Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

opinionated than others, and it is a difficult matter at any time to persuade them to do anything novel, even for their own good, much less for the good of others. And it is with such folk, as I think I have incontestably shown, that the greater part of the mischief has arisen, which has reduced the number of our blood stock: an evil I am afraid that only time and better management will cure.

With stallions something more is required, and, in my opinion, Government aid should be invoked to prevent any stallion that is unsound, or in other ways unfit for such a purpose, from serving thoroughbred mares. Wise enactments to this effect are in force in other countries, and prevent hundreds of mares from being spoiled and their produce made useless for racing purposes by the use of improper stallions. That every man has a right to do as he likes with his own is an old maxim; but even freedom of action must be taken with a reservation, because we know the law will not permit such a thing when it interferes with the rights of another. It requires no lawyer to tell us this. Then why should a man be allowed to embark in a business that everyone but himself knows must result in disaster, not only to any particular individual, but to the community at large as well as himself? No man is allowed to attempt suicide, any more than he is free to commit murder, or injure another more than himself by such acts. I will not enlarge on the subject, beyond simply saying, in my opinion, he is an enemy to his brother man that takes a farm, and, from ignorance, wretchedly mismanages it; or a breeder that keeps horses or cattle of any description, to the injury of the community, which is just what such men do that keep mares not fitted for breeding purposes, or stallions to serve them, and many others that are totally unsuited for such a purpose. I have no doubt it will be called restricting private enterprise, and coercing the liberty of the subject; but such restraint is done in other ways, and why should it not be done in this? Parliament restrains public bodies from investing when they think the venture will be unprofitable to those interested or a loss to the country. Then why should a man, that is well known to be without a rudimental knowledge of any business or profession, be allowed to carry it on, and thus woefully waste the resources of the country to please his morbid fancy? Let a man first show that he has some practical knowledge of breeding before he is allowed to embark in the production of thoroughbred stock. By such means, and others that I have related, the supply of our blood stock would be raised twenty or five-and-twenty per cent., and soon double our present number; and thus we should retain our reputation for raising the best description of horses for all sorts of purposes, whilst adding considerable wealth to the nation and comforts to the community

Golf and its Attractions.

GOLF is, par excellence, the game of Scotland. It has been introduced into England, France, India, and America, with more or less success; but Scotland is the mother of the pioneers. As early as 1457 the game was so popular that an Act of Parliament was passed to prohibit its interference with the necessary practice of archery. Gunpowder, however, came to be used in war, and the bow's influence was diminished. Accordingly the game of golf again grew to be so popular that the younger portion of the community of Perth could not withstand its fascination, even on the Sabbath day, and had to face a smart rebuke from the Kirk-session for their desecrating conduct. Soon royalty patronised it. His Majesty were appointed. King Charles I. was enamoured of the sport. When he was playing the game with intense interest, on the Links of Leith, he received a communication about the insurrection in Ireland, on reading which he reluctantly broke up the match, and set off for London. Nor was James II., when Duke of York, less enthusiastic over the Royal pastime. He was frequently seen in a party at golf on the Links of Leith, with some of the nobility and gentry. Andrew Dickson, a club-maker, was his fore-caddy. We have seen, in the shop of Mr. McEwan, of Bruntsfield, the driver which the Prince gave to Dickson. It does not differ much from the best of modern clubs. Its handle is made of split, instead of sawn, ash, and the head is considerably hooked. One day the Prince heard two English noblemen boasting of their skill in golfing. They claimed England as the home of

The Prince proposed to decide the matter by an appeal to the game itself, and declared that he would play them, with a shoemaker for his partner. John Paterson, the shoemaker, was not only the best golfer of his day, but was of a celebrated golfing family. The Prince and Paterson were victorious, and the latter was rewarded with half the stakes. With this money Paterson built a house in Edinburgh, and carved on the door-lintel a hand grasping a golf club, with the motto, “Far and sure." After this event the game became even more popular, till Carnegie's soul was fired by the Muse of pastime to pen this eulogy

“Time-honoured golf! I heard it whispered once
That he who could not play was held a dunce

On old Olympus, when it teemed with gods." No wonder then that clergymen, senators, and professors have embraced the pastime, to keep them from being scheduled

the game.

1

by the "gods" as ignorant! Old and young are votaries of the sport; the healthy and weak find equal pleasure in the game; and the rotund and the spare alike forget their constitutional differences in the enthusiasm of the tussle. Andrew Lang, the laureate of golf, with characteristic shrewdness wrote that “ Scotch children were teethed with a golf club.” It is the game of Scotland—from the cradle to the grave. A rosy child and a grey-haired veteran equally enjoy their feeble foozles as much as the brilliant driver of powerful physique. The game is admirably suited for all, and Clubs are formed from all classes of society. The country gentry, the busy professional men, the industrious tradesmen, the hard-wrought artisans, and even the ragtag and bobtail of the district surrounding a golfing course are equally enamoured of the game. The excitement charms gentlemen of all ages, in all weathers, at all times; and experience has proved it to be one of the most fascinating and invigorating of pursuits. Squires blaze away over the walnuts and the wine about the feats of the field and river and loch, but they cannot hold the candle to golfers for talk about their achievements. With unconscious exaggeration they tell of their marvellous strokes, their long swipes, their deadly quarter-strokes, and their wonderful steals. Holing a long putt has an enchantment about it which clings to a lifetime, over and over the player delights to speak of the uncommon feat. What putts Campbell of Saddell used to delight in describing to all, whether golfers or not! And all caught something of the old man's enthusiasm. Once when he followed his ball, as it borrowed a little from the side of the undulating ground, and dribbled gently down, down, down into the hole, he cried out in ecstasy, “What a splendid putt! In my time I have had the best grouse-shooting in Scotland, and the best salmon river, and the best deer-stalking, and I have kept the best hunters at Melton; but I am thankful to say I can now dream about a putt !” After that, even the uninitiated must succumb to the charm of the game.

"Once a golfer, always a golfer,” is a true adage. The praise of the game the initiated will never cease to celebrateit is all-absorbing. The learned can recreate their bodies and unbend their minds with rare stamina. A stranger may think it ludicrous to see a learned professor or a correct clergyman become animated over the striking of a gutta-percha ball with a slim wooden club. But this is just like the effect of stopping your ears to exclude the music in a gay ball-room. Hear the thrill of the waltz time, and you rush in spirit among the dancers ; feel the enthusiasm of the golfer, and the clubs become magic wands, and the balls jewels. The whole frame is alive with the pastime. Kaleidoscope-like are the changes in the golfing problems of a course; none but a blockhead will talk of anything but the game, so engrossing is it. Cool judge

the game.

ment is needed for every stroke; careful finesse is brought out in the whole course ; style is everything. No wonder, then, that a typical enthusiast-Duncan Forbes, the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland-would, even on a snowy day, when the Links were unplayable, rush to the sands of Leith and play his favourite game.

Duffers, first-class players, and professionals can always get a match which equally pleases them; that is the beauty of

You can always get a partner up to or down to your own standard; and you enjoy the game at any stage. One advantage of the game is its inexpensiveness for the amount of pleasure which it secures, and the amount of health which it gives to the player. When a man has once purchased a good set of clubs, he has little more than the payment of the caddy to think about; that useful functionary is the philosopher and friend of the golfer. He studies his master's play, and can give his master the club which undue caution, or timidity akin to funking, would put aside for the stroke. Much of the pleasure of the game is due to the enthusiasm of a good caddy. There is a notable case, recorded by many, about a devoted caddy at St. Andrews, the "Doncaster” of golf. His master, a talented professor of Greek, was thrashing the air and turf, but rarely hitting the ball successfully, when all of a sudden the skipper cried out : “Ony boddy can teach laddies Latin and Greek; but it needs a heid to play gouff!”

The name of St. Andrews brings up to our mind many rapturous associations. It was there, fully twenty years ago, that we made, over the whole course, the lowest amateur score on record. That record of 80 has not since been beaten, though the Links are now six strokes easier for play. The match was against young Tommy Morris, afterwards the greatest player, bar one, that ever lived. Tommy so mastered the game that for four years in succession he gained the champion belt open to the golfing world. But he died a boy. The most brilliant player in all details who ever lived was Allan Robertson, who simply did what he liked with the ball; his work was marvellous. We all imitated his style—a style known over the world.

Speaking of style, we must say that very much of the success of the game lies in the style of the player. All players are divided into two classes: agile and non-agile. Each should have clubs and style suited to the physical characteristics. Many a golfer is ruined by adopting a wrong style to commence with. And yet how confoundedly obstinate are players who are afflicted with golf mannerisms ! They must, however, descend to the grade of second-class players.

The full thrill of pleasure is in the game itself. Betting occasionally comes in; but far be it from any “to play for

certainty, and not for fame"! Half-crowns should be looked on as mere counters to record the matches. We remember two worthies who used to play a round for a boll of meal, and counted pecks for the holes, the record being duly marked on the back of the clubmaker's door. At the end of the year very few pecks were over to be given to the poor, so equally were they matched.

The best players use few clubs; these are well suited to their style. Yet fancy goes a long way in the selection of these weapons. A good iron is as sweet to a man as his razor or watch ; with that he can work miracles. A supple-bodied man should use a stiffer driver; an obese, unpliable man should have a supple club. Of course, when players commence young, they naturally throw themselves into the proper swing by imitating great players in the beautiful swiping of corks from off the smooth sward,

The exercise is admirable. Of course the successful player must hit the golden mean between laziness and over-hastiness. In this a juste milieu is as necessary as in other matters. But the elastic turf thrills an exhilaration into the frame otherwise rarely experienced for the little exertion. Over the undulating course even the short-breathed veteran will walk, so absorbed is he in the game. He has the terrors of bunkers to face, and the charms of nice approach strokes to cheer him. So keen is his spirit, that the golfer considers his life immortal.

There is a brotherhood in golf unknown in many other games. All are here put on the same level. Beat à professor at the game, and he will add twenty-five per cent. to your abilities otherwise. Talent, money, position are all thrown aside when being matched with a brilliant player of any rank. And that is one of the glories of the game: there is no respect of personsskill reigns supreme. Many a life attachment has been made

green. Golf eclipses all outdoor games for developing sociality.

In a sketchy, general way, we have here pointed out some of the attractions of the national game of Scotland. Its enthusiasm is all-absorbing. We call to our remembrance a remark of old Sutherland, when he was introduced to a lady at St. Andrews : “God bless me, what a game George Condie was playing to-day!” But she excused the old man ; her husband talked of golf all night, as well as played all day. Who has not heard of McKellar, the cock of the green, unrivalled in golfing enthusiasm ? The whole day he spent on Bruntsfield Links; even by lamplight would he play at the short holes. His better half had to look after the tavern; but she got tired of her work. She resolved to put him to the blush, by carrying his dinner, along with his nightcap, to the Links. He was hotly engaged when she arrived, and, apparently without feeling the weight of the satire, he good-humouredly observed

on the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »