A little ode from the late Jocky Reid, Lodge Thorntree`s past Bard, a fitting start to our Burns section.
Thorntree Mystic Burns Club No. 740 in the Burns Federation, joined the federation in 1952 and registered 65 members. The first President was William Allan with David Ostler as Secretary.
The first initial meeting of the Thorntree Mystic Burns Club was held in the Gothenburg in Prestonpans on the 30th November 1948 (St Andrews Day) 4 years before joining the Federation. The records show that that at the first Burns supper, 51 supper tickets at 5 shillings each were sold.
The collection took 12 shillings which was donated to local schools for prizes for Burns competitions within the schools.
In the past years there has been many notable Members who have worked to keep the Thorntree Mystic Burns Club going, namely Andrew Muir, Bob Hooker, John Burns, Biddy Nisbet, Colin Campbell Jocky Reid (Bard), Willie Davie,(Bard) Cliff Parr who donated most of the past Presidents Jewels and not forgetting George Wilkie, past President and Bard.
The Mystic Club No. 740 takes pride of place on our website band is worth taking a look.
Robert Burns was initiated as an Entered Apprentice in Lodge St. David, Tarbolton on 4 July 1781, at the age of 23. His initiation fee was 12s 6d, and paid on the same date.
The Master’s Apron
Ther’s mony a badge that’s unco braw;
Wi’ ribbon, lace and tape on;
Let kings an’ princes wear them a’ —
Gie me the Master’s apron!
The honest craftsman’s apron, The jolly Freemason’s apron, Be he at hame, or roam afar, Before his touch fa’s bolt and bar, The gates of fortune fly ajar, `Gin he but wears the apron!
For wealth and honor, pride and power Are crumbling stanes to base on; Eternity suld rule the hour, And ilka worthy Mason! Each Free Accepted Mason, Each Ancient Crafted Mason.
Then, brithers, let a halesome sang Arise your friendly ranks alang! Guidwives and bairnies blithely sing To the ancient badge wi’ the apron string That is worn by the Master Mason!
Burns came into the lodge amidst a controversy. Originally, there had been only one lodge in Tarbolton, chartered in 1771 from the Kilwinning Lodge, which is said to be the oldest lodge in the world. In 1773, a group broke away from the lodge, forming Lodge St. David No. 174, and the original lodge became St. James Tarbolton Kilwinning No. 178, only to be reunited in 1781, 9 days before Burns’s first degree.
Ye Sons of Old Killie
Ye sons of Auld Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I’ve little to say, but only to pray,
As praying’s the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from the muse you well may excuse,
`Tis seldom her favorite passion.
Ye powers who preside o’er the wind and the tide, Who marked each element’s border, Who formed this frame with beneficent aim Whose sovereign statute is order, Within this dear mansion may wayward contention, Or withered Envy ne’er enter, May secrecy round be the mystical bound And brotherly love be the center.
However, while St. James was clearly the older of the two lodges, St. David’s name was used, and the seeds were sown for further dissension. Burns in the meantime was passed to the degree of fellow of craft, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on 1st October 1781. The Lodge record book, according to James MacKay’s “Burns” reads as follows:Robert Burns in Lochly was passed and raised, Henry Cowan being Master, James Humphrey the Senior Warden, and Alex Smith the Junior, Robert Woodrow, Secretary, and James Manson the Treasurer with John Tannock as Tyler, other brethren being present.
Invitation to a Medical Gentleman To attend a Masonic Anniversary Evening
St. James Masonic lodge was wont to meet in the small backroom of a cottage-like place of entertainment at Mauchline, kept by a person of the name of Manson. On the approach of St John’s day, the 24th of June, Burns sent the following rhymed note on the subject to his medical friend, Mr. Mackenzie, with whom, it seems, he had just had some controversy on the subject of morals:-
By our Right Worshipful anointed
To hold our grand procession
To get a blade o` Johnny`s morals
And taste a swatch o` Mansons barrels
I` the way of our profession,
Our Master and the Brotherhood
Wad a` be glad to see you,
For me I would be mair than proud
To share the mercies wi` you
If death, then, wi` skaith, then
Some mortal heart is hechtin`
Inform him, and storm him,
that Saturday ye`ll fecht him.
Burns went with Lodge St. James, and on 27 July 1784, he was elected “Depute Master” of the lodge at the ripe young age of 25. Sir John Witeford was the Worshipful Master of the lodge, but it was somewhat of an honorary position, and the Depute Master in reality was in charge.
Burns was faithful to the lodge, attending regularly and 3 minutes were in his handwriting; 29 minutes were signed by him and also show when he changed his name; originally, his father spelled the last name “Burness”; before 1786, Robert spelled it the same way. On 1 March 1786, Robert’s brother Gilbert received his 2nd and 3rd degrees; both Gilbert and Robert signed their last names as “Burns
Adieu, A Heart-Warm, Fond Adieu
Adieu, a heart warm, fond adieu,
Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
Ye favored, ye enlightened few,
Companions of my social joy!
Tho’ I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing fortune’s slidd’ry ba’,
With melting heart and brimful eye,
I’ll mind you still, though far awa’.
Oft have I met your social band, An’ spent the cheerful, festive night; Oft, honored with supreme command, Presided o’er the sons of light; And by that Hieroglyphic bright, Which none but Craftsmen ever saw, Strong memory on my heart shall write Those happy scenes, when far awa’.
May freedom, harmony and love Unite you in the grand design, Beneath th’ omniscient Eye above, The glorious Architect divine; That you may keep the unerring line, Still rising by the plummet’s law, Till order bright completely shine, Shall be my prayer when far awa’.
And you farewell, whose merits claim Justly that highest badge to wear, Heaven bless your honored, noble name, To Masonry and Scotia dear! A last request, permit me here; When yearly ye assemble a’, One round, — I ask it with a tear To him, the Bard, that’s far awa’.
Burns was exalted a companion in the Holy Royal Arch Degree in May 1787 at St. Ebbe’s Lodge, Eyemouth. The companions unanimously agreed to admit Burns without paying the necessary fees, as they were greatly honoured to have such a great poet and man like Burns as part of their chapter. When Burns moved to Dumfries, he joined Lodge St. Andrew on St. John’s Day, 1788, and once again, showed a great enthusiasm for his lodge. In 1792, he was elected Senior Warden and served a one-year term. This was the last Masonic office he held before his death in 1796. He was 37 years old.
Presentation of the Pillars
Long may this Lodge in prosperity shine
And its members still vie with each other
In spreading the light of our order divine
And relieving the wants of a brother.
May envy and malice ne’er enter that door That is aye closely tyled to the cowan But peace, love and harmony aye be in store More abundant the older you’re growing.
May our Master who presides like the Masters of old In wisdom excel and astonish May he never be heard erring brothers to scold But with brotherly love aye admonish.
May our Warden in the West, like the sun’s setting rays Illumine the golden horizon May his strength never fail with the burden of days But increase every moment that flies on.
And to our Warden in the South, like the beauty of day May he gladden the worn, tired and weary Inspire with his smiles as they rest by the way The toilers, and make them feel cheery.
And to you whom our Master is honoured to rule and instruct Be ye always sober and steady Expert in the use of each working tool And aye hae them handy and ready.
Thus will the Temple we seek to upraise Be completed when all do their duty And our voices unite in a chorus of praise To Wisdom, to Strength and to Beauty
The Prestonpans Plate-Fy
Facts and Fantasies in Rhyme by David F. Manclark
I was invited to the annual “Burns Supper” at Prestonpans and thoroughly enjoyed myself, (as I do at all Burns nights) but the thing that left a lasting impression on me, was the meal. It had me spread-eagled on my chair “Blawin` for the Tugs”. The speakers and the artists were excellent, and the hospitality tremendous, what you might term a “Rare Nicht”.
I was asked to the “Mystic Burns Supper”
Held at the Thorntree Hall
A night I’ll always remember
A night I’ll always recall
I’ve supped at many a table
Wi` a` the `cleeks an` the clans`
But they a` take the second o` prizes
Tae that plate-fy at Auld Prestonpans
Steak pie, tatties, and tumshie
The Haggis, it lay there in state
A crusty brown pastry and gravy
Smothered the Prestonpans plate
Muckin` in tae that braw Scottish dinner
Not a trace did I leave there in sight
Then the buttons popped o` my waistcoat
As up swoll` my overfilled kyte
Let them talk o` their goulash and Chinese
Zipped up in their dry tasteless flans
But gie me that man-sized heap `Plate-fy`
That they serve doon in Auld Prestonpans
Tae a` you Burns lovers at `Thorntree`
I’ll aye stand clappin` my hands
For a night I’ll always remember
The “Burns Night” at Auld Prestonpans
The Fornicator’s court (Libel Summons)
A bawdy poem by Robert Burns
The Fornicator’s Court, which was probably written in 1786, was found in Sir Walter Scott’s private library at Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders.
The Fornicators Court is a humorously satirical account of the disciplinary practices of the 18th century Presbyterian Kirk, particularly as they refer to sexual shenanigans. As an adulterer and begetter of illegitimate children, Burns was no stranger to the quasi-legal and sometimes hypocritical and voyeuristic processes of the Kirk and the Kirk Session.
IN truth and honour’s name.—Amen. Know all men by these presents plain, The fourth of June, at Mauchline given, The year ‘tween eighty five and seven; We Fornicators by profession, As by extraction from each session, In way and manner here narrated, Pro bono amor congregated, Are by our brethren constituted, A court of equity deputed: With special authoriz’d direction, To take beneath our strict inspection, The stays unlacing quondam maiden, With growing life, and anguish laden, Who by the rascal is denied, That led her thoughtless steps aside; The wretch who can refuse assistance, To them whom he has given existence, The coof who stands on clish ma claver, When lasses haflins offer favour; All who in ony way and manner, Disdain the Fornicators honour, We take cognizance there anent, The proper judges competent.
First, poet BURNS he takes the chair, Allow’d by all his title’s fair, And pass’d nem con without dissention, He has a duplicate pretension. Next merchant Smith, our worthy fiscal, To cow each pertinacious rascal, In this as every other state, His merit is conspicuous great. Richmond, the third, our worthy clerk, Our minutes regular to mark, A fit dispenser of the law, In absence of the ither twa. And fourth, our messenger at arms, When failing a’ the milder terms;— Hunter, a willing hearty brither, Weel skill’d in dead and living leather. Without preamble, less or mair said, We body politic aforesaid, Wi’ legal due whereas, and wherefore, Are thus appointed here to care for, At the instance of our constituents, To punish contraversing truants; Keeping a proper regulation, Within the lists of Fornication.
Then, first, our fiscal by petition Informs us, there is strong suspicion That Coachman Dow, and Clocky Brown, Baith residenters in this town; In other words, you Jock and Sandy, Hae been at warks of Houghmagandy, And now when facts are come to light, The matter ye deny outright.
First, Clocky Brown, there’s witness borne, And affidavit made and sworn, Ae evening of the Mauchline fair, That Jeanie’s masts there were seen bare, For ye had furl’d up her sails, And was at play at heads and tails; That ye hae made a hurly burly, About Jean Mitchell’s tirly whorly; That ye here pendulum tried to alter, And grizzled at her regulator; And further still, ye cruel vandal, A tale might even in hell be scandal; That ye hae made repeated trials, Wi’ dregs and drugs, in doctor’s vials, Just as ye thought, wi’ full infusion, Your ain begotten wean to poison; An’ yet ye are sae scant o’ grace, As dared to lift your brazen face, And offered to gie your aith, Ye never lifted Jeanie’s claith.
Next, Sandy Dow, ye are indicted, To hae as publicly been wyted, For clandestinely upward whorlan, The petticoats o’ Maggy Borland, An’ gae her cannister a rattle, That months to come it winna settle, And yet ye rascal ye protest, Ye never herried Maggy’s nest, Tho’ it’s weel ken’d, that at her gavel, Ye hae gi’en mony a ketch an’ kavel.
Then, Brown an’ Dow, above design’d, For clags an’ claims therein subjoin’d, The court aforesaid, cite and summon, That on the fourth of July cumin’, The hour of cause, at our court ha’ At Whiteford’s arms, ye’ll answer a’; Exculpate proof ye needna bring, For we’ve due notice o’ the thing, But as reluctantly we punish, And rather mildly would admonish, We for that ancient secret sake, You have the honour to partake, An’ for that noble badge you wear,— You, Sandy Dow, our brother dear, We give you as a man an’ mason, This serious, sober, friendly lesson, Your crime a manly deed we verit, As man alone can only do it; But in denial persevering, Is to a scoundrel’s name adhering; Far best confess, and join our core, As be reproach’d for ever more; The best o’ men hae been surpris’d, The dousest women been advis’d, The cleverest lads hae had a trick o’t, The bonniest lasses ta’en a lick o’t; Kings hae been proud our name to own, The brightest jewel in their crown; The rhyming sons o’ bleak Parnassus, Were ay red wood about the lasses, And saul and body, all would venture, Rejoicing in our list to enter; E’en (wha wad trow’t,) the cleric order, Aft slyly break the hallow’d border, An’ show in proper time an’ place, They are as ascant o’ boasted grace, As ony o’ the human race. Then, brother Dow, be not asham’d, In sic a quorum to be nam’d, But lift a dauntless brow upon it, An’ say I am the man has done it,— I, Sandy Dow, got Meg wi’ bairn, An’ fit to do as much again.
For you, John Brown, we gie ye notice, So deep, so great, so black, your faut is, Without ye by a quick repentance, Acknowledge your’s and Jean’s acquaintance, Remember this shall be your sentence:—
Our Beagles to the cross shall tak’ ye, And there shall mither naked mak’ ye; A rape they round the rump shall tak’, An’ tye your hands behind your back, Wi’ joost an ell o’ string allow’d, To jink and hid ye frae the crowd; Then shall ye stand a lawfu’ seizure, Induring Jeanine Mitchell’s pleasure, So be her pleasure don’t surpass, Five turnings o’ a hauf hour glass; Nor shall it in her pleasure be, To turn you loose in less then three. This our futurum esse decreet, We mean not to be kept a secret, But in our summons here insert it, And whoso dare let him subvert it; This mark’d above, the date and place is, Sigillum est, per Burns the preses; This summons wi’ the signet mark, Extractum est, per Richmond clerk; At Mauchline idem, date of June, ‘Tween four an’ five i’ the afternoon, You twa in propria personæ, Before design’d, Sandy and Johnny, This summons legally you’ve got, As vide witness under wrote, Within the house of John Dow, vintner, Nunc facia hog Gulielmus Hunter.
Adulterous sexual intercourse.
It’s a rare word these days, but as it has a grand sound — and it is of such universal application — perhaps somebody should begin a campaign to restore it to common usage. One well-known appearance is in Vladimir Nabokov’s book Pale Fire: “She would have preferred him to have gone through a bit of wholesome houghmagandy with the wench”. We do know the word was originally Scots, as the guttural gh indicates. The first part is the same word as hock, the joint in a four-legged animal that matches the human ankle, sometimes still spelt that way (as in the Scots’ hough soup). It can also refer to the hollow part behind the human knee joint (didn’t you always want a word for it? Actually it’s better known to medicine as the popliteal area) as well as the nearby thigh. The second element of the word is problematic; it could be from canty, a Scots and northern English dialect adjective for someone who is lively or cheerful, or perhaps active or brisk. So, a bit of active thigh work — you can see how the word could have arisen. There seems to be no link with the similar-sounding but obsolete Australian word for a thin and unpalatable stew, hashmagandy, which comes from salmagundi.