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ordes which formerly drained the resources of the State, and endangered rather than secured its peace, was one of the first objects of the formation of Imperial Service troops. The result aimed at has been in most cases fully attained, and it is to be hoped that nowhere will new Imperial Service regiments be suffered to exist alongside of an undiminished standing army.
In the brief account of the Indian Imperial Service troops given above, many points have necessarily been passed over in silence or been but slightly touched on. But it is hoped that enough has been said to show that a scheme which was regarded at first with much distrust and suspicion has proved a practical success. Loyally supported by the native chiefs, a small number-its utmost limit has only amounted to fourteen— of British officers have, by hard work, tact, and perseverance, transformed, in seven years and less, upwards of 20,000 undisciplined men into a disciplined and serviceable force; and that, too, although the units have been scattered over
many thousand square miles of country, precluding, in most instances, individual attention, or anything but interrupted visits of inspection. From three separate
quarters of India parts of this force have already done service for us beyond our frontiers; and no one who has seen the genuine earnestness of the princes of India in this matter, and the fine temper of their troops, can doubt but that only the lack of opportunity prevents many other such corps from doing similar good service for the British Crown.
The movement has given yet another proof of the excellent fighting material which exists in India, and of the British genius for organising and training such material to a higher pitch than it could reach under native guidance alone. But the development of the Imperial Service troops has done more than this. The interest and the money freely spent on them give daily proof that the offers made on the occasion of her Majesty's jubilee were due to something more than the enthusiasm of the moment; they prove a deep-seated loyalty and goodwill on the part of the princes and chiefs of India towards the British Government, and a real belief in the benefits which are secured to India by the British rule; and they give us cause to echo in India the words of Lord Salisbury-we care not how much we are isolated so long as we are united.
HOW SUMMER CAME TO CAITHNESS.
HAIL! sunny Whitsuntide! Hurrah for flannel shirts and hobnailed shoon! welcome home
spun suits and supremely shabby headgear the livery of ten days' respite from the tyranny of town garb! In this free and far-off land one may wear what he lists, for never a "lum" hat cometh here, save at funerals, and those affected by members of that archaic and strangely ceremonial class -the craft of postboys. Crisp heather and flowery turf instead of wood pavement and wall-posters -long gloamings on hyperborean shores in place of glare of gas and electric light-no sorry exchange, pardie!
Sure there is no more restless creature on earth than a salmonfisher during a prolonged drought. All the readable fiction in the lodge, as well as a great deal which, under happier auspices, would have been pronounced unreadable, has been exhausted. been exhausted. The back numbers of the 'Field' have been conned, even to the advertisements (not the least suggestive matter in its columns); impatient knuckles positively ache from repeated rappings of the barometer, and it is within actual knowledge that a scorchedout angler has derived jejune solace from the perusal of 1 Kings xviii. The record in that chapter of the breaking of a long drought is so faithful and vivid that it filled him with envy of the prophetic gift which enabled Elijah, while the farmers and shepherds of Israel were still plunged in despair, to detect in the brazen firmament "the sound of abundance of rain."
"And Elijah said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, again seven times. And it came to There is nothing. And he said, Go pass, at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not."
For more than a month our river had been at its lowest, for no rain had fallen since that which produced a small spate in the second week of April. This was all the more tantalising, for this year 1896 has produced a heavier run of spring salmon in Scottish waters than has been known for many seasons, and our stream had drawn its full share. The loch had yielded a heavy score already, and still, as often as the north wind blew and passing clouds obscured the sun, here and there in the deep river "linns" ("dubs" they would call them on the Tweed), or in the loch, small grilse-flies prevailed to make an odd fish or two lay hold, out of the numbers which were perpetually rolling up to the surface. The bay, too, was full of summer fish, both salmon and grilse, waiting for a flood to give them escape from the seals, porpoises, and parasites which embitter marine life. Everything was languishing for rain, but, of all Scottish counties, rain falls most seldom in Caithness; snow is the staple from which these northern streams are brewed, and of that there was very little last winter.
