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of 1824, upon the production of another song by the same individual, (the author of Hora Scoticæ, No. I. Blackwood's Magazine, Feb. 1820,) in which 66 an allusion was again made most gratuitously and offensively unjust to those whose silence and forbearance, not their blasting and blawing, as vulgarly imputed, was their crime, that then, and without the knowledge, sanction, or consent of the Lochmaben Curlers, it saw the light." What then? Why, "its publication was immediately followed by a rejoinder, in the same pitifully spiteful and scurrilous strain," -and what then? Why, to that rejoinder there is a sudden reply. "But the Editor of the Dumfries Journal, in which the former had appeared
himself a Closeburn man-refused to insert it; though he struck off about 200 blundered copies, which were circulated amongst, and made the
round of all concerned at the time." Of these plusquam civilia bella, we never till this moment heard; and should like to see each strophe and antistrophe as they were said or sung at beef and greens. We have not a doubt, that as pieces of personal and libellous matter, they are as amusing as harmless; such little personalities seem to us to proceed mutually from amiable people alone; and it has often occurred to "us much reflecting on these things," that it is strange how the satirical song-writer, for example, who is conscious during composition of a divine philanthropy, which includes, of course, the individual absurdly said to be the victim of an assassin, that is, of a person with pleasing features and a sharpnibbed pen, jotting down, in prose or verse, notices of certain mental or physical phenomena, presented in the conduct or converse of a brother
Christian-"To us much reflecting on these things," we say it has often occurred as very strange how the satirical song-writer, with such consciousnesses as these, can ever for a moment doubt that the lively creature libelling him in return, is inspired with the most affectionate feelings towards him, and ready to do him any service that may be pointed out as lying within the libeller's power. What is a libel, but a wee bit byuckie ?" In our ten
derness, we go on and on, till we apply the term sometimes to a single stanza. And such is the horror which some silly people have of the vague idea of something or other existing in certain sounds, which is said to be "libellous," that they have recourse to Courts of Justice, to ascertain how it may be; and in the event of its being decided by Trial by Jury that it is even so, they seek solatium in what is still more absurdly called damages.
Thus rested matters between the Lochmabenites and the Closeburnians; nor did an opportunity again present itself, till the winter 1825 and 6, for the decisive bonspiel.
the Closeburnians for the end of January. "At last a challenge was accepted by
The Lochmaben party reached Brownhill the night previous, and met with so joyous a reception from their old friends, as by no means improved their nerves for the important business of the day following. That, however, as it turned out, did not signify-for it was again to prove a trial of strength. As bad luck would have it, a drizzling morning rose upon a soft and blustry night, and the rival parties assembled upon the ice with clouded faces, under a clouded sky. Much, however, to the honour of the Closeburn Curlers, they proposed, through their president, as the state of the ice and weather did not permit of playing a fair scientific spiel, that, as dinner was ordered and the parties met, they should amuse themselves till that timewith a
friendly mixed game. This proposal Sir James and the seniors of his party resolved to accept-but the younger men scouted the idea; and, considering the immense concourse of people who from far and near had crowded to witness the fray, declared one and all that' they would not have it said for shame' that they had come so far and had not played. upon a mutual understanding that the Accordingly, after much hesitation, and parties should again meet, and under more favourable circumstances decide the palm, the spiel commenced-and it soon fared with Lochmaben as foreseen. From the pressure of the crowd, and the spongy state of the ice, the water soon became so deep as to require to sweep the rink the whole length before each stone was delivered; and even when that was done, it oftener than once happened that out of the sixteen stones, two only would get over the hog-score! It was
under these circumstances that again, by one rink, Closeburn gained,—and Lochmaben lost,-no honour.
"The combatants then returned to the Inn to dinner-where as usual the greatest harmony, good feeling, and hilarity prevailed. At a late hour, the Lochmaben party wended their way towards the Lochs; and as an instance of the kindly impression they left behind them, we may mention, that one of their number, upon returning to the room in search of his hat, found the Closeburnians, one and all, mounted upon the table, on one foot, cups in hand, drinking, with all the ho nours, health, happiness, and prosperity to the men of old Margery.'
"In the former bonspiel, one of the Closeburn skippers lost the honour which he had acquired during five-and-twenty consecutive parish spiels. But in this, if, under the circumstances mentioned, it may be so construed, a greater trophy was achieved. It was reserved for the old President of their society to crop the laurels which Sir James for thirty unvanquished years, at the head of the Lochmaben invincibles, had won and worn. The veteran Closeburnian had twice quailed before him-and had been heard to say, that if in the ensuing con. test he could beat the Baronet, he would die in peace. Requiescat! his wish was amply gratified. Sir James's players were mostly striplings, who could have done their work well had the ice been hardbut as it was, few ends were played, till they were hors-de-combat!"
Up starts, again, as if from the infernal regions, the reverend Professor, who, ever since the 1820, and long, long before, had so haunted the men of Margery's imaginations, that he must have been seen in every bush in the moors. Following up the former provocations, in an early
number of the Dumfries Journal another set of verses from the old quarter blazoned forth the defeat of Lochmaben, commencing in the hackneyed strain,
Hurrah! for Closeburn, fling the note afar!'"
Now, we cannot help humbly thinking, that it is customary on all such occasions to expect that the poet-laureate of the victorious party should celebrate their conquest by a triumphal lay. It is not moderate or manly to call such song of triumph -justified by the practice of all the most heroic nations-" following up former provocations." But this lay
of the laureate was forthwith " duly turned into ludicrism by a burlesque song, published in the same paper.' The paper war, which had slumbered some seasons, again raged in all its fury-and, as no man likes to see the slightest production of his brain" turned into ludicrism"-we ourselves dislike it excessively-the reverend Professor (here impertinently called a poetaster) again shewed fight, and seems to have given his adversary a facer and a stomacher, right and left. Some half dozen years having elapsed since that counter-hitting, the author of Curliana should have calmly recorded the conflict. Instead of doing so, he treats his antagonist most contumaciously, saying, that " in his diatribes (a learned word for songs) there was such a breach of all courtesy and gentlemanly feeling as completely to overreach its purpose, and to hold up its rancorous author to the scorn and disgust of the public at large," &c. All this, we take it upon ourselves to say, is absolute raving; Professor Gillespie, the writer of those jeux d'esprit-and they were manifestly, from the specimens quoted, nothing else, to say nothing of his admirable talents-being one of the warmest and kindest-hearted men that ever lived, with a heart as full of benignity as an egg's full of meat, and not a drop of rancour in his whole composition.
Our author then goes on to moralize thus :
"A jeu d'esprit, however harmless, and even when expressly written pour
faire rire, if at the expense of truth,
and made public at the expense of others, degenerates into something at best exceedingly despicable. But if designedly and repeatedly persevered in through years, for the vindictive purpose of holding up through the press a respectable body of unoffending men to the derision of their countrymen, it acquires a deeper shade of niddering still. The party whose names have been so unhandsomely dragged into light, can set, however, at nought the knavery done them. The
anonymous concocter, and shameless publisher of utter fictions, can be but slightly affected by the imputation of motives which would press heavy indeed upon an honourable mind. We leave him therefore to enjoy upon the pillory, where public opinion has long stationed him, but in the ‘attitude (pra
emphasis it!) of proud and unflinching defiance,' as he is himself pleased to style it-what few will envy him, the harvest of his toil. If, however, in putting down one whose purpose seems (though happily not effected) to have been to set two rival parishes by the ears, we have unintentionally offended the Curlers of Closeburn, to them our kindly feelings dictate the amplest apology."
All this raving-or rather drivel must be excluded from the next edition of this otherwise amiable and amusing volume on pain of the knout. It makes the writer-at other times always lively and acute-seem absolutely a sumph. But oil was poured into the wounded bosoms of the men of Margery, at the election dinner which took place at Lochmaben on the 3d of the following July, "by that leal and noble Closeburnian, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick." Shortly after the leading toasts of the day had been disposed of, the Sheriff stood up, and in an eloquent speech, replete with urbanity and kindly feeling, made his way to the heart of every Lochmaben individual pre
He commenced by speaking of ancient times, and the periods of the Bruce and then, by an easy transition from fields of ire to those of ice, he spake of our own happier feuds the peaceful emulations of modern men. Alluding then to our recent spiels, and paying a wellturned tribute to our Curling skill, he proceeded to add, that, himself a Curler, and the son of a Curler, who had often headed the rinks of Closeburn, it could not but be expected that he should wish success to his own; -should victory, however, notwithstanding, incline to the other side, he was well assured, even then, that they would lose no honour by resigning the palm to such redoubted compeers. He then proposed, with all the honours- The Curlers of Lochmaben.'
Thus matters remained till the ice-campaign of 1829-30. The parish heroes met to try another contestbut Juno and Jupiter were inauspicious-and such was the state of the day and ice, that it was found impracticable to play the bonspiel. The parties, however, modified their chagrin, by dining together-harmony and good feeling reigned-and they parted in hopes of meeting
again another season on the "transparent board."
