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lent seizure of the salmon-fishings
This earl brought ruin upon his house, owing to want of success in his laudable design, pursued for many years, "to mak the Lord Forbes wearie of his lands in Catteynes." He was denounced He was denounced rebel in 1621, and his own son, Lord Berriedale, applied for and obtained a commission to pursue him,—all of which was no more than his due, were it only to punish him for the dastardly betrayal of his kinsman Lord Maxwell, who sought refuge with him after murdering the laird of Johnstone.
But among the records of these dark times, perhaps all connected with this district yield in horror before the proceedings in the trial of John Stewart, Master of Orkney, on the charges of "Witchcraft,
Poysoning, and Murthering of his brother Patrik Erll of Orknay." The prisoner was acquitted, but what words can describe the torments by means of which evidence had been produced against him. Alison Barbour, the instrument supposed to have been employed by Stewart in murdering his brother, was kept for forty-eight hours under "vehement tortour of the
caschielawis," 2 but confessed nothing. The devilish ingenuity of the assize thereupon devised the additional stress of sympathetic torment.
Alison's husband, eighty
one years of age, her eldest son, and her daughter, against none of whom had anything been alleged, were submitted to torture beside her. The old man was placed in the "lang Irnis" of fifty stone weight; the son received fifty-seven blows in the "boots," which reduced his legs to a mass of bloody pulp; the daughter-a child of seven years-was submitted to the "pinnywinkis," whereby her fingers were pinched to shapelessness. Under the stress of these accumulated horrors, the miserable Alison, who had endured without flinching all that could be inflicted. on her own body, was taken out of the cashielaws in a dead swoon, revived, and confessed all that the prosecution desired, upon which she was led forth and burnt as a witch, not, however, before she had revoked absolutely all that she had confessed. Thomas Palpla, another witness, was kept in the cashielaws eleven days and nights, placed in the terrible "boots" twice a day for fourteen days, "he beand naikit in the meane tyme," and so savagely scourged with cords "that thay left nather flesch nor hyde vpoun him." All
1 Sir Robert Gordon's History of the Family of Sutherland.'
this, be it remembered, being part of a public prosecution, conducted by "Mr William Hairt, Aduocat
to our souerane Lord." But then "our souerane Lord" was none other than gentle King Jamie, thorough master of the whole matter of demonology and witchcraft. Oh, the good old days! Happily there is a ghost of later times that haunts us among the crags of Dirlot and on the upland of Strathmore-the gentle spirit of one who possessed this whole county in a different, yet far more real, sense from these bloodthirsty barons and ferocious advocates.
Robert Dick-baker, botanist, and geologist of Thurso-was the first to bring Caithness into the realm of natural science, to make known its vast depth of flagstones and shales, crammed with the bituminous remains of myriads of fish, great and small, and to explain the unsuspected floral wealth of its silent hills and sounding shores.
Dick's story needs not to be retold here, but no traveller to this land should fail to read it in Dr Smiles's book, for none can understand the pathos of the story till they have visited the scene of it. In worldly matters Dick was an honest failure; he ruined his business and himself by devotion to the pursuit of knowledge. Had he been a better baker, he had been forgotten long ago, and Thurso graveyard would be without its most imposing monument.
The following extract from a letter to his sister provides an example of the almost incredible exertions to which Dick's ardour was continually driving him :
"On Tuesday last" (the letter was written on November 12) "I set out at two o'clock in the morning to go to the top of Morven. Morven . is by measurement on the map twentyeight miles as the crow flies. But
taking into account the windings and turnings of the road-up hill, down hill, and along valleys-it is a good deal more say thirty-two miles from Thurso to Morven top.