By the way, there scarcely could be a more thorough refutation of the kind of evidence which is often given, and too often listened to,
before Royal Commissions and It was a very early spring, nearly other inquiries, to the effect that a month in advance of last year. overstocking is the cause of salmon Ripe cherries in the open air near disease, than the condition of the Dingwall and the hawthorn bloom Thurso in a season such as this. past its best before the end of May, Of water there has been a minimum, young grouse actually on the wing of heat a maximum; fish have been on the 24th-these are incidents huddled together in shoals, both without precedent in anybody's kelts and clean fish, for many memory of the northern counties. weeks, yet the dread Saprolegnia "On the 4th of May," wrote Robert has not made its appearance; nor Dick to his friend Peach nearly has any instance of it been re- forty years ago, "the buds are only corded during the last forty years. swelling. There is no 'May blosOn the other hand, in the rivers of som' in Caithness. Even at the the Solway, of far greater volume end of May the few hedges are not than the Thurso - rivers which in full leaf." have been depleted to the utmost by netting the scanty stock is periodically subject to fierce attacks of this fatal scourge. So in the Tweed, where, it is true, the autumn run of fish do occasionally present some appearance of great numbers, even in these lean times in which our lot is cast, it is alleged that the disease, to the presence of which that river is peculiarly liable, takes its rise among fish crowded in low water. Marry! could we but have one season on Tweedside such as our forefathers knew before the days of extravagant netting all along the coasts, we might then have some idea what a full complement of fish really means.
But my present business lies not in the waters of Abana or Pharpar, but in the little Jordan of the northern land, in which, by the clemency of a friend, it was my privilege to cast an angle in the month of May of this year. It was not his fault that the rain tarried, and that recourse had to be made to other subjects of interest than the taking of fish. It was not difficult to find them. Angling apart, but for the fisherman's constitutional unrest, there was store of matter to occupy eyes, ears, and thought agreeably.
VOL. CLX.-NO. DCCCCLXIX.
Everybody who knows the Highlands at this season, knows also the splendour of Highland broom—the badge of clan Sinclair-which, in the north, largely takes the place of the tenderer gorse. Well, the banks of the Beauly are worth a special visit in May, by reason of an unusual floral display on the green links near its mouth. They will be found ablaze with broom, but mingled with it, and greatly enriching it, are masses of a bonny purple-and-white lupin, an escape, no doubt, from some neighbouring garden, which has established itself profusely on the light soil. Seaside landowners please copy.
The Scots fir is one of the few green things that seem to go rusty at this season of ebullient growth and life. It strikes an autumnal key among the vivid verdure of oak, birch, and sycamore; but it is not really sluggish: the rusty look is caused by the profusion of vigorous young shoots, russet brown in hue, which are pushing from the end of every spray. On some of the well-clothed hills near Bonar Bridge this peculiarity is clearly to be seen, the braes planted with Scots fir seeming lifeless and wintry, while those bearing larch woods are veiled in a mist of adorable green. Farther north, how
ever, on the windy wastes of penultima Thule, there is no opportunity for comparative notes on woodland, for the same reason that cherubs can't sit downparceque il n'y a pas de quoi. After the train has climbed the birch-clad valley of Helmsdale, and entered upon the appalling desolation of Forsinard, trees become a memory nothing more. When first I made the acquaintance of the river of Thor some years ago, I was puzzled by the name attached to a salmon-cast on that stream. It was called the Hazel Pool: nor was the reason apparent, till there was pointed out to me, half-way up a frowning cliff on the far side of the river, a stunted, gnarled hazel-bush-quite enough to confer a title on the pool, for it seemed to be the only herb of appreciable stature in the whole vast parish of Halkirk. Yet there was forest once on these bleak plains, as attested by the presence of roots and stems of pine and birch in the
Nevertheless, bare and cheerless as this country strikes the traveller, I found here the same blithe business of love-making and nestbuilding in progress that I had left the previous week in full swing beside a Hampshire chalk-stream. In a blazing springtide such as this, the lot of a pair of reed-buntings, with all their hopes and cares centred in a nest on the heather not fifty yards from the front door of our lodge, seems greatly more desirable than that of another pair of these birds which I left honeymooning beside the tepid Itchen. A coat of feathers must be terribly stuffy wear in that steaming valley. The two districts, so diverse in aspect and atmosphere, have many fowl in common, but many a winged thing breeds among these lochs which is unknown in southern
counties. The ubiquitous mallard, the cosmopolitan teal, the worldlywise sandpiper, are here in numbers, of course; but there are besides many aquatic couples of greater distinction. One day in fishing I came suddenly on a newly-launched brood of widgeon in the sedges by the river. Delicious little bundles of golden brown velvet, they were as greatly terrified as I was delighted, for I had never been before in the breeding haunt of this choice duck in nesting-time.
