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Fourth Series


NO. 724. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1877. PRICE 1½_d._]


For ages golf has been pre-eminently the national game of Scotland. As
its history emerges from the mists of antiquity we find football and
it linked together as representative games, in fulminations against
'unprofitabill sportis,' unduly distracting the attention of the people
from more serious affairs. But our game far exceeds this old rival
in interest; and if it were not for the popularity of curling in its
season, no rival pastime could pretend to vie with golf in Scotland.

The mode of playing golf is so well known in these days that it may
suffice to explain that it is a game played over extensive commons, or
'links' as they are termed; that the implements used are peculiarly
constructed clubs, so weighted at the crook or 'head' of the shaft, as
to give great impetus to the small hard gutta-percha ball to be driven
along the grass; and that the object of the players - either as single
antagonists or two against two - is to endeavour to vie with each other
as to who shall drive the ball towards and into a series of small
artificially made holes, in the fewest strokes. From hole to hole the
party proceeds, sometimes one winning a hole, sometimes another, and
occasionally (by evenly contested play) halving: until the whole round
of the green has been traversed; when the party who has gained the
greatest number of holes is declared the winner. The links ought to
be of considerable extent, and the holes several hundred yards apart,
so as to give opportunity for skilful driving and other niceties of
the game. To those unfortunates who have only read of the pastime,
it may appear hard to believe in the reality of the enthusiasm shewn
by its votaries; but whenever they are privileged to come under its
influence, even as spectators, they will find it is one of the most
fascinating of pursuits. How can a man describe in fitting language
the subtle spell that brings him out in all weathers and seasons, and
makes him find perfect pleasure in 'grinding round a barren stretch of
ground, impelling a gutta-percha ball before him, striving to land it
in a succession of small holes in fewer strokes than his companion and
opponent,' as the game might be described by one of that class of men
to whom the 'primrose by the river's brink a primrose is, and nothing

The fascinations of the game have enlisted in the ranks of its votaries
men of all classes, many of them famous on other fields, who have
made their reminiscences of their beloved pursuit mediums for many a
bright word-picture in prose and verse. Hitherto no attempt has been
made to gather together what has been so said and sung in praise of
the pastime; but in Mr Robert Clark's beautiful volume now before us,
entitled _Golf - a Royal and Ancient Game_, ample amends have been made
for this neglect, by one of the most enthusiastic and best golfers
of the day. Here we have presented in a gossipy way so beloved by
golfers, wealth of material, both as regards the history and literature
of the fascinating game - a labour of love in an artistic guise. What
the author is on the links, so seems he to be among his printers and
artists and binders - _facile princeps_. The volume before us, though
unfortunately too costly to be very generally available, is a marvel
of beautiful typography and tasteful binding. Our author has gone for
his information to the most various sources - old acts of the Scots
parliament, proclamations by kings, burgh records, minutes of the more
prominent golf-clubs, books and magazines; and by judicious editing of
this medley has shewn the many-sidedness of the game in a way that none
but a devotee could.

Mr Clark wastes no space on unprofitable speculations as to the origin
of golf. All that is clear in this vexed subject is that though
Scotland is the chosen home of the game, she is not its birthplace.
It is, however, of little moment whether the game came in with the
Scandinavians who settled on the east coast of Scotland, or whether
it was brought northward over the Border as a variety of the English
'bandy-ball;' or even if we have to go back to the Campus Martius, and
look for the parent of golf in the curved club and feather ball of the
Roman _Paganica_. Games of ball seem to have existed in all ages,
and it is therefore probable that golf is a development of some older
game, or perhaps a 'selection of the fittest' from several previously
existing ball-games. It is sufficient for our purpose that early in the
fifteenth century it was at least as popular with all classes as it is

When gunpowder made archery a thing of the past, the conflict between
love of country and love of golf ceased, and the game went on
prospering under the smiles of royal favour, surviving proclamations
of various town-councils directed against sacrilegious golfers whose
sin was held to be, not so much that they played on Sunday, as on that
part of the day called 'the tyme of the sermonnes.' This matter was
set at rest by the decree of James VI. of Scotland, who in 1618 sent
from his new kingdom of England an order that after divine service
'our good people be not discouraged from any harmless recreation,'
but prohibiting 'the said recreations to any that are not present in
the church, at the service of God, before their going to the said
recreations;' or as Charles I., when subsequently ratifying this order,
puts it, 'having first done their dutie to God.'

