Table of Contents
Most of Bruce's poems in this collection are about Poets more than Freemasonry. Two poems (the first one short, the second very long) are placed first because many name and strange words appear, and they are well notated (at least, the ones we could figure out). Some of the names highlighted have 2 or 3 notes, appearing thus when moused over. Notes will be used sparingly through the rest of this book.
The Table Round
"Who draws this sword from out this stone
Shall rule the realm from sea to sea," —
In lettered gold the legend shone
Well-wrought by Merlin's prophecy.
Brave lords and knights encircled stand
To wield the blade of magic might,
But none of all the noble band
Could loose it from the marble white.
Then Arthur came with modest grace
And drew it forth — the king was found,
Prophet of freedom to the race
And founder of the Table Round.
Long ages pass — the Table Round
Had other knights well known to fame;
No single realm their sway could bound,
The world revered each honoured name.
And Scott who led the minstrel choir,
Sat round the board with Alison.
An heirloom in the centre stood
With quaint device: "Who draws this quill
From out this font of ebon-wood
Shall rule all hearts and realms at will."
Then rose each knight of noble name,
In loving gage gave jewelled ring;
At their behest Sir Walter came
And took the quill — our Wizard King.
This poem on the Ettrick Shepherd was written at the request of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, on my return from a trip up the Yarrow to St Mary's Loch. Tibbie Shiel's Inn was all the dearer to me as Poet-Laureate of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, because here foregathered on many a night James Hogg and Christopher North, poetic links connecting the present and the past.
The Ettrick Shepherd
Poet-Laureate Lodge Canongate Kilwinning
Hail, Canongate Kilwinning, hail
Your Laureate bard frae Ettrick dale!
Pledge lang and deep wi' three times three
The chief of fairy minstrelsie!
Wi' shepherd plaid o'er shoulder thrown,
Erect, though sixty years have flown!
Gie us your hand and hang your crook
Right here within the organ's nook.
Wi' ruddy cheek as when of old
Foregathering at the "Noctes" fold!
And see! that e'e o' dancing glee
Proclaims a "night" that bears the gree.
Kit North, forsooth, or Aytoun there
Will tak' again the honoured chair;
Spread wide the board! "Ambrosian" food
Shall grace the bard of Holyrood.
We call wi' pride each storied name,—
The sacred beadroll of our fame;
Come one and all; we'll hae a "wake"
To make the old Tron steeple shake.
Don't startle at the Tyler's knock,
You're safe as at St Mary's Loch;—
You mind when first you saw the light
And gazed upon yon legend bright;—
And when we had you "rigged" at last,
Wi' "baubles" all behind you cast,
You said before the "work" began:—
"Noo, mind, lads, I'm a married man."
Dear Jamie Hogg, you couldna said
A funnier thing since you were wed;
Those words throughout all Scotland went,—
And masons wondered what you meant.
But let it pass. The days are lang
Since we have heard the Shepherd's sang;
The richest folds at Altrive yet
Are fleecy clouds in purple set.
Bright glorious days among the hills!
Thy books a thousand dancing rills!
Brave nights of mirth as genius speels
And "tak's the road" to Tibbie Shiel's.
Where old-time song and jest went round,
And rafters rang with merry sound;
All silent now! Nay! fair and free
Swells forth the Border Minstrelsie.
So, gie us a ballad again to-night;—
How witches flew o'er the sea-foam white;
Your midnight ride with the "Witch of Fife,"
A buxom dame and a sonsie wife:
Who led her "gudeman" many a mile
To the Bishop's casks of Merry Carlisle;
And left him there, until rosy morn
Found him asleep wi' an empty horn.
"A modest tale, by my fay," said North,
"It beats the 'Brig' across the Forth,
On a flying stick to skirl away,
Like comets lost in the morning grey.
It makes one think that the 'Lion' there
May drink some day of Loch Katrine fair,
Springing away from the solid ground
To the hills of Fife wi' a single bound.
