Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

perpendicularly to the sea, which roared and asked our guide, a lad of fourteen years of age, foamed at its base among huge masses of oak, what was the average price of a sheltic. His anand plunged into great caverns, hollowed out by swer deserves to be written in letters of goldthe beating of the surges for centuries. Midway It's jist as they 're, bug an' smal.” on the rock, and above the reach of the spray, From the ferryman, at the strait below, I got were thousands of sea-birds, sitting in ranks on more specific information. They vary in price the main shelves, or alighting, or taking wing, from three to len pounds, but the latter sum is and screaming as they flew. A cloud of them only paid for the finest of these animals, in the were constantly in the air in front of the rock and respects of shape and color. It is not a little reover our heads. Here they make their nests and markable, that the same causes which, in Shetrear their young, but not entirely safe from the land, have made the horse the smallest of ponies, pursuit of the Zetlander, wno causes himself to have almost equally reduced the size of the cow. be let down by a rope from the summit and plun- The sheep, also—a pretty creature, I might call ders their nests. The face of the rock, above it- from the fine wool of which the Shetland the portion which is the haunt of the birds, was women knot the thin webs, known by the name of fairly tapestried with herbage and powers which Shetland shawls, is much smaller than any breed the perpetual moisture of the atmosphere keeps I have ever seen. Whether the cause be the peralways fresh--daisies nodding in the wind, and the petual chilliness of the atmosphere, or the insufcrimson phlæ, seeming to set the cliffs on flame ; ficiency of nourishment-for, though the long yellow buttercups, and a variety of other plants in Zetland winters are temperate, and snow never bloom, of which I do not know the name. lies long on the ground, there is scarce any growth

Magnificent as this spectacle was, we were not of herbage in that season I will not undertake satisfied without climbing to the summit. As we to say, but the people of the islands ascribe it to passed upwards, we saw where the rabbits had the insufficiency of nourishment. It is, at all made their burrows in the elastic peaty soil close events, remarkable, that the traditions of the counto the very edge of the precipice. We now try should ascribe to the Picts, the early inhabfound ourselves involved in the cold streams of itants of Shetland, the same dwarfish stature, and mist which the strong sea-wind had drifted over that the numerous remains of their habitations us ; they were in fact the lower skirts of the which still exist, should seem to confirm the traclouds. At times they would clear away and give dition. The race which at present possesses the us a prospect of the green island summits around Shetlands is, however, of what the French call us, with their bold headlands, the winding straits " an advantageous stature," and well limbed. If between, and black rocks standing out in the sea. it be the want of a proper and genial warmth, When we arrived at the summit we could hardly which prevents the due growth of the domestic stand against the wind, but it was almost more dif- animals, it is a want to which the Zetlanders are ficult to muster courage to look down that dizzy not subject. Their hills afford them an apparently depth over which the Zetlanders suspend them- inexhaustible supply of peat, which costs the selves with ropes, in quest of the eggs of the sea- poorest man nothing but the trouble of cutting it fowl. My friend captured a young gull on the and bringing it home ; and their cottages, I was summit of the Noup. The bird had risen at his told, are always well warmed in winter. approach, and essayed to fly towards the sea, but In crossing the narrow strait which separates the strength of the wind drew him back to the the Noss from Bressay, I observed on the Bressay land. He rose again, but could not sustain a side, overlooking the water, a round hillock, of long flight, and coming to the ground again, was very regular shape, in which the green turf was caught, after a spirited chase, amidst a wild intermixed with stones. “ That,” said the ferryclamor of the sea-fowl over our heads.

man, “ is what we call a Pictish castle. I mind Not far from the Noup is the Holm, or, as it is when it was opened; it was full of rooms, so that sometimes called, the Cradle or Basket, of the ye could go over every part of it." I climbed Noss. It is a perpendicular mass of rock, two or the hillock, and found, by inspecting several openthree hundred feet high, with a broad flat summit, ings, which had been made by the peasantry to richly covered with grass, and is separated from take away the stones, that below the turf it was a the island by a narrow chasın, throngh which the regular work of Pictish masonry, but the spiral sea flows. Two strong ropes are stretched from galleries, which these openings revealed, had beer the main island to the top of the Holm, and on completely choked up, in taking away the materithese is slung the cradle or basket, a sort of open als of which they were built. Although plenty box made of deal boards, in which the shepherds of stone may be found everywhere in the islands, pass with their sheep to the top of the Holm. We there seems to be a disposition to plunder these found the cradle strongly secured by lock and key, remarkable remains, for the sake of building cotto the stakes on the side of the Noss, in order, no tages, or making those enclosures for their cabdoubt, to prevent any person from crossing for his bages, which the islanders call crubs. They have own amusement.