When I had
“For the first eighteen miles I had a road the rest of the way was round lochs, across burns, through mires and marshes, horrid bogs and hummocky heaths. a marsh to wade, I had it level, but when I had heather I had an awful amount of jumping. . . . My object in ascending the hill was to gather plants. I reached Morven top at eleven o'clock A.M., and left it at two P.M.... The night became windy and stormy. Tremendous sheets of hailstones and rain impeded my progress.
fire, I got home at three o'clock on In spite of hail, rain, wind, and Wednesday morning, having walked, with little halt, for about twenty-four hours. I went to bed, slept till seven o'clock, then rose, and went to my work as usual. Oh, those plants, those weary plants!"
No human frame could wrestle so with the climate of this region without suffering for it. "The rain is killing me," Dick wrote in the last April of his life, yet still he fought on. A few weeks later, when laid on what was to prove his death - bed, he wrote to his brother-in-law::
"I have sent you a Thurso paper full of holes-holes out of which I have cut words such as 'Thurso,' 'Caithness,' 'Dunnet,' &c., for my plants."
His collecting days were done, but he was still busy arranging his herbarium.
There must be many living (Dick died only in 1866) who remember the quaint, spare figure, the eager yet "douce" countenance, flitting swiftly over the roads and dismal twilight moors. None of his neighbours understood him, still less had any of them sympathy to spare for his darling pursuits. Some thought him un
canny or even crazed, but the chimney-pot hat and black tailcoat, which he wore through storm and shine, shielded him from the worst suspicion, and perhaps he himself felt less an outcast from the world of culture, as long as he could go clothed in the raiment of a Fellow of the Royal Society.
The rain came to us when it was least expected. There was a hard north wind on the morning of May 21, and never a cloud to veil the burning sun. But hope dies hard; we went up to the loch to try and delude one of its many inmates to take fly. Changes are proverbially sudden in British climate, but the machinery of change seldom can be seen so plainly as under the broad sky of Caithness. The glass had given no warning, yet there came at mid-day the same sign that gladdened the eyes of Elijah's servant-"a little cloud out of the sea." "2 At one o'clock "the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." At this moment appeared what, in the days of faith in augury or the flight of birds, would have been reckoned a portent. An Arctic skua came swinging freely athwart the gale, now dipping in the rising waves, then soaring under the clouds. Strangest of British birds in this, that, without respect of sex, it has two distinct schemes of plumage-one of uniform sooty brown, the other dark above with white underparts. We had not noticed this daring bird during the fine weather, but here was one of the white breasted variety to herald the storm.
Suddenly the north wind slackened; in a few minutes it was nearly a dead calm; then puffs came from various quarters. My gillie, prone like all Celts to per
sonify natural phenomena, affirmed that the wind was "looking about for some place to blow from" (it must always be blowing from somewhere in this country). where in this country). Presently it found it, and by half-past one a steady westerly breeze set in, with heavy persistent rain. The drought was broken; there would be a welcome spate, but it was hardly likely that the charm would act immediately on the fish. Not now with the huge flies, four inches long, which were necessary to stir salmon out of the chilly depths of snow water in February, but with the smallest double-hooked grilse flies must the attempt be made. Cruising along the sandy shore, and trailing the flies just where the water suddenly becomes profound, there came to pass a mighty commotion: a great form loomed out of the side of a wave, a broad tail swept round in the brown water, the line tightened bravely, the good greenheart bent in sympathy, and away went the salmon, buzzing off thirty yards of line at a stretch. The charm of these loch-fish lies in the splendid fight they show for liberty. Many a river-fish can be played under the point of the rod, and landed without running out more than half-a-dozen yards of line. But it is far different when there is plenty of sea-room, with no banks or shoals to cow the fish, and nothing to bar his powerful rush towards the deep water. It is this, and the splendid display a loch-fish generally makes on the rise, that compensates the fisherman for much weary, monotonous flogging of the surface. The bold rise is very characteristic of lochsalmon. In streams where it is expedient to fish the fly deep, a fish in seizing it most often never breaks the surface; but in a loch the flies cannot easily be kept in
motion if sunk; they must be drawn along near the top, and the salmon must dash to the surface to catch them, thereby imparting a peculiar charm to this kind of sport.
Well, our fish made a grand run, the gillie bent stoutly to his oars and followed it, the anchor was dropped in a few minutes, and the dispute soon ended in favour of the angler, who, peering at the index of the steelyard, complacently pronounced the verdict, "Eighteen pounds, neat!"
The flood came that night, but it was small and dirty, and at noon next day the water was falling fast. Fish were seen passing up over the shallows opposite the lodge, but these were fresh from the sea, but had been lying in the lower pools. A short flood such as this affords the best opportunity for reckoning the speed at which salmon travel up from the sea. The rate is much faster in summer than when the water is cold. From the sea to the loch is some five-and-twenty miles, following the river course; there was running water at the river-mouth-enough water, that is, to bring in fish from the sea
-for twelve hours after noon on Friday. Friday. The first sea-fish were seen passing the lodge on Monday morning following, but it was not till Thursday that the first fish with sea-lice on him was killed in the loch, five or six days after leaving the salt-water. Doubtless, however, one would have come to hand sooner had the weather on the intervening days not been of the worst possible description for angling.
Warm as my attachment is to the barren north, and pardonably prone as all lovers are to prose about the objects of their reflections, it is time to release my reader's button - hole. I like to close my eyes and imagine that the roar of this city is the soughing of the great wind sweeping down from Dorery. But there are less frequent aspects of Caithness which the advent of summer brings to mind-the leagues of brown moor, with gleams of lake and stream, stretching away to where the linked cusps of Shurery and the Reay hills, with the great cone of Morven, spread a band of intense purple across the flaming west.
THE MUSICAL TEMPERAMENT AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS.
WHEN Schopenhauer claims for music that it is the mightiest of the fine arts, we at once think of its immediate effects as an emotional stimulant of intoxicating strength, but with little capacity for transmutation into any other form of artistic energy, and with an influence upon conduct mainly negative and depressive, tending to relax rather than to brace the springs of self-control. So interpreted, the saying is easy of acceptance, for it is little more than an equivalent of the proposition that, of all the arts, music is the most emotional and the least intellectual. It is by emotion that the creative instinct of the artist in sound is awakened, it is to emotion, through sensation, that he makes his appeal; and the work which succeeds in kindling no glow of feeling, however it be admired for its "intellectuality" by critics eager to parade their smattering of musical science, is not music at all, but a more or less skilful and ingenious combination of notes, having no relation with the final cause of the tonal art. It is true that, as the whole gamut of human feeling is responsive to the magician's touch, so the impulse to his productivity may flow from sources the most various. His creations may be the reflection of his own joys and sorrows, they may be wrung from him by his sense of the mystery and tragedy of life, they may be inspired by the contemplation of lofty character or heroic deed, or by delight in noble achievement in the sister arts the poet's melodious and rhythmic thought, the painter's radiant vision, the sculptor's dream eternalised in stone. But though
the first cause of his activity may be thought or idea, the efficient cause is none the less emotion: that which he translates into sound is neither idea nor thought, but the mood to which it has exalted him. If Wagner, with his limited power of improvisation, was forced into championship of "reflective music" by an uneasy sense of defective melodic faculty, he ungrudgingly admits that music is, "in its infinite involutions, always and only feeling." More significant still is an obiter dictum of the composer whose works are most informed by thought, in the only sense in which such works
be informed by thought. Speaking to Bettina von Arnim about the influence upon his mind of Goethe's poems, Beethoven declared that they powerfully impressed him both by their rhythm and by their matter; "and," he added, "I am moved to composition by their language and by the lofty spirit of harmony pervading them.' So that what stirred in him the creative impulse, as he came under the spell of a great poet, was the ecstasy born of the measured words and of their inner sensetheir æsthetic and spiritual rather than their purely intellectual content. And it was in this connection that he affirmed music to be "the medium between the spiritual and the sensuous life". a luminous and pregnant word which sorts not ill with the view here presented, and is, perhaps, as near an approach to a definition of the undefinable as is likely to be compassed.
The obvious inference from this conception of the art which is at once the highest and the lowest,