"In the Highlands, in the
Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
And the young fair maidens quiet eyes,
Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
And for ever in the hill recesses
Her more lovely music broods and dies."
- R. L. Stevenson.
IN 1807, the date was
October 12th, and it lasted one week. The Duchess of Gordon was absent,
also Lord Seaforth from illness.
1808. The Duchesses of
Gordon and Manchester were present on October 14th. There was a good
support for the hounds, and the meeting was "numerously and respectably
attended," in the language of the period. The Marquis of Huntly was
energetic in entertaining the company. Having attended the Aberdeen
Shooting Club earlier in that week, he rode one hundred and five miles in
under seven hours to be present, having eight relays of horses on the
road. Lord Seaforth presented a brace of fat bucks to the company.
1809. The attendance was
small, owing to loss of life in the war. Duchess of Gordon present.
Records refer to the "polished manners and dignified character" of the
gathering. The stewards were Lords Huntly, Seaforth, and MacDonald,
Colonel Fraser of Lovat, Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart., Lewis
Dunbar Brodie of Bunghie and Lette, Esq., Hugh Innes of Lochalsh, Esq.,
Thos. Gilzean, Esq., Provost of Inverness, Alex. McKenzie, Banker,
Inverness, secretary and treasurer. Most of these were re-elected for the
next year, with the addition of Colonel Francis W. Grant, Sir Wm. Gordon
Cumming, Henry Davidson of Tulloch, and Ed. H. M'Kenzie of Cromartie,
It is noted that a
well-known piper, known locally as "Up and waur them a' Willie," embarked
this year with the 71st Regiment for Portugal. He played on incessantly at
the Battle of Vimiera, in spite of being wounded.
I have dealt with the year
1810 in the summary, and in 1811 we find the funds were in a good state.
One hundred and forty ladies and gentlemen attended the dinner and two
hundred the ball. There was a trotting match between a pony of Lord
Huntly's and a horse of Mr. Forbes' of Culloden, the former winning. The
course was six miles, done in twentythree minutes, or at the rate of
sixteen miles an hour. A curious note is made about a girl of eight years,
Miss Paton, who for three years had officiated as a pianist. She was also
asked to sing and recite, to which some members took exception on the
score of cruelty.
In 1812 the date was
October 30th, and the outside sport was spoiled by bad weather. On the
closing night Colonel Fraser gave a "select and numerous" party at his
residence, "the Barracks," which lasted well into the following day. In
1813 there was a more numerous and elegant assemblage. Presents of venison
were received from the Duke of Atholl and Lord Seaforth. Two hundred
attended the supper. Lord Huntly presented to the meeting a portrait of
his late mother, the Duchess of Gordon, although it had been the intention
of the members to purchase this for themselves.
A young vocalist, Master
Weeks, performed so creditably that Sir James Dunbar and some friends
presented him with twenty guineas. About this time a well-known resident
old lady lost 6d. and found it six weeks afterwards in the gizzard of one
of her fowls! This was an improvement on the story of the lawyer who
swallowed a sovereign. All they could extract from him was 13s. 4d.; in
those days 6s. 8d. was the lowest fee chargeable.
In 1814 bad weather again
prevailed, but the balls took place, and the time was spent in visiting.
There was a great display of costly and varied equipages, parading the
streets in gay profusion.
In 1815 some sort of
Highland Society seems to have been formed, and it was suggested that
there should be horse races at Duneancroy in connection with the meeting.
Lord Huntly sent a turtle, Colonel Fraser game and a Spanish mutton, and
Innes of Lochalsh a fine hart.
In connection with the gift
of a turtle, it is interesting for those who have attended a lord mayor's
banquet to recall some facts as to these sea-monsters. They sometimes
weigh nearly 300 lb., and come mainly from the Caribbean Sea, being fed on
the journey by young seaweed. The only part that is seen in the soup is
the gelatinous flesh from the inner lining of the carapace, or outer
shell. Other parts, of course, as well as other ingredients, such as
spices and mysterious herbs, are used. The process of cutting up is
rendered easy by the lines and ridges of the shell being reproduced as a
diagram on the flesh. Turtles are considered young at eighty years of age,
and the monsters of three hundredweight may have lived for three hundred
years before their capture. The "fins" make splendid steak-meat for
grilling, and soap is made from the oil in rejected parts. What is known
to users of luxurious articles of toilet, etc., is the shell from the
green turtle or "hawksbill," which is of no use for food.
This year the patron was
asked to sit for his portrait, and another note is made that complaints
were received about the ladies' dresses being crushed, and their bones
being hurt from overcrowding. The staircases were also considered unsafe,
and eventually it was decided that all titled ladies should be handed out
of the building before the general egress was allowed.
Sportsmen in 1816 derived
much amusement from the Inverness Harriers, and the racing is referred to
on page 113. Those present on October 24th, 1817, included Lord and Lady
Huntly, Lord and Lady Saltoun, Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie of
Seaforth, Colonel and Mrs. Macdonald of Glengarry. The latter appeared in
full Highland costume, with belted plaid, broadsword, pistols, dirk, etc.
Horse races were held at Fort George, chronicled as a novelty, and much
1. Plate value 50 guineas
An easy victory.
Mr. Fraser, Culduthel, b.g., Martin Luther - 1. 1.
Mr. Gifford, b. mare, Louisa - 2. 2.
2. A match for 30 guineas.
Mr. Sheppard's Bay Mare - 1.
Captain Fraser's brown horse - 2.
3. Sweepstake for a Subscription Purse.
Mr. Eache's horse - 1.
Mr. McAndrew's b. mare - 2.
Captain Sinclair's horse - 3.
This year public
dissatisfaction with the management is manifest in the columns of the
press; the meeting was stated to be heavily in debt, although high prices
were made for certain things, viz., 1s. 9d. for a cup of coffee. In 1818
on October 21St, the Huntlys, Mackenzies, and Frasers of Lovat sent large
supplies of venison, muirfowl and ptarmigan. Arrears of subscription were
called in, and Mr. Mackenzie remained secretary.
The year 1819 was under the
chairmanship of Lord Saltoun, and there was a long discussion as to the
secretaryship, but Mr. Mackenzie was reappointed eventually. A large
portrait of Lady Huntly was presented to the ballroom. As a sidelight upon
the educational status of the neighbourhood it is noteworthy that out of
twenty-two thousand inhabitants, only about three thousand could read
English or Gaelic.
In 1820 the absence of the
life and soul of the meeting, Lord Huntly, is recorded. There was a good
attendance, the chairmen being Mr. Macleod of Cadboll, Sir James Dunbar,
and Sir William Gordon Cumming. Game was presented by neighbouring
The new secretary appointed
this year was Mr. Affleck Fraser, of Culduthel.
1821 saw an earlier
gathering, on September 20th. "An unusually great concourse of a
fashionable company." Mrs. Maclean of Cariacon sent a fine turtle, as also
Mr. William Falconer of Inverness. Game was sent by Lovat, Relig, and John
Windsor, Esquire, the race course being arranged for games, etc.
We note a thin attendance
for 1822, but other interesting events occurred. At Duneancroy (of which
the translation is "the level stretch by the Hill of Birds") games are
held after the meeting, under Glengarry. He presided in all his glory and
had the field almost wholly to himself, "the other judges probably
conceiving themselves ill qualified to decide in matters which lay
altogether between the chief and the gentlemen of his tail." What, may say
some Saxon Duinhe-wassal (English gentleman), is the exact meaning of
The tail is a retinue of
followers which usually accompanied a chieftain when he paid visits to
those of equal rank with himself. There was the henchman or right-hand
man, then the bard or poet, then the bladier or orator to make harangues,
then the gillymore or armour-bearer to carry sword, target and gun, then
the gilly casfluich to carry him on his back through sikes and brooks,
then the gilly-comstrain to lead his horse in rough places, then the
gilly-trush harnish to carry his knapsack, concluding with the piper and
his man and a dozen "boys of the belt" for odd requirements of the Laird.
A foot race of eight miles
was run in fifty minutes, the winner reaching the tape minus any particle
of clothing !
Another event was the
throwing of a boulder of eighteen stone weight over a bar five feet off
the ground. A mere stone-mason did this feat, all the other "pretty men"
being foiled. A contingency of this competition was the rupture of
blood-vessels or breaking of backs.
