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their abilities in the Greenock Town Hall, at the public presentation of the prizes by the Honorary President of the year.* A small sum is charged for admission and the proceeds handed over to some of the local charities. The various medals awarded are struck from a special die made for the Club, and the book prizes are similarly impressed by the Club-stamp and the Poet's armorial bearings. For the purposes of the Club's examinees, the members of the Bursary Committee are at present engaged in the production of a volume, which will embrace selections from the Scottish poets, prior to Burns, and be enriched with critical and illustrative annotations.
There is yet another direction in which the educational energy of this Club has been expended. The Wild Flower Competition for school-children was instituted, and is now supported, by members of the Club, conjointly with the Royal West Renfrewshire Horticultural Society. One very interesting result of these labours was recently shown in the display of collections, sent in by school-children, of flowers mentioned by Burns and Tannahill in the course of their works.
In connection with these competitions, it may be stated that a sum more than equal to that required to erect a statue of the Poet has been expended in educational and charitable objects. While believing that their efforts in these latter directions, testify their love for Burns in as eminent a degree as the erection of a memorial in bronze, the members of the Club have not lost sight of the desirability of raising a statue to the memory of the Poet whose name they bear. They have also been at a considerable pecuniary outlay in the tending of Highland Mary's monument, and, it may be added, they paid for one of the panels in the Glasgow Statue—“The Vision "—the terra-cotta replica of which is in the Club-room and cost an additional five guineas.
The Club has been fortunate in securing the services of a series of Honorary Presidents, who have done much by their speeches and actions to encourage the systematic study of the literature of the land. Such are the Rev. John Barclay, author of a beautiful poem on the bard; Sheriff Nicholson,
*It ought to be mentioned that the Greenock Magistrates give the Town Hall free of charge; and that the Club, by subscribing to the Hospital, secures the right of nominating cases for a certain number of the Wards.
LL.D., a voluminous writer on northern lore; Prof. Blackie, author of numerous works on Scottish topics; and Dr. Andrew Lang, poet-laureate of "gowf," and author of the most recent Edition of Burns. The Honorary President, who takes the chair this month, is the well-known friend of Carlyle-Prof. David Masson-who possesses a European fame for geniality, learning, and critical acumen. It is not too much to say that the list of Honorary Members would also serve as a present-day list of British celebrities in art and literature. To mention but a few names: Science is represented by Sir William Thomson, P.R.S., and Prof. Jack; Literature, by Dr. Underwood, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Tennyson, and Mr. A. J. Balfour; Art by Sir Noel Paton, and Sir F. Leighton; the Drama, by Mr. Henry Irving; and Music, by Mr. Hamish MacCunn, a native of Greenock, and intimately connected with the family of Highland Mary.
The Club is probably unique in possessing a handsome suite of rooms in Nicolson Street provided with a splendid portraitgallery of the various Presidents and Honorary Members. What perhaps strikes the eye of the visitor even more than the varied relics of Burns and Highland Mary, is the handsome library of Scottish Literature recently enriched by donations from many of the honorary and ordinary members. It is the intention of the Club still further to extend their collection by placing on their shelves, works and MSS. illustrative of Scottish Literature and History of every period. The handsome manner in which honorary members have aided, and are still aiding, the Library Committee in giving completeness to this interesting collection is worthy of all praise.
While the various Committees
Musical, Library, Bursary,
&c. are constantly at work during the whole year, there are quarterly meetings of the aggregate Club, to which the work of the committees is delegated, and at which necessary business, such as election of new members, is carried out. Perhaps the most important certainly the most attractive-parts of the programme of these quarterly meetings are the papers and lectures on Scottish Literature delivered by the members, and dealing with subjects drawn from the entire range of national history. A scheme is at present in process of formulation, by which it is proposed to institute a series of public lectures to be delivered
by members of the Club, who are specialists in particular departments of national literary criticism.
