This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Ox the 31st May a complimentary dinner was given to Mr \V. Thomson on the occasion of his leaving Dalkeith Gardens to superintend his extensive vineyards on Tweedside; and a presentation was made to him of 200 sovereigns, and a handsome service of silver plate, richly chased, and bearing Mr Thomson's initials. The silver plate bore the following inscription: - "Presented, along with a purse of two hundred sovereigns, to Wm. Thomson, Esq., on the occasion of his leaving Dalkeith Gardens to superintend his extensive vineyards on Tweedside, by a number of attached friends in Scotland, England, and Ireland, to mark the high regard in which they hold him - on personal, professional, and public grounds; and the warm wishes they entertain for his future success and happiness. May 31, 1871." The meeting was held in Waterloo Hotel.
The Chairman said - I come now to the toast of the evening - the health of our esteemed and respected guest. The propriety of the course we are now taking need scarcely be pointed out, for I have met with no one to whom this very course did not suggest itself the moment Mr Thomson's purpose of leaving Dalkeith became known. It could not be otherwise. The position Mr Thomson had so long occupied in Dalkeith, the many friendships he had there formed, and the numberless obligations he had conferred on the town, rendered it indispensable, not only that there should be some such public leave-taking as the present, but that he should carry with him to his new home some visible and tangible expression of the affection with which he was regarded in the home he had left. Nor were these feelings confined to Dalkeith. Before the friends there had taken any forward step towards the result we now witness, application was made to them by friends in Edinburgh asking to be allowed to take part in any demonstration that might be resolved on, calling attention to the fact that Mr Thomson's friends were not confined to this county, or even to this island, and suggesting that these warm and widely-scattered friends should be made aware of the movement that was in progress.
It has been the aim of the committee to give effect to this suggestion, and the result may be very briefly stated. The testimonial about to be presented is the joint-contribution of 300 individuals, resident in Scotland, England, and Ireland; and it is but right to say that the value of these contributions has been much enhanced by the friendly and affectionate terms in which, when transmitting them, they have referred to the character and claims of Mr Thomson. The subscriptions handed to the treasurers amount to £330; and this amount, partly in gold and partly in silver plate - deducting, of course, the necessary expenses and the gifts for the Misses Thomson - it will be my privilege, before sitting down, to present to Mr Thomson. The inscription on the testimonial bears that it is presented on personal, professional, and public grounds; and in this combination of claims on the part of our guest consists undoubtedly the real significance of the movement and the real value of the gift. I know how irksome it must be to Mr Thomson to have these matters referred to in public, and in his presence; and therefore, in discharging the duty now assigned me, I will be as brief as I possibly can.
Every one present will, I am sure, expect mo to refer to the unvarying courtesy and manifest desire to oblige shown by Mr Thomson to parties visiting the gardens under his care, and which, with the great beauty of these gardens themselves, have made them for many years the chief attraction to strangers visiting Dalkeith. Equally necessary is it to acknowledge the generous alacrity with which Mr Thomson has all along placed his own skill, the labour of his assistants, and the treasures of the gardens, at the free service of all classes of the inhabitants when assembled publicly for social enjoyment, or for the promotion of any useful or benevolent undertaking. I can scarcely recall a single soiree, or banquet, or distribution of prizes to volunteers, or loyal, or patriotic, or benevolent public gathering, that was not more or less indebted to the friendly assistance and artistic skill of our esteemed guest. An appeal to Mr Thomson was included in the programme of every such gathering. That appeal was never made in vain; and hence the removal of our friend from Dalkeith will be felt as a chill and a discouragement to the social life of the community.
I cannot speak with the same authority of the strictly professional claims of Mr Thomson, nor can that be necessary in the presence of so many skilful horticulturists. These will be readiest to acknowledge that Mr Thomson stands, and has long stood, at the very head of his profession; that he has done incomparably more for gardening in this country than any other man; and that, while he has elevated the social and scientific condition of the gardener, he has at the same time, by his urbanity and helpfulness, by his recognition of practical merit and his readiness to promote and reward it, won for himself in a remarkable degree the esteem, confidence, and gratitude of his professional brethren. An interesting illustration of this occurred a few years ago, when nine of Mr Thomson's old foremen - then resident at a great distance from him and from each other - joined in presenting him with a handsome and valuable testimonial, expressive of the esteem and gratitude which they continued to cherish towards their former chief. That proceeding, we must all feel, was highly honourable to both parties - to the master, as evincing the genuine kindness of his rule; and to the foremen, for their grateful recollection of his free and improving service.
It is gratifying to add that most of the names inscribed on that earlier testimonial occur again in the list of subscribers to the testimonial of this evening - a circumstance which will no doubt enhance its value in the estimation of Mr Thomson, showing, as it does, that kindly relations once established in Dalkeith Gardens remain unaffected by change of residence and by lapse of time. It only remains, in a closing sentence, to refer to those public services of our esteemed guest, of which, no less than of his personal and professional merits, these testimonials must be regarded as the recognition. There are few departments of public usefulness in which, during his sixteen years' residence amongst us, Mr Thomson has not taken a prominent place. In all movements with a view to social or sanitary improvement, to the spread of scientific education, or to the expression of public sentiment on matters of benevolent, loyal, patriotic, or national interest, Mr Thomson might always be counted on for warm sympathy and important practical service.