Mergansers, goosanders, black scoters, black-throated divers, redshanks, and plovers of various kinds, denote the high latitude by their presence. These are common enough; but on a small loch four miles across the moor-a loch that shall be nameless by reason of the avidity of collectors-there is an island remarkable for possessing a small thicket of saugh-bushes. This is one of the very few places on the mainland where the grey laggoose breeds regularly. Ah, these accursed collectors! how senseless is the craze for "British - laid " eggs to which they minister !—a craze which has raised the price of a grey lag's egg from Sutherland to fivefold that of one from Iceland. Last year Mother Goose had brought a fine nide of eggs near to hatching on this island. The keeper was watching them to secure a pair of goslings for me: beshrew me ! if one of these scamps did not rifle the whole lot under the brief cloud of a night in June.
On goosanders and mergansers, showy and aristocratic as they are in plumage and carriage, the salmon fisher is forced to look with no friendly feelings. About four o'clock one sunny morning lately a pair of mergansers might have been seen taking breakfast
in the pool immediately under our windows. It is not often that one gets such a near view of their operations. Swift and fishlike they darted under water, propelled by powerful wings, making the spray fly over their backs in the shallows, too often emerging with a salmon-smolt between the sharp serrated mandibles that give them their popular name of sawbills. It was a mistaken clemency to bring these greedy marauders under the scope of the Wild Birds Protection Act, and make the shooting of them penal precisely at the season when they do most mischief -when the smolts are descending to the sea. They are all out as hurtful as cormorants, and though one would be sorry to see them extinguished altogether, their numbers certainly should be kept in strict check.
Yonder, however, are a pair of pirates of noble mien, but of such murderous repute that the law has shown no tenderness for them. The greater black-backed gull is one of the handsomest of British birds, measuring fully six feet from tip to tip of the wings. His massive snowy throat, powerful lemon-yellow beak, and sable back and wing coverts, compose a livery so distinct that one cannot but enjoy his presence. But justly he has been outlawed, for he is the enemy of all lesser fowls and of many small quadrupeds. These two black-backs are quartering the moor in diligent search for young peewits and golden plover, and great is the anguish of the parent birds. But the two species, so nearly allied in race, manifest their concern in very different ways. The golden plover, which have exchanged their white winter waistcoats for black summer wear, flit disconsolately from knoll to knoll, piping with indescribable
despondency, mourning their bereavement in advance. Far otherwise the gallant lapwings. They swoop, dart, and tumble round the tyrants, uttering agonising shrieks, and actually succeed in driving the great gulls off the ground. If gamekeepers had spared the ospreys and kestrels, and dealt more severely with black-backs and mergansers, they would have served the cause of grouse-shooting and salmon-fishing to better purpose.
A word in season for the lapwings. The farmers of Great Britain have no more indefatigable ally among birds. The food of the lapwing consists exclusively of worms, insects, molluscs, and crawly wigs of all sorts: the diligence with which these pretty birds search every inch of the fields over and over again ought to earn for them more tender consideration than they receive. We actually treat them worse than any other wild bird, for it is the only species of which both the bodies and the eggs are made regular articles of commerce. is nothing short of disgusting to see, as one may do any spring in London, strings of these birds hanging in poulterers' shops at the same time that their eggs are displayed for sale. There is no reason to deprecate the traffic in the eggs; they are a delicate and rightly prized article of food; their collection brings a little harvest to a very needy class of persons each year; and a very large proportion of the eggs that find their way to market would never be hatched, even if left alone, because most of them are laid on ploughed and fallow fields, where they would be destroyed in the operations of sowing, harrowing, and rolling. But the lapwing itself is far from being a delicacy, and our county councils, who have