Most remarkable, however,
was the tearing of three cows limb from limb, after they had been felled
and stunned by a sledge-hammer. Even the most expert of the competitors
took four or five hours in "rugging and riving," tooth and nail, before
bringing off the limbs of one cow. Payment was made at the rate of five
guineas a joint, so that (so runs the narrative) "We hope the rise in the
value of black cattle will make the Glengarry men some small amends for
the fall of ewes and wedders at Falkirk Tryst, lately noticed by their
This sarcasm shows that not
much love was lost between the local press this year and Glengarry !
A writer of this period
remarked that "Southron delicacy might have turned up its nose at the
rather paradisical costume of the runners in the foot race." Eight
started, not absolutely in McNab's nightgowns, whatever might be whispered
amongst the ladies, but in shirts of rather ample dimensions, considering
the comparatively recent adoption of this Saxon luxury in this country.
They proved their high antiquity in various ways, and besides, bore ample
tokens of having seen abundant service since last year's great bucking
washing at Invergarry. Four of them came in "skelpin-naked." Limitations
of space prevent me from quoting further criticisms of this festival, but
a perusal of the Inverness Courier for 10th October will well repay the
trouble of those further interested.
In 1823, owing to the death
of a lady friend, the Marquis of Huntly was absent from the dinner of
An account of the races may
not be without interest.
Wednesday, October 1st.
£50 given by the Meeting.
Weight for age. 1 mile heats.
1. Sir Alex. Ramsay's Meeta
- 4 years - 1. I.
Mr. W. M'Dowell Grant's b.g. Moureath, aged - 2.
2. Match for 50 guineas each, h. ft. 6 st. 7 lb. 1 mile.
Mr. M'Dowell Grant's br. g. Governor, 6 years - 1.
Mr. Fraser of Lovat's b.g. Cockney, aged - 2.
3. Match for 50 guineas each. P.p. 9 stone. 1½ miles.
Lord Huntly's ch. m. by Idle Boy, 5 years - 1.
Mr. Newton's br. g. Malcolm Graham, 4 years-2. An easy win.
£50 given by Lord-Lieutenant for horses bred in the counties connected
with the meeting.
2 mile heats. Weight for age.
1. Mr. Shepperd's br. m.
Shepherdess by Troilus, named by Mr. Fraser of Culduthel. W.O.
Mr. F. Mackenzie, junr., of Gairloch's blk. .m. Gipsy, drawn.
2. Port Stakes of 15 guineas each. 5 forfeit for Ponies not exceeding 13
hands. 8 st. each. Mile heats. 11 subscribers.
Mr. D. Mackintosh's W.S. br. p. - 1.
Lord Huntly's Highland Lassie - 2.
Lord Saltoun names Jenny from Toun - 3.
Mr. Mackay's Bl. p. distanced - 4.
Referred to the Newmarket Jockey Club.
3. Match for 50 guineas each p.p. 13 st, 1 mile and distance.
Mr. W. M`Dowell Grant's b.h. Llewellyn, aged - 1.
Mr. F. Mackenzie junr., Gairloch's ch. g. Ruby by Petronius -
Gentlemen riders. Won by half a neck.
Match for 50 guineas each p.p. 1 mile.
Mr. F. Mackenzie's Gipsy - 1.
Mr. Frazer's Shepherdess - 2.
Northern Meeting. Stakes of 30 guineas.
Weight for age. 10 forfeit. 2 miles. 13 subscribers.
Mr. Farquharson's Meeta. W.O.
Sir A. Ramsay's b.c. Marshal Blucher, drawn.
£50 given by the M.P. for the county.
Weight for age. 2 mile
Sir A. Ramsay's b.c. Marshal Blucher - 1.
Mr. M'Dowell Grant's b.g. Governor - 2.
A well contested
A match of 50 guineas each.
2 ft. Half-mile heats.
Mr. Grant's Llewellyn - 1.
Mr. Mackenzie's b.g. - 2.
A match of 50 guineas. 1 mile.
Mr. Davidson junr. of Tulloch's b.g.- 1.
Mr. Grant of Radcastle b.g., rode (sec.) by Mr. Mackenzie junr. of
Gairloch - 2.
A fine race won by a length.
The course was greatly
improved, the concourse was great, and weather favourable. The site was
three miles from the town, along the Caledonian Canal, and a good view was
obtained from the sloping banks and high ground adjacent.
The owner of Shepherdess
gave £50 towards further improvement of the course.
In 1824 there were races at
Dunain, and scarcely ever before had such an illustrious company and
splendid equipages been seen. The date was 29th September, and the ball
was kept up until four a.m. A curious entry was that in one race horses of
two years old had to carry " a feather" and three-yearolds 6 st. 10 lb.
Three hundred attended the ball, and two hundred and fifty the supper, the
chairmen being Mr. Mackenzie of Kilcoy, the Hon. James Sinclair and Lord
Huntly. Quadrilles and strathspeys were danced. Lords Huntly and Macdonald
each promised one hundred guineas towards the suggested new grand stand
for the race-course.
In 1825 both the Huntlys
were absent, and Lord Saltoun presided, the other chairmen being Lord
Macdonald and the Hon. James Sinclair.
Two gold cups were added to
the prizes for racing, value one hundred guineas each. Most of the
activity this year emanated from Ross-shire, headed by Mr. Davidson, Jun.,
Amongst the entries we
Mr. Rose of Glastullich's
g.g. L.D.D.B.T.R.D. 6 years old.
but it did not win.
A charge of jostling having
been made against the rider of the four-year-old black filly belonging to
Mr. Fraser of Lovat in one race was found proved upon inquiry, and the
race was given to Othello, who came in second.
There was a match for £50
between Mr. Fraser's b.f. (mentioned above), 8 St. 3 lb. (Wm. Boynton),
Mr. Davidson's b.f. (3 years), 7 St. 7 lb. (G. Gukie).
In 1826 no ladies attended
the dinners, but no reason is given. One hundred and sixty danced until
four a.m. Sir Wm. Gordon Cumming was chairman at dinner the first evening,
Sir Ralph Anstruther the second, and Lord Macdonald the third. The course
was kept clear by an unarmed detachment of the 78th Highlanders from Fort
George. Quacks and mendicants, the latter lame and blind, were present.
Complaints were made about the charges for supper, but the secretary
explained that no caterer would take the contract. Only fifty-seven dined
one night. Twenty-five ladies and sixty-five gentlemen subscribed to a
breakfast set of silver, which was given to the secretary, Mr. A. Fraser
Nothing much occurred in
1827, the next year having only a poor attendance and bad weather. Lord
Huntly was now Duke of Gordon. Thirty attended dinner, Mr. Davidson of
Tulloch being chairman. The "croupier" was Mr. Munro of Novar.
In 1829 we are told the
attendance was "more respectable than large." Seventy had supper under the
chairmanship of Mr. C. C. Halket of Braelangwell the first day; the second
one hundred sat down under Lord Saltoun. The Gordon family were absent.
Many appeared in full Highland dress.
1830 was the dullest year
In 1831, owing to His
Majesty's accession to the throne, the town volunteers were presented with
an elegant set of colours by John Mackintosh and William Inglis Esquires,
both D.L.'s. There were no races, members being away in Parliament, but
the attendance at Thursday's ball was good.
1832 was a blank year owing
to the cholera. The subscription of two guineas was now altered to one.
Next year the falling off
continued, and only the ball took place, many strangers being present.
1834 saw it pick up a bit,
but more Southrons turn up every year. Three dinners and balls were held,
one hundred and sixty coming on the Friday under Cluny Macpherson.
In 1835 the Duke of St.
Albans and Lord Frederick Beauclerc appeared in Highland dress. There were
a boat race, rifle practice and a pigeon shoot on the Friday. Captain
Horatio Ross of Rossie, a noted rifleman, was defeated by Cluny Macpherson.
A cold collation under an awning, with a band, was provided by Mrs.
Baillie of Dochfour, an example commended to neighbours, as morning
amusements have been noticeably absent since the horse races ceased.
Nothing is said of 1836,
but in 1837 we read of an appeal being made by the secretary for support,
and a good account is given of sports held. It would appear that their
origin sprang from private and separate sources, but received patronage
from the members of the Northern Meeting, who eventually amalgamated them
with their own fixture. The date was 27th September, said to be more
suitable, and it was the best meeting that had occurred for ten years. The
secretary's appeal met with a good response, and the games were held in a
field of Mr. Wilson's of the Caledonian Hotel near the "Longman." The
derivation of this name is from the legend concerning the ghosts of men
that were hanged on this space, long white spectres being said to haunt
it. Whatever occurred there in the past, this year the shores of Moray
Firth never looked gayer with the crowds that attended, and £100 was
promised for the following year. Mr. Thos. Fraser was clerk of the
meeting, and competitors were requested to "timeously enter" their names
with him. The Duke of Richmond was absent, but the chairmen were Sir
Francis Mackenzie and Lord Saltoun, the speakers including Lord Wm.
