Obrázky na stránke

I think that fog has somehow survived to this day. In the genial months of July and August, however, it may lift. We have some very worthy friends in Edinburgh. Our speakers on the 21st are three Edinburgh men-Lord Rosebery, who has done everything in his power for us; Professor Masson, one of the best Scotsmen and lovers of Burns that ever lived; Rev. Dr. Walter C. Smith, who has proved by being a poet himself that he is a disciple of Burns. I would ask these friends if they have any influence to help us to complete our collection by securing the two portraits that are awanting. If not there is nothing for it but to send a battalion of the “wild west Whigs" of the modern school, headed by the Old Guard of Burns from Kilmarnock, to “inform them and storm them that these portraits must be here. The portraits are of great value. But there is something more important than the portraits, and that is the manuscripts. I have said that Burns speaks to you here. Being dead he certainly speaks in these marvellous manuscripts, written, I should think, in the finest and boldest handwriting that ever literary man, or any man, ever wrote. Then we have the marvellous literature that has accumulated round the memory of Burns shown in these books. I believe I am right in saying that there is not room for them all in the cases at present. I asked a librarian in Edinburgh the other day if there was any personal literature at all comparable with it, and he said there was only one such literature, and that centred round our Scottish heroine, Queen Mary. It is very remarkable that the two greatest personal literatures in the world belong to Scotland. You can see all these things in the galleries. They speak for themselves, and therefore I need not speak of them or for them. But may say one concluding word. Scotland has often been called by her friends in the South the knuckle-end of England. It may be, but it has never knuckled down to England. It has been conquered twice, and twice only, and by whom? By two great Scotsmen-John Knox and Robert Burns. John Knox conquered its head; Robert Burns conquered its heart. It is his heart that has filled these six galleries. He gave that heart and his life-blood for us, and the very least we can do is to show how our hearts feel towards him.

Provost M'KAY, Kilmarnock, said-I have been asked to undertake a very pleasant duty, and that is to move

a very cordial vote of thanks to Mr. Wallace for the
very able address which he has just given to you, so full of
humour, and good, solid sense. I am sure no one could have
been asked who had greater ability to discharge the duty of
giving an address on this occasion than Mr. Wallace. You
know he has just been engaged in editing a life of the Poet,
and that work, I believe, when issued-some of the volumes
have already been issued-will stand second to none in the
matter of Burns literature. He has written a sketch of the
life of the Poet, and of all the scenes of Burns which are
worth preserving. I am sure that we feel greatly indebted
that Mr. Wallace should have to-day undertaken this duty of
addressing you.
In addition to the vote of thanks to Mr.
Wallace, I have to ask you to give a vote of thanks to your
chairman, Mr. Kirkpatrick, and I may say this, that unless it
had been possible to secure a man of his influence in this
great city, backed up as he has very well been by the
Corporation of Glasgow, it would have been perfectly
impossible for such an exhibition of treasures as are in this
hall to come to this city. It is a unique collection, and I am
sure the people of Scotland will take pride in it-pride in
their National Poet, and pride in the fact that there has been
a committee organised able and influential enough to secure
these treasures from all quarters of the kingdom, and from
the United States and the Colonies as well. I know the
labours that Mr. Kirkpatrick has undertaken in connection
with this Exhibition-they have been exceedingly arduous.
He has had associated with him a most excellent executive
council, who have spared no pains in order that the Exhibition
should be worthy of our National Poet. You will agree to give
them a hearty vote of thanks. I have to ask you, at the same
time, to give a vote of thanks to the committee who have so
assiduously, day by day, and week by week, for the last twelve
months, been collecting these treasures. I am sure, speaking
for Ayrshire-I think I can speak for Ayrshire-Ayrshire men
are all considered to be Burns daft, but the mania is not
confined to Ayrshire enthusiasts. It extends to our Colonies,
to America, and, from every part of Scotland and England, I
hope enthusiasts will come to spend many days in this
Exhibition. I think, as one result from this Exhibition, we
shall be able to procure a purer text of the Poet's work

[ocr errors]

than we have hitherto had. I believe the manuscripts will be carefully scrutinised by men like Mr. Wallace and others who are distinguished in the Burns cult, and that they will take advantage of them to verify any doubtful passages in the Poet's works.

The chairman and Mr. Wallace briefly acknowledged the vote of thanks, and the proceedings terminated.




N the afternoon of Saturday, 18th July, the statue of Robert Burns, presented to the burgh of Irvine by Mr. John Spiers, of Glasgow, was unveiled by his daughter,

[graphic][merged small]

Mrs. George Spiers, and the inaugural address was delivered by Mr. Alfred Austin, the Poet Laureate of England.

Throughout the burgh labour was generally suspended, the shops were closed, and the day was given up to festivity and rejoicing. Flags and bunting were shown from a number of the principal buildings and banners bearing inscriptions were displayed, the most prominent being the line, "We'll a' be proud o' Robin." There was a large influx of strangers by the early trains, members of numerous Burns Clubs in their representative capacity, Freemasons present to take part in the Masonic ceremony, and other visitors. The weather was somewhat gloomy, the sky being overcast by threatening clouds throughout the day, but happily no rain fell.

The proceedings began as early as nine o'clock, when the deserving poor and the old people of the town were entertained to breakfast in the Good Templars' Hall by Mr. John Spiers, the donor of the statue. Between twelve and one o'clock the Provost, Magistrates, Town Council, and Statue Committee held a reception in the Town Hall for invited guests, and here luncheon was served. Meanwhile the public bodies who were to take part in the procession were assembling at their various rendezvous; the streets were filled with the blare of the multitudinous bands, and joy-bells rang from the church steeples. The school children, to whom a leading position had rightly been assigned, met at Bank Street School, and received, at the hands of Rev. Mr. Rankin, a medal, which bore the following inscription:—“In commemoration of the unveiling of the statue of the Poet Burns, presented by John Spiers, Esq., to the Burgh of Irvine, and inaugurated by Alfred Austin, Esq., Poet Laureate, 18th July, 1896." On the obverse is a representation of the statue surmounted by the name "Robert Burns," with the dates 1759-1796 on either side. The procession was arranged by Captain J. Bruce Kingsmill, R.A., and gradually converged on the Town House, in front of which a detachment of the 1st Ayr and Galloway Volunteer Artillery, under Captain Stuart, had been stationed as a guard of honour. Everything being in readiness, the procession marched off shortly after one o'clock.

The statue is erected on the banks of the River Irvine, on the northern part of the town moor, about half a mile from the centre of the burgh, and thither the procession passed by way of High Street, Eglinton Street, Burns Street, and Kilwinning Road. Before the last detachment had arrived, from 10,000

to 12,000 persons had assembled on the moor. For the reception of those appointed to take part in the ceremony a couple of platforms had been provided. On one to the right of the statue were Mr. Alfred Austin, Mr. George Spiers (sonin-law of the donor), Mrs. Spiers, and Miss Spiers, with Provost Breckenridge, the members of the Town Council, Mr. Dickie,

[graphic][merged small]

the Town-Clerk, and the representatives of other public bodies. On the platform to their left were the Provincial Grand Master, H. R. Wallace, of Busbie and Cloncaird, and the members of the Provincial Grand Lodge. Among others within the enclosure were:-Lord Blythswood, Sir John Nelson Cuthbertson, Colonel Browne, commanding 21st Regimental District, Captain Grant, Colonel Dickie, Captain M'Hardy, R.N., Captain Sneddon, Sheriff Cowan, Mr. Pittendreigh M'Gillivray, Mr. Eugene Wason, Mr. Somervell, of Sorn; Provost Willock, Ayr; Provost M'Kay, Kilmarnock;

« PredošláPokračovať »