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IN preparing the present issue of the Chronicle, the Editor was chiefly influenced by the consideration that the serial would be unfaithful to its mission if such an important event as the Centenary of the Poet's Death were allowed to pass without some attempt being made to preserve the main feature of the commemoration ceremonies, and the principal speeches the occasion called forth. The material collected for this purpose proved so bulky that the difficulty was to compress it within the limits of the Chronicle, and still preserve a due sense of proportion. The Editor hopes that what he has been able to accomplish may form, in some measure, the complement of "The Chronicle of the Hundredth Birthday" issued in the Centenary year of the Poet's Birth.
To his contributors he tenders his best thanks, and sincere regret that so much of the valuable material kindly placed at his disposal is necessarily held over till next year.
KILMAURS, 1st January, 1897.
THE THREE CENTENARIES OF
HE perfervid enthusiasm of Scotsmen for their National Poet and everything pertaining to him is a perfect marvel to other nations. No country, either ancient or modern, affords a similar example of progressive fame, which, as yet, shows no sign of culmination, and to which every succeeding 25th of January seems to add a new impetus. Besides the annual strain put upon it, the wonderful hold of Burns upon the people of Scotland has been put to the test on three historical occasions-the centenary of his birth, the centenary of the publication of his poems, and the centenary of his death last July. It is now more than thirty-seven years since the first of these was celebrated, and there are many among us who were witnesses of the spontaneous and unanimous outburst of national feeling which then took place over the whole globe wherever a few Scotsmen could congregate. Nor was the enthusiasm confined to Scotland. Everywhere enlightened civilisation joined hands with Scotland in honouring the Poet of Humanity. Appropriately, the centre of the demonstration was Alloway and Ayr, the places most intimately connected with his birth and early associations. The function which took place at the "Cottage" was in every way worthy of the occasion; peer and peasant vied with each other in doing homage to the inspired ploughman; literature, art, and science flocked to the banks of Doon to hear his praises sung by the eloquent tongue of Hateley Waddell and the host of talent that supported him. Every nook and corner of the land did its best to express the national sentiment, and the result was a saturnalia of universal rejoicing without a parallel in the annals of literature, and equalled only by the enthusiastic proceedings at the Alloway Festival in August, 1844, which were presided over by the Earl of Eglinton,
and attended by Professor Wilson, Sheriff Alison, Sheriff Glassford Bell, William Ayton, and all the litterati of the period, as well as by the sons and other relatives of the Poet then living. At the laying of the foundation-stone of the Alloway Monument, by Sir Alexander Boswell, of Auchinleck, on 25th January, 1820, the national sentiment was equally emphatic and pronounced in expression. In 1886, his birth to fame, through the publication of the first edition of his poems, was observed with as fervid though more circumscribed enthusiasm. Kilmarnock, as the town which stood sponsor at his literary baptism, was the centre of the movement, and the meetings which were held in the George Inn Hall and Corn Exchange will long be remembered as among the most successful and representative that have ever been convened in Ayrshire in honour of the Poet. The celebrations of the death which have recently taken place in Irvine, Ayr, Dumfries, Glasgow, Mauchline, Paisley, and Dunoon, prove conclusively that in no channel does the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum express itself so vigorously as in admiration for Burns. Dumfries, the guardian of the Mausoleum and custodier of the dust of the Poet, naturally occupied the premier place in the death commemorations, and perhaps no more impressive scene was ever witnessed than the reception of the memorial wreaths by Lord Rosebery. They came from every part of Our own country, and from the uttermost ends of the earth, in such overwhelming numbers, that at the conclusion of the ceremony the space around the Mausoleum was one solid mass of flowers. Dumfries rose magnificently to the occasion, over 3000 persons being congregated in the Drill Hall to listen, in most seemly silence, to the eloquent sadness of the splendid requiem pronounced by Lord Rosebery. Glasgow, the metropolis of the West, found an appropriate outlet for her energetic hero-worship by getting together in her Art Institute a collection of personal and literary relics of the Poet hitherto unrivalled in its own particular walk. The multitude which greeted Lord Rosebery in St. Andrew's Hall, and listened to him with the rapt attention of devotees, is bound to convince the most sceptical that Burns is the foremost intellectual force of the age, equal, if not superior, in the essentials of moral influence to Shakespeare himself. The high-souled tribute which Lord Rosebery paid to the memory