Perchance upborne on loftier flight,
Till yonder Crags are bathed in light,
Or bright Orion's race is run,
We'll join the 'Pilgrims of the Sun.'"
"Well said, Kit North, your wit is fine,
Suppose you suggest a shorter line;
If Jamie once gets under way,
He'll never ken the blink o' day.
We'll join his 'Pilgrims of the Sun'
When we our mortal race have run;"—
Thus Aytoun spoke, and Lockhart smiled
To find the "Sun" securely "tiled."
Then Boswell thought his good "Queen Hynde"
Might hae a chance to free her mind;
But Willie Hay set all ableeze:—
"Too near your trip to the 'Hebrides.'"
All took a part till Jamie turns
Wi' twinkling eye to Robbie Burns:
"Perhaps they want a photograph
That didn't make the 'critics' laugh.
All in 'Poetic Mirror' there,
The very garb they used to wear;—
Byron and Wordsworth, Southey, Scott,
At home within a shepherd's cot."
"Ay," answered Burns, "but the cot is wide
That shelters the fairies of Ettrick side;—
And grander than castle its but and ben,
Where 'Bonnie Kilmeny gaed up the glen.'
No foot of earth but a standing-place
Yet the poet's eye has heaven for space,
And a fairy realm where thought is free,
And 'Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.'
And this was her home, and this is thine,
As the years their threads of glory untwine;
For the vale she beheld is the Yarrow still,
And the music she heard the tinkling rill;
And the sky she noted of thousand dyes
The morning that broke on the Shepherd's eyes,
And the land of 'lakes and mountains grey'
That soft in vision before her lay,
Was an open book where the poet wrought
A wondrous realm, a realm of thought —
A world so pure, with voices clear
'Kilmeny' and he alone might hear.
Immortal with her the poet dwells
In Ettrick's and Yarrow's dowie dells,
'Till the stars of heaven fall calmly away
Like flakes of snaw on a winter day.'"
So spake the lad frae bonnie Ayr:
"Kilmeny!" "Kilmeny!" was echoed there,
As the Shepherd rose to the hearty call,
And bound all hearts in loving thrall.
The golden hours are wellnigh flown,
But gie us a song that girds every zone,
Each "valley and glen and dell without name:"—
"To woo a bonnie lassie when the kye comes hame."
Ay, that is the human, my brother, you see,
"Kilmeny" is sweet, but the "lassie" for me;
Your "Bird of the wilderness," brightest e'er born,
"Blithesome and cumberless," wakens the morn;
Immortal while Yarrow wi' melody wide
Bestows on the Ettrick its silvery tide;
While Ettrick flows on to the Tweed and the sea
That "Skylark" shall wake distant meadow and lea;
O'er far-away mountains its music is borne
To desolate hearts aweary and worn;
To meadows and streams where the wanderer turns
And dreams for a moment of Scotia's burns.
Immortal! Ah yes, the "Skylark" I know;
Immortal "Kilmeny," with heart pure as snow;
But teach me, said Kit, what is dearer than fame,—
"To woo a bonnie lassie when the kye comes hame."
A brave lesson, Jamie, we know it by heart,
But gie us another, for brothers must part;
Ay, teach us but this, for the east is aflame,
To win a hearty welcome when we a' get hame.
from Here's A Hand.
The Old Organ (1754)
Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh
Gae sit beside the organ there,
And touch the guid auld keys;
We want a dear familiar air,
And "Scotland Yet" will please:
A noble song our hearts to greet
From out the hallowed years,
An offering meet with music sweet
That fills the eyes with tears;
For love is strong though time is fleet,
And love alone endears.
Ay, fond and full the swelling notes,
The pipes with rapture glow,
As vague and shadowy memory floats
From out the long ago:
The golden reeds can ne'er forget
The nights so fair and free,
When brothers met and "Scotland Yet"
Rang out with hearty glee;
For love alone has no regret,
And love is throned in thee.
The pictured walls bend low to hear
The tender anthem rise:
A gentle moisture, like a tear,
Bedews that worthy's eyes;
Old "Scotland Yet" — the only air
To wake the silent fold —
Our chief St. Clair and Drummond there
Seem nearer than of old;
For love is still the only prayer
That warms the lips when cold.
