The Autobiography of Sir William Topaz McGonagall – Part 7

My Dear Readers–I must now tell ye my reason for leaving the Fair City of Perth. It was because I found it to be too small for me making a living in. I must allow, the inhabitants were very kind to me during my stay amongst them. And while living there I received a letter, and when I opened it I was struck with amazement when I found a silver elephant enclosed, and I looked at it in amazement, and said– “I’ll now have a look at this big letter enclosed. I was astonished to see that King Theebaw, of Burmah and the Andaman Islands, had conferred upon me the honorary title of Sir Wm. Topaz McGonagall, Knight of The White Elephant, Burmah, and for the benefit of my readers and the public, I consider I am justified in recording it in my autobiography, which runs as follows:–

Court of King Theebaw,
Andaman Islands,
Dec. 2, 1894.

Dear and Most Highly Honoured Sir,–Having the great honour to belong to the same holy fraternity of poets as yourself, I have been requested by our fellow-country-men at present serving our Queen and country in Her Majesty’s great Indian Empire to send you the following address, and at the same time to inform you that you were lately appointed a Grand Knight of the Holy Order of the White Elephant, by his Royal Highness upon representation being made to him by your fellow-countrymen out here

King Theebaw, who is just now holding his Court in the Andeman Islands, expressed himself as being only too pleased to confer the highest honour possible upon merit, wheresoever found, if that merit were judged worthy by his Grand Topaz General. As the latter gentleman has long been impressed by the injustice with which you have been treated by Lord Rosebery in his position as chief adviser of Her Majesty, and since your great modesty upon several occasions has been noticed by His Royal Highness the King of Burmah, it gives him great pleasure to assure Theebaw, the King, that none more worthy of this high honour has ever lived in the East, whereat His Royal Highness called his Court together, and with much eclat and esteem caused it to be proclaimed throughout his present palace and kingdom that you were to be known henceforth as Topaz McGonagall, G.K.H.O.W.E.B.

Should you ever visit the Andaman Islands it will be his great pleasure to be presented to you, and to do all honour to you, according to the very ancient custom with which members of our mutual illustrious Order have always been treated by his ancestors.

That you will consent to accept the high honour now offered to you is the wish nearest the hearts of your countrymen in the East; that you may be long spared to enrich British literature by your grand and thrilling works is their most sincere prayer.

His Majesty also expressed it as his opinion, and the opinion of his grandfathers as far back as the flood, that such talented works as those of their holy fraternity of poets were, had always been, and for ever would be, above all earthly praise, their value being inestimable. Be further stated that he failed to conceive how Rosebery could have been so blind as not to have offered to such a man as yourself the paltry and mean stipend attached to the position of Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland. It is indescribable to him that any man of ordinary rummel gumption could possibly offer remuneration to such a gift of the Gods as yours.

Should you see fit to do the ancient Kingdom of Burmah the honour of accepting the Ribbon of its highest Order, and will kindly pay its capital a visit at your earliest convenience, it is the King’s order that you be received with all the ceremony due to the greatest ornament now living of the Holy Order of the White Elephant. You are to be immediately installed in the holy chair of the Knights of the above Order upon arrival, from which it is the custom of the holy fraternity to address the whole Eastern world.

King Theebaw will not injure your sensitive feelings by offering you any filthy lucre as payment for what you may compose in his honour after receiving the insignia of the Holy Order. He also states it will be his duty to see that your name is duly reverenced throughout the Kingdom.

I have the honour to be, most noble and illustrious sir, your most humble brother in the fraternity of poets.

Poet Laureate of Burmah.

By order of His Royal Highness the King.
Topaz General.
Topaz Minister.
Secretary of State.
Holder of Seals.
Secretary of Letters Patent.
Keeper of the White Elephant.

My dear readers, this letter regarding my knighthood is a correct copy from the original as near as I can write it, with the exception of the Indian language therein, which means the names of the gentlemen that signed the Royal patent letter regarding my knighthood. That is all that is wanting, which I cannot write or imitate. Nor can I imitate the four red seals that are affixed to the Royal document. The insignia of the knighthood is a silver elephant attached to a green silk ribbon. This, my dear readers, is the full particulars regarding my Indian knighthood, and, my dear friends and well-wishers, I must conclude this autobiography of mine by truthfully recording herein that since I came to beautiful Edinburgh, and that is more than six years now past, I have received the very best of treatment, and during my stay in Edinburgh I have given many entertainments from my own poetic works, also from Shakespeare.

I may say I have been highly appreciated by select audiences, and for their appreciation of my abilities I return them my sincere thanks for being so kind as to give me their support since I came to Edinburgh.– My dear friends, I am, yours faithfully,

Sir Wm. Topaz McGonagall,
Poet and Knight of the White Elephant, Burmah.

Comments (1) »

  1. Peter O'Kane
    In the year 2018, on the 22nd day of January at 3:18 pm

    Great stories from a true Scotsman who liked to travel and share some of his talents with others! Rock on!

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