McGonagall at Perth

The Poet in Form

Gets a Great Reception

It is not often that the great and inimitable Poet McGonagall, or to give him his full title, “Sir William Topaz McGonagall, K.O.W.E.B.,” which, being interpreted, Knight of the Order of the White Elephant, Burmah, makes his appearance in the Fair City, but last night the bard of the “Silvery Tay” gave one of his never-to-be-forgotten recitals in the Moncreiffe Arms Hotel. The poet was the guest of the evening at the annual smoker of the Perth Lyric Club, and the spacious hall was uncomfortably packed, there being at least 100 gentlemen present. The chair was taken by Mr James Speedie, a gentleman who had most to do in securing the poet’s services for the evening. The genius, who was attired in full Highland costume, with feathers and everything complete, on entering the room was received with storms of applause. The chairman, whose speech was punctuated with applause and laughter, said they had with them that night one of the sublime poetic geniuses in the whole world — the inimitable McGonagall. (Cheers.) Old age was to be revered, but when that was combined with poetic genius it ought to be worshipped. They were proud that the illustrious name of McGonagall had never been dragged through the muddy streets of Perth —(hear, hear) — nor his handsome figure — (cheers) — subjected to abuse. The poet was growing old. (No! no!) But would never lose his gift of rhyme which had endeared him to Scotsmen the world over.

The Poet and the Coronation

Dundee had forced him to leave her dirty town — (oh!) — and the chairman thought he could picture the poet standing on the banks of the “Silvery Tay,” and casting his eyes up to Heaven, exclaiming:-

Though I leave thee now in sorrow,
I can go where I can borrow.

The poet had come Perth, and there was one very pathetic incident. They had promised to build a house in Perth for him, and they got as far as the foundation stone — (laughter) — but in the morning they found that the wind had blown the whole thing away never to return. That matter had made the Perth Lyric Club bankrupt — and it was bankrupt yet. (Laughter.) He had a programme made out. but the only items worth listening to were those where the name of McGonagall appeared. (Loud cheers.) That brought to his recollection a matter about which he hoped they would all agree. The coronation ceremonies were to take place in June. Did they not think that THE poet should be in the procession. (Great cheering.) If McGonagall had only composed a poem about the South African war, and sent it to the Boers — (loud cheers) — he was sure they would have fled the country. (Laughter.) He trusted that the press representatives would do then utmost, and use their influence at headquarters in London to get Sir William Topaz McGonagall present at the coronation in London. (Great cheering.) He would ask a patient hearing for the man who wrote:-

This is the soap you can use with ease,
Without wasting any elbow grease.


Shine on, pale moon, upon the slates,
And let the fishermen see to catch salmon and skates.

(Great laughter.)

The Recital

The great poet was then called upon, and said he would favour them with his famous historical poem, “Bruce at Bannockburn.” The recital was given with great declamation, and lost none of its effect. Drawing his sword from its scabbard, he slashed it about the heads those in the vicinity, and several were observed to draw out their handkerchiefs and hold up a miniature white flag, but the poet heeded not and slashed on. At the point where the words occurred, “Those epicures shall die,” the poet raised his weapon, which, unfortunately, became entangled in the curtain. but with vigorous slash he proceeded. The recital was concluded with tumultuous cheering. “Macbeth” was the next piece, and was given with characteristic vigour. At the passage where the poet exclaims. “What cry is that!” there was a hush, but just then a voice piped, “I want beer.” (Laughter.) During the most exciting passage in the piece the poet nearly tumbled over a chair in his eagerness to cut off the head of imaginary Englishman.

Sir William also gave “Richard III,” in costume, and and also treated the company to song of his own composition.

Dundee Evening Post, 12th December 1901

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