Ah, brothers, who have gone before
Across the silent sea,
Remembered still for evermore,
We raise our song to thee;
And, in some lull of harmony,
When pearly gates swing wide,
"My Ain Countrie," still dear to thee,
And "Scotland Yet," beside,
Will lead in sacred psalmody
Where love shall aye abide.
Then once again a ringing cheer
And pledge from every heart
To Canongate Kilwinning dear,
Ere friends and brothers part;
A health to all on shore or sea
Who love the sacred fount,
Where'er they be, frae Ettrick free
To Shasta's silver mount —
Old "Scotland Yet," with honors three,
Up all! count, wardens, count!
Hark to the echo of the strain;
The cable-tow is strong;
Alaska answers the refrain
Which India's skies prolong:
To brothers near and brothers far
The hailing-sign is cast,
And sceptre-bar or jewel-spar
Cannot that word outlast;
From Southern Cross to Northern Star
The bond of love is fast.
So sit beside the organ there
And touch the guid auld keys,
A golden hour we'll blithely share,
And "Scotland Yet" will please.
Sing of her lakes and quiet dells
Close-fondled by the sea;
Each hill that swells with glory tells
The story of the free;
While broom and whin and heather-bells
Respond with three times three.
Scott's Greeting To Burns
Scene — Unveiling of a new statue in Central Park, New York, 1880. The three Statues of Burns, Shakespeare, and Scott are near together.
We greet you, Robie, here to-night,
Beneath these stars so pure and bright;
We greet you, poet, come at last
With "Will" and me your lot to cast.
We've talked about you many a day,
And wondered when you'd be this way.
Reach out your hand, and gie 's a shake
Just ance, for auld acquaintance' sake.
We welcome you from Scotia's land,
And reach to you a brither's hand;
A kindred soul to greet you turns—
Will Shakespeare, this is Robie Burns.
We've sung your songs here many a night
Till that dear star is lost in light,
And Willie says the lines you wrote
Will even do for him to quote.
He likes your verses wondrous weel,
And says you are a glorious chiel;
In fact, the only one that knows
The space 'twixt poetry and prose.
O Robie, if we had a plaid,
We'd quite convert yon Stratford lad.
He said, in truth, but yester-morn,
"I'm Scotch in wit,though English born;
"And, Walter, it may yet appear
That Scotland takes in Warwickshire.
Let Avon be the border line,
Blot out the Tweed, or draw it fine."
So, Willie, brew your peck o' maut,
And set the board wi' Attic saut,
For Rob has come at last, you see—
We were a pair, but now we're three.
We need nae ither comrade now,
No modern bard o' classic brow;
'Tis lang before anither man
Will be admitted to our clan.
In stormy nights 'twas lonesome here
When "Will" recited half o' "Lear;"
But now he quotes O'Shanter's tale
In thunder, lightning, and in hail,
And says his witches can't compare
With those that chased O'Shanter's mare.
He's even learned your "De'il Address,"
To quote some night for good Queen Bess,
For, Robie, this is haunted ground,
Where spirits keep their nightly round,
And when the witchin' hour is near
You'll see strange beings gather here.
I saw Queen Bess the other night
Beside him, clad in vesture bright,
While kings, and queens, a noble throng,
In dim procession passed along;
And walls seemed rising from the earth,
Like Leicester's tower at Kenilworth;
And all the pageant that went there
Seemed floating in the moonlit air.
Ay, beauty, jealousy, and pride,
In Dudley's halls walked side by side,
While Amy Robsart seemed to stand
With fair Ophelia, hand in hand.
And, Robie, what a vision came
As Willie whispered Ariel's name!
The towers dissolved, and round him drew
The stately, gentle, fair, and true—
Miranda, Juliet, Imogen,
Hermione, and Katherine,
While Rosalind among them stood —
The sunlight of sweet Arden's wood.
'Twere long to pass them in review,
For still the circle wider grew,
Until the airy vision bright
Was lost at last in liquid light.
So let me whisper in your ear,
Ne'er to tell what passes here.
There'll be a grand reception soon
To greet the lad frae Bonnie Doon.
We'll gather up the jolliest crew —
Falstaff, Prince Hal, and Rhoderick Dhu;
And "a' the rantin' brither Scots
Frae Maiden Kirk tae John O' Groat's."
So, Robie, mak' yoursel' at home,
'Mang friends and brithers you have come,
And here's a land that's quite as fair
As that between the Doon and Ayr.
A land that glories in its youth,
That owns no creed but living truth,
Where "pith o' sense and pride o' worth"
A refuge find frae rank and birth;
A land that's made your verses real,
Whose guinea-stamp is honor's seal;
Ay, Robie, here they've quite forgot
To write the "Sir" — just Walter Scott.
And here your songs will ever ring
Through a' the years the centuries bring,
Till all are free, and every sea
Shall know nae shore but liberty.
Lines on the occasion of presenting a facsimile of the Declaration Of Independence to Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh.
With Hearty Grasp
Once more within these hallowed walls
We celebrate our Laureate dear,
Whose genius all the world enthralls,
Whose love awakens festal cheer:
For here the peasant ploughman stood,
With daisies from the banks of Ayr
To make this spot a Holy Rood,—
An altar for each brother's prayer.
But what shall one from o'er the sea
With honour bring as offering meet;
What voice or word from them to thee
Which every heart will fondly greet:
What theme shall young Columbia bear
To swell the chorus of your song?
Well, "Here's a hand, my trusty fier"
With words that to the tune belong.
Words born of Magna Charta brave,
Along the banks of Runnymede:
At Bannockburn, where freemen gave
A bonnie cast to freedom's seed;
Conceived at far-off Marathon,
At Salamis, Thermopylæ;
Crowned in the heart of Washington,
The noblest product of the free.
Words that inspired the grandest strain
Which ever thrilled the onward van,
Soul-stirring notes in symbols plain,
Life's lofty creed,—"A man's a man;"
Ay, Robbie Burns, that song of thine
Narrows the seas and girds the world,
And makes these walls a sacred shrine,
Where faith and love shall be unfurled.
So take the page your children wrote,
A common pride is yours and theirs,
Parents their children fondly quote,
And weel-bred bairns their ain forebears;
Love's cable-tow for evermore
Binds gallant sire and sturdy son
With hearty grasp from shore to shore,
For Robert Burns and Washington.
from Here's A Hand.
Anniversary Of Robert Burns
(At Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, January 25, 1890)
Again Kilwinning's hearth grows wide,
The tessellated floor is bright;
A mother's heart with loving pride
Salutes her honored Sons of Light.
They gather from the banks of Ayr,
Frae Ettrick, Yarrow, and the Tay,
A golden hour of love to share.
To crown with joy the natal day
Of bard and poet lowly born
To teach the brotherhood of man,
With skylark lilt of early morn,
And notes that thrill the patriot's van;
With swelling song and living truth,
From hearts of fire and tongues of flame,
Fast binding in eternal youth
Proud Scotia's Pleiades of Fame.
They come — a galaxy of cheer
In answer to the festal call:
Loved Willie Hay to memory dear.
And Lockhart of the Minstrel Hall:
Aytoun and Stewart, Boswell. Blair.
Kit North — the master of the feast -
The Shepherd, and the Lad from Ayr
Whose songs unite the west and east;
And girdle all the world to-night
With chords that make the nations one:
A mystic grip of matchless might —
A cable-tow by genius spun.
0 genius! Oracle of God!
We bow in wonder at his shrine,
Through whom the daisy-sprinkled sod
Is rendered human and divine.
Through whom each form of life appears
To wear a brighter, holier grace;
His pity soothes the Mousie's fears,
And halos dying Mailie's face.
He sees his love in dewy flower,
He hears her in the tunefu' bird;
He deifies the raptured hour,
And seals it with an angel-word.
