President 1881 – 1882
17 November, 1882
The Rangers’ late President
We are indebted to “Jonathan Oldbuck” of the Manchester Athletic News, who was a great friend of Mr Harkness’s, for the following graphic account of the latter’s funeral:-
In a pretty little church-yard, situated on the brow of one of those grand hills which shelter the parish of Kilmun, and which must have called forth the admiration of many an English tourist, I and fifty other gentlemen assembled on Saturday afternoon to pay the final remarks of earthly respect and affection to one whom we all liked.
It was a weird yet beautiful spectacle, the hills which encircled us being covered with snow, while the sun, in true sympathy with the sad occasion, cast its softened rays on the peaceful loch. But while all that was strangely beautiful, it was a touching sight to see the solemn procession, headed by the bier, resting on the shoulders of those who had spent the greater portion of their life with him who was now dead, walking slowly along the side of the loch, with only the vocal sounds of many birds, and the muffled peels of the church bells, to break the prevailing silence.
Ah! Such a subject was worthy the brush of the greatest artist. And who is it that has died and is now being carried to his final resting-place? Is the question asked by a little coterie of country-dressed maidens who stand in close proximity to the gate of the cemetery.
It is Archibald Harkness, ejaculates an old man with tottering step; and when the name is mentioned, tears fill the eye, and the countenance is once draped with sorrow.
Yes, it is Archibald Harkness, a gentleman who was admired, respected, and venerated by all who knew him. He died this day last week in his Glasgow residence, at half-past six, of typhoid fever. The sad news came upon me with all the suddenness of a galvanic shock, and at first I was inclined to doubt the gentleman who told me, as only a few days before I was in his company; but it was true – too true.
He had been complaining for a long time, but somehow he always managed out to business, and the last time I saw him he was in great spirits, cracking jokes and telling stories, of which he had an inexhaustible store, with great gusto, and at the time I remarked to a friend that I had never seen him so happy and so full of fun. But all life is as grass – it flourishes one day, and the next is cut down and dies. In the death of Mr Harkness I have lost one of my dearest companions, and football one of its noblest supporters.
We were inseparable, and the oftener I was in his company the more I like him, he being, among other things, true, generous, sympathetic, large-hearted, and philanthropic. But while he was all that to me and his other companions, he was quite as much to the general public. Last spring he was appointed president of the Rangers’ Club, and although business kept him from attending the committee meetings as often as he would have liked, he was always enquiring after the club, and, as has been well said, “much of the external and internal prosperity which has attended them this season was due to the sagacious way in which he connected the business connected with the club, and also to the broad, comprehensive, and enlightened manner in which he handled everything that came before him.”
Mr Harkness has been cut down in the prime of his youth, being only 26 years of age, and he leaves a young widow to mourn his loss. Painful as the whole case is, perhaps this is the most painful feature of all. It was in the middle of June he was married, so it was just as he was beginning to enjoy life that the mysterious hand of death came and removed him. All, I am sure, will sympathise deeply with Mrs Harkness. And now that he has gone we have only to bear his many excellent qualities in mind, and do what we can to copy them. Persevering, generous, forbearing, kind, gentle; these and many other virtues were his, and, while they sat with becoming gracefulness and dignity on hi, they, if cultivated, will sit with equal grace and dignity on us.”