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Robert Burns Lives!
Poets in the Park 2015

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Greater Atlanta, GA, USA

Those of us who love and celebrate Robert Burns do so in many ways. My own Burns Club in Atlanta, GA does so by meeting monthly in a building that is a replica of the home where Burns was born in Scotland right down to crossing every “t” and dotting every “i”. The early group of Atlanta Burnsians got tired of meeting in member homes (too small) or hotels (too expensive) downtown, so they built their own meeting place and held their first meeting in the Burns cottage in1911. Usually the physical tribute to Burns takes the form of a statue or a Burns bust and there are many of them around the world.  Some actually argue about which writer has the most statues. Burns is usually a part of that argument and ends up in the top two or three, but I must confess I know who my favorite writer/poet is no matter where he places in that argument.

Alastair McIntyre, my “boss”, passed on to me this week an article he found about a celebration of Burns in Albany, New York that is unique and would be a pleasure to attend in the capital of New York State. I will not try to explain it to you as the article below does a good job of doing so. I have asked contact Dan Wilcox for information about this event to write a brief article about this two-decade-old celebration. We look forward to an article by Mr. Wilcox in the near future. (FRS 7.30.15)

Poets in the Park 2015

Poets in the Park is celebrating over 20 years of bringing poetry in July to the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY. The series was started in 1989 by the late Tom Nattell and is now run by Albany poet & photographer Dan Wilcox. This year the readings will be on Saturdays July 11, 18 and 25; the readings start at 7:00 PM and are free & open to the public; donations are accepted. The series is co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild; for more information about the Guild visit the website

The 2015 readers are:

  • July 11: The Nitty Gritty Slam Team, with guest host Thom Francis

  • July 18Paul Pines and Karen Schoemer

  • July 25Alison Koffler and Dayl Wise

The 2015 Nitty Gritty Slam Team consists of Poetyc Visionz, Amani, Elizag, and Daniel Summerhill.  The poets had competed at the Nitty Gritty Slams held at The Low Beat twice a month, & had garnered the most points to represent Albany at the Slam Nationals in Oakland, CA in August.  The guest host for July 11 will be Thom Francis, President of Albany Poets.

Paul Pines is the author of two novels, The Tin Angel and Redemption, and a memoir My Brother’s Madness. He has published twelve collections of poetry, including Reflections in a Smoking Mirror, New Orleans Variations & Paris Ouroboros, and Fishing On The Pole Star, the Adirondack Center for Writers’ best book of poetry 2014. His recent collection is Message From the Memoirist. Pines is a psychotherapist and hosts the Lake George Jazz Weekend.

Karen Schoemer is a poet, author, performer and bookseller in Columbia County. Her poems have been published in Chronogram, Up the River, Zephyrs, and Red Barn; her book Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair With ’50s Pop Music was published by Free Press in 2006. As the vocalist for the Schoemer Formation, a “spoken-psych” rock trio, she has been described as “Patti Smith without the piety.”

Alison Koffler’s poems often branch from those spaces where the human and natural world connect. She was the recipient of the Poetry Teacher of the Year award in 2003, the Bronx Council on the Arts’ BRIO Award for poetry in 1993, 2000 and 2006, and the Green Heron Poetry Contest in 2011. Her poems have appeared in such publications as Iris: a Journal for Women, Heliotrope, andHome Planet News. She works as a teacher consultant for the NYC Writing Project at Lehman College.

Dayl Wise was raised in the Hudson River Valley. He was drafted into the US Army in 1969 with service in Viet Nam and Cambodia, and returned to Viet Nam in 1993 in the form of reconciliation delivering medical supplies. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, and is the author of Poems and other stuff(PTP, 2004) and Basic Load (PTP, 2009).

Dayl and Alison are the co-founders of Post Traumatic Press, a small, independent press in Woodstock, New York.   Currently they live in The Bronx and Woodstock with Molly, a pit bull-lab mix and Cole, a border-collie mix.

The Robert Burns statue is located near where Henry Johnson Blvd. passes through Washington Park and crosses Hudson Ave. Please bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on. Rain site for each event is the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany.

For more information contact Dan Wilcox, at; 518-482-0262.

Historical Sketch of the Burns Statue
The McPherson Legacy to the City of Albany Erected in Washington Park, September 30, 1888

The bronze statue of Robert Burns, which now adorns Washington park, Albany, N. Y., is a worthy monument to the genius of the poet, and a fitting testimonial of the love and pride which the Scot-Americans of the city and country still cherish for the land of their nativity. The inception of the project to rear a monument to the memory of Burns ante-dates the incorporation of the legacy for that purpose in the will of the late Miss Mary McPherson. It had for many years been a cherished hope in the minds of a number of the Scotch citizens of Albany. As early as in the primal days of the Albany Caledonian Club, a small nucleus fund was set aside, and a number of the members of the club verbally pledged themselves to contribute to the further support of the movement should it ever appear practicable. The bequest of Mary McPherson obviated the necessity for an appeal to the generosity of the public-spirited and Burns-loving Scotchmen; and has handed down to future generations of Albany the name of this branch of the McPherson family when the death of the last male representative had left it all but extinct.

There is nothing of romance or remarkable incident in the history of this humble Scotch family. So far as their ancestry can be traced they were of the “ Highlands,” and possibly came of the great clan McPherson. It is, however, doubtful if the family was in any way related to that of the poet James McPherson, whose name has come down to us in connection with the Ossianic poems, although from the poet’s native place, Inverness, Lachlan McPherson, a carpenter, emigrated about a century ago. Said Lachlan McPherson married one Mary Mitchell and settled in Dundee, where were born John and Mary McPherson. In 1819 Lachlan McPherson emigrated with his family to America, and came to Albany where he soon after secured the position of janitor of the State House. Here he passed a life of thrift and quiet. He became prominent as an old Scotch resident and was among the early managers of the Albany St. Andrews’ Society, of which organization, from 1837 to 1840, he was also treasurer. Soon after the last-named date he died and his son Joho succeeded to his position as janitor. John never married but with his sister Mary continued to live on, much after the manner of their parents. It was a typical Scotch family. Their tastes were simple and their wants few; hence what was gained was kept. John, who was an intelligent thoughtful, if uncultured man, is said never to have failed to secure and peruse his Edinburgh Review for a period of thirty years. Mary, who was as shrewd and saving as either her father or brother, on the death of the latter, August 28, 1881, came into possession of the family estate, amounting to between thirty and forty thousand dollars. This she held practically unimpaired to the day of her own demise on the 6th day of P'ebruary, 1886. Though economical even to penuriousness, Mary McPherson, by a strange whimsicality, never appeared to care what became of her property after her death ; though she was well aware that there were none left to claim kinship either on this or the other side of the Atlantic. It was only three years before her death, March 14, 1883, that she accepted the counsel of her intimate friends and advisers, and made a testamentary disposition of her property. Although not original, the idea of erecting a monument to the memory of Robert Burns met with her hearty approval, and the added desire of perpetuating the name of her family led her to make the principal bequest of her will the one for the erection of such a memorial. She only specified that it should be known as the “ McPherson Legacy to the City of Albany,” and that it should be of a character to do honor to her country’s bard and be a worthy tribute to the memory of the McPherson family. The clause in her will embodying this idea reads as follows:

All the rest and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, I give, devise and bequeath to my executors under the certain rules and regulations:

First—That they shall erect, or cause to be erected, in Washington park of the city of Albany, by and with the consent of the commissioners of said park, a monument to the memory of Robert Burns.

Second—It is my desire that my executors will get a monument worthy of the man, an ornament to the park, and an honor to the land of my birth.

Third—That if the commissioners of Washington park accept of said monument it will then be known as the McPherson legacy to the city of Albany.

Fourth—I hereby authorize, empower and direct my said executors, or the survivors of them, to sell, transfer and convey all my property, real or personal, and convert the same into money, and use, employ and expend the same for the uses and purposes hereintofore mentioned, and for that purpose they are authorized to make suitable and sufficient deeds and conveyances thereof.

This with the nomination of John Dingwall, florist, and Peter Kinnear, brass founder, concluded the document. These two executors of the last will and testament of Mary McPherson were old residents of the city, and bore an enviable reputation for sterling integrity and unswerving strength of character. Mr. Dingwall was well advanced in years and much enfeebled, so that the active work in the administration and settlement of the estate devolved upon Mr. Kinnear. The provision of the will respecting the Burns statue was in particular left to the care of Mr. Kinnear; as he had not only been one of the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of the project, but had also, after its suggestion by Mr. Dingwall, been mainly instrumental in persuading the somewhat erratic maker of the will to make such a disposition of a portion of her estate. Mr. Dingwall, therefore, knowing the interest of his co-executor in the monument bequest, and feeling every confidence in his good judgment, soon after the completion of the other details of the admininistration, withdrew, leaving Mr. Kinnear to execute the trust alone. With characteristic promptness and energy the zealous brass founder immediately set out in quest of a sculptor. Early in March, 1886, he went to New York and consulted with William Hart, the eminent landscape and animal painter, who, after some deliberation, recommended artist Charles Calverley, formerly of Albany, now a resident of New York. A visit was made to Mr. Calverley’s studio, corner of Fourth avenue and Twenty-fourth street, and an agreement entered into with him to furnish a model for acceptance or rejection, wholly at his own expense in case of its not proving satisfactory. Mr. Kinnear had early taken into his confidence and asked advice of the representative Scots of Albany, and on the 1st of May, 1886, invited a committee of them to accompany him to New York on a tour of inspection. This committee comprised, Messrs. James Lawrence, Donald McDonald, Andrew McMurray and Allan Gilmour. A day was spent in viewing the numerous statues in the public places of the metropolis, particular attention being paid to those of Burns and Scott in Central Park. The model at this time was still in the hands of the artist in process of construction. Three months later it was privately shipped to Albany, and Mr. Kinnear thereupon invited a second committee of Scotch residents to meet him at his Madison avenue residence. When they had assembled their host conducted them to an upper room, when he unexpectedly unveiled the artist’s conception of what would constitute a suitable statue. Without knowing whose hand had wrought the work of art before them, the model was inspected and criticised on its merits for acceptance or rejection. The opinion expressed was unanimous in favor of adopting the design and awarding the contract to the designer as the appended document shows:

Albany, N. Y. August, 1886.

To the Executors of the Estate of the late Miss Mary McPherson, deceased:

Gentlemen — Having had the pleasure of viewing a model of the monument proposed to be erected in Washington park, this city, in memory of Scotland’s great poet, Robert Burns; and being convinced by what the sculptor has accomplished in this model that he is thoroughly competent to carry the work to its completion in the most satisfactory manner: We, the undersigned, would therefore, most respectfully request that you will award him the contract, feeling assured that in his hands this monument will be a credit to the city of Albany, and to you as representatives of the lady who so liberally provided for its erection.


This unanimous expression of opinion in favor of the conception and design of the artist was deemed by Mr. Kinnear sufficient indorsement of his own judgment to warrant the selection of Mr. Calverley. Accordingly on the 25th day of August, 1886, the contract papers were drawn up and signed. This award to Sculptor Calverley was singularly appropriate, because of the fact that he was an Albanian. He was born of English parentage, in the Capital City of the Empire State, November 1, 1833. As a boy, Sculptor Calverley was noted for his assiduous application to any thing he undertook, and his talents were early manifest, even while but an apprentice of John Dixon, marble cutter. So evident were his gifts that personal friends interested themselves in his behalf, secured his release from his apprenticeship, and his entrance as an art student to the studio of Sculptor E. D. Palmer. For fourteen years he worked and studied, and in that time did considerable of the detail work on some of Mr. Palmer’s greatest productions. In 1866 Mr. Calverley married Miss Susan E. Hand, of Sandy Hill, and in 1870 removed to New York. He toiled faithfully along the line of his ideals, paying more attention to the realization of artistic than pecuniary success. His chief productions prior to the Burns statue were busts of John Brown, Elias Howe, and Horace Greely.

After securing the contract the artist at once commenced a course of study preparatory to a still more intimate knowledge of his subject, and alternating labor upon the full-sized working clay model of the statue with this study, the conscientious and painstaking sculptor toiled on for the larger part of two years on what is thus far, without doubt, the greatest work of his life, and one which any modern artist, howsoever famous, might be proud to own.

At last even the fastidious taste of the artist was satisfied to let the complete model stand for the inspection and approval of the committee appointed to accept or reject it. This committee, chosen from among the members of the St. Andrew’s Society and Caledonian Club and other citizens of Albany, comprised: Messrs. Peter Kinnear, Andrew McMurray, James Lawrence, James McNaughton, Allan Gilmour, John F. Montignani, Edward Ogden and U. S. Surveyor of Customs A. D. Cole, who represented the mayor and city officials. In addition to these, as a sort of advisory board, were Wm. Hart, of whom mention has been made, Joseph Laing, the skilled engraver of New York, A. M. Stewart, the editor of the Scottish American, and Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire iron manufacturer, of Pittsburg, Pa , also known as the author of “Triumphant Democracy.” On the 26th of April, 1888, the inspection was made, and though some, like Mr. Carnegie, had seen many busts and statues of the poet, yet there was not a dissentient voice raised against the opinion that it was the best statue of Burns yet produced.

Meanwhile at Aberdeen, Scotland, a pedestal of Scotch granite was being cut, and at Quincy, Mass., a massive base stone of gray American granite was also in course of preparation. As statue and pedestal were thus being pushed forward to a successful completion Mr. Kinnear was kept busy arranging all the preliminary and attendant details of the program to be observed at the unveiling. The first object of attention was the laying of the corner-stone of the foundation June 30, 1888. It had been decided to have it laid with Masonic honors, because of Burns prominent connection with the order. Accordingly an invitation was extended to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, which was promptly accepted. It was expected to have the American granite base ready to place in position as the capstone over the foundation and corner-stone, but just before it should have been shipped from the yards at Quincy, Mass., it was accidently broken in handling and another had to be cut. This, at the last moment necessitated the procuring of a small granite block from the Capitol yard which was used at the corner-stone laying and remained in place until the new base stone was received July 30.

The ceremonies at the laying of the corner-stone were of a very interesting character and excited much favorable comment. A parade of the Commandery and Blue lodges in full regalia clad, acting as an escort to the Grand Lodge officers, headed by Right Worshipful John W. Vroman, Acting Grand Master, was made through the principal streets leading to the park previous to and following the ceremony. A large number of spectators from within and without the city assembled about the monument site and witnessed the ceremonies which were in accord with the Masonic ritual of the Grand Lodge; save where Brother Peter Kinnear, as executor, presented a silver trowel to Acting Grand Master Vroman, with the appended appropriate presentation speech:

Most Worshipful Sir — A most pleasing duty has come to me through force of circumstances over which I had but little control. A venerable and modest old lady of this commonwealth, of unassuming manners, born across the sea, of humble parentage, trained as were all her relatives, to honesty, thrift and industry, living for over sixty years in our goodly city of Albany, by the most patient and long-continued labors her brother and herself accumulated quite a sum of money, a portion of which she wisely set apart to build a monument to the memory of one of her own countrymen, whom she had learned to love and respect for the manly and independent traits of character he had shown in his works. And she loved to read and talk about “Our ain Robbie Burns.”

“Burns, thou hast given us a name,
To shield us from the taunts of scorn,
The plant that creeps amid the soil.
A glorious flower hath born.

“Before the proudest of the earth,
We stand with an uplifted brow,
Like us thou wast a toil-worn man,
But we are nobler now.”

But while intensely Scotch in her manners and habits, and fully intending that the monument should and would be an honor and a pride to her countrymen and women, yet none realized more fully that it would also be an ornament and beauty, of which she felt justly proud, to her adopted city, and now, sir, as executor of the late Miss McPherson’s estate, having a sacred trust in charge, also knowing the high esteem in which our loved poet held the brethren of the mystic tie, it seemed to me eminently proper that the corner-stone of this monument should be laid by the craft of which in his life-time he was such a distinguished member. I now, therefore, present you, most worthy sir, with this instrument, so that you may be enabled to so cement this stone that it may be one homogeneous mass and last until the prediction of him to whom this monument is to be erected shall be fulfilled:

“That man to man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.”

An address descriptive of the life and character of Burns, delivered by Acting Deputy Grand Master James Ten Eyck of Albany, concluded the program.

Early in July the Scotch granite pedestal was finished and about the middle of the month was shipped in the steamship Nevada, reaching Albany on the 26th of the month. On the 1st day of August both it and the American granite base, under the direction of Sculptor Calverley, were set up in Washington park.

Though the work of casting the statue was vigorously prosecuted, it was not until the morning of August 29th that it reached Albany. Mr. Calverley accompanied it and superintended its erection upon the pedestal.

The work of raising a lasting memorial to the name and fame of Scotland’s “Ploughman Bard” in one of the oldest and most historic cities of the United States had thus been carried on to successful completion. The fitting celebration and commemoration of the event alone remained, and for this ample provision had already been made.

The date of the unveiling had been fixed to coincide with the annual gathering of the North American United Caledonian Association, and hundreds of invitations had been sent out to Scotch associations and prominent individuals in all parts of the country; while many found their way across the sea to the land of the pibroch and heather. The clans from near and afar began gathering on the afternoon and evening of the 29th, and continued to arrive during the morning hours of the 30th, till kilt and bonnet, plaid, and heather, and thistle were familiar sights on all the streets of the old Dutch city.

The day’s program included, as features, a parade of the clubs and delegations present, through several of the principal streets and around the park to the statue; the unveiling of the same, and a subsequent banquet and entertainment. The parade was formed on Hudson avenue and Eagle street at 3 P. M., by Grand Marshal James McNaughton and his Chief of Staff, Major Lewis Balch, assisted by the following aids: Capt. Andrew C. Bayne, Robert C. James, Charles C. Mackay, Russell Lyman, Frank Van Benthuysen and James D. McKay. Those represented in the two divisions commanded respectively by Division-Marshals W. B. Smith, of Philadelphia, and Chief Andrew McMurray, of Albany, were the Caledonian and other national organizations of Scotchmen, enumerated as follows:

Societies of Troy, Holyoke, Pittston, Scranton, New York, Hudson county, Warren, Paterson, Newark, the Caledonian Societies of Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, London, the Scots' Charitable Society of Boston, St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit, St. Andrew’s Scottish Society of Buffalo, St. Andrew’s Society of Milwaukee, Scottish Society of New York, the order of Scottish Clans, headed by Royal Chief Kinnear, who marched with Clan MacFarlane of Albany, Clans McNaughton and McPherson of Rochester, Clan Sutherland of Buffalo, Clan McDuff of Chicago, and Clan McKenzie of New York.

The Philadelphia Club had the right of line, while the St. Andrew’s Society of Albany, with the local Caledonian Club as escort, brought up the rear. The carriages for the specially invited guests were in this last section, and the carriage of Peter Kinnear, the President of the Society, flanked by pipers Ireland and Ross, who blew "with lungs of leather’’ during the entire march. The occupants of the carriages were: Peter Kinnear, Charles Calverley, A. M. Stewart, Peter Ross, Rev. Drs. Wm. S. Smart, Lorimer, Robert H. Collyer and Lyell, Recorder Hessberg, Wm. H. Hart, Charles J. Buchanan, John H. Farrell, John Shedden, Robert Oliver, James Irvine, Rev. Robert Court, G. M. Rose, Robert Clark, John Patterson, W. B. Smith and party, John Booth, John Donaldson and John L. Hamilton.

Arriving at the statue site the line halted and formed in open ranks to permit the passage of the rear guard to the platform. There, beside and round about the noble figure of the poet, yet draped with America’s starry banner, an immense throng of interested spectators numbering several thousand had already gathered, which spreading out over the lawns of the immediate vicinity covered the paths and driveways far back even to distant terraces. Upon and about the speaker’s platform the following well-known Scots from other localities were noted: Rev. Dr. Court, Lowell; John Patterson, Andrew Patterson, A. M. Stewart, J. L. Hamilton, William Hogg, John Young, W. McAdie, Colonel Joseph Laing, New York; George Gebbie, George Good-fellow, W. B. Smith, John Shedden, W. Mushet, Philadelphia; Judge Patten, John Pettie, R. Fleming, Detroit; Robert Clark, Wm. Murdoch, Peter McEwan, Wm. Gardner, John McPhee, Hugh Watt, Chicago; Wm. Rutherford, W. Wallach, A. A. Stevenson, James Wright, Montreal; David Walker, G. M. Rose, Wm. Adamson, W. D. McIntosh, W. Henderson, A. M. Oliphant, James Wright, A. Fraser, A. Lamont, Toronto; Thomas Waddell, Robert Wallace, James Notman, Neil Dobbie, John Struthers, Pittston, Pa.; J. McEwan, T. Callander, A. Archibald, J. McLean, J. F. Ewing, Alex. Miller, John White, Cohoes, N. Y.; Thomas Barrowman, James Moir, W. Gardner, Scranton; Paul Buchanan, R. Steel, James Holmes, A. McLaren, Newark; J. W. Jones, Robert Reid, Sr., London, Ont.; Rev. A. C. Smith, John McMutrie, Wilkesbarre; Evan McColl, Kingston, Ont.; R. Hogg, Maine, N. Y. (nephew of the Ettrick Shepherd); Royal Chief Kinnear, James Anderson, R. C. McTaggart, W. R. Milne, Lachlan Wallace, John Black, James Maitland, Boston; Senator Me Naughton, G. Douglas, R. Gray, W. J. McPherson, Rochester; W. F. Thomson, Matteawan; D. M. Henderson, Baltimore ; T. Stewart, W. L. Campbell, J. A. Morton, W. Hamilton, Schenectady ; T. N. Allan, Andrew Martin, Warren, Mass.; G. Beaumont, P. Carnochan, Springfield, Mass.; Thomas Rae, Sr., Holyoke, Mass.; R. Thomson, Altamont, N. Y.; J. Anderson, T. Stirling, James Donaldson, J. Kennedy, David Little, John Shearer, James Hutchison, John McKinnon, Alex. Mcllreath, Amsterdam, N. Y. ; Samuel Laurie, Auburn; J. B. Hendrie, Luzerne, N. Y.; Dr. Fer guson, Glens Falls, N. Y. ; Daniel Fisher, Davenport, N. Y.; Thomas Morgan, Wm. Currie, Archie Middlemas, J. Lawrie, Milwaukee; Robert Oliver, Oswego; R. Adams, Fall River; Rev. W. C. Brown, J. Cant, T. Alexander, Clarksville, N. Y.; John McLay, Great Barrington, Mass.; David Chalmers, Renfrew, Mass.; J. Millar, Brooklyn; M. Semple, Green Island, N. Y.; Donald McKay, J. McKay, James Campbell, W. Easson, A. Cunningham, R. Goudie, A. Sims, J. Allan, David Beattie, Troy; W. A. Knox, Brewsters, N. Y. ; D. Archibald, Lansingburg, N. Y.; J. Alexander, Columbia, S. C.; Thomas Fleming, Peter Dow, Hartford, Conn.

The exercises attendant upon the unveiling were opened by an address of Mr. Peter Kinnear, who gave therein a short sketch of the history of the McPherson family, of whose estate he was the executor and whose legacy to the city was about to be unveiled. To the end of his address he appended an introduction of the orator of the day, Rev. Robert H. Collyer, who advanced and paid the following glowing tribute to the memory of Burns:

Friends and Fellow Citizens: When the invitation reached me a few days ago to come to Albany and try to say some word which would fit this fine occasion, I said at once I would come, because I felt it would be what ministers call a labor of love to visit your fair city on such an errand — to speak to you about Robert Burns, and to the sons of bonnie Scotland, who would gather here in his name, who holds all good Scotchmen by the heart strings wherever they may wander, and above all it would be a labor of love for his sake, in whose memory this work has been done you dedicate to-day, and of whom it has been well said by one our great citizens now numbered among the immortals that “whatever may be our ancestry we are all proud of Scotland, and because we are men we love Robert Burns. I have felt one touch of trouble, indeed, in thinking of what I could say to you, and it is this, that you should not have chosen some man more able to meet the demand you hold the right to make on any man at such a time to speak of him, who has no peer in the splendid race from which he sprang. Some of you will remember the time when a hundred years had come and gone since he was born, and what multitudes came together in the old world and the new to speak of him and sing of him, and to dwell on the sad and painful story of his life. And I can well remember how I was in Scotland some dozen years after the great Burns Centennial, when they met to celebrate that of the one Scottish man of genius, we name in the same breath, the great and good Walter Scott. And I noticed what effort was made in Edinburgh, where the traditions of Scott are at their best, to have something there of an equal splendor and significance; and how the significance was there, but it took quite another meaning, for the radiance resting on Abbotsford hung low and pale beside the glory which rested on the Auld clay biggin in Ayrshire, and the poet of feudalism, great and noble as his genius was, could command no such homage as the poet of freedom and of the common human life; the man of the people, who, in the “Cotter’s Saturday Night,” painted a picture of a poor man’s home, such as even Shakespeare never dreamed of, and set it in a light sweeter and fairer than ever rested on a palace, and crowned your life and mine with the glory of “A Man’s a Man for a’ That.” The peasant poet, poor himself, who found such mighty things to say to us in his death grip with poverty for all poor men and women to take to their hearts, and sang such songs of the worth of the poorest, if they be but honest and true — such strains sound to me like our own Declaration of Independence set to a music which makes all who can hear and feel it hold up their heads and step out with a stronger and surer tread in the grand upward march of humanity. Still I am here, not to apologize for my coming, but to do the best I may, and will begin by touching very briefly the story of his life, and then try to see how this again helps us to understand something of his genius, and will begin by asking you to turn with me for a moment to the first year in this century, and to the old churchyard at St. Michael’s at Dumfries in Scotland, where we find one grave covered all over with Scotch thistles, and to notice, as we easily may, how they have not been left to grow there by a worthless sexton, but have been started there and tended as if they were so many slips from the rose of Sharon. That was the grave of Robert Burns when the century came in. They had laid him to rest there not very long before in what should have been his fair, full prime to the music of the “Dead March in Saul.” And as the music went sobbing into his home it would meet the wail of a babe just entering the world its father had left. There were five children then in that desolate home and hardly a sixpence to buy a pound of meal and a pipkin of milk to feed them; while if death had not taken the father the sheriff wanted him for debt, and the grave, so far as we can see, was his only refuge from the jail.

