Entertainment by Mr McGonagall at Lochee

On Tuesday Lochee was honoured by a professional visit from the well-known poet, musical composer, vocalist, &c., Mr William McGonagall. For the past week or so flaming posters have been exhibited in various prominent parts of the village, announcing that a “grand entertainment” would be given in the Weavers’ Hall by William McGonagall, “Poet to Her Majesty.” Long before the commencement of the entertainment groups of men of all ages and conditions, many of them from Dundee, gathered in the vicinity of the hall, mostly all evincing by their manner intense amusement, and the whole appearance of the street indicating that something extraordinary was on the tapis. The hall was filled by a large audience, the majority of whom were young men and lads, all evidently in a thorough mood for fun. Prompt to the hour the distinguished bard appeared on the platform, and stood for a considerable time there in dignified solitariness. There was a tremendous hubbub in the getting of a Chairman, the din being literally deafening. Mr A. B. Donald, bookseller, was proposed again and again, and, with evident reluctance, at last consented, his ascent to the platform being hailed with deafening plaudits. The Chairman asked a patient hearing for the performer. Mr McGonagall then appeared on a small stage which had been improvised in front of the platform, and amidst the cheers and laughter of the audience, made his bow to them. The first item on the programme, consisted of a song, entitled, “The Rattling Boy from Dublin Town.” Mr McGonagall, before commencing, explained that this song should be executed in character, and he therefore wore his hat, and carried a large umbrella. At the end of every verse the audience joined in the chorus, and kept time by tramping with their feet. Several readings and recitations were then given by Mr McGonagall from his own works, which were received In a most uproarious manner, altogether past description. Every now and then, and particularly when the performer was uttering some choice bit, and giving it the “sweetness long drawn out.” the audience would burst out with the chorus of “John Brown’s Body,” in a manner that completely “shut up” the gifted artiste. Notwithstanding all this “irreverence” on the part of the audience, the bard remained perfectly calm, and seemingly not in the least disturbed by the riotous proceedings around him. And whenever the noise ceased he resumed where he left off with the greatest nonchalance. Matters came to a thorough climax, when the Chairman intimatpd that Mr McGonagall was to give a selection from “Hamlet.” The intimation was received with howls and laughter, several voices shouting for well-known individuals in the hall to perform the part of the “ghost.” Mr McGonagall, however, had not proceeded far with his recitation when a number of the audience who were seated near the platform rose from their seats, and ascending the improvised stage they forcibly seized hold of the “Poet to Her Majesty,” and notwithstanding his frantic struggles carried him shoulder high to the street. A scene seldom, if ever, paralleled in the history of the village then ensued. A tremendous crowd thronged the street, almost the whole of whom seemed to be in a very frenzy of amusement. Mr McGonagall had ultimately, owing to the great crowd, to take shelter in a shop near by. The excitement, although not so intense, continued to prevail for a considerable time afterwards. The general impression of the audience seemed to be that they never in their lives were so thoroughly entertained as they were by the celebrated McGonagall. A complimentary poem on Mr McGonagall was read during the course of the evening. The accompanying “tribute” was handed to Mr McGonagall whilst he was “performing” at a Good Templar meeting in Dundee on Monday night:-

To Mr McGonagall

Bard of our river and our hill,
Tho’ cynics sneer, pray be not still,
But !et thy thoughts poetic flow,
Enriching minds where’er they go.

The bridge that spans the space between
Where flows the Tay, our cherished stream,
Is worthy those poetic lays
That have eclipsed old Shakespeare’s plays.

Be sure that in the days to come,
Men shall with astonishment, be dumb,
When they are shown the paths obscure,
Thro’ which thy genius made secure.

The fame which then belongs to thee,
People thy grave shall come to see,
And deck it with wreathed camomile,
And also spiced cetaceous ile.

Dundee Courier, 18th July 1879

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