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12. THE NORTH POLAR EXPEDITIONS,
7. BARNES' NOTES ON THE PSALMS,
8. PHINEAS FINN. Part XII.
9. CAMEOS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY. By the Author of Heir of Redclyffe,
10. PORTRAITS OF CELEBRATED WOMEN,
11. PROBABLE RENEWAL OF THE RECIPROCITY TREATY, Economist,
13. THE GLOBE EDITION OF BURNS,
14. JOHN WILKES,
17. A PARCEL POST,
18. SI JOHN FRANKLIN'S EXPEDITION,
19. CAPT. HALL AND THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION,
20. THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES FOUght against SIS
21. DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH MEXICO,
22. RICOLLECTIONS OF MY LIFE. By Maximilian,
. 130 WAS GOTT THUT, DAS IST WOHL GETHAN, 130 SHORT ARTICLES.
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From The Spectator. NOTES FROM THE SCOTTISH ISLES.
WHEN the little cutter Tern, agile and beautiful as the sea swallow from which she takes her name, weighed anchor in Tobermory Harbour, and began to work westward through the Sound of Mull towards Ardnamurchan, the long swell coming in from the Atlantic was beginning to whiten under a stiff breeze from the north-west; and it became a question whether or not she should fold down her wings and run back to her nest in the bay.
the gigantic Scaur of Eig, looking down on the low and grassy line of Muck, which stretches like some green monster at its feet. Beyond all these, peeping between Rum and Eig, pencilled in faint and ghostly peaks hued like the heron's wings, are the wondrous Coolin Hills of Skye - ghastlily beautiful, born of the volcano on some strange morning in the age of mighty births. The eye seeks to go no further. It rests on those still heights, and in a moment the perfect sense of solitude glides into the soul thought seems stationary, a solemn greyness brooding over life subdued.
For a sight such as that words are the We looked wistfully to windward, and merest pencil scratches, and for the feeling began to doubt our wisdom in venturing so awakened by such sights there is no kind far on board so tiny a craft-seven tons of symbol at all. In trying accurately to register, open aft, and rigged with a boom describe nature, one glides at once into the and racing mainsail sure to bring her on her mood of the cicerone; the moment of enbroadside in stormy weather. The gloomy joyment has passed, and the pain of explaprognostics, both of fair-weather yachtsmen nation has begun. But to see and feel such and hard-weather seamen, were sharply re- things to the true spiritual height, let no membered, as the big rollers began to break man stand on the paddle-box of a steamknee-deep over our bow, and the strong boat or on the carefully washed deck of a wind to lay the decks under the very edge big vessel. The still power of waters is of the cockpit" cooming." But the Viking not quite to be felt until the very body and in the blood prevailed. A third reef was blood have known their stormy might; and taken in the mainsail, and the little craft how better know their might than by slipping was urged on; and scarcely had she beaten out upon the waste in as tiny a vessel as can a mile and a half to windward, when the live thereon? The smaller the craft, the fewbreeze died suddenly away, and the waters, er the fellow-beings at hand, the intenser the washing troublously, grew weaker and weak- enjoyment both of storm and calm. It is er, till the tops of the long heaving rollers a proud pleasure to dash like a sea-fowl were almost calm. A light air and a strong under the very mouth of the tempest, contide soon carried the Tern outside of Ard-scious of the life in one's veins, drunken as namurchan, where, dripping and quivering it were with the excitement and uncertainty like a thing of life, she has paused, nearly becalmed, with the lonely islands whither she is bound opening one by one on the dim and misty sea.
of the hour, awake to every quiver of the little yielding creature under whose wings you fly, feeling its panting breath come and go with your own, till perchance To the south lies Mull in mist, piling her its wings are folded down close, and it swims dull vast hills out above the line of break-with you for very life before the elements ing foam; while out to the south-west, cairn which follow screaming in its track. After after cairn, looming through the waters, show where barren Coll is weltering in the gloomy waste. To the far west, only cloud resting on cloud, above the dim unbroken water-line of the Atlantic; but northward all brightens, for the storm has passed thence with the wind, and the sunlight has crept out, cold and clear, on craggy Rum, whose heights stretch grey and ghostly against a cloudless sky. Hard by, in shadow, looms
a flight so fine, the soul is ready for strange calm waters and ghostly peaks, fit to feel the pathos and sweetness of things at rest, ending with that dim chill stir which we call the thought of God. In this life, and perhaps in lives beyond, there seems need of some such preparation for great spiritual peace; and it is therefore a poor soul which has not felt some very rough weather.
The British lover of beauty wanders far,
To lie becalmed in the little Tern off the terrible Rhu, the Ardnamurchan, most dreaded by those best acquainted with its mighty tides and fierce waters, is by no means an unmixed pleasure. Yonder stretches the ocean, dead still now, but likely to be roused in an instant into frenzy ; and, still more to be dreaded, half a mile on the starboard hand, the gloomy cliffs of the point seem coming nearer, as the fitful eddies of the tide swing the vessel this way and that. Out go the long oars, and slowly, very slowly, the Tern draws from the shore. Two long hours of hard pulling, with scarce
but we question if he finds anywhere a pic- | the shepherd on his hill, the lobster fisher ture more exquisite than opens out, vista in the quiet bay, the matron grinding her after vista, among these wondrous Isles of corn and weaving her petticoat with instruthe North. Here year after year they lie ments hundreds of years “behind the age ;" almost neglected, seen only by the hard- and all these moving against so mighty a eyed trader and the drifting seaman; for background, and speaking a speech stranger that mosaic being, the typical tourist, sel- to common ear than any modern tongue of dom quits the inner chain of mainland lakes, Europe a speech old as the hills, and full save, perhaps, when a solitary example, of their mysterious music and power. Here dull and bored, oozes out of the mist at surely was something for the eye and heart Broadford or Portree, takes a rapid glare to rest upon, a life subtly colouring ours at the chilly Coolins, and shivering with en- through many generations, yet preserved thusiasm hurries back to the South. The quite fresh and unchanged by the spirit of heights of Rum, the kelp caverns of Islay, the waters, a life far more surely part of us the fantastic cliffs of Eig, scarcely ever draw and ours than that of Florence, or Paris, the sight-seer; Canna lies unvisited in the or Wiesbaden. solitary sea; and as for the outer Hebrides - from Stornoway to Barra Head- they dwell ever lonely in a mist, warning off all fair-weather wanderers. A little, a very little, has been said about these isles; but to all ordinary people they are less familiar than Vienna, and further off than Calcutta. Forbidding in their stern beauty, isolated and sea-surrounded, they possess no superficial fascinations; their power is one that grows, their spell is that of the glamour holding only the slowly selected soul. Not merely because these isles are so strangely, darkly lovely, but because we owe to them so much that is noblest and best in the heart ly any perceptible progress, is not altoof modern life, did it seem fitting to attempt some faint pictures of their scenery and their people; and to wander from island to island, mixing freely with poor folk, seeing and noting what may afterwards pass into noble nourishment for the heart, is the errand of those on board the little Tern. The reality soon exceeded all expectation. As the eye became more and more accustomed to hill and sea, as the first mood of awe and pleasure at the weird vistas wore away, human figures, group after group, before invisible, loomed slowly into view: the kelp-burner moving blackly through the smoke of his fire on the savage shore, the herring fishers tossing at their nets, while the midnight sea gleams phosphorescent below and the clouds blacken in the lift above; the wild, wandering women, foul with the fish they are gutting, shrieking like the cloud of gulls that hover over their heads; the quaint country folk streaming down to the little ports on holidays and fair-days;
gether desirable, even in the presence of a scene so fair, and one whistles for the wind more and more impatiently. At last the waters ripple black to northward, the huge mainsail-boom swings over with a heavy jerk, and in a minute the Tern flashes ahead full of new life, and the sky brightens over a fresh and sparkling sea, and with hearts leaping, all canvas set, and the little kittiwakes screaming in our track, we leave the mighty Rhu behind.
We are four, the skipper, the pilot, the steward, and the cook, only the seaman being a sailor by profession. The skipper, to describe him briefly, is a wild, hirsute being, faintly bespattered with the sciences, fond of the arts, but generally inclined (as Walt Whitman puts it) to "loafe and invite his soul." His hobby is his vessel, and his hate is "society," especially Scotch society, whatever that may mean. The pilot is of another turn, a Gaelic fisher, deep in knowledge of small craft, and full of the
dreamy reasonings of his race. As for the steward, he is a nondescript, a mooner on the skirts of philosophy, fleshly, yet tender, whose business it is to take notes by flood and fell, and cater for the kitchen with rod and gun. What the steward provides is prepared to perfection by the cook in a den about the size of an ordinary cupboard, and served up in a cabin where Tom Thumb might have stood upright and a shortish man have just lain at full length. Over the sleeping accommodation we draw a veil.
deepens the solitude. Quite fearless and unsuspicious, they float within oar's length of the vessel, diving swiftly at the last moment, and coolly emerging again a few yards distant. Only the cormorant keeps aloof, safe out of gun range. Rank and unsavoury as this glutton is, his flesh is esteemed by fishermen, and he is so often hunted, that he is ever on the watch for danger.
Low, undulating, grassy, yonder is Muck -the Gaelic Elanna-Muchel, or Isle of Swine - Buchanan's Insula Pecorum. It is green and fertile, an oasis in the waste. Muck, Eig, Rum, and Canna form collectively the Parish of Small Isles, with the pastor of which Hugh Miller took his wellknown geologic cruise. It must be no lamb-hearted man who carries the Gospel over these waters during winter weather.
As the Tern flies nearer to the mighty Scaur of Eig, a beetling precipice towering 1,300 and odd feet above the sea, the sun is sloping far down westward behind the lofty peaks of Rum; and in deep purple shadow, over the starboard bow, the rugged lines of the mainland, from Loch Moidart to the Sound of Sleat, open up, gloam Lower, deeper sinks the sun, till he is strangely, and die ridge after ridge away. totally hidden behind the hills. Haskeval The distant Coolins grow yet more ghostly and Hondeval, the two highest peaks of against the delicate harebell of the sky, Rum, throw their shadows over the drifting catching on their peaks the roseate airs of Tern, while from some solitary bay inland sunset; and the mountains of Rum deepen the oyster-catchers and sealarks whistle in more and more in under-shadow, as the the stillness. A night mist coming from light flames keener on their rounded heights. the west deepens the gloaming, and we look The wind falls again, faint airs come and go, somewhat anxiously after a harbour. Someand the low sound of the sea becomes full where, not far away, below the two peaks. of a strange hush. As we draw close under lies a little loch with safe anchorage; but the lee of Rum, the still sea is darkened on no eyes, except those of a native, could every side in patches as of drifting sea- pick it out in the darkness. We drift weed, and there is still a flutter as of innu- slowly upward on the flood tide, eagerly merable little wings. Hither and thither, eyeing every nook and cranny in the shadskimming the water in flocks of eight or owy mass at our side. Just as the day ten, dart the beautiful shearwaters (puffini dawns, we spy the mouth of the loch, and Anglorum of the ornithologists), seizing launching the long oars, make wearily their prey from the sea with their tender towards it. But the anchor is soon down, feet as they fly; while under them, wher- all cares are over for the time being, and, ever the eye rests, innumerable marrots after pipes and grog, all hands turn in for a and guillemots float, dive, and rise. All nap. these have their nests among the blackly shaded cliffs close at hand. The black cormorants are there too, wary and solitary; and the gulls, from the lesser black-backed to the little kittiwake, gather thickly over one black patch of floating birds astern, where doubtless the tiny herring are darting in myriads. Save for the fitful cry of the kittiwakes, or the dull croaking scream of a solitary tern beating up and down over the vessel, all is quite still, and the pres- far more amusing. It is not, however, as ence of these countless little fishers only an angry Evangelical that I send you this
From The Spectator.
ST. ALBAN'S TEACHING FOR CHILDREN.