He saw in man's uplifted face
The promise of a grander time;
He sang the freedom of the race,
He boldly rang the century's chime.
The night was cold, he could not wait,
He left his message at the door;
Ere morning came he took the gate —
We worship, we can do no more.
Ay, Robbie Burns, not poor but brave,
Neglected long but loved at last;
The laurel-wreath Kilwinning gave
Was foretaste of the fame thou hast.
To A Brither Chiel Across The Sea
Kilwinning Canongate they ca' it,
Lodge Number Two, lang love befa' it,
By genius "tiled," time canna thraw it,
Till Nature sleeps,
For Robbie there was wreathed the Laureate
With crown that keeps.
I therefore trust the Court's decision —
Waiving the forms of strict precision —
Will grant reprieve for Love's omission,
And draw it mild;
Wi' Burns and business in collision
We're baith beguiled.
At the dedication of the masonic home, Utica, NY.
(Tune — "America")
- To brethren hale and free
- A line across the sea
- We fondly throw;
- A pledge to one and all
- Within our hailing-call;
- Let love all hearts enthrall,
- And gladness flow!
- From out the centuries vast
- A ray of hope is cast —
- A beam divine:
- May Light that guides our way,
- Which craftsmen true obey,
- On well-wrought work for aye
- In glory shine!
- To shield from pain and care
- We build with faith and prayer
- A sure abode;
- A refuge from the blast,
- When skies are overcast,
- And night is falling fast
- Upon life's road.
- A Home! Ah, blessed word!
- What memories are stirred!
- God guard it well!
- Thy smile upon our task,
- Great Architect, we ask,
- Till in Thy light we bask,
- And ever dwell!
- The ashlars that we hew,
- And set with plummet true,
- Our labor here;
- A living Temple grand,
- Not reared by human hand,
- But by Supreme Command,
- Shall there appear.
Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh
(Tune—"Good-Night, And Joy Be With You A'")
Were distance compassed by a thought,
Or oceans traversed by a dream.
One certain star of glory wrought
To-night upon my sight would gleam;
But oh, the severing sea is wide.
And mony a weary night maun fa'
Ere Frith of Forth or Firth of Clyde
Shall greet the bard that's far awa'.
Yet what recks love of time or space —
I sit amang you once again,
Ance more I hear the songs that grace
The night o' nights, the Lodge o' men;
I know fu' weel the hearty grasp,
The kindly word frae ane and a';
My dreams no longer shadows clasp —
The bard is nae sae far awa'.
I hear the storied walls resound
Wi' ringing words and notes of cheer;
Once more I trace the sacred bound
Of Burns and Hogg, our Laureates dear;
Again the fond Old Organ thrills
Wi' memories sweet that gently fa'.
And every eye wi' moisture fills
For brithers near though far awa';
For lovers leal in distant lands
Wha cherish still the hallowed shrine
To Scotia wed by blended strands —
A cable-tow of Auld Lang Syne;
But whether near or whether far,
A health to-night to ane and a';
And here beneath yon central star
Wha says the bard is far awa'?
An aged man came late to Abraham's tent.
The sky was dark, and all the plain was bare.
He asked for bread; his strength was wellnigh spent,
His haggard look implored the tenderest care.
The food was brought. He sat with thankful eyes,
But spake no grace, nor bowed he toward the east.
Safe sheltered here from dark and angry skies,
The bounteous table seemed a royal feast.
But ere his hand had touched the tempting fare,
The Patriarch rose, and leaning on his rod —
"Stranger," he said, "dost thou not bow in prayer?
Dost thou not fear, dost thou not worship God?"
He answered, "Nay." The patriarch sadly said:
"Thou hast my pity. Go! eat not my bread."
Another came that wild and fearful night.
The fierce winds raged, and darker grew the sky;
But all the tent was filled with wondrous light,
And Abraham knew the Lord his God was nigh.
"Where is that aged man?" the Presence said,
"That asked for shelter from the driving blast?
Who made thee master of thy Master's bread?
