Provost Scott's Eulogy on Sir Walter Scott's Centenary in 1932
Eulogy by Provost John Scott on Sir Walter Scott's Centenary, 1932
During those beautiful autumn evenings as I stand by the banks of Tweed and gaze on that fine stretch of water flowing in front of Rosebank House beholding the ever-changing colour of the leaves on the trees from bright green to russet brown and decaying yellow, as they drop one by one into the river, I am reminded of the boy Walter Scott who one hundred years ago, was so entranced in mind and heart, that he declared enthusiastically: "Kelso is the loveliest village in Scotland". We gladly accept the compliment and reciprocate by proudly claiming that Kelso is the birthplace and cradle of Sir Walter's future greatness. As I stand there, I see visions and dream dreams. Methinks I see the souls of all the men and women of the Borders, who, having done their day's darg and finished their life's work, are gathering and meeting on the river banks. From its source the pleasureable People of Peebles, the Braw Lads and Lassies on Gala Water, the Souters o' Selkirk, with the hill folks frae Ettrick and Yarrow, the Monks of Melrose with their marvellous memories. There, within the precincts of Dryburgh Abbey, on that sacred sylvan spot beside the silver Tweed, lie peacefully sleeping side by side in their long last sleep two of Britain's greatest sons – Sir Walter Scott, who lived, laboured and died to make our beautiful Borders and all broad Scotland famous; also Lord Haig, who in the hour of Britain's direst need, stood bravely fighting with his back to the wall conquering, and to conquer, to keep the Empire free. In a similar spirit the Teries o' Hawick annually celebrate their Capture of an English Flag in a Border fight with "Tier ye bus, Tier ye O'den". While on the banks of fair Teviot's daughter, the sylvan Jed, the Justices of Jethart have ruled with an iron hand the reiving raiders of the Borders for centuries. Last, but not least, those quiet peaceful people of Kelso, who are quite content to dwell by the still waters and green pastures of their homeland, undisturbed and undismayed by the pomp and pageantry, rolling drums, golden chains and ermine robes at the opening of St James' Fair. The only ripple on the placid surface of her public life being an occasional academic debate on the housing and education of her people. So, once again, I stand by the river and watch each individual leaf as it floats across that broad band of heavenly light cast athwart the stream by the rays of the moonbeams which incidentally lights up every one in their true colour as they pass on toward their destiny on the broad bosom of the River of Time, away into that mystic and mysterious ocean of eternity.
"Deeds of great men aye remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
Thus departing leave behind us
Footprints on the Sands of Time."
Provost Scott wrote the words and melody of "Kelsae, Bonny Kelsae" which were published in May 1935 and which is accepted as the Kelso anthem.
The words can be found at:
Kelsae Bonny Kelsae