Lennox. Events were as follows :-
Throwing the Hammer. 16 lb.
John Cameron, Findon, Ferrintosh, 72 feet 8 inches - 1st, £2.
Hugh Fraser, Blacksmith, Inverness, 2 feet 8 inches less - 2nd,
Robert Cameron, Inverness, 86 feet 6 inches -1st, £I.
H. Fraser, 85 feet-2nd, 5s.
Putting the Stone. 21 lb.
John Chisholm, Milburn, 30 feet 6 inches - 1st, 10s.
John Cameron, within 4 inches-2nd, 10s.
Hop, Step and Leap.
John Hay, Inverness, 24 feet 8 inches-1st, £I.
John Macpherson, plumber, Inverness, 23 feet 4 inches - 2nd, 5s.
John Cookson, 4 feet - £1.
John McRae, piper - 5s.
John Campbell - £1.
100 yards Sack Race.
George Bain, Inverness - £1.
George Bain, Inverness - £1.
John Chisholm, Milburn - £3 and collection of 35s. as well.
Sir Francis Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart. - 1st.
Lord Lovat and Mr. Mackenzie, junr.-2nd and 3rd.
No belts or rests were allowed - distance 100 yards, and 3 shots
each at a target of 36 inches in size.
1838 was a very successful
year. The Duke of Gordon being dead, the Duke of Richmond was present, and
the sports were similar to 1837. Judges: Lord Saltoun, Tulloch, Cluny,
Arndilly and Culduthel. The new Duke was quieter than the old one, not a
politician, but one likely to strengthen the tie between Gordon Castle and
the Highland capital - a quiet but convincing speaker.
In 1839 races were started
for the people. The starter was Mr. Peter of Yorkshire, who had won the
St. Leger three times. Hurdle races and steeplechases were added.
September 29th being the
anniversary of the Battle of Busaco, it was noteworthy that Lord Saltoun
and the Duke of Richmond had served under Wellington and at Waterloo.
Gifts contributed were :
Duke of Sutherland, 2 fine stags.
Lord Lovat, 2 fine hinds.
Mr. Boulderson, Brahan Castle, choice fruit.
A turtle of 130 lb. from the host of the Caledonian Hotel.
In 1840 Lord Lovat sent a fine stag and forty hares and rabbits; grouse,
fruit and fallow deer were also sent. One hundred and fifty dined and
three hundred danced, and there were races on two days. Two concerts in
the town hall were added, at which the Inverness Militia Band attended.
Concerto solos were given by Mr. Mackenzie and his brother, of Edinburgh.
1841 was a memorable year
from the introduction of a Highland piping and dancing in full costume.
Travelling expenses for one day's journey were allowed to competitors.
Extra prizes were given for the two best dressed Highlanders, regardless
of the person who paid for the dress. One Celtic competitor said he could
not dance without a woman! The pipers had to lodge a list of twelve tunes
with Mr. Hugh Bain for selection by the Committee. At one of the balls all
the ladies appeared in fancy dress, such as Spanish, Swiss and old
1st. Wm. Smith, Gordon Castle, piper to the Duke. ("Macdonald's Salute") -
a set of bagpipes value 10 guineas.
2nd. Angus McInnes, piper to Lord Douro. ("Battle of Sheriff Muir") - 5
3rd. Donald Cameron, piper to J. R. Mackenzie of Scatwell. ("Viscount
Dundee's Lament") - 2 guineas.
Eleven other competitors, including an old man eighty-six years of age
called Macbeth, who was blind and led on to the field.
1st. James Grant, Battangorm, Strathspey for Highland Fling - 3 guineas.
2nd. John Macallister, Tulloch, for Reels - 2 guineas.
3rd. Kenneth Maclennan, Novar, "Ghille Cheallain" (Callum) - 2 guineas.
