Guests," said: — There can be little doubt, 
I think, that, in the long and splendid 
history of the Dumfries Burns Club, this 
gathering is the largest, the most repre- 
sentative, and the most enthusiastic that 




Dr Hunter. 

has ever come together to do honour to 
the illustrious memory of Robert Burns. 
Some part of that is due, as we have 
heard, to the fact that this meeting cele- 
brates the centenary of the Club; not a 
little is due to the popularity and recog- 
nition of the public service of our cul- 
tuied and eloquent Chairman — (ap- 
plause) — but I am confident that you will 
agree with me when I say that a very 
large part is due to the presence of our 
distinguished and most welcome guests. 



94 

{Applause.) Some of them we have al- 
ready had the pleasure of hearing. Others 
equally accomplished are to follow, and, 
when the evening is over and the morrow 
comes for reflection and the later days for 
reminiscence and happy memories, I am 
sure we will all be able to look back on 
a " feast of reason and a flow of soul " 
such as it has been rarely our fortune to 
experience. (Applause.) Well, gentle- 
men, we have brought you here to a cer- 
tain extent under false pretences. It is 
usual to provide entertainment for one's 
guests, but to-night the position is re- 
versed. We are the recipients of the en- 
tertainment from you. It may be of some 
interest to you to know why your names 
so readily suggested themselves to us 
when we thought of celebrating this occa- 
sion in a manner out of the common. In 
the first place, because most of you got 
your first glimpse of the light of day in 
one or other of these lovely southern 
shires, and those few of you who did not, 
have become bound to them by t : es of 
close association or long personal friend- 
ship. (Applause.) Second, because we 
knew you were all Burns lovers, and that, 
if you were able, you would find joy in 
paying tribute to his memory where his 
precious ashes are laid. (Hear, hear.) 
Third, because you all had won distinc- 
tion in various walks of life, and seme 
of you have reputations which extend far 
beyond these island shores. (Applause.) 
But, gentlemen, we did not ask you only 
because you are clever and famous. We 
asked you chiefly because we knew that 
for a long time you had all been walking 
with love through the garden of know- 



95 

ledge — that you pursued beauty only for 
beauty's sake, and that by the labours of 
your brain and hands you had enriched 
science and art and the literature of our 
native land. (Applause.) We are glad 
to see you, Lord St. Vigeans, because 
you are President of the Land Court, and 
were formerly our Sheriff, and because 
you are known through the country 
as a great lawyer and a good, 
kind man. (Applause.) We welcome 
you, Sir Herbert Maxwell, because you 
are a statesman, a scholar, a historian, 
a naturalist, and a sportsman. (Ap- 
plause.) We look upon you with pride 
and affection as one of the truly great 
Scotsmen of your generation. (Loud ap- 
plause.) Sir James Crichton-Browne 
needs no introduction to an audience m 
Dumfries or indeed anywhere in the 
British Isles. (Applause.) His name is 
a household word, and in addition to his 
scientific attainments, his extraordinary 
power of speech has earned him fame 
with all classes of the people. We are 
proud to have him as our townsman 
— (loud applause)— and glad that he 
comes so often to gather inspiration from 
the Nith as it gently flows past Crindau. 
(Applause.) We welcome Sir John 
MacLeod as a man of affairs, and as an 
ex-Lord Provost of the great city of Edin- 
burgh, where Robert Burns was so hos- 
pitably received, and which through all 
the centuries has been the spiritual home 
of thousands of students from the south- 
western counties. (Applause.) And 
what of the Irvings' veteran chief— the 
picturesque and stalwart Bonshaw? (Ap- 
plause.) Had you lived, sir, in the days 



96 



of Burns he would without a doubt have 
immortalised you in an ode, an epistle, 
or a songj and although I am 
afraid there are none of us 
now gifted enough to pay you 
such a compliment, we would like to as- 
sure you that there is no more honoured 
name than yours in all the broad acres 
of this county, and we wish you many 
years of strength to serve your King as 
loyally and faithfully as you have done 
in the past. (Loud applause.) You, Sheriff 
Morton, we look upon as one of ourselves, 
though you did not have the fortune to 
be born anywhere between Queensberry 
and the Mull of Galloway. As the head 
of the legal profession in Dumfriesshire 
and Galloway, your name is held in the 
highest repute^ not only because of your 
professional eminence, but by the un- 
assuming and gracious kindliness which 
marks the true Scottish gentleman. (Ap- 
plause.) Mr Joseph Laing Waugh, we 
are delighted to see you because we are 
proud of what you have done for Scottish 
literature. (Applause.) After relating a 
story from one of Mr Waugh's 
books, Dr Hunter continued: — Well, 
we think you have been with the 
lighted candle of genius, up through and 
down through the character of the Low- 
land Scot, his quiet humour, his grit, his 
intense kindliness, the pathos which 
hovers over many of the domestic hap- 
penings of his lot. (Applause.) These, 
and his every other natural characteris- 
tic, you have put down with the hand of 
• a master, and to all the Scots exiled in 
foreign lands you must have made to 
live again the joys and sorrows and the 



97 



haunting beauty of their early home. 
(Applause.) You, Dr Neilson, historian 
and archaeologist, we are proud to have 
with us to-night. (Applause.) As an 
authority on the Feudal period, you stand 
"facile princeps." Your reputation as a 
historical student is European, and we are 
glad to think that your observation of 
the storied ruins of the South' first stimu- 
lated the love of research which has 
brought you the eminence you so richly 
deserve. (Applause.) Dr MacKenna, 
we welcome you as the son of one 
of our most respected citizens, as a poet, 
an essayist, and a man of science. (Ap- 
plause.) You have attained a distin- 
guished professional position, but as one 
of your oldest friends, I know that litera- 
ture is your true love, and those who 
have followed your recent career predict 
for you a high place among the writers 
of this country. (Applause.) You, Mr 
John Foster, though you were born by 
the gently flowing Nith, found your in- 
spiration in the rushing Spey, and your 
brilliant work within recent years has 
placed you far up in the ranks of modern 
novelists. We are proud of you, sir, as 
a son of the South. (Applause.) You, Mr 
Holbrook Jackson, I mention last, not 
because your reputation in letters does 
not entitle you to the highest place, but 
because you are the only Englishman 
among our guests, and on that account, I 
wish to accord you, in the name of this 
company, an especially hearty welcome. 
(Applause.) Ben Johnson found the jour- 
ney to Scotland a long and arduous one 
when he made his pilgrimage of love to 
visit Drummond of Hawthornden, and 

G 



98 

Samuel Johnson, as you know, was not 
very favourably impressed with the 
natives or their ways or their food. 
(Laughter.) I hope you have to-night 
formed a better opinion of us. A hund- 
red years ago, if you had come, we might 
have offered you a different type of hos- 
pitality — (laughter) — but the days have 
changed, and in the modern, milder way 
we hope you have enjoyed yourself, and 
we consider it a great honour to enter- 
tain so distinguished a representative of 
modern English letters as yourself. (Ap- 
plause.) Well, gentlemen, we are 
charmed to have you here, not only for 
your attainments but for yourselves. It 
is now 123 years ago since Robert Burns 
alighted from his friend's dogcart at the 
Pent House End, and made his last few 
feeble steps, leaning heavily on the lov- 
ing arm of Jessie Lewars, up the little 
incline to his home. But though so long 
dead, his spirit still haunts the town, and 
if, through the ether, his magic voice 
might speak to us to-night, surely it 
would say, "These, your guests, are men 
after my own heart." (Loud applause.) 
I ask you to drink to "Our Guests," 
coupled with the names of Mr John Fos- 
ter and Mr Holbrook Jackson. 

The toast was heartily pledged, and the 
company sang " They are jolly good fel- 
lows." 

Mr John Foster responded in a racy 
speech. He said that by a singular — or per- 
haps he ought to say plural — accident of 
fortune, his link with the South-west was 
doubly strong, for although his happy 
boyhood was passed within sound of the 



Steeple bell, he originally hailed from 
near the Cross of Castle-Douglas, in the 
old Free Province of Galloway. He 
differed from Dr Hunter's generous view 
that the guests had done the lion's share 
of the entertaining. The Club had en- 
tertained their guests nobly. As the 




Mr John Foster. 

Lochaber fox said when he ate the bag- 
pipes, "Ye hae gi'en me baith meat and 
music." (Laughter.) The more he spoke 
and the more he dined, the stronger the 
conviction grew that dinners and speeches 
ought to be divorced, or, rather, never be 
joined. (Laughter.) If his hearers would 
forgive the unpoetic image, dinners and 
speeches resembled whisky and oysters, 
good things in themselves, which, how- 
ever, through their distressing struggle 
for precedence, frequently injured each 



100 



other's gracious qualities. (Laughter.)' 
But he could not truthfully suggest that 
his attention to the toast list had un- 
duly handicapped his interest in the 
more carnal joys of the evening. Their 
haggis — true food of poesy — would be, he 
was sure, the herald of happy dreams — 
(laughter) — or, at all events, of dreams ! 
He only wished he could fashion his words 
into such a shape as would translate — be 
it ever so roughly — his feelings in being 
present that night, in seeing so many old 
friends, in such a distinguished company, 
and on so notable an occasion. It was a 
great pleasure to hear Dr Hunter, who, 
among his many other accomplishments, 
must have devoted some time to kissing 
the " Blarney Stone." (Laughter.) Dr 
Hunter had been good enough to touch 
upon his ventures into literature, but he 
only claimed to be a humble craftsman. 
The difficult and crowded business of 
fiction-writing was not his trade, but a 
by-product, so to speak, and in conse- 
quence he had little to say founded on 
the knowledge and experience of a pro- 
fessional story-writer. They could, how- 
ever, be well assured of his thanks and 
gratitude. Everyone, craftsman or 
artist, welcomed — indeed required — 
words of good cheer and encouragement,., 
and they did not always get them ! 
Authors, like other people, had set-backs. 
The arrival of publishers' cheques had 
not the uncanny precision of Income Tax 
notices and butchers' bills. (Laughter.)* 
They had many first aids to humility; 
they had their candid friends who gave 
them words in season, and frequently out 
of it. (Laughter.) He was often tempted: 



101 

to quote a sacrilegious rendering of our 
Bard's immortal couplet — 

Oh wad some power tjhe giftie gie us 
Tae see oor freens — before they see us. 

(Laughter.) He had known some of his 
friends performing the miraculous feat of 
reading his books without cutting the 
leaves. (Laughter.) The Scottish Sheriff 
Clerks were quite a respectable body — 
(laughter) — he was one — but they were 
agreed that he was a mere novelist, and 
novelists with disconcerting unanimity 
had arrived at the conclusion that he was 
a mere Sheriff Clerk. (Laughter.) Mr 
Laing Waugh, whom he had met long ago 
at football on, literally, many a bloody 
field — (laughter) — had put it better than 
he could when he referred to the com- 
pensations of authors. To his (Mr 
Foster's) mind not the least of these was 
that a writer, even an amateur, dared to 
hope that he had written something 
which perhaps had lightened an hour or 
two in the evening to some tired, bored, 
worried, or dispirited man or woman. 
(Applause.) Mr Foster went on to refer 
in happy manner to the characteristics 
of the people of the north country, re- 
marking that in many ways they resem- 
bled those of the people in the south, 
especially in their masculine speech and 
outlook, in their instinct for adventure 
and colonisation, in their love for the 
arts, in their hospitality, in the dry 
vintage of their humour, and not least, 
in their passionate love of their home 
counties. There were " honest men " 
there and " bonriie lassies." (Applause.) 
He asked them, however, to discount 
some of the legends told of the north. 



102 

For instance, they ought sternly to con- 
tradict the rumour which was gaining 
currency, that the low death-rate last year 
in Aberdeen was due to the increased cost 
of the funerals. (Loud laughter.) Many 
thinking people took the view that this 
was a loose statement, if not actually 
without foundation. (Laughter.) It was 
the very kindest thought that had 
prompted the Bums Club to bid him 
there that night, for not only was it a 
signal honour, but it gave him the oppor- 
tunity of seeing old friends, old haunts 
and landmarks. His links with the old 
place were getting fewer as the years, 
went on. Memories were stirred, which, 
as they would readily understand, he 
could not give expression to. Many kind 
things had been said that might — he 
hoped not — induce a little swelling of the 
head, but he did not envy the man who 
could regard these things — old friends 
and school-fellows, old faces, well- 
remembered voices— or look upon the- 
dear and familiar landmarks of Dumfries 
and Dumfriesshire without a swelling of 
the heart. (Loud applause.) 

An amusing incident occurred at the 
conclusion of Mr Foster's speech, when 
the Chairman gravely intimated that he 
had rather a serious communication to 
make ; he had kept it over, he said, as late 
as possible in the evening so that it might 
not spoil their enjoyment very much. 
He had received a telegram which stated : 
— "Wanted for desertion from Elgin 
Burns Club dinner, John Foster, novelist,, 
native of Dumfries. Arrest if found." 
(Much laughter.) He was glad they had 
the Chief Constable present, but he did 



103 

not know exactly what the jurisdiction 
was. (Laughter.) They had a Lord of 
Session, a Sheriff, a Sheriff-substitute, 
and Police Magistrates present, but he 
was at school with Mr Foster, and judg- 
ing from the imaginative and construc- 
tive genius of that gentleman's early 
crimes, he thought it was a case for the 
High Court. (Loud laughter.) 

Mr Holbrook Jackson, who also acknow- 
ledged the toast, expressed his apprecia- 
tion of the honour that had been done 
him in being invited to attend that im- 
portant celebration. He had listened 
with such joy and interest to the speeches 
that had been made that he did not know 
how to thank them He had learned 
more in one single evening than he had 
ever learned in a similar space of time in 
his life before. He had always liked 
Dumfries, and had been a lover of Burns 
since boyhood, but his only association 
with Burns was the fact that he was born 
in Liverpool, where Dr Currie, the first 
biographer and editor of Burns' Life and 
Work, also lived He had learned that 
night that Dumfries was the hub of the 
universe, that Dumfries won the war — 
(laughter) — that Dumfriesshire produced 
the greatest poet and the greatest 
prose-writer in the world; he had 
learned that practically every citizen 
of Dumfries was eminent, and that every 
eminent citizen of Dumfries was more 
eminent than any other citizen of the 
British Empire. (Laughter.) But he 
yielded to no Scot in his love of know- 
ledge. (Laughter and applause.) He had 
learned also that the Dumfries Burns 
Club had a famous history, so famous 



104 

that he thought it ought to be written 
down in words and published in book 
form. He had learned that the Club was 
baptised in a punch bowl— (laughter) — 
and its Centenary, as they had seen that 
night, was celebrated in a snuff-box. 
(Applause.) He must confess they had 




Mr Holbrook Jackson. 

made him jealous of Dumfries and jealous 
of Scotland, and in the heat of his 
jealousy he said with absolute truth that 
such a gathering as that was impossible 
in his own country. He had a long and 
varied experience of public banquets and 
public meetings of all kinds in England, 
and the one result of these experiences 
was that his fellow-countrymen had never 
on any single occasion, and many of 
those had been eminent, shown the 
general love of poetry and general en- 



105 

thusiasm for the great men of a 
locality, or of a nation, as they 
had shown there that night. (Ap- 
plause.) He did not think that he could 
pay them a higher compliment. (Ap- 
plause.) They had had both wit and 
humour that night, and he was a great 
believer in Scottish humour. These 
things had given him an insight into 
Scottish character which he had not 
hitherto possessed. He hoped that one 
of these days England would awaken to 
that great love of great literature that 
Scotland had always shown for its own 
literature, and that, perhaps, they, poor 
English, would become as great, as emi- 
nent, and as powerful as the Scots. 
•(Laughter and applause.) He joined with 
Mr Foster in thanking them on behalf 
of the guests for the generous entertain- 
ment they had given them, and for the 
enlightened speeches they had enabled 
them to listen to. (Applause.) He 
thanked them on behalf of the guests and 
of- himself, the one Englishman among 
them, which he looked upon as an hon- 
our to his country. He could say with 
his hand on his heart,"Am I not Shakes- 
peare's countryman, and are not you my 
friends?" (Applause.) 

Election of Honorary Members. 

The following gentlemen were at this 
stage elected honorary members of the 
<Club, on the proposal of the President: — 

The Right Hon. the Earl of Rosebery, 
K.G., K.T., Hon. Lord St. Vigeans, Right 
Hon. Sir Herbert E. Maxwell, Bart., Right 
Hon. John W. Gulland, Sir John Lome Mac- 
Leod, LL.D., Professor Sir James Dewar. 



106 

F.R.S., Sir John R. Findlay, Right Rev. A. 
Wallace Williamson, D.D., Sheriff Morton. 
K.C., Sheriff Campion, Major William Mur- 
ray, O.B.E., M.P., Colonel J. Beaufin Irv- 
ing, Provost Macaulay, O.B.E., Mr Joseph 
Laing Waugh, Mr John Foster, Mr Thomas 
Carmichael, S.S.C., Dr R. W. MacKenna, Mr 




Mr W. A. Hiddleston. 

Holbrook Jackson, and Mr Norman M'Kin- 
nel. 

[The lamented death of Mr John W. 
Gulland, formerly M.P. for Dumfries 
Burghs, has occurred since the above 
election took place.] 

Mr J. E. Blacklock proposed the health 
of "The Croupiers/' and coupled the 
toast with the name of Mr W. A. Hiddles- 
ton, who, he said, had done a great 
amount of work for the Club, especially 
during the last month or two. (Applause.) 



107 

Mr Hiddleston, in acknowledging the- 
toast, threw out the suggestion for the 
Committee that two or three social func- 
tions might be held in the course of the 
winter instead of one annual dinner. 
(Applause.) 

Lord St. Vigeans said it would be a 
very grave mistake if they parted with- 
out drinking the health of the Secretary. 
He was indefatigable in all his under- 
takings, and to him in great measure was 
due the success of that evening. He had 
had a good deal officially to do with Mr 
M'Burnie, who had always represented 
to him what was the best and finest in 
Dumfries. He was one of the salt of the 
earth. ( Applause.) 

The toast was cordially honoured, and 
followed by the singing of "He's a jolly 
good fellow." 

Mr M'Burnie, in reply, said he desired 
to thank all very heartily indeed for the 
way in which they had received that 
toast. It wa3 a great honour to him to 
have it responded to in that fashion, and 
it had been enhanced by its spontaneous 
proposal by his old chief and very good 
friend, Lord St. Vigeans. (Applause.) 

Dr George Neilson, in proposing the 
health of "The Chairman," referred in 
interesting manner to Burns' reception 
when he first arrived in Dumfries, and ex- 
pressed gratification that the reception of 
the toast of his memory in 1920 had been 
so impressively given. Proceeding, Dr 
Neilson said it was 47 years since he en- 
tered the office in which he served his 
apprenticeship, and in which Mr John 
Grierson, his dear old friend and their 



108 

'-Chairman's father, was the managing 
clerk, and it was not without emotion 
that he had seen Mr R. A. Grierson 
that night, and listened enraptured to his 
great speech. (Applause.) The speech 
was the speech of an adequate spokes- 
man of the Club, an adequate spokes- 




Dr George Neilson. 

man of Dumfries, and an adequate 
spokesman of the homage of the Scot, not 
only to the genius but to the personality 
and the heart of Robert Burns. (Ap- 
plause.) There were many qualities of 
the speech that he could dwell upon, but 
they would allow him just to say that 
tie admired its dashing and vivid style. 
He shared entirely the feelings which Mr 
Grierson expressed in the political in- 
terpretations which he gave. They were 
seething with explosives, of course — 



109 

(laughtex)-r-but in recognising that Burns 
sang the song of liberty, he thought 
Mr Grierson had singled out the great 
quality which had made Robert Burns 
not only the immortal singer, but, as- 
he ventured to call it, the immortal 
political force. (Applause. "> They would 
remember that Burns was a great singer 
of reform, and that political reform was 
really the basis of a great part of his most 
impressive work. In that connection ob- 
servations which had fallen from some 
of the speakers regarding Carlyle were 
not to be forgotten, because the more one 
looked at Carlyle as a whole he was to 
be considered fundamentally as a politi- 
cian. The last quality of Mr Grierson's 
speech on which he would like to say one- 
word was the brilliancy of many of his 
phrases. That term, the "verbal epicure," 
was one of the most toothsome pieces 
from the banquet speech he had given 
them that night. (Applause. He noticed 
that for rive years there had been no 
speech. They had waited five years for 
Mr Grierson's speech, and it was well 
worth while. (Applause.) Not only had 
he been a most eloquent speaker, but he 
had shown far higher gifts. It was a 
tremendous .programme that he had put 
them through. He had conducted them 
through time ; as some speakers had said 
he had conducted them far into the 
confines of eternity. (Laughter.) (The 
hour was now 2 a.m.) For his part 
he was prepared to say that if one 
could be quite sure that eternity would 
be no worse than they had experienced 
that evening he was perfectly willing to 
go on. (Laughter.) But it was a pity to- 



110 

run any unnecessary risks, and for that 
reason he asked them to bring the pro- 
ceedings very near to a termination by 
drinking the health of the Chairman. 
(Applause.) 

The toast was pledged with enthusiasm, 
and the singing of " He's a jolly good 
fellow." 

The Chairman thanked the company 
for drinking his health, and Dr Neilson 
very specially for the way in which he 
had proposed it. It was, indeed, a very 
proud thing, he said, for any man to be 
Chairman of Dumfries Bums Club, and 
as the fortunes of war had brought him 
into the chair on that historic occasion, it 
was an experience he would remember all 
his days. (Applause.) It was a very great 
thing to him that this toast should have 
been proposed by Dr Neilson, because al- 
though he had not had so many opportuni- 
ties of meeting him as he would have liked 
to have had, he had all his life heard his 
father speaking of- Dr Neilson with much 
affection. (Applause.) There was no one 
in his father's early days in the legal pro- 
fession of whom he spoke with more 
affection than George Neilson. (Ap- 
plause.) Mr Grierson went on to say 
that he felt always a deep pride in being, 
not a Dumfries man by adoption, 
but a Dumfries man by a long, if not dis- 
tinguished, descent. There was one re- 
lationship he would like to mention, and 
it was this — that two of his great-grand- 
fathers were regular attenders, pillars he 
might call them, at the old anti-Burgher 
Church in Loreburn Street, which Burns 
.attended on Sunday evenings, and it was 



Ill 

pleasant to think that the voices of his 
ancestors and the voice of Burns joined 
in singing the old Scotch psalms. It was 
to him a source of great gratification that 
when he did happen to be in the chair 
of the Burns Club so many of his towns- 
men should be gathered around him. (Ap- 
plause.) His loyalty to Dumfries, he 
trusted, would grow as the years went on, 
and he hoped that he might still be of 
some little usefulness to the town. (Ap- 
plause.) In conclusion, to show that the 
race was not degenerate he must blow the 
whistle once again. (Laughter and ap- 
plause.) 

Mr Grierson then blew a hearty blast 
on the whistle and pronounced the part- 
ing formula — 

"Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to 
meet again." 

The proceedings were brought to a close 
with the hearty singing of " Auld Lang 
Syne." 



112 



MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE. 




Mr A. C. Penman, 
Motor Manufacturer. 



Judge Hastie, 
Clothier. 




Mr G. B. Carruthers, Mr David Fergusson, 

Solicitor. Solicitor. 



Chairman 
John CommElin. 
Banker, 





8,20-i® 





Chairman 
r.a.grjerson 
Town Clerk 



Centenary Dinner 
Dumfries Duqn; Club 



Croupiers 
G. B. Carr uthers Es<9 

W.A. HlPOLESTON ESQ 

p* J. Hunter l. ,3 
P.H.Hastie Esq 



Office- Bearers of the Club, 
1820. 

President: 

JOHN COMMELIN, Banker. 

Vice-President : 

JOHN SYME of Ryedale. 

Committee : 

Major WM. MILLER of Dalswinton. 
ADAM RANKINE. Merchant. 
JOHN MeDIARMID, Editor of Courier. 
JAMES SPALDING, Jr., Surgeon. 
WM. GORDON, Jr., Writer. 

Secretary and Treasurer: 

WM. GRIERSON, Merchant, Dumfries. 



DON T BE AFRAID; ILL BE MORE RESPECTED 
A HUNDRED YEARS AFTER I AM DEAD THAN 
I AM AT THE PRESENT DAY. 

— Burns. 




Lm. 




SOME HAE MEAT AND CANNA EAT. 
AND SOME WAD EAT THAT WANT IT. 
BUT WE HAE MEAT. AND WE CAN EAT. 
AND SAE THE LORD BE THANKIT." 

