Harry Lauder

April 20, 2013

Harry Lauder (1870-1950), Scottish comedian and comic vocalist, at the Burns cottage, Atlanta, Monday, 10 March 1913
(photo: Hana, London, circa 1910)

‘Sons of Scotia and ”Hame” Supplant Jokes and Humorous Lyrics.
‘People who have never even seen Harry Lauder are prone to laugh when mention of his name is made. It is the thing to do. One is afraid he shows his ignorance if he does not. Harry Lauder the world over is pre-eminently the funny Scotchman.
‘The reception in his honor at the Burns cottage by the Burns Club and the Atlanta Scottish association of Atlanta Monday morning revealed a phase of the character of this genius which is little known to the public. According to Mr. Lauder’s own verdict, ”A Scotchman is naturally sentimental and not humorous; he only tries to be funny.”

‘Lauder is ”Some” Singer.

‘At the Burns cottage Monday morning Harry Lauder sang some songs – and that word ”some” does not refer merely to an indefinite number, but may be taken in its highest sang interpretation of reference to superior quality. But not a one of these songs had a shade of the humorous in it. His songs were of Scotia and ”hame!” The incidents he related – for he told never a single joke – were such as to cause one to smile through tears for their tenderness.
‘Standing in the only replica of the original Burns home in the United States, with native Scots on every side of him. Harry Lauder said, ”There is a spirit of ‘hame’ here which melts my heart.” Mr. Lauder’s reception was as warm and hearty. It was all that his interpretation of its spirit could mean.
‘Mr. Lauder and his six pipers left the Piedmont hotel for the Burns cottage, escorted by a dozen autombile-loads of Atlanta Scots, at 10 o’clock. When he and his party strode up the gravel walk to the cottage through the soughing pines and the sedge they were welcomed by half a hundred members of the Burns club singing a lusty Scotch chorus. The great vaudeville favorite threw his hat in the air and joined in the song, and scarcely had the echo of the song died when the plaintive strains of the bagpipes broke form upon the air.

‘Welcome to Atlanta.

‘Mr. Lauder was welcomed by John M. Graham on behalf of the Burns club and Atlanta Scottish association and by Governor Joseph M. Brown for the stage, and the freedom of the city, together with forestalling pardon for any infraction of the law, was tendered by Mayor Woodward.
‘Harry Lauder did not make a speech; he just stood up and began to talk. He made some pretense at plain every-day United States at first, but just as naturally as if he had never been out of sight of the John Lauder potter’s shop back in Musselburgh, he drifted into the Scotch dialect and the simple takes of boyhood adventures.
‘Besides numerous native Scots from Atlanta, a large delegation of the Scotch colony at Lithonia had come over to meet Mr. Lauder. As Mr. Lauder recalled the scenes of ”th’ little hoose where I was bor-rn” and ”come Satur-rday after-rnoon when I went bir-rd nestin’ in the aul’ holly tree against th’ kirk-yar-rd gate,” there was many a bra’ Scot in the room who bravely blinked his eyes and swallowed an uncomfortable lump in his throat. Mr. Lauder told of how he never missed an annual visit to Musselburgh and a trip to the ”aul’ holly tree where the blackie built her-r wee nestie come every spring.”

”’Gang Hame Every Year.”

”’I gang back every year,” said Mr. Lauder, ”an I slip out of me holly tree, an’ pulling the prickly limbs aside, I put me han’ oop in the aul’ nich where the bee nestie used to be – but -” Mr. Lauder paused a moment and shook his head witfully. ”There’s nae nestie there anny moor! It’s the way wi’ a’ the aul’ hame places noo!”
‘Mr. Lauder leaned across the table and peered into the faces of the gray-haired old Scots about him.
”’D’ye ivver gang hame anny morr lak’ messel’? An’ dinna wisht we were hame noo – dinna yet wish it?”
‘There were wet eyes then …
‘Then there was a call for songs, and Harry Lauder started up, ”Me Hear-rt’s in Scotlan’,” and it was followed by ”There’s a Wee Hoose O’er th’ Hill.” Never did such a concourse of voices rise against the straw thatch of the Burns cottage as when that crowd of ”hamesick” Scots joined in the choruses. Then Bob Henderson, of the Lithonia delegation, struck up ”Bonnie Scotland.”

”’Annie Laurie” Appeals.

‘When the lilting voice of Mr. Frank Pearson rose in the clear, birdlike nots of ”Annie Laurie,” though there was no thunderous chorus. There was only a low crooning accompaniment from the voices in the room; but it spoke eloquently of the intense appeal of the old Scotch song.
‘There was also a little session out in the kitchen – a most exclusive affair was this. The six husky pipers who accompanied Mr. Lauder to the Burns cottage, Scotch every one of them from the ground up, slipped away from the crowd for ”a wee doch-an-doris” before the entertainment was over. There was big blonde George Black, who beats the brass drum. (And believe us, he beats it like a Dutch windmill. It takes more room for George to his that drum that it takes to maneuver [sic] the entire Georgia state militia.) Will McMillan was there, and Bob Tully, the leader, and George Murray, and Aleck McIntosh and Roderick Wilson – and Roderick Wilson’s moustache!

”’A Wee Doch-an-Doris.”

‘Now, if your name does not happen to have a ”Mac” mixed up in it anywhere, you may not know that ”a wee doch-an-doris” is the Scotch name for the last drink before going home. ”Drink” does not refer to ice-cream soda, either. The expression means ”a little drink at the door.” by the time the pipers had absorbed each about six last ”little drinks at the door,” there was genuine Scotch spirit, besides that in the bottle, in evidence [of] the little kitchen session. Oh, no, of course, not as bad as all that – for every ”mither’s son” of them was able to sing with perfect precision that last little test line in the song about ”Ae brecht, brocht moolit nochte!”
‘But at length must come an end to even the last doch-an-doris.
‘As Mr. Lauder walked down the path through the pies to the roadway, the Atlanta Scots stood in front of the cottage and sang to him, ”Will Ye Nae Cam’ Back Ag’in?” the heartiness of this one song seemed to mean more to Mr. Lauder than anything else in the welcome extended him, and he stopped on the brow of the hill, took off his hat, and his voice echoed through the pines, ”Yes, I Will Come Back to Ye!”’
(The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday, 11 March 1913, p. 3d)


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