Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

History of Curling
Chapter II. The Victorian era - Royal Caledonian Curling Club


HE history of curling, from the end of the period with which the last chapter deals till the present time, is very much the history of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club: and as this club began its career soon after Her Most Gracious Majesty's accession to the throne, its history may be called the Victorian era of the game.

The institution in 1838 of a Grand National Club, with its headquarters in the Scottish capital, and having for its object the regulation of the laws and methods of curling by the united deliberations of representatives from all the clubs of the country, is the most important and far-reaching event in the whole history of curling.

The necessity for such an institution arose out of the confusion to which we have referred in the last chapter. Although the famous and powerful Duddingston Club had done much to improve the science and the style of play, the confusion among curling communities still continued, and unless something were done to improve matters, it became evident to all concerned that progress was impossible. In arranging the first county match in the century—that between Midlothian and Peebles in 1323—Dr Penton of Penicuick had found the greatest difficulty, owing to differences among the clubs as to the rules of the game, the number and size of stones, and the number on each rink and as far back as 1824 he had urged on the secretaries of various clubs the formation of a National Curling Association, on the principle of the Highland and Agricultural Society. But nothing was clone ; and in the match between Midlothian and Lanarkshire in 1831, the difficulties of arrangement were felt as much as ever.
With Sir Richard Broun and Dr Cairnie--the two great curling authorities of the time, the idea of a National Curling Association had also been discussed. Cairnie, in 1833, in the Addenda to his Essay (p. 139) says :—

"The author of the Mem Cur has suggested to us a scheme for the formation of an Amateur Curling Club for Scotland; and we trust he will soon, in a second edition of his work, furnish the curlers of this country with the particulars. He has been so kind as to suggest to us some of the items connected with the plan of formation; and we sincerely wish the talented gentleman's views of the subject may be realised. We think it would be a very desirable matter that, connected with this Curling Club, it should be recommended that every curling society in Scotland should correspond, and give in a list of their office-bearers, the number of curlers, matches played, and any matter connected with the game that is interesting."

The author of the Memorabilia does not seem to have pursued his suggestion. For two years after the publication of his book he collected notes for a second edition, but he went off to London and left the Memorabilia and the suggested amateur society in the hands of others. In the old minute-book of the Douglas St Bride's Curling Society we -meet with them both. This society, at one of its meetings, received a communication from Captain John Paterson, Crofton Hill, near Lanark, announcing a new edition of the Memorabilia, [Broun seems to have concealed his authorship of the Memorabilia for a considerable time. Cairnie evidently knew the author, though he did not divulge his name, but Captain Paterson, in his communication to the Douglas Club, refers to the volume as written by "Robert Brown, Esq., Secretary of the Lochmaben Club." The name, it will be noticed, is also erroneously entered in the prospectus of the proposed amateur society. It is not easy to account for Paterson's ignorance of Broun's authorship, especially as he announces that he is to be a contributor to the new edition of the Memorabilia, and takes such liberties with the book. Halket & Laing's Dictionary of Anonymous Literature does not include the Memorabilia. ] and along with this the following :—


For Promoting and Cherishing the Noble National Game of Curling.

"RESOLUTION.—That the Amateur Curling Club shall be entirely exclusive, embracing the name of such curlers alone as are entitled to be handed down to posterity, as associated par excellence with the ice of the nineteenth century. Members shall be admitted:-

"1. Ex-officio.—From being presidents or office-bearers of any curling society throughout Scotland.
"2. Ex-merito.—From being distingué either from literary productions upon the subject of curling, or from inventions of some kind practically connected with the game.
"3. Ex-suffragio. — From very high scientific skill: gaining a society's medal, or a recommendation from the office-bearers of the local society to which the candidate belongs, shall be necessary for admission under this head."

This society of distingues, as further appears from Paterson's circular, was to be under the patronage of the Duke of Hamilton and the Duke of Athole; the Presidents were to be—Earl of Moray, Earl of Elgin, Lord Elcho, and Lord Torphichen. Vice-Presidents—Hay and Clerk, baronets. Chaplains—Drs Baird, Bryce, Duncan, &c. Secretaries—The Ettrick Shepherd, Captain Paterson, Adam Wilson, Robert Brown. Then follows the list of members. Ex-officio —Earl of Moray, and 150 others. Ex-merito--Drs Cairnie and Gillespie, Hogg, Captain Paterson, and about twenty others. Ex-suffragio — John Linning, and fifty others. Paterson's communication to the Douglas Society closed with the request that the preses should:-

"Furnish him with the names of such curlers as he may consider entitled to be admitted as members of the Amateur Curling Club of Scotland, stating the nature of their claims to such distinction," and "in compliance with this request the secretary is directed to prepare the necessary returns and forward them without delay."

If the members of this mutual admiration amateur society intended to advance the national game, they certainly went the wrong way about it. The society, as might be expected, came to nothing.

Dr Arnott, in his Laws of Curling (1838), after doing his best to reduce the various methods to uniformity, left many points to be settled by curlers before a match began. In the pamphlet, however, he made a practical suggestion regarding the necessity of abolishing all variations on the curling "word," which led to important results. Arnott's suggestion was to this effect (Laws of Curling, p. 11):-

"All brothers have probably the same grip, but there appears to be considerable variation as to the word: this last is to be regretted, and might be easily remedied by a convention formed of the secretaries, or some accredited office-bearers of the principal initiated clubs of Scotland."

Some person, following up this suggestion, inserted in the North British Advertiser of May 26, 1838, the following advertisement:-

"To CURLERS.—In consequence of what is suggested at p. 11 of the `Laws in Curling' (a pamphlet just published by Maclachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh), it is hoped that the Initiated Curling Clubs in Scotland will depute one of the Brethren of their Court to meet in the Waterloo Hotel, Edinburgh, on Wednesday, the 20th June next, at 11 o'clock A.M., for the purpose of making the mysteries more uniform in future, and, if requisite, to form a Grand Court, to which all provincial ones shall be subject, and to elect a Grand President, with other Office-bearers. It is hoped that all Brethren who see this notice will direct the attention of their President or Secretary to it without delay. —10th May 1838."

Who inserted this advertisement?

Soon after the Grand Club's institution the question was raised, but it was found that the origin of the club, like the origin of curling itself, was surrounded with mystery. The claimants for the distinction were as numerous as the cities of Greece which competed, after his death, for the honour of "blind Homer's birth." We have a letter before us, written by John M'George, in which he distinctly states that the late Dr Cairnie, Mr Ogilvie Dalgleish, and himself were the "projectors" of the club. Cairnie had certainly most votes among those who gave their opinion on the subject. Charles Cowan, without any hesitation, ascribed the honour to Dr Renton. Mr Burns Begg declares that the club really "emanated from the little county of Kinross;" and as the "suggestion" which led to the preliminary advertisement was avowedly taken from Dr Walker Arnott's Laws in Curling, printed by the secretary of the Kinross Club (James Whitehead), and published by that gentleman, in conjunction with Maclachlan & Stewart, there seems to be some grounds for this pretension.

It does not appear that any one of those gentlemen ever directly claimed to have inserted the famous advertisement. Dr Cairnie openly stated that he had not done so, just when it had come to be tacitly understood that he had; and Dr Renton confined his claim to the naming of the club after its birth. There the matter had to rest until now, the only definite information about the said advertisement being that given in an "account of the origin of the club" in the Annual for 1844, in which the writer stated that,

"On inquiry at the office of the newspaper, he learned that a gentleman called with the advertisement, paid 10s. 6d. for it, but gave no name, and left no reference."

While we were busy investigating the records of the old curling societies, we came upon some entries in the Auchterarder minute-book, from which new light is thrown on the subject. The advertisement, it appears, was brought under the notice of the secretary, for the time being, of the Auchterarder Club, who took the opinion of several "brethren of the Court" as to the propriety of sending a deputy to the proposed meeting in the Waterloo Hotel. With true Scottish caution, it was decided to ascertain by whose authority the meeting had been called, the Auchterarder Court being convinced.

"That the success or failure of the measure would depend upon the station and character of the individual by whom it had been concocted."

A. request was accordingly sent to William Murray, writer in Edinburgh, to do the club the favour to ascertain by whom the Waterloo Hotel had been engaged for the meeting of curlers on 20th June, and by whom the advertisement was inserted. Mr Murray was at the same time requested to forward a copy of the pamphlet referred to in the advertisement to the secretary of the Auchterarder Club; and in the event of his being satisfied with the respectability of the person by whom the meeting was called, he was commissioned to act as the representative of their Court at the Curling Conference. Mr Murray evidently went about the business in lawyer-like style, and this is his reply:-

"EDINBURGH, 14th June 1838.

"Mr DEAR SIR,—Your letter of 'high import,' dated the 11th, did not reach me until yesterday at mid-day. I cannot but congratulate myself on the high honour conferred upon me by the ancient and renowned club of Auchterarder by being selected, at least thought worthy, to make the inquiries on their behalf referred to in your letter. As requested, I went to the Waterloo, and was rather surprised to learn that no apartment, either in what are properly called the Waterloo Rooms or in the Hotel, had been bespoke for the meeting advertised. Having thus failed in this quarter, I next went to the office of the N B Advertiser, when one of the clerks, after considerable search, &c., told me that the advertisement had been furnished by a Mr J. Allan, a bookseller and publisher in Haddington. Maclachlan & Stewart's shopman tells me that the pamphlet was sent to them by a Dr Arnott of Arlary in Kinross-shire, but whether he be the author is not known. The preceding, I andsorry to say, is all the information I have been able to obtain in reference to the meeting of the 20th.

Your renowned club must of course judge whether they will send over one of their members to take a part in the proceedings of that day. I shall send the pamphlet by the carrier of next week. It cost 6d., which I can get first time I see you. I cannot but regret the scanty information I have been able to obtain for my initiated brethren of the far-famed Auchterarder Curling Club. I shall be glad can I be of any future service in making inquiries for the curlers, but would rather decline becoming their representative at the ensuing meeting, not so much from any disinclination to the duties as from an almost certainty that my office duties would not permit of my attending the meeting at all - 11 o'clock being our busy hour.

Yours very faithfully,
WILLM. MURRAY." "Mr .Jas. Murray, Auchterarder."

The information contained in this letter may be relied on as far as it goes. Mr Murray's inquiry had the advantage of that which was instituted five years later, for it was made a week before the advertised meeting was held. But in some respects it is like the Hielandman's character —we "would have been as potter without it." If Du Chaillu offer us Vikings for ancestors instead of North German tribes, we may adopt them (if children may adopt parents) as a change for the better, but we may not always be so fortunate if we believe everybody who goes poking into the roots of our national pedigree. So with the National Curling Club: we would not have objected to Mr Murray's inquiry if he had given us the immortal Cairnie or some other ice-king for a father; but we cannot adopt Mr J. Allan, bookseller and publisher in Haddington, as the parent of the Royal Club. There is still a mystery about its origin, which this letter only throws further back. Mr Allan was a worthy man (and there was no excuse for the "Spartan men" of Auchterarder deciding as they did to have nothing to do with the meeting); but he was not a curler, and did not take the slightest interest in the game. His shop was a "howff'," where the good folks of the burgh met to discuss the affairs of their neighbours and settle the affairs of the nation; but faithless Haddington had long forgotten her curling, and it was no interest of hers at that time to advance the game at a cost of 10s. 6d. by the hands of Mr Allan. We would have suggested that John Ramsay, who was now at Gladsmuir, might have got the bookseller to act as he did; but we find from the Gladsmuir minutes that Ramsay did not at first believe in the Grand Club, and advised the Gladsmuir curlers to have nothing to do with it. In a vision of the night the scroll may have been placed in Mr Allan's hands by the guardian angel of Scotia's ain game; but we are inclined to think that he inserted the advertisement by arrangement with some eminent curler or friend of curling who wished "to do good by stealth," or perhaps to conceal his identity in case the meeting should prove a failure. The Murray letter now published may yet lead to a settlement of the question. Meantime we may leave it tinder the shadow of the Lamp of Lothian, "until" (as our old session-books say of dubious births), "Providence shall see fit to cast further light upon the subject."

The advertisement was a success, but it narrowly escaped being a failure. About a dozen gentlemen—all keen curlers —met in the Waterloo Hotel, and after sitting for some time they were about to disperse, "the most part," like the Ephesian mob, "not knowing wherefore they had come," when a dapper little stranger entered the upper room where they sat, with some volumes under his only arm, and, throwing these on the table, presented his card—John Cairnie of Curling Hall. His air, manner, and address so impressed them all that he was with acclaim made chairman of the meeting. They then proceeded to business. No regular minute of their doings was taken, but in the North British Advertiser and other papers the following advertisement, drawn up by the company, soon thereafter appeared:-

"To CURLERS.—In consequence of an advertisement which appeared in the North British Advertiser of 26thI May 1838, a MEETING Of CURLERS was held in the Waterloo Hotel on the 20th inst., JOHN CAIRNIE, Esq., of Curling Hall, Lars, in the chair. Deputations from various Clubs appeared, who approved generally of adopting a uniform set of Regulations, applicable to the whole of Scotland, assimilating the technical terms, forming a court of reference, &c.

"But anxious for a fuller representation of the different Clubs throughout the country, in order to perpetuate and connect more closely the Brotherhood in this Ancient National Game, they adjourned to WEDNESDAY, 25th of JULY NEXT, at 12 o'clock, in the Waterloo Hotel, when they hope the different Clubs of Scotland will make a point of sending Deputations. JOHN CAIRNIE, Chairman."

The meeting which took place in response to this advertisement was a thoroughly representative one, forty-four gentlemen being present, who represented thirty-six clubs, connected with the various districts of Scotland, from Dumfries to Perth.

The resolution by which the Grand Club was formally instituted was proposed by Dr Renton, and agreed to with the utmost heartiness and enthusiasm:-

"That this meeting do form itself into a club, composed of the different initiated clubs of Scotland, under the name of the 'Grand Caledonian Curling Club."

Dr Cairnie was then, as a matter of course, elected first president of the club; Mr James Skelton, W.S., a "brother" of the Kinross Court, was chosen to be honorary secretary and treasurer; while John M'George and James Ogilvie Dalgleish were made vice-presidents.

From his throne of office the famous old curler of the West gave a short but comprehensive address, eulogising the ancient and national game. Cairnie also explained the system of artificial pond-making with which his name was connected, and the meeting had placed before them some specimens of improved curling-stones, alongside of which was exhibited a kuting-stone. which had been fished out of Lochleven. The day of its institution, 25th July 1838, was indeed a miniature of the history of the club. Even the social side of the club meetings was duly observed by a dinner, at which Mr Ogilvie Dalgleish presided, his admirable conduct in the chair contributing not a little to the hilarity of the evening. The Court was constituted in due form by a member of the Kinross deputation, according to the most ancient usage, and afforded to those who were not acquainted with that ceremony great interest and amusement. With due observance of all the best traditions of the game, and with a clear understanding of what was required to make it a national institution worthy of the support of future generations of curlers, the Grand Club was thus successfully started on its journey; and, as the first account of its origin (Annual, 1844, pp. 57, 58) has it:-

"There could not be a better instance of the attractive nature of curlers' sympathy than this day's history affords. The members met in the morning almost strangers to each other—they spent the evening like brothers, as if they had been all their lives acquainted, and separated rejoicing in the friendships they had formed, and in the expectation of often meeting again."


