‘Bodkin’s Aeronautical Experiences’ (3 October, 1863)

Baxter Park was officially opened on the 9th of September 1863, and was a significant public event in that year. ‘The Journal’s’ owner John Leng had a singular influence on the creation of the public park as he convinced Sir David Baxter to do something for Dundee where his father (William Baxter) had not [Small, Gordon, The Lengs: Dundee’s Other Publishing Dynasty (Dundee, 2009)].

The opening of the park was to include a large procession of military men, sailors, local guilds,  and the Earl of Dalhousie and Provost of Dundee. Much excitement was also generated by the prospect of the inflation of a large balloon by Henry Coxwell, whom a year earlier had gained fame for his daring ascent into the stratosphere. Unfortunately Coxwell’s balloon had to be cancelled due to the direction of the wind.

This is the fourth Tammas Bodkin column on the events surrounding the opening of the park. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

Maister Editor,—Accordin’ to promise, I’m aboot to gie ye a scrift o’ my voyage to the cluds in Mr Coxwell’s Mammoth balloon—no a real material serial flight, ye maun understand, but the immaterial ane I made in my sleep on the eventfu’ nicht succeedin’ the opening o’ the Park. Though but the baseless fabric o’ a vision, that voyage through the cloudy regions seemed real enough to me at the time, an’ the recollection o’t still remains veevely pictured on memory’s tablet, insomuch that I’m truly like to swarf wi’ terrification whenever I think o’t.

Undootedly the primary causes o’ that visionary voyage were the sups o’ drink I had drucken i’ the booth wi’ Andro Sooter, the general excitement o’ the spectacle, the particular excitement o’ first tynin’ Tibbie in the crood, an’ syne findin’ her lyin’ aboon the bed in an agony o’ grief, pourin’ oot tears at the lavish rate I described last week—no to mention the fact that, immediately before gaen to bed, I had partaken o’ a wechty supper, consistin’ o’ fried ham an’ petawtis, whereof I fevoored an inordinate quantity, as, to tell the truth, I felt unco yapish after hingin’ on my legs the haill afternoon, wi’ naethin’ o’ meat kind on my stammack except a bawbee biscuit that I had eaten when on my way to the Barrack Park to marshal my professional brethren for the procession. But whatever the causes may hae been, the result was that I had nae sooner closed my een than I fell into a sleep that was far frae provin’ refreshin’ either to soul or body. Continue reading “‘Bodkin’s Aeronautical Experiences’ (3 October, 1863)”

‘Bodkin Lost and Found’ (26 September, 1863)

Baxter Park was officially opened on the 9th of September 1863, and was a significant public event in that year. ‘The Journal’s’ owner John Leng had a singular influence on the creation of the public park as he convinced Sir David Baxter to do something for Dundee where his father (William Baxter) had not [Small, Gordon, The Lengs: Dundee’s Other Publishing Dynasty (Dundee, 2009)].

The opening of the park was to include a large procession of military men, sailors, local guilds,  and the Earl of Dalhousie and Provost of Dundee. Much excitement was also generated by the prospect of the inflation of a large balloon by Henry Coxwell, whom a year earlier had gained fame for his daring ascent into the stratosphere. Unfortunately Coxwell’s balloon had to be cancelled due to the direction of the wind.

This is the third Tammas Bodkin column on the events surrounding the opening of the park. Part 1. Part 2.

Maister Editor,—I concludit my last week’s epistle by intimatin’ that Tibbie left the Park on the evenin’ o’ the “Ninth,” under the erroneous impression that the balloon had gane aff an’ tane me alang wi’t, an’ I promised to explain in this present letter hoo she cam’ to entertain that foolish notion. Weel, ye see, the mistak’ arose in the manner followin’:—When Tibbie left the Park aboot five o’clock, she saw Mr Coxwell thrang blawin’ the gas into the balloon, she saw the crood colleckin’ aroond it, an’ she heard the folk conversin’ aboot the approachin’ ascent as if it had been an event thoroughly determined on. Hoo was she to ken? hoo was the crood to ken that the wind was ower bawld, and that it was blawin’ frae the wrang point o’ the compass? Except in the mind o’ Mr Coxwell himsel’, there was nae doot at the time when she left the Park but that the balloon was to tak its grand aerial flicht at the oor appointed—sax o’clock. When she was baudin’ in the road by Lilybank, she keppit thoosands o’ people hurryin’ helter-skelter towards the Park, ilk ane like to ding doon his neebor, for fear o’ bein’ ower late to see the show. It was sair, sair against her will that she was turnin’ her back on the wonderfu’ spectacle, but, as her solicitude for my safety far ootweighed her curiousity to see the aeronauts, she had magnanimously resolved to rin hame an’ inquire if I had casten up, at the risk o’ the balloon bein’ aff an’ awa afore she could trodge back again. Certainly this was an instance o’ self-sacrifice on her pairt for whilk she deserves, as I hereby gie her, a deal o’ credit. I dinna think but if I had been in her shoon—that is to say, if I had been as fearfu’ o’ her trynin’ hersel’ as she was aboot me tynin’ mysel’—I wad hae waited to see the balloon gang aff afore takin’ active staps to inquire into her whereabouts; but that arises frae “the selfish indifference o’ us men folk,” as Tibbie observes, “to the comfort an’ even personal safety o’ oor wives.” Hoosomdever, whether I wad hae played Tibbie’s pairt if I had been in Tibbie’s sitiwation is quite immaterial in the present inquiry—it is eneuch for me to ken that Tibbie did her duty, and did it, too, nobly, heroically, magnanimously—like a Roman matron wha wadna stick to sacrifice, not only her curiosity, but even her very life, if need had sae required, for the preservation o’ her husband. Hame she gaed to Crinoline Crescent, an’ speered at the neebors if they had seen ought o’ her Tammas, but they, of coorse, had neither beheld nor heard tell o’ that individual. Under happier circumstances Tibbie wad hae tane her tea afore returnin’ to the Park, but in presence o’ the appallin’ fact that her guidman was tint—probably trampled to death in the crood—the idea o’ meat an’ drink an’ bodily comfort never ance penetrated even into the maist accessible corner o’ her understandin’. Hungry an’ weary though she was, she again retraced her staps to the Park, an’ as she was gaen alang by Lilybank she overheard twa men, wham she forgaithered wi’, crackin’ aboot the balloon, an’ quoth the tane to the tither, “Man, I saw Bodkin inby at the balloon—what could he be doin’, think ye?” Continue reading “‘Bodkin Lost and Found’ (26 September, 1863)”

‘Bodkin on the Opening of the Baxter Park’ (19 September, 1863)

Baxter Park was officially opened on the 9th of September 1863, and was a significant public event in that year. ‘The Journal’s’ owner John Leng had a singular influence on the creation of the public park as he convinced Sir David Baxter to do something for Dundee where his father (William Baxter) had not [Small, Gordon, The Lengs: Dundee’s Other Publishing Dynasty (Dundee, 2009)].

The opening of the park was to include a large procession of military men, sailors, local guilds,  and the Earl of Dalhousie and Provost of Dundee. Much excitement was also generated by the prospect of the inflation of a large balloon by Henry Coxwell, whom a year earlier had gained fame for his daring ascent into the stratosphere. Unfortunately Coxwell’s balloon had to be cancelled due to the direction of the wind.

This is the second Tammas Bodkin column on the events surrounding the opening of the park. The first can be found here.

Maister Editor,—I understand that a few ill-informed individuals are dootfu’ as to whether I occupied the position on the “Ninth” assigned to me in the doggerel sang that the

“Wights o’ Homer’s craft”

hae been sae busy youtin’ aboot the streets, an’ especially i’ the Greenmarket, durin’ the last week or twa. Accordin’ to that authority I was to head the tailors in the Procession:—

“And the tailors likewise will join the throng,

For they say Tammas Bodkin is to lead them on(g).”

They were quite correct in sayin’ sae, notwithstandin’ the reports I’ve heard to the contrary, for I did lead on the snipperie—an’ a gallant band we were—wi’ oor green rosettes an’ the famous Auchtermuchty Band thunderin’ swa’ in front o’s. I’se be bound to say, an’ swear if necessary, that amang a’ the bodies, corporate and incorporate, that tane pairt i’ the Procession at the openin’ o’ the Baxter Park, nane o’ them a’ cam oot in sic a style o’ regal magnificence as the operative an’ inoperative tailors. Somebody was tellin’ me that John Davidson had been heard makin’ his remarks aboot the droll figure we wad cut i’ the Procession, in consequence o’ the quantity o’ cripple legs we wad put forward on the occasion, but my certie! Cripple legs an’ a’ thegither, we made a display that it wad hae been worth while gaen a lang simmer day’s journey to see—an’ that’s no takin’ mair credit to oorsels than has been bestowed upon us by ithers wha hae candidly stated their sentiments on the subject. Anither freend o’ mine (he didna venture to say sae in my hearin’, but he said it in the hearin’ o’ a man wha tauld me) had the impudence to remark that, as it tane nine tailors to mak’ a man, the Grand Marshal, Mr Sina’, sid hae ranged us fifty-four abreast, instead o’ sax, because nine times sax is fifty-four! Did ony body ever hear tell o’ sic nonsense comin’ oot o’ the mooth o’ a man allooed to gang at lairge! My troth! had it no been for the tailors the Procession wad hae been an unco baugh-lookin’ turn-out; so there’s naebody needs to point the finger o’ scorn at us! If the truth daur be said, the tailors were mair admired than ony ither trade or profession there present, for, although at my time o’ life it wad be daft-like to expect ony young quean to fix her admirin’ gaze upon my person, yet there were ithers i’ the squad, Willie Clippins, for instance, an’ mony mair forbye him, wha looked sae smart an’ spruce in thier fashionable attire an’ wi’ their green rosetes stickin’ on the breasts o’ their coats, that I observed on every hand the leddies glowerin’ at them frae the windows an’ platforms as the procession passed alang, juist as if their very teeth had been waterin’. ‘Deed, it’s my humble opinion that John Davidson an’ the ither freend I alluded to are eaten up wi’ envy because the operative tailors carried aff the principal honours o’ the day. Naething grieves some fold sairer than to see their neebors thrivin’, or to hear them weel spoken o’. But I manna tak’ up mair o’ yer time an’ space wi’ the Procession. Continue reading “‘Bodkin on the Opening of the Baxter Park’ (19 September, 1863)”

‘Bodkin in the Baxter Park’ (15 August, 1863)

Baxter Park was officially opened on the 9th of September 1863, and was a significant public event in that year. ‘The Journal’s’ owner John Leng had a singular influence on the creation of the public park as he convinced Sir David Baxter to do something for Dundee where his father (William Baxter) had not [Small, Gordon, The Lengs: Dundee’s Other Publishing Dynasty (Dundee, 2009)].

The opening of the park was to include a large procession of military men, sailors, local guilds,  and the Earl of Dalhousie and Provost of Dundee. Much excitement was also generated by the prospect of the inflation of a large balloon by Henry Coxwell, whom a year earlier had gained fame for his daring ascent into the stratosphere. Unfortunately Coxwell’s balloon had to be cancelled due to the direction of the wind.

The opening of the park played a part in several Tammas Bodkin letters (Editor William Latto’s pseudonym for his satirical columns), which give an insight into this event in Dundee’s history.

Maister Editor,—Bein’ rather slack the ither afternoon, an’ the weather bein’ magnificent, I proposed to Tibbie that we should tak’ a turn ootbye the length o’ the Baxter Park, to get a snifter o’ the caller air, an’ behold the beauties o’ Natur’. As she has never seen the Park sin’ it was sae splendidly daikered oot by Mr Richmod wi’ flowers an’ plants, an’ seats, and sae forth, she was perfectly agreeable—in fact, quite delighted—wi’ the proposal; an’ so awa we gaed, arm in arm, as it is but richt an’ proper that man an’ wife should do when they walk abroad, though I maun needs say there are some o’ my acquaintances wha are no sae exemplary in this particular as they should be —baudin’ their wives trottin’ at their tails, baith to kirk an’ market, in a manner that wadna hae been tolerated in their coortin’ days. Though frae Crinoline Crescent to the Park is by nae means a dreich journey, yet, the day bein’ scorchin’ het, an’ the roads steep, Tibbie was fairly oot o’ breath by the time we reached the eminence at the no’-east corner o’ the Park; an’ so we leant oorsel’s doon on ane o’ the rustic seats whilk Sir David has kindly an’ considerately caused to be placed here ane there for the convenience o’ “feeble age an’ whisperin’ lovers.” Here we had a maist magnificent bird’s-e’e view, not only o’ the Park itsel’, but also o’ the toon, wi’ its forest o’ lang lums vomitin’ furth volumes o’ whitey-broon reek, an’ the surroondin’ country, pleasantly diversified by wud an’ water, heicht an’ howe, farmstead an’ cottar hoosie. Juist under oor noses lay the Park—oor ain Park—for every man, woman, an’ bairn in Dundee, hooever poor an’ despised they may be—though they hae scarce wherewithal to cover their nakedness, or to provide themsel’s wi’ vittles—can say truly—”This Park, wi’ its windin’ walks—its gorgeous flowers—its luxurious summer seats—its splendid pavilion— its smooth-shaven lawns—is mine!” The proudest and wealthiest broad acred squire in the land hasna a better title to his estate than the Dundonians hae to the People’s Park. They are at liberty to wander aboot through its masy wilderness o’ flowers, to roll themselves on the girse, to lounge on the comfortable seats, to promenade under the shade o’ the elegant Pavilion, wi’ nane to mak’ them afraid, sae lang as they dinna transgress the rules o’ guid breedin’, by encroachin’ either wi’ fit or hand on the plots o’ flowers an’ shrubs. Visitors are no permitted to pu’ the flowers, or to handle them, or to ted doon the grund wi’ their feet, but they may look at them as narrowly as they please—the mair narrowly the better, in fact, for the flowers are put there for the very purpose o’ bein’ looked at an’ admired. Hands aff! Looked at a’ thing, but handle naething! that’s the rule o’ the Baxter Park. The flowers are no intended to adorn the button-holes, or beautify the mantel-pieces o’ theftuously-disposed visitors, but to gladden the spot where they grow, to delight the eyes o’ a lang succession o’ curious observers, an’ then, when the angel o’ death spreads his wings on the Autumn winds, an’ goes furth smitin’ the garniture frae the garments o’ Nature, to fault up their wee, laughin’ sweet-scented petals, an’ drap doon into the fosterin’ soil frae whence they derived their summer nourishment. Continue reading “‘Bodkin in the Baxter Park’ (15 August, 1863)”