What right hadst thou the wanderer forth to cast?"
"Forgive me, Lord," the Patriarch answer made,
With downcast look, with bowed and trembling knee.
"Ah me! the stranger might with me have stayed,
But, O my God, he would not worship Thee."
"I've borne him long," God said, "and still I wait;
Couldst thou not lodge him one night in thy gate?"
And a few poems not on Masons or Masonry, but on Poets generally.
The Demoralized Poet
(À la Sennacherib)
The poet came down with his sonnets unrolled.
And cheek more superb than the gay marigold;
While the glance of his eye was as brilliant to see
As the Tarrytown beacon on old Tappan Zee.
As genial and breezy as spring-time he came.
With forehead all bared for the garland of fame;
As solemn and sad as an equinox day
The glow on his visage soon faded away.
For the editor breathed on his manuscript there,
And withered the daffodils comely and fair;
Till his vision of laurels grew pale as the ghost
Of a yesterday's fog on the New Jersey coast.
And there lay the ballad by fancy devised
On the table before him, neglected, despised,
Every figure discarded that ecstasy wrought.
With pearls from the depths of profundity brought.
And there sat the poet with dull, vacant stare
As the kinks and the curls straightened out of his hair;
Till the heart that once gushed with deep anguish was wrung
For his sonnets unprinted, his lyrics unsung.
And far-distant maidens are loud in their wail.
As their minstrel returns, all shattered and pale;
Yet, deep in their hearts, for all their ado.
They wish a waste-basket might swallow him too.
"One moment listen, guardian fair
Of alcove wide;
In patience hear a poet's prayer,
His dream and pride:—
O that one song or verse at least
Might win thy smile,
A welcome at the laurelled feast
And sacred aisle!"
"Too late! The banquet-board to-night
With loud acclaim
Hails man a guest of glory bright,"
"The noblest singer now must wait
The next leet-day,
While thousands linger at the gate
And idly pray."
The poet turned in conscious power
And lofty scorn;
He built himself a quiet bower
To greet the morn;
He wandered lone by running stream,
And wrought with care,
Each noble line a glowing dream
Time might not spare.
With open brow and manly grace
Again he came;
Long years of toil had left their trace;
But listless Fame
With languid air took up the scroll
And cast it by;
Too rapt in making up her roll
To deign reply.
Then spake he passing from the fane
Where phantoms bow:—
"Naught won through years of anxious pain
But aching brow!"
Turns sadly to a quiet street
From out the glare,—
A human creature stays his feet
With earnest prayer.
Sweet pity came with eyelids wet
And strength to save;
Behold the world was something yet
More than a grave.
One purpose now, Life's holiest joy,
Illumes his pen—
To bless, O bliss without alloy,
And so a lyric wandered wide
Sad hearts to cheer,
And floating far on sunlit tide
Dried many a tear;
A verse breeze-blown through open door
Fell at Fame's feet;
She stooped and read it o'er and o'er,—
His dream complete.
"Write me an epic," the warrior said —
"Victory, valor, and glory wed."
"Prithee, a ballad," exclaimed the knight —
"Prowess, adventure, and faith unite."
"An ode to freedom," the patriot cried —
"Liberty won and wrong defied."
"Give me a drama," the scholar asked —
"The inner world in the outer masked."
"Frame me a sonnet," the artist prayed —
"Power and passion in harmony played."
"Sing me a lyric," the maiden sighed —
"A lark-note waking the morning wide."
"Nay, all too long," said the busy age;
"Write me a line instead of a page."
The swift years spoke, the poet heard:
"Your poem write in a single word."
He looked in the maiden's glowing eyes,
A moment glanced at the starlit skies—
From the lights below to the lights above
And wrote the one-word poem — Love.
Wallace Bruce (Jan. 10, 1844 - Jan. 1914)
Wallace Bruce was born in Hillsdale, Columbia county, NY, January* 10, 1844, the son of Alfred and Mary Ann McAlpine Bruce. He attended prep school at the Hudson River Institute, Claverack, NY. He was an officer and an active worker in his Greek fraternity, and also garnered an oratorical reputation as an excellent debater.
