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Glasgow Men and Women
Their Children and some Strangers within their gates, a selection from the sketches of Twym by A. S. Boyd (1905)


HERE is a book about Glasgow; not the Glasgow known to our young friends in their teens, or remembered by those in their early twenties, but the Glasgow familiar to their fathers and mothers when they were in their teens and early twenties. That was away back in the eighties, before the days of electric light in the streets, electric cars, an intricate internal railway system, the new art galleries, and all the other improvements of which I — a stranger almost in Glasgow now—am only dimly cognisant. We considered Glasgow in those days, as many thousands do now, to be a very good place to live in. We had some rather jolly times. We took an easy and good-humoured view of things in general and if the pages of this book convey any other impression, then they fail in their purpose. The two weekly papers in which the sketches originally appeared tried to minister to this easy-going good humour.

One of these papers is dead let us speak of it respectfully. The other was its senior, and is its survivor; let us speak even more respectfully of it—the Bailie, which, dating from 1872, has for over a generation been one of the recognised institutions of Glasgow. It is, and has always been, essentially a local journal. Though every now and then portraits of personages who are prominent outside Glasgow circles have appeared in its pages, it is Glasgow alone that forms the Bailies chief concern.

As the experience of three and thirty years has shown, the life of Glasgow—municipal, political, social, artistic—abounds in ample material for criticism and comment, humorous or otherwise. All sorts and conditions of Glasgow folk have, I am told, contributed to the Bailie—Doctors of Divinity, Doctors of Laws, Doctors of Medicine, Members of Parliament, Bailies and Lord Provosts, among others—but the anonymity of the contributors has always been preserved, and to that anonymity may be ascribed some portion at least of the paper’s success. The one individuality that has become known to the citizens in connection with the Bailie, and whose name I may therefore be permitted to mention, is that of John D. Gray, who has occupied the position of manager from its origin to the present time. The Bailie at its beginning had practically the same modest aspect that it has at present. It had fewer pages, and beyond the cartoon portrait of Lord Provost James Watson, it had no attempt at illustration. Of the more fully illustrated papers of the kind that had been tried in Glasgow, Quiz was the only one that had anything like success. It published its first number in March 1881, and it lasted, through several changes of proprietorship, for about twenty years. Its first editor was William Robertson; its dramatic critic John Reid; its business manager Arnot Reid. These three friends did the greater part of the writing, both in prose and verse, in the earlier years. The design on the cover was by Martin Anderson, afterwards widely known as “Cynicus,” who contributed many of his quaint conceits to the paper, a later artist contributor being Harrington Mann. The great proportion of sketches fell to the lot of “Twym,” and it is from these that most of the present selection has been made.

William Robertson, after a lingering illness that lasted for more than five years, died at his mother’s home in Alva on the 24th December 1889 ; and Arnot Reid, whose connection with Quiz ceased when he went to London—and onwards to Singapore, where he edited the Straits Times—is buried at Tonbridge in Kent, where he died on the 21st July 1901.

As in the case of the Bailie, the writers in Quiz were anonymous. The columns of gossip and criticism were signed, but only by pen-names that did not reveal the identity of the authors. There is no need now for withholding names. I have already mentioned John Reid, who was an untiring contributor. His “Chronicle of Small Beer” did not appear in Quiz, however, and indeed was not written till some time after he had stopped writing for the paper. Another writer was James Nicol Dunn, lately editor of the Morning Post, and now of the Manchester Courier; while contributions (chiefly poetical) from John Davidson, the late Dr. James H. Stoddart, and Sheriff Spens have also appeared in Quiz. I am speaking, of course, only of the first seven years or so, all I can speak of, in the career of Quiz. That some of the contents of the paper were of more than passing interest may be conceded, as several reprints have been made from its pages5 We remember the “Martha Spreull” of Henry Johnston, the “Law Lyrics” of Robert Bird, and the “Sweet Briar” of James Strang, while the dainty “Wayside Vignettes” of William Canton are, most of them, to be found in his subsequently published volumes of poetry. The drawings of “Cynicus” also have been republished in various forms, and two albums of “Twym’s” sketches have been issued, 1882 and 1883.

The identity of “Twym” was never much of a secret, I daresay. I used to be asked frequently what my pseudonym meant. If there are still any friends curious on the point, it may interest them to know that the word was only an arbitrary combination of letters, and had no meaning whatever.

My last contribution to Quiz—the Prince and Princess of Wales at the Exhibition—appears in this volume, as does my first contribution to the Bailie, Lord Lytton at the University. One drawing has not appeared in either of these papers. The sketches I made when the Queen visited the exhibition were for the Graphic, and I have had permission to make use of the drawing done at the time from my sketches in making a new page for this book.

It would not have occurred to me to drag these sketches from the obscurity of the past, were it not that an undoubted authority informed me, in a moment of confidence, that a book of , this kind would be an unquestioned benefit to the men and women of Glasgow and to the strangers within their gates. He, in short, commanded their re-publication. And so the original proofs were looked out and selected. They were also carefully revised, a line being strengthened or added here, a line being lessened or eliminated there, and new blocks were made on a slightly reduced scale for the purposes of this volume.

When I look over the faces and figures herein revived, and when I consider how many of those they are meant to represent have passed away for ever, the collection seems a trifle antiquated; but when I remember that many of the personages are still living and working, in Glasgow or in other parts of the world, some in the enjoyment of higher place and power and title, I am disposed to think the subjects quite modern, up-to-date, and possessed of sufficient interest to warrant their resuscitation.

For the notes that accompany the sketches, I had thoughts of beseeching the aid of one or other of my Glasgow literary friends—my old comrade of Quiz, John Reid, perhaps, or Henry Johnston, or George Eyre-Todd, or J. J. Bell, or Neil Munro—or of my wife; but if any of these sparkling pens had come into play, where would my sketches have been beside their erudite romantic humour ? As this book was meant more to be looked at than to be read, I thought that those who cared to inspect the drawings would not object to have a plain word or two from the man who made them, instead of something more brilliant from a real literary person.

It is as something of a veteran that I speak in these notes, but I trust I am not too garrulous or egotistical. The notes are not meant to contain much information, but such as they do contain is, to the best of my knowledge, to be depended on.

And now begins the little reminiscent show and the running commentary by the showman.

A. S. B.
November 1905.

Glasgow Men and Women
Their Children and some Strangers within their gates, aselection from the sketches of Twym by A. S. Boyd (1905) (pdf)

Trades House of Glasgow
The Bailie - Men you may know, Volume 27 ~ 1885-86 (pdf)

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