— -Burns. 



HARE SOUP. 
COCKIE-LEEKIE. 

" They sit i' the neuk suppin' hen-broo.' 

COD. PARSLEY SAUCE. 
FILLETS OF WHITING AU GRATIN. 

" Wae worth the loou wha wadna eat 
Sic halesome, dainty cheer, man." 

ROYAL SCOTCH HAGGIS. 



" And on our hoards that king o' food, 
A gnid Scotcli Haggis." 



ROAST BEEF. ROAST TURKEY. 

BOILED HAM. 



And aye a rowth roast beef a»id claret 
Sync wha wad staivc?" 



VEGETABLES. 

" Food fills the waine, and keeps us livin." 

PLUM PUDDING. 

COMPOTE OF FRUIT. 

SWISS PASTRIES. 

" Aft he ca's it guid.' 



COFFEE. 



You've gien us wealth for horn and knife. 
Xae heart could wish for more." 



ROYAL RESTAURANT. 
DUMFRIES. 



IP ©AST? M^ 



A CHIELS AMANC YOU TAKIN - NOTES. 
AND. FAITH. HE'LL PRENT IT." 



THE KING 



" While we ling God save tlie Kintr. 
We'll ne'er forget the People." 



National Anthem. 
The Queen, the Queen Mother, and other Members of 
the Royal Family M 



Chair. 



Chair. 



The 



mperial Forces " . 

"They've lost 



Sheriff Morton. K.C 



'in.- gallant gentlemen." 

Replies : — Col. J. Beaufin Irving. 

Lieut.-Col. P. M. Kerf, V.D, 
Song — " Scots wha hae " . . Mr F. J. 

The Immortal Memory '*...'. 
" He'll be u credit tae us a , 
We'll a' be prood o' Robin."' 



PlDWELL 



Chair. 



Song — " There was a Lad " 



Mr D. O'Brien. 



Dumfries Burns Club" . Sir James Crichton-Browne, F.R.S. 

" Mony a nielit we've merry been. 
And mony mae we hope tae h*. 

Replies : — Mr JaS. W. Whitelaw. 

Mr John M'Burnie. 

Song — " Doon the Burn " Mr David Fergusson. 

Scottish Literature 

" O for a spunk o' Allan's glee 



Lord St. Vigeans. 



I >r Fergusson 'a, the bauld and slee." 

Replies : — Sir Herbert E. Maxwell. Bart. 
Mr Joseph Laing Waugh. 
Recitation ... Mr Leslie Macdonald. 

Dumfries and Dumfriesians " . Sir J. Lorne MacLeod. LL.D. 
•• There was Maggy by the Banks o' Nith, 
A dame wi' pride eneugh." 

Replies: — Provost Macaulay, O.B.E. 
Dr R. W. MacKenna. 



Vocal Duet- 
Our Guests " 



-Mr G. H. 



Reed and Mr J. Gibson. 

Dr Joseph Hunter. 



" Each passing year 
Knits others close in friendship's ties. 

Replies : — Mr John Foster. 

Mr Holbrook Jackson. 



10. 



Song — " Gae 


bring tae me " Mr J. M. 


Bowie. 


The Croupiers 


" Mr J. 

' Here are we met, kouii merry boys. 
Fouk merry boys, I trow, are we." 


E. Blacklock. 


Reply : 


—Mr W. A. Hiddleston. 




Song — " Ae 


Fond Kiss . . Mr G. H 


Reed. 


The Chairman 


" Geo. 


Neilson, LL.D. 


Reply : 


—Mr R. A. Grierson. 
'• Wi' merry sangs an friendly cracks. 
I wat we dinna weary." 






Auld Lang Syne. 





FRIDAY. 23rd JANUARY. 1920. 



DUMFRIES BURNS CLUB, 



PRESIDENTS. 



1820 
1821 



1822 
1823 
1824 
1825 
1826 
1827 
1828 
1829 
1830 
1831 
1832 
1833 
1834 
1835 
1836 
1837 
1838 
1839 
1840 
1841 
1842 
1843 
1844 
1845 
1846 
1847 
1848 
1849 

1850 
1851 
1852 
1853 
1854 
1855 
1856 
1857 
1858 
1859 
1860 
1861 
1862 
1863 
1864 
1865 
1866 
1867 



1870 
1871 
1872 
1873 



John Commelin 
Major Miller 

" Immortal Memory proposed by 
John Commelin 
John McDiarmid 
General Dirom 
William Gordon. Jr. 
John Syme 
William Gordon, Jr. 
John McDiarmid 
No Dinner 
David Armstrong 
John McDiarmid 
No Dinner 
No Dinner 
No Dinner 
John McDiarmid 
No Dinner 
David Armstrong 
No Dinner 
David Armstrong 
James Stuart Menteith 
Thomas Aird 
Sheriff Trotter 
Dr McLellan 
Dr W. A. F. Browne 
C T. Ramage 
John McDiarmid 

Sheriff Trotter 

W. Bell Macdonald 
J. Macalpine Leny 
Cholera in Dumfries, and no 
Meeting held 

E. Hepburn 

Sheriff Trotter 

John McDiarmid 

J. Macalpine Leny 

Dr W. A. F. Browne 

W. Bell Macdonald 

Major Scott of Gala 

Sheriff Trotter 

W. R. McDiarmid 

Dr W. A. F. Browne 

Captain Noake 

William Straehan 

Adam Skirving 

Thomas H. M'Gowan 

Rev. W. Buchanan 

Rev. David Hogg 

R. B. Carruthers 

John Symons 

David Dunbar 

Captain Noake 

George Whitelaw 

William Wallace 

Rev. James Barclay 

James Cranstoun 



1874 
1875 
1876 
1877 
1878 
1879 



1880 
1881 



1884 
1885 
1886 
1887 
1888 
1889 
1890 
1891 
1892 
1893 
1894 
1895 
1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
1901 

1902 
1903 
1904 
1905 
1906 
1907 
1908 
1909 



1910 
1911 



1913 
1914 



1915 



Donald Mitchell 
Sheriff Nicholson 
Rev. Thos. Underwood 
Thomas McKie 
David Barker 

No Meeting in respect of the 
general distress and depression 
prevalent in the Country 
Rev. J. A. Campbell 
J. C. Ross 
Jos. Ewing 
Jas. MacDonald 
John Clerk 
A. C Thomson 
Henry Gordon 
J. B. A. McKinnell 
Provost D. Lennox 
Rev. D. C. Bryce 
W. H. Scott 

J. C. R. Macdonald * 

Sir J. Criehton-Browne 
Sheriff Campion 
J. W. Whitelaw 
W. A. Dinwiddie 
Sir R. T. Reid. Q.C.. M.P. 
Provost J.J. Glover 
John Grierson 
James Carmont 
Rev. A. Wallace Williamson 
No Dinner — ■ Death of Queen 

Vietoria 
Thomas Watson 
J. H. Balfour Browne. K.C. 
Francis R. Jamieson 
A. Douglas Thomson 
James A. Fleming 
Dr J. Maxwell Wood 
Dr J. Maxwell Ross 
W. A. Dinwiddie 
"Immortal Memory" proposed by 

J. Hepburn Millar 
William Dickie 
John Symons 
"Immortal Memory " proposed by 

Geo. Neilson, LL.D. 
Dr Fred H. Clarke 
"immortal Memory" proposed by 

Rev. J. C. Higgins 
James Geddes 
H. Sharpe Gordon 
Immortal Memory" proposed by 
Sir George Douglas, Bart. 
•20 . R. A. Grierson 

No Dinner held in years 7915. 
1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919 
owing to War 
Centenary Dinner of Club, 1920 



SECRETARIES. 



1820 
1829 
1834 
1843 
1876 

1891 



William Grierson 
David Armstrong 
John Thorburn 
W. R. McDiarmid 
Donald Mitchell 
Henry Gordon 
H. Sharpe Gordon 



W. M. Maxwell 

Dr A. D. MacDonald and W. 

Dinwiddie (Joint Seeys.) 
W. A. Dinwiddie 
J. Maekechnie 
John McBurnie 



Office- Bearers of the Club, 
1920. 



President : 

R. A. GRIERSON, Town Clerk. 

Committee : 

C B/CARRUTHERS. Solicitor. 

DAVID FERGUSSON. Solicitor. 

