The Funeral Lodge for John William Ramsay - 13th Earl of Dalhousie - 22nd December 1887

JWRamsayThe Freemasons of Forfarshire paid a graceful tribute to the memory of their late Brother the Earl of Dalhousie in the Thistle Hall, Dundee, last night. A funeral Lodge under the auspices of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Forfarshire was opened in the hall, when representatives from nearly all the Lodges in the Province attended. Over 250 Brethren were present. The front of the platform and the Grand Master’s desk were draped in black, with bunches of white chrysanthemums placed here and there. The altar was similarly draped and hung with crape. On arriving the brethren were shown to seats in the hall, and at eight o’clock the proceedings began.

At that hour the officials of the Provincial Grand Lodge entered the hall preceded by their sword bearer, and were received by the brethren standing. While the officials were marching up the passage to the platform the “Dead March” in “Saul” was played. In the absence of Brother the Hon. Frank Lyon, Provincial Grand Master, the chair was occupied by Brother James Berry, Depute Provincial Grand Master, who was supported on the right by Brother Clayhills Henderson of Invergowrie, Past Provincial Grand Master; Brother Morton Campbell of Stracathro, Substitute Provincial Grand Master; Brother Provost Anderson, Arbroath, Provincial Grand Secretary; Brother the Rev. James Crabb, Brechin, Provincial Grand Chaplain; Brother Herald, Arbroath, Provincial Grand Treasurer; Brother Lewis, Provincial Grand Jeweller; Brother J.H. Mackay, Provincial Grand Clerk; Brother Kemp, Provincial Grand Sword bearer; brother Buik, Provincial Grand Junior Deacon; Brother Lawson, Provincial Grand Junior Warden; Brother Welch, Provincial grand Bible-bearer. Brother Lowson, Arbroath acted as Senior Warden, and Brother Kinnear fulfilled the duties of Junior Warden. Brother D.P. Herald was Master of Ceremonies, and Brother George acted as Director of Music. Amongst the Brethren in the hall were – Brother Fraenkl, Brother Robert Sinclair Smith, Brother Alexander Fairweather, Brother James Robertson, Brother J. Rattray, Brother Thomas Buik, Brother Beatts, brother Blakeney, Brother Ferguson, Brother Bailey, and brethren from nearly all the Lodges in the Province.

After the Lodge had been duly opened, brother Provost Anderson remarked that Brother the Hon. Frank Lyon, Provincial Grand Master, had expressed to him great regret at not being able to be present that night. On this occasion, if on no other, he should have liked to be amongst the Brethren – (Applause) – but owing to the sudden indisposition of his wife Lady Anne, he (Brother Anderson) thought they would not be surprised that the Grand Master was not present. He might add that the Provincial Grand Master had resolved to visit all the Lodges in the Province on a very early date. (Applause).

Brother Anderson also read a letter of apology from Sir John Ogilvie, in the following terms: -

“Baldovan House, 21st December 1887,

Dear Sir and Brother, You are quite right. I am sorry to say that I shall not be able to be present at the funeral Lodge in memory of our late brother the Earl of Dalhousie, and to which you have been good enough to say the members of Provincial Grand Lodge would like me to come. Will you kindly thank them, and say how very much I regret not being able to be present with them on this occasion, and explain that I have been obliged, for a long time, to give up going out at night, and I am yours fraternally, Bro. James Berry D.P.G.M. 
Signed - John Ogilvie.

Apologies were intimated from the Rev. J.M. Campbell and Professor D’Arcy Thomson. Brother the Rev. James Crabb stated that the Earl of Kintore had also expressed his regret at not being able to attend the Lodge meeting. Personally, as well as Masonically, his Lordship should have very much liked to show his respect to the memory of the late Earl by attending the meeting. (Applause)

THE CHAIRMAN then said: -

We are met this evening to hold a Funeral Lodge in memory of the late Lord Dalhousie. My duty tonight, in the absence of your Provincial Grand Master for Scotland, is to conduct the evenings proceedings, so as to be worthy of our ancient craft and to show to the outer world how dearly we loved and how deeply we respected our departed Brother. (Applause).

When a Brother is called away – mature in years, and of accomplished fame – our regrets are softened by the consideration that he has run the appointed course of man, that he has played his allotted part for the benefit of his fellow creatures, and that his portrait is hung as it were in the gallery of time. But we have no such earthly consolation in this instance. Here we have the bright morning which gave us promise of the glorious day ; here we have the youthful enthusiasm which betoken a wise maturity; we had the kindly heart which bespoke the lasting friend; we had the open hand which is born of charity; we had the clear and beaming eye which was lighted by the inward touch of honour. (Applause) Others no doubt there are endowed with gifts as noble, but whose energies are too often chided, and whose impulses are too often deadened in the deepest conflict of life, who have no time to regard, even for a moment the struggles of their fellow men, least in that very moment of regard some of the thousand billows may take them at unawares and seep them down the depths of ruin. It was not so with our departed Brother. High in position, richly endowed with worldly wealth, he had the power and the will to devote his time and his talents to the services of his country. But it was not to be, and we can only bow in humble submission to the Heavenly hand that was stretched forth to remove him in all his early promise to the Grand Lodge on high. We bow in humble submission before the omniscient God, who has seen fit, for a purpose unknown to us but known to Him, to remove our well beloved Brother and to leave us here for a little while to mourn. We are human, and mourn we must; but we are Christians an we are Masons too, and the cloud of our mourning is fringed by the rays of the sun of our promise (Applause)

The brethren the sang the beautiful hymn commencing –
Sweet is the scene when virtue dies!
When sinks a righteous soul to rest;
How mildly beam the closing eyes
How gently heaves the expiring breast!

Prayer was then engaged in by the Grand Chaplain, after which services with responses preceded and followed by grand honours, were engaged in. The Hymn beginning “Days and moments quickly flying” was afterwards sung, and again a service with responses was engaged in by the brethren, finishing with grand honours. The beautiful hymn commencing “Brief life is here our portion” was then sung, after which.

Delivered the following oration. He said – the task which has this evening been imposed upon me by virtue of my position and by command of the Grand Lodge of Scotland is at once a sad duty and a welcome chance. Apart altogether from the sorrow which I share with you and others as, I think, of the public loss entailed upon the Craft and County by the departure  of our late Past Grand Master, there are mingled in my cup of woe many griefs of a private and personal character. These all combine to render the service in which we are engaged peculiarly painful to me, and vividly recall the hour when I stood by the grave of our lamented brother and his noble wife, and mid the sobs and tears of a sympathising crowd committed their bodies to the keeping of mother earth and their souls and spirits to God. I never performed such a service before, and I sincerely trust I may never be called upon to do it again. I have already in my pulpit paid my little tribute of respect and esteem to the memory of Lord and Lady Dalhousie, I am glad of the opportunity of repeating o a larger and more varied audience my sense of their worth and my regret at the loss of their kindly presence and generous aid in all good works. Tonight I bring another wreath – poor and small, and mean it may be – but it is the genuine outcome of my brain, the willing testimony of my heart, the work of my own hand and pen. (Applause.)
Tonight I will say something of Lord Dalhousie as a Mason. His connection with the Craft in Forfarshire was too short to allow of the full benefit of his influence and his example being felt all over the Province. But he was long enough among us to prove conclusively that he was as thorough and zealous in his efforts to advance the cause of Freemasonry as he was in everything else he undertook. No man could have wielded the sceptre of the past Grand Master with more tact, kindliness or firmness than Lord Dalhousie. Only on Wednesday night on a public platform in Brechin, I heard a gentleman say that the departed Earl had raised the whole tone not only of the landlords in Forfarshire, but of every class of person brought under the magic influence of his bright example (Applause.) He certainly gave and upward impetus to our Province, which is still felt and will, I trust, be even more apparent in the coming by and by. It was through no fault of his, through no selfish desire to shirk his duty or to get rid of a troublesome business that he severed his closer connection with the craft here. The calls of his country and of his extensive estates compelled him to relinquish his post as Grand Master and to exchange its lighter burdens and genial pleasures for the heavier load of politics – the strife and din and bustle of party life, with its incessant worries and vexations. He is now free from all these and we are left to lament his loss and to bear our share of life’s burdens and sorrows and sins. Not with a few unavailing tears and bitter lamentations, then, do we tonight dwell on the memory of our departed brother, but with thankful hearts for his great and good example, and with strong and assured hopes of meeting him again in the Temple above, and of dwelling there for ever and ever with all the ransomed and redeemed of God. (Applause.)
The anthem “Blessed are the dead” was played, service with responses was engaged in, followed by the offering up of prayer by the Grand Chaplain, and the brethren then sang the hymn “Abide with me; fast falls the eventide.”

Brother Clayhills Henderson then delivered the following oration: - Brethren I should like to pay a small tribute to our late brother. Lord Dalhousie was a thoroughly good man. Whatever he thought and whatever he meant he always said it, and, more than that, he always meant what he said. (Applause.) I should like to go back a little in the life of the Earl of Dalhousie and refer to him when I first knew his as Jock Ramsay. No man was more thoroughly appreciated in the Navy than young Ramsay. He was a brave fellow struggling for a living, without a penny to bless himself with. He worked hard, and he went to pass his examinations. He passed his examinations, not merely with credit, but with nearly the maximum number of marks. (Applause.) After referring to the late Earl’s career in the Navy and his marriage, Brother Henderson said – having other claims upon him, he retired from the navy and devoted himself most thoroughly and entirely to political life. There was scarcely a person in Dundee who did not know of his campaign in Liverpool, how thoroughly he threw himself into the cause he espoused, and how loyally the people of Liverpool responded and sent to Parliament as one of their representatives. (Applause.) He resigned the representation of Liverpool on the death of his father, and succeeded to the honours of the upper house. (Applause.) Property is a great trust, but you know that as long as Lord Dalhousie held that trust he was true, honest and straightforward. If there was any man who had anything to say, he could met Lord Dalhousie and have it out with him, and his Lordship would give every reason that a man could give another. (Applause.)
I do not think that anyone could pay a greater tribute to a man than to say that he is honest, and that he will give every consideration for another man’s opinions, whatever these might be. (Applause.) I had the honour of Lord Dalhousie’s personal acquaintance. In September last year, when his Lordship was leaving the district, he spoke to me. He addressed a few words to me which I shall not repeat here, which I shall not readily forget; and I hope that no one in this room will ever forget honest Jock Ramsay. (Loud Applause.)

THE CHAIRMAN said: - before closing the Lodge, I am sure you will agree with me that we are much indebted to the brethren who have honoured us with their presence here tonight. (Applause.) I may mention that there are present six brethren who have come all the way from Lochlee to attend our meeting, and this, I think, in itself shows the great regard, which was felt by our late brother by all his tenants. (Applause.)
After the singing of the National Anthem, the Grand Chaplain pronounced the benediction. The proceedings, which were of a very impressive character, then terminated.

©Transcribed by Iain D. McIntosh, 2014

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