After being graduated from the Claverack academy he entered Yale where he was elected editor of the Yale Literary Magazine by the largest vote recorded up to that time. Following his graduation from Yale in 1867, he studied law with William A. Beach, gaining admittance to the New York bar in 1869.
It during this brief period as a practicing attorney that he became a Freemason. At age 24, Wallace was initiated on 17 November 1869; passed on 1 December 1869; and raised on 30 December 1869 as a member of Hudson Lodge #7 in New York.
He toured Europe in 1870, where he was in Paris during the Franco-Prussian war. In 1871, he married Annie Becker, a country girl from the village of Schodack Depot, NY. To them were born two sons, Malcolm and Kenneth, and a daughter, Mrs. Clara Abernathy.
Armed with his legal training, he embarked on a literary and lecturing career, at which he was successful. He held newspaper and magazine concessions from the Hudson River Day Line boats for many years, and wrote and photographed tour guides for the rivers of New York. At that venture, his business ability paralleled his literary success. Although living in New York, Bruce was for many years a book reviewer for the Chicago Times. The first poem which gave him national prominence was "Parson Allen's Ride," delivered at the Bennington Centennial in 1876. As his fame grew, he spent time travelling across the country, writing particularly about his journey to Yosemite.
As a lecturer, he was a great proponent of the Chautauqua, for which he spoke in DeFuniak Springs, Florida (and other places) from its inception in that state in 1885. He settled there as a winter home, and became one of the founders of a permanent Chautauqua site there, serving as its president for the rest of his life.
In 1889 Bruce was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Consul at Edinburgh, and served until 1893. A fan of Robert Burns, as well as a Freemason, he was given the high honour of delivering Burns anniversary addresses at Ayr, Edinburgh, and Kilmarnock in Scotland. Besides his counsular duties, he also lectured on Burns and his other favourite writers, Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving and William Shakespeare. While in Scotland, he was president of the Shakespeare society at Edinburgh. But perhaps his greatest honour was to be chosen as the Poet Laureate of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge #2 at Edinburgh in 1890. This was an office once held (somewhat less formally) by Robert Burns, and the basis of Burns' being hailed as the Poet Laureate of all of Freemasonry!
Wallace Bruce suffered a stroke of paralysis in 1906 and after that was always in frail health. But he held on for a few years more, finally succuming to another stroke at his Florida home in January* 1914.
* One source gives his birthdate as Jan.10, one other as Nov.10, and the rest equivocate by saying "sometime in 1844". Most sources used here were written while he was still alive, and his New York obituary dated Jan.25, 1914, doesn't give any date other than "recently," so probably sometime between the 11th and 23rd. Curious, we know the date, but not month of his birth, and the month, but not date of his death.
Sources for this biography and a few additional poems can be found here.
Books by Wallace Bruce
Travelogues and History
The Hudson River By Daylight, many varying editions from 1872, (pseud. Thursty McQuill)
The Connecticut By Daylight, 1874, 108p.
The Land Of Burns, 1879, 36p. (illustrated by David Smillie)(a travelogue in verse and pictures)
The Yosemite, 1880, 38p.
Robert Burns, Poet-Laureate Of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, 1893, 38p.
The Hudson: three centuries of history, romance and invention, 1907, 224 p.
Panorama Of The Hudson, 1910, 98p. (photographs, no text)
Along The Hudson With Washington Irving, 1913, 164p. (not on Internet yet, as of 2009)
From The Hudson To The Yosemite, 1884, 98p.
Old Homestead Poems, 1888, 166p.
Here's A Hand, 1893, 266p.
Wayside Poems, 1895, 165p.
In Clover And Heather, 1896, 179p. (selections from 'Old Homestead' and 'Wayside').
Scottish Poems, 1907, 158p.
Leaves Of Gold, 1907, 192p.
Wanderers, 1907, 192p. (not on Internet yet, as of 2009)