DAVID H. HASTIE, Clothier. 

W. A. HIDDLESTON. House Factor. 

Dr JOSEPH HUNTER, Burgh Medical Officer 

A. C PENMAN, Motor Manufacturer. 

Secretary and Treasurer: 

JOHN McBURNIE, Sheriff Clerk of Dumfriesshire. 



Greeting sent to other Clubs. 



O ! his was the fancy that soar'd in its flight- 
Like the eagle sublime, when she basks in the light ; 
And his was the spirit no tyrant could bend. 
So dark to the foe, yet so warm to the friend ; 
So impassioned in love, which our nature adorns. 
Then, in rapture, fill high. — 'tis the birthday of BURNS 

O BURNS! thy dear name e'er remember'd shall be, 

While heaves the green wave round the Isle of the free ; 

Thy fame we shall cherish, and honour thy bust. 

That seems, like a Phoenix, to rise from thy dust ; 

Strew with wild flowers thy grave, where each Muse sadly mourns. 

Then, in silence, let's drink — TO THE MEMORY OF BURNS. 

Front lines sung at the Anniversary Dinner m 1820. 



DESIGNED BY 
UOR W. F. CROMBIE, 
DUMFRIES. 



PRINTED BY 
1AXWELL 4 SON. 
DUMFRIES. 



CEREMONY AT 

THE MAUSOLEUM 



Sir J. Lome Macleod and the 
:: :: Poet's Message. :: 



Following the usual custom on the an- 
niversary of the birth of Robert Burns, 
the Provost, Magistrates, and Town 
Councillors of Dumfries assembled in 
St. Michael's Churchyard on Satur- 
day afternoon (the 24th January), and 
proceeding to the Mausoleum laid a 
wreath on the Poet's tomb. The 
weather was bleak and cold, and rain fell 
at intervals. Fortunately the rain kept 
off during the ceremony, but no doubt 
the weather conditions affected the at- 
tendance of the general public, though 
that was considerable. The mem- 
bers of the Burns Club and others 
formed in processional order within the 
vestibule of the church, and included Mr 
R. A. Grierson, president of the Club ; Mr 
John M'Burnie, secretary; * Miss Jean 
Armour Burns Brown, great-grand- 
daughter of the Poet; Miss Carlyle 
Aitken, Miss M'Burnie, Lord St. Vigeans, 
Sir J. Lome MacLeod, Sheriff Morton, 
Colonel J. Beaufin Irving of Bonshaw, Mr 
Holbrook Jackson, Mr D. H. C. Higgins, 
London; Mr Arthur M'Kerrow, Calcutta; 
Rev. J. Montgomery Campbell, Dr Joseph 
Hunter, Mr James Geddes, Mr G. R 
Carruthers, Mr W. F. Crombie, Mr A. D. 

H 



114 

Eobison, Mr David Fergusson, Mr W. J. 
Stark, Mr Thomas Dykes, Mr James 
Wyllie, Elmbank; Mr John Irving, sad- 
dler; Mr David Hunter, Mr James Reid, 
and Mr Thomas Laidlaw, secretary of 
Burns Howff Club. Headed by Mr Grier- 
son, Sir J. Lome MacLeod, and Miss Jean 
Armour Burns Brown, and preceded by 
Pipe-Major Boyd, they proceeded to the 
Mausoleum and took up a position within 
the enclosing railing around the tomb. 
Following the first procession came the 
members of the Town Council and burgh 
officials, who had also assembled in the 
vestibule of the church. Those present 
included Provost Macaulay (who wore his 
robe and chain of office), Bailie Con- 
nolly, Dean Lockerbie, Mr W. Adam, Mr 
Robert Kerr, Mr A. Millar, Mr Steven- 
son, Mr D. Findlay, Mr William Black, 
chief constable; Mr M. H. M'Kerrow, 
town chamberlain; Mr John Barker, • 
burgh surveyor; Mr F. Armstrong, 
master of works; and Mr Sam. Dickie, 
gas manager; followed by members of 
the public. Halberdier Stoba preceded 
the civic procession, which was headed 
by the Provost, who carried the wreath, 
composed of arum lilies, chrysanthe- 
mums, erigerons, white narcissus, and 
bronze mahonia. 

The Provost reverently placed the 
wraith on the Poet's grave, after which 
" The Land o' the Leal " was played by 
the piper. 

Addressing the company, the Provost 
expressed the hope that the simple tri- 
bute which they had paid that day to the 
memory of our national Poet would be 
continued by the Town Council of Dum# 







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116 

fries for all time coming. Burns, he said,, 
was thought a great deal more of to-day 
than when he lived in Burns Street in 
their burgh. All over Scotland and 
wherever Scotsmen were to be found that 
anniversary would be remembered and 
celebrated. If Burns had been alive in 
the days of war now closed he would 
have been one of the first to have gone 
to the defence of the Empire. When this 
country was threatened with invasion by 
the French, Burns was one of the first to 
join Volunteers for the defence of our 
shores. (Applause.) 

Mr Grierson, in accepting the wreath 
as president of Dumfries Burns Club, 
which has the honour of caring for the 
Poet's grave, said it had been the custom 
for the president to move a vote of thanks 
to the Provost, Magistrates, and Coun- 
cillors of Dumfries on a day such as that. 
That day marked the centenary of the 
Burns Club, and as that wreath had been 
placed on the tomb of the Poet by the 
Town Council, not only for themselves 
and the community of Dumfries, but for 
Scotland and Burns lovers the world 
over, they thought it right that the vote 
of thanks for the wreath which had just 
been accepted by him should be moved 
by Sir John Lome MacLeod, because Sir 
John until only a few weeks ago was Lord 
Provost of the capital city of Scotland, 
and he would thus be entitled clearly to 
speak for Scotsmen at large. (Applause.) 
They had always had this vote of thanks 
moved by a Lowlander, but on this oc- 
casion he thought they would appreciate 
that it should be proposed by a man of 
the purest Highland blood. (Applause.) 



117 

He would formally ask Sir John MacLeod 
to perform that office. (Applause.) 

Sir J. Lome MacLeod said: — Ladies 
and gentlemen, — It is a high honour and 
privilege for me to have the opportunity 
on behalf of those here assembled and on 
behalf of the far larger number of lovers 
and admirers of the Poet and man, Burns, 
scattered throughout this country and in 
•every quarter of the globe, to return 
thanks to you, Provost Macaulay, for 
laying, as you have done, upon this tomb 
which is a national heritage a wreath on 
behalf of the community of Dumfries, 
.you being the authorised and official in- 
strument of the community for this pur- 
pose upon this day — a day which, in 
many respects, symbolises the life, 
•career, and experiences of the man we 
commemorate, bleak, in cloud and 
shadow, with glimpses of sunshine. Sir, 
we are moved on a touching occasion of 
this kind with the highest emotion 
towards one who has proved himself to 
be, and will, with continuing strength 
and greatness, remain a potent 
teacher and educator in this world. 
A lover of freedom, a friend of humanity, 
a man of universal sympathy, of the 
highest patriotism, intense in spirit, sin- 
cere and truthful always in his utter- 
ance, a hater of shams, and an assessor 
of true worth and right, he comes to us 
in these days with a special and par- 
ticular message, which we all realise and 
deeply appreciate. It is a pious and 
reverent act of recollection and homage 
which you, Provost Macaulay, have now 
paid to the national Poet in the name of 
the community of Dumfries, who are the 



118 

custodians and possessors of this 
national heritage. This glorious spirit is 
not dead. He is more truly alive in these 
later days, and his light will shine forth 
as a beacon of hope and courage and con- 
fidence to aspiring but weak and frail 
mortals in the midst of the turmoil and 
the clash and the warring of confused 
ideas and actions which prevail at this 
time. And we shall always seek from 
this source inspiration and receive new 
strength, encouragement, and stimula- 
tion from his lofty and inspired teaching 
and precepts for the benefit and pros- 
perity of mankind. I tender you, Provost 
Macaulay, in the name of the lovers and 
admirers of Burns our grateful thanks for 
this respectful act which you have now 
paid to the memory of our national Poet,. 
and we know that the same spirit which 
to-day has animated you in continuing 
the practice of the past in this respect 
will continue to animate the community 
of Dumfries and the Town Council as its 
authoritative instrument of government 
to pay like tribute and homage in the 
future. (Applause.) 

Before dispersing the company was 
photographed in front of the Mausoleum, 
and on the way from the church to the 
grave of the Poet the processions were 
photographed with cinematograph 

cameras. 

Two wreaths were placed on the statue 
of the Poet in High Street, one by the 
Dumfries Burns Club and the other by a 
private individual. 



HISTORICAL SKETCH 

OF THE CLUB. 



Events and Personalities of the 
:: :: Early Days. :: 



The Burns Club of Dumfries, one of 
the oldest of the many such institu- 
tions scattered throughout the world, 
was founded on 18th January, 1820. The 
circumstances in which it came into 
being are of historic interest. It fol- 
lowed upon the movement which was 
started in Dumfries some years after the 
Poet's death to erect a mausoleum over 
his remains. This project was first 
mooted at a meeting of " the friends and 
admirers of the late Scottish bard, 
Robert Burns "—so runs the early record 
— which was held in the George Inn, 
Dumfries, on 16th December, 1813. John 
Syme of Ryedale, a good and 
staunch friend of the Poet, who 
occupied as distributor of stamps 
the ground floor of the house 
at the foot of Bank Street, to which Burns 
came on leaving Ellisland, and who 
was the latter's frequent hospitable host, 
presided over the gathering. This meeting 
resulted in the appointment of a Commit- 
tee to carry forward the mausoleum pro- 
posal. On 6th January, 1814, the Com- 
mittee met under the chairmanship of 
General Dunlop, M.P., son of Mrs 
Dunlop of Dunlop, the Poet's kind 



120 

friend and patroness, when it was 
intimated that " a large number of 
noblemen and gentlemen highly approved 
of opening a public subscription for the 
mausoleum." William Grierson, draper 




The Mausoleum, St. Michael's Churchyard. 

in Dumfries, was appointed secretary to 
the Committee, and associated with him 
in this capacity was the Rev. Dr Duncan 
of Ruthwell. The name of Dr Duncan is 
well remembered still as that of a gentle- 
man prominently identified with every 



121 

■enlightened and progressive movement in 
the district in his day, and 
founder of the Savings Bank move- 
ment. William Grierson, whose memory 
has been less well preserved, oc- 
cupied in his time an influential posi- 
tion in the community. A J. P. of the 
county and a prominent elder of St. 
Michael's Church, he was a man of cul- 
tivated tastes and enthusiasms. His wife 
was a daughter of the Rev. Dr Sibbald, 
first of Johnstone parish and afterwards 
of Haddington, and one of his 
sons was Dr Grierson of Thornhill, 
whose museum in the ducal village re- 
mains an interesting memorial of a most 
interesting worthy. William Grierson 
purchased the small residential property 
of Grovehill, in the parish of Penpont, 
and took a lease of the neighbouring lands 
of Boatford, which he occupied as a led 
farm. He died in 1852, aged 80 years, and 
was buried in Penpont Churchyard. His 
wife, who survived till 1862, was also 
buried there ; likewise their son, Dr 
Grierson, who died in 1889. The latter 
used to relate that the punch bowl, which 
the Burns Club (as hereafter to be re- 
lated) acquired at the opening of its his- 
tory, was " handselled " by the Commit- 
tee in his father's house at 102 Irish 
Street, when he, being then an infant a 
month old, was placed in it! To return: 
William Grierson and his Committee ap- 
pear to have gone about the raising of 
subscriptions for the mausoleum in a 
very energetic manner, and friends and 
admirers of the Poet were canvassed in 
all parts of the world. One of the hearti- 
est responses was that of Sir Walter Scott, 



122 

who not only subscribed handsomely 
himself, but influenced others to do so, 
procuring also the celebrated Mr and Mrs 
Siddons to give a benefit dramatic per- 
formance in Edinburgh in behalf of the 
fund. 

We need not go into the history of the 
actual erection of the mausoleum. It is 
a curiously troubled story, not, however, 
without its amusing side. The founda- 
tion stone was laid with Masonic honours 
on "the King's birthday," 5th June, 
1815, when " a grand procession took 
place." The total cost seems to have 
been well up to £2000. 

We come now to the actual formation 
of the Club. The Mausoleum Committee 
appear from the minutes to have cele- 
brated the anniversary of the Poet's 
birthday by dining in the King's Anns 
Hotel on 25th January, 1817. For this 
initial occasion W. S. Walter, London, a 
native of Nithsdale and contributor of 
various poetical pieces to the " Nithsdale 
Minstrel," composed by request some 
spirited verses, from which we may quote 
the concluding apostrophe of the Poet by 
the Genius of Coila : — 

Yes — long as Criffel on his ample breast 
Reflects the golden glories of the west; 
Long as old Queensberry's gigantic form 
Shall brave the summer heat, the winter 

storm; 
Long as the Nith from mountain urn shall 

flow 
And health and plenty on these vales be- 
stow ; 
So long, my son — nor can the Muse deceive — 
So long thy name and memory shall live. 



123 

No dinner seems to have taken place in 
1818; but on 25th January, 1819, the event 
was celebrated in the Globe Inn. At that 
meeting it was agreed to open a subscrip- 
tion for the purchase of a china punch 
bowl, to be used on all similar occasions. 
This purchase was carried Out as well as 
that of a silver punch spoon, mugs, and 
three dozen glasses, and the whole were 
produced at a meeting of the subscribers 
on 18th January, 1820, " and very much 
admired." The bowl was of excellent 
workmanship, with elegant emblematic 
devices, capable of holding thi^e gallons,, 
and engraved on it were the names of the 
original subscribers. -The bowl, mugs, and 
spoon, still to the fore, were on exhibition 
at Friday night's centenary meeting, but 
the glasses have long since fallen vic- 
tims, by two's and three's (as the minutes 
scrupulously record), of the convivial 
table. — At this meeting on 18th January,. 
1820, it was resolved, in order to give 
effect to the celebration of the birthday 
of the Bard, to form the subscribers to 
the bowl into a Society to be named 
" The Burns Club of Dumfries." John 
Commelin (banker with the British Linen 
Company^ was chosen president, 
John Syme, vice-president, and 
William Grierson secretary, and minute 
regulations were drawn up for an annual 
dinner. On the 25th January, accord- 
ingly, the newly-formed Club dined in the 
King's Arms, when about forty gentlemen 
were present, under the presidency of Mr 
Commelin, with Mr Syme as croupier. 
At this meeting Thomas White, mathema- 
tician, and James Hogg, " the Ettrick 
Shepherd " (then resident in the district),. 



124 

weie elected honorary members. The 
meeting also resolved to purchase, as 
soon as the funds permitted, a " snuff 
mull," and to have a portrait of the Bard 
painted for the Club by an eminent artist. 




Sir J. M. Barrie, Bart., 

Life Member of the Club, who purchased and 
presented the James Lennox Collection of 
Burns relics. 



It had been arranged that Major W. 
Miller (of Dalswinton, who married one 
of the Jessies of Burns' muse, a daughter 
of Provost Staig) should preside at 
the dinner on 25th January, 1821, but in 
his absence Mr Commelin again presided, 
with W. Gordon, jun. (grandfather of Mr 
H. S. Gordon of Glense), as croupier. 
'This meeting took place in the Com- 



125 

mercial Hotel (now the County), and 
thirty-seven sat down to dinner, which is 
described as " excellent " — " the wines 
were good, the large china bowl was often 
filled with good whisky toddy, and the 
company enjoyed the entertainment to a 
late hour." In the course of the evening 
Gilbert Burns, the brother of the Poet, 
then residing at Grant's Braes, Hadding- 
ton, was elected an honorary member. 
So also was John Mayne, editor of the 
London " Star," a native of Dumfries, 
and author of the " Siller Gun " ; Mayne 
died in London in 1836, aged 77. and 
William Grierson was instrumental in 
having a tablet to his memory placed in 
the vestibule of St. Michael's Church. 
Mr Gilfillan, a new member of the Club 
and an artist of some note, intimated at 
this dinner that he would paint and 
present to the Club the portraits of Burns 
and his widow, " an intimation which 
was received with much pleasure." In 
the following year, at the annual dinner,. 
Mr Gilfillan duly presented the two por- 
traits, " decorated with wreaths of 
laurel taken from the shrubbery at the 
Poet's tomb." It may be mentioned here 
that, through lack of vigilance on the 
part of the earlier members of the Club, 
the portrait of Mrs Burns found its way 
in course of time into the hands of the 
National Gallery in Edinburgh. The fate 
of the portrait is the subject of many re- 
ferences in the Club minutes. Eventually 
Sir John R. Findlay, Edinburgh, one of 
the Trustees of the National Gallery, 
generously offered to have a replica of the 
portrait painted for the Club by a com- 
petent artist, if the Club on its part 



126 

-would accept his gift in amicable settle- 
ment of the dispute, and without further 
disputation to leave the original picture 
in the hands of the National Gallery- 
authorities, and to this proposal the 
Club agreed, though not without re- 
luctance. This replica, with Gilfillan's 
original portrait of Burns, has its habitat 
in Barns House. Both were on exhibi- 
tion at Friday night's dinner. 

The dinner of 1822, when John 
M'Diarmid of the " Courier " pre- 
sided, was of special interest by 
reason not only of the, presentation 
of the Gilfillan portraits, but of the 
addition to the roll of honorary members 
of a number of important and illustrious 
names. The new honorary members in- 
cluded the three sons of the Poet— Robert 
Burns, William Burns, and James Glen- 
cairn Burns; also Sir Walter Scott and 
Tiis poetical contemporaries, Thomas 
Campbell, James Montgomery, and Allan 
Cunningham ; William Tennant, professor 
of Oriental Languages at St. Mary's 
College, St. Andrews, author of " Anster 
Fair " ; and George Thomson, of Edin- 
burgh, the correspondent of Burns, for 
whom the latter wrote " some of his 
finest words for the old Scottish airs." 
Sir Walter Scott, acknowledging his elec- 
tion as an honorary member, wrote to 
William Grierson: — 

23rd January, 1822. 
I am honoured by the intimation that the 
Dumfries Burns Club have distinguished 
me by admitting me an honorary member, 
to which I am not otherwise entitled, ex- 
cepting my sincere and heartfelt admiration 
•of the great national poet, whose memory 



127 

it is the purpose of the institution to cele- 
brate. 

I beg you will make my respectful thanks 
acceptable to the members. 

Walter Scott. 

The original of this letter is preserved in 
Dr Grierson's museum at Thornhill; it 
is interesting as containing the first 
notice of Burns as " the great national 
poet." At this 1822 dinner a letter was 
read from James Glencairn Burns from 
India stating that " the account of the 
formation of the Club had made his very 
heart dance for joy, and that not even 
the concentrated rays of a thousand 
Indian suns could ever dry up the 
fountain of his Scottish feelings, which 
seemed to flow more freely as his ab- 
sence increased." At his request, -"a 
strong bottle was filled with punch 
from the bowl to be sent out to 
him to India," the carriage of which to 
London cost 7s 8d. The minutes record 
that James Hogg 1 " sang several fine 
songs"; the Shepherd was ever a con- 
vivial soul. 

The president for the year 1823 was 
General Dirom of Mount Annan. Among 
the honorary members elected were two 
of the three famous " Knights of Esk- 
dale," Sir John Malcolm and Sir 
Pulteney Malcolm. A letter was 
read on this occasion from Allan 
Cunningham acknowledging his elec- 
tion the previous year as an honorary 
member. " Honest Allan," as our 
readers .know, was born on Blackwood 
estate, near Auldgirth, served as a youth 
and in his early manhood as a stone 
mason, and going to London became 



128 

eventually secretary to Chantrey, the dis- 
tinguished sculptor, and by his poetical 
and prose writings achieved considerable 
celebrity. He wrote: 

I will thank you to express my acknow- 
ledgments to the Bums Club of Dumfries 
for having elected me an honorary mem- 
ber. Such a distinction was as much beyond 
my hopes as it was unexpected and wel- 
come. To obtain the notice of our native 
place is a pleasure which befalls few, and 
I have the proverbial intimation of its rarity 
to warrant me in thanking you with as 
much warmth as delicacy will allow me to 
use. To the most gifted it seems honour 
enough to be named with Burns, and I 
know not that such honour is enhanced by 
electing me along with some of our most 
inspired spirits. . . I am not sure if you have 
safe accommodation in your club room 
for works of art. I ask this because 
I wish the Burns Club to ac- 
cept from me the bust of a poet, one living 
and likely to live in his chivalrous poems 
and romantic stories as long, perhaps, as 
British literature shall live — the production, 
too, of the first sculptor of the Island— the 
bust of Sir Walter Scott by my friend Mr 
Chantrey. If such a thing can be accepted 
be so good as tell me, and I shall gladly 
confide its presentation to your hands. 

The Chantrey bust of Scott was duly dis- 
patched, and on 25th December, 1823, in 
a cordial letter to William Grierson, 
Cunningham again wrote: — 

I have long felt how much all owe to- 
your discreet and active enthusiasm in 
other matters as well as those of song. . . 
To render our native town distinguished, 
to make it as far known and famed as 
prouder cities, ought, and I trust has been, 



129 



the wish of all her sons. For my own 
part, though living in a distant place and 
out of the way, too far to be with you in 
person, I feel not the less solicitude for 
the fame and name of Dumfries than those 
who have the happiness of dwelling in her 
streets. 




Colonel Walter Scott, of the New York 
Scottish, 

Life Member of the Club, who purchased and 
presented the 1896 Centenary MSS. 



This is more in consonance with the 
warm-hearted and kindly nature of 
Allan than another letter which, though 
it belongs to the year 1834, we may as well 
allude to here. Cunningham had appar- 
ently got into trouble with some local 
Burnsians for comments of a slighting 
kind which, following upon a visit to the 



130 

mausoleum, he had allowed to escape 
him. In this letter he returns to the 
charge. The design of the mausoleum he 
admits to he " elegant " though lacking 
in " massive vigour," but of the sculp- 
ture he says, " I most heartily and con- 
scientiously dislike it." " It is," he says, 
" ill conceived and worse executed, and 
indeed the sentiment is beyond the power 
of sculpture to express. Who can carve 
an inspired or rather an inspiring 
mantle?" However, "you did your 
best to have the Poet honoured, and 
who can do more?" He goes on to say 
he also had done his best (in his edition 
of Burns then recently published), 
though, says he, "I understand that my 
labours have not been quite acceptable 
to sundry persons in the vale of the 
Nith." Rather bitterly he concludes: — 

I am not much mortified at this reception 
in my native valley ; so long as it is remem- 
bered that I wore an apron and wrought 
with a scabling hammer in the Friars' Ven- 
nel, so long will my works not have "fair 
play," but time renders justice to all, and 
the day is not distant when I shall either 
be forgotten altogether or be more honoured 
than at present on the banks of Nith. 

The Shade of the worthy Allan has no 
cause to complain that Time has been 
niggardly in the justice rendered to him. 

At the dinner of 1824, the president was 
Mr William Gordon, jun., to whom allu- 
sion has already been made, and whose 
son and grandson in subsequent years 
also filled the chair. The venerable John 
Syme, now seventy years of age, was the 
president in 1825. He made a brief 
speech reaffirming his devotion to the 



131 

memory of the Bard. " Were I standing 
amidst a company of foreigners," he said. 
" I might indeed tell them that Burns was 
the most extraordinary man I had ever 
known — that the lightnings of his eye, the 
tones of his voice, the smile that played 
round his lips, or the frown that occa- 
sionally shaded his brow, were all and 
each indicative of a mind of prodigious 
power; so much so that even the proud 
and titled felt themselves awed by the 
high bearing of the peasant poet." Syme 
never varied in his expression of the high- 
est admiration for the character as well 
as the genius of his friend. " Let me, 
sir," he said at an earlier dinner, " who 
have often and often enjoyed Burns's in- 
timacy — who have seen him in every 
phase, and have heard his lowest note 
and the top of his compass — let me, sir, 
declare that in all these situations there 
was never a sentiment or expression that 
fell from his lips which did not gild my 
imagination while it warmed my heart, 
and which evidently flowed from a fine 
and benevolent fountain of morality and 
religion. For the former, refer to his 
conduct to his brother; on the other 
topic, instead of being what I may call 
liberal, I deemed him rather restrained 
by a sort of superstitious awe and dread. 
. . . A verse of Burns has ever struck 
me as the type of his mind, and it may 
be applicable to his justification: — 

'I saw thy pulse's maddening play, 
Wild, send thee pleasure's devious way. 
Misled by fancy's meteor ray, 

