A COLUMN TO BURNS.
AT the close of a recent article, entitled "Burns Viewed As A Hat Peg," we put this question, in reference to the centenary commemorations :—"What has this grand outburst of enthusiasm done for the last surviving daughter of Robert Burns?" As we expected, the grand outburst, so far as it was reported, has done nothing. But—as we learn with great pleasure from a letter printed below—the working men of Glasgow (who were not thought worth reporting, probably because they were not connected with the great idea of the Hat Peg) have not been forgetful of the claims of Burns’s kindred on the grateful remembrance of Burns’s posterity. We gladly give insertion to this letter. It does honour to the writer, to those who have acted with him, and to the great city in which they live. Let Glasgow flourish! It is well known to be a liberal and generous place; and the more it flourishes, the better for Burns’s last descendant, and the better for the interests of civilised mankind.
[Probably only this first paragraph is by Collins.]
"Your article, ‘Burns Viewed as a HatPeg,’ so truly delineates the spoiling of our national jubilee, that the most irascible Scot must forgive the occasional ‘skelp’ in the castigation meant specially for simulated enthusiasm. Your eulogium on Mr. Robert Chambers we fully appreciate; and for our late excessive outburst of real feeling, we plead national temperament,—really the most ardent and impulsive, though usually considered the most cautious and sordid in Europe: in spite of our past history in daring adventure, or the present of this very city, which—apart from its late reckless speculation—whether pestilence was in the land, our brave soldiers rotting in the Crimea, or our fellow-citizens pining in foreign dungeons, has for years stood first in the nation when money was needed. The victims of continental despotism can also assure you that they have not been coldly received in ‘cool, calculating Scotland.’
" Why, then, you will repeat, has the only surviving daughter of Burns been so long neglected, and residing in our neighbourhood? Simply because a modest feeling, shared by her husband, kept them so retired in their humble condition, that only a very few knew that she existed; and the independent spirit of the honest old couple would have spurned any common charity, even when they were past work. Our greatest difficulty now is to divest our enterprise of the obtrusive assertion of charity; though, as you will see by the enclosed list, that we have realised considerably over one hundred pounds in small sums, and expect to treble it, when our Masonic Brethren and others are made fully aware that Mrs. Thomson of Pollockshaws exists at all. You may rest assured we will act up to the spirit of your article."
Household Words 26 February 1859 XIX 306
This item is not mentioned in the Household Words Office Book. The letter itself seems genuine enough and it is likely that Collins wrote the introductory paragraph only.
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