“To Doughty Deeds” (A Salute to Robert Graham of Gartmore – 1735-1797)
BY FATHER ANDREW MACDONALD GRAHAM
POET LAUREATE AND SOCIETY BARD
In Graham blood there runs a flood
Of passion pure and poetry:
Montrose, Mentieth, both trod the heath –
Braw bards adorned each moiety.
Montrose, we recall, scorned ambition small,
While Gartmore wrote of doughty deeds;
‘Tis yon Robert Graham we seek to acclaim
Ere his mark from our mem’ry recedes.
Hanoverian Nicol, e’er leal, never fickle,
(one of King William’s great champions),
Sired in ’35 a baby boy blithe,
Born in Flanders Moss in the Grampians.
A cadet was he, so necessity
Made Rab his own fortune-maker:
With alacrity, the lad set to sea
To seek the Isle of Jamaica.
For increase of health in the realm of wealth
Hard work’s the best prophylaxis:
There Rab won esteem and, a mere eighteen,
‘Came Receiver General of Taxes!
Twelve long years later, his influence greater,
Robert entered politics, namely:
He won his election – with all due affection –
As St. David’s Member of Assembly.
Comes a sudden rise in stock: he inherits Ardoch
By the demise of Mr. Bontine;
Now he is a squire of Dumbartonshire:
The new Laird of broad acres green.
Sickness the despot induced our proud Scot
To leave his belov’d Jamaica;
Denying himself for his wife’s ill-health:
To Ardoch estates he will take her.
Though proud as a Graham, he must change his name:
As Laird, a Bontine he’s become.
A victim of gout, (too much port, no doubt –
Though he claimed he drank nothing but rum!)
Uric acidity has the proclivity
Of making hapless victims groan and writhe.
Although the pain was rigorous, the Laird himself was vigorous:
William Cunninghame was born in ’75!
In the year of ’87, Robert acts like godly leaven,
Regardless of his adversity;
Proud Academe’s protector, Rab’s now elected Rector
Of Glasgow’s own University.
While hope might seem forlorn, he’s ardent for reform
Of Bonnie Scotland’s Royal Burghs.
By post chaise or ship he oft makes the trip
To London to tell of their sorrows.
His uncle, the Earl of Glencairn, passed on without leaving a bairn,
And Rab gained Finlaystone in ’96.
Traditionally, and once again, he changed his name to Cunninghame:
One could say that he was nominally prolix!
Earning even greater fame, another bore his name:
Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham.
In passing I refer to that great writer, Don Roberto,
Swashbuckling “Prince of the Pampa,” – the same!
Robert Graham of Gartmore has left his mark, for sure,
And “If Doughty Deeds My Ladye Please,”
His endeavors for his nation must bring this acclamation:
“Well done, guid kinsman, rest at ease!