Poet McGonagall’s Tour Through Fife

(Narrated by Himself)


The well-known poet Mr Wm. McGonagall has again distinguished himself by performing another Quixotical adventure, somewhat similar to his famous journey last summer to Coupar Angus and Perth, which has proved to to him again to be very fruitless.

Sets Out

Poor William McGonagall left Dundee on Monday afternoon September 20th at four o’clock on board the Star o’ the Tay, and landed at Newburgh in high hopes of getting a lodging for the night; but unfortunately for him all the lodging-houses were full with men belonging to Wombwell’s Menagerie; therefore William had to travel on to Abernethy, a distance of three miles, and got lodging there, which he paid fivepence for, and when Tuesday morning came he arose about eight o’clock and made his breakfast and ate it heartily. Then he inquired of the landlady, Did she think he could get a hall in the village to give an entertainment in? and she told him she considered it would be very foolish for the poet to try to give an entertainment there.

Journey to Kinross

William took the landlady’s advice and left Abernethy and travelled to Kinross, a distance of twelve miles and more perhaps where he obtained lodgings for the night for which he paid fivepence for. He then went in search of a hall to give his matchless entertainment in and he very easily succeeded in getting the Temperance Hall, which was to cost him one shilling only for the night, or perhaps nothing if he failed in drawing a large audience, and which, to the poet, no doubt, seemed to be very generous indeed–and the entertainment was to be held in it on Wednesday evening, and to commence at eight o’clock, and the admission was to be 2d. each for adults; and 1d. each for children–which was to be announced by the village bellman, which he would charge the poet 1/- for doing so.

Then when William had got arrangements made for Wednesday evening’s entertainment in the Templars’ Hall, he returned to his lodgings and had his dinner.

Magnificent Poem on Loch Leven

After he had got his dinner he went out to have a view of Lochleven and the surrounding beauties of Kinross, and as the poet viewed the beautiful scenery around the Loch, he felt so enraptured he composed the following lines:

Beautiful Loch Leven, near by Kinross,
For a good day’s fishing the angler is seldom at a loss,
For the loch it abounds with pike and trout,
Which can be had for the catching without any doubt;
And the scenery around it is most beautiful to be seen,
Especially the Castle, wherein was imprisoned Scotland’s ill-starred Queen.

Then there’s the lofty Lomond Hills on the eastern side,
And the loch is long, very deep, very wide;
Then on the southern side there’s Benarty’s rugged hills,
And from the tops can be seen the village of Kinross with its spinning mills.

The big house of Kinross is very handsome to be seen,
With its beautiful grounds around it, and lime trees so green,
And ’tis a magnificent sight to see, on a fine summer afternoon
The bees extracting honey from the leaves when in full bloom.

There the tourist can enjoy himself and while away the hours,
Underneath the lime trees shady bowers,
And listen to the humming of the busy bees,
While they are busy gathering honey from the lime trees.

Then there’s the old burying ground near by Kinross,
And the dead that lie there turned into dusty dross,
And the gravestones are all in a state of decay,
And the wall around it is mouldering away.

Goes to Bed Highly Elated

After the poet had composed the foregoing lines he returned again to the village of Kinross, highly elated, and by this time it was five o’clock in the afternoon; so William made his supper ready, and partook of it with a hearty appetite–after viewing the beautiful scenery of Lochleven–and went to bed at an early hour, and slept very sound all night.

A Faithless Bellman

When Wednesday morning came again, the poet arose and donned his clothes and had his breakfast. Then he sallied forth in search of the bellman; but the bellman could not be got. He had gone to the village of Milnathort and had promised to his wife to be back at four, and at the same time telling her it would be time enough to announce to the village of Kinross the poet’s entertainment. Therefore William felt a little discontented; so he left the bellman’s wife, telling her he would call again. So William called again and again,until seven at night, and the bellman didn’t come. Therefore the poet’s entertainment proved abortive all through the bellman of Kinross.

Advances to Cowdenbeath and Interviews a Poet

William resolved to leave Kinross on Thursday and go on to the village of Cowdenbeath and try and give an entertainment there, if he could get a hall, so when Thursday morning came and William had breakfasted, he took the road for Cowdenbeath, eight miles from Kinross, and arrived in it about twelve o’clock high noon of the day with one shilling in his pocket and a little dispirited, of course, owing to the failure of his entertainment in the village of Kinross.

However, an idea struck the poet that he would try and find out the poet of Cowdenbeath, and perhaps he could find him a hall or some small room to give his entertainment in. William soon found the poet, however, and William introduced himself to him as poet McGonagall all the way from Dundee, at the same time asking him if he could get a hall for him or a small room to give his entertainment in and he would feel obliged to him, but the poet, he said, he was rather doubtful about it.

