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Strangely enough, Glasgow had no monument of Burns until a century had passed from the date of the first publication of his poems. This statue in George Square was erected on the anniversary of his birth in 1877.* It is under the care of the Dennistoun Burns Club, and is by them lovingly decorated on the anniversaries of the great poet’s birth.
We owe it mainly to the efforts of Mr. John Browne, Dr. Hedderwick and ex-Bailie Wilson. Mr. Browne suggested the shilling subscription, which brought in above £2,000 from 400,000 people. Dr. Hedderwick advertised these daily without charge. Ex-Bailie Wilson was a most active member of the committee. They gave the commission to a townsman, the late George Edwin Ewing, sculptor. After study of the portraits of the poet by Nasmyth and Skirving and some of the statues previously erected he produced a model for this in 1874. But after it was cast the sculptor was not satisfied, and requested further delay that he might give to it some improving touches. It was not, therefore, till October, 1876, that the statue was finally cast in bronze by Messrs. Cox & Son, of Thames Ditton, London. It was put in position and unveiled on the 25th January. The occasion was appropriately celebrated. In the forenoon the trades and other societies of the city and district assembled on the Green. They formed into procession, and marched through the principal streets to George Square. Here about 30,000 people had assembled. Lord Houghton, that friend of poets and literary men, above all of our own David Gray, unveiled the statue, and then delivered an oration on the genius of Burns. Bailie Wilson, on behalf of the subscribers, requested Lord Provost Bain to accept of the statue on behalf of the city. To this his lordship acceded, in one of the happiest of his many happy speeches. There was also a banquet in the evening in the Crown Halls, Sauchiehall Street, under the presidency of Lord Houghton.
* For some time after the erection of the tombstone over his grave in St. Michael’s, Dumfries, and before the present inscription was inserted, “ROBERT BURNS” were the only words upon it. During this period, Dr. Rae of Philadelphia, who had been educated in Dumfries, visited his native town. He states that he was at first disappointed that a suitable inscription had been so long delayed, but afterwards, with better discernment, thought further description useless, and pencilled beneath—
“ ‘Burns’ is enough, but if you want the rest
You’ll find it stamped on every Scotchman’s breast.”
We are grateful that the inscription on our statue is simply “Robert Burns.”