Poet McGonagall in Perth

Highland Garb and Broadsword

To induce Poet McGonagall, “Knight of the Order of the White Elephant, Burma,” to revisit the Fair City, “for one night only,” a Club of young men in Perth, who assumed to themselves the high-sounding title of the Perth Lyric Club, offered the poet enticing terms, and a gentleman in charge of the arrangements made it his duty to proceed to Edinburgh and accompany the poet northwards. Last night the poet, his wardrobe, and the agent were received at Perth Station by an eager crowd composed of the members of the Lyric Club, who accompanied the poet to the Moncreiffe Arms Hotel in Princes Street, where suitable accommodation had been secured beforehand for the illustrious guest. The hour for the proceedings to begin was eight o’clock, and each member of the Club arrived, was introduced to the poet, who, fully arrayed in the garb of the Gael, with broadsword his side, received the visitors with the gracious air which well becomes him. Every member of the Club had for the time being assumed titles to which they had no claim, and the Knights, Barons, Lords, Marquesses, Earls, and Dukes formed a curious crowd round the kilted McGonagall. The poet was at pains to explain that being 78 years of age, he was suffering from dullness of hearing, and accordingly the presentations that took place, so far as he was concerned, were gone through in dumb show, though occasionally there could be seen a twinkle in his eye, indicating that he was not by any means as “deaf as door nail.” The room in which the McGonagall gave his performance was crowded, every one being bent on doing him honour. At the outset it looked as if there would be a contretemps, for in the recitation of his first piece McGonagall drew his broadsword from its scabbard, and, regardless of consequences, flourished it in such a way as to cause those nearest him to rush for safety. Old familiar pieces were recited in the true McGonagallian style, and the poet seemed in his best “fighting form.” Many saw the battle of Tel-el-Kebir fought from beginning end for the first time, and those nearest the fighting man obtained a convincing idea of how victory was won. Other recitations were quite in keeping with the first, and the audience seemed to admire them greatly; but they evinced a “holy terror” of the broadsword, and a hint to this effect was conveyed to the Chairman. Reassurances, however, were forthcoming. The proceedings lasted for fully four hours, and at the finish there was no one fresher than the poet, who seemed to immensely pleased at having made such a telling impression on his appreciative audience.

Evening Telegraph, 12th December 1901

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