A Kind-Hearted Poet

The poet treated William very kindly by giving him a good dinner and also gave William some of his satirical effusions, which William thanked him for. Then when William had got his dinner the poet, Charles Baxter, for that is his name, told William to come along with him and he would try and get a hall for him in the village; and when he asked the keeper of the hall, Mr Gardiner, what he would charge for one night of the hall, he told him the lowest he could make it would be ten and sixpence, at which William replied he wouldn’t get the half of that from him because he had not got it, at which Mr Gardiner replied that there was no harm done; so the poet of Cowdenbeath was very sorry because he could not get the hall for William; besides, he told William he considered it would be a failure, allowing he had got the hall, owing to the poverty of the coalmining districts.

So William bade the poet good-bye and thanked him for his kindness, and went and secured lodging for the night, resolving to try the village of Lochgelly on Saturday—it being the pay night–if he could get a hall in it.

At Lochgelly — Another Failure

When Saturday morning came, William got up, and when he had got some breakfast he took the road for Lochgelly, resolving to make application to the Worthy Chief Templar in the village, thinking he would assist him in getting a hall. So when William arrived in Lochgelly it was about eleven o’clock in the morning. He made for the Worthy Chief Templar and soon found him, Mr McConnell of the I.O.G. Templars, which Mr McGonagall is a member of. However, Mr McConnell received Mr McGonagall in a very courteous manner. After he told him he was Poet McGonagall from Dundee, and how he was a Good Templar, then he wrote out a note and gave it to William, and told him to give it to John Greenhill, No. 30 South Street, and he thought when the proprietor read the note he would have no objection to give William the hall. So William found John Greenhill and gave him the note. So John Greenhill went with William to the proprietor of the hall and got it for him. So William began to tell the villagers about his entertainment in the Co-operative Hall of Lochgelly, which would commence at seven o’clock and the admission would be one penny each.

However, it turned out to be a failure, for only two boys came, so William returned the boys their pence again and locked the hall rather downhearted, owing to the second failure he had met with. Then when Mr McConnell heard of the failure of William’s had met with he gave him a sixpence, also Alexander Skene and David Anderson, also James Greenhill, which helped to keep poor William McGonagall living until Monday.

Attacks Dunfermline — A Cold Reception

When Monday came poor William left Cowdenbeath and went to Dunfermline, thinking he would do better there, but, alas! no success in Dunfermline. He first made application to the Secretary of an I.O.G. Templars, thinking he would assist him, but he firmly refused, telling Mr McGonagall it was not compulsory. Then Mr McGonagall asked him if he would be so kind as to tell him where the Worthy Chief belonging to some other Lodge lived, and he done so with great reluctance. He told Mr McGonagall to go to St. Catherine’s Wynd and he would find a Mr George Wright there who was a Worthy Chief, but whom Mr McGonagall could not see until six at night. He considered that would be the most convenient time to speak to him.

An Appreciative Audience at Last

Mr McGonagall left the city of Dunfermline and travelled to the little village of Crossford, about a mile and a half from Dunfermline, and there he succeeded in a Smithy for to give his entertainment, and the admission thereto was only one penny each. So William made no delay in announcing it to the villagers. However when the time came to open there were a few boys came and asked William if it was near time to begin, so William told them to come inside for he would soon begin. So by seven o’clock William had but a very small audience to entertain. He instructed the master of the Smithy to take the money at the door while he was delighting his little audience with his matchless entertainment.

Pious Thankfulness

By the time William got finished with his entertainment he had received two and tenpence by it, and he returned his most sincere thanks to God and his little audience for their kind support, for which McGonagall received a hearty vote of thanks. Then McGonagall bade them all good-night, and left the smithy amidst the deafening plaudits of his audience and travelled to Dunfermline and got lodgings for the night.

Another Discouragement – Unkind Treatment

When Tuesday morning came he took his breakfast and started for the road again in the direction of Limekiln to get a hall there but in that he failed. By the time he returned to Dunfermline it was six o’clock, so he called upon the Worthy Chief Templar who received him in a very unchristian manner, by telling him he could not assist him, and besides telling William his poetry was very bad; so William told him it was so very bad that Her Majesty had thanked him for what he had condemned, and left him, telling him at the same time he was an enemy and he would report him.

Though Cast Down Still Hopeful

Mr McGonagall left Dunfermline on Thursday the second of October, and crossed the Tay Bridge, for the first time, by rail, on Friday afternoon, and is now in Dundee, and in good health, hoping his admirers will rally round and give him a hearty welcome home again to “Bonnie Dundee.”

People’s Journal, 11th October 1879

Comments (1) »

  1. anna
    In the year 2015, on the 7th day of May at 4:27 pm

    Charles Baxter was my great great grandfather. When he died in a coalmining accident. He was named the poet Miner

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