JOHN HENDERSON DUFFUS (1866-1924)
On Wednesday night a number of friends of Mr. J.H. Duffus, of Messrs John Robertson & Son, entertained that gentleman to dinner in the Cafè Royal, Dundee, on the occasion of his approaching marriage.
Mr. William Reid occupied the chair, and Mr. William Stewart discharged the duties of croupier.
The Chairman proposed the usual loyal and patriotic toasts, which were duly honored.
Mr. John Ogilvy said that he willingly accepted the position which had been assigned to him by the Committee, as he considered it an honour to propose the toast to the evening, "Health, Happiness, and Prosperity to Mr. Duffus and his Bride." He desired, before speaking to the toast proper, to say a few words about the well-known and universally respected firm of Messrs John Robertson & Son. They were all more or less creatures of circumstances, and the environments which surrounded them on every side shaped the characteristics and moulded the destinies of their whole lives for good or evil. They were also all imitative of each other, and it was immaterial whether it was in the ludicrous or fashionable folly of dress, or in the matter of the correct thing to do as regarded society morals. At present men got their trousers made long. They then rolled them up at the bottom to make them short. This was done to imitate some "high toff" -- some self-considered Beau Brummel of the Victorian period, who was slavishly followed in the matter of dress by quite a number of brainless blockheads who fancied it was the "correct thin to do," and who never were troubled in their mechanical, monotonous, butterfly existence with an original idea. But at the same time there were certain "correct things to do" as far as their routine business and their daily lives were concerned, if there were not eventually to be written down as disappointing failures, both from a financial and from an ethical point of view. The practical results of what at the threshold of one's career it was really essential to do were far-reaching. They extended into the future, and exercised a powerful influence on the success of an individual as a responsible citizen, and, what was of more profound importance, his happiness -- socially, morally, and intellectually. The guest of the evening, Mr. Duffus , had at an early period been extremely fortunate in entering the service of Messrs John Robertson & Son, enterprising merchants at home and abroad. He had met many and different men -- leaders in thought and action -- in this country and on the Continent of Europe. He might instance William Morris in the work of thought, and J. Keir Hardie in that of action. He had only met one gentleman like Mr. W.B. Robertson, that was his lamented late friend Mr. J. Farquharson Stewart, one of the most brilliant editors that ever wrote in the columns of the ***Dundee Advertiser. Mr. Stewart possessed an exceptionally acute intellect. His interest in newspaper, literary, and political work was insatiable, while his unceasing energy and force of character were simply tremendous. Mr. W.B. Robertson was in his colossal business, which extended over the greater part of the world, what Mr. Stewart was in journalism. He had a similar penetrating intellect, a like faculty of not only selecting but extracting the most valuable information from all men, and an indomitable will for the surmounting of difficulties. It was impossible for any one to have been under the training and influence of such a gentleman for years without being materially benefited. On the other hand, if Mr. Duffus had not had great natural ability and power to take the fullest advantage of the favourable opportunities which fortune had presented to him, it would have been impossible for him to have gained the confidence and the position which he deservedly held in that honourable firm. The enormous ramifications of the business were bound to extend a man's geographical knowledge and proportionally develop and broaden, in the most cosmopolitan sense, his ideas, sympathies, and mind. He had personally known Mr. Duffus but for six years. There were some people who were almost as well known to them in a week as a lifetime. Their guest was one of that class. Mr. Duffus was transparently straightforward and above-board. He was frank, friendly, and generous, and discussed all matters of business with singular ability. He (Mr. Ogilvy) testified that in the management of a somewhat extensive business he had received valuable advise from Mr. Duffus, and given ungrudgingly. He had now to present that gentleman with a costly diamond bracelet for the future Mrs. Duffus. He sincerely congratulated him on having selected a lady who was not only highly accomplished, but was calculated, by a liberal education and commercial training, to be his wisest counsellor and dearest friend in their journey through life. He was specially gratified in making that present, not because Mr. Duffus's accomplishments and merits would be enhanced in the opinion of the bride -- because he was afraid that would be impossible -- but because it would give her exquisite pleasure to know that in this the most important step in her life her husband possessed the respect, confidence, and esteem of so many valuable friends. He concluded by presenting Mr. Duffus with a massive silver salver and afternoon tea service. He added that all the subscriptions for the presents had been spontaneously and cheerfully given; but at the same time he jocularly informed Mr. Duffus that he might lay the flattering unction to his soul that if he had not been actually worthy of them from a business point of view, as well as that of friendship, he would not have received them. It was the earnest wish of those friends present and those absent that Mr. and Mrs. Duffus should be contended, prosperous, and happy in their journey through life together, and that if in the years to come the black clouds of adversity should darken their door -- and they did to a lesser or greater extent to most people at one time or another -- Mr. and Mrs. Duffus would be reminded by these gifts that there were many true-hearted friends who would deeply sympathise with them, and who would ever wish them every success and happiness. (Loud applause.)
Mr. Duffus, in a neat and appropriate speech, returned thanks for the handsome gifts, and said they would constantly serve to remind him of the very pleasant relations which existed between him and his many friends. The toast of "The Trade" was proposed by MR. James G. Speed, and responded to by Mr. James Ford. Other toasts followed, and a pleasant evening was spent. The gifts were supplied by Messrs Mackey Brothers, jewelers, High Street.
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