The Grand Club, thus happily instituted, could not do much without a constitution. Its founders did not forget this; but, as the constitution of such a club could not be framed in a day, they adjourned to 15th November 1888, leaving it to be drafted by a few of their trusted brethren. A glance at the list of those who attended the first meeting will show how many there were among the number capable of doing this work. The author of the Memorabilia was not there, but he sent a communication which showed that he was there in spirit. Mr Walker Arnott, who had this same year published the Laws of Curling, was at their service; so was the chairman himself, than whom there was no better authority, although the weight of years made it impossible for him to do much more active work in the cause. Then there were two amphibious heroes—Sir David Baird, Bart. of Newbyth, and Charles Robertson ("Golfing Charlie"). They both loved the gutty well, and had won high honours in the Royal and Ancient," and both were splendid curlers, loving curling even more than golf, like The Stranger (vide p. 211), who sang over the toddy at Pitlessie:-

"There's daily golf at Saint Andrewes,
And tea air turnout nightly
But I prefer the curling-stare
That skims the ice sae lightly.
For oh! I like baith dear and weel
The curling-stane to handle?
I wad na gi'e the blithe bonspiel
For a' their cards and scandal."

Any or all of these might have prepared a constitution for the Grand Club. It skews what a wealth of ability there was among the company when they were all left out.

To the following gentlemen as a committee the work was entrusted—viz., Dr Renton, Charles Cowan, and Mr Gilbert (Penicuick Club); John M'George (Merchiston); Thomas Durham Weir (Bathgate); J. Ogilvie Dalgleish (Abdie); J. W. Williamson (Kinross); and Messrs Simpson,. Hill, and Scott. The three last-named were not present at the meeting. It is more than likely that they were Duddingston members, and that by their inclusion in the list, the founders of the Grand Club desired to gain the allegiance of the Duddingston Club, which, although it was the most important club in Scotland, had not sent a representative to the meeting at which the Grand Club was formed. In the selection of the committee Penicuick Club was specially honoured—its three delegates being all included. Of Mr Gilbert we have not heard much; but of Dr Renton we have heard a great deal, and all to his credit. He was a successful physician, a good curler, and an all-round man of the highest type. Dr Renton did a great amount of work in the cause of curling long before the days of the Grand Club, and of this club he was one of the best friends and brightest ornaments for many years. Charles Cowan, who was afterwards well known as member for the city of Edinburgh, and who of all the gallant band that formed the club was the only one destined to survive the first fifty years of its existence, was then in the prime of life, esteemed by all who knew him as a man of high moral principle, sterling worth, and excellent business capacity.

His great aim in life was to promote everything which concerned the welfare and happiness of his fellow-men. He saw the beneficial moral effects of curling on the community, and became a keen curler, not so much because of any selfish delight to be had in it, but because it was social, manly, and healthy. John M'George was one of the most experienced of curlers, for he had played as far back as 1770, when he was only fourteen years of age. In his Reminiscences [Reminiscence, by Charles Cowan of Logan House. Printed for private circulation, 1878.] (p. 115), Charles Cowan speaks of this old curler as "a perfect gentleman," and tells in his praise how he absolutely refused to play his stone on one occasion when the game stood peels, and some one who had money on the match cried out, "Take care, M`George, there's a guinea on that shot." To the end of his life M`George was a most useful member of the Grand Club. For a good many years he was medalist to the club — an office which he also filled in the Duddingston Society. Of Mr Durham Weir and Mr Williamson we have spoken in our last chapter. They were both excellent men, and worthy to act on this committee. It was, however, to James Ogilvy Dalaleish, above all others, that the Grand Club was indebted for the framework of its first constitution. After a period of active service in the navy, Mr Dalgleish at a comparatively early age settled down in his native county of Fife, and devoted his attention to agricultural and county business. Residing at Lindores, he could not fail to be fired with the enthusiasm of the Abdie curlers, who met on the lovely loch there. As a member of the committee, he devoted his days and nights to the framing of the constitution, and his hand is visible in most of the earlier legislation of the club, the plan for provincial spiels being, like many other good things, due to him. For thirty years he never missed an annual meeting. As he had witnessed its birth and fostered its growth, he was with one voice made president in the year 1851, when the club had reached its maturity. In his home club (Abdie), and in the Ceres Club, of which he was long president, Mr Dalgleish was greatly beloved and respected. It is said that when he was nearly seventy he entered the lists with twenty-one competitors for the point medals. The storm was so violent that they had to move from Lindores to a sheltered bit of ice called the Dog Loch, and there the old man out-distanced all competitors and won the first medal with twelve points. He tied for the second, and amid great excitement the tie was played off, when the veteran scored two beautiful shots at "chip the winner," and beat his man. Another incident, of a different kind, is no less characteristic of the man. After a bonspiel between Abdie and Balyarrow, when the two clubs had enjoyed their "beef and greens," Mr Dalgleish, who was in the chair, rose up, and called on the curlers to remember the poor. In response to his call a handsome subscription was realised, which was at once forwarded to Newburgh soup-kitchen. Well might the Royal Club Committee thus express their feelings when Mr Dalgleish died in 1875.

"Gentlemanly, genial and hearty in manner, a good curler and a grand skip—we feel as curlers that we have all lost one of the best of friends."

The essential features of the constitution of the club have remained much the same as when it was presented by the committee and unanimously adopted on 15th November 1838. In the course of fifty years, what with additions and amendments, the constitution has, however, become rather corpulent; and it would be improved by a course of the Banting system. In recent years several proposals have been made to revise it and make it clearer and more compact. We shall therefore give the constitution, as it now stands, at the end of our volume [Appendix A.] (as it can there be amended without much difficulty), and in a series of paragraphs we shall try to bring out its essential features, while at the same time we trace the history of the club and of curling during the last half-century.


The flag of Royalty has waved over our -National Curling Club during the greater part of its career. In 1842, when Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince Consort visited Scotland, they were entertained by the Earl of -Mansfield at the palace of Scone. The Earl was at that time president of the Grand Club. While all classes were busy giving expression to their loyalty and attachment to the throne, the curlers requested Lord 'Mansfield to present Prince Albert with a pair of curling-stones, and at the same time to recommend the Grand Caledonian Curling Club to the favourable notice of His Royal Highness.

The stones transmitted to the palace of Scone were made of the finest Ailsa granite, the handles being of silver, and bearing an appropriate inscription. In presence of the Queen, Her Majesty's Ministers, and the guests assembled in the palace, the Earl of Mansfield duly presented then to Prince Albert, who was pleased to accept them, and to thank the curlers for "this mark of their respectful attention." The Prince at the same time, "in his own modest and winning manner," as Lord Mansfield afterwards wrote, "at once assented to the suggestion that he should be patron of the club." Her Majesty the Queen made particular inquiries of the Earl regarding the game of curling. To illustrate the explanations he gave in reply, Lord Mansfield had the polished oaken floor of the room converted into a rink, and initiated Her Majesty and His Royal Highness into all the mysteries of the game. The stones were sent "roaring" along the smooth surface, and Her Majesty "tried her hand" at throwing them, but they proved too heavy for her delicate arm. Both the Queen and the Prince expressed surprise when informed as to the usual length of a rink, and appeared to imagine that it must require a very great degree of strength to propel the stones to such a distance. The Merchiston Club soon after had the honour of enrolling Prince Albert in its list of regular members. In the following year a petition was sent by the Grand Club to Sir George Clerk, for presentation to the Queen, praying Her Majesty to allow the use of the term Royal. The reply received was afterwards lithographed as the club's royal charter, and a copy transmitted to each affiliated club. It was sent through Sir James Graham, Secretary of the Home Department, to William Gibson-Craig, Esq., then president of the club, and was as follows:

"WHITEHALL, 12th August 1843.

"SIR,—I am directed by Secretary Sir James Graham to inform you that he has laid before the Queeu the petition of the `Grand Caledonian Curling Club,' praying that they may be permitted to assume the designation of `The Royal Grand Caledonian Curling Club.' And I am to acquaint you that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to grant the prayer of the petition. —I have the Honour to be, &c.

"The President of the
Royal Grand Caledonian Curling Club, &c."

The adjective Grand being deemed superfluous, permission was given to drop it, and since that time the club has worn its present title. Whether Prince Albert put the Ailsas to any practical use we do not know, but both His Highness and Her Majesty the Queen endeared themselves to the curling brotherhood by their sympathy, and when on that dark December morning in 1861 the word passed from mouth to mouth "the Prince is dead," none grieved more bitterly over his loss than the curlers of Scotland, and none to this day cherish more tenderly the memory of Albert the Good.

On the death of the Prince Consort, His Royal Highness Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, through Lord Mansfield, consented to become patron of the Royal Club (July 21, 1862). That their new patron might have facilities for putting his patronage into practice, the club presented hint with a pair of stones, made of the green serpentine found near Crieff, with silver-mounted handles chased with thistles, oak leaves, and acorns, the wood being of oak from the palace of Linlithgow. The presentation was made by Lord Sefton, who was then president of the club. If His Royal Highness was fortunate in having such tutors as "Golfing Charlie" desired (ride p. 16), he must long before this have been initiated into "the incomparable game of curling," and the "Muthills" have no doubt, enjoyed many an outing on the Royal ponds.

Under the patronage of the Prince of Wales we have continued in prosperity, the number of our clubs and our members having nearly doubled. We are grateful for his support. Our hope is that ere long we shall have our patron spending a curling season among us, now that he has family ties to bind him more closely to the North. He could have no better insight into the game than among the curlers of Braemar, with their popular president, the Duke of Fife, a keen, keen curler, at their head; and if His Royal Highness can find it possible to appear at our great national bonspiel at Carsebreck, we shall give him what for heartiness and enthusiasm surpasses every other expression of loyalty—a curlers' welcome.


The constitution of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club is thoroughly democratic. The power of Royalty lies mainly in the influence of its patronage, and the only review of our-actions which is exercised by our Royal head is a perusal of the contents of the Annual.

The famous Duddingston Club for a long time laid down. the law under the direction of wise and capable advisers, and in the transition period did much to advance the game;. but it was impossible for that club to exercise authority over other clubs while these were not directly represented in its council. A new foundation had to be laid before order could be brought out of confusion. The founders. of our Royal Club felt this and so representation became the principle of that constitution which they brought forward for the adoption of their brethren. At first, individuals, apart from clubs, might be admitted members (with no voice in the management), by paying ten shillings entry-money and five shillings annually; but this was evidently regarded as a germ of disease, and it was speedily eliminated from the system. The credentials of each representative had to bear, as they still do, that he appeared in the name of "a club having at least eight members, a designation, a sheet of ice for their operations, and a set of office-bearers." The Grand Club thus brought all local clubs into connection, and proceeded to govern their by their own authority.

That this form of government has been thoroughly successful may be inferred from the way in which the curling parliament has for fifty years and more conducted the Royal Club's affairs. Any one who chooses to visit one of these annual gatherings must at once come to this conclusion. There he finds the duke, earl, or baronet in the chair, surrounded by intelligent curlers from every part of Scotland, all ready to give a reason for the faith that is in them, and able to do so when called upon. The secretary, with his "order of business," keeps the business in order. The conflict of opinion on some emerging point soon begins, steel strikes upon flint, and sparks of wit and wisdom fly about; each has his say and says it well, the stonemason being listened to as attentively by the chairman as his brother baronet or peer; the vote is taken and the decision accepted amicably by all; greetings from our brothers across the Atlantic are read and cheered, and sometimes an American steps forward to tell us how well curling fares in its adopted home, and to challenge us to a bonspiel at Toronto, Montreal, or New York. In two or three Hours the work of a year is done, and the affairs of a community of 20,000 curlers are settled in a way that the greater conventions of Church or State might well envy. Prompt and practical as the representative meeting is, and always has been, yet in its legislation nothing has ever been done rashly. In the earlier days the members hesitated long before they made it compulsory to abandon the system of having eight players with one stone each on the rink. After prescribing foot-irons, when they heard the appeal of those brethren, who never felt that their "foot was on their native heath" unless it was in the hack, they gave way and allowed the hack to be used under certain conditions. In our constitution we also have a Barrier Act. No measure is passed which is not approved of by a majority of clubs. Even then it may still be rejected if two-thirds of the representatives do not support it at the July meeting. Beyond all this, our transactions are open to review by a general meeting of the club. It is very satisfactory to find that never once in the club's history has any act of its Representative Committee been objected to or overthrown.

As a national institution, it is right that the headquarters of the club should be in our Scottish capital, and that the representative gathering should be there convened. The club's office, with all documents and minutes, being in Edinburgh, it follows that a meeting elsewhere is attended with difficulties. These have not, however, deterred the Royal Club from holding the annual meetings out of Edinburgh, and seeking to awaken interest in the club and in curling by visiting various important centres. There seems to be a growing desire that this should be oftener done, and if the difficulties to which we have referred are not too great, there is no doubt that advantage would result to the club. In the constitution it is provided that an adjourned meeting be held in the winter, and, as will be seen from the following table of the club's various meetings, this was done in the earlier years of the club, the day chosen being that of the Grand Match. For a long time this adjourned meeting has not been held, the Committee of Management—that great beast of burden —being left to do the work that is required throughout the year.

A dinner such as followed the first meeting of representatives was not provided for in the constitution of the club, but as it was found to supply a felt want in the constitutions of the representatives, and to be a capital way of cementing friendship, the custom thus happily inaugurated was kept up. Between the meeting at Kilmarnock in 1841 and that at Lochwinnoch in 1850 several dinners were held, which, if we may judge from the reports of them in the Annuals, were quite historical events. From 1850 to 188 1 no report of the annual dinner is inserted, and since 1881 such reports as we have are meagre in the extreme. The enthusiasm of these gatherings seems to increase as we go backwards over the club's history. At Lochwinnoch, in 1850, we find the railway arrangements interfering with the attendance, as they have done ever since. Still, there were 130 at dinner in the "Black Bull " there. The genial Duke of Athole had 170 members round him in the "Star and Garter" at Liiilitlhgow on the night of the Grand Match there, and a merry night it was. At the dinner held in the "Guildhall," Stirling, in 1845, the chairman was the Hon. Fox Maule, M.P., the number attending being 200. Two successive gatherings were held in Edinburgh, under the presidency of William Gibson-Craig, M.P., the one in July 1843, when there were 80, and the other in January 1844, when there were no less than 200 curlers present. On each occasion it is interesting to find the ancient association of the Town Council of Edinburgh with the game of curling revived by the presence of the Lord Provost of the city. On each occasion a deputation from the Merchiston and Edinburgh Clubs appeared at a certain stage of the proceedings and conducted his lordship through "the dark passage," where he was initiated into the mysteries of the game, and made a regular "knight of the broom." The meeting at Perth in 1843 was a memorable one—worthy of the place where Ruthven, Gall, and Adamson had, more than two hundred years before, curled with their "loadstones of Lidnochian lakes." The clubs of Perthshire made a great bonspiel on Windyedge Loch in honour of the event, and so many curlers were prepared to dine that the County Hall had to be engaged, where 200 sat down under Lord Mansfield, with the celebrated Bugle Band of the Sixty-Eighth (Depot) discoursing excellent music. The fact that Prince Albert had recently, through the noble chairman, become patron of the Grand Club, gave additional interest to the loyal toast, and the chairman himself, as the medium of this high favour, came in for special honour, while the many proofs he had given of his active devotion to the cause of curling added weight to what he had to say in its favour as:-

"A game of science, demanding an accurate eye and a steady hand, and a pastime in which men of every station and opinion might mingle freely and happily together, animated by no feeling of hostility beyond that of a generous emulation as to who shall get nearest the tee."

At this meeting Dr Penton delivered the speech par excellence of the many that have been spoken to the toast, "A' keen curlers," and as he finished the band struck up The Royal Caledonian Curling Strathspey. [Specially composed for the occasion by H. Devlin, Music Master, Sixty-Eighth (Depot). Can any one favour us with a copy?]

It is at Kilmarnock that we find the enthusiasm of the early "Caledonians" roused to its highest pitch. The business of the adjourned meeting being over, we look in at the Town Hall, where 150 curlers have met to dine, with the Earl of Eglinton and Winton in the chair.

"The dinner was laid out in a style of unusual splendour. The walls were beautifully festooned with wreaths of flowers, and tastefully decorated with paintings. Floral arches, and curling and sporting devices, surmounted the respective seats of the chairman and croupier. Above the former was the figure of a coronet, and on each side of the chair were two handsome arches, formed of flowers and evergreens. The Eglinton arms were displayed alongside of those of the town of Kilmarnock, and the words Winter .Sports, The Land o' Cakes, and her ain Game o' Curlin', all executed by Mr Robertson, painter, Kilmarnock. Over the chair of the croupier (J. W. Williamson) were suspended two flue transparencies, under the direction of Mr Tannock, artist—one of a curler with his foot on the trigger preparing to play his stone, and another of a fox-hunt. An artificial embowered orchestra was fitted up, whence the Kilmarnock Quadrille Band sent forth their inspiring national airs during the evening" (Annual, 1842, p. 23).

This was the devotion of many generations of Kilmarnock curlers expressing itself. The people there had never forgotten the example of William Guthrie: and the "neighbouring gentry," with whose ancestors the Covenanter curled two centuries before, still kept up their allegiance to the game. The worthiest of them all—that great patron of all manly sports and national pastimes, "Scotland's pride and Ayrshire's glory," as they loved to call him—the noble Earl in the chair, inspired by such memories and surroundings, could not fail to be eloquent, and with patriotism and spirit he carried the hearts of his hearers with him as he recounted the pleasures and advantages of the national game. When the great company cheered to the echo the toast of his health, Lord Eglinton's reply was (and it might be written up before every president of the Royal Club as a, motto): "I have the earnest wish to encourage the games and sports of my native country, and more especially such games and sports as by their nature are open alike to poor and rich. Among these I am sure there is none that can be compared to the game of curling."

Very touching it was to see the way in which that meeting did honour to the venerable John Cairnie of Curling Hall, the first president of the Grand Club, and to hear his reply to the kind words spoken of him:-
"I am now an ol(1 curler, and very unable to speak as I should like; but I am a keen curler; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I think I shall curl to the Iast."

It was the old hero's farewell; a year thereafter he played his last stone and quitted the rink of life, curling to the last, as he thought he should.

But with all this noisy fervour shall there be no solemn silence toast to chasten the mirth? One such there surely must be. What shall it be? "The Memory of Tangy Pate?" No; "Tam" has been drunk already, not in solemn silence, but with all the honours, and there was no change in his habits, for in reply to the toast "Tangy never uttered a single cheep)." Why, what are you thinking about? This is Kilmarnock, and let skill depart from the right hand of Auld Killie's curlers if they forget their own Tam Samson. But no solemn silence about the toast. The "king o' a' the core is dead, but "the image of himself," Tam the second, "who can draw a trigger or ride a shot with any man living," is at the table. And so it is "The living Tam Samson, gentlemen!" for which "Mr Thomas Samson returned thanks."

Representative government by day, and a. representative social gathering at night—so it ought to be at each annual meeting of our National Club. But the founders had the advantage of us. They dined in winter, when a bonspiel could be added to the serious business of the day, and they met in the evening with bonspiel appetites. The flush of success in their new venture was upon them, the themes on which they spoke were fresh, and the times in which they lived were prosperous. Now the tildes are bad, the themes are stale, dinner is served on the afternoon of one of the dog-days, and the noble chairman is off with the train, leaving us in the hands of our senior Vice. We cannot come up to those old Caledonian nights, but we shall see what we can do.

From the above list it is apparent that the Royal Club has enlisted the support of the nobility of Scotland to a very large extent, nearly- all our great historic families having furnished representatives able and willing to fill the president's chair. These presidents have not been mere aristocratic figureheads, but they have, most of them, taken a. practical interest in the game of curling. When so many have rendered conspicuous service to the cause, and the influence of each has had so much to do with the encouragement of curling in his own particular district, it may be invidious to single out any name for distinction in the presidential list, but we may be permitted to make special acknowledgment of the work done by the late Duke of Athole during the terns of his presidency, and through all the first half of this period. The Duke was a thorough enthusiast on the subject of curling, and was specially anxious to see the Grand Match a success, for lie always looked upon the great battle between North and South as the chief attraction of the curling year ; and he not ' only urged the men of Dunkeld to turn out in force, but with his own rink lie never failed to take part in the match when it was possible. In the account of the Grand hatch at Linlithgow the Annual of 1849 (p. 190) says:-

"The rink which had. the greatest number of bystanders was that which included the Duke of Athole, the president-elect, and such is the genial influence of this manly game on the feelings of all engaged in it that it would have been impossible from his Grace's manner to have known that he stood `a peer of the proudest title' among the honest and independent but humble sons of toil with whom he was muted."

The Duke did much to spread a knowledge of and a love for the game in the North, and was much beloved by the curlers there, for he always took the greatest interest in their welfare. When he died, at the comparatively early age of fifty, he was much missed and lamented.

"The pibroch's shrill wailing was heard through the glen, And slow was the march of Blair Athole's brave men, As they bore from his home to his lone resting-place Their own beloved chieftain, the flower of his race."

Among the later names of our list of presidents that of the Marquis of Breadalbane is pre-eminent among many who have devoted their -attention to the work of the Royal Club. He was selected to fill the chair when the club had completed fifty years of its existence, and every curler knows how successfully he discharged •the- special duties that devolved upon him on that important occasion. Like his late father, whose good qualities he inherits, the Marquis of Breadalbane, with perhaps even greater success, has developed curling in the North, and mainly through his efforts there are now as many as nine local clubs bearing the Breadalbane naive, and all ready, in obedience to their chieftain's family motto, Follow Me, to go forth under his banner to the icy wars. At the present time Lord Breadalbane is doing his utmost to secure a more central pond for the Grand Match. It is to be hoped that a successful .settlement of a long-felt difficulty may soon be added to the numerous services his Lordship has been able to render to the Royal Club.

Of our vice-presidents it is enough to say that they are never chosen to fill the office without having first given practical proof of their interest in our representative meetings, for they can only be chosen from among the members present. A glance at the list will spew that in the various districts of Scotland the most influential among our proprietors, professional men, and men of business are sent up by the curlers to represent them in the management of the central club.

Of the various offices in our representative government that of secretary and treasurer is, of course, the most important, its holder being virtually both leader of the House and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before the time of Mr Davidson Smith, three gentlemen had held the office as a double charge, Dr Renton having simply acted as temporary treasurer for two years. It is not difficult to single out, not only from the list of our paid officials, but from the whole list of the club's office-bearers, the foremost naive in the ministry of service, in which there have been so many willing workers. It is that of Alexander Cassels, W.S., who was vice-president 1843-44, secretary 1844-46, and secretary and treasurer for the long period of thirty years, 1846-76. To the management of the Royal Club Mr Cassels gave his heart and soul, and the gift was a large one. He is described [Scotsman, 11th March 1875.] by his friend Sheriff Campbell Smith as "a tall, powerful, fine-looking man, and in his physical and meiital gifts and proclivities he belonged to that class of which Professor Wilson was the highest type." One so richly endowed and so popular with all who could appreciate kindliness of heart, sincerity, and unselfishness, could not fail to advance the popularity of a society with which he so thoroughly identified himself, and there is no doubt that to this prince of secretaries the success of the Royal Club at the most trying period of its history was mainly due.

The work done for the club by Bailie Cassels could not be, and it was not, measured by pounds, shillings, and pence, but the small salary he received as secretary and treasurer was always supplemented by a great amount of gratitude. When he could serve them no longer, and lay prostrate from an illness which had been aggravated by his attending the Grand Match, 24th December 1875, when he should have been in bed, the curlers did not forget how much they owed him, and, with the help of the brethren across the Atlantic, they raised 500 sovereigns, and had them enclosed in a silver kettle to be presented to him. It was too late, as good intentions often are. But Mr Cassels knew of the proposed gift, and it cheered his heart as lie entered the valley of shadows to think that those whom lie loved, and for whom he had lived, remembered him so kindly.

The Grand Club founders very gracefully recognised the interest which the clergy have always taken in the national game by appointing a chaplain as one of their office-bearers, the first to fill the honourable position being the Very Rev. Dr Husband Baird, Principal of Edinburgh University. The Principal's zeal in the cause, and his practical knowledge of curling, of which we have had so many proofs, made him pre-eminently worthy of the honour. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr Simpson of Kirknewton, a keen curler, who in 1849 was Moderator of the General Assembly. Then came the Principal of Glasgow University, the Very Rev. Dr Barclay. The Principal was a native of Unst, our most northern isle, where curling was unknown; but lie had been minister of several country parishes, Currie anions others, and, like many of the country clergy, lie had curled when frost permitted, and studied when curling permitted. His classical accomplishments were a credit to his curling. So thought the Royal Club, and they made him their chaplain. But the chaplaincy is like the fishwife's basket—the last's best. When minister of Dailly, that keen curling parish (of which Ailsa Craig is an appropriate part), the Rev. Mr Giffen was known and admired as a capital curling parish minister. The work of one of our largest Edinburgh congregations (St Mary's), and the city minister's multifarious duties, do not, as he told us in his eloquent speech at the Jubilee, leave much leisure for curling; but the old enthusiasm is there yet, and there is no keener hand in the Drum Club or in the Edinburgh Northern than the present worthy custos morum of the Royal Club. Our chaplain has a heart full of sympathy for all that is bright and manly in religion, amusement, and social life ; and, in his own words, he "has learned some of the best lessons of how to deal with men by playing side by side with them upon the ice."

The chaplain's duties do not extend much beyond the saying of grace at the annual dinner, [In America the duties are heavier. In one report of the Convention of the Grand National Club (1856) we read that the chaplain (Rev. Dr Ormiston, New York) "opened the meeting with an eloquent and impressive prayer." On the first Sabbath of January 18SS the curlers in a body attended church, when the chaplain preached a special sermon (Mal. iii. 12), "a practice the officers of the National Curling Club hope to see carried out every year."] but by the respect paid to the office the curling brotherhood shew their appreciation of that support which the clergy very wisely give to the national game. That the compliment is deserved may be inferred from the fact that of the 20,000 members of the Royal Club 500, or 1 in 40, are clergymen. Such a fact speaks more eloquently than any words can as to the high estimation in which the clerical profession generally hold the game.

Of the 461 curling clubs in Scotland affiliated with the Royal Caledonian, no less than 350 follow the example of the parent club and elect a chaplain as one of their office-bearers. Some appoint more than one. Of these chaplains, 290 are ministers of the Church of Scotland, 23 are F.C. ministers, 18 U.P., 13 Episcopal, 4 Roman Catholic, and the others nondescript. Principal Caird and the Moderator and ex-Moderator of Assembly head the Church of Scotland representatives, Dr Walter Smith the F.C.'s, and Dr Brown of Paisley the I .P.'s ; but no dignitary of the Episcopal or Roman Catholic persuasion is found anion; the few who, in these Churches, shew their sympathy with our national game. There is, therefore, some room still left for improving the connection between churches and curling.


The point competition in curling, originated at Duddingston in 1809 (ride p. 146), has not had a happy existence. It has done away with Tam Pates. No curler can now say that he never missed a single shot. But while the game may in some respects have benefited by this form of competition, point play has never been looked upon as curling in the true sense of the word. The tout ensemble is awanting, and the lead or second stone, who is accustomed to play to an empty parish, has a great advantage over others. We might as welI try to decide skill at golf by a few strokes with play-club, spoon, iron, and putter, as to test curling by a competition at points. When the Currie worthies drew the diagrams for the eight point game, the Rev. Dr Somerville in triumph remarked, "'We have now placed the point medal beyond the reach of duffers." At the very first competition, however, the medal was won by Willie Drum, who was admittedly the worst player in the club! For expressing a doubt, based perhaps on this Currie experience, a president of the Blairlgowrie Club Mr Anderson, banker—was once very severely punished. On the way to Marlee Loch, where he and the other members of the club were to compete for the point medal, 25th January, 1841, Mr Anderson remarked that he should not be surprised to see the greatest duffer carry off the trophy. "After a keen and exciting contest," says the club minute of that date, "the medal was won by Mr Anderson, banker, by a majority of one shot." The Royal Club adopted the Currie points, as we have seen, and awarded what were called local medals for this kind of competition. For a time reports of these competitions were inserted in the Annuals, but the difficulty of making satisfactory comparisons, owing to the different conditions under which the medals were competed for, caused the club to give the practice up, and to cease encouraging point play by medals, though the diagrams and the rules remained. The great majority of our clubs continue to set apart a day in the ice season for point play, and most of them have trophies front private patrons to be competed for, but the point game has never really cleared itself of the dubiety of character which caused the Royal Club in its early years to give up supporting it. While this is said, and while it is undoubtedly true that the greatest duffer may sometimes carry off the point prize, yet when we find in some clubs the name of one particular member appearing year after year (as in the case of William Gordon, a famous Bathgate player, who won his club's medal twenty-one times), we may infer that the persistent winner is the best player in the club.

In 1888 the old system which only allowed one point for each shot was done away with, and the present system (see "Art of Curling") introduced, which allows some gradation of value in the shots. When this change took place, a curler who did not like it remarked to us, "Ye shouldna get onything for nufflin' the feathers if ye dinna bring doon the bird." True, if in curling a miss were not often "as good as a mile." But in the case, e.g., of chip the winner, the "chip" may not be taken, and yet in an ordinary game, if the winner is laid open, there is much advantage rained for the side of the player. It is, therefore, probable that the new system will prove a more satisfactory test of skill than the old. At any rate, it is entitled to have a fair trial. [Many clubs have sent us communications testifying to their great .satisfaction with the new point system and its advantage over the old.]

The adoption of the new system having made the old point game a matter of history, it was only fair that we should analyse the results of its fifty years of existence, however unreliable they might appear to us to be. The only way to do this was to call for returns of scores from local clubs, and as the most of then have favoured us with replies, we may give the result of our analysis, and leave curlers to make what they choose of it. Out of the competitions of fifty years, the conditions being understood to be those laid clown by the Royal Club—i.e., four shots at each of eight points or thirty-two in all, with rink 42 yards, and diagrams as shewn under "Art of Curling"—we have the following as the highest scores :—

When we consider how many players must in such a long period of time have struggled to get into it, the above list is surprisingly small. Below "13 " we have, of course, a good proportion of victories won with double figures; but the great majority of point medal winners attained their position, and were proud of it, with only one figure, while the average scoring of all players did not exceed 5 shots.

A. few Millie Drums must necessarily be shaken out of the above list, but the most of those who appear in it are entitled to be regarded as "good ingines" at the point game. On the principle of persistency which we have laid down as the test of a reliable point player, it is easily seen that the champion pointsman of the last fifty years is Admiral William Heriot Maitland-Dougall of Scotscraig, who, like many great curlers, is also a distinguished golfer. The gallant Admiral (in his case the adjective is not simply one of courtesy, for he served on the north coast of Spain in the Civil War of 1834-36, and in China, 1839-43, when he was severely wounded, and mentioned for gallantry in the despatches) twice scored "16," three times "15," twice "13," and once "12," besides making many other excellent scores, and won his club medal so often that it was presented to him by the members, when he gave them a handsome new one in its stead. He used to take a lively interest in the Royal Club, where his services were so much appreciated that when he retired from the Committee of Management (a committee which was originally suggested by him they retained his name on the list as all ordinary member. The gallant Admiral, at the age of seventy, still shows great interest in the game.

A careful, practical comparison between the old and the new point game (the results of which were given in the Annual of 1888-89, p. 392) was made by the Rothes Club, and it was found that

"For every 2 hits made under the old rules, S were made under the new, so that if honours were grained formerIy with 10 points—a fairly good score—they should not now be attained under 25."

If the line is to be drawn where we have it here drawn, and a list of distinques kept open for the ambitious players of the new game, the minimum entitling to distinction under the new, must be fully more than the maximum attainable under the old system (32). Let clubs, therefore, attest such scores as reach "32" and upwards, and transmit them to headquarters, for if we are to keep up the point game it should be kept up at its best, which can only be alone by establishing a "record," and continuing to raise it. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well."


The point medal may be won by a fluke, Luke, and the fortune of the draw for the provincial spiel or the Grand Match may allow a strong club to carry off the cup or the trophy "mair by luck than by guid guidin';" but in the competition for a district medal there is no mistake about it—the best club wins. Since the beginning of curling the parish bon-spiel has always been the best of all curling matches, and so it will continue to be. No other comes near it in bringing out the best qualities of the game.

"To the whole range of rural sports," says John M'Diarmid, [Sketches from Nature, 1830, p. 70.] "I know nothing more exhilarating than a spiel on the ice, where the players are numerous and well-matched, the stakes a dinner of beef and greens, and the forfeit the honour of rival parishes."

The founders of the Royal Club were wise. They did not meddle with the parish bonspiel, or if they did it was to make it a keener battle than ever. They introduced a little silver medal into the business, and the Parish that lost a bonspiel not only lost the "stakes" and the "forfeit," but they also lost—the medal. The intrinsic value of that article was not great, but the loss of it was terrible. The beef and greens would be forgotten, and the honour of the parish might be recovered, but the blanks in the medal would be filled up— Won by ...............from............... and as a Royal trophy it would be hung up in the camp of the enemy, and be displayed at their feasts ever after as an irrevocable testimony against those who lost it. Not only so. The victorious club might keep no written record or its records might be eaten by rats, or burnt, or stolen, as many records have been. But there was a recording angel in the office of the secretary of the Royal Club—a statist, to whom was transmitted by the umpire the result of every battle, and when his tabulated report had been published to the whole curling world, it would be locked away in the secretary's iron safe, where neither rats, flames, thieves, nor defeated clubs could destroy it. The tabulated records of the district medals for fifty years are before us. It is evident that some of our old clubs have kept up the reputation which made them famous before the Royal Club was formed, [Notably Blairgowrie, which won 22 district medals out of 24 played for.] and some of our newer clubs have speedily risen to distinction in playing for district medals. Shall we select the best hundreddand single out the champion? The request has been made by molly, but we would rather not. Before the throne of "Royalty" one club is really as good as another, and better," as our Hibernian friend would add, for while we set the parishes to fight with our silver medals, our object is really to slake them more friendly, and to bring good-fellowship out of rivalry. As the tables of fifty years are spread before us, we think more of the health, the brotherhood, the good-feeling which have been created by the contests than of the victories of one club and the defeats of another. Let us express the hope that these district medals are not taking the place of the meal or coals which used to make the poor folks take such an interest in the parish bonspiels. The tables would be all the more interesting to us if we knew that a boll of meal went with every medal. Why should it not?


One of the most popular institutions—tile most popular in the Blinds of many curlers—is the provincial spiel. before the institution of the Grand Club, counties used to meet and measure their curling strength. We have referred to some of these contests—Midlothian against Tweeddale, and then against the Upper Ward of Lanark. Edinburgh also met Linlithgow at Midcalder in 1842, with forty rinks a side, and great interest was taken iii this match. We must not confuse county bonspiels, witch are meant to decide the claims of two rival counties, with provincial spiels, in which a certain number of local clubs associated together in a certain district, and constituting what is called a province,. meet to determine which is the strongest club in the number. The arrangement of all the affiliated clubs into provinces was first suggested by Mr Ogilvie Dalgleish in 1846:-

"To bring the clubs and curlers of the country into closer intercourse, to advance anal perpetuate our valued national game, and instil increased life and spirit into our already gigantic Royal CIub."

In 1848 a committee, to whom consideration of the subject had been entrusted, gave in an elaborate report, recommending:-

"That the whole associated clubs, according to their locality, shall be formed into provinces, consisting of six or any greater number of clubs, according to their density in the neighbourhood, the advantage of a field of ice, and facilities for reaching it, &c."

Provinces were to elect their own office-bearers, and carry out their own arrangements. They were to meet as frequently as possible with the view of preparing for the Grand Match, between which and the district snatch their competitions were to rank in importance in provincial competitions the provinces were to be drawn against each other, "according to the existing plan as to district medals, due consideration being had to proximity and facilities for meeting.'' Each club in the winning province was to get a prize—"a small silver star surmounted by the crown and this was afterwards to be worn lay the president at club meetings, and by the representative member at the meetings of the Royal Club. In connection with the report an elaborate map was prepared by Mr Palmer, showing the locality of the different clubs, the sheets of water of sufficient dimensions for provincial spiels, and the different lines of railway.

The scheme thus elaborately prepared Bing fire for a considerable time, and in 1849 the same committee, while still approving of it, recommended that it be not pressed in the face of opposition from various clubs, its expense, and the great increase in the secretary's labours which it would entail, and which they had not taken into account. The committee, however, with the aid of their map, made a classification of the clubs into sixteen provinces, and left these to organise if they wished without the interference of the Royal Club, and to give their own prizes arid appoint their own umpires:-

"Taking care that any match which they might form should not interfere with the Grand National Match, which (so long as it is considered by the Royal Club advantageous to continue it) should have the cordial support of all `keen, keen curlers.'"

The representative meeting; of 25th July 1849 approved of the committee's report. Instead, however, of leaving it to provinces to provide their own prizes, district medals were promised to such provinces as proceeded to organise on the lines of the report, and whose plain of proceedings, list of office-bearers, &c., were approved of by a standing committee to be appointed that day. A copy of the report and of the curling map were transmitted to each local secretary, so that clubs might be able to take advantage of the resolution of the general meeting. The following were appointed:-

"The Standing Committee on Provincial Spiels":—The office-bearers, Charles Cowan, M.P., Messrs Weir, Forrester, M`Gibbon, Renton, Piper, and J. W. Gray, with power to add to their number. The original proposal to pit province against province in a, competition, and to award silver stars to each club in the winning province, was soon set aside, and it was decided that the object of the provincial spiel should simply be to determine the best club in each district. On what principle this was to be done fell to be arranged at the first meeting of the Standing Committee in November 1849. The rules of the Twelfth (Ayr and Renfrew) Province carne up for approval, and were approved, with the exception of that which provided:-

"That the club having the greatest majority of shots shall gain the medal, being according to the greatest principle of equity."

The committee were unanimously of opinion that this method " was not according to the greatest principle of equity," [In this opinion they differed, as will be seen, from those who framed the rules for the trophy played for in the Grand Match; but the cases are in some respects different.] and after a month's deliberation they laid down these rules for provincial matches:

"1. That all the rinks which are to play shall be balloted, to ascertain the rinks which they are to play against (no rink being allowed to play against another of the sane club).

"2. That a correct account of the number of points marked by each side of each rink be kept throughout the game, and at the conclusion the numbers marked by the rinks of each club shall be added up and divided by the rinks which each club has playing, and the club which has marked the greatest number of points per rink shall be declared the winning club."

The Twelfth Province, from which this reference came up, obtempered the decision of the Stanching Committee, but gave silver crosses to all the winning clubs in the provincial match. Their spiels on Lochwinnoch were, as they still are, very successful and popular. A good many disputes, however, came up, and were carried beyond the Standing Committee. As the number of provinces increased, the disputes became so numerous and took up so much time at the annual meeting that it was resolved, on the motion of Mr Dalgleish (24th July 1857), to give the provinces Home Rule. The resolution was to this effect:-

"That in provincial competitions all rules and regulations relating thereto shall be arranged within the province itself, umpires and ultimate and final referees appointed, and that all difficulties and disputes which may arise shall be settled within the province, and that no right of appeal to the Representative Committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club shall be competent."

After this the Standing Committee disappears. Although the results of the various provincial matches are each year chronicled in the club's Annual, the above resolution has been faithfully carried out, and all arrangements and regulations for provincial spiels have been made by the provinces themselves. The list of provinces as now organised is subject to alteration from time to time: it is therefore in the meantime relegated to the Appendix (B). The list skews the popularity of provincial spiels. The country has to a large extent been divided into curling districts, and a great impetus given to the game by the annual competitions. With their self-government the provinces are all faithful to the Central Club, and play the game under Caledonian rules, but there seems to be great variety in their methods of deckling their medals, and considerable confusion in other respects, several clubs being entered in more provinces than one, and many clubs having no province to enter. The increase of county competitions, with the great variety which is also found in the methods of deciding the medals or trophies awarded in these, has added to the confusion. At the representative meeting in Glasgow, 26th July 1859, Mr Peterkin brought forward a resolution to the following effect:-

"That the club shall offer special medals to be played for between the associated clubs of one county, or group of counties, and those of another county, or group of counties."

This resolution was adopted, it being understood that:-

"These competitions shall not supersede provincial snatches, and shall give way to the Grand Matches of the Royal Club."

It does not appear that it has been carried out, though it remains in our statute-book. But the liberality of private patrons has encouraged county match-playing by the presentation of valuable prizes. The county of Ayr has undoubtedly the finest curling trophy in the world—the Eglinton Cup, which is said to have cost £360, and which is much prized as a memorial of the famous Earl, as well as for its great value, and its possession is keenly contested each year by the Ayr clubs. Lanark has more than one trophy; Dumfries, the Waterlow Cup; Kirkcudbright, the Queenshill Cup; East Lothian, the Weymss Cup; Berwick, a silver challenge kettle, presented by the Hon. E. Marjoribanks, M.P., and several other counties meet annually to decide in their various ways the possession of some handsome prize or prizes. The fostering of both county and provincial competitions is the duty of all patrons of curling.

They come appropriately between the parish bonspiel and the Grand Match. They furnish a wider field than is called out for a district medal, and they can often be brought off in a season when frost does not permit of the Grand Match being played. It is it pity that there is so much confusion. The Royal Club, whose object is to advance the national game by bringing curlers and their contests under the reign of order and uniform methods and laws, might with advantage take up the whole subject, complete and confirm the provincial system, and place every county, which the liberality of a private patron has not blessed, on a level with its neighbours.


The desire of the late Duke of Athole to snake the Grand Match a success was worthy of one who had the interests of curling and the prosperity of the Royal Club at heart. Every good president has been animated by the same desire, and every loyal member of the club will petition General Frost to allow North and South to have their annual Waterloo in his territory-. It is surely right that the great national club should make the great national gathering its first and foremost care. The crown is not really put upon the season's curling, however many provinces, counties, or parishes have met together, if Scotland has not enjoyed the Grand Match at Carsebreck or Lochwinnoch. In this spirit the Royal Club's arrangements have been made. Everything must stand aside for the Grand Match. It is the nation's bonspiel, and all minor matches are to be held as preparatory to this, and as leading up to it. This great match was not at first provided for in the constitution of the club. It was as the club extended its domain that the propriety and advantage of such a meeting became apparent. When the Representative Committee met at Perth in 1843, a bonspiel of Perth County was arranged—Lord Mansfield and the North against the Master of Strathallan and the South of the Tay. A thousand persons were present as spectators, and they and the players (thirty-six rinks) were feasted to their hearts' content by the Lord-Lieutenant of the County—the Earl of Kinnoull. Next year a match was to be held at Penicuick, when several counties were to send rinks; but there was no frost. The first really national match was arranged, with the permission of Lord Abercromby, to come off on Airthrey Loch on the day of the Royal Club meeting at Stirling, January 3, 1845. This also was interdicted by General John, so that the Grand Match (lid not make a very I)roniising start. It was on the beautiful loch embosomed among trees in the grounds of Sir George Clerk of Penicuick, "in the presence of Lady Clerk and family, and many spectators from the adjoining district who came to witness the bloodless conflict," [In the Annual, 1848, it is stated "that a fair artist, who was present as one of Lady Clerk's guests, sketched the scene, and that the painting was to be an heirloom in Penicuick House. The Annual editor was to try and get an engraving made of the picture, but as this never appeared, we may infer that he was unsuccessful. If a painting of the kind of any merit exists, it must be interesting to the members of the Royal Club as a memorial of the first gathering of North and South to measure strength on the ice, as they have since then so often done."] that the first Grand _Match, North v. South of Scotland, was played.

"The 15th of January 1817," says the Annual for that year, "will be marked with a white stone in the chronicles of curling. . The day throughout was one of unmingled pleasure, and, saving the absence of a barrel of exhilarating ale, which was unfortunately omitted anions the items of preparation, there was nothing but universal satisfaction felt and expressed."