been pulling down the Pictish castle, on the little As we descended the smooth pastures of the island on the fresh water loch, called Cleikimin, Noss, we fell in with a herd of ponies, of a size near Lerwick, described with such minuteness by somewhat larger than is common on the islands. I Scott in his journal, till very few traces of its

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

original construction are left. If the enclosing of eries had been unproductive, and the potato crop lands for pasturage and cultivation proceeds as it had been cut off by the blight. The communicahas begun, these curious monuments of a race tion with Scotland by steamboat had ceased, as it which has long perished, will disappear.

always does in winter, and it was long before the Now that we were out of hearing of the cries sufferings of the Shetlanders were known in Great of the sea-birds, we were regaled with more Britain, but as soon as the intelligence was received, agreeable sounds.

We had set out, as we contributions were made and the poor creatures were climbed the island of Bressay, amid a perfect relieved. chorus of larks, answering each other in the sky, Their climate, inhospitable as it seems, is healthy, and sometimes, apparently, from the clouds; and and they live to a good old age. A native of the now we heard them again overhead, pouring out island, a baronet, who has a great white house on their sweet notes so fast and so ceaselessly, that a bare field in sight of Lerwick, and was a passenit seemed as if the little creatures imagined they ger on board the steamer in which we made our had more to utter than they had time to utter it passage to the island, remarked that if it was not in. In no part of the British islands have I seen the healthiest climate in the world, the extremely the larks so numerous or so merry, as in the Shet- dirty habits of the peasantry would engender dislands.

ease, which, however, was not the case. “ It is We waited awhile at the wharf by the minis- probably the effect of the saline particles in the air,” ter's house in Bressay, for Jim Sinclair, who at he added. His opinion seemed to be that the dirt length appeared in his boat to convey us to Ler- was salted by the sea winds, and preserved from wick. “ He is a noisy fellow," said our good | further decomposition. I was somewhat amused, landlady, and truly we found him voluble enough, in hearing him boast of the climate of Shetland in but quite amusing. As he rowed us to town, he winter. “Have you never observed,” said be, gave us a sample of his historical knowledge, turning to the old Scotch clergyman of whom I talking of Sir Walter Raleigh and the settlement of have already spoken,“ how much larger the proNorth America, and told us that his greatest pleas- portion of sunny days is in our islands than at the ure was to read historical books in the long win- south ?” “I have never observed it,” was the dry ter nights. His children, he said, could all read answer of the minister. and write. We dined on a leg of Shetland mut- The people of Shetland speak a kind of Scottish, ton, with a tart made “ of the only fruit of the but not with the Scottish accent. Four hundred island,” as a Scotchman called it, the stalks of the years ago, when the islands were transferred from rhubarb plant, and went on board of our steamer Norway to the British crown, their language was about six o'clock in the afternoon. It was matter Norse, but that tongue, although some of its words of some regret to us that we were obliged to have been preserved in the present dialect, has beleave Shetland so soon. Two or three days more come extinct. “I have heard,” said an intelligent might have been pleasantly passed among its Shetlander to me, " that there are yet, perhaps, grand precipices, its winding straits, its remains half a dozen persons in one of our remotest neighof a remote and rude antiquity, its little horses, borhoods, who are able to speak it, but I never met little cows and little sheep, its sea-fowl, its larks, with one who could.” its flowers, and its hardy and active people. There In returning from Lerwick to the Orkneys, we was an amusing novelty also in going to bed, as had a sample of the weather which is often encounwe did, by daylight, for, at this season of the year, tered in these latitudes. The wind blew a gale in the daylight is never out of the sky, and the flush the night, and our steamer was tossed about on the of early sunset only passes along the horizon from waves like an egg-shell, much to the discomfort of the north-west to the south-east, when it brightens the passengers. We had on board a cargo of into sunrise.