Besides James VI.'s crowning act of founding the Royal Blackheath Club,
Mr Clark has recalled two other instances of royal connection with
the game in a charming way, as one of the illustrations in his book
is from Sir John Gilbert's picture of Charles I. receiving, during a
game on Leith Links, the intelligence of Sir Phelim O'Neill's rebellion
in Ireland in 1642; while another is a delicately drawn pen-and-ink
sketch by Mr James Drummond, R.S.A., of the house in the Canongate of
Edinburgh, which John Patersone, shoemaker, built for himself with half
the stake in that famous 'foursome' - the Duke of York (James VII.) and
Patersone against two English noblemen.

With the Stuarts went out for a time royal countenance of the game,
till William IV. became patron of the Royal and Ancient Club of St
Andrews, and presented to it for annual competition that coveted
golfing trophy, the gold medal.

But though there came kings who knew not golf, the game lost none of
its old popularity. Still, as before, pre-eminently the game of the
people, we find it associated with many a notable scene and character
in the history of Scotland. So fond of the game was the great Montrose,
that hardly had the minstrels ceased to serenade him and his day-old
bride 'Sweet Mistress Magdalene Carnegie,' when we find him hard at
work with clubs and ball. That fifty years later it continued to be
the favourite amusement of the aristocracy of the Scottish capital, we
can gather from the curious books of expenditure of Sir John Foulis of
Ravelstoun, who seems to have spent most of his leisure time 'losing
at golfe' on Musselburgh and Leith Links with Hamilton and Rothes and
others of the highest quality of the time. We read of Balmerino's
brother, Alexander Elphinston, and Captain Porteous, the victim of
the famous 'mob,' playing in 1724 'a solemn match at golf' for twenty
guineas on Leith Links, where, a few years later, might constantly be
seen Lord President Forbes of Culloden, who was such a keen golfer,
that when Leith Links were covered with snow he played on the sands;
though even he has to yield in all-absorbing devotion to the game to
Alexander M'Kellar, 'the Cock o' the Green,' immortalised in Kay's
_Portraits_, who played every day and all day long, and then practised
'putting' at the 'short holes' by candle-light.

It is almost superfluous to say that in our own day the noble and
ancient pastime is still the game of the Scots, and latterly of the
English, of all classes and in all parts of the world. One little
fact that incontestably proves the eminent respectability of the game
is that 'the minister' can be a golfer without the least fear of the
straitest-laced of presbyteries. It is said that when the canny Scot
abroad 'prospects' for a new settlement, while he naturally rivets one
eye on the main chance, with the other he reckons up the capabilities
of the ground for his favourite game; therefore it is that golf has
taken firm root and flourishes in many a distant colony. Across the
Border the game is so acclimatised that formidable rivals to our
native players are now trained on well-known English greens. That it
may go on and prosper is of course the wish of every true lover of the
invigorating pastime.

Mr Clark gives us some historical notes of the more prominent of the
many golfing clubs that now flourish in different parts of Scotland,
and extracts from their minute-books the leading events of their
career. Now and then we come across eccentricities, such as the feats
of Mr Sceales and Mr Smellie of the Edinburgh Burgess Club in driving
balls over the dome of St Giles's Cathedral, one hundred and sixty-one
feet high; or the even more wonderful achievement of another member
of this club, who drove a ball in forty-four strokes from _inside_
their golf-house on Bruntsfield Links over the hill of Arthur Seat. As
a rule, however, these clubs pursue the even tenor of their way, the
members finding their best happiness in playing the pure and simple

While the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is generally held to
be the oldest Scotch Club, so great has been the development of its
sister Club at St Andrews, and so great are the attractions of golfing
on the famous links of the venerable city, that the 'Royal and Ancient'
takes precedence over all, and is indisputably _the_ club of the
kingdom. What Newmarket is to racing, or Melton to hunting, St Andrews
is to golf. In St Andrews, it is not a mere pastime, but a business
and a passion. It is the one recreation of the inhabitants from the
Principal of the College to the youngest urchin; it has even invaded
the domain of croquet, and has taken captive the ladies, who now take
so keen an interest in the game, that on more links than those of St
Andrews their green is a charming feature of the place. In short, in
St Andrews 'no living thing that does not play golf, or talk golf, or
think golf, or at least thoroughly knock under to golf, can live.'