Upon a mutual understanding, that neither party should give nor accept of a challenge to play a parish match till the palm should be finally decided between the rival combatants-Lochmaben has had no opportunity for about ten years of meeting her old friends, the Curlers of the neighbouring parishes, upon the transparent board. Considering, however, that by taking up the last position upon the Closeburn ice, that they were exonerated from an engagement which they did not anticipate should rival in duration the Trojan war, and which they had often had occasion to regret, they met, and after four well contested games, conquered Tinwald, Dumfries, Johnstone, and Dryfesdale. The ice was excellent-the weather remarkably good-and fine scientific spiels were played throughout. The games were 21 shots each, and the aggregate number of surplus shots gained in all, amounted to 109 -a very distinct proof of the proficiency of the losers in the art.
"Thus ended the celebrated ice campaign of winter 1829-30, which commenced with us upon the 19th of November, and, with few intermissions, terminated upon the 22d February, our last stones sounding finale about half-past six o'clock
One of the most amusing and instructive chapters is that entitled "Mechanical." The author is excellent on Curling stones. “Every Curling Society," he says, "has its noted Curling stones-relies of the olden time, and of the introduction of the game, which" are looked upon with a sort of filial veneration," &c. "Of these, several," he adds, remain upon the Lochmaben ice as 'Palladiums.' The most remarkable is the "Famous Hen." She still exists, in all the pristine elegance and simplicity of form, as discovered by old Thornywhat and the late Provost Henderson, in a cleugh upon the estate of the former, and conveyed down to the Burgh in a plaid. She was used for many years in all parish spiels-till the parishioners became ashamed of her-for when once near the tee, there was no moving her-wherever she settled, there
she clock'd; and the severest blow merely destroyed her equilibrium, turning up her bottom to the light. The Hen, however, is still on the ice.
"We cannot resist inserting the following anecdotes connected with the Hen, or omit gracing our pages with a name so honourable to a place which was his father's birth-spot, and so long his own home; the more especially as they are characteristic of the man. Captain H. Clapperton, the late lamented African traveller, resided at Lochmaben the greater part of those three years-the peacefullest, certainly-perhaps the happiest, of his life-which elapsed between his being paid off in 1817, and his going out upon that expedition. There, dwell ing amid scenes which had once formed the ample possessions of his maternal ancestors, and amid the high recollections which have there a local habitation and a name,' he gave himself up to those sports and pastimes which form the occupations of rural life. Amongst others, he joined in our Curling campaigns, but, as might be expected from his inexperience, was a very indifferent player indeed. The President, however, never particular as to the individual skill of his players, upon the receipt of the first challenge from Closeburn, chose him into his rink. This amongst a body of men, who perhaps of all others act up most tenaciously to the no-respecting-of-person principle of detur digniori-and that, too, upon the eve of a contest requiring a concentration of the experience and science of the society, gave rise to no little dissatisfaction. Accordingly, upon the morning of the bonspiel, the President, upon joining his party in the burgh, was surprised to see Clapperton standing aloof, having a raised look, his hands stuck in his sailor's jacket pockets, and whistling loud. He had not time, however, to get at him to enquire the cause, till one of the skips coming up, plained the mystery, by saying, that understanding that Clapperton, and another naval gentleman equally inexpert, had been chosen into his rink, the Curlers were determined not to play the bonspiel unless they were both put out. The President, upon the ground that a soft answer turns away wrath, said something conciliatory -and turned upon his heel. Upon this Clapperton, in an attitude of proud contempt, and pulled up to his height, advanced, with the air and gait of the quarterdeck, to a respectful distance, when, throwing up his hand a la mode navale, he demanded, in a key different from his usual
one, 'Am I to play to-day, Sir, or not?'-
you shall play if I play.' Upon which, making a salam with his hand, as if he had received the commands of his admiral, he strided back to where his stone-(the Hen, which had belonged to his grandfather, of antiquarian memory)—and besom lay, and seizing upon the former with an air of triumph, he whirled her repeatedly round his head, with as much ease apparently as if she had been nearer seven than to seventy pounds. He then placed her upon his shoulder, and marched off to the Loch, where taking up a position, he walked sentry upwards of an hour before being joined by the rest. The rink in which he played was most successful, beating the opposing President's 21 to 7. It may appear singular how so trivial a circumstance should so highly have excited him a Curler, however, can easily comprehend it. He played with his colossal granite some capital shots, and, no doubt, was not a little complacent that the Skip, who, as the tongue of the trump, had wished to eject him, was, with what comparatively was considered to be a crack rink, thoroughly drubbed.
"Upon another occasion, whilst playing in a bonspiel with Tinwald, being challenged by his Skip just whilst in the act of throwing the Hen, he actually held her in the air at arm's length, in the same position, until the orders countermanded were again repeated. His family were all athletic players, in particular his uncle Sandy, who for many years played an immense cairn, upon the principle that no other Curler upon the Lochmaben ice could throw it up but himself. These two incidents, however trivial, discovered the germs of that intrepidity which he afterwards developed so prominently in the field of adventure; and which, far from the land of his home and heart,' purchased for him an early tomb-and a deathless name.
"Speaking of feats of strength, I am tempted to make a slight digression. We are informed that there have been instances of throwing a Curling stone one English mile upon ice. It was no uncommon thing in days of yore, and there are many still alive who have done it, to throw across the Kirk Loch from the Orchard to the Skelbyland-a feat not much short of the above. Upon the occasion, we believe, of a match with Tinwald, Laurie Young, the strongest player amongst them, challenged the Lochmaben party to a trial of arm. Their president stepped out, and taking his stone, threw it with such strength across the breadth of the
*The Hendersons of Lochmaben Castle.
Mill Loch, that it stotted off the brink upon the other side, and tumbled over upon the grass. Now,' said he to Laurie, 'go and throw it back again, and we'll then confess that you are too many for
"The Tutor,' another remarkable stone, is perhaps one of the oldest upon our ice. It is so called after its owner -Dickson; but how he got his etymon does not appear. Many wonderful anecdotes relating to it are still afloat, which we reluctantly pass by. We merely enumerate Skelbyland, the Craig, Wallace, Steel-cap, the Scoon, Bonaparte, Hughie, Red-cap, the Skipper, as all noted and associated with the names and feats of other days. Many a good whinstane lies in the bottom of the surrounding Lochs. "Old Bonaparte, who flourished cir. 1750 and downwards, was the first who had a regular formed polished curlingstone upon our ice. Probably a Sanquhar one; and a gift from Mr M'Murdo, the Duke's Chamberlain. He used to be frequently at Drumlanrig Castle playing matches; and it is still recollected, upon one special occasion, that a chaise, a rara avis in those days, was sent down for him, to go and play a banter for a large amount, against the champion upon ice of the adjoining district. His wily opponent, however, upon seeing him throw his stone for an end or two, gave in. Previous to this period, to say truth, the stones upon the Lochmaben ice were of a wretched description enough. Most of them being sea-stones, of all shapes, sizes, and weights. Some were threecornered, like those equilateral cocked hats which our divines wore in a century that is past-others like ducksothers flat as a frying pan. Their han
dles, which superseded holes for the fingers and thumb, were equally clumsy and inelegant; being mal-constructed resemblances of that hook-necked biped, the goose.
Ice-ana is a curious chapter-“ a kind of lumber-room for such odds and ends about Curling as we could not conveniently weave into our general narrative-and which we yet thought it a pity to omit." For example, what means that well-known phrase on the Lochmaben ice, "We soutered them?" There were towards the close of the last century, a rink of seven players, all shoemakers. So expert in the Curling art were those knights of the lapstone, that for a number of years, they not only fought and conquered all who opposed them, but frequently without allowing their
opponents to reckon even a solitary shot. We "soutered them" thus bewaxed these indomitable souters, came a favourite phrase. So proud that they not only "bragged all Scotfiance upon ice." No curlers coming land, but even set the world at defrom the continent to contend with them, at last "our president, then a youth, chose six curlers of the parish-and beat them! To give us some faint notion of the collective prowess of these doughty carles, we are informed that it was Deacon Jardine's forte to birse a needle, i. e. he would nick a bore so scientifically, that he would undertake, having first attached, with a piece of shoemaker's wax, two needles to the side of two curling-stones just the width of the one he played with apart—and upon two stones in front similarly apart, and on the line of direction, having affixed two birses, he played his stone so accurately, that in passing through the port, it should impel the birses forward through the eyes of the needles. This feat, though unique in its kind, has been often rivalled, we are told, by living members of our society.'
Some Mousewaldite skips having once on a time foregathered with a Lochmaben Curler in Dumfries, gave a challenge-but they were nothing in the hands of the Invincibles. Indeed they would have been soutered outright, but for one of the Lochmaben party, who was bribed by the promise of a goose for dinner, and a black lamb for his daughter, to let them get a shot or two. One of the victorious party encountered, at the commencement of the spiel, a huge red crag, which he struck with such force, that he sent it twenty yards' distance from the tee, and made it tumble over the dam-dyke. A singular shot once occurred on the Ayrshire ice. Two parties were playing a short distance from each otherwith a quantity of snow between them scraped off the ice. The player having to take the winner, and being requested to play with all his strength, missed his aim, but his stone went over the barrier, and struck off the adverse winner upon the neighbouring tee. That was as funny as it was fatal and fortuitous.
True that Curling is confessedly somewhat of a boisterous game—“ a