No account of the Club would be complete which did not make mention of the series of beautiful menu-cards, which, with many humorous and attractive embellishments, detail the names of the speakers on the anniversary evening. Appropriate selections from Burns, wittily characterising the various Scotch dishes of the dinner, together with clever sketches illustrating the various quotations, combine to make the annual menu-card a valuable work of art and a lasting memento of the occasion. The signatures of all the members present at the meeting held previous to the anniversary are ingeniously reproduced on the last page. The 500 extra copies of the menu-card for '91-the work of Mr. Peter Kerr, artist, a member of the Club, who has also designed the sketches of all the others were eagerly bought up by Burns Clubs in all quarters of the world.
J. B. MORISON.
THE EDINBURGH FORGERIES.
HE startling revelations made by the Edinburgh Evening
bogus literary MSS. and other historical documents, which has been going on for the last five or six years, compel us to refer to the subject, although only a short month ago we had considered it scarcely ripe enough to be brought before the general public. For some years past there has been considerable uneasiness and suspicion in the manuscript market, at first induced by the extraordinary number of original documents offered for sale, and subsequently confirmed by the suggestive attitude assumed towards them by experienced collectors, and the most reliable of the cognoscenti in such matters. Still, there was great disinclination displayed to speak out plainly, and all that was available upon which to form a judgment was a succession of hazy rumours and nebulous reports, which there was no means of verifying. The result is that many have been victimised, to whom a seasonable hint would have been specially valuable. This reticence, however, may be excusable in some measure as the outcome of that circumspect caution which is one of our national characteristics. The selfconstituted champion of truth in such a case must necessarily take upon himself a personal responsibility from which the bravest may well shrink; but, while we say this, we can find no excuse for those who have held back when they were only asked to follow where the bolder spirits had cleared the way. It were a national disgrace that such villainy should be practised without challenge and exposure; and the thanks of the whole country are due to the proprietors of the Evening Dispatch for their spirited and disinterested action in the matter. The first article calling public attention to the forgeries appeared on 22nd November, and in column after column, from that date to this, the plot has been allowed to unravel itself in most interesting and satisfactory fashion. It is not our province to enter into the details of the modern "curiosities of literature," which graced the pages of the Dispatch while the investigation was proceeding. Suffice it to say that recently a man was arrested on a Magistrate's warrant, and remitted to prison
on a charge of "uttering, as genuine, forged documents," to be afterwards specified. The alleged forgeries include Burns MSS., Scott MSS., Stuart MSS. relating to the Jacobite period, letters by Oliver Cromwell, Thackeray, and other illustrious personages, whose writings are in demand by collectors. A little has also been done, it seems, in the way of supplying the art market with genuine specimens of Sam Bough and other eminent artists, at surprisingly low quotations. It is with the Burns forgeries that we are chiefly concerned. Though it is nearly two years since we became acquainted with the fact that a number of spurious Burns documents had been put upon the market, it was only in the spring of this year that we had any personal cognisance of it. In the month of March or April, at an informal meeting of the Burns Federation in Kilmarnock, Mr. Sneddon, the Secretary, read a communication he had received from Mr. James Mackenzie, Forrest Road, Edinburgh, offering certain Burns manuscripts for sale, and suggesting a personal call for examination of his collection, which he averred was as extensive as that in the Kilmarnock Museum.* Various reasons operated for disregarding this application, and we heard no more of it till the month of September or October, when Mr. Sneddon submitted some further communications from the same gentleman, from which it appeared that, apart from their mercantile side, he was desirous of obtaining a Kilmarnock opinion on the authenticity of certain of the documents in his possession. Mr. Sneddon therefore requested him to forward a specimen, but this Mr. Mackenzie refused to do, on the ground that the request had come too late. The venue was thereafter transferred to the columns of the Cumnock Express by Mr. Mackenzie himself, who communicated to that journal what purported to be a letter from the Poet addressed to a "Mr. John Hill, weaver, Cumnock," of whom and whose connections, the editor, after enquiry, could find no trace. This production was immediately challenged by Mr. Craibe Angus, of Glasgow, who had long been on the alert, and to whose indomitable courage and unwearied vigilance, the credit of setting the machinery of the law in motion is mainly due. In the same paper Mr. Mackenzie afterwards published two poems of seven stanzas each, described as genuine productions of Burns, the one entitled "To the Rosebud," and the
* This correspondence was published in the Dispatch of December 16th.