Honour to McGonagall

Crowned with a Laurel Wreath

A select company of gentlemen assembled in Reform Street Hall last night to do honour to Dundee’s poet and be entertained by one of his unique recitals. McGonagall arrived in a cab, and, having divested himself of his tweed ulster, stepped, amid tremendous cheering, on the platform attired in the garb of Old Gaul. The Chairman’s opening speech was couched in terms of the highest commendation in his reference to the matchless genius of the bard, and he repudiated all connection with those who had offered an insult to him by presenting a tin-plated walking-stick, a filthy purse, and a second-hand “tile.” The poet’s programme contained such pieces from his own works as the immortal “Bannockburn” and “Tel-el-Kebir,” varied by a couple of selections from Shakespearian tragedy. In apologising for any shortcomings which might be detected in his style, he mentioned that he had been suffering from “broon kadies,” but, excepting a slight huskiness, little, if any, of his old fire was awanting. The sword-brandishing was done to perfection, and evoked enthusiastic applause. A piano stood in tbe way of some of the longer thrusts, but this did not interfere with the tragedian, although the same cannot be said of the piano. Those in the front seats were in dangerous proximity to the slaughter, but they were watchful, and there was no bloodshed. “Get your hair cut!” was among the few undignified epithets hurled at the poet, but his scathing retort to the interrupter completely demolished that member of the party into ignominious silence. During the recital telegrams and letters, congratulatory and otherwise, kept pouring in. “Swinburne” wired from London admitting the grandeur of McGonagall’s poetry, but praying him not to enter into the laureateship competition. From Broughty Ferry came an epistle in rhyme attempting to ridicule the poet —an effusion which met with cries of “Pace” and “Jealousy.” Dublin Home Rulers sent a message asking the bard to seriously think of becoming the favoured of the new Irish Parliament. All these McGonagall listened to attentively, and indicated by a complacent smile or a laugh of scorn the effect they had on his mind. The event of the evening was reserved till the close, when the poet was crowned with a laurel wreath and declared the laureate of “Dundee and Magdalen Green.” Thereafter he was carried shoulder high to his cab, amid the cheers of those around.

Dundee Courier, 1st April 1893


This occasion was commemorated by McGonagall himself in his Lines in Memoriam Regarding the Entertainment I Gave on the 31st March, 1893, in Reform Street Hall, Dundee

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