Only twelve rinks appeared from the North at this first match, the extra forty-four being arranged in a snatch, Midlothian V. Dumbarton, Linlithgow, Stirling, &c.-- the former under Sir George Clerk, the latter under J. R. H. Cranfurd, yr. of CraufurdIand.

The second Grand Match, on Queen Mary's Loch, Linlithgow, January 25, 1848, was more successful. Thirty-five rinks appeared from the North, and when thirty-five were drawn out from the South to meet them, a hundred Southern rinks were left over for the odd match. Including spectators, about 6000 persons were present. In the Preface to the Annual for 1849, p. viii., it is said :-

"The ancient burgh of Linlithgow has its name emblazoned on many a stirring page of history, and has witnessed many gala-days in

the `merry times of old;' but we are much mistaken if, in time coming, the victory and defeat of 25th January 1848 be not treasured up in the recollection of the curlers of Scotland as the most memorable event associated with that interesting locality. Nor will it be any blot in the scutcheon of the noble representatives of the ducal house of Murray that he did not carry back to the Highlands his `besom over his shoulder.' He proved that he deserved victory if he did not gain it."

In the painting by Lees of the "Grand Match at Linlithgow," the subject is treated with the licence allowed to the artist, his purpose being to give us portraits of the distinguished curlers of the period. These are understood to be faithfully depicted. The majority of those gentlemen whose names have been mentioned by us in connection with the curling of the first half of this century figure in the picture, the venerable M'George among the number acting then as a living link between the ancient and the modern game. Many others are introduced who are worthy of honour as prominent curlers in their day, such as Russel of the Scotsman, Pollok of Broom, Gillon of Wallhouse, Baird of Gartsherrie, Ramsay of Whitehill, William I'Anson "of Blairathole and Blinkbonny fame," and Robert Craig, one of the very few who now remain, and who, at the age of eighty-three, is bright, cheerful, and young in heart, his eye undimmed and his curling keenness unabated. [The original painting was purchased by Mr Piper, whose portrait is one of those introduced into the scene. Artist's proofs, published at ten guineas, are scarce, but prints of the engraving of the picture by Forrester are plentiful and cheap.]

The Clyde was made the boundary line between the contending forces, when the Grand Match of 1850 was arranged to come off at Lochwinnoch. Owing to some misunderstanding, the loch was refused by the proprietor of Castle Semple, but Colonel M'Dowall of Garthland, in a spirit worthy of his curling sires, flooded 200 acres of Barr Meadow, where the match was played on 11th January. This match was very successful, there being no less than 127 rinks on each side. Thousands of spectators crowded the scene, and the gathering was the largest of the hind that up to that time had ever been witnessed. Its picturesque surroundings, with the old castle of Barr in the foreground and sombre Mistilaw in the distance, might, with the scene itself, have inspired a greater artist than Lees ; but no painting keeps alive the memory of the first Grand Match at Lochwinnoch. The match, however, has an excellent memorial in the following verses, written by one of our most esteemed Scottish poets, Principal Shairp of St Andrews:-


"Cauld and such is the weather, ye curlers, come gather
Scotland summons her best frae the Tweed to the Tay;
It's the North o' the Clyde 'gainst the Southern side,
And Lochwinnoch the tryst for our bonspiel to-day.

"Ilk parish they've summoned, baith landward and borough,
Far and hear troop the lads wi' the stanes and the broom;
The ploughs o' the Loudons stand stiff in the furrow,
And the weavers o' Beith for the loch leave the loom.

"The braw shepherd lads, they are there in their plaids,
Their hirsels they've left on the Tweedside their lane;
Grey caries frae the moorlands wi' gleg e'e and sure hands,
Braid bonnet o' blue, and the big channel-stane.

"And the Loudons three, they foregather in glee,
Wi' tounsfolk frae Ayr, and wi' farmers on Doon,
Out over the Forth come the men of the North,
Frae the far Athole braes, and the palace o' Scone.

"Auld Reekie's top sawyers, the lang-headed lawyers,
And crouse Glasgow merchant, are loud i' the play;
There are lairds frae the east, there are lords frae the west,
For the peer and the ploughman are marrows to-day.

"See the rinks are a' marshalled, how cheery they mingle,
Blithe callants, stout chiels, and auld grey-headed men,
And the roar o' their stanes gars the snowy heights tingle
As they ne'er did before, and may never again.

"Some lie at hog-score, some owre a' ice roar,
`Here's the tee,' `There's the winner,' `Clap and lift him twa yards,
'Lay a guard,' 'Fill the port,' and now there's nocht for't
But a canny inwick or a rub at the guards.

"Gloamin' comes  we maun pairt; but fair fa' ilk kind heart,
Wi' the auld Scottish blood beating warm in his veins:
Curlers! aye we've been leal to our country's weal,
Though our broadswords are besoms, our targes are stanes.

[The two last verses of the poem will be found as prefatory stanzas at Part I., Chap. 1. of our volume. The poem first appeared in the Annual for 1851, p. 234.]

The loch of Lindores was to be the scene of the Grand Match of 1851, but the match was not played for want of sufficient frost. Charles Cowan had, in 1847, contributed to the Annual an article on "The Prospective Advantages of Railways to Curlers," and had therein said:-

"We should like the Royal Club to consider the propriety of sheets of water being procured in juxtaposition with some one or more of our leading lines of railway."

This suggestion met the attention of Sir John Ogilvy, who had been impressed with the terrible consequences that might follow such a match as that at Linlithgow if the ice happened to give way, and at the July meeting in 1851 Sir John moved:-

"That the Royal Club should have a piece of ground which could be flooded for the purpose of affording a safe sheet of ice for the Grand Matches."

A committee, with the honourable Baronet as convener, was appointed to make inquiries. Several places (including a site near Carstairs Junction) were examined by this committee, who finally recommended Carsebreck, a piece of ground 63 acres in extent, lying near the Scottish Central Railway, about midway between Greenloaning and Blackford Stations, and about 280 feet above sea-level. The report was approved, and the committee requested to proceed with the scheme, the cost and expense to be raised by voluntary subscriptions from clubs and members of clubs. The Laird of Buttergask gave the necessary access from the railway; Mrs Home Drummond Stirling Moray of Abercairney gave permission to use her land, and for a rent of £15 per annum payable to the tenant, the Royal Club was to have the full use of the ground for four months—November-February--each year. Plans and specifications, sheaving soundings from 6 inches to 5 feet 9 inches at the western extremity or sluice (where rinks would not be drawn), were prepared by Alexander Drummond, surveyor, Perth, and Mr Falshaw, Perth, became contractor for the work. From the fact that a considerable body of moss or peat lay above the retentive clay, the contractor met with considerable difficulty in constructing the pond; but he seems to have lost no time, for when the committee met to inspect the work on the 28th November 1852, they found it completed and the pond covered with a sheet of beautiful ice. Sir John Ogilvy, to whom the Royal Club was indebted for the success of the scheme, presented a six-pounder Bunn, captured by one of his ancestors at the siege of Jean d'Acre, to be fixed on the Kilnknowe, overlooking the pond on the south-west, and fired as a signal when the match was to begin, and again when it was to end. An office was constructed for the secretary at the side of the pond, a bridge thrown over the Allan, and a side station erected by the Railway Company, who offered double tickets for single fare, and did all they could for the curlers. All was now ready for the first great national bonspiel at Carsebreck. This carne off on the 15th of February 18053. A stranger visiting the spot on the morning of that eventful day would doubtless have thought it cheerless and uninviting.

"The trees were a' bare, and the birds mute and dowie
They shook the cauld drift frae their wings as they flew."

But as the morning wore on and the railway trains poured in their contingents of curlers, brooms, crampits, and channel-shines from all parts of Scotland, and the various skips, having drawn their cards at the secretary's office, marshalled their frith in the places appointed for them—when more than 1400 curlers stood in battle array, North v. South, waiting for the "cannon's opening roar" no one could look at Carsebreck without interest and admiration. The long slopes of hilly ground in which the pond quietly nestles, sprinkled as they were with snow the higher elevations of the Ochil range to the southeast, and the sharp outline of Ben Voirlich far away to the north-west, arrayed in a thicker garment of dazzling white, were all enlivened by the presence of that intensely earliest army in the foreground, with its regiments of strong, stalwart heroes, and all combined made such a scene as had never before been witnessed in Scotland, and of which Scotland might well be proud. It was the gathering of her proudest clans, the mustering of her hest and bravest sons, not for mortal combat, as of old at Sheriffmuir, but for the fellowship to be gained in the rivalry of the curling-rink. As such it was an important event in the onward life of the nation. It was not only a sign: it was also in itself an influence never after to be despised by all who have the prosperity of the country at heart, and who realise the value of healthy amusements in improving the condition of the people.

On that day the members of the Royal Club must have been delighted to think that the Grand Match, which was of such importance, could henceforth be played with no "dread of ambush in the depths below." It has often been played since then, although not so often as curlers would have liked. On every occasion it has furnished a theme for descriptive writers. The Grand Match lends itself to eloquence. The muster from near and far; the meeting of young and old, rich and poor, master and servant, peer and peasant, on a common level, with curling skill the only title to distinction; the hearty hand-shakings, the impatient waiting for the battle to begin; the eager onset of the combatants; the broom and the click of the stone artillery; the variety of garb, and the diversity of appearance and manner among the players; the nervous excitement of one skip, the quiet reserve of another; the gesturing, and shouting, and conjuring, and sweeping; the running, and kneeling, and coaxing, and dumping; the groups of beautiful women; the skytchers flying to and fro; the wailing of the disappointed; the crowing of the successful; the inimitable vocabulary of words and phrases; the nips, and schnaps, and drams; the deoch-an-daris after the last shot; the summing up; the grand result—have all been described so often and so eloquently, [Most of these descriptions of Grand Matches, and many other interesting papers which have appeared in the Annuals, will be found in Curling, by Dr James Taylor. Paterson, 1884.] that we may soon have a book of "Days at Carsebreck." Carsebreck also has its poets—none so good, perhaps, as Principal Shairp, but many worthy of notice. James Christie, who of the meeting on 15th January 1867 is thus inspired to sing:-

"They come frae glens at John o' Groat's,
And south frae Gallowa',
And eastward frae the Neuk o' Fife,
And west frae dark Loch Awe.

"Young Athole's Duke frae fair Dunkeld-
(His sire we miss him sairly),
Dalhousie frae the banks o' Esk,
And Ogilvie frae Airly.

"Strathallan frae his lordly ha',
Colquhoun frae Luss and Balloch,
M'Gregor frae Loch Lomond side,
And Campbell frae Glenfalloch.

"The day has dawned, the tees are marked,
The crampits pointed fairly,
The cannon booms, the besoms wave,
The combat opens rarely.

"Hour after hour, alang the ice,
The polished stanes are glancin',
While mirthful hope and ruddy health
On ilka face are dancin'.

"The wintry day draws near a close,
The wintry sun's descended,
The cannon boons, the lists are still,

When so much has been said or sung about the Grand Match, we shall here content ourselves with the more prosaic part of furnishing our readers with the rules under which the snatch is played, and the results of the various battles which have been fought since it was first instituted.


"1. A Grand Curling Match shall be played (weather permitting) between the members on the North and South sides of the Forth, and that it shall take place on a day to be hereafter fixed, whereof notice shall be sent to each secretary.
"2. The fixing of the clay of the match shall be regulated by an observance of the breather and the state of the ice ; and the probable continuance thereof being such as to warrant a reasonable expectation of the match being played, the Committee shall thereupon give notice of the match ; and, in order that members of local clubs may have the earliest notice of the match, local secretaries be requested to forward to the General Secretary a note of the name, address, and name of the post office of an individual to whom such notice shall be sent, and who will undertake to communicate the sane, immediately upon its receipt, to those members of the clubs who agree to join in the match.
"3. In order to meet expenses, every secretary, in transmitting the names of skips, shall, at same time, remit 2s. 6d. for each skip, and failing thereof, the name of the skip shall not be entered on the list of the match.
"4. It being understood that all matches give place to the Grand Match, and much disappointment having been experienced on former occasions in consequence of rinks entered on the list not appearing, without intimation to their opponents that they could not appear, the General Meeting of the Royal Club, July 1833, resolved `that in future, if any rink, which, has been booked to play at the Grand Match, shall fail to appear at the watch, they shall be liable for the expenses of the rink against whom they were balloted to play, unless the rink failing to appear shall give the Representative Committee a satisfactory excuse for their absence."

To give curling clubs a greater interest in the Grand Match, the Royal Club, in the year 1886, provided, at a cost of £114, a silver trophy to be played for annually under the following rules:—

"1. The trophy shall be gained by the club on the winning side having the greatest net majority of shots.

"2. All disputes in connection with the trophy shall be referred to the Committee of Management for the time being, whose decision shall be final—the committee to have full power to make arrangements for the proper custody of the trophy."

This trophy, which is in the form of a cup, rests on a shaped base of solid polished ebony, with the title "Royal Caledonian Curling Trophy" in raised silver letters in front. On either side of the stem of the cup stand two figures in silver representing the North and the South. In the centre of the body of the cup is a curling scene represented in raised figures, with the game in full swing. On either side of the two handles are four raised figures of players in various familiar attitudes. On the top of the cover stands the figure of a player on the ice, with broom in hand, in the act of playing the stone. The other parts of the cup are richly chased and relieved with raised stags' heads, thistles, laurel leaves, and broom, and other suitable and appropriate emblems, including the shield and arms of the club. All round the body are festoons enclosing spaces for engraving the names of the winning clubs and rinks. The height of the trophy is 21 inches. The cup, which is entirely of sterling silver, weighs about 150ozs., and the whole of the modelling and workmanship was done by Messrs G. Edward & Sons, Glasgow, the present medalists of the Royal Club. Gold badges have also been secured, which are awarded to the members of the rink which scores the highest majority for the club which wins the trophy.

There have thus been 18 Grand Matches, 3 of these having been North v. South of Clyde, and 15 North v. South of Forth. South of Clyde is 1 match and 224 shots in advance of North of Clyde—a state of matters which can easily be rectified during the present winter if frost and fortune permit. South of Forth has won 12 matches against the North, and lost 3, and is now 2493 shots ahead. It may be remarked that 6 of the Grand Matches were played in I)eceniber, 9 in January, and 3 in February. Two matches were played in one year-1880—and the same occurred in 1886. The matches have all been arranged by the club secretary, upon whom they entail a great amount of labour and anxiety, and their orderly management has always been the subject of remark and congratulation. The services of the umpires, who are generally men of curling renown, and who parade the field of action with white flags, prepared to settle any disputes that arise among the rinks, have scarcer ever been required. On one or two occasions, notably in 1860 and in 1886, General Frost, after convening his army on the ice, rain off and left them in the hands of General Thaw, and many timid players beat a retreat to the banks, but the majority fought on till the firing of the signal-gun, some of them being nearly knee-deep in the water. London, out of sheer spite, sent down one of her fogs and tried to stop the match of December 13, 1878; but it was carried through successfully, although the curlers had to grope about without being able to distinguish friend from foe. As a result of that day's experience no curler ever goes to Carsebreck now without a flask in his inside pocket. When the regiments were crowding over the bridge after the close of the 1880 match the structure gave way, and a . good many were precipitated into the river below. They were all safely brought to the bank, "including a young lady." One person (not a curler) had his leg hurt to the benefit of future Grand Matches, as three substantial bridges have since made the crossing of the Allan safe and speedy.

Barring these few incidents, which are not all of a melancholy sort, the conditions under which the various matches have been played have been most satisfactory, and no mishap has occurred to mar the confidence of the club in the perfect safety to life and limb, which they guarantee to all who take part in the national gathering at Carsebreck. Lochwinnoch has also an unbroken record of success as far as her three matches are concerned, and from soundings that have recently been taken it is evident that a match can be played there with as much assurance of safety as on the Royal Pond.

In our table we have brought out the "highest net majorities" in all the matches, and on both sides. From this it will be seen that on three occasions the "greatest net majority of shots" was scored by a club on the losing side in the match, and that Hamilton at Loch Winnoch in 1864 made the highest net majority which has yet been registered. The highest majority ever gained by an individual rink was 70 shots. The skip of this rink was Alexander Cunningham, Currie, who in 1853 made 71 to his opponent's 1, [This is somewhat maliciously accounted for by saying that the Currieites, though privileged to be near the metropolis, are somewhat mountainous in their locality and habits, and have a pond hid among trees somewhere about the top of the Pentlands, where they practise every lawful (lay from Martinmas to Whitsunday.—Ed. Annual, 1851.] and the combined score-72—is also the largest made by any two rinks playing together. In 1855 the rink of Donald Fisher, Dunkeld, although they were only able to score 1 shot, soutered their opponents, and in 1867 the same remarkable feat was accomplished by the rink of John Lawrie, Bute.

New Monkland, which scored the highest net majority on the winning side as far back as 1850, and which has won the trophy two years in succession, must, among clubs that have entered for the Grand Match, be accorded first place. Whatever we may have to discount from time method of awarding the Honour, the principle of persistency which we laid down in the point game applies also in the Grand Match, and it is evident that the New Monkland players have well earned their title to distinction.

When we find, as we do, that they are the inheritors of skill and enthusiasm from far-back times, New Monkland curlers having; been famous even in the last century, and that their achievements at Carsel.reck are in keeping with their actions nearer home, [The New Monkland Club have played for ten district medals and won them all. They won the medal of the Glasgow Province in 1882, their 4 rinks being 3.5 shots up. in the two years in which they held the trophy they played 13 matches, of which 12 were won, their majority over the whole being 375 shots. Their keenness is evidenced by the following, for which their secretary is responsible:—"At the Grand Match of 12th January 1886, when New Monkland won the trophy and four gold badges, J. Scotland's rink would have won the badges had he not played his last stone, for in playing this he unfortunately knocked in a North stone. For a whole year he bitterly repented the playing of that stone, and earnestly prayed that he might yet win a badge, which he did that same year at the Grand Match of 21st December."] their success is not only well deserved, but it is a justification, if such were needed, of the institution of the Grand Trophy, and of the mode of deciding to what club it ought to be awarded.

The future of the Grand Match depends in great measure on the success of the efforts which are at present being made to secure another pond about Carstairs, or sonic place more convenient for Southern players. The match, to be truly grand, must be between the North and the South of Scotland. There is an indescribable charm about it when it is a battle between the Lowlands and the Highlands, and its national aspect is far more striking when the Saxon meets the Gael, than when East is set against West, or the Clyde drawn between the combatants. But North must meet South on equal terms, and in alternate years come to meet South in Southern territory. This is the remedy for the Northern defeats, which we believe are ascribed to the fact that Carsebreck is too accessible to the North, and that instead of select players only being; sent to the field, all and sundry are in the habit of going. When the North descends to Southern territory it will be the other way — the tables will be turned, and the Highlanders will go home sounding the pibroch of victory. Southerners will not be sorry, for we can assure our Northern friends that, while we shall fight to win, we shall always have more pleasure in meeting them than in beating them. There is, however, a sinister star in the horoscope of our Grand Match if our Western aid more Southerly regiments are debarred from joining us, as they now are, by the inconvenient situation of Carsebreck, and we look to the North to support the Royal Club in any new arrangement that has to be made to remedy the just complaints of the South.


To the original constitution of the Grand Club an Appendix was attached by the framers with recommendations, suggestions, &c. The first of these refers to the publication of the Annual, and is as follows :-

"When the revenue of the club will warrant such a measure, after carrying into effect the proposals under 2nd General Head, the Committee would strongly urge the interest which would be added to the Club's proceedings by the yearly publication of an Annual, under the title of the Annual of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, containing, 1st, Correct lists of the office-bearers and general representative committee; 2nd, Of the local clubs composing the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, with their office-bearers and members; 3rd, Individual members of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club unattached to any local club; 4th, Rules and regulations as altered or amended at last general meeting; 5th, Proceedings of the club during the past year; 6th, Accounts of prize competitions during the past winter; 7th, Curling anecdotes, songs, and anything of general interest, and possibly embellished by a portrait of some eminent curler, or illustration of the most improved artificial rink, &c. And with the view of carrying this into effect, recommend an estimate being obtained from some bookseller of the probable expense, and a list through the different local secretaries of persons who would subscribe for it."

With the omission of the list of individual members, and the adoption of a compulsory system of sale instead of the voluntary subscription each club being now bound to take a certain number of copies in proportion to its membership—the Annual has adhered to its original Table of Contents throughout the fifty years of its publication. With the progress of the club the Annual has kept step, its first number (1839) being a "tiny bookling" of 48 pages, of which 300 copies were printed; its last (1889), a formidable volume of 442 pages, of which 4000 copies were printed and supplied to the affiliated clubs. From the works on curling to which we have referred in our last chapter, the Annual Committee made ample quotations in the earlier numbers, and Dr Walker Arnott, Charles Cowan, and others contributed original articles of interest and value; but they had considerable difficulty in mitigating the dulness of dry lists and regulations by lighter and more literary reading. In 1845 we find the committee appealing to the brethren for materials in words which might be stereotyped, and read every year with advantage.

The topics are numerous, and do not require to be specified; anything is interesting to a curler which has reference to his favourite game. To the antiquary they would recommend an inspection of any burgh records to which he may have access, for the purpose of obtaining facts to establish the antiquity of the game; from the mineralogist they would gladly receive an account of the different kinds of stone which are best adapted for moving easily on the ice, and possess at the same time the requisite toughness; from the humorist they would expect interesting, anecdotes of curlers; and from the meteorologist, the result of his observations on the weather, or hints respecting the laws by which our insular climate is regulated. [With the progress of the science of meteorology our Royal Club might have had more to do if this appeal had been regarded by local clubs. It is worthy of special attention.] These are interesting subjects, and there are many members of the Royal Club who are capable of doing them justice."

Curling poets are not included in the appeal. It would have been derogatory to their dignity to have classified songs among materials. The songs and poems that have beeii sent to the Annual Committee have, however, been welcomed as heartily as any other offerings, for the popularity of curling owes much to the curling muse. No fewer than 215 different songs and poetical pieces have appeared in the Annual since its first three numbers (in which there were no songs) were published. Many are too locally tinged, and too weak to be transplanted from the numbers of the Annual in which they are found, but an interesting memorial of this Victorian era—the most important in the annals of curling—Haight be made by collecting the best sons of its Lest singers, and thus preserving from oblivion the sentiinents of those who have illuminated the path of the club's progress by the sunlight of their song. [It is impossible to do this in a volume of this kind devoted mainly to the history of curling. At some future time, if opportunity can be found, we hope to devote a volume to the poetry of the game, and shall be glad to have suggestions or contributions from curlers to help us in carrying out the proposal. The Curler's Garland should be a companion volume to The History of Curling.]

The most useful contributors to the earlier Annuals were Charles Cowan, I)r Walker Arnott, and Professor Fergusson of Aberdeen. Messrs Palmer, Ogilvie Dalgleish, and Forrester were also on the committee, and for the first half of the Royal Club's existence some or all of these names are identified with the Annual. One or two continue their work into the other moiety, when we find the names of Dr Sides, Messrs Peterkin, Murrie, Carswell, Caldwell, and Admiral Maitland-Dougall succeeding theirs, and in the Iast decade we have the naives of Sir James Gibson-Craig, Bart., Messrs Cathcart, Usher, Shaw, Wylie, Forrest, Ure, Breingan, Gilmour, and Rev. J. Scott. In the preparation of the Annual the principal burden falls on the secretary. From the list of those who have given their services in assisting him, and who have in the latter half of the Royal Club's history brightened the literary department of the Annual, we must single out Dr Sidey, who, in this and in other respects, proved himself one of the most active and useful friends of the Royal Club. Dr Sidey was in his day one of the busiest and most hardworking medical men in Edinburgh, a "beloved physician," on whose skill his numerous patients relied with confidence, and whose merry heart often did them more good than a medicine. Dr Sidey's sympathies, however, went beyond his professional duties. He was a friend of artists and a lover of art; a well-informed antiquary, and a poet of considerable power, as all know who are familiar with the riant humour, blended with most delicate pathos, that is to be found in Mistura Curiosa [Edinburgh: Maclachlan & Stewart, 1869.] and Alter Ejusdem, [lb., 1877.] the now rare volumes which contain the songs and verses composed by him as he travelled about visiting his patients. In social gifts Dr Sidey had few to equal and none to excel him. These made his presence always welcome at the Pen and Pencil Club, and among the "Monks of St Giles," that old society of "merry men a'" who demand of their " Prior " a song of his own making, and that he shall sing it, if possible, when the "gude kaill" has been discussed and the bowl is going round, there was none merrier than Dr Sidey, and zone who could give a better account of himself in the Prior's chair than "Father Crucelli." As we might expect of such a social, brotherly soul, the doctor was a curler and the friend of curlers and curling.

"They're canty chaps the curlers, O,
They're cheerie chiels the curlers, O,
There never met a rarer set
Than ScotIand's keen, keen curlers, O."

This was what he thought of the brotherhood; but his devotion was more than poetical, for while he gave to the Annual some of the best and most delightful songs of the period, lie worked with all his might to get the Royal Club out of financial difficulties, and to make its various undertakings successful. He worked and sung, and sung and worked for the club, just as he (lid when lie followed his special calling. The sense of the loss sustained by his death was well expressed by Mr Josiah Livingston, at the first representative meeting thereafter, when lie said:-

"There was no one to whom they were more indebted than to Dr Sidey. Their meetings were really no meetings unless he were present. There was not a keener curler anywhere, nor one who took a deeper interest in the affairs of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club."


For some years we hear nothing about the finances of the Grand Club. The subject seems to have been ignored at the earlier annual meetings, as if it were of the earth earthy, and unworthy the attention of men wrestling with a higher problem. Like Antaeos of old, they had to touch down that they might recover strength. Their first secretary, Mr Skelton, served the club gratuitously for two years, and left it in a sound condition. Their second, Mr Ritchie, served two years for a small salary, and left the club in financial difficulties. Clubs were then called upon for contributions ringing from 12s. 6d. to £2, according to the number of members, towards clearing the debt, and nearly £200 was raised. it is from this date that we have a statement of accounts produced at the annual meeting, audited by a committee and inserted in the Annual. Dr Renton then became treasurer, and Mr Cassels secretary, the former acting without salary, and the latter at a salary of £25 per annum. Two years afterwards the two offices were combined, and their duties, as we have seen, ably discharged by Mr Cassels for thirty years. The cost of the provincial map to which we have referred was about £100, the engraver (Mr Forrester) receiving £70, and Mr Palmer, "for condensing, methodizina, and copying the lists," £26. The snap was sold at 5s. per copy, and the sale was highly successful. In 1850 it was resolved that Mr Cassels, who had as secretary been receiving £25 per annum, should as treasurer be allowed 7½ per cent. on all sums received by him, and a per cent. on all disbursements on account of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club." The effect of this was to more than double the salary Mr Cassels had previously received. In constructing the Grand Pond at Carsebreck the commiittee of the club seem to have "outrun the constable" to a serious extent. The cost was much larger than its promoters expected, and for a good many years the club lay under the burden of a heavy debt which could not be cleared off. The estimates for the wort, and the engineer's fee did not exceed £500, but what with claims for damages, additional embankments, bridges, repairs, &c., more than double that suns was incurred. The account was kept separate from the ordinary account of the Royal Club, and subscriptions were received towards the cost from clubs and individuals to the ainount of £780. This left a large balance, which went on increasing with interest, litigation about damages, and additional repairs. In 1861, when a committee, with Dr Sisley as convener, took up the affair to see how things stood and what had to be clone, it was found "that £600 would be required to meet past and contingent liabilities in connection with the Grand Pond." Of this amount fully £300 was clue to Mr Falshaw. Dr Sidey and his committee set themselves to work to raise the sum, but after seven years' exertion they had only succeeded in raising about half the amount, and were about giving up in despair. While in this state Mr (their Bailie) Falshaw invited the whole committee to dinner,. and when the cloth had been removed and the loyal and patriotic toasts had been duly proposed and honoured, the. Bailie Iaid upon the table the three-Hundred pound bond. The committee were in consternation—they were in the. hands of Shylock. But the Bailie speedily put an end to their suspense by committing the bond to the fire and proposing " Success to the Loral Caledonian Curling Club."

At the July meeting in 1869 Dr Sidey and his committee were able to report that all the Grand Pond accounts were now cleared, and a balance left of thirteen guineas. Out of this, in recognition of his unwearied efforts, a "pair of the handsomest curling-stones " was presented to Dr Sidey; and in their jubilation over the extinction of the debt, the Royal Club did not forget to place on record its gratitude to Bailie Falshaw for such a fine bonfire. The first published balance-sheet of time club (1844-45) spewed an income from the three sources of revenue amounting to £110. For the closing year of Bailie Cassels' secretaryship the income was £625. The handsome collection of £500 for presentation to the secretary, when he was struck down by his fatal illness, she«-s how much the members of the Royal Club felt their indebtedness to Bailie Cassels, and their appreciation of his management of the club's' affairs during the long period in which he held office. Dr Sidey discharged the duties of secretary and treasurer for nearly a year after Bailie Cassels' death, Messrs Livingston, Usher, Rowatt, Aitchison, and Don assisting him as a committee. In October 1875, Mr David Lindsay, who had acted as clerk to Bailie Cassels, was appointed to the double office. When this gentleman died in 1880, Mi Adam Davidson Smith, C.A., was elected secretary and treasurer in 1880, his salary being £100 per annum. This was increased to £120 in 1884, and, after the Club Jubilee, a silver cup and a cheque for a handsome sum were presented to Mr Smith, in testimony of the successful way in which lie had carried through the celebrations. During the present secretary's term of office the finances have increased more rapidly than in any former period of the club's history, the income from the three sources formerly mentioned being now fully £750, while the balance in favour of the club, as in last balance-sheet (year ending June 30, 1888), was no less than £530. A grand snow-man to set up in honour of the approaching Jubilee. Come, genial rejoicings, and thaw him down.