The chief prize of the 'Royal and Ancient' - the gold challenge
medal played for every autumn, presented in 1837 by King William
IV. - is termed the 'Blue Ribbon of Golf.' To win it is the dream
of every member of the Club. Other clubs, such as North Berwick,
Musselburgh, Montrose, Perth, Prestwick, Burgess, &c. have each its
own time-honoured challenge trophy, that of the Royal Musselburgh
being laden with more than a century of medals commemorating each
winner. That English clubs too are following fast the fashion set by
their older brethren north of the Tweed, is attested by the prizes
now competed for at Westward Ho! in Devonshire, Hoylake in Cheshire,
and at Wimbledon, &c.; though it is but fair to state that Blackheath
claims with good reason to be father of all English golf-clubs, and has
for long been celebrated for the keenness of its players and the prizes
offered for competition.

So much for the history of the game; let us now glance at its
literature. In the interesting collection of prose papers Mr Clark has
gathered from various quarters, we can study the peculiar features
of the game and the effect it has, for the time, on the tempers of
its votaries. As we have seen at St Andrews, the ardent golfer has
little time for thought or conversation unconnected with the game.
For the time being the be-all and end-all of his life lies within the
pot-hook-shaped course he has to traverse; and not a little of his
happiness or his misery for the day depends on the nature of the match
he succeeds in getting. Though the game is as a rule an exceedingly
social one, and admits of quiet chat and occasional good-natured
banter, the _true_ golfer at work is essentially a man of silence;
chattering during the crises of the game is as abhorrent to him as
conversation during whist; one thing only is as obnoxious as the human
voice to him then - that is, any movement of the human body near him.
'Stand still while I'm putting,' and 'Don't speak on the stroke,'
are two postulates he would fain enforce. This over-sensitiveness
to external influences may explain the seeming ungallantry of the
'Colonel' in H. J. M.'s amusing account of _The Golfer at Home_, which
appeared in the _Cornhill Magazine_ a few years ago. After a charming
little picture of the 'Colonel' resenting, though he does not openly
object to Browne being accompanied over the course by 'his women,'
as he ungallantly terms Mrs Browne and her sister, he says to his
partner: 'The Links is not the place for women; they talk incessantly,
they never stand still, and if they do, the wind won't allow their
dresses to stand still.' However, as they settle down to their game,
the 'Colonel's' good temper returns under the healthy influence of an
invigorating 'round,' and gives H. J. M. an opportunity of pointing out
how all ill-humours of body and mind give way before the equable and
bracing exercise of a round or two of the Links of St Rule. That the
reader may see the amount of walking exercise taken in a round of St
Andrews Links, it may be interesting to note that the exact distance,
as the crow flies, is three miles eleven hundred and fifty-four
yards; so that the golfer who takes his daily three rounds walks _at
least_ eleven miles. It is no wonder, then, that in addition to its
own attractions, golf is esteemed as a capital preparation for the
moors or the stubbles, hardening as it does the muscles both of arms
and legs. What hunting does for the cavalry soldier as a training for
more important bursts in the battle-field, the like does golf for the
infantry soldier in bracing him to encounter forced marching with ease.
The Links have formed the training-ground of many a brilliant officer.

Space will not allow us to dwell on the genial gossip about St Andrews
and St Andrews players - amateur and professional - that we find in Mr
Clark's book, further than to mention three names. First, that of
the great champion of the professionals, Allan Robertson, who was
'never beaten in a match;' of the brilliant but short-lived career
of poor 'young Tom Morris,' the champion player of his day - son of a
worthy sire who still survives; of Mr Sutherland, an old gentleman
who made golf the chief business of his life, whose interest in his
fellow-men, not as men but as golfers, is well shewn in this anecdote.
His antagonist was about to strike off for the finishing hole at
St Andrews, when a boy appeared on the bridge over the burn. Old
Sutherland shouted out: 'Stop, stop! Don't play upon _him_; he's a fine
young golfer!'

It is in verse, however, that the votary of golf finds the field
congenial to his subject.

In 1842 appeared a clever collection of poems, entitled _Golfiana_, by
George Fullerton Carnegie of Pittarrow, which delighted the golfers
of that day by the humorous way in which it hit off the playing
characteristics of the men he introduced into it. He begins by throwing
down the gauntlet to those students of Scottish history who sigh over
the musty memories and deplore the decayed glories of the city of their
patron saint:

St Andrews! they say that thy glories are gone,
That thy streets are deserted, thy castles o'er-thrown:
If thy glories _be_ gone, they are only, methinks,
As it were by enchantment transferred to thy Links.
Though thy streets be not now, as of yore, full of prelates,
Of abbots and monks, and of hot-headed zealots,
Let none judge us rashly, or blame us as scoffers,
When we say that instead there are Links full of golfers,
With more of good heart and good feeling among them
Than the abbots, the monks, and the zealots who sung them!

We have many capital songs in honour of the game; amongst others a
parody of Lord Houghton's well-known song, _Strangers yet_, from which
it will be seen that something more is necessary to make a good golfer
than a set of clubs and an anxious 'cady' to carry them:


After years of play together,
After fair and stormy weather,
After rounds of every green
From Westward Ho! to Aberdeen;
Why did e'er we buy a set
If we must be duffers yet!
Duffers yet! Duffers yet!

After singles, foursomes - all,
Fractured club and cloven ball;
After grief in sand and whin,
Foozled drives and 'putts' not in -
Ev'n our cadies scarce regret
When we part as duffers yet,
Duffers yet! Duffers yet!

After days of frugal fare,
Still we spend our force in air;
After nips to give us nerve,
Not the less our drivers swerve;
Friends may back and foes may bet,
And ourselves be duffers yet,
Duffers yet! Duffers yet!

Must it ever then be thus?
Failure most mysterious!
Shall we never fairly stand
Eye on ball as club in hand?
Are the bounds eternal set
To retain us duffers yet?
Duffers yet! Duffers yet!

In conclusion, we may remark that though golf, to the uninitiated, may
appear to be a game requiring considerable strength of muscle for its
achievement, it is not so; for the easier it is played, the better are
the results. To apply much force to the stroke is to imperil the chance
of driving a far ball; whereas by a moderate swing of the club, the
ball is not only driven far and sure, but goes from no effort apparent
to the striker.

A notion also prevails that golf is a game suited for young and
middle-aged folks only. This is a delusion, for no outdoor pastime is
more fitted for elderly people. To attain _great_ excellence in the
game, the player must commence early in life; but to become enamoured
of its joys requires but a beginning, and that beginning may be made
by men who have long passed the meridian of life. We could point
to many elderly gentlemen whose lives are being lengthened by the
vigour-inspiring game, and who, when their daily round or rounds are
finished, can fight their battles o'er again in the cheery club-house,
with all the zest of youth. When games such as cricket have been found
too much, or perhaps the exertion of tramping the moors too severe,
the sexagenarian may safely take to the easy but invigorating pursuit
of golf, and 'bless the chiel who invented it.' If he misgives his
ability to cope with the exertion, or fancied exertion, of pacing a few
miles of green turf and wielding a club, our advice to him is to place
himself in the hands of a professional golf-player - plenty of whom are
to be found wherever there are links - and try; and in a wonderfully
short time our veteran may find himself interested, perhaps absorbed,
in a game the delights of which he has lived all these years without
having been able till now to realise!




Deborah waited and watched - a gloom unutterable weighed on her
spirits - and no Mistress Fleming came. At last old Jordan Dinnage
arrived at the castle alone, looking scared and sorrow-stricken.

'The master is very ill,' said Mistress Marjory, as she waited on
Jordan. 'These be bad days, Master Dinnage. I doubt if he lives till
morning. Doctor says he won't; but doctors know naught. In general, if
doctors say "He'll be dead by mornin'," it means he'll live to a good
old age; I've seed it often. But mark my words, Jordan Dinnage: there's
not much life in our dear Master; _he's goin'_. This comes o' leavin'
Enderby. I felt it; I knew'd 'twould be so. _This comes o' Master
Sinclair's leavin's._ O Jordan Dinnage, it's wrong, it's grievous
wrong, this leavin' Enderby, for this grand blowed-out old place, an'
these flaunting livery-men an' maids. Master Sinclair's curse is on us!'

'Nay, nay, Mistress Marjory; these be women's superstitions. Mistress
Deborah did rightly. A goose she would ha' been to fling all this
grandery and gold guineas in the ditch, for fear o' bad luck, 'sooth!
It's no more that, than thou'rt a wise woman! The Master'll pull
through; an' if he don't, better die a prince than a beggar.'

Marjory shook her head. 'Give me honest beggary. An' where's Mistress
Dinnage? Be sure Lady Deb 'ud be glad o' her company now. Why didst not
bring her along, Jordan? It speaks not much for her love.'

Jordan reddened. 'Not a word agen Meg, Mistress Marjory! She'll be
comin' soon. I must see Mistress Deborah.'

'Well, come now. An' heaven send Master Kingston soon.'

Deborah met the dear old man with outstretched hands. 'Jordan, I am so
glad to see ye! Where is Margaret?'

Jordan shuffled from one foot to the other, and twisted his hat round
in his hands. 'Well, Lady Deb - Mistress Deborah - I've not brought Meg

'I see ye have not!' cried Deborah impetuously. 'But where is she?'

The old gray eyes, growing dim with age, looked straight and honestly
on their young Mistress, yet humbly too, as he answered in a low voice:
'Where she ought to be, Mistress Deborah - off to her young husband,
Master Charlie Fleming.'

'Jordan, Jordan! Is this true? Her husband? Ye bewilder me. Are they
wedded then? Is she gone to Ireland?'

'Sure enow! O Mistress Deborah, I come to ask forgiveness! It isn't
for the like o' Jordan Dinnage to have his daughter Mistress Fleming;
but dear heaven knows I know'd naught, an' never sought it out, nor
had high notions. Mistress Deborah, I ask forgiveness, an' I hope the
master'll forgive me.'

Deborah took the old trembling hand. 'The master is in no state to
blame or to forgive. But, Jordan, thou may'st give me joy o' this. It
gladdens mine heart in my sore troubles like a sunbeam on a dark, dark
cloud. Forgive thee? Ay, I am proud to be Margaret Fleming's sister;
an' well believe my father would bid her welcome too - faithful honest
Jordan. Now come, Jordan, come, and see how he lies. He knows me not,
and he calls ever upon Charlie. Hast sent my letter to Ireland? Hast
the address?'

'Ay, ay; it's gone.'

'Then I will write again to-night. Heaven send he may come in time.
Sometimes, Jordan, he lieth in a stupor; again he calls for Charlie or
for me.'

Reverently pulling his white forelock, with his old habit of respect,
to his fiery but beloved master, Jordan stood at the foot of the bed,
and saw the shadow of death on the face of Vincent Fleming.

'My boy,' murmured the dying man, with his eyes upon Jordan - 'my boy

Old Jordan gazed helplessly and sorrowfully from him to the doctor who
stood by, and Marjory, who entered. 'What's to be done?' he muttered.
'It kills him!'

'Patience, patience!' whispered the solemn doctor; 'he may see his son
yet. There is great hope for him, Mistress Fleming; keep good heart.'

'Not hope of his recovery, Master Allan,' said Deborah, with stern and
still despair. 'I know death when I see it. You have held out hope
before; yet make him live till my brother comes. Ye hear me, Master

'Ay, Mistress Fleming; I will use my poor skill to the utmost. Bear up.
I will return to-night, Mistress Fleming;' and with a courtly bow, he
left her.

But for Deborah, she kneeled beside her father, and with old days and
old memories her heart was like to break. Jordan was weeping bitterly;
she heard the old man's sobs; but on her own heart a still Hand was
laid, enforcing strength and calmness. For two things she prayed: that
Charlie might come in time; and that her father might be himself before
he died, to hear that Charlie had ever been true to him. And so through
the long night she watched; and old Marjory oft slept and nodded, as
age and dulled senses will; and though Sir Vincent at times called
plaintively for his Deb, his 'Rose of Enderby,' his more frequent
plaint was for his boy.


In those days there were wild doings in Ireland. 'Liberty and Reform'
were the watch-words which did then, and ever will, electrify the
fiery, rebellious, ardent spirits that flocked under one banner to

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Online LibraryVariousChambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 724 → online text (page 1 of 5)