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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Burghmuir.] GOLF ON BRUNTSFIELD LINKS. 31 Lord High Treasurer, under James IV., the following entries are found :- In virtue of a bet in 1798, Mr. Scales of Leith, and Mr. Smellie, a printer, were selected to perform .. King , . . . . . . . ixs. 1503, Feb. 22. Item, xij Golf Balls to the King iiijs. 1506. Item, the 28th day of Julii for ij Golf Clubbes to the King . . . . . . . ijs. During the reign of James VI. the business of club making had become one of some importance, and by a letter, dated Holyrood, 4th April, 1603, William Mayne, Bowyer, burgess of Edinburgh, is appointed maker of bows, arrows, spears, and clubs to the king. From thenceforward the game took a firm hold of the people as a national pastime, and it seems to have been a favourite one with Henry, Duke of Rothesay, and with the great Marquis of Montrose, as the many entries in his ?? Household Book ? prove. ?? Even kings themselves,? says a writer in the Sots Magazine for 1792, ?did not decline the princely sport; and it will not be displeasing to the Society of Edinburgh Golfers to be informed that the two last crowned heads that ever visited this country (Charles I. .and James VII.) used to practise golf on the Links of Leith, now occupied by the society for the same purpose.? In 1744 the city gave a silver club, valued at LIS, to be played for on the 1st of April annually by the Edinburgh Company of Golfers, the victor to be styled captain for the time, and to append a gold or silver -medal to the club, bearing his name and date of victory. The Honourable Company was incorporated by a charter froni the magistrates in 1800, and could boast of the most illustrious Scotsmen of the day among its members. Until the year 1792 St. Andrews had a species of monopoly in the manufacture of golf balls. They are small and hard, and of old were always stuffed with feathers. The clubs are from three to four feet long. ?The heads are of brass,? says Dr. Walker, in a letter to the famous Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk ; ?? and the face with which the ball is struck is perfectly smooth, having no inclination, such as might have a tendency to raise the ball from the ground. The game may be played by any number, either in parties against each other, or each person for himself, and the contest is to hole the course in the fewest strokes.? ?Far!? or ?Fore!? is the signal cry before the ball is struck, to warn loiterers or spectators; and ?Far and Surc !? is a common motto with golf clubs. . the Erle of Bothwile . . . . xlijs Feb. 4- Item to Golf? Clubbes and Ballis to the the church. They were allowed the use of six balls each. These? all went considerably higher than the vane, and were found in the Advocate?s Close, on the north side of the High Street. Duncan Forbes, the Lord President, was so fond of golf that he was wont to play on the sands of Leith when the Links were covered with snow. Kay gives us a portrait of a famous old golfer, Andrew McKellar, known as the ?Cock o? the Green,? in the act of striking the ball. This enthusiast spent entire days on Bruntsfield Links, club in hand, and was often there by night too, playing at the ?short holes? by lantern light Andrew died about 1813. Bruntsfield Links and those of Musselburgh are the favourite places yet of the Edinburgh Club ; but the St. Andrews meetings are so numerously attended that the old city by the sea has been denominated the MefropoZis of golfing. In a miscellaneous collection, entitled ? Mistura Curiosa,? a song in praise of golf has two verses ? I love the game of golf, my boys, though there are folks in Who, when upon the Links they walk, delight to run it But then those folks who don?t love golf, of coursc, can?t The fond love that exists between the golfer and his friend. ?For on the green the new command, that ye love one Is, as a rule, kept better by a golfer than a brother; For if he?s struck, a brother?s rage is not so soon appeased, But the harder that Zhit my friend, the better he is pleased.? Until the Royal Park at Holyrood was opened up, levelled, and improved, at the suggestion of the late Prince Consort, Bruntsfield Links was the invariable place for garrison reviews and field days by the troops ; but >neither they nor any one else can interfere with the vested rights of the golfers to play over any part of the open ground at all times. On the summit of the green slope now crowned by the hideous edifice known as Gillespie?s Hospital, a picturesque mansion of very great antiquity, quadrangular in form, striking in outline, with its peel-tower, turrets, crowstepped gables and gablets, thus :- town down ; comprehend another, 1 east corner of the Parliament Square over the weathercock of St. Giles?s, 161 feet from the base of
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encrusted with legends, dates, and coats of arms, for ages formed one of the most important features of the Burghmuir. This was the mansion of Wrychtis-housis, belonging to an old baronial family named Napier, WRIGHT?S HOUSES AND THE BARCLAY CHURCH, FROM BRUNTSFIELD LINKS. alliances by which the family succession of the Napiers of the Wrychtis-housis had been continued from early times.? By the Chamberlain Rolls, William Napier of the Wrychtis-housis was Constable of the Castle of to which additions had been made as generations succeeded each other, but the original part or nucleus of which was a simple old Scottish tower of considerable height. ? The general effect of this antique pile,? says Wilson, ? was greatly enhanced on approaching it, by the numerous heraldic devices and inscriptions which adorned every window, doorway, and ornamental pinnacle, the whole wall being crowded with armorial bearings, designed to perpetuate the memory of the noble Edinburgh in 1390, in succession to John, Earl of Carrick (eldest son of King Robert 11.); and it is most probable that he was the same William Napier who held that office in 1402, and who, in the first years of the fifteenth century, with the aid of Archibald, Earl of Douglas, and the hapless Duke of Rothesay, maintained that important fortress against Henry IV. and all the might of England. To the gallant resistance made on this occasioo,
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