Englishmen and Scotchmen, too, in those times were voting incredible sums and salaries and pensions to no end of people because they were the offspring of the bastards of Charles II, and for equally delectable reasons, and that royal blackguard, George IV, was drawing more than half a million dollars a year for being a great deal meaner and more stupid than his father, George III, of blessed memory. Well, they made Burns a gauger on a salary of about £50 a year, with £20 more if he had good luck among those who got on the shady side of the revenue, and for this he often had to travel two hundred miles a week in all sorts of weather, and Scotch weather at that. And when he fell sick once they would have reduced his salary by one-half had not another man done his work for love’s sake and pity. Stobie was the man’s name. It is not a handsome name, and falls no more musically on the ear than Smith or Collyer, but I think that if one should ever meet a Stobie and a Gordon and a Douglas together, I for one should feel like taking off my hat to the Stobie. And when they had laid Burns under the green sward they did not think it worth their while to mark the spot with a stone. Those thistles were the only token and sign to tell you where he lay, and I do not know who planted and tended them, but I do know he was also a poet in his heart and that was his poem. And then at last his poor widow, Bonnie Jean, out of her widow’s mite put up a small headstone with his name on it, and the dates of his birth and death. And we should find other reasons for this neglect on the part of his own countrymen to honor Burns as he deserved to be honored beside these that make us ready now to cry shame on them, if this was the time and place to tell the whole sad story of the last years of his life. But I suppose you know that story as well as I do, and how natural it would be for a good many of those who had once held him in esteem to conclude it was best that he should be speedily forgotten in the grave. So they would imagine, but the truth they nursed was this, that there was still a Robert Burns they could not bury any more than they could bury all the sunshine or all the daisies or all the birds that sing in the blue arches of heaven. Plowmen and shepherds and men at the bench and loom were reading the poems he had written, and to hide them away, as an old Scotchman told me once, from the ministers and elders of the kirk, for fear of what would happen if it was known they had the book. Then Burns began to be heard of far and wide. He went where the Bible went, and where Bunyan and Shakespeare were read, and so at least at the end of that hundred years we gathered in his name hundreds of thousand strong all round the world.

And so the sin and sorrow and shame might be buried, let us hope, and their sepulchre be lost as his was who was buried over against Bethpeor in Moab; but never what has made him so dear to the heart of Scotland and of man. The songs such as no man has sung beside that enter as intimately into the heart of a mouse as of a hero, the perfect flowers of genius which stand so thick and bloom so sweetly in the rustic peasant garden fresh as bluebells, pearled with dew and breezy as the woods in a fresh June wind. Robert Burns struck a cord nearer to the common life and truer to it than any man who has ever felt after its music. In our strong Saxon stock, it is as natural that he should be near to us and dear as he is as that the grass should grow in the meadows or the broom on the brae. Here, then, is the grave, and now let us turn to the cradle. Born in what we would call a shanty, he tells us how a blast of Janwar’ win’ blew hansel in on Robin, and blew to such a purpose that the house was like to come down, and they had to run with him to another hut near by for shelter. The son of a farmer in a very small way who had to work like a slave to pay his rent and of a mother who could sing you the ballads of old Scotland so sweetly, that as one used to say on our side the border she “would fetch a duck out of water to hear her,” a backward boy at his books and not over bright at any thing, so that old Murdoch, the schoolmaster, used to say, “Gilbert Burns and no’ Robert was the laddie to make his mark, and Gilbert could make poetry while Robert could hardly make pot-hooks, and how Robert came to be a poet and Gilbert just naebody by comparison, was mair than ever a schoolmaster could tell ye,” and Robert knew no more about it than the dominie, no more than Will Shakespeare the Stratford black sheep, no more than David, the shepherd boy of Bethlehem. Then he was the pretty black-eyed boy eating his meal and kail, doing his chores and getting his “lear with the mither to cossett him now and then, but not often, and to call him ma bonnie laddie,” and when he had time, with his father to tell him all about the thistles and daisies, and mice and sheep, and to come to him on the hill when he had to mind the sheep, and the thunder was abroad in the heavens, and bid him not to fear, for the Lord was in the thunder, and he loved well to hear his voice. Then the youth of seventeen was working in the field among the reapers, the youth and the maid taking a rig between them, as the custom was since I remember, and the maid begins to sing an old Scotch ballad, and the youth blushes and says he thinks he can make a ballad if the maid will sing it, and the maid blushes and says if he will she will try, and so the ballad was written, and this is the first flash from the dark, where it lay, of the matchless gem of genius in the heart of Robert Burns, the Cairngorm which was to outshine all the treasures of Golconda. Then the young man is ploughing on a bitter winter’s day with four horses, and with John Blane at the head of the team, as John Blane would tell the story sixty years after. John turns his head and suddenly sees a mouse torn out in the burrow, nest and all, and with a boy’s instinct “goes,” as we say, for the mouse, and with one swift leap Burns had John by the collar, and had shaken him into his place with a word John never forgot, but I will not repeat.

And then the old man would tell you how he went about the plowing like a man in a dream all day long. The spell was on him, and he could no more resist than he could resist the roll of the planet. And when he came home his sister saw a great light in his eyes and knew what it meant, for this was not the first time she had seen the light, and next morning she went up to his garret and found the great and wonderful poem “To a Mouse,” which I have no time to read. It was when these spells were on him that the things were done that storm your heart and mind by their infinite, tender beauty; but still I may say as I pass on that this passion of tenderness toward all things that run and fly was by no means like that of his countryman who wrote “The man of feeling,” of which his own wife said he had put all his feelings into his book. Burns could not bear to hunt or shoot any thing. All he could do was to go now and then fishing; but no doubt he felt as all good anglers have done from Walton down — that this was just as good fun for the fish as the fisher.

Shall I try to etch another little picture which must always stand side by side with this of the poet as he has lifted it into the heavens for us of tenderness and grace? It is the picture of the way in which he was crushed down into the dust, who could soar so high, and in his despair caught at the things which seemed to be as strong wings to his noble genius, but which crushed him down in the end to the edges of despair and to death. All along, from that day when Nellie Kirkpatrick caught his innocent heart in the glamor of a song, and before Burns had been working with his brother Gilbert like a galley slave to keep a roof over the heads of the old father and mother and the family, the poor old father was getting past work and had rented a farm, because he could do no better, at a rent that meant murder as surely as if his landlord had put a knife into him when he signed the lease. I know it all by heart, because I have seen it done. The boys tried to save the father, and Robert, as the elder son, took the heavy end. They gave up one farm and took another not quite so hopeless. The brothers were allowed what in our money would be about $35 a year, and had to live on about the poorest fare you can well imagine. Then the young man’s head went down and his shoulders went up, and a fiend came and took possession of him — we call it dyspepsia. We find it in this plentiful land of ours, in the pie crust and what we call its “inwards.” Burns found it, I think, on the empty platter. Then the poor fellow tried flax dressing. I was somewhat intimate with the huckster, as we call them on our side the line, they were riotous, blustering, drunken blellums almost to a man, and I take it that was their character in Scotland. But in a little more than one year than the time which this picture covers of the deadlock with the wolf, and toward the end of it, the poems were written, with two or three exceptions, which have made Burns the peerless poet of the people. The poem, “To a Mouse,” “The Cotter’s Saturday Night,” and others of the same noble genius, were printed by subscription in a book. The book carried him to Edinburgh, and if I have read his story to any purpose, that journey sealed his doom. Scotland in those days had fallen on evil days. Her strong life was like strong land that has been turned back into wilderness. You have to guess its quality by the splendor of its weeds; and when Burns left the plow and went to Edinburgh he went where the weeds grew thickest. Burns never recovered from that visit to Edinburgh, in my opinion. In what he did that was bad before the folly was greater than the sin; but in what he did that was bad after the sin was greater than the folly.

Before he went there he was capable of repentance, but after that I think he was only capable of remorse. There is a bloom on his life before — something of wonder and simplicity, like the round-eyed wonder of a child; but after that I see the bloom no more. The curse of knowingness is there in its place — the worst poison to my mind in the pharmacy of the pit. Two little pictures remain, and then the story of his life is done with, so far as I may touch it. He married Jeanie as we know, and got a farm on easier terms than his poor father ever heard of, and might have lived in all honor and esteem if his will then could have mastered his weakness. It was a fine, healthy life and the children were coming about his knees, while Bonnie Jean worshipped the very ground he stood on, and though the curse of drink was on him now he would never touch it under his own roof. We see him teaching the children when his day’s work on the farm is done, and notice that he keeps up the good old custom of reading the Bible to them before they all go to their rest, and long after he was dead his son would tell you how no man could read the Bible like his father, and remembered how the tears would fall on the divine old book whenever he read the matchless threnody by the rivers of Babylon. (Then we sat down and wept when we remembered.) They would tell you also how he was never disturbed by their noise when he was writing, but let them carry on their racket to their heart’s content (and I wonder how many ministers would do that in good standing); and how he would always talk to them in good broad Scotch, as if he considered English as only a sort of second best, and would forgive them any thing in the world except a lie. That he could not and would not forgive. This is one picture — the other belongs in Dumfries. He has given up his farm and the end draws near, when the sad, troubled life must end and he must lie in the quiet place under the thistles. It was noticed thereon an evening when there was a great gathering of the best people, as we should call them, to some festival, that they were streaming up on one side of the high street, while Burns was alone walking on the other side, and no man bowed to him or took the least notice. And when a friend said: “Robbie, are ye no’ going to the play?” he answered: “No, no; that’s a’ over noo;” and then half said, half sang from the old ballad:

His bonnet stood ance fu’ fair on his brow,
His auld ane was better than money ane’s new.
and ended with the line,
And werena’ my heart licht I wad dee.

And death was at his door as he sang. There is a lovely story touching the last day. It was a week day, but the street where he lived was crowded with poor working men, many of them weeping, and when a stranger said to one of them in wonder what’s the matter, he sobbed out: “Robbie Burns is deein, sir; Robbie Burns is deem.” And when one in the room with him drew the curtain against the sun, thinking it might hurt his eyes, bemoaned: “Do no shut the sun out; I shall soon see him no more;” and so he died at thirty-seven, leaving Jeanie and the bairns destitute and desolate, and leaving us to ask the question we have to ask so often:

“Is it true, O God, in heaven,
That the noblest suffer most,
That the highest sink down deepest
And most hopelessly are lost.

That the mark of rank in nature
Is capacity for pain,
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetness of the strain.”

But let me turn now from the story of his life to speak of his genius, and to notice how Burns sang for Scotland most sweetly, and how his genius is always at its best and noblest as it burns and flames in the heart of the peasant and poor farmer, the man of the people who made the people’s life his own and struck his harp to the music of his own native land that the people sprang from, who loved her and clung to her and were proud of her grand traditions, when the majority of those who were of “the rank which is the guinea stamp/’ were doing all they could to merge Scotland into the vaster, and in the same sense, richer life of England. This was the feeling far and wide in what they called the upper classes when Burns began to sing for Scotland, while the people who tilled the land and wrought in the workshops, the lower classes, as they called them, held on to their old pride and glory, holding the thistle far above the rose, and more of the same mind to a man with one Scotchman who got into a dispute with a man from our side the border on the eternal question whether Scotland or England had brought forth the greatest men. And when the Englishman to close the argument said, “Perhaps you will claim Shakespeare for a Scotchman/’ the canny Scot replied: “Weel, sir, I dinna feel quite sure about that, but his talents might weel warrant the inference". And of another, a poor laboring man, who went with an Englishman over the battlefield of Bannockburn: “Where you Scotchmen gave us such a skelping.” He was a good guide and the Englishman wanted to give him a half a crown when they parted and Scotchmen do not object as a rule to half crowns, but this one said: “Nay, nay, sir; I canna tak’ your money; Bannockburn has cost you English enough already.“ Hard hearted and warm hearted, cautious and cannie, douce and braw, pawkie and auld farrant or downward thrown as the humor might take him. Proud of his kirk and all it stands for and ready enough to say queer things about her himself, but then always ready to take up the gauntlet if an outsider said them, and holding his minister in all honor and esteem, but ready to rake him over the coals when he saw his chance. As when one of them, who had a very hard grip on the world, preached a sermon once about heaven, with its golden streets and gates of pearl, and how blessed a thing it must be to live there, one of his rustic hearers remarked as they went home: “I never knew a man so deed sure about heaven as oo’r minister, so loath to leave go of this world and gang there himself. It was to this heart of the peasant and artisan and the commonalty of Scotland that Robert Burns sang, and through them to yours and mine, and they gave him a royal and noble welcome, and because he loved Scotland they loved him and filled the little street with weeping men as he lay waiting for death. The nobility and gentry, with but few exceptions, were willing to see Scotland become a mere tail to England’s kite, as poor old Ireland has been so long — God save Ireland and let Gladstone live a hundred years. The Scotchman, the real manhood of Scotland, said: “No, not if it is all to do over again; we are ready for the fight; Scotland for ever England’s equal and our own dear land.” And so Burns sang:

I mind it weel in early date,
When I was beardless, young and blate,
And first could thrash the barn,
Or haud a yokin’ at the pleugh;

And though forefoughten sair eneugh,
Yet unco proud to lam.
Even then a wish — I mind its power —
A wish that to my latest hour

Shall strongly heave my breast —
That I for poor auld Scotland’s sake
Some usefu’ plan or beuk might make
Or sing a sang at least.

The rough burr thistle spreading wide,
Among the bearded bear,
I turned the weeder clips aside,
And spared the symbol dear.

No nation, no station
My envy e’er could raise;
A Scot still, but blot still—
I knew nae higher praise.

He turned the weeder clips aside and let the thistle grow among the barley because it was the symbol of the grand old banner that had gone through so many battles for the nation’s freedom from the great dominant power to the South. And this to my mind is the key to the genius of Robert Burns, the fire that burns in “Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,” and touches his finest psalm of life, “The Cotter’s Saturday Night,” with a matchless beauty and grace and made him sing of all things Scotch as the bonniest and the best.

The blackbird stray, the lint white clear;
The mavis mild and mellow;
The pensive robin’s autumn cheer,
Thro’ all her locks of yellow,
The little harebells on the lea,
And the woodbine hanging merrily.

He touches them all with his pencil of genius dipped in his heart’s love and they are Transfigured. The poem “To a Haggis” so caught my own imagination that when a fine old Scotch farmer, Mr. George Hope of Fenton Barns, invited me once to be his guest when I went across the sea, I said yes gladly, and then said, will you whisper to the good wife that I should dearly love to eat a haggis as they are made in Scotland? Well, there it was in good time on the table and I ate my share of it eagerly; but do you know I have thought since then it would be hard to find a more splendid proof of the genius of Robert Burns than this which could so glorify a haggis — the hunger of his heart to so glorify Scotland that even a dish like that as you read the poem seems dainty enough to set before a king. So it is always. Burns is sure to be at his best when he touches the dear native land and sings as he talked to his children in good broad Scotch, “The wee bit ingle blinkin' bonnily.” Halloween, with its eternal charm of laughter and pranks and plays in the sheen of the pungent peat fire — what man who was nursed by one would not walk ten miles now to smell the reek from a peat fire? “Tam O’Shanter,” when Chapman billies leave the street and the lonely touch of relenting in his u Address to the De’il”—which is the Scotch De’il, of course, as we can see in every line of the poem — I say it is the grand secret of his genius and its key.

He loved Scotland with all his heart and thought her peerless fair — loved her as we shoud all learn to love our great and fair land — God Almighty’s country for a poor man, as Dr. McGlynn said to me when we rode to Grant’s burial, and no doubt believed what he said. He loved the land and the life from which he sprang, so strong and tender and true at its best. The poor in their poverty, such as we cannot realize if we have not lived there, and deeper than his own. The gowan on the brae and the heather on the moor, the wild things that run and fly, and the very tramps and beggars at their revels — he took all things and all conditions into his great generous heart, and they were all welcome. The nobleman who was noble indeed, like Glencairn, and the gentles who were true to their name and to old Scotland, and the priests who were worthy to wear the sacred robes, and great of heart and simple, Burns cast over them all the shining mantle of his genius, glorifying his own and doing more, as I think, for Scotland than ever Shakespeare did for England. Burns loved to nestle down in her sweet, green places, and on sunny banks like Bonnie Doon, just as her larks do, and then like her larks to soar and sing under the canopy of her starry and sunny skies. And so his loyalty to nature as he found her there, and his love for home and native land, and for his human kind, for men, and women and children, and all beside, makes him near to us all and dear forevermore, no matter what may be our nation or our name. And a right noble thing it is that you should set this noble semblance of the man as he looked when he lived among us on the earth, in this honored place to abide, as we may trust, through the generations and ages to come, and a nobler thing still to my mind that this should have come as it has come, the gift to your fair city from one who sprang from that humble but most noble life to which Robert Burns belonged and which he loved so well.

And when your chairman sent me the little engraving of the statue, I said the man who has done that has caught the true secret. This is not the presence of the poor broken man we followed to the old churchyard in Dumfries, it is all radiant with life, and that is now the true picture. For above all that is sad and sinful in the story of this man, there shines a nobility and beauty that is growing finer and purer to every new generation because whatever came out of his heart touched by the anguish of the divine fire that was in him and the love that hideth a multitude of sins, this is ours now, and always will be, the true Robert Burns, while all the rest will turn to dust and ashes, and will be found at last no more. And now, friends and fellow-citizens, our own great and good poet may well pronounce the benediction on my poor endeavor, and give a sacredness to your dedication no other man living can give.

No more his simple flowers belong
To Scottish maid and lover;
Sown in the common soil of song,
They bloom the wide world over.

In smiles and tears, in sun and showers,
To minstrel and the heather,
The deathless singer and the flowers,
He sang of life together.

Wild heather bells and Robert Burns,
The moorland and the peasant,
How at their mention memory turns
Her pages old and pleasant.

With clearer eyes we see the worth
Of life among the lowly,
The Bible at the cottage hearth
Has made our own more holy.

And if at times an evil strain
To lawless love appealing
Break in upon the sweet refrain
Of pure and healthful feeling,

Still think while falls the shade between
The erring one and heaven,
That he who erred like Magdalene,
Like her may be forgiven.

And who his human heart has laid
To nature’s bosom nearer,
Who sweetened toil like him or paid
To love a tribute dearer?

Give lettered pomp to tooth of time,
So Bonnie Doon but tarry,
Blot out the epic’s stately rhyme,
But spare our Highland Mary.

Unfortunately for the best and most desired effect of the oration and the program arrangement, some one in the crowd about the statue accidently pulled a cord attached to the flag drapery, which partly fell exposing the head and right side of the statue. A murmur of delight and astonishment went up and all eyes were intently fixed upon the clear and handsome features of the poet laureate of old Scotia and the bard of all the world for all time to come. The band took occasion at this unforseen and impromptu unveiling to softly play a stanza of “Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon,’’ after which the orator continued uninterrupted to the end.

A change was then made in the order, and Rev. George C. Lorimer, formerly pastor of the First Baptist Church of Albany, was introduced by Mr. Kinnear, and made a short, partly extemporaneous, address.

Following Dr. Lorimer, Mr. Thomas Impett, a tenor singer of Troy, rendered the solo parts of “There was a lad was born in Kyle,” the audience joining in the chorus. So far as possible the formal part of the actual unveiling of the figure was then proceeded with by raising little masters Malcolm Kinnear and Kenneth Ogden, all arrayed in tartan and bonnet, to where they could reach the beautiful emblem drapery and pull it down from those parts of the statue to which it yet clung as if loath to leave it. After which the indefatigible executor again came forward and made the appended formal presentation of the statue to the Washington park authorities.

Honored sir, and Ladies and Gentlemen—In yielding up the trust committed to my care by the late Miss Mary McPherson, in her will dated March 14, 1883, allow me to say a few words as to the donor, the goodly city which is to receive the gift and the men and women who are here to do honor to the occasion. First then the donor, she was of humble parentage trained to habits of industry and self-reliance in her early youth; while not exactly what is known in these modern times as a strong-minded woman, yet she had the full development of stern qualities necessary to worry through the battle of life successfully, and was of a temperament thoroughly practical. Neither she nor her brother would brook those around them who would not earn their own living. In the midst of this plodding life there was a silver lining, and it was in music and poetry, primitive in some respects, I admit, but still enjoyment, and she would take real pleasure in reciting or having others recite some of Burns’ most humorous pieces. She was thoroughly appreciative of all that was good and great in her native land, and loved much to talk and ponder over the scenes of early youth. But with Albany and its early history they were also familiar and fully desired to identify themselves with it, hence the wish to perpetuate the reminiscences of childhood with that of old age. Combining the two together the result was the Burns monument which we this day look upon.

Now, as to our dear Albany, the house of our adoption, how appropriate that a monument should here be raised to the sweetest singer of our ancient Albani (or Caledonia), and be assured, sir, that I speak the sentiments of every Scotchman in Albany, when I say that in dedicating this monument, they feel and desire that the honor shall be with their adopted city as much as with the land of their birth.

The name of our good city was at one time the battle-cry of Scottish soldiers amid Scotland’s battles, and the bugle call from Albany has again aroused the ancient spirit and the clans have gathered from the east and from the west, the north and the south — not to draw their swords in defense of kings and princes, but to do honor to one who has contributed more to Scotland’s greatness than all the titled heads that ever reigned upon her throne. We meet here to honor him whom God did honor by the great gifts which he bestowed upon him. Not only Scotland, but the world does honor to Burns’ memory. He wrote in advance of his age, and for all time, when he penned these stray lines for freedom:

Then let us pray, that come it may,
As come it will for a* that
That sense and worth o’er a' the earth
May bear the gree and a’ that;

For a’ that and a’ that,
Our toils obscure and a’ that;
The rank is but the guinea stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.

I now, sir, as executor of the McPherson estate, and in behalf of the Scotchmen of Albany, present to your care as the representative of the park commissioners and through them to the city of Albany, as by the provisions of the will, this statue of Robert Burns hereafter to be known as the McPherson legacy to the city of Albany.

Hon. Abraham Lansing, in behalf of the park commissioners, accepted the gift, and in so doing paid this tribute to the donor, and to the faithful executor.

Mr. Kinnear and Ladies and Gentlemen — I am requested by the board of trustees of Washington park to accept this statue in their name and on their behalf, with all the obligation which the legacy of Miss McPherson imports; and I promise unhesitatingly for that board, and with entire confidence for its successors in office, that within the utmost possibilities of the trust which is delegated to them by law, it will be preserved and perpetuated to the citizens of Albany in accordance with the design of the generous gift. I take pleasure in expressing to you, Mr. Kinnear, the opinion entertained without dissent by the members of the board that you have fully complied with the injunctions of this behest, namely, to erect a monument worthy of Robert Burns, an ornament to the park, and an honor to the land of the donor’s birth. I tender to you their congratulations on the successful result of your efficient and zealous efforts in that respect. And I trust and believe that in it the expectation and design of this legacy will be realized. That here, in the presence of this speaking likeness of Scotland’s renowned bard, the citizens of Albany, without regard to lineage, and for generations to come will not only be moved by a feeling of grateful acknowledgment toward their legator, but to renewed admiration and respect for the history and greatness of Scotland, which is the land of the birth of Robert Burns, not only but of Mary McPherson, and of a long line of enterprising and patriotic and distinguished men and women, who have been in the past, and are in themselves and in their descendants in the present, a most important part of the career of this city, and who are cherished and memorable as a most essential element in every step of its progress, its prosperity and its renown.

Nor can I doubt that at the feet of this statue and in view of a work of art so admirable and expressive, amidst scenes and surroundings so suitable, Albanians and others who by their invitation shall hereafter participate in the enjoyment which this park and statue afford, will be prompted to new intimacy with all that is ennobling and elevating, as well as with that which is stirring and captivating in the verses of the bard, who more than any other is the poet of unaffected human nature and mankind; whose versatile genius enters into the feeling of every condition of human life, and kindles with enthusiasm or moves with emotion the souls of both lettered and unlearned; who was justified in dedicating his poems to “the noblemen and gentlemen of Caledonia,” and wrote “The Cottar’s Saturday Night;” who could create the scenes of “Tam O’Shanter” and pen “The Epistle to a Young Friend,” who stirs the soul with the martial strains of Bannockburn, and fills the heart with the inimitable pathos of “Highland Mary” and “John Anderson, My Joe;” who, if he wrote broad Scotch for Scotchmen, wrote “Auld Lang Syne” for the world, and to Scotland surely, if not to America and the Anglo-Saxon speaking race, is the AEsop of its poetry and the Anacreon of its song.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, fellow citizens of Albany, having accepted this statue and this trust for your representative board, and thereby for you, you will agree with me that it is still due to this occasion that some word be spoken expressive of the gratification which you feel in common with the members of your board, and excited by the spirit, purpose and character of this gift to your park, and the manner in which the desire of Miss McPherson has been accomplished. It is now nearly twenty years since, by an act of the Legislature, and with the approbation of the people of Albany, this tract of land, then already devoted to public and burial purposes, was, in the language of the act, “set apart and devoted to the purposes of a public park.” Of all the city’s enterprises and undertakings, during that period at least, it is the one from which its citizens of all ages, classes and conditions have derived the most satisfaction and enjoyment, and, excepting their educational system, its privileges are those from which, among all their adventitious rights as citizens, they would most reluctantly part. It was a most happy inspiration of Miss McPherson’s to set up here in this garden of the people the statue of a poet whose songs are “household words” in our domestic lives, and whose lyre is also attuned so wonderfully to the beautiful in the natural world. It was a generous impulse which directed that without limit of cost this statue should be made worthy of the man it represents, ornamental to the park, and an honor to Scotland, and it was a wise selection to place the execution of this behest in hands so capable.

Much might be said on this subject which time will not permit, but you will join with me in saying for you that you gratefully appreciate the spirit of this noble gift, and that you commend the result of the efforts of those who have had it in charge as the perfect fulfillment of a munificent and patriotic purpose. And you will permit me to pledge for you, to those who now have this statue in their care, your encouragement and co-operation in maintaining and preserving it in all its graceful outline and proportion for yourselves, your posterity and successors in all time.

The grand old song of "Auld Lang Syne,” its solo parts happily and expressively rendered by Mr. Impett, and the chorus, given as only Scotchmen can sing it, as they join hand in hand with hearty grasp, was most appropriately made the closing act in the unveiling program. The bugle and the pipes sounded "fall in,” "fall in,” the procession reformed, marched back over the return route through still larger crowds of spectators, gathered by rows of residences gaily bedecked and festooned, were reviewed before headquarters in Union Hall, and dismissed.

But the festivities incident to the celebration of the event did not close with the conclusion of the unveiling program. In the evening a pleasant and appropriate entertainment was given in Union Hall before a large audience of resident and visiting Scotchmen, and their families and friends. The program included an opening address by Mr. Peter Kinnear, in which he paid a warm tribute of praise to the McPherson family and drew attention to their characteristic Scotch thrift that had made the monument and occasion possible. Hon. Wm. B. Smith, of Philadelphia, President of the N. A. U. C. A., and Royal Chief John Kinnear, of the Order of Scottish Clans, also made short addresses. Mr. Govan, of New York, still further entertained those assembled with Scotch readings, while Mr. Thomas Impett and Mrs. Olivia Campbell Shafer sang several Scotch ballads. The selections of the former were “There was a Lad was Born in Kyle,” and “A Man’s a Man for a’ that;” those given by Mrs. Shafer were, “Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon,” “Whistle and I’ll Come to You, my Lad,” and “Tam Glen.’

Meanwhile at the Delavan another festal scene was presented, where about ten o’clock Colonel A. A. Stevenson, of Montreal, headed a column of some seventy specially invited guests and marched them to the spacious dining-hall of that hostelry. The south end of the room was embellished with an oil portrait of Burns, and varied plant forms behind which was an orchestra. Mr. Kinnear occupied the head of the table, and, after due attention had been paid to an elaborate menu, inaugurated the formal part of the literary program, with a brief summary of the details of the inception and carrying out of the project now so near a joyous and successful termination. He then gave as the first toast of the evening, “Scotland,” to which Mr. Charles J. Buchanan thus responded:

Although we are met to honor the memory of Robert Burns, whose name and poetry are the glory of the world, all our minds revert to-night to the land which gave birth to this great Scotchman, whose songs will be sung so long as lowly origin, honest toil, struggling existence and lofty aspirations are the lot of the greater portion of mankind. Were I to bid the most enthusiastic Caledonian present to raise his hand, or the most ardent lover of Scottish institutions at this table to stand up, it would be difficult, in the inevitable rush and confusion following, to single out the individual claiming this favor. Modest as we all are, every one of us would promptly insist that there could be no possible doubt but that he was pre-eminently worthy of this marked distinction. That modesty, which so characterizes Scotia’s sons and their descendants everywhere, and of which all of us freely partake, would make every one of us bow low to be thought thus deserving of and true to our mother country.

This is right and proper. Nothing better distinguishes true Scotchmen at all times and in all places than their love of home and pride of birth-place.

Caledonia was the name given to Scotland by the ancients. She was early inhabited by savages, consisting of Celtic shepherds and hunters, whose religion, if it could be so called, was Druidical, and whose habits were so disorderly that they were called robbers To their Roman invaders, however, these so-called robbers, armed with naught but short spears, daggers and shields, offered fierce and obstinate resistance, and gave them a warm reception. Agricola himself, at the head of a powerful force, was unable to complete the conquest of this brave and hardy people. The Romans wisely concluded to abandon the attempted subjugation of Scotland. Then followed the reign of the Picts for several centuries, which was succeeded by a union of the several Caledonian folks, and still later by the kingdom of Strathclyde, of which the renowned Arthur Pendragon was the sovereign.

After this came the Saxon conquest, under the leadership of Edwin, who founded Edinburgh (Edwinsburgh).

In about the year 503, the brawny Scots made their appearance and established a kingdom in Caledonia, beginning with the reign of Fergus. In 836 the Scoto-Irish, or Scotch, became the dominant race in the country, which from that time was called Scotland.

I need not, however, to-night, to refer more in detail to Scotland’s early history, wars, tumults and struggles, which are familiar to us all. Perhaps I ought not to mention, even in low tones, Flodden Field, which plunged all Scotland into mourning, and which to-day is universally regarded as the greatest disaster which ever befell Scottish arms. It would be ill-timed to do so, did I not mention in the same breath, Bannockburn, where, with a handful of men, Bruce routed and dispersed a large army.

In the few moments at my disposal, rather let me indulge in some general allusions, leaving the naming of Scotland’s transcendent virtues, the glorification of her heroes, the praising of her conduct through all her vicissitudes to those, who, a little later on, will entertain you right eloquently as to all these.

Scotchmen to the manner born never forget their native country, nor do their descendants ever ignore or belittle the land which gave birth to their fathers.

Though the area of Scotland is not great, granting that her soil is sterile and bleak her climate, notwithstanding our interests and welfare now center on this side of the Atlantic, we always look longingly and anxiously across the sea and give loyal expression from the depths of our hearts to that glorious land whose sons have always been front and foremost in battling for both civil and religious freedom.

"Land of proud hearts and mountains gray.
Where Fingal fought and Ossian sung.”

Both the emblem and the motto of Scotland bespeak her origin, her soil, her climate and her people. Only those who have not well understood either Scotia or her people have ever attempted to invade her territory or to wound her with impunity. All such attempts have invariably convinced the aggressors that figs could certainly not be gathered of Scotch thistles. Worse than useless have always been, and will ever be, all endeavors to encourage or promote seeds of anarchy, slavery or misrule in this remarkable country.

In 1702 King William, anxious to secure the union of Scotland with England, seeing the obstacles threatening to defeat his pet scheme, wisely observed, “It may be done, but not yet.” He knew of what and of whom he spoke. These few words expressed volumes of the intensity of Scotland’s purpose, of the determination of her sons to fight for and uphold her independence, and of the terrible obstinacy with which any untried and unwelcome innovation has always been sure to meet in Scotland. The fervent desire of King William was fought, debated and considered until this union was finally consummated in 1707. The royal English assent to this treaty contained striking language, worthy to be repeated now and here, and is as follows: “I consider this union as a matter of the greatest importance to the wealth, strength and safety of the whole island; and, at the same time, as a work of so much difficulty and nicety in its own nature, that till now all attempts which have been made towards it in the course of above a hundred years have proved ineffectual; and, therefore, I make no doubt but it will be remembered and spoken of hereafter, to the honor of those who have been instrumental in bringing it to such a happy conclusion.”

The brightest jewel in the crown of Great Britain to-day is Scotland, and Scotchmen are the most loyal of the Queen’s subjects. England is, however, well aware that this union, though a fact accomplished, is by no means a continuing certainty, and that Scotland, though a devoted member of the British Empire, will brook no misrule, but, on the contrary, retains all her old-time vigor and independent ideas. Whilst, also, this union has probably been of advantage to Scotland, taken altogether, it has also been of real, lasting and equal benefit to England. The greater may include the less in this, as in other instances, but no so-called union or government can ever stifle that liberty-loving spirit of Scotchmen, which seems born of her soil and is part and parcel of her very atmosphere. Remember, my countrymen, it was an English growler who said that “The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England.”

Though said in earnest and in irony this was never true, and, from both the facts and circumstances of the case, always was and ever will be false. The noblest prospect ever seen by Scotchmen was to turn to their country’s proud history. Whilst doing this they will surely reach the inevitable conclusion that no nation has had, comparatively speaking, greater influence in advancing the world’s civilization than their own, and that no people have figured more conspicuously in noble achievements, beneficial to the human race, than have they.

Well might Macduff, beset as he was by difficulties apparently insurmountable, and by obstacles seemingly overpowering, have asked: “Stands Scotland where it did?” The fact that she did so stand was nearly all that gave the avenger of Duncan the slightest hope in his doubtful situation and his then still more uncertain prospects. She did so stand then, and has so stood ever since. If there is a country in the world whose position it is never necessary to define in an emergency, that country is Scotland. With all his pride, narrowness and arrogance, Dr. Johnson uttered some truths as to Scotia’s sons, and one of them was that much might be made of a Scotchman if he be caught young. Fortunate, indeed, has it been for English literature, art and civilization that at least several Scotchmen were caught in their youth and taken within Britain’s borders at an early age.

Life in Scotland, outside of her great cities and universities, is ever so real and earnest, that it is no wonder that a joke was thought to be foreign to Scotch minds, and that it required the aid of surgery, sometimes, to be understood by them. This, too, depends somewhat both upon the joke and its would-be perpetrator. Scotchmen are, however, as a rule, susceptible to wit under favorable conditions.

Even her domestic animals appreciate the scenery visible from her lofty peaks. A Highlander tethered his cow upon the mountain side. His neighbor suggested that starvation would certainly overtake the animal in this high altitude. The owner replied: “She may get no muckle to eat up there, but she has a gran’ view.” And so, brothers, approach our mother country from whichsoever side you will, she gives us, indeed, a grand view to all, from all and upon all. Disasters have, I am sorry to say, sometimes overtaken her. There have been times in her history when her future was both uninviting and uncertain. Epochs there were when even her pipers could arouse but few followers. Her defeated clans sometimes well-nigh vanished from sight, but it was only to rise again when the emergency required it. Upon several occasions in her history it looked indeed as though individual nationality with her was a thing of the past. But when the smoke of battle cleared away, when her scattered sons again rallied, as they never refused to do, under her banner, it was always found that Scotland continued to stand firm and steadfast, just where she always did, and that, though her soil might be overrun, the spirit of her people was invincible.

When Sir Walter Scott was seeking health and rest in a milder clime, feeling that his strength was rapidly failing, he hastened to return to his native country that he might die within sight and sound of the Tweed. The homeward journey was accomplished too quickly for his weakened condition, and he became insensible to the presence of his friends and relatives in London. When he reached Abbotsford, however, he revived among the old familiar scenes and faces surrounding him.

So it is with us to-night. For the moment we forget both time and place, remembering only the occasion of our assembling and that we are Scotchmen. Standing as we do upon Scotch traditions; surrounded by the grandeur of Scotland’s heroic past; with no doubts nor misgivings as to her glorious future, we cannot do otherwise, at this time, than revive, recruit and refuse to grow old in Scottish memories. Though far from her borders, surrounded by ail these reminders of her we love so well, we halt, look up to the stars, thank God and take courage, resolving anew never to forget nor be unworthy of old Scotland, “the land o’ the leal"

“O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood;
Land of the mountain and the flood.
Where’s the coward that would not dare
To fight for such a land?”

Holy Neil Gilmour next made a patriotic response to the "America," while Deputy Attorney-General W. A. Poste responded to “The State of New York.” Mayor Maher was summoned to speak of the “City of Albany,” and spoke as follows:

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen — As natives and residents of Albany we have reason to be proud of our home. The oldest city in the United States commands, and we hope always will command, the respect of its sister cities for its conservative, honest and public-spirited course. So well have its public interests been guarded that its credit to-day is as high as that of any city in the Union, and financiers from abroad eagerly purchase its securities. It has been said our people were slow in material progress. But with the impetus given to all branches of industry in our midst in recent years by the judicious investment of large capital by our citizens and the substantial improvement everywhere made in our buildings, streets and parks, old Albany has taken on a new aspect and with the vigor of youth keeps apace with the progress of the times. Its social standard has always been high. Our people refined, educated, peace-loving, observing of the law, need little police surveillance. The energies of our police are principally directed to the prevention and detection of crime by lawless outsiders. In religious and educational matters, Albanians have always taken a deep interest. And a liberal hospitality for which they have been famous, and which is being perpetuated by our generous-hearted citizens insures to worthy strangers from every clime a warm and friendly welcome. These are a few of the things which make us justly proud of our city. And to our Scotch citizens who have always taken a prominent part in its material and social development much credit is due. Ever have they been among the foremost to promote every laudable interest. In the sacred ministry, in the legal and medical professions, in trade and commerce, in every honest calling, their people have shone conspicuously. Honest, capable, thrifty, benevolent and law-abiding citizens, we are as proud of them as we know they are of our good old city.

A few of the speakers expected were absent, but their places were filled by other banqueters, who were pressed into the service. Ex-Senator McNaughton was assigned the toast. “The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns." The response of William H. McElroy to the toast “Scottish Literature,” was one of the features of the evening. His treatment of the subject was as follows:

Mr. President and Gentlemen — When I was a student at the Academy which crowns yonder hill, Friday afternoon was devoted to what were known as elocutionary exercises. And of all the “elegant extracts” which we boys employed on those occasions in our endeavor to witch one another with noble oratory, none was more popular than the panegyric beginning, “Scotland! there’s magic in the sound. Heroes, statesmen, divines, do you want examples—where will you find them purer than in Scotland?” To-night, as we come together, at the flood of this high festival, Memory hails me over her invisible telephone, and rising to respond to the toast that has been assigned me I hear, echoing down the corridors of time and of the Academy, “Scotland! there's magic in the sound!" Yea, verily there is. The lyre of Orpheus moved the trees and the rocks; but the bagpipes of Scotland, more persuasive still, have brought together this goodly company.

I am invited to discourse of Scottish Literature within the narrow compass of an after-dinner speech! Seldom, I take it, is one summoned to cover as wide an extent of territory in as brief a time. To accomplish such a feat satisfactorily I would need a genius for condensation as great as that exhibited by those professors of penmanship who manage to reproduce the Declaration of Independence upon a postal card. However, just as all roads lead to Rome, it is to be assumed that the toasts of this commemorative hour are to be regarded, not as texts to which the speakers are expected to adhere, but rather as so many pleasant paths leading to that niche in our planet’s great Pantheon, which is sacred to the dear and deathless memory of Robert Burns!

Comparisons are odious, still I am tempted to hazard the assertion, that if the literature of Scotland was subjected to a competitive examination with the literature of the rest of the world, it would emerge from the ordeal as triumphantly as Robert Bruce emerged from Bannockburn. How could it be otherwise, when he whose counterfeit in bronze was unveiled to-day, sprang from the loins of Caledonia?

“Plato himself was an audience;” and by the same token Scotchmen are not to be accused of extravagance if they maintain that Burns himself is a literature. But although the sun is the center of the solar system there is a vast deal of the solar system besides the sun. Their names are legion who go to the making of that vast and splendid aggregate, the literature of Scotland. We may fancy, as we celebrate here, that in some celestial banqueting-hall of a star not too remote, the vanished Scotch authors whom we hold in affectionate remembrance, reciprocating the compliment paid to their best beloved also are holding a revel. Who sits at the head of that table which I see “with my mind’s eye, Horatio?” Surely it is the creator of the historical novel, the irresistible minstrel, the unrivaled story-teller who loved his country with a love passing the love of woman, the great Sir Walter. At his right beams “pure and planetary,” a pulpit light that shall shine with undimmed ray through all the ages, mighty scholar and mighty divine, Thomas Chalmers. There, whence comes the sound of laughter and of the rattling give and take of sparkling repartee, are clustered Jeffrey and Brougham and Horner and the other keen wits, incisive critics and illuminating essayists whose proud boast it was that they called the periodical into being when they launched the Edinburgh Review. Ah the sharp lances of those Scotch reviewers what torment they brought to certain English bards ! In the near neighborhood of this galaxy is the “Blackwood” group, Lockhart Aytoun and above all “Kit North,” who has made us love darkness rather than light because out of darkness he fashioned Noctes Ambrosianoe. Yonder, splitting hairs and philosophizing and formulating acute propositions in political economy sits a ponderous personality. “Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith,” but when Fate glanced at the Wealth of Nations she felt that it was as impossible to conceal Adam Smith, as it would be to sequester the historian and philosopher, David Hume, with whom we find Adam conversing. Sitting a little apart, talking to stout John Knox, we see one who growls and thunders, and anon roars as gently as a sucking dove; this moment his eyes blaze with baneful lightning and the next they shine with ineffable sweetness; from his lips fall words bitter as gall, relieved by utterances sweet as honey. Surely this can be no other than the great iconoclast of his age, who fought the shams of modern life as valiantly as William Wallace hurled himself against the foes of Scotland; the incomparable historian of the French Revolution, named by Emerson a trip hammer with an AEolian attachment, Thomas Carlyle. As the feast progresses some one at the table refers to the bucolics of Theocritus and of Virgil. Whereupon, commanding the general attention, Sir Walter congratulates the company that one of their number is the peer of any pastoral poet of any age. Then Allan Ramsay blushes and bows, while his fellows fall to praising The Gentle Shepherd. There is a sentiment to Home on the toastmaster’s card, and Sir Walter introduces it by remarking, while the tables resound with vociferous assent, that home is not sweeter than the noble tribute to its sanctity and charm which a Scotchman has rendered. And so, called to respond, James Montgomery repeats his undying eulogy:

There is a land of every land the pride,
Beloved by heaven o’er all the world beside,
Where brighter suns dispense serener light,
And milder moons emparadise the night;
There is a spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?
Art thou a man, a patriot? look around,
O, thou shalt find, howe’er thy footsteps roam,
That land thy country and that spot thy home.

And now what a joyous tumult takes possession of the banqueting hall! Every man springs to his feet shouting an affectionate welcome to a belated guest. How they cheer him, how they wring his hand, how they toast him, how they hang upon his words. It is Robert Burns, forevermore “the unwasted contemporary of his own prime” and where he sits—so the toastmaster declares with a generosity characteristic of the master of Abbotsford — is the head of the table.

I have mentioned but a few of the many gathered at that fancied festivity, but for what a magnificent and varied store of prose and verse they stand! Time and your patience would fail me if I attempted to call all the names on the long and shining roll. Taking another glance at the table we see Furgusson, whom Burns with the modesty of merit, named his “elder brother in the muses,” and another poet very dear to the Scotch heart, the Ettrick Shepard; we see Hugh Miller, who found sermons or something better than a good many sermons in “Old Red Sandstone;” and Allan Cunningham, whose “Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea” shall be admired until there is no more sea to wet the sheet; we see Motherwell, whose lyrics kindle the eyes and set the blood tingling; and Robert Blair, who executed a coup d'etat — robbing “The Grave” of its victory over himself by effectively discoursing upon it; we see Dunbar and Pollock, and the corruscating Gilfillan, we see — but I must desist. Nevertheless, a loyal son of an Irishman before I desist you will bear with me, I am sure, if I point out yet another of the unseen banqueters. For no bard has more endeared himself to the Irish heart than the Scotchman Thomas Campbell, tenderly and impassionately singing,

Buried and cold, when my heart stills her motion,
Green be thy fields, sweetest isle of the ocean,
And thy harp-striking bards sing aloud with devotion,
Erin mavournin, Erin go bragh!

If it was not two o’clock in the morning I might endeavor to prove, before resuming my seat, that the literary supremacy of Scotland at which I have been glancing, was due largely to the general dissemination throughout that rugged land, of two things upon which a sound mind in a sound body are largely conditioned, to-wit: education and oatmeal. Something over three hundred years ago John Knox declared that there should be a school in every parish; long before that oatmeal was in every Scotch body’s mouth; and never in her subsequent history has her schools or her oatmeal failed her. Mr. President and gentlemen, my toast was Scottish literature. But in reality, as I have already suggested, this occasion is monopolized by the toast — Robert Burns. Were it not past two o’clock in the morning I would beg permission to efface my own poor words with those beautiful and stirring lines, written for a similar occasion by the beloved Autocrat.

The toast is Burns — no need to speak
The name each heart is beating,
Each glistening eye, each flushing cheek
In light and flame repeating:

We come in one tumultuous tide,
One surge of wild emotion,
As crowding through the Frith of Clyde
Rolls in the Western ocean.

Though years have clipped the eagle’s plume
That crowned the chieftain’s bonnet,
The sun still sees the heather bloom,
The silver mists lie on it;

With tartan kilt and philibeg,
What stride was ever bolder
Than his who showed the naked leg
Beneath the plaided shoulder?

The lark of Scotia’s morning sky!
Whose voice may sing his praises?
With Heaven’s own sunlight in his eye
He walked among the daisies;

Till, through the cloud of fortune’s wrong,
He soared to fields of glory,
But left his land her sweetest song
And earth her saddest story.

The century shrivels like a scroll
The past becomes the present,
And face to face and soul to soul
We greet the monarch peasant;

Whose passion breathing voice ascends
And floats like incense o'er us,
Whose ringing lay of friendship blends
With labor’s anvil chorus !

We love him, praise him just for this,—
In every form and feature,
Through wealth and want, through woe and bliss,
He saw his fellow creature;

No soul could sink beneath his love,
Not even angel blasted,
No mortal power could soar above
The pride that all outlasted.

I fling my pebble on the cairn
Of him though dead undying,
Sweet Nature’s nursling, bonniest bairn,
Beneath her daisies lying:

The waning suns, the wasting globe
Shall spare the minstrel’s story,
The centuries weave his purple robe,
The mountain-mist of glory!

The toast “Scottish Societies,” fell to the lot of Chief William B. Smith of Philadelphia; and in the absence of Mr. James Weymss, Jr., the worthy chaplain of the Albany St. Andrew’s Society, Rev. William S. Smart, D. D., made a happy impromptu response to the toast “The Memory of St. Andrew.” The “Lasses O,” was gracefully responded to by Lieutenant-Colonel A. A. Stevenson, the kilted cavalier from over the border in Montreal. Various extempore speeches from Surrogate Francis E. Woods, Corporation Counsel D. Cady Herrick, and others, followed the more formal program features. Interspersed with the toasts and responses were numerous appropriate musical selections each in harmony with the sentiment which preceded it, as, “Scotland Yet,” “Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “There was a Lad was Born in Kyle,” “Green Grow the Rushes O.”

The enjoyment of this the final feature of the day’s festivities was prolonged far into matin hours, but at last it ended as all truly Scotch gatherings do with a joining of hands and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”

During the intervals of the evening’s exercises Toast-master Kinnear took occasion to read some of the letters he had received from distinguished persons at home and abroad, who had been unable to be present. A number of these are appended.


Sturtevant Farm,
Centre Harbor, N. H., August 22, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Esq.. Prest. St. Andrew s Society:

Dear Friend — I greatly regret that I am unable to avail myself of the invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns, on the 30th inst. I yield to no one in admiration and love for the great singer whose songs have girdled the world with music, dear alike to the highest culture and the lowest poverty and toil. A born democrat, his independent thought, his ardent love of liberty, and hatred of tyranny in the State, and bigotry and intolerance in the church, as expressed in his life and in his immortal lyric:

“The rank is but the guinea stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.”

Give him the right to stand among our noblest and worthiest. His songs of love and home and freedom are among the household treasures of Americans, heard in our halls of wealth and fashion, and in the cabins of our miners and herdsmen, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Mexican frontier to the northmost Alaska. Scotland may well be proud of her most illustrious son, but she will not forbid our adopting him. We take him to our hearts as he is, with the failings we regret, with the noble traits and marvellous gifts we honor. Suffice it that he is Robert Burns, the only! As such, if I may be allowed to repeat my words at his centennial:

"Be every fault forgiven
Of him in whom we joy,
We take, with thanks, the gold of Heaven,
Even with the earth’s alloy.

Thanks for the music as of Spring,
The sweetness as of flowers,
The songs the bard himself might sing
In holier ears than ours.”

I am very truly thy friend,


Beverly Farms, Mass., [August $th, 1888.]

Dear Sir — I regret that it will not be in my power to attend the interesting ceremony of the unveiling of the Burns statue at Albany on the 30th of August. May I venture to recall these verses from a poem which I read at the centennial celebration of Burns’ birthday, in Boston?

We love him, not for gifts divine —
His muse was born of woman,—
His manhood breathes in every line,—
Was ever heart more human?

We love him, praise him, just for this
In every form and feature,
Through wealth and want, through woe and bliss,
He saw his fellow-creature!

No soul could sink beneath his love,—
Not even angel blasted;
No mortal power could soar above
The pride that all outlasted.

Ay ! Heaven had set one living man
Beyond the pedant’s tether,
His virtues, frailties
He may scan Who weighs them all together !

Yours very truly,


Ashfield, Mass., Aug. 25, 1888.

Dear Sir — I am sincerely obliged by the invitation to attend the exercises at the unveiling of the statue of Burns in Washington park on the 30th of August, and I am very sorry that my engagements prevent my acceptance. Were it possible I should gladly join in the tribute to the genius which still charms and touches the human heart, and which makes Burns not only, as your invitation says, the darling poet of Scotia, but of the English speaking world. As there is no truer poetic genius than his whose songs are as fresh and sweet as the morning, bright with the most rollicking humor and tender with the fondest affection, so the story of no human life is more pathetic than that of the singer. The lover of the daisy and the laverock and of sonsie lasses, stirs us in some ways which no other poet can surpass and in some which appeal to our profoundest grief and pity. No other man has done him such sympathetic justice as his countryman Thomas Carlyle who like Burns was born in extreme poverty without befriending circumstance or opportunity, and who, like Burns, proved to the world that a man’s a man for a’ that. As Auld Scotia recalls Burns and Scott and Carlyle she may well say, these are my jewels, and if we could know her very heart I suppose we should find it cherishing as the most precious of them all the name of Robbie Burns.

Truly yours,


Cluny Castle, Kingussie, N. B.,

2nd August, 1888. J

My Dear Mr. Kinnear — Your invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Burns in Albany comes to me when my feet are on the heather, and I am surrounded by the glories of the Highlands, and by the scenes and incidents of Scottish life, which he has immortalized.

I rejoice that a city in the republic is to possess not only a creditable statue of Burns, but the best statue of Burns that I have ever seen.

It is most fitting that the land of Triumphant Democracy should produce his best memorial.

In your proceedings to-day the splendid old Scots woman, the donor, Miss McPherson, will not, I am sure, be forgotten. She must have been one of the class of typical Scots women to whom Scotland owes so much of its glory. She could not have left her money for a better purpose than to place among the treasures of 7 her adopted city in the republic, a lasting memorial of the poet who sang the Royalty of Man.

I am very truly yours,


Mr. Peter Kin near, Albany, N. Y.
Cambridge, Mass., Sept. i, 1888.

P. Kinnear, Esq.:

Dear Sir— I regret that a temporary journey caused delay in answering your polite invitation to the dedication of the Burns statue. I am always glad to aid in honoring in any way the memory of Burns. No single influence did more to impress me for life with the true democratic feeling than the early reading of his grand song: “A man’s a man for a’ that.” I can well remember that, when about twenty years old, I thought seriously of having it printed on a separate sheet, that I might make sure of its being read by every one whom I knew. It would have been a needless enterprise, but it shows how deeply the poem influenced at least one youthful mind.

Very truly yours,


Town Hall, Dundee, August 7, 1888.

Dear Sir — I regret very much that my official duties quite prevent me from accepting your kind invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns, at Albany, N. Y., on August 30 next. I should esteem it a privilege to be able to visit your great country at any time, and especially to be present on the occasion of rendering fitting honor to the memory of one of the greatest, as he certainly was the most characteristic of Scotsmen.

We, in Dundee, a few years ago, erected a fine statue in his honor, as a duty — a debt of gratitude due to one who did so much for his country, for, of Burns it may be said, more specially than of any other Scotchman, or almost of any man who ever lived, that he requires no monument to perpetuate his fame.

His works, dear to, and engraven on the hearts of his countrymen, are his true monument more enduring than brass or marble, everlasting as the mountains of his native land.

Greater poets there may have been whose writings will be enduring as his, but the works of no secular poet that I can think of, enjoy a fame so universal, and are equally appreciated by the cultured and the simple — afford at the same time delight to the scholar and the rustic, the high-bred lady and the village maiden.

The position of Burns in this respect is altogether unique, but whilst this renders his fame quite independent of monument or statue, it does not in the least lessen our duty to his memory. Not then for any purpose of perpetuating or extending his fame but as tangible proof of his power over your hearts, and your gratitude to his memory, do I so highly value your statue, and earnestly hope for you a most successful inauguration.

I am, dear sir, yours sincerely,

Provost of Dundee.

68 Omslow Gardens, ) South Kensington, 5th August, '88.

Sir—Although I hope to be in the United States toward the end of August, I fear that it will be impossible for me to visit your city on the 30th of that month.

I regret that very much, as I always rejoice to see the people of the United States raising monuments to great authors and poets, who belong to them as much as they do to the people of this country.

Although I am a Scotchman, it is not as a Scotch poet that I honor Burns. He is emphatically the poet of the poor; and he has done more than all the works or sermons on philanthrophy that ever were written to bring the rich and the poor into a common bond of sympathy. Burns has taught us that the home affections, the virtues, the aspirations and even the vices of the poor stand on the same plane as those of the rich. What exquisite pathos is contained in his poems! “The Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon,” “John Anderson my Jo,” “The Cotter’s Saturday Night,” “Auld Lang Syne,” knit together the affections and sympathies of the whole human race. Even at my advanced age I cannot read these poems now, without finding that my eyes are not only organs of vision, but that they are also fountains of tears.

I congratulate your city — Albany — in which I have received much generous hospitality, on the occasion of the celebration. I wish that I could be with my Scotch friends at that time, but unhappily I have made other engagements.

Your obedient servant,


Peter Kinnear, Esq.

Kent House, Isle of Wight, July 31, 1888.

Dear Sir— I much regret that I cannot be in your old city on the 30th of August, when you unveil the monument to Burns.

If Ayr does for Burns what Stratford-on-Avon has done for Shakespeare, in the guarding and proper exhibition of relics, and in making the birth and living place attractive and interesting, it will be largely owing to the Americans.

America is a folio edition of what is best in Britain. There are probably more readers of the Scottish poet in the United States than in Scotland, and there is no place in the United States where he would more have wished to be honored than Albany.

I remain yours faithfully,


Cacomia, Quebec, 6th August, 1888.

My Dear Sir— I have just left Montreal for my summer holiday. I regret much that I cannot be with you on the interesting occasion to which you have so kindly invited me. If love of our Scottish poet is the ground of invitation, you have made no mistake. There may be much in the circumstances of Burns’ life to deplore, and not a little in his life to condemn, but with all his faults we love him still, and give profound thanks that he lived and wrote. His writings have laid Scotland under a deep debt of gratitude. That debt, in spite of Pharisees, she keeps paying. Wishing a most successful gathering on the 30th instant.

Believe me, yours sincerely,


Tayview House, Newport, Fife, August 10, 1888.

Dear Sir — I wish I could have been with you on the 30th I shall be with you in thought, as will many other Scotchmen throughout the world.

Burns is still with us all — singing to more people, warming more hearts than when he walked the earth. He died, only to rise again to a stronger, purer, nobler life.

Two things I should have liked had I been with you to have spoken of. One is the importance of liberating the influence of Burns’ grave association with our drinking customs — the poisoned arrows that laid Burns himself low. The other is the necessity for taking the stand that Burns took against the denationalizing of Scotland by the use of the terms “England” and “English ” instead of “Britain” and “British”— as if Scotchmen were Englishmen, and Scotland a mere English county. If Scotland be merely a part of England, she has ceased to be a nation; and Wallace fought and Burns sang so far in vain. There can be neither national poetry, nor national honor, nor national sentiment, without a nation.

Let Scotchmen in America as well as at home see to this if they would honor Burns, and preserve Scotland and Scotland’s nationality as a strength to the Empire and to the wider confederation of which the Empire itself may come to form a part. Believe me ever yours,


Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, N Y.

The British minister regrets extremely that he will be unable to attend the interesting ceremony of unveiling the statue of Robert Burns at Albany, on the 30th inst., more especially as it is the tribute of a kindred people to the memory of a genius so highly appreciated in his native land.

Beverly, Mass., 7th August, 1888.

Dollis Hill, N. W.,

London, Aug. 15, ’88.

The Earl of Aberdeen desires to express his thanks for the invitation with which he has been kindly favored, to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Burns, on the 30th inst. Lord Aberdeen regrets that he cannot be present on the occasion, but he begs to offer his best wishes for the success of proceedings in which, as a Scotchman, he is naturally interested.

Earnscliffe, Ottawa.

Sir John Macdonald greatly regrets that his public duties prevent his acceptance of the kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns on the 30th instant. Nothing would have given him greater pleasure as a Scotchman than to have been present at this interesting ceremony.

4th August, 1888.

11 Windsor Street, )

Dundee, Scotland,

13th August, 1888.

Dear Sir — Many thanks for your esteemed invitation. Very sorry that I cannot respond to it in person, but shall be with you in spirit. For, although oceans, politics and creeds may divide us, “we are one” in admiration, gratitude and love to Robert Burns.

Had he never lived or never written, Scotland and the whole world of civilized men would have been immeasurably poorer than they are — not in material resources, but in the patriotic ardor, the independent spirit and the conscious rectitude that are the health and the strength of nations.

His life and works inevitably tend to stimulate love of country; to sustain manly feeling; to dignify honest poverty; to awaken pity for distress, hatred for oppression, and scorn for hypocrisy; to cement the sweet ties of friendship and love; to cheer, to console, and to elevate the hearts of men. As a national heritage they are simply priceless, and the people of other lands have borne warm and willing tribute to their worth. With what pith and power Fitz-Greene Halleck, the American poet, touches the chord of that far-reaching sympathy!

His is that music to whose tone
The common pulse of man keeps time,
In cot or castle’s mirth or moan,
In cold or sunny clime.

What sweet tears dim the eyes unshed,
What wild vows falter on the tongue,
When “Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,”
Or “Auld Lang Syne” is sung!

Farewell! May your gathering on the 30th be in every way a great success ! And should I be enabled to realize the dream of my youth and visit the shores of America, I am sure my steps will tend toward Albany, that I may behold the monument your city has raised to the undying memory of

“A Poet, peasant born.
Who more of Fame’s immortal dower
Unto his Country brings,
Than all her kings.”

Sincerely yours,


Little Metis, Canada, August 8, 1888.

My Dear Sir — I beg to thank you for your kind invitation, but regret that it is not in my power to avail myself of it. It is, however, a source of much gratification to me, as to all Scotchmen and descendants of Scotchmen, that you should so do honor to the memory of Burns; and I regard it as an augury that the common literature of the British races, will be an influence for union and brotherhood stronger than true alien dinellent influences which in our time tend to separate the children of the same parent.

Sincerely yours,


Binrock, Dundee, $ist July, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, N. Y. :

Dear Sir — You do me honor in inviting me to be present at the unveiling of the monument to Robert Burns in your city. I cannot be with you to see, but I hope that the demonstration will be a great success. I look upon the love and admiration of your citizens for our manly peasant poet as an indication that in spite of differences and clashing of interests, the time draws near

“When man to man the world o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that.”

Wishing you and your fellow-citizens a grand day for the ceremony and much honest pride in the possession of the statue,

I am, yours sincerely,


4 West i8th Street, New York,

7th Aug., 1888.

Dear Sir — I was gratified to receive your invitation to attend the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns at Albany, on 30th inst., in accordance with the terms of Miss McPherson’s bequest. I regret that it will not be convenient for me to be present on that very interesting occasion. Like most Scottish boys of seventy or eighty years ago, I was well acquainted with Burns’ songs from my childhood. I have seen and conversed with our great poet’s “Bonnie Jean.” In 1823, she seemed to be about sixty or sixty-five, wore a “mutch” and a white apron over a printed calico gown, and had the appearance of a decent old family servant.

Near Ruthwell was a place called “the Broso” (pronounced Broo). Here it was, in a small stone cottage with a thatched roof and only “ a but and a ben ” on the banks of the Solway Frith, that poor Burns lay ill, sick, and poverty stricken, indebted to the landlord of the Inn at the neighboring village of Clarencefield for a bottle of port wine to relieve his extreme weakness. This was just before he returned to Dumfries to die. I have often visited the humble cottage at the “ Broo ” when going with the other lads from Ruthwell Manse to bathe in the Solway, which we sometimes did when the snow was lying thick on the Cumberland hills opposite.

I doubt very much if you will have any one at Albany on 30th inst. who has seen and conversed with “Bonnie Jean.” Indeed, I suspect that no one now alive on this side of the Atlantic but myself, has done so. I am, my dear sir,

Yours, very truly,


Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, N. Y.
Peter Kinnear, Esq., Executor,

Albany, N. Y.:

My Dear Sir — It has been a pleasure to me to think for a time that it was just possible I might be with you on the 30th inst., but I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that I cannot accept your kind invitation to be present at the unveiling of the Burns’ statue. I rejoice with you in the accomplishment of the patriotic thought of our deceased friend. Burns wrote for the Scottish men and women of his day, but his thoughts will touch the hearts and awaken the impulses of all peoples, for all time, and the feeling that dictated the erection of your monument will meet with a sympathetic response in the breast of every honest man and bon-nie lassie. Long may the Burns’ statue stand to remind our children of him who himself wrote:

“Thou of an independent mind,
With soul resolved, with soul resigned;
Virtue alone who dost revere,
Thy own reproach alone dost fear,
Approach this shrine, and worship here.”

Very cordially yours,

wm. p. McLaren.

Milwaukee, 25th Aug., 1888.

Milwaukee, Aug. 26th, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Esq.:

Dear Sir — I regret exceedingly that I cannot be with you at the unveiling of the statue of our beloved poet, whose memory is dear to every son and daughter of Scotland.

Robert Burns was a modest, kind and unassuming man, yet could clearly portray the passing emotions of the human heart.

In his “Cotter’s Saturday Night,” he shows the early training of the Scotch at home, which would be well for the future generations of our adopted country to follow.

Had he lived to mature years, he would, no doubt, have shown a clearer insight into the Scotch character, but few have portrayed the peculiarities of their country more vividly than he has.

Although born in a cottage, he became a poet at the plow, showing that it is not the occupation that lowers the man, but the man that degrades the occupation. The man who is moderate in his ambition, temperate in his habits and strong in adversity gets the most good out of life, so let us be blind to his faults and remember only his love of country and generous heart.

Our countrymen will always appreciate Miss McPherson's desire to perpetuate the memory of the poet, and also her good judgment in selecting our worthy friend, Mr. Kinnear, to execute her wishes.

I shall be with you in heart, if not in person.

Yours sincerely,


Albany, Aug. 28th, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Executor, etc.:

Dear Sir — I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your invitation to attend the ceremony of the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns on the 30th of August next, and to thank you for the same. I am afraid that my official engagements will prevent me from attending, which I sincerely regret.

No man proud of his country, its manhood and independence, can fail to have his sympathies and heart enlisted in the good work in which you are engaged.

The memory of Burns will always be dear to him who loves liberty and his country, and who hates wrong and oppression, for he it was

“Who kept his honesty and truth,
His independent tongue and pen,
And moved in manhood and in youth,
Pride of his fellow men.

“Strong sense, deep feeling, passions strong,
A hate of tyrant and of knave,.
A love of right, a scorn of wrong,
Of coward and of slave.”

I am truly yours,


Deal Beach, N. J.,

August 27th, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, N. Y. :

Dear Sir — I have received your kind invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns, at Albany, on the 30th inst., and regret that I will not be able to avail myself of the honor and courtesy thus extended. In spirit, however, I shall unite with you and all Scottish men and their descendants, in honoring the memory of Burns, and in paying respect to that of Miss Mary McPherson, by whose munificent legacy an enduring monument will be erected in the city of her adoption to the greatest poet of her native country.

My memory goes back to the time when Lachlan McPherson and his family came to Albany from Scotland. By the aid of Archibald McIntyre and my father, Archibald Campbell, both natives of Scotland, and both State officers, Mr. McPherson was made keeper of the old State Hall, now the Geological Museum. There he and his son pursued with industry and success their trade as carpenters and cabinet makers, John McPherson being an expert in the latter, and there in my boyhood I often saw them, as well as Mrs. McPherson and her daughter, Mary; and there many a kind turn I got in wood-work on electric and other machines constructed while studying under Dr. Beck and Joseph Henry, at the Albany Academy.

Lachlan McPherson was a man of strong character; of great shrewdness and sagacity; of considerable acquired knowledge, and possessed of a wonderful fund of humor and mother wit. He was a favorite of the State officers of that day, including John Savage, John Van Ness Yates, Simeon DeWitt, Wm. L. Marcy, Silas Wright, A. C. Flagg, John A. Dix and others. Mr. Marcy once said of him that he had the tact and shrewdness to fit him for a first-class diplomatist.-

John McPherson, a modest and retiring man, was very accomplished in his trade, well read in science and history, and kept himself well informed in the current affairs of his day. Though he lived to a great age, he was a confirmed bachelor, and he expressed his decided opinion that “ matrimony was a mere lottery.” It is most gratifying to know that Miss McPherson, the survivor of her family, having no relatives here and no near ones, if any, in Scotland, should, at the close of a long life, after some bequests to friends and to some worthy poor, have left the estate accumulated by her father and brother by years of honest thrift and frugality, for the erection of a statue to Burns in the city where this fortune was gathered, and where she had lived for more than sixty years, thus linking her name, in some measure, with the immortal bard of her native land, whose most famous ballad, “A man’s a man for a' that,” was illustrated in the lives of her own family.

Of Robert Burns, whose statue you are in a few days to unveil, it can with truth be said that no one of any country, and least of all one of Scottish blood, can call him to mind without the proud reflection that his genius and inspiring words have done much to establish the rights and political equality of all mankind. Therefore will his memory be ever cherished in our country, whose government rests upon this firm foundation.

I am, yours truly,


Dundee, August 15th, 1888.

To Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, United States:

Dear Sir — I regret very much being unable to attend the inauguration of the McPherson Burns statue on the 30th current, and the more so as I may be on your side of the water later on this year. If so, it will be a pleasure in store for me to see the beloved bard as erected and modelled by Scoto-American hands and brains. I may be allowed to remark further, that the inauguration of this work has for me the greatest interest; partly as I have had, through your desire, the pleasure and duty to make inquiries about Miss McPherson’s connections and antecedents in her and my native country. Yesterday I examined the house in the hamlet of Gauldrv-on-the-Tay, which was built by her father, Lauchlan McPherson’s own hands. It is still in a good state of preservation, and has an unrivalled northern view of the river Tay, the Carse of Gowrie and Dundee. I plucked a few humble flowers from the garden — the original roots of which might have been planted by Mary herself. I inclose the flowers herewith, as a memento of the old house.

An old lady, Miss Mary Farmer, is still living next door, who was a companion of Miss McPherson’s in her youth, and she bore witness to the sterling, upright character of the father and family, and from what I learned, there is little wonder that they prospered in America.

“From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs,
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad."

From my former residence in your midst I might claim myself as an Albany boy. At any rate there is no one I know who has claims of a closer connection between yourself, the town of Albany and the patriotic dame whose gift has created this pleasant occasion. I desire, therefore, to convey from myself and all concerned with the McPherson connection on the banks of the Tay, a right hearty congratulation for the success of this alliance of the fame of Scotland’s darling son with the old Scotland name of Albany.

The name of your honored town was the battle-cry of our soldiers in Scotland’s ancient battles, and on the occasion of this peaceful demonstration in honor of her patriotic bard, we join with you and all your friends in again raising the slogan cry of her clans.

“Albany! Albany! Our country! Our country!”

Yours respectfully,


Milwaukee, August 20, 1888.
Peter Kinnear, Esq., Chairman, Albany, N. Y.:

Dear Sir — It is with heartfelt regret that I find myself compelled to decline your kind invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns, on the 30th inst.

You kindly ask me in case of my inability to be present, to forward a response suitable to the occasion.

This is no easy task. The place, the representative men present, the hallowed and inspiring associations of the day, will all combine to make the occasion one of unusual interest to every lover of true genius and especially to every Scottish-American.

The names on your committee strike the ear, like the roll-call of a gathering on the shores of Loch Lomond, or under the shadow of dark Lochnagar.

Your beautiful city took its name from a Stewart, and a portion of our native land was called Albany a thousand years ago, therefore, when a MacPherson willed, and a Kinnear and a Calverley executed a statue to Scotia's ploughman poet, to be erected in your city, it was only adding new strength to the great historical chain which has so long united the ancient Capital of the Empire State, with the still more ancient Albania of the middle ages.

The clans, then, as they gather on the 30th of August, from the valley of the Mississippi, the shores of the Great Lakes and the Banks of the St. Lawrence and the Hudson, may well feel that they are not strangers in a strange city, but that they have a claim to, and will receive a hearty welcome, more especially as they gather not to engage in some ruthless foray, or to celebrate the triumphs of diplomacy or war, but to dedicate a monument to the immortal genius of the people's greatest poet, and to perpetuate the luster of a name which has ever been associated with the independence and brotherhood of man, principles on which the foundations of this great Republic were laid at the very time the poet walked

In glory and in joy
Behind his plough upon the mountain side.

Be assured I cannot sufficiently express my deep regret that I am not permitted to be one of that vast concourse, who will gather from all parts of this great continent, to do honor, to the matchless genius of “ the greatest poet who ever sprang from the bosom of the people and lived and died in humble condition," and to do honor to the memory of that noble lady who honored herself and her city by honoring him who will live in the affectionate remembrance of men, so long as they continue to treasure the hallowed memories of the days of Auld Lang Syne.

Yours, very sincerely,


North Platte, Neb.,

15th August, 1888.

Peter Kinnear, Esq., Albany, N. Y:

Dear Sir — Accept my thanks for your kind invitation to be present at the unveiling of the statue of “Scotia’s darling poet," in Washington park, Albany, on Thursday, Aug. 30.

As a member of the Kilmarnock Burns Club, I was one of the originators of the monument and statue movement there, and was present at the laying of the foundation stone of the one, and the unveiling of the other — never to be forgotten incidents in my somewhat chequered life.

Had circumstances permitted, I would have gladly availed myself of this opportunity of still further honoring the memory of my gifted countryman, but, although absent in body, I shall be present in spirit, and trust the proceedings will tend to make the Scotch abroad more intensely Scotch, and bind them more to Scotland. Also, that their motto ever shall be “upward and onward,” and that they may long continue to be considered a desirable acquisition to the population of this great Republic, for it is indisputable that many eminent Americans of the past, as well as of the present, have sprung from ancestors who hailed from “The land of the mountain and the flood.”

Independent of nationality, the name of- Burns seems in these times to create a universal bond of brotherhood among all who have taken in the spirit of his poetry and songs. As for myself I yield to none in my admiration of his poetic genius, manly sentiment and sturdy independence, and when the statue in Washington park is unveiled, I trust every freedom-loving American liel Scot will gaze with admiration upon the image of a man who claimed kin with all humanity and was deeply interested in the cause of liberty and the rights of human nature.

Yea, upon one whose warmest sympathy went with the pioneers of freedom during the struggle for American independence, and also with the infant republic of France, who during his day, so valiantly strove for liberty.

With the exception of Shakespeare no man could depict the tender passion in all its phases, or rural life and scenery like Burns — but lest this letter assume the proportions of a lecture I close by again thanking you for your kind invitation, and stating that I feel proud that my name is still known to my countrymen, and that my contribution to Burns literature is appreciated by them.

The land of Burns, I fear,
I shall never see again, but nevertheless,
Still o’er these scenes my memory wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care;
Time, the impression stronger makes,
As streams their channels deeper wear.

I have the honor to be sir, your obedient servant,


The Dundee Burns Club, 7 Ward Road, ) Dundee, Aug. 4, 1888. j

Dear Sir — You will please tender to your committee the thanks of the members of the Dundee Burns Club for their kind invitation to attend the grand demonstration on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of Robert Burns, in your city of Albany, on the 30th of August next. Unfortunately there is none of the members in a position of sufficient leasure at present to take a trip across the Atlantic, but as far as inclination goes not a single member, ordinary or honorary, would be absent if it were possible for him to attend. The ocean race horses have reduced the proportions of the broad ocean considerably, but it is yet all too vast to admit of the personal intercourse and the pleasant interchange of feeling and sentiment betwixt the Scottish and Scottish-American societies, which would be desirable at such an interesting and notable event. All they can do is to waft you across the waves their hearty congratulations and their sincerest wishes for the completest success to all your arrangements. You must accept this letter in a symbolical sense as sprig of white heather, which as you must be aware, would be an assurance of good fortune on the auspicious day, and they hope as such that it will become sweetly fragrant to» you with memories of the old homes in the old land.

The members have noticed with particular pleasure that the funds for the statue of the poet were bequeathed to the city by a Scotchwoman — Miss Macpherson — and also that the committee arranged for the purpose of carrying out the details is composed — if names are any indication — of Scotchmen through and through. These matters are just as they ought to be. Admiration for the genius of Burns is not confined to Scotchmen, and the works and the man himself were gifts not only to Scotland but to humanity at large ; yet it seems not altogether clanish to affirm that those who best can do homage to the memory of the Bard by training, language and sympathy, are the natives of his own land ; his nearest and dearest, the members of his own household. Surely no one better than Scotchmen can get to the heart of the poet. Surely no one can understand better his life’s purpose. Surely no one can better value his genius or more sincerely mourn his untimely end.

The members cannot forget, however, that while the erection of your statue is entirely due to Scottish fervor of feeling, that it is notable that the statue will be raised in one of the centers of American life. There, the statue of a poet such as Burns, will certainly not be out of place. Remembering his early republican tendencies, his love of freedom and fraternity throughout, and the measure of contumely which in his life-time he had to bear in consequence, it is a peculiarly graceful and fitting act to raise his image in the midst of a people who have chosen for themselves a form of government which, with all its faults, is as yet the most perfect realization of the democratic ideal. Dear as were the old towns and the old life of Scotland to Burns, they fancy if the artist of your statue, in addition to the perfection of his work as a piece of art and a correct representation of the poet could, like another Pygmalion, endow with life the labor of his hands, the feelings of the re-born poet would not altogether be that of disappointment when he looked around. Probably he would miss a great deal; but the absence of caste and restraint, and the freedom from prejudice which pervades the American atmosphere, would more than reconcile the poet to his new surroundings where his highest hopes and brightest fancies are being translated into fact. The heroes of American Independence are sacred personages to American hearts; but it is to be hoped that there is still room left in their affections for one who was pre-eminently the poet of independence, but who was also the poet of brotherhood, or as Whitman puts it, of comrades. May his songs of fraternity be for the healing of the discord of the nations, and may the statesmen of all countries sit at his feet and learn wisdom.

Signed in behalf of the Dundee Burns Club,


Hon. Member.

To Peter Kinnear, Esq., Executor.

The Burns Association of Philadelphia, Pa.

To Peter Kinnear, Esq., Surviving Executor of the Will of Miss Mary McPherson, Greeting:

All honor to the memory of the woman who has so practically distinguished herself by the most enduring method of perpetuating the memory of Scotland’s great poet, Robert Burns. In him the lyric literature of Scotland has its great representative. He lives with us to-day, because of the truth and life that are in his writings. The secret of his enduring fame is the life that is in his work, it touches the human at every point, and reflects it as the mirror the human countenance. He is, indeed, the poet of the centuries; by his sublime searching and truthful utterances he has widened the horizon of human thought, and made us better known to ourselves. His pathos has given us a deeper power to feel, his patriotism a keener love of country. Although he was local and obscure in his life here, he is to-day one of the best known and most widely indorsed men of our time. Halleck, Longfellow Bryant, Whittier, Emerson, Bruce and Curtis, distinguished men of our own America, have done honor to themselves in recognizing his greatness. Albany is to be congratulated as the only city in the world having a statue of heroic size in bronze by means supplied by a woman. The memory of Miss McPherson, the Scottish maiden, shall be held in high regard long after the monument has ceased to be.

Of the executor, Peter Kinnear, we need say nothing; the monument will constantly tell the story of his energy, faithfulness and ability in carrying out the wishes of her who wisely selected one so honest and capable. The Association of Philadelphia envy Albany her distinction, her great gathering to-day called together by a woman, through her executor, to unveil a statue to the poet that we all love. True he was a ploughman, and a good one; but he turned straighter and deeper furrows in the fields of thought than he ever did in the fields of earth.






Cor. Secretary.

August 28, 1888.

On the 9th of the following October the Board of Park Commissioners adopted the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the trustees of Washington park hold in highest esteem the generous citizenship of the late Mary McPherson, as shown by that provision of her will which directs that, out of the estate, and subject to the approbation of this board, a suitable and worthy statue of the poet Burns should be placed in Washington park as “The McPherson legacy to the citizens of Albany."

Resolved, That we desire hereby to place on record an expression of our sense of the gratitude due to her memory, from us, as a representative board, and from the citizens of Albany for that discerning and generous act.

Resolved, That in the judgment of the members of the board, the statue which was placed in the park and publicly delivered into our custody by her executor, on the 30th August, 1888, in fulfillment of Miss McPherson’s bequest, is a work of art of the highest merit, and an acquisition to the park of the greatest value.

Resolved, That the thanks of this board are due, and are hereby tendered, to the executor, Mr. Peter Kinnear, for the zealous and intelligent manner in which he has fulfilled the trust reposed in him by Miss McPherson’s will.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to Mr. Kinnear, as the representative of Miss McPherson’s estate.

"Poets in the Park" is celebrating over 20 years of bringing poetry in July to the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY. The series was started in 1989 by the late Tom Nattell and is now run by Albany poet & photographer Dan Wilcox.

(Photos by Dan Wilcox)
More pictures can be viewed at

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