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such as could not swim were in some risk of being drowned. The instance of aggression, or rather violent retaliation, on their part, is almost solitary. In general they are extremely quiet; and employ themselves in bartering their little merchandise of gin and gingerbread for Zetland hose and night-caps.”
Diary on Board the Lighthouse Yacht continued --The Orkneys-Kirkwall Hoy
-The Standing Stones of Stennis, &c.-August, 1814.
"12th August, 1814.-With a good breeze and calm sea we weighied at two in the morning, and worked by short tacks up to Kirkwall bay, and find ourselves in that fine basin npon rising in the morning. The town looks well from the sea, but is chiefly indebted to the huge old cathedral that rises out of the centre. Upon landing we findit but a poorand dirty place, especially towards the harbour. Farther up the town are seen some decent old-fashioned houses, and the Sheriff's interest secures us good lodgings. Marchie goes to hunt for a pointer. The morning, which was rainy, clears up pleasantly, and Hamilton, Erskine, Duts, and I walk to Malcolm Laing's, who has a pleasant house about half a-mile from the town. Our oli acquaintance, though an invalid, received us kindly; he looks very poorly, and cannot walk without assistance, but seems to retain all the quick, earnest, and vivacious intelligence of his character, and manner. After this visit the antiquities of the place, viz. : the Bishop's palace, the Earl of Orkney's castle, and the cathedral, all situated within a stonecast of each other. The two former are ruinous. The most prominent part of the ruins of the Bishop's palace is a large round tower, similar to that of Bothwell in architecture, but not equal to it in size. This was built by Bishop Reid, tempore Jacobi V., and there is a rude statue of him in a niche in the front. At the north-east corner of the building is a square tower of greater antiquity, called the Mense or Mass Tower; but, as well as a second an:1 smaller round tower, it is quite rui:rous. A suite of apartments of different sizes fill up the space lietween these towers, all now ruinous. The building is said to have been of great antiquity, but was certainly in a great measure re-edified in the sixteenth century. Fronting this castle or palace of the Bishop, and about a gun-shot distant, is that of the Earl of Orkney. The Earl's palace was built by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, the same who erected that of Scalloway, in Shetland. It is an elegant structure, partaking at once of the character of a palace and castle. The building forms three sides of an oblong square, but one of the sides extends considerably beyond the others. The great hall must have been remarkably handsome, opening into two or three huge rounds or turrets, the lower part of which is divided by stone shafts into three windows. It has two immense chimneys, the arches or lintels of which are formed by a flat arch, as at Crichton Castle. There is another very handsome apartment communicating with the hall like a modern drawing-room, and which has, like the former, its projecting turrets. The hall is lighted by a fine Gothic-shafted window at one end, and by others on the sides. It is approached by a spacious and elegant staircase of three flights of steps. The dimensions may be sixty feet long, twenty broad, and fourteen high, but doubtless an arched roof sprung from the side walls, so that fourteen feet was only the height from the
ground to the arches. Any modern architect, wishing to emulate the real Gothic architecture, and apply it to the purposes of modern splendour, might derive excellent hints from ihis room. The exterior ornaments are also extremely elegant. The ruins, once the residence of this haughty and
oppressive Earl, are now so disgustingly nasty, that it required all the zeal of an antiquary to prosecute the above investigation. Architecture seems to have been Earl Patrick's prevailing taste. Besides this castle and that of Scalloway, he added to or enlarged the old castle of Bressay. To accomplish these objects, he oppressed the people with severities unheard-of even in that oppressive age, drew down on himself a shameful though deserved punishment, and left these dishonoured ruins to hand down to posterity the tale of his crimes and of his fall. We may adopt, though in another sense, own presumptuous motto-Sic Fuit, Est, et Erit.
“We visit the cathedral, dedicated to St Magnus, which greeted the sheriff's approach with a merry peal. Like that of Glasgow, this church has escaped the blind fury of Reformation. It was founded in 1138, by Ronald, Earl of Orkney, nephew of the Saint. It is of great size, being 260 feet long, or thereabout, and supported by twenty-eight Saxon pillars, of good workmanship. The round arch predominates in the building, but I think not exclusively. The Steeple (once a very high spire) rises upon four pillars of great strength, which occupy each angle of the nave. Being destroyed by lightning, it was rebuilt upon a low and curtailed plan. The appearance of the building is rather massive and gloomy than elegant, and many of the exterior ornaments, carving around the door-ways, etc., have been injured by time. We entered the cathedral, the whole of which is kept loeked, swept, and in good order, although only the eastern end is used for divine worship. We walked some time in the nave and western end, which is left unoccupied, and has a very solemn effect as the avenue to the place of worship. There were many tombstones on the floor and elsewhere, some, doubtless, of bigh antiquity. One, I remarked, had the shield of arms hung by the corner, with a helmet above it of a large proportion, such as I have seen on the most ancient seals.. But we had neither time nor skill to decipher what noble Orcadian lay beneath. Tlie church is as well fitted up as could be expected ; much of the old carved oak remains, but with a motley mixture of modern deal pews. All, however, is neat and clean, and does honour to the kirksession who maintain its decency. I remarked particularly Earl Patrick's seat, adjoining to that of the magistrates, but surmounting it and every other in the church; it is surrounded with a carved screen of oak, rather elegant, and bears his arms and initials, and the motto I have noticed. He bears the royal arms without any mark of bastardy (his father was a natural son of James V.) quarterly, with a lymphad, or galley, the ancient arms of the county. This circumstance was charged against him on his trial.*. I understand the late Mr Gilbert. Laing Meason left the interest of L.1000 to keep up this cathedral.
“ There are in the street facing the cathedral the ruins of a much more ancient castle; a proper feudal fortress belonging to the Earls of Orkney,
*"This noted oppressor was finally brought to trial, and beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh [6th February, 1614.] It is said that the King's mood was considerably heated against him by some ill-chosen and worse written Latin inscriptions with which his father and himself had been unlucky enough to decorate some of their insular palaces. In one of those, Earl Robert, the father, had given his own designation thus :
-Orcadiæ Comes Rex Jacobi quinti filius.' In this case he was not, perhaps, guilty of any thing worse than bad Latin. But James VI. who had a keen nose for puzzling out treason, and with whom an assault and battery upon Priscian ranked in nearly the same degree of crime, had little doubt that the use of the nominative Rex, instead of the genitive Regis, had a treasonable savour.”— Scott's Miscellaneous Prose Works.
but called the King's Castle. It appears to have been very strong, being situated near the harbour; and having, as appears from the fragments, very massive walls. While the wicked Earl Patrick was in confinement, one of his natural sons defended this castle to extremity against the King's troops, and only surrendered when it was nearly a heap of ruins; and then under condition he should not be brought in evidence against his father.
6. We dine at the inn, and drink the Prince Regent's health, being that of the day~Mr Baikie of Tanker::ess dines with us.
“ 13th August, 1814.-A bad morning, but clears up. No letters from Edinburgh. The country about Kirkwall is flat, and tolerably cultivated. We see oxen generally wrought in the small country carts, though they have a race of ponies, like those of Shetland, but lárger. Marchic goes to shoot on a bill called Whiteford, which slopes away about two or three miles from Kirkwall. The grouse is abundant, for the gentleman who chaperons Marchie killed thirteen brace and a half, with a snipe. There are no partridges nor hares. The soil of Orkney is better, and its air more genial than Shetland; but it is far less interesting, and possesses none of the wild and peculiar character of the more northern archipelago. All vegetables grow here freely in the gardens, and there are one or two attempts at trees where they are sheltered by walls. How ill they succeed may be conjectured from our bringing with us a quantity of brushwood, commissioned by Malcolm Laing from Aberbrothock, to be sticks to his pease. This trash we brought two hundred miles. I have little to add, except that the Orkney people have some odd superstitions about a stone on which they take oaths to Odin. Lovers often perform this ceremony in pledge of mutual faith, and are said 'to account it a sacred engagement. It is agreed that we go on board after dinner, and sail with the next tide. The magistrates of Kirkwall present us with the freedom of their ancient burgh; and Erskine, instead of being cumbered with drunken sailors, as at Lerwick, or a drunken schoolmaster, as at Fair Isle, is annoyed by his own substitụte. This will occasion his remaining two days at Kirkwali, during which time it is proposed we shall visit the lighthouse upon the dangerous rocks called the Skerries, in the Pentland Firth; and then, returning to the eastern side of Pomona, take up the counsellor at Stromness. It is further settled that we leave Marchie with Erskine to get another day's shooting. On board at ten o'clock, after a little bustle in expediting our domestics, washerwomen, etc.
“ 14th August, 1814.--Sail about four, and in rounding the main land of Orkney, called Pomona, encounter a very heay sea; about ten o'clock, get into the Sound of Holm or Ham, a fine smooth current meandering away between two low green islands, which have little to characterise them. On the right of the Sound is the mainland, and a deep bay called Scalpa Flow indents it up to within two miles of Kirkwall. A cảnal through this neck of the island would be of great consequence to the burgh. We see the steeple and church of Kirkwall across the island very distinctly. Getting out of the Şound of Holm, we stand into the harbour or roadstead of Widewall, where we find seven or eight foreign vessels bound for Ireland, and a sloop belonging to the lighthouse service. These roadsteads are common all through the Orkneys and afford excellent shelter for small vessels. The day is pleasant and sunny, but the breeze is too high to permit landing at the Skerries. Agree, therefore, to stand over for the mainland of Scotland, and visit Thurso. Enter the Pentland Frith, so celebrated for the strength and fury of its tides, which is boiling even in this pleasant weather; we see a large ship battling with this heavy current, and though with all her canvass set and a breeze, getting more and more involved. See the two Capes of Dungsby or Duncansby, and Dunnet-head, between which lies the celebrated John o'Groat's house, on the north-eastern extremity of Scotland. The shores of Caithness
rişe bold and rocky before us, a contrast to the Orkneys, which are all low, excepting the Island of Hoy. On Duncansby-head appear some remarkable rocks, like towers, called the stacks of Duncanshy; near this shore runs the remarkable breaking tide called the Merry Men of Mey, whence Mackenzie takes the scenery of a poem
"Where the dancing men of Mey,
Speed the current to the land.? Here, according to his locality, the Caithness man witnessed the vision, in which was introduced the song translated by Gray, under the title of the Fatal Sisters. On this subject, Mr Baikie told me the following remarkable circumstance :-A clergymán told him that while some remnants of the Norse were yet spoken in North Ronaldsha, he carried thither the translation of Mr Gray, then newly published, and read it to some of the old people as referring to the ancient history of their islands. But so soon as he had proceeded a litle way, they exclaimed they knew it very well in the original, and had often sung ii to bimself when he asked them for an old Norse song; they called it The Enchantresses. The breeze dies away between two wicked little islanıls called Swona and Stroma, the latter belonging to Caithness, the former to Orkney. Nota Bene.---The inhabitants of the rest of the Orcades despise those of Swona for eating limpets, as being the last of human meannesses. Every land has its fashions. The Fair-Islesmen disdain Orkneymen for eating dog-fish. Both islands have dangerous reefs and whirlpools, where, even, in this fine day, the tide rages furiously. Indeed, the large high unbroken billows, which at every swell hide from our deck each distant object, plainly intimate what a dreaful current this must be when vexed by high or adverse winds. Finding ourselves losing ground in the tide, and unwilling to waste time, we give up T'hurso-run back into the roadstead or bays of Long-Hope, and anchor under the fort. The bay has four entrances and safe anchorage in most winds, and having become a great rendezvous for shipping (there are niné vessels lying here at present), has been an object of attention with Government.
“Went ashore aster dinner, and visited the fort, which is only partly completed; it is a flèche, to the sea, with eight guns, tweny-four pounders, but without any land defences; the guns are mounted en barbette, without embrasures, each upon a kind of moveable stage, which stage wheeling upon a pivot in front, and traversing by means of wheels behind, can be pointed in any direction that may be thought necessary. Upon this stage, the gun-carriage moves forward and recoils, and the depth of the parapet shelters the men even better than an embrarure; at a little distance from this battery they are building a Mar. tello tower, which is to cross the fire of the battery, and also that of another projected tower upon the opposite point of the bay. The expedience of these towers seems excessively problematical. Supposing them impregnable, or nearly so, a garrison of fourteen or fifteen men may be always blockaded by a very trifling number, while the enemy dispose of all in the vicinity at their plea
In the case of Long-Hope, for instance, a frigate might disembark 100 men, take the fort in the rear, where it is undefended even by a palisade, destroy the magazines, spike and dismount the cannon, carry off or cut out any vessels in the roadstead, and accomplish all the purposes that could bring them to so remote a spot, in spite of a sergeant's party in the Martello tower, and without troubling themselves about them at all. Meanwhile, Long-Hope will one day turn out a flourishing place; there will soon be taverns and slop-shops, where sailors rendezvous in such numbers ; then will come quays, docks, and warehouses; and then a thriving town. Amen, so be it. This is the first fine day we have enjoyed to an end since Sunday, 31st ult. Rainy, cold, and hazy, have been our voyages around these wild islands; I hope the
weatlier begins to mend, though Mr Wilson, our master, threatens a breeze to morrow. We are to attempt the Skerries, if possible; if not, we will, I believe, go to Stromness.
“ 15th August, 1814.-Fine morning; we get again into the Pentland Frith, and with the aid of a pilotboat belonging to the lighthouse service, from South Ronaldshaw, we attempt the Skerries. Notwithstanding the fair weather, we have a specimen of the violence of the flood-tide, which forms whirlpools on the shallow sunken rocks by the islands of Swona and Stroma, and in the deep water makes strange, smooth, whirling, and swelling eddies, called by the sailors, wells. We run through the wells of Tuftile in particular, which, in the least stress of weather, wheel a large ship, round and round, without respect either to helın or sails. Hence the distinction of wells and waves in old'English; the well being that smooth, glassy, oily looking eddy, the force of which seems to the eye almost resistless. The bursting of the waves in foam around these strange eddies has a bewildering and confused appearance, which it is impossible to describe. Get off the Skerries about ten o'clock, and land easily; it is the first time a boat has got there for several days. The Skerries* is an island about 60 acres, of fine short herbage, belonging to Lord Dundas; it is surrounded by a reef of precipitous rocks, not very high, but inaccessible, unless where the ocean has made ravines among them, and where stairs have been cut down to the water for the lighthouse, service. T'hose inlets have a romantic appearance, and have been christened by the sailors, the Parliament House, the Seals' Lying-in-Hospital, &c. The last inlet, after rushing through a deep chasm, which is open overhead, is continued under ground, and then again opens to the sky in the middle of the island : in this hole the seals bring out their whelps; when the tide is high, the waves rise up througł this aperture in the middle of the isle-like the blowing of a whale in noise and appearance. There is another round cauldron of solid rock, to which the waves have access through a natural arch in the rock, having another and lesser arch rising just above it; in hard weather, the waves rush through both apertures with a horrid noise ; the workmen called it the Carron Blast, and indeed, the variety of noises, which issued from the abyss, somewhat reminded me of that engine. Take my rifle and walk round the cliffs in search of seals, but see none, and only disturb the digestion of certain aldermen-cormorants, who were sitting on the points of the crags after a
a good fish breakfast; only made one good shot out of four. The lighthouse is too low, and on the old construction, yet it is of the last importance. The keeper is an old man-of-war's man, of whom Mr Stevenson observed that he was a great swearer when he first came; but after a year or two's residence in this solitary abode, became a changed man.
There are about fifty head of cattle on the island; they must be got in and off with great danger and difficulty. There is no water upon the isle, except what remains after rain in some pools; these sometimes dry in summer, and the cattle are reduced to great straits. Lenye the isle about one ; and the wind and tide being favourable, crowd all sail, and get on at the rate of fourteen miles 'an hour. Soon reach our old anchorage at the Long-Hope, and passing, stand to the north-westward, up the sound of Hoy, for Stromness.
“I should have inentioned, that in going down the Pentland Firth this morning we saw Johnnie Groat's house, or rather the place where it stood, now occupied by a storehouse. Our pilot opines there was no such man as Johnnie Groat, for, he says, he cannot hear that any body ever saw him. This reasoning would put down most facts of antiquity; they gather shells on the shore called Johnnie Groat's buckies, but I cannot procure any at
*“ A Skerrie means a flattish rock which the sea does not overflow."-Edmondstone's View of the Zetlands.