By passion driven ; 
Yet still the light which led astray 

Was light from Heaven.' " 



132 

Mr Gordon was again president in 1826, 
and in 1827 John M'Diarmid occupied 
the chair. In 1828 no dinner at all ap- 
pears to have been held. A feature of 
those early dinners, by the way, was the 
extraordinary length and variety of the 
toast-list. For example, that for 1826 ran 
to no fewer than thirty-four toasts — one of 
them duplicated ! Compare this with the 
modest ten toasts which comprised the 
list at last Friday night's function. But 
in those days there was a wide catholicity 
observed in the compilation of the toast- 
list, which we find, on another occasion, 
included Milton, Homer, and the Liberty 
of Greece ! The new members admitted 
to the Club at the 1826 dinner, and whose 
healths were pledged, included Sir Eobert 
Laurie of Maxwelton; Mr R. Cutlar Fer- 
gusson of Craigdarroch ; Collector Whar- 
ton, Professor Wilson (" Christopher 
North "), and Messrs W. Graham and 
Joseph Train (the latter the well known 
antiquarian correspondent of Scott). 
The Club sustained an irreparable loss 
in November, 1831, when John Syme 
passed away. It is on record as remark- 
able that " his last evening on earth was 
spent with Captain James Glencairn 
Burns, just returned from India, in con- 
versation and reminiscences of the 
Poet/' 

Again no dinner was held in 1831, but 
for the 1832 celebration Sir Walter Scott 
was invited to preside. The novelist, 
however, was unable to attend, and once 
more the social observance of the anni- 
versary was pretermitted. Apologising 
for his inability to accept the Club's in- 
vitation, Scott wrote: — 



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134 

I am very much flattered with the invita- 
tion of the Burns Club of Dumfries to take 
their chair upon the 26th of January next, 
and were it in my power to do myself so 
great honour it would give me the most sin- 
cere satisfaction. But my official duty de- 
tains me in close attendance on the Court 
of Session during its sittings, besides which 
I am not now so equal as at a former part of 
my life either to winter-journeys or to social 
exertion. The severe illness to which I was 
subjected some years ago obliges me to ob- 
serve great caution in these particulars. 

I beg to express my sincere wishes for the 
conviviality of the meeting, and to express 
my most respectful thanks for the honour 
which the Club have conferred upon 

Walter Scott. 
Abbotsford, 29th December, 1831. 

We have now related, at some length, 
the main features of the early history of 
the Club. Of its later history, we have 
not space to do more than give a sum- 
marised narration. Its proceedings for 
some years about this period do not call 
for much remark. The annual dinner 
would appear to have been held irregu- 
larly. For the third year in succession, 
there was none in 1833, and there was 
none in 1835 and 1837. Thenceforward, 
however, as the minutes attest, the func- 
tion was observed with unbroken regu- 
larity, save on three occasions, for which 
the explanation is recorded. The first 
occasion was in 1849 — the year of the 
cholera outbreak in Dumfries j the second 
was in 1879, on account of " the general 
distress and depression prevalent in the 
country " ; and the third was in 1901, 
Queon Victoria having died on 22nd 



135 



January of that year. During the late 
war, also, the dinners, in common with 
all festive observances throughout the 
country, were, of course, suspended, 
though the long-established custom of the 
Club to visit the Mausoleum on each re- 
curring 25th January and meet the Town 
Council when they placed their tribute on 
the Poet's tomb has been regularly main- 
tained. 

Two outstanding events in which the 
Club bore a part were the celebration of 
the centenary of the Poet's birth in 1859, 
and that of the centenary of his death in 
1896. With regard to the former, it was 
on the Club's initiative that the Town 
Council and the citizens generally took 
the matter up and with great heartiness 
made of the occasion a memorable suc- 
cess. A feature of the day was a repre- 
sentative public procession, organised by 
the committee of the Mechanics' Insti- 
tute, who had arranged to carry out on 
the anniversary the laying of the founda- 
tion stone of their new lecture hall. The 
stone was laid by Bro. Stewart, Provincial 
Grand Master, with full Masonic . cere- 
monial; and Dr Browne, superintendent 
of the Crichton Institution (father of Sir 
James Crichton-Browne and Mr J. H. 
Balfour-Browne, K.C.), who was president 
of the Institute at the time, recalled in a 
speech that Burns founded and carried 
out a parish library at Friars' Carse called 
the Monkland Friendly Society. The 
Burns Club held their anniversary and 
centenary dinner at four o'clock in the 
afternoon, when a company of 220 gentle- 
men gathered in the Assembly Rooms. 



136* 



Thomas Carlyle had been invited to pre- 
side, but declined, and Dr Browne occu- 
pied the chair and proposed the Immortal 
Memory. The croupiers were J. M. Leny 
of Dalswinton; James Mackie of Bargaly, 
M.P. for the Stewartry; Thomas Aird, the 
poet, editor of the " Dumfries Herald " ; 
and W. Bell Macdonald of Rammerscales. 
Colonel William Nicol Burns, the eldest 
surviving son of the Poet, was present, 
and other guests were Colonel M'Murdo of 
Mavisgrove ; Mr William Gordon ; Mr H. 
Fuller, editor of the " New York Mirror " ; 
Mr George F. Train, New York (who intro- 
duced tramways into Britain); Mr Dud- 
geon of Cargen; Sir William Broun, etc. 
Colonel W. Nicol Burns, responding to the 
toast of " The Sons of the Poet," attri- 
buted his own success and that of his 
brother with the Army in India to the 
fame of Burns, which pursued them in 
good fortune and raised up kind and in- 
fluential friends for them. " Wherever 
the sons of Burns had appeared, even at 
thai late period — wh ether in England, 
Scotland, or Ireland — they had always 
been received with most affectionate en- 
thusiasm." Dr Adam proposed " The 
Literature of Scotland," coupled with the 
name of Thomas Aird. Dr Car- 

ruthers, of Inverness, proposed " English 
Literature," and Dr Ramage, of Wallace 
Hall, proposed " The Biographers of 
Burns." A great " town dinner," to 
which a thousand persons sat down, was 
held in the Nithsdale Mills, then newly 
finished and without machinery, and de- 
putations representative of the two gather- 
ings exchanged visits in the course of the 
evening. A concert in the Theatre and a 



137 

series of balls were other features of the- 
celebration. 

Chronologically, the next event of note- 
was the unveiling of the Burns Statue in 
the High Street, which took place on 6th 




Burns Monument, High Street, Dumfries. 

April, 1882, but with this the Burns Club 
was not officially connected. In connec- 
tion with the imposing celebration of the 
centenary in 1896 of the Poet's death, 
however, it took a very active part. Soon 
after the anniversary dinner of that year,, 
it began the preparation of arrangements 



138 

for suitably commemorating the date — 
21st July. With the committee which it 
appointed were afterwards associated 
some other representative gentlemen of 
the town and district, and with the active 
assistance of Sir Robert Reid, M.P. (now 
Lord Loreburn), who was president of the 
Club that year, the cordial sympathy of 
the Earl of Rosebery was enlisted, and 
the movement acquired widespread and 
most influential support. The late Pro- 
vost Glover, as the official head of the 
town, filled the position of chairman of 
the executive ; and the secretary was Mr 
Phillip Sulley, of the Inland Revenue, 
now in Elgin. Lord Rosebery took a 
leading part in the day's proceedings, 
and delivered a memorable oration on 
the Bard. The celebration, however, will 
still be in the recollection of many, and 
a full record of it has been published, 
so that we need not further enlarge 
upon it. 

To-day the Burns Club of Dumfries is 
in as vigorous health as at any time in 
its 100 years' history. Its membership 
is greater than it has ever been. Its 
enthusiasm for the Bard and his works 
and its devotion to his memory shoAv 
no abating with the passage of the 
years. It has never been more com- 
petently officered than now, and than 
Mr R. A. Grierson and Mr John M'Burnie 
it could have no more zealous president 
and secretary. The Club has in recent 
years sought to stimulate interest in the 
Poet's works among the young by offering 
prizes for competitions in the schools, 
and this effort has met with gratifying 
success. At the Burns House, which 



139 

with the Mausoleum, is in the care and 
keeping of the Club, an interesting and 
valuable collection of relics is being built 
up, thanks to the contributions of in- 
terested friends. 



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