Fifty years of the Royal Club were completed July 25, 1888, just a year after the whole country had united in celebrating, with unequalled splendour, joy, and enthusiasm, the Jubilee of Her Majesty's reign. There was still a jubilee atmosphere everywhere, and the Royal Club was fortunate in having its Jubilee to celebrate when everything was in a condition to male the event a success. It was after some consideration decided-

"(1.) That a Jubilee Dinner be held in Edinburgh in November 1888.
"(2.) That a Literary Committee be appointed, with powers, for the purpose of preparing a sketch of the club's history during the last fifty years.
"(3.) That a bronze medal be issued to each affiliated club, to be preserved or played for as each may determine."

The bronze medal (a representation of which is seen in the heading of this chapter) was duly issued, and received a hearty welcome from the clubs as a suitable memorial of the event. The following, in terms of the resolution, were appointed a Literary Committee:—Thomas S. Aitchison, Richard Brown, C.A.; R. Burns Begg, F.S.A.S.; Dr Carruthers, J. Clark Forrest, Rev. John Kerr, Dirleton (Convener); Captain Macnair, Rev. A. J. Murray, W. A. Peterkin, George Seton, M.A.; and A. Davidson Smith, C.A., Secretary. The Revs. Dr Taylor, W. L. M`Dougall, and G. Murray, Colonel Menzies, and John Smart, R,S.A., were afterwards added to the number. The Jubilee Dinner was held in the Waterloo Hotel, in the upper room of which the club had, fifty years before, been instituted. The attendance numbered 360, there being representatives from no fewer than 130 affiliated clubs, every district of Scotland being represented. The gathering was certainly worthy of the occasion, and when the great company met in the banqueting-hall of the hotel, the Most Noble the Marquis of Breadalbane in the chair, the sight was a most impressive one. It had taken forty or more years to do it, but we had beaten the old clays at last, and quite eclipsed the gaiety of the early gatherings, shewing to the world that the curling- enthusiasm of Scotland had not lessened with the lapse of years, but was fresh and strong as ever. Everything had been arranged in orderly manner by the secretary and a special committee, and each member on taking his numbered place at the table found before him a massive four-page menu. On the front was a drawing by John Smart, R.S.A., with the inevitable lean crow perched on a twig and perusing a signboard stuck upon an old tree-stump, which read as follows:—"Tak' Notice. — Jubilee Dinner, Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Waterloo Hotel, Nov. 28th, 1888." On the outer page was a "Programme of Music by the Edinburgh Reel and Strathspey Society—Mr W. Simpson, Condacctor." The inner pages contained the Bill of Fare and the Toast List, which the secretary had allowed us to garnish with sundry curling phrases to help the digestion, and two verses from the curling poets, Henry Shanks of Bathgate, and Rev. J. Muir of Leith. We give them as they stood, although one or two alterations had to be made in the toast and song list.

Before proceeding to the toasts, the curlers on that memorable occasion did a graceful act in remembering the one only survivor of the fifty who had founded the club in that hotel half a century before—Charles Cowan of Logan House. From the assembled gathering the following telegram was despatched to the venerable curler who had done so much for curling and for the Royal Club:— [Mr Cowan died 29th 'March 1859, aged 87.]

"Three hundred and sixty members of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, met in joyous jubilee, send you heartiest greetings and good wishes.


To this the following reply was in a short time received:


"DEAR SIR,—I am much gratified by your kind message this evening, and thank you for your kind remembrance of me. Please assure the assembled company of my continued interest in the `roaring game,' and of my regret that I am unable to be with them this evening. —I am, yours very truly,

A full report of the Jubilee Dinner will be found in the Annual for 1889, but no report can worthily describe the scene or convey an adequate idea of the good humour and enthusiasm that characterised the gathering. The various speeches were eloquently delivered and heartily received, the applause being led by that enthusiastic brother, Charles Morrison, and some of the Waverley men, with their besonis high in air. From first to last it was a splendid sleeting, one, indeed, that can never be forgotten by those who attended it, and worthy in every way of the event that occasioned it. To us the most notable feature was the singing of the chorus to The Channel-stane by the large assembly, led by Mr Glencorse, who sling the old song with great power. The curlers threw their soul into that chorus. [The tune was not that given on a former page of our volume, but Green grow the rashes, O.] They seemed with one voice, deep, strong, and unmistakable, to utter the joy with which they crowned the work of the most successful half-century of curling, and commemorated the deeds of the departed heroes of the loyal Club. It was also the expression of their own devotion to the grand old game, and sounded like the undivided testimony of the three hundred that, come what might, their love of curling would, like the Scottish prejudice of Burns, ever "boil along the veins till the floodgates of life shut in eternal rest."


Ladies do not curl—on the ice. [There are exceptions to every rule. About fifty years ago a ladies' bonspiel was played on Loch Ged in the parish of heir, two rinks of the maidens of Capenoch against two rinks of the maidens of Waterside, with skips of acknowledged skill presiding over them. An enormous concourse of spectators assembled, and the sun in honour of the occasion shone out brightly upon the scene. The ice was bad, and, according to our informer, the maidens had to play the match "fetlock-deep in water;" but great skill was displayed on both sides, the curling-broom being handled as dexterously as the domestic one, and channel-stanes, which female arms are supposed to be unable to cope with, being whirled with all the ease of the distaff. After a keen contest the maidens of Capenoch were victorious by a single shot. In his History of Sanquhar Club (p. 46), Mr Brown records a match between the wives of Sanquhar and Crawick Mill.

On 10th February 1841 the married ladies of Buittle challenged the unmarried, and the match came off at Loch-bill, twenty ladies a side, and a gentleman skipping each team. So novel a scene attracted such a crowd that the players were compelled to shift the rink several times. The game was carried out with the determination peculiar to the sex, and resulted in the defeat of the married party, who declared that there had been treachery in their camp. That they had some ground for their suspicion was proved by the fact that soon afterwards the skip of the married ladies was united to a young widow who had played on the unmarried side, and had cast sheep's eyes over the hog score all the time of the match.

In a description of the opening of Pitfour Curling Pond, 31st January 1884, it is stated that ''the Hon. Mrs Fergusson took her place on the crampit, with a stone of 36 lbs. weight, and delivered the same in true curling style, sending it the full length of the rink with such a true and unerring aim that it drove a stone which was placed on the tee to the bank and lay itself a perfect patlid. The lady's excellent chap-and-lie shot, it is needless to say, was awarded a vociferous cheer." We had, on one occasion, to raise a hue-and-cry for two ladies who went amissing from our manse on a Saturday afternoon, and found them curling by torchlight with the enthusiastic secretary of our local club, quite oblivious to the near approach of the Sabbath. There are doubtless many other cases which shew that gentlemen have not a monopoly of the national game. We may add that among the accounts of curling clubs sent to us that regarding Dunkeld is furnished by a lady.]

The Rational Dress Association has not yet secured for them the freedom that is necessary to fling the channel-stare, and like Her Majesty at Scone, the majority find the curling-stones too heavy for their delicate arms. But ladies are the patronesses and friends of curling. With that fine instinct which enables them readily to detect what is good for their country, they have been led to give it their hearty support. They, in some measure, did this before the days of the loyal Club, but it is since, and owing to the institution of that club, that the interest of the fair sex in our national game has been thoroughly secured. Nothing, indeed, is more remarkable in the history of the club than the way in which the patronage and support of the first ladies in the land has been enlisted in the curling cause. Out of 461 Scottish clubs, no less than 278 have ladies of rank and position as patronesses. The list is headed by H.R.H. the Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, who is patroness of Inveraray Club. Then we have the Duchesses of Athole, Buccleuch, Hamilton, and Sutherland; the Marchionesses of Bute, Breadalbane, Huntly, Lansdowne, and Tweeddale; the Countesses of Aberdeen, Airlie, Camnperdown, Dunmore, Elgin, Glasgow, Home, Kinnoull, Kintore, Lindsay, (Dowager) Mar and Kellie, Morton, Rosebery, Rosslyn, and Strathmore, the majority of the others being influential ladies of quality in their different districts, so that we may safely say we have enlisted in the ranks of our lady friends the wealth, wit, and beauty of Scotland. But it is not simply their patronage that we are proud of, though that is something to be thankful for. We have looked into the returns of fully 300 clubs which possess prizes for annual rink or point competition, in addition to medals purchased by these clubs or conferred by the Royal Club, and we find among them 440 silver or gold medals, and 300 trophies of various kinds, such as cups, jugs, kettles, quaichs, snuffmulls, curling-stones, [Besides the snuff-box of the Gladsmuir Club, to which we have already referred (p. 205), there are several remarkable curiosities in the list of curling trophies. Coates Club holds the gold medal of the old Duddingston Club, but does not endanger its safety by putting it up for competition. Braemar Club plays for the annual possession of one of the membership medals of the Duddingston Club, dated 1795, and presented to Braemar in 1886 by R. G. Foggo. For a rink trophy the Partick Club has the old "Partick Village Bell," dated 1725, and used in the last century by the town-crier for intimating sales, &c. It was found in a marine store in Paisley, and presented to the club by John Ross in 1859. It is very highly valued by the club. The Waverley Club play annually for a Morrison Jug, which is made of silver got at the taking of Lucknow; Coupar-Angus and Kettins for a ''silver medal, with miniature curling-stones of granite taken from the fortifications of Sebastopol," presented to the club in 1857 by Mrs E. Collins Wood of Keithock. The Menzies Cricket Club spew their goodwill to the Weem curlers by presenting them with a silver medal.] &c., and of these 740 prizes as many as 125, or fully one-sixth of the whole number, are direct gifts to these clubs from lady patrons and friends. While our gratitude toward the majority of our fair patronesses is "a lively sense of favours to come," nearly one-half of the number have thus made us grateful for favours already received in silver and gold. This is most satisfactory, and fortunate indeed are those clubs which have been so favoured. 'Their competitions are all the keener when the prize is given by some Queen of Beauty. More so when it is not simply one fair donor but many from whom the gift of honour comes Scotseraig Club has a ladies' challenge medal, subscribed for by the wives of the members. Aberuthren, .Alyth, Blaeleburn, Darlington, Dunalastair, Eskdaill, Middlesborough, Orwell, and Rohallion and Dirnam Clubs have all trophies, subscribed for by the ladies of the district. The ladies of Saline and Carnock gifted a silver snuff box to the Oakley Club. Most fortunate of all, the curling clubs of Alva and Delvine have medals presented by the young ladies of the district. If this book should ever reach the hands of wives, ladies in general, or young ladies in particular, we would say to them all, "Go and do likewise." They certainly could not do better than combine in this way to shew their sympathy with the manliest and best of our national games. In recognition of the interest the ladies had then shewn in the Royal Club, it was proposed by Major Henderson of Westerton, in 1853, to have a grand ball in connection with the Royal Club. The subject was remitted to a special committee, but we do not hear whether the ball ever took place. A good many local clubs [The curlers of Ballingry, in arranging a ball, wisely deprecated the excessive expenditure on gew-gaws common on such occasions, as appears from this club minute of 27th December 1839:—"In the course of the evening it was proposed to have a ball in connection with the club. The following gentlemen were appointed a committee for the management of the same:—"Messrs Briggs, Dowie, Mitchell, R. Henderson, Robertson, Wilson, Russel, J. Reddie, and Dr Neil. It was agreed that the ladies invited be requested to appear in their usual dresses, and not put themselves to unnecessary expense, as curlers like everything plain and substantial."] follow the examples of Ayr and Penninghame, and organise annual or occasional dances.

There is, however, a more popular way of shewing appreciation of the interest taken by ladies in curling; and it is followed by nearly all our curling clubs—not that they love dancing less, but that they love curling more. They have an annual match, The Married v. The Unmarried, the purpose of which is the same as that of our young patronesses—viz., to exterminate the race of bachelors and send them over to "the great majority." In this match the married are generally successful, and the poor bachelors who chance to escape with their lives very soon put the chain of Hymen round their necks in despair, and commit "the happy despatch."

At the close of its first fifty years we would here, in the name of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, offer our hearty thanks to all the patronesses and lady friends for the kindly interest they have taken in the curling clubs of their different districts. Some, we are glad to think, who did much in the earlier period of our history are still here to receive honour from us; notably the Dowager Duchess of Athole, who seconded her noble husband's endeavours in every way she could, and by many prizes encouraged the men of Dunkeld to prepare for the Grand Match as the great event of the year. Of many whose gifts were cheerfully bestowed on the curlers these gifts are now their memorials. The Countess of Breadalbane, the Countess of Home, Lady Jane Hamilton, Lady Mary Nisbet-Hamilton, Lady Murray Thriepland, the Hon. Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, Mrs Dunidas of Arniston, Mrs Aytoun of Inchdairnie, and many others did virtuously by endowing clubs with silver and gold, and their deeds are remembered with gratitude. And surely Rosslyn and all the curling brotherhood will ever cherish with affection the memory of that dear old Lady Wedderburn who excelled all the many daughters of curling by knitting with her own hands worsted vests for five rinks of the RossIyn curlers. It was a beautiful act. In the annals of curling we know of nothing more beautiful, and if the spirit of devotion and enthusiasm of which it was the expression only lives on among our ladies, what we owe to them, and what we here thank them for, will be only the shadow of the good that curling is yet to receive from their patronage.


Endowed by its founders with a sound constitution, the health of the Royal Club through the fifty years of its existence has never given its friends any cause for anxiety. The club has never "lookit ahint it." It was thought by some that its founders were visionaries, and the author of the first advertisement regarding it was evidently doubtful. about anything good coming out of it. The success of the club has, however, exceeded the most sanguine expectation, and no institution of the kind, we may safely say, ever prospered in a more remarkable manner. The steady growth of its popularity in the various counties may be seen at a glance by the following table, shewing; the affiliated clubs in each county and the number of members at the institution of the Grand Club and at the close of each decade of its history:—


It must be kept in mind that our table simply represents the curling connection of the Royal Club. If we deduct women and children and those who by youth, age, or infirmity are unable to "owrehog a channel-stane," and if we remember that there are many who enjoy culling without being connected with any clubs, and many clubs which are not connected with the Royal, we may confidently say that of those who are possible curlers 10 per cent. or thereabouts do curl, and that of the curlers of Scotland 80 per cent. are connected with the Royal Club. It is apparent from the table that there has been a steady growth of the curling cult throughout the country, due in great measure to the ILoyal Club. Some of the older curling counties, by reason of their inconvenient situation, have never been properly got hold of. The same reason accounts for a falling membership in Wigton and Kirkcudbright. Difficulties about the Grand Match to which we have referred may, but ought not, to account for a diminution of clubs and members in Ayr and Renfrew. The decline noticeable in Peebles and Liiilithgow is to us quite unaccountable. We are certain that curling is not going lack in any of these counties. It is satisfactory to find that in twenty-six of the thirty-three Scottish counties the Royal Club has made steady progress. Kinross, as we might expect, stands first on our list. Nearly every one who can curl does curl in that happy little county. Then comes Perth, worthy of its old traditions. The small proportion in such counties as Lanark, Edinburgh, Forfar, Renfrew, and Aberdeen is due to the existence of their large towns, where the facilities for curling are few, and the landward curling of these counties must be understood to be much larger than the table brings out. What the Royal Club ought to be most thankful for is the extent to which it has been permitted to break new ground and to introduce the game where it was before unknown, or to revive it where it had for long been forgotten. In ARGYLL, which is new ground, we have ten clubs, [As Lochawe is not supposed to have been frozen over more than once in a century, it is interesting to note that in 1879 the Lochnawside Club curled for several successive clays in mid-channel, between Taycreggan and Portsonachan Hotels. The previous time Lochawe was frozen was in 1815.] the oldest and the strongest being at Oban—" the Brighton of the West Highlands." Specially in the north of Scotland has the Royal Club's influence been felt. At the close of the last period we found the game struggling onward without much success in Forfar. There are now no less than twenty-seven clubs in that county. In ABERDEEN, where there were none, we have now fifteen clubs, with the Duke of Fife, the Earl of Aberdeen, the Marquis of Huntly, Sir W. Cunliffe Brooks, A. H. Farquharson of Invercauld, Lord Sempill, the Earl of March, the Earl of Kintore, Colonel Ferguson of Pitfour, and many other gentlemen (not to speak of ladies) who are devoting their attention to the progress of the game. The towns of Aberdeen and Peterhead are too near the sea to allow of as much curling as is needed to satisfy the curlers there; but in the more inland districts they have it in abundance, and share their enjoyment with the shoreward curlers. We may infer this from the delightful sketch of a curling scene at Pit/our by the secretary of the Pitfour Club—William Ainslie, who carried North with him the curling enthusiasm and ability for which the Ainslie family were noted in the Posslyn Club, originating the Pitfour Club in 1883, and in many other ways doing much to popularise curling "Aberdeen awa'."

"On Hogmanay night, the last night of 1886, a great gathering took place on Pitfour Lake. Hundreds of torches lighted with petroleum, and oil lamps, used during the herring-fishing season for gutting herrings at night, were hung all over the lake, and one at each end of every rink. Curling began at eight o'clock and finished at twelve, after which a procession of torch-bearers was formed, headed by a piper, curling and patriotic songs were sung, healths proposed, then a bonfire was made and all unburned torches thrown on it. The lake during the night was covered with hundreds of skaters. The scene was at the same time weird, grand, and thoroughly enjoyable. A special train in early morning took off the Peterhead portion of the skaters and curlers. Such a scene was never known to have taken place in Aberdeenshire before."

In BANFF county there is one club, and it is not surprising that the liberal donor of our National Portrait Gallery —J. R. Findlay of Aberlour—is here a liberal supporter of our national game.

A member of the Doune Club, writing to Dr Cairnie in 1833, says (Essay, p. 87):—"The game is, I believe, not known about Fochabers, in ELGINSHIRE, and perhaps has not yet been practised so far to the northward." Now there is a capital club at Fochabers, with the Earl of March as patron, and J. Y. Gordon of Cairnfield president. The town of Ellin has a large club, with the Duke of Fife at its head. Strathspey has given US some of our best point players, and has the Dowager-Countess of Scafield as patroness. Besides these, there are five other clubs able to give a good account of themselves, and in alliance with the noble families in their districts. We have in the county of INVERNESS ten clubs, where there were none at the time the Royal was instituted. These have mostly owed their origin to sheep-farmers from the South, as in the case of Lagyan, to which we have referred, and Glengarry, where George Malcolm, about twenty-five years, ago, got some of his South countrymen who had settled in the district brought together, and, under the patronage of the late Edward Ellice, M.P., started a club. Lord Lovat is patron of the Fort-Augustus Club, and Lochaber has Lochiel for its head, with a curling-posits on the western slope of Ben Nevis nearly 2000 feet above sea-level. Curling in the county town, Inverness, was set a-going about the time the Royal Club was instituted, and the Inverness Club dates hack to 1841. On February 22, 1843, the curlers met on a small point near Tomnaburich, and as the first stone went booming along the ice, a loud cheer burst from the spectators assembled to witness the new sport, startling the echoes of the Hill of Fairies with sounds never heard before in that picturesque and secluded spot. We next hear of the curlers playing their first bonspiel for beef and greens on Lochna-shannis, or the Whispering Loch. 'Then we find them at Culcaboch; but where to find theta now it would be difficult to say, although their records have been in our hands for perusal. Instead of requiring a surgical operation to get a joke into the skull of the Inverness Club, it would require one to get anything; serious out of it. That club has, however, lifted a burden off our mince. When we left the ancient minute-books and entered the Caledonian period, we found a painful sameness about the club records—they had all lost individuality, like the curling-stories; but when we took up the minute-book of the Inverness Club, we felt that it was still possible, under the iron reign of uniformity, to have freshness, originality, and variety. This volume is full of "quips, and cranks, and jollities." Everything that is seriously worth recording is studiously left out, and Yr palladium of yr Curling Club of Inverness, lettered in gold and bound in green morocco, contains "Poetic effusions of no mean order, learned dissertations on abstruse subjects, free-hand sketches of prominent members, and gems of thought sparkling among the dust."

Secretary P., like other secretaries, threatens to resign, but is prevailed on to continue in office another year, whereupon Brother B., while the secretary is engaged in "assisting the president to mix another tumbler," enters in the minute a reflection on office-bearers in general, and their ingratitude, as shewn in not presenting their clubs with prizes, in return for the honour done to them. The hint has a good effect, a medal is presented, and won with the excellent score of "six." The record then says "Few more extraordinary matches have ever been witnessed.

During the play the wind blew so strongly from the south that no one but a native could keep his feet, and, from another cause, few even of the natives could do that. The thanks of the club are due to the doctor of a neighbouring asylum, who kindly allowed the inmates to fraternise with and assist the members of the club in the above match. The inmates, it was gratifying to observe, had a most intelligent appreciation of the proceedings of the curlers."

In the evening, when the business is over, the poet-laureate sings a song "of his own making," entitled The Manly Curler, of which these are some stanzas:-

"Behold him poised on the crampit serenely,
With one leg before and the other behind
He envies not Victoria her sceptre so queenly,
His sceptre's a boulder, made fit to his mind.

"With impetuous velocity he hurls the huge granite;
Its roarings, resounding, make nature alarmed,
Till reaching the tee it reposes upon it,
As if its own music its fury had charmed.

"A pipe of dimensions appropriate he smoketh,
Its aromatic vapour incenses the view,
While to revive his vitals he openly evoketh
The powerful assistance of pure mountain dew.

"Behold him returning in a homeward direction,
A delicate contentment pervading his breast,
To his couch he retireth with the proud reflection
That at Scotia's great game he has—done his best."

In vain we listen for the usual applause. The criticism which followed this Gaelic Tupper's effort simply resulted in breaking up the meeting. These extracts spew how much humour there is at Inverness, and how pleasantly Ye Palladium of ye Curling Club there breaks tip the monotony of the minute-books of this period. In the counties north of Inverness—Ross, SUTHERLAND, and CAITHNESS—«e have not many clubs, but we have broken ground in them all, and seen John Frost give John o' Groat's a hearty curler's grip. The oldest club beyond Inverness is the Golspie Club, instituted by Robert Hill in 1850. Its first contest for a Royal medal was with Inverness in 1855, when the two clubs met at Logic, in Ross-shire. Southerners may form an idea of the difficulties with which the men of the North have to contend when they are told that the Golspie curlers on that occasion started at 4 A.M. in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, crossed the Meikle Ferry in an open boat at great risk, the ferry being covered with loose masses of ice, won their match, recrossed the same dangerous ferry, "stanes an' besoins an' a'," and reached home about midnight, when Ben Bhraggie was made to echo back the sound of their victory. The Caberfeiclh,, from which Dingwall and other clubs have branched off, was founded in 18 5 5 by Frank Harper, a native of Tweedside, who long remained the leading spirit of the club, and skipped his rink or sung his song—The Bold Cabe feidh, with equal success. Harper and his brethren had an unhappy experience in the early years of their curling. One clay they left their stones on the "Old River" pool, where they used to play, and when they returned from refreshing; themselves they found that the old pool had been doing the same, and that the stones had gone to the bottom, from which it was impossible to recover them. Their patroness, Sir Walter Scott's "heiress of Kintail," the late Hon. Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, saved the curlers from further mishap by giving them a pond in the Seaforth policies at Brahan, and to this good lady the club were indebted for many favours. The Duke of Sutherland, Viscount Tarbert, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, Colonel Davidson of Tulloch, Major Randle Jackson of Swordale, Sutherland of Skibo, M'Kenzie of AIlangrange and many other gentlemen of influence are among the patrons of curling in these further northern counties. The game has now taken a firm hold in them all and become popular. We have noticed its progress in the North more fully because it is the special triumph of the Royal Club to have secured for the game a Highland welcome, and in this way completed its claim to nationality. Now that the enthusiasm of the Gael has been evoked we may be sure that curling has a future before it in this country that will throw the past into the shade, and as the Royal Club has done so much for the North the club may depend upon the North to do great things in the future development and progress of the national game.

We do not forget that in the North we have one county where the sound of curling is unheard. The Orcadian or the Shetlander views Scotland like the Millport minister, who was in the habit of praying for "the Great Cumbrae and the Little Cumbrae, and the adjacent islands of Great Britain and Ireland." ORKNEY is really more furth of Scotland than some of the places to be included under that description. Still, it is not creditable that there should be such a sad blank where Copinsha in early times furnished "in great plentie excellent stones for the game called curling" (vide p. 88). Is Orkney to be our man-in-themoon because Bishop Grahame was accused of curling on the Lord's day? Or is it that John Frost fears the mal-de-mer of the Pentland Firth? That cannot be, for he has crossed Sumburgh - roost, which we know to be more formidable, and Ultima Thule has its club as a memorial of his visit—a peerie club, but a plucky one, for it sent no less a person than Sheriff Thorns to represent it at our Jubilee Dinner. The Orcadians, we guess, are afraid for the staple trade of the islands, for they know that the curler's delight is to crack an egg, and that to gain his end he never scruples to remove a clockin' hen. Alas, poor Orkney Who shall first pity her solitary plight, waken up the old man of Hoy with the channel-stave's roar, and establish the St Magnus Curling Club in the shadow of the old cathedral pile?


With such a record to look back upon, we may surely look hopefully forward, certain that the loyal Club, whose history we have traced as the history of the past fifty years of curling, will continue to be identified with the development and progress of the game. It has more than fulfilled the purpose of its founders, which was to bring order out of prevailing confusion, and to establish a system of uniform laws and regulations which would command the respect and obedience of the whole curling brotherhood. It has advanced the game in other countries, as we shall presently see, and in our own Scotland has made it more truly national, attracting to it the patronage of Royalty, the support of the nobility, and the influence of the ladies in a most remarkable degree. But there is much yet to be done; for with the development of curling new points emerge which require careful attention and wise settlement, while the bond of such a central institution as the Royal Club is needed and appreciated all the more as the game is taken up in countries far apart from each other. Curling cannot get on without the Royal Club. Like many good things, we should only understand its value by the loss of it. It shall never be lost if those who have it in their

keeping in time to come are loyal to the founders and supporters of the club, and if the same spirit animates them which is found among those who are the club's office-bearers and workers at the present time. We could not have a better secretary than the present holder of the office, Adam Davidson Smith, C.A. A man of sterling principle and excellent business habits, it is no wonder that every member of the "Royal" has implicit confidence in his administration, and that under his management the club has made extraordinary progress. Every curler who has visited our secretary at his office, where he sits surrounded by the gabions of ancient curling and the portraits of distinguished curlers, ancient and modern, can testify how ready he is to give counsel in difficulty and to listen to all who have any suggestions to make which concerns the welfare of the club. His bright, genial manner and his curling enthusiasm always make such a visit a pleasure either to the home curler or to the brother from across the Atlantic, who always receives a specially hearty welcome at 29 St Andrew Square.

Our present president, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, is a tower of strength. Ever animated by the spirit of his family motto—Omne solum forti patria--he knows what it is to "scorn delights and live laborious days," that he may advance the welfare of his country. As his patriotism has led him to set the highest value on the national game, lie will not spare himself in the service of the Royal Club. For vice-presidents in our jubilee year we had one of the best and most esteemed curlers of the west of Scotland—J. Clark Forrest; and a grand-nephew of our national bard, Robert Burns Begg, who has not only made Lochleven tell us all it knew about ancient curling, but has lately given to Lochleven fresh interest for curlers and others by telling them all that is known about the old loch and its connection with the beautiful but ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots. [History of Lochleven Castle, with Details of Imprisonment and Escape of Mary Queen of Scots. By Robert Burns Begg, F.S.A. Scot. Kinross: George Barnet. 1887.] Succeeding these we have W. M'Inroy of Lude, who has done much in England for the curling cause, and Colonel Menzies, the worthy and enthusiastic president of Glasgow North Woodside; while on our committee we have Sir James Gibson-Craig, who has always taken an active interest in the work of the Royal Club; T. S. Aitchison, whose good humour and good sense make him ever welcome at our meetings, and who as "Maltini" of the "Monks" contributes some good songs to our Annual; the Rev. A. J. Murray of Eddleston, a typical clerical curler; Josiah Livingston, who has long and faithfully served the club; and Robert Knox, one of the famous Alloa players (all of whom have at one time or other been vice-presidents); Dr White, and Messrs Breingan, Gilmour, Kerr (Cumbernauld), and Ure. It was not to any trifling cause that the founders of the Royal Club gave their nights and days, and that so many good men and true devoted so much attention during the past fifty years of the club's career. Those who serve the club now—many of them hard-wrought business and professional men—are not thoughtlessly spending their time to no purpose. All have been working, as all are working now, in the firm conviction that by doing what they can for the prosperity of curling they are doing what they can to advance the welfare of their own and of other nations, and to hasten the triumph of the brotherhood of man. Fifty years have now collie and gone since the twig was planted which was to become the shelter and support of our ain game. How it was planted and watered and pruned, and how by faithful tending the sapling developed into a tree, sending its roots deep down into Scottish soil, and extending its branches to far-off lauds, this chapter has been written to shew. It remains for those who follow us, and we trust them without misgiving, by earnest attention and watchful care to foster the growth and further the usefulness of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, that it may continue to be the life-tree of curling, uniting, as root, stein, and branches, Scotland and all curling countries furth of Scotland in one unbroken brotherhood.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus