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Lurgan Coat of Arms The Armagh Guardian

27 May, 1871  

A LUCKY DOG

Peace hath her triumphs, according to the old saw, even as warriors have theirs; and certainly the hero of the moment, in a pacific sense, is Master McGrath. It is just possible, though not probable, that there may be one benighted man in a million so ignorant as not to know who this hero is; and for his benefit we venture to mention that Master McGrath is not a man, nor even a young gentleman in small clothes, but a simple dog.

There is a grand unconsciousness about the noble animal in the midst of his triumphs which should put the human victor to shame. As the brass bands play before him ' Lo! the Conquering Hero or Greyhound comes,' Master McGrath, no doubt does not care a button about the blare and noise. It may, perhaps strike him as strange that, whereas, in the earlier portion of his career he was allowed to live a quiet and peaceful life, he now cannot stir out without such bother and disturbance. Still less can he understand what the photographers are about when he is compelled to sit still in front of the harmless tube which is certainly not meant for his injury. Can a dog derive any gratification from the sight of his own photograph? Most dogs have a distinct objection to the sight of their images reflected in a mirror. They are apt on such occasions to set up a dismal. howl, as feeling that there is something 'uncanny' to say the least of it, about those dogs in the glass, who imitate their every movement in the most provoking way. On the whole, we are of opinion that a dog derives satisfaction from a gay and handsome collar, just as a human being does from the contemplation of a blue ribbon round his neck, or a garter below his knee. Why not? What is the difference between man and dog in this important particular?

We have been led into this train of reflection by reading the account of the honours just paid to Master McGrath on the occasion of his singular, or rather of his plural triumphs. The noble brute is not a dog of an obtrusive turn of mind. Like his great predecessor, the late Duke of Wellington, his system would appear to be never to apply for honours, put to accept them meekly when thrust upon him. It is in vain, however, that modest merit seeks to withdraw itself from the public gaze.

Royalty had heard of Master McGrath, and of his great; performances, and it was resolved that he should be coaxed from his retirement. As is usual in such cases, an intimation was conveyed to him in the regular way, through Sir Thomas Biddulph, that the Queen would like to see him. To Master McGrath the intimation was equivalent to a command, and accordingly his acceptance followed in due course, with a hint that he would visit Her Majesty at Windsor, if the necessary arrangements were made for his 'progress.' All suitable respect was shown to him. On the afternoon of Monday week he left Lurgan under a proper escort, having resolved to cross St. George's Channel between Belfast and Fleetwood. As was natural, he honoured the captain of the steamer by occupying his cabin during the night of Monday. A carriage was ready for him, and he proceeded incognito, we should presume, as far as Rugby; but at this point it was impossible to conceal his identity any longer. Lord Stamford, with a numerous party of friends, had taken up a position on the platform long before the arrival of the train. As it glided into the station loud cries greeted the arrival of the hero, who no doubt wagged his tail in his most affable way, in token of his pleasure at so appropriate a reception.

From that moment Master McGrath has revelled in a series of triumphs. He rested in London on Tuesday night in order to recover from the effect of his rapid journey and the excitement of various complimentary interviews. On Wednesday morning he went, still with his escort,by the Great Western Railway to Windsor. No public announcement of his arrival had been made, but on the platform he was met by a large and demonstrative crowd, who followed him from the station to the Castle with loud and enthusiastic expressions of esteem and goodwill. Arrangements bad been made for his reception. It is not usual save, we believe, when Royalty visits Royalty for the Queen to receive her guests at the entrance of her palace or castle. It was, however, perfectly obvious that no respect which could be shown to Emperor or Sovereign could be withheld from the all-conquering dog.

The entrance hall of the castle had been tastefully arranged for the first meeting between the Queen of England and Master McGrath. It must have been a proud moment for McGrath when he appeared in the presence of his Sovereign, being met as crowned head by crowned head. Seldom has hero enjoyed such a reception. Not only was he treated with the respect due to his lofty character and unblemished career, but there was. a touch, may we venture to write it, even of affection about the manner of the greeting. It would, of course, have been compenent to the Sovereign to compliment Master McGrath upon his exploits, as illustrating a bright page in the history of her reign. She might have desired him to kneel down, and rise up Sir Patrick McGrath. The Queen did more, Her Majesty patted him! Let any one mention to us any other example of any other hero who, on his return from triumph by hind or by sea, has ever yet been patted by the Queen. The Princess Louise patted him, Prince Leopold patted him, never was there such a Royal patting since the world began.

Many gracious questions were asked as to his early history and early struggles, so that the Sovereign might know how Master McGrath had attained his present high position. It had been arranged that, when the interview with the Queen was over, the illustrious visitor should be entertained in a manner worthy of the old hospitality of Windsor Castle. Sir John Cowell, the Master of the Queen's Household, conducted him to a cold collation, of which he partook freely. He was then, with every demonstration of respect, led over the Castle, and, by the Queen's desire, the members of the Household had the honor of being presented to him. It is gratifying to hear that although no Order or Ribbon, or any such gawd, was bestowed upon Master McGrath, his total indifference to such honors being notorious, a gold hunting watch was presented, by her Majesty's command, to his early tutor, his guide, philosopher and friend who had accompanied him on his visit to Windsor. This souvenir was in the very best taste, and must have been most gratifying to Master McGrath's feelings. It showed that his Sovereign could appreciate and respect the delicate susceptibilities which are sometimes, but not always, found in connection with what is called a hero's breast.

It may have been a proud, but it must have been a very fatiguing day, even to a hero blessed with such thews and sinews, No sooner were the interviews and presentations over than the Windsor photographers, who had solicited the honor of Master McGrath's patronage, appeared upon the scene. He was ' done' singly, and then in company with his friend, Lord Lurgan, and his tutor. When we add that, before leaving Windsor, he visited Eton College to see the boys, everybody will feel how much of gentleness and kindly feeling there is in Master McGrath. The boys all turned out to see ' the illustrious stranger ;' and, on a suggestion to give him a jolly,' which appears to be the local phrase, they cheered the hero loud and long. We cannot call to mind such a reception in our time. Something of the same sort took place in 1815, when the Allies were in England; but that is mere legend to the present generation. It is clear that, in one way or other Master McGrath has contrived to get at the 'great heart' of the nation. Persons of all ranks and ages follow him about as one of the glories of the three kingdoms. Wednesday was his Royal day; yet, if we may judge by the account of his subsequent proceedings, he must have been as fully engaged on Thursday. He was pleased to visit Lady Dawtrey and the Countess of Waldegrave, each of whom held morning receptions in his honor. At Lady Waldegrave's the North German Ambassador and Countess Bernstoff were presented to him; though clearly, in this case, it was Master McGrath who was the hero of the hour. Having partaken of a slight collation at both residences, Master McGrath afterwards visited the Prince of Wales at Marlborough House. He appeared to be much gratified by his interview with the Princess, and exchanged tokens' of warm amity and friendship with Prince Arthur. Yet again, to quote another remarkable instance of his readiness to give pleasure no sooner was it intimated to him that his friend Lord Lurgan was a member of Brooks's Club, than he determined at once to proceed there, and make the acquaintance of the members. This condescension must have been extremely gratifying to Lord Lurgan; and we need scarcely say that the visit to Brooks's was wholly unconnected with politics. It must be taken as a purely social and private matter, and shows both Master McGrath and the Irish peer in a very amiable light.

On Friday the eminent quadruped was 'interviewed' by a gentleman, who represents one of our sporting contemporaries, and we rejoice to hear that the brute appeared to be none the worse for his long journey and the 'rakish time' he has had of it in London. On Saturday he was to return, and, we believe he actually did return, to Ireland, taking back with him, as we trust, not unpleasant recollections of England and the English. Daily Telegraph.

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