Poet McGonagall’s “Modest Request”

Business at the Checking Committee of the Dundee Harbour Trust was yesterday agreeably diversified by an amusing request from Poet McGonagall. When the rather dry work of examination of the accounts had been finished, a letter which had been addressed to the Convener of the Tay Ferries Committee was submitted. The Treasurer was asked to read the communication, which, in polite terms, asked the Convener to arrange with his Committee and the Board to give “our own poet” a free passage to and from Newport by steamer when he felt inclined to brave the dangers of the Tay. The poet drew attention to the fact that in many of his poems he had waxed eloquent on the beauties of Newport, and had sung of the “beautiful banks of the silvery Tay,” and, as if to give additional emphasis to his request, he naively added that if he were successful he might write a few poems in praise of Newport and its surroundings, and so induce many more persons to cross the river to that “beautiful spot,” and add to the revenue of the Tay Ferries; besides, he concluded, composing some verses in honour of the Convener of the Tay Ferries. Along with the letter the poet enclosed several of his most recent “works,” just to show the Trustees the character and scope of his writings. The reading of the letter excited much merriment; and the members of the Committee, desiring to have all the facts before them, unanimously asked the Treasurer to read for their benefit one of the poems. A selection having been made, the Treasurer, it is said, recited with great effect a poem dealing with Newport. This also created much mirth, which having subsided, the Trustees, in a more serious mood, set themselves to the task of deliberating on the whole matter; and, it is reported, after a very careful and serious consideration, they decided to decline the request.

Evening Telegraph, 21st September 1894

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