Page images


are of


of tourist-life as it is now organ- they are also in some measure charised. That there is now an effec- acteristics of the Highlands of Scottive fleet of steam - ships opening land. The organisation at the up to the adventurous every re

command of the tourist for sustenmarkable feature of the two archi- ance and rapid travelling is there, pelagos—either by direct communi- in the established touring lines, on cation with them or by bringing a standard not only of comfort and their passengers within easy boat- luxury, but of magnificence. Still ing distance to them—is a pheno- it has the dangers and difficulties menon due to the active and enter that overtook our friends in Kerry; prising spirit of the islanders, whose and the necessity of conforming commercial activity it is not the with all the regulations for keeping brief and casual convenience of the on the adjusted line, is a restraint tourist—that has made the two not welcome to the wanderer who archipelagos so accessible to every desires independence as well as the one. The Times' correspondent other elements of the period of should have been content with the enjoyment. causes, even though they did not The social conditions in arise out of a burning zeal for the northern archipelagos ease and luxury of the pleasure different kind. The Celt never seeker. He bears testimony, when set his foot there, or, if he did, he unpleasant recollections do not dis- has been improved out of the soil turb his equanimity, to the sub- many centuries ago.

The people stantial merits of the organisation may claim the purest Teutonic for water traffic. “Of the safety blood to be found in the British and steadiness of the steamboats I empire, enriched by the industries can speak with confidence; and of agriculture, manufactures, and they are so carefully navigated that shipping; they afford no picturthey have bitherto enjoyed com- esque antagonisms to the respectplete immunity from accidents." able inhabitants of England and

Among the tourist community lowland Scotland. The good inns there are a few who think they and lodging-places at the disposal have made a good investment when of the stranger are hence no exotic they get not only to scenery but to effort of difficult and perilous charsocial conditions as antagonistic as acter. It is the same with the they can find them to the weari- means of conveyance, and hence some monotony of their quiet life the steam-ships supported by the at home. They are not always commercial intercourse of the indelighted with their acquisition habitants are easily and cheaply when they prove successful. Dirt, put at the service of the stranger. discomfort, starvation, a rude sus- To


who have never set foot picious peasantry, and common com- on any island of these attractive forts only obtainable through the archipelagos, Orkney and Shettemptation of extravagant remunera

land must still recall the memory tion, are characteristics not in har- of the genial and distinguished man mony with the pleasant prospects who held for some years judicial of recreation, ease, and enlivening rule over them— William Edmondnovelty that suggested the adven- stoune Aytoun, who charmed the ture. It has been seen bow these world with his achievements as specialties can be obtained in luxu- poet, essayist, and adept, it might rious profusion at no greater dis- be said, in every kind of litertance than Kerry in Ireland, and ary labour that draws on the


resources of wit, humour, pathos, friends, and perhaps himself, by and learning. It is remembered the discovery of another unamiable as if it had happened but yester- phenomenon-a strong feeling of day, how, in a great symposium enmity towards each other by the devoted to Lord Lytton, Aytoun inhabitants of the two groups or stood up suddenly and unexpect- archipelagos He used to say that edly. It was

evident from the if he could take the law absolutely working of his expressive features, into his hands, he could abolish and especially the merry gleam of crime in both. All the Orcadian his eye, that something pleasant criminals he would banish to Shetand surprising was at hand. The

The land, returning the compliment in standard toast of the navy and a like importation to Orkney. army had been announced. It In his high-sounding offices, legal appeared that no ordinary officer and naval, Aytoun was the successor of either service was present, but of another man of learning, wit, Aytoun than compensated and genius, whose career may be the defect by returning thanks for traced in brilliant utterance through one of the services as “ Lord High the pages of Maga' Charles Admiral of Orkney,”—a solemn dig- Neaves. He was not only a man nity conferred on him to complete of lyrical genius but an elegant and his judicial powers as sheriff of the accurate classical scholar, fastidious district, by aiding it with an admir- and reserved in letting the world alty jurisdiction.

into the secrets of his accomplishScott, in the gorgeous romance

ments. He left little to preserve of • The Pirate,' has given cur- the fame of his lyrical powers berency throughout the world to the sides his Songs and Verses, Social deep-rooted dislike of the northern and Scientific:' and his varied scholislanders to Scotland, and every- arship, extending from the classic to thing connected with the Scottish the Scandinavian languages, is only people. This antipathy is rooted represented by 'A Glance at some far back in remote periods of of the Principles of Comparative northern history, when the Scan- Philology as Illustrated in the Latin dinavian races--including the in- and Anglican Forms of Speech.' habitants of Orkney and Shetland From the friendly hand of one who -had established vast naval has since joined him in “ the empire that was the terror of all silent land,” there came a genial trading communities whose bar- tribute to his character and genius. bours they attacked and pillaged, All who knew him recognised and whose shipping they captured the appreciative aptness of such or destroyed. The dread of their sketches as this :name spread over all the sea-boards

“Lord Neaves's Songs and Verses' from the Baltic to the Mediter

are the perfection of admirable good ranean. To be picked out, as it sense, combined with that quickness were, from this grand fighting and to perceive the ludicrous side of a plundering corporation, was a cal- question which is as an additional amity that dwelt in the hearts of sense, and gives its possessor an adthe people for centuries after the vantage over his fellows, whether he time when it might have been can express it or not, which is incalexpected that they would fraternise culable. Indeed it is this sense of with the Teutonic inhabitants of power in them which makes them

the ludicrous more than the satirical Caithness and the Lowlands of admirable. For satire can scarcely Scotland. Aytoun surprised his help a certain tendency towards ill


nature, and must hurt here and there known in their generation. Any
even when it does not mean to do so; one who hungers after that kind of
but there is nothing hurtful or unkind notice will make a good investment
in that natural humour which cannot of any claim to eminence he may
blunt its own lively perception of the
ridiculous elements involved in many possess, by throwing himself among
a serious question, and which can no

them. The feature is perhaps nat-
more keep itself from laughing than ural to an intelligent and educated
it can from breathing. It is this which people cut off from the world, and
makes these songs telling; they are is a sort of reverse of the proverbial
so void of offence that the victim insignificance that sometimes freezes
must have often been, we must the heart of a local celebrity when
imagine, compelled to join in the he finds himself cast into the mighty
laugh against himself. : . . These
humorous compositions were always world of London.
his most characteristic work; and

The little world far off in the though in later years he became, as Northern Ocean makes the best of most old men of active mind and all its means of knowing everything friendly disposition do, a popular ora- about those who make themselves cle, giving forth graceful addresses conspicuous or valuable in the vast full of the most charming and amiable world beyond.

world beyond. The London author good advice, yet it is always his gayer tone which is the most successful." *

or artist who meets half a million

of faces daily, with no one in that From a pleasant trait of the multitude conscious of the honour natives of these distant Isles—to enjoyed from the light of his counbe presently referred to — it will tenance, is sometimes surprised, and readily be inferred that it was a not unpleasantly perhaps, from the matter of pride and glory to them full knowledge and appreciation of to possess, as their own chief, one his qualifications and genius which so gifted. The Orcadians, indeed, he finds in Kirkwall or Lerwick. were sometimes given to boasting Mistakes, no doubt, sometimes of their good fortune in the posses- occur, as they will wherever the *sion of distinguished sheriffs. The imperfect senses of man are at work. predecessor of Lord Neaves in that A friend, for instance, finding himhigh office was also a man of mark, self one of the many inmates of a but the qualities that gave him that steamer sailing about among the character were somewhat motley. islands, if he was gratified by the He was endowed with wit and respect and kindness lavished on learning, but his manifestations of him, was in some measure perthese qualities were often twisted plexed by certain incongruities in from the ends that might have ren- the complimentary references to his dered them beautiful and benignant, services to his race. The solution through a curious moral perversity of the peculiarity came in the displaying such pranks as might make covery that he had been throughthe angels weep and demons indulge out mistaken for a celebrity of the in freaks of wild laughter.

day, whose name, if carelessly proThe amiable characteristic that nounced, was apt to sound like his prompted these dwellers in the far own. The confusion was about north to take a pride in the emi- as incongruous as if Thomas Carnence and fame of their chief magis- lyle had been received and treated trate naturally colours their recep- as Thomas Hood, by persons anxtion of visitors who happen to be ious to show their acquaintance with


* • Blackwood's Magazine' for March 1877, pp. 383, 384.


his works, and their appreciation of was, that a stranger had come among his genius. He let the affair take them whom the most knowing man its course, for he did not require in the neighbourhood believed to to lend any assistance to its influ- be a “ Pecht,” for he was small and ence, and it afforded him a rich black, and had all the characterfund of amusement.

istics of the traditional “Pecht." There is a pleasant satisfaction The word, it may be noted, was in what one may call the individ- equivalent to “Pict," a term laden ualisation that arises in connecting with portentous controversy, as havmen of mark with remote and un- ing been at one time applied to a frequented districts. The distin- portion of the natives of Scotland guished man you have been talking and the Northern Isles. Among to in your club in Pall Mall is rubbed these distant solitudes the traditions out of recollection by the roar and about the Picts or Pechts endow traffic of Oxford Street and the them with supernatural powers, Strand. The recollections are more ever employed by them in acts of abiding if the meeting has been mischief and cruelty towards the on Pilatre or the Brocken, or even human race, and they were eneon the lonely Shetland island of mies to be extirpated without comNoss. A family to whom the world punction. Here, then, was the has been indebted for services of a great difficulty. If the creature valuable, and indeed, it might be they had got-and he was secure said, of a benignant and merciful in their hands, being in bed and kind, may be remembered in the pretending to be asleep—was in Stevensons, father and sons, who reality a Pecht, it was their duty to were engineers, and especially ma- put bim to death. But if they rine engineers. It was to their should perform that duty, and disservices that a pious native referred, cover afterwards that they had been when the tattered condition of the prompted to it by a mistake, the sails and rigging of his boat came consequences might be unpleasant. under rebuke, murmuring that, The lighthouse engineer, with bis “had it been the Lord's will that head full of science, was just the man these lighthouses had not been to relieve them of the difficulty. raised,” he would long ago have The lighthouse engineer, when he had fresh sails to his boat,—a strong approached the object of dread and illustration of the difficulty of arous- doubt, felt some reminiscences of ing blame or disapproval in the mind old times arising within him, and of any one who profits through events finally identified an old schoolfelthat may be calamitous to others. low, named Campbell, who had

To the elder Stevenson an inci- become renowned as a missionary dent occurred, small in itself, but in Africa. Thus a portentous told by him to his friends in a way mystery was solved, with eminent to give it interest. In one of the satisfaction to all concerned. But remote islands where the object of before we part with it, the ophis engineering attention stood, he portunity may be taken to note was thus accosted with much earn- another little incident connecting estness by a respectable inhabitant: this Campbell with another man of “ Providence must have sent you eminence. It happened to Thomas to us—we are in a great strait, and Campbell the poet to have purit's just a wise man like you, ac- chased a book, directing that it quainted with the world, that can should be sent to a certain house relieve our minds." Their difficulty where he resided, giving his name

any other ?"

The dealer looked steadily at him, tility of Scott's genius. Reasoning with a touch of admiration in his on results only, the reader of the gaze, and at length ventured to romance might infer that its auask if he had the honour to ad- thor had spent many years of the dress “the illustrious Campbell.” period of life when outward inThe bard of Hope, having too much fluences are the most impressive good sense and modesty to accept among the stormy seas, winding the lustration unless it were offered lochs, and rugged precipices peopled with more specific individuality, by his imagination. asked what member of the clan He who undertakes the office of Campbell he referred to ? and was guide, philosopher, and friend totold, “I mean the African mission- wards the perplexed fellow-creature ary, of course,—who ever heard of pondering on the prospects for his

Campbell himself few weeks of recreation, does not used to tell this incident with fulfil his duty unless he draws much picturesque glee, along with attention to works of art as well other little experiences of life—all as the beauties and sublimities of told without egotism or vanity. He nature. These cannot be said to was a gentle and genial man; and abound in our islands; but the few it was inferred, not in what he said, to be seen there are peculiar, and, but in what he was silent, that he to people addicted to archæologiknew his fame as a poet to be too cal investigations and speculations, firmly rooted in the language and particularly interesting. There are, literature of Britain to require any in the first place, those strange adventitious and egotistic efforts for buildings called brochs or burghs. its nourishment.

Supreme among these is Mousa, To return to our islands and their easily accessible to the wanderer lighthouses. In its periodical voy- comfortably housed in his hotel in age the lighthouse yacht sometimes Lerwick, by a little walking and carried a group of participators in boating. It is a vast edifice of the hospitality of the department, stone, being a round tower with a a practice that perhaps the strict perfect curve, narrowing towards auditing of public accounts pursued the centre of its height, and again in our day might have interrupted. expanding. To the question what it There were many excuses for it sixty was, the ready answer comes—“ A years ago, when the voyage was fortress, of course.” But it does not expedited by steam, and there not suffice either for attack or dewas not, as now, an ample fleet at fence that a vast building is erectthe disposal of all ready to invest ed, unless there are specialties in in a moderate sum in one of the its site and structure adapted to pleasantest of all possible maritime the purposes of war—to defend, expeditions. It happened that the and to retaliate assailants. hospitality afforded to the guests In the first place, there is the site. of such occasions was far from un- The engineer will tell you that the fruitful. The world gained from perfection of position for a modern the practice the romance of The fortress would be in a gentle hollow, Pirate,' and 'Scott's Diary, kept so graduated that every cannon-ball on Board the Lighthouse Yacht- sent from it should, during its July and August 1814.' The close whole course, be no further from adaptation of the scenes to the the surface of the ground than the events as achieved in “The Pirate' height of an ordinary man. In the is a wonderful testimony to the fer- feudal ages the fortress and the



2 C

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »