‘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)”