ponies, the smallest of which were from the ShetThe Zetlanders, I was told by a Scotch clergy- lands, some of them not much larger than sheep, man, who had lived among them forty years, are and nearly as shaggy; the others, of larger size, naturally shrewd and quick of apprehension ; "as had been brought from the Faro Isles. In the to their morals,” he added, "if ye stay among them morning, when the gale had blown itself to rest, I any time ye 'll be able to judge for yourself.” So, went on deck and saw one of the Faro Island on the point of morals, I am in the dark. More ponies, which had given out during the night, attention, I hear, is paid to the education of their stretched dead upon the deck. I inquired if the children than formerly, and all have the opportunity body was to be committed to the deep. “It is to of learning to read and write in the parochial schools. be skinned first," was the answer. Their agriculture is still very rude, they are very We stopped at Kirkwall, in the Orkneys, long unwilling to adopt the instruments of husbandry enough to allow us to look at the old cathedral of used in England, but on the whole they are making St. Magnus, built early in the twelfth century—a some progress. A Shetland gentleman who, as he venerable pile, in perfect preservation, and the finest remarked to me, had “ had the advantage of seeing specimen of the architecture once called Saxon, then some other countries” besides his own, complained | Norman, and lately Romanesque, that I have ever that the peasantry were spending too much of their seen. The round arch is everywhere used, except earnings for tea, tobacco and spirits. Last winter in two or three windows of later addition. The a terrible famine came upon the island ; their fish-) nave is narrow, and the central groined arches

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ernment.

a

lofty, so that an idea of vast extent is given, though | Howard's eminence was as a writer, though no the cathedral is small, compared with the great doubt of a peculiar kind; for he travelled to colminsters in England. The work of completing lect his facts. Those facts were of a new and certain parts of the building which were left unfin- important nature, and collected with the purpose ished, is now going on at the expense of the gov- of improving prison-discipline, by showing the

All the old flooring and the pews, which state of prisons throughout Europe. To the praise made it a parish church, have been taken away, of first discovering the abuses of prisons, or of and the original proportions and symmetry of the originating prison-reform, he is not exactly entitled. building are seen as they ought to be. The gen- In 1701–2, the Society for Promoting Christian eral effect of the building is wonderfully grand and Knowledge appointed a committee to “ visit Newsolemn.

gate and other gaols ;" on which a report was On our return to Scotland, we stopped for a few drawn up by Dr. Bray. The report, indeed, was hours at Wick. It was late in the afternoon, and never published, and no known results were pro the fishermen, in their vessels, were going out of duced by it; but it showed that the subject had the harbor, to their nightly toil. Vessel after ves- attracted the attention of a body of men, and we sel, each manned with four stout rowers, came out know not how far the results might spread in an of the port—and after rowing a short distance, age which did not so readily run into print as ours. raised the sails and steered for the open sea, till all In 1728 a committee of the House of Commons the waters, from the land to the horizon, were full was appointed to inquire into the state of the gaols ; of them. I counted them, hundreds after hundreds, and their report excited a general burst of indigtill I grew tired of the task. A sail of ten or twelve nation, steeled as the age was to hard usage, and hours brought us to Aberdeen, with its old cathe- produced an address to the crown to prosecute some dral, encumbered by pews and wooden partitions, of the offending parties. The comments of the and its old college, the tower of which is surmounted essayists, the pictures of the novelists, albeit not by a cluster of flying buttresses, formed into the affixing a sermon to their tale, could not have been resemblance of a crown.

without great effect on the public mind. In FebThis letter, you pérceive, is dated at Aberdeen. ruary, 1773, before Howard began his tours of inIt was begun there, but I have written portions of spection, if not before the idea of gaol-reformation it at different times since I left that city, and I beg had taken a distinct form in his mind, Mr. Popham that you will imagine it to be of the latest date. It had brought in a bill to remedy an urgent practical is now long enough, I fear, to tire your readers, evil, and the source of many other evils, by abolishand I therefore lay down my pen.

ing fees, and paying the gaoler out of the county

It passed a second reading, but was withFrom the Spectator. drawn, to be amended and reïntroduced next session. DIXON'S LIFE OF HOWARD. *

In the interim, Howard had inspected many gaols, NOTWITHSTANDING the vast amount of good had accumulated many facts, had been in commureally accomplished by Howard the philanthropist

, nication with Mr. Popham, and was ready to prove and the claims (greater than the reality) put for- to Parliament the absolute need not only of this but ward by a school, which imitated rather than suc

further reformation. Great improvements took ceeded him, it may be doubted whether even his place, beyond the acts of Parliament, owing, no name and characteristics are so widely known to doubt, to Howard's exposures, and to his book, this generation as his new biographer assumes them descriptive of the state of the gaols ; but still he to be. Many of those who know them have learned was fortunate in falling upon the instant of time. them from Burke's panegyric, in which artifice The ground was not only ready for the sower, but and an ungainly use of technical terms are more

waiting conspicuous than nature or eloquence. Nor,

We make these remarks to account for the imstrictly speaking, is this to be wondered at. Either mediate success of Howard, and for the great man is an ungrateful animal, or so many present reputation he attained during his life (which time things claim his attention, that the mass of us can

has failed to support); not with any view of deonly find time to look at those heroes of the past preciating his character 'or exertions. These were whose actions, as the rhetoricians say, “ influenced very great. He was a man whose labors in the the destinies of nations," or whose works, deeply

cause of humanity were unceasing, and who ever

He founded in the nature of man, are ever present, carried his life and his purse in his hand. interesting and instructing. It is a truth, whether was animated by that faith in his object, and conpalatable or not, that those who either by word or sequent devotion to it, which is the source of all deed assist in overthrowing an evil, are almost as greatness, and perhaps of all success.

He might quickly forgotten as the evil itself. If they obtain fairly be accounted the first and greatest of the a “household word” celebrity, it is when they act modern “philanthropists,” were he not something as well as speak or write, and combine instruction far better. John Howard possessed prudence to with subversion, as in the case of Luther.

guide his humanity ; he studied the evils he would A close consideration, we think, will show that reform in the life, and rarely if ever proposed a

remedy but what had been suggested to him by * John Howard, and the Prison-World of Europe; experience. He eschewed the wild excitement From Original and Authentic Documents. By Hepworth Dixon. Published by Jackson and Walford.

of public meetings, or the more intoxicating incense

rates.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of noble and courtly attentions. He went forth to period, when pronunciation is more easily achardship and labor, more like an apostle than a quired. platform agitator ; he daily risked his life among On his return to England he lodged at Stoke the filthy, the diseased, and the infected with the Newington, taking care of his health, which was terrible gaol-fever; and he may be said to have still precarious, and studying natural philosophy died in the cause of suffering humanity. and medicine. Having reason to be dissatisfied

We agree with Mr. Hepworth Dixon in think with his landlady for inattention during an illness, ing that the world should have a better account of he shifted his quarters ; and having been, as he the life and labors of such a man than yet existed; thought, saved from death by the nursing of his for even when biographies of considerable merit new landlady, he considered it his duty to offer her are extant, an age unacquainted with the hero his hand. The swain was about lwenty-five, the requires more particulars than a contemporary is lady fifty-two-an ordinary-looking woman, a likely to supply, of the state of society in which widow, and a confirmed invalid, though she appears he lived, the old condition of things on which he to have been “ a very kind, attentive, and cheerworked, and probably some account of his works ful woman, a good housekeeper, and an admirable theinselves. Neither are the career and character nurse. She had also good sense enough to start of Howard without interest apart from his exer- objections to the proposal, but they were finally tions as a philanthropist, since there is a curious overruled by the arguments, if not the ardor, of interest in tracing the course of his life, and the the suitor, and Mrs. Loidore became Mrs. Howard. manner in which he was thrown by events, and led The match was as happy as such a match was by circumstances, into the field of public exertion likely to be ; but the bride's health soon gave way, and celebrity

and she died in the third year of her marriage. The father of Howard (and doubtless the fam- Her death left a vacuum in Howard's existence ily, had there been one) belonged to that straitest which he could not readily fill up. After a little school of English dissent which substituted a while of undetermined quiet, he resolved to go to starched sourness for the unnatural privations of Lisbon, then just overwhelmed by the earthquake the ascetics of the primitive and middle ages. He of 1755. But the seven years' war was raging ; was engaged in business as a merchant, and retired the packet Howard sailed in was captured by a on a fortune sufficiently large to leave his son and French privateer ; and he tasted the discomforts daughter an ample competence without any neces- of military imprisonment, without any of those sity for exertion. The day or year of John How- courtesies by which the usage of the established ard's birth is uncertain, a consequence of his father's services softens the unpleasantness of restraint, religious scruples. His monument in St. Paul's especially to civilians. gives the date as 1726 ; but Mr. Dixon, who ap

Before the captured vessel was carried into the pears to have examined the subject fully, thinks harbor, Howard says he was kept without food, and the “ balance of evidence is in favor of 1725 or even water, for forty hours; to most men, an intol1726, though personal friends of the philanthropist erable punishment, but his abstemious habits had have named 1724, 1725, 1726, and 1727.” His well prepared him to bear such a trial—the comconstitution was feeble, his health always delicate, mencement of a long series—without serious detriand in fact only preserved in after life by rigid ment to his health. When they were at length diet. He lost his mother in early infancy, and was in the castle of the town, in a dungeon, dark, damp,

landed, he was confined, with many other prisoners, something very like a dunce at school, having no and filthy, beyond description, where they were kept Greek, little Latin, and a very scanty knowledge for several additional hours without nourishment. of letters in the sense of literature.

At last a leg of mutton was brought and thrown into Old Mr. Howard's determinations were like the the cell--as horse-flesh is thrown into the dens of laws of the Medes and Persians, and his son on wild beasts—for the starving captives to scramble leaving school was apprenticed to a wholesale for, tear with their teeth, and devour as best they

could. In this horrible dungeon, thus fed, they grocer in Wailing street, with the large premium

were detained for a week. Six nights were they of £700. This pursuit was apparently not much compelled to sleep—if sleep they could under such to the embryo philanthropist's liking; for on his circumstances—upon the cold door, with nothing father's death, in 1742, he quitted the warehouse, but a handful of straw to protect them from the a circumstance which shows the confidence his noxious damps and noisome fever of their overfather's executors had in his prudence, since, at crowded room. Thence our countryman was rethe very earliest date assigned to his birth, he was where he resided for two months on parole.

moved to Morlaix, and subsequently to Carpaix, not then out of his teens, and according to the monument, only in his seventeenth year. His

It has been preferred as a charge against Howard, delicate health had probably suffered by the con- that he behaved towards his keepers, or at least tofinement of Watling street, for the first use he wards his captors, much à l'Anglais,—that is, with made of his freedom was to travel in France and somewhat of contemptuous hauteur; (how singular Italy. He was absent about two years, and while that the English language should have no word to in Italy gave a good deal of attention to art. As express that mixture of icy politeness and imperial he subsequently spoke French sufficiently well to become the recognized characteristic and distinction

reserve, which all over Continental Europe has pass for a native, it is probable that he laid of Englishmen ;) and this, though not stated on the the foundation of his knowledge at this early best authority, is not unlikely in itself. Howard had a very high sense and sentiment of honor, and poor. His example was followed by some of the an unconquerable disdain for the man who could be neighboring gentry; and Howard is entitled to the prevented from doing what was strictly right in merit of practically calling attention to that subitself by any fear of political or conventional consequences. It is more than probable, that a person ject, which is now called the “ condition of Engof his mental and moral constitution would be apt to land” question. As this, however, was only to be consider a privateer as nothing more than a tolerated carried out by the personal tronble and attention ruffian, and deal with him accordingly. But once of those who had the control of it, and could neither on shore, and placed in legal custody, he seems to be delegated to paid agents, “ settled” by act of have inspired every one who came into contact with Parliament, nor dealt with in the gross, like slavhim with respect and confidence in his uprightness. More than one occasion saw this exhibited in a

ery, prison-discipline, or even education, so far as remarkable manner. While at Carpaix, although reading and writing go, it has not made so much not an officer, and therefore not entitled to claim any seeming progress as the last three. Howard also indulgence according to the law of nations and the labored in his pleasant privacy to make up for the usages of war between the two countries, he was educational deficiencies of his youth ; especially yet permitted by his gaoler to reside in the town, applying himself to natural philosophy, becoming upon his mere word being given that he would not a member of the Royal Society, and contributing attempt to escape. A similar kind of confidence was exhibited by the person at whose house he

three papers to the Transactions, though of a slight lodged. Though penniless, and a perfect stranger

kind. The happiness of this quiet and useful life to his host, this man took him in upon the strength was put an end to in 1765, by the death of his of his unsupported representations, housed, fed, wife. She was confined with her first and only clothed, supplied him with money, and finally saw child on Wednesday the 27th March, and on Sunhim depart, with no other guarantee for repayment day the 31st, she died suddenly. Howard had than his bare promise. Even official persons were not impervious to the charm of this great character; ard was seized with a fit, and expired in his arms.

gone to church as usual ; on his return Mrs. Howfor, after some negotiation with these, he was permitted by them to return to England, in order that

No tongue, (says his biographer,) can tell, no he might, with greater chance of success, endeavor

pen describe the awful misery of the bereaved'husto induce the government to make a suitable ex

band. change for him, on simply pledging his honor that, calm and undemonstrative ; but there were depths

* By temperament Howard was if unsuccessful in his attempt, he would instantly in his nature not easily fathomed. His love for his return to his captivity.

wife had been an illimitable passion. The day of His exchange was effected, and the necessity her death was held sacred in his calendar-kept of returning to France obviated. He then set forevermore as a day of fasting and meditation. about calling attention to the sufferings of British Everything connected with her memory, how disprisoners in France, and addressed the commis- tantly soever, was hallowed in his mind by the assioners of the sick and wounded upon the subject, eve of his departure on one of his long and peril

sociation. Many years after her demise, on the depicting the miseries he himself had witnessed. ous journeys across the continent of Europe, he He was thanked for his information, and steps was walking in the gardens with the son whose were taken to act upon it; but, though the subject birth had cost the precious life, examining some must often have recurred to his mind, he seemed plantations which they had recently been making, to be satisfied with the particular remedy he had and arranging a plan for future improvements. On found for a particular evil. His mind was not coming to the planted walk, he stood still ; there only totally deficient in imagination, but even in thoughts were busy with the past ; at length he

was a pause in the conversation ; the old man's that logical invention, or rather induction, which broke silence" Jack,” said he, in a tender and leads men to conclude the existence of many from solemn tone, “in case I should not come back, you that of few. It will be seen presently that the will pursue this work, or not, as you may think inquiry into the state of prisons was forced upon proper ; but remember, this walk was planted by him.

your mother; and if you ever touch a twig of it, From the period of his release, (which must may my blessing never rest upon you." have taken place in or towards 1756,) until 1773, For eighteen months after his wife's death Howard's life was again passed in retirement. He Howard remained at Cardington, struggling to withdrew to his patrimonial property of Carding- subdue his sorrow in attending to his people and ton, near Bedford, and devoted himself to improv- his infant son ; but nature at last gave way. Toing his estate and the condition of his Jaborers ; wards the end of 1766, his medical attendants erecting a school, and beginning a system of pop- ordered change of scene as the sole chance of ular education for the children of the poor. In safety. He went to Bath, to London, and in the 1758 he married a second wife, though his first spring of 1767 to Holland. He came back somelove. He made the stipulation, suggested perhaps what improved in health ; but as soon as his son by experience, that in all cases of difference here was old enough to go to school, he set off for after, his voice should decide. The stipulation another tour in Italy ; whence he returned in appears to have been needless. Mrs. Howard was 1770, but could not at first go back to Cardington. a very amiable woman, who consulted his wishes When he did, he resumed his old habits of superand forwarded his views in every way. During vision among the poor of the parish, which he his married life, considerable improvement was always carried on with something of patriarchal made in the circumstances and character of the authority. In 1773 he was chosen Sheriff of

« ElőzőTovább »