‘Hugh Sutherland, Ahoy! A Play in One Act’ (8 April, 1871)

The following play appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ following the conclusion of a singular newstory that had been ongoing for a few weeks. Hugh Sutherland, a tailor, applied for an interdict against the Provost James Yeaman, as well as the magistrates and town council of Dundee. This body were going to use public money to fund a banquet in honour of the royal marriage between Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne. The case ultimately failed but gained some notoriety in the London press, critics of Sutherland claimed it was an opportunistic piece of advertising whereas the ‘Pall Mall Gazette’ proclaimed: “we sadly require a few Hugh Sutherlands on this side of the Border to teach our guardians, vestrymen, and others that they can no longer be allowed to indulge in their gluttony at the public expense.” Clippings from the ‘Journal’s’ coverage of the story will appear below.

Time,—The nineteenth century. Place,—A garret at the foot of Hilltown. Dramatis Personae,—1, Mrs Mysie Macdoons; 2, Baldie, her eldest son, aged 9 years; 3, Joe, the youngest son, aged 7 years; 4, Hugh Sutherland, the tailor.

Enter Hugh with his suit, composed of his goose, smoothing board, tape scissors, chalk, &c.

MYSIE—Gudeness sake are you here at last, Huie? O, you’ve been lang o’ coming; but, like a bad shilling, ye aye turn up. My twa laddies hae been oot o’ a’ patience for ye, and nae wonder, for they are inside oot. Nae want of ventilation wi’ them, I can tell you. Sanitary deputations, so far as they are concerned, can remain at home. They havena got to the kirk or Sabbath schule thae twa last Sabbaths for want o’ claes, an’ they hae positively fallen off in their religious instruction. They canna even get oot to the bools, poor things! and yesterday was washing day, and bairns at hame on such an important occasion are aye a bather. Is there onything about tailors in the Education Bill, Huie?

HUGH—Weel, Mysie, I’ll jist sit doon an’ hae a draw at my cuttie, which will gie ye time to rin’ doon. Nothing like getting off the bile in the morning—nothing, Mysie.

MYSIE—There’s nae bile aboot me, man—only a wee thing cranky; and there is nothing like telling ane’s mind.


MYSIE—Weel, when you are blasting, I will look oot some o’ the gudeman’s trowsers, to be made doon for the callants. There is naething like economy, Huie.


MYSIE—Here’s a pair of corderoys which I think might do for Baldie. There is nothing like corderoys for wear, Huie.


BALDIE—But, mither, the breeks are a’ clooted, d’ ye see.

HUGH (withdrawing his pipe, and sending a curling volume of smoke aloft)Never mind, my young fashionable; I will put the cloots at the back, and you will never see them.

MYSIE—Then here’s a pair o’ shepherd tartans, which I think should do for Joe.

JOE (looking at the inexpressibles with suspicion)—“Not for Joe.”

HUGH—Why not for Joe, you young Arab? Continue reading “‘Hugh Sutherland, Ahoy! A Play in One Act’ (8 April, 1871)”

Letters on ‘Republicanism in Dundee’ (6 – 27 May, 1871)

Republicanism was in people’s minds at the start of 1871 following a short lived revolutionary government in Paris, and in April a Republican demonstration in Hyde Park. In Dundee a Republican Club was founded in a meeting at the start of May, and this was the focus of several letters to the People’s Journal. Two mocking, sarcastic letters were sent in by someone writing as if they were the Prussian Anacharsis Clootz, and concerns about Secularism within the Republican movement were debated. “What, in the name of intellectual mediocrity, is the use of a crowned head?” is perhaps a highlight of these attacks and counter attacks. Two articles about the formation and early meetings of the Republican club will appear below, hopefully giving some context to some of the more personal attacks by “Clootz”.

Republicanism in Dundee [Published 6 May, 1871]

Sir,—We never know our great men till some crisis supervenes to draw them from their obscurity. Had that Bismarck of his time, Lord Strafford, been content to walk in the laws which were set before him, the world might never have heard of Old Noll, and Hampden might have died a peaceful country squire. But great times, great men. We live in great times, and surely need great men. By a stupid and fanatical adherence to her old laws, Great Britain has managed to pass unscathed through the various political earthquakes which have shaken Europe to its centre, swept thrones away and left fair cities at the mercy of picturesque but very dirty mobs. The vulgarity of this is not to be tolerated by our village Hampdens. That the middle classes of a petty I insignificant island should go on amassing wealth, and the working classes be yearly bettering thier condition, is an insult to the understanding of those who having from large and liberal-heartedness gone in for an order of things diametrically opposed to that on which our tiresome prosperity is based, find that the old way still conducts men to very comfortable goals. People under our well-regulated Monarchical Government are happy and prosperous, but dull. Let us overthrow the Monarchy—establish the Republic, especially the Red Republic; and if they cease to be prosperous and happy, they will live lives of glorious excitement—up to the day and down tomorrow, as the local Cluseret or Dombrowski may be the idol for the moment.

The foregoing sentences may seem to some an exaggeration of the rational of Republicanism in this country. But let any calm mind turn the question over for a few minutes, and the conclusion will instinctively crop up that it is impossible to find a better argument for overturning the existing form of government. Continue reading “Letters on ‘Republicanism in Dundee’ (6 – 27 May, 1871)”