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In the Hebrides
Chapter 1


"The beautiful Isles of Greece
Full many a bard has sung:
The Isles I love best lie far in the West,
Where men speak the Gaelic tongue.

"Let them sing of the sunny South,
Where the blue Agean smiles,
But give to me the Scottish sea,
That breaks round the Western Isles!

"Lovest thou mountains great,
Peaks to the clouds that soar,

Corrie and fell where eagles dwell,
And cataracts dash evermore?

"Lovest thou green grassy glades,
By the sunshine sweetly kist,
Murmuring waves, and echoing caves?
Then go to the Isle of Mist! "—Sherrif Nicholson.

The Mull of Cantyre - Campbelton—The Scot-Dalriads - Kil-Keima - Churches of early Saints—St Colomba in Cantyre at Kil-Colni-Keil--The Ocean—Cantyre's Dairy Farms—The Monastery of Saddefl—Legend of Dunaverty—Kil-Cousland - St. Couslan's Weddings —Kil-Kerran - St Coivin's Divorces—Macnahanish Bay—Kelp-Burners.

IT was on a lovely morning in the early spring that we started for the West Coast, without any very definite intention as to where we might drift. Our only plan was to spend some quiet weeks in the most out-of-the-world place we could find; one where my pencil might keep me busy, while my brother could rejoice in perfect idleness after a course of hard reading; and what spot more suitable than the Land's End of Scotland, the dear bluff old Mull of Cantyre, which had already given us so many pleasant days t--that strange peninsula, in form like an outstretched finger, about forty miles in length, by an average of six in width, extending from the south of Argyleshire, as a mighty breakwater, for the protection of the mainland from the sweeping of Atlantic storms.

So we started, but without reference to our neighbours, and soon found to our cost that they were keeping holy-day, or holiday, as the case might be. It was a Sacramental Fast--very solemn to one section of the community, but a very "fast" day to the majority. Thus it came to pass that every station was crowded, and the line blocked with extra trains, and hours before we reached Greenock, our steamer had quietly sailed down the Clyde. So far as we were concerned, we had good reason to rejoice in the delay, as it enabled us to test the unfailing hospitality of one of our truest and oldest friends,—but I fear that to some of our fellow-travellers, the delay must have proved a serious inconvenience.

The third morning found us under way, and by midday we were watching the changing lights on the Isle of Arran, or Ar-rinn"the land of sharp pinnacles" most rightly named. Dark shadows were drifting over the granite peaks of Goatfell, and those of Ben Ghoil, the "mountain of the wind," which seemed to tower so high above the mist, though their actual height is only about 2,875 feet.

Here and there were little clusters of tiny brown huts, nestling in the shadow of the great hills, and human beings with collie dogs and flocks of sheep moved to and fro, like atoms scarcely visible.

As we passed gloomy Loch Ranza, with its dark encircling mountains and old ruined castle (once a royal hunting-seat), our attention was called to the boats of the oyster-dredgers; and we marvelled whether the oysters of Loch Ranