<i>In The News:</i> Another Transylvania Book Theft, World's Worst Poet at Auction, Abe's Top Ten
McGonagall is best known for his epic poem The Tay Bridge Disaster. This poem celebrated the terrible collapse of a bridge in his hometown with much loss of life. It begins:
Alas! I am very sorry to say,
That ninety lives have been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
You, of course, remember that one. Well here are lines from a few others, not as well known, which were in the current collection. First, there is The Burning of the People's Variety Theatre, Aberdeen:
Twas in the year of 1896, and on the 30th of September,
Which many people in Aberdeen will long remember;
The burning of the People's Variety Theatre, in Bridge Place,
Because the fire spread like lightning at a rapid pace.
That one is kind of reminiscent of the Tay Bridge Disaster. Then, there is this tribute to Glasgow:
'Tis beautiful to see the ships passing to and fro,
Laden with goods for the high and the low,
So let the beautiful city of Glasgow flourish,
And may the inhabitants always find food their bodies to nourish.
However, if you think we are making too much sport of McGonagall, he deserves credit for sentiments ahead of his time, as expressed in this 1884 poem, Women's Suffrage:
Fellow men! why should the lords try to despise
And prohibit women from having the benefit of the parliamentary Franchise?
When they pay the same taxes as you and me
I consider they ought to have the same liberty.
And I consider if they are not allowed the same liberty,
From taxation every one of them should be set free;
And if they are not, it is really very unfair,
And an act of injustice I must solemnly declare.
Space prevents our further publishing of his words, but there were many more equally artistic poems by the prolific poet in this lot, none of which seem to damage the reputation McGonagall established.
One hundred forty-three years after Lee surrendered to Grant, the Civil War claimed yet another victim. If estimates of 618,000 dead are correct, that number can now be raised to 618,001. The latest victim was Sam White who for years searched the Virginia countryside for Civil War relics. Among the items he collected were unexploded shells and cannonballs. He was an expert in dealing with the unspent ammunition, but for some reason, this highly explosive Civil War cannonball detonated while White was restoring it, costing him his life.