There was a disturbance
amongst the crowd owing to their breaking the ropes. Inspector Macbean and
constables, assisted by Lord Ward and Cluny, quelled the disorder, four
ringleaders being taken into custody.
1842 was a normal year,
1843 being in bad weather, but with a fair muster. Those present included
Prince Alexander of the Netherlands, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough
and Richmond, Lord Douro, etc. Eighty-nine dined, under the Duke of
Richmond, with Mackintosh, junior, of Mackintosh, "croupier."
1846 next attracts our
attention from its large number of those present. The day was a month
sooner, during the residence of noblemen and sportsmen in the district. No
bands attended, nor were there any seats for the ladies. One of the
competitors threw the hammer amongst the crowd, inadvertently. A fatal
accident was only avoided by the stooping of those inside that part of the
palisade. Cluny Macpherson and Mr. Hall Maxwell were both in imminent
danger from this "foul throw." Sam Kennedy of Tulloch Castle threw the 12
lb. hammer 105 feet 10 inches with one hand, and was awarded four guineas.
We now have mention of caber-tossing, but although the wood was often sawn
and so shortened, the trial was eventually abandoned.
Printed programmes of the
dances, etc., were now suggested, and Gaelic singing was a novelty.
Singers appeared in sober suits, like church precentors, and the long and
serious strains caused impatience amongst the audience. One, however,
created amusement by his ludicrous gestures !
1st. Donald Macdonald,
Invermoriston - 5 guineas.
2nd. John Rose, Bank Lane, Inverness - 3 guineas.
Lists were submitted to
judges for selection.
The prizes for the pibrochs
were a set of bagpipes, a silver brooch, silver-mounted snuff-mull, a
dirk, a sporran, and a belt and buckle.
A race after a pig with a
greasy tail then occurred, in which, after a rough and tumble, most of the
tail was pulled off, spectators consequently ceasing to approve of the
event. A seaman named James Fraser of Inverness eventually captured the
pig. It is said there were no fights this year, nor were any pockets
picked. Perhaps the silence as to other years is ominous!
The year 1847 was memorable
from the visit of Prince Albert. He arrived from Gairlochy by the canal
route, and was the guest of Mr. Baillie of Dochfour. A procession of
Councillors, Trades Representatives, and Freemasons was formed, and
Provost Wm. Simpson presented an address from the Corporation in the town
hall. The Earl of Seafield, Lord-Lieutenant, later on presented an address
from the County. Two hundred Mackintosh clansmen assembled, and, with
pipers and ensigns, formed a guard through which the Royal carriage
passed. The Waterloo soldiers wore their medals at the head of each of the
three Divisions. Prince Albert stayed for two hours at the dance later on,
attired in a blue coat, white vest and black pantaloons, with the Ribbon
of the Thistle and the Collar of the Garter. He seemed pleased with the
reel dancing, and expressed his admiration of the music, the arrangements
and general aspect of the ball. He left Dochfour on the Friday, and
returned to the Queen at Lochiel. Queen Victoria, in the course of a
letter to the King of the Belgians from Ardverikie during September, said:
"Really, when one thinks of the very dull life, and particularly the life
of constant self-denial which my poor, dear Albert leads, he deserves
every amusement in the world, and even about his amusements he is so
accommodating that I am deeply touched by it." Let us hope he found the
Northern Meeting to his liking on this occasion.
1848 was nearly as good as
1847, the excitement lasting a week, steamers running to Glasgow, Leith
and London, coaches to Dingwall, Caithness, Perth, Fort William, Aberdeen,
and Elgin. The s.s. Edinboro' Castle was in command of Captain Turner,
"vessel and captain great favourites."
Cholera interferes in 1849;
1850 had only two days; a good and brilliant attendance included Lord and
Clan dress was worn in
1851. Mr. Ronaleyn Cumming is said to have worn a singular costume, but no
description of it is forthcoming. A small boy, called Peter Stewart, of
Inverness was the recipient of much applause from spectators.
1852 was the most
successful for some years; but 1853 appears to have lost its original
character, more English people than Highlanders being present. Hardly
twenty of the latter description, as proprietors, attended.
In 1855 there was an
improvement in the attendance, and in 1856 several foreigners present were
struck with the novelty of the scene, in spite of cold and ceaseless rain.