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other, "The Poor Man's Prayer."

In the same issue also appeared two specimen stanzas of an alleged poem by Burns "written after hearing a sermon preached in Tarbolton Free Church," as a printed description puts it. Without reference to the condemnatory internal evidence these poems present, they have been conclusively proved, in the columns of the Dispatch, to be nought else than impudent transcripts from old magazines and forgotten volumes of verse. Our space forbids further detail. The curious may refer to the Evening Dispatch of 22nd and 23rd November for a reproduction of the correspondence evoked by Mr. Mackenzie's fruitful communications to the Cumnock Express, but whether the accused has any connection with these productions, or with those to which we may subsequently refer, is a question to be settled by the Court on the evidence submitted at the trial.

Up to this point we had no opportunity of personally examining any of the suspected documents. Being aware that Mr. Mackenzie had presented a Burns MSS. to the Committee of the Carnegie Library of Ayr, we proceeded there accompanied by another member of the Federation Executive, Treasurer Mackay of Kilmarnock. On our arrival we discovered that Mr. Craibe Angus, without any preconcerted arrangement on either side, had come from Glasgow on the self-same errand as we ourselves. We found the Ayr men, as was only to be expected, rather disinclined to look their gift-horse in the mouth, but eventually every facility was afforded us for a thorough scrutiny of the document, which turned out to be a copy of "The bonnie Banks of Ayr." After careful examination and comparison of the manuscript with the genuine specimens in the "Cottage," we unanimously and unhesitatingly gave it as our opinion that the document as a relic of Burns was perfectly worthless—an opinion since confirmed by the authorities of the British Museum, and Advocate's Library, Edinburgh. A week or two subsequent to this incident the Dispatch took up the matter with the well-known ability and public spirit which characterise that journal, and speedily brought it to the issue we have already indicated. To its columns we must again refer our readers for full particulars of the astounding discoveries and revelations that were made from day to day as the unsavoury narrative

* The generally accepted date of the Disruption is 1843.

proceeded. For the sake of connection, however, we submit the following summary of Mr. Craibe Angus's first contribution to the columns of the Dispatch, which is headed, "Remarkable Story of a Mysterious Cabinet."

GLASGOW, NOVEMBER 26TH, 1892. SIR,-As secretary, pro. tem., for the forthcoming Burns Exhibition in Glasgow, I have come to know not a few of the inner circle which may be said to constitute the Burns cult. As the Exhibition will con

sist mainly of relics of the Poet, my correspondence has necessarily been with the holders of them. Such, in not a few families, are heirlooms, held as national possessions to be freely lent, so that the Exhibition may be an event of historic importance. From these, the one question has been, "How will our property, when on exhibition, be protected from injury?" And so with those also who, in the long ago, had purchased Burnsiana items. All, so far, has been smooth sailing. But, unfortunately there is another class, those who, from the very best of motives, have recently purchased what they believed to be Burns MSS., or books containing his autograph, and from whom come questions of a very different kind. In this way I have come to know of the existence of spurious documents, all recent, and all emanating from the same persons. Several years ago I saw in certain bookshops spurious Burns MSS. before I had even heard of their existence. I instinctively pronounced them false at first sight, when, after a lively ten minutes, I invariably had to beat a hasty retreat. Since then I have seen spurious MSS. of Burns in Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, and London; and so I was not altogether unprepared for the revelations you have made. It is a great relief to the promoters of the Burns Exhibition that you have simplified their work by the firm, welltimed, and thorough efforts you are making to discover the forger and his accomplices. My relation to the controversy in the Cumnock Express came about in this way. Happening to be in Cumnock, and having formerly received important information relating to Burns from Mr. Tod, the editor, I took occasion to call upon him. In the course of our conversation he told me that Mr. Mackenzie, an Edinburgh collector, had sent him an unpublished letter of Burns, and that he was making inquiries of the oldest inhabitants regarding it. Mr Mackenzie's name having been so frequently mentioned in connection with bogus MSS., I suggested to Mr. Tod that if he published the letter in the Express, he might get the desired information. I added that I strongly doubted the existence of any important MSS. of Burns that had not been published; and that in Edinburgh there was a manufactory of spurious MSS., and that this letter was probably one of them. Mr. Tod replied that he would ask permission to publish the letter, and if permission was granted, his paper would be open for any comments I might have to make on the letter. I agreed to write as a correspondent, but I had no wish or thought of concealing my identity, and Mr. Tod, very properly, informed Mr. Mackenzie that I was the writer.

I put Mr. Mackenzie in a dilemma. He was fighting with the odds of the truth against him; and where, may I ask Mr. Tod, is he now, when Mr. Stronach has shown that the "Poor Man's Prayer" could not by any possibility have been written by Burns! I do complain of Mr. Tod for giving colour to Mr. Mackenzie's insinuation that the British Museum, or the Antiquarian Museum in Edinburgh, would for a moment be unjustly swayed, one way or another, in any judgment they might give on a matter of the kind, though I was not much concerned at his taking the side of Mr. Mackenzie in the correspondence.* A word, by the way, as to Mr Mackenzie. Along with two gentlemen, Mr. Colvill Scott, of London, and Mr. Andrew Gibson, of Belfast-two gentlemen who know their Burns down to the roots-I called upon Mr. Mackenzie. We told him that we had called to see the Burns MSS. which, in his letters to the Cumnock Express, he had invited the public to see; we told him who we were; and on his complaining of my having condemned a letter I had not seen, I replied that I had not said anything about the penmanship of the letter, and that my strictures were confined to the matter of the letter, which I could not accept as being the outcome of the brain of the Poet. I promised that if he would show me that any of my statements were exaggerated or unfair I should withdraw them over my own name in the first issue of the Express. On referring to the letters, he took exception to my having called him the "dupe" of the forger. I replied that I had no other alternative. I knew he was not the forger, and I would not believe that he was his willing accomplice. He refused to show the MSS. on the ground that I was a "dealer." I told him that I was a collector of books relating to Burns, but that dealing in Burns MSS. could not be said to be a department of my firm. Not having been favourably impressed with the answers and conversation of Mr. Mackenzie, I said I should bid him good-bye, and write to the Express to say that he had refused to show me the MSS. he had invited the public to see. After much hesitation and haggling he said the MSS. were at his house, and that he could not show them that day. We asked him to fix a day when we could see them, and he named the following Tuesday. I asked him no questions myself, but my friends did. He refused to tell where he got the MSS., or in whose possession they had been previous to their coming into his hands, further than to say that he was a collector, and that an old cabinet, the style of which he did not like, had been brought to him, and that thinking there might be some hidden treasure in some secret drawer, he purchased it. And he told us how, on touching a spring, a bundle of MSS., as if by magic, were ejected from their long hiding. On the question being raised whether, under the circumstances, the MSS. were his property, or that of the late owner of the cabinet, and why he had not communicated the knowledge of his 'find' to some learned Society or the Scotsman, he beat about the bush and would not come to the point. On his repeating his statement in one of his letters

*Mr. Tod has since admitted that he was in error.

that he had not seen a spurious Burns MS., and that he did not believe in their existence, we undertook to borrow examples and show them to him on Tuesday, which we did. On that day we were late, having been detained in the borrowing of the spurious MSS., which two most respectable firms in Edinburgh, knowing our object, kindly placed at our disposal. We explained to Mr. Mackenzie the cause of our being late for our appointment. He demurred to showing us the documents at that late hour, but he relented and showed us a MS. named in the Express; we showing him those we had borrowed. With the exception of one signature, which he thought doubtful, he seemed inclined to think the MSS. authentic. We were not so complimentary to those he showed us. Taking his statements as to the cabinet with the secret spring, and his denial or modification, on the occasion of our second visit, of the statements he made on our first, we were no wiser as to how he came by the boasted MSS. than if we had not conversed with him on the subject. Putting all the circumstances together, I doubt if Mr. Mackenzie has in his possession a genuine MS. of Burns.

All honour to the men of Ayr for their courage in verifying the MS. of "The bonnie banks of Ayr." The committee, when it was challenged, as it was by Mr. M‘Naught, the new editor of the Burns Chronicle, Treasurer Mackay, of Kilmarnock, and myself, should not have accepted it without, in the first instance, putting it to a reasonable test. MS. has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.”


On the subject of the "Mysterious Cabinet," Mr. Colvill Scott wrote to the Dispatch on November 30th:—

"On another occasion of calling on Mr. Mackenzie at his shop, I heard from his own lips the following:-On asking him personally where he discovered the MSS., he gave me to understand that, being a kind of general collector of all sorts of things, he was shown one day a desk or cabinet, and, on looking over it, naturally enough previous to purchasing, he suddenly touched an invisible spring, when out flew a drawer filled with MSS. of Burns, &c. Having drawn the attention of the owner to the fact, he decided to make an offer for the MSS., and purchased it, but told me, when closely pressed, that he did not buy the desk wherein the peculiar discovery was made, and which might be called the Enchanted Cabinet.""

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Mr. Mackenzie, writing on December 3rd in reply to the foregoing, says:

"Already much has been made of the cabinet story, and, as it has been referred to, let me mention the facts without the fiction. Two parties named in this correspondence called on me, and, in course of conversation, I said that some years ago, when looking at an old cabinet, the owner showed me a secret drawer in which he had found some old MSS. I bought the MSS. On another occasion one of these gentlemen asked why I had not reported the finding of the Burns MSS. in the cabinet. I at once stated that these were not Burns MSS., but merely old medical MSS. Yet, in the face of this, a very different light has been thrown

on the cabinet story. The Burns MSS. I possessed had often been shown to gentlemen known to be authorities on Burns, and no one thought them to be other than genuine, even including those that so much has been made of. I am now pleased, however, that the authorship of these has been discovered."

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Such is the story of the "Enchanted Cabinet,” and it must be considered a very strange one as it stands. After the judgment passed upon that part of Mr. Mackenzie's collection of which so much (or rather, so little) has been made "- -a judgment, by the way, with which he has been forced to coincide—he surely cannot feel at ease regarding the remainder of his literary treasures. We are at a loss to account for the motives of any amateur collector," who, in the circumstances in which Mr. Mackenzie finds himself placed, refuses, or even delays, to give the fullest information at his command concerning the history of the questioned documents, and how they came into his possession. But we must proceed with our narrative. A few weeks ago, Mr. Stillie, writing to Mr. Muir, late Editor of "BURNS CHRONICLE," offered to submit for inspection of the Burns Monument Committee of Kilmarnock certain Burns MSS., of which a list was enclosed. A parcel containing six MSS. was accordingly forwarded, accompanied by a printed list, which was supplemented by the following memorandum from Mr. Stillie :

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Besides the list sent I have found Burns Original Manuscript of his introduction to the Kilmarnock First Edition of his Poems. It was sent by Wilson to Creech, Bookseller. These are the earliest and finest collection I have ever seen. Burns wrote his chief works on one side for the printer. Henry Mackenzie bound all his Manuscripts this way. These six documents offered at the reduced value of £100."

It is to be regretted that the venerable and honourable name of Mr. Stillie is so closely connected with the subject of this article. If, as is the general opinion, his judgment only has been at fault, he deserves all sympathy and consideration. There is but one course open for him however, and that is the obvious one of self-vindication, by recounting unreservedly the circumstances that led to his being inveigled. Judges, however well qualified by nature and experience, are not infallible. No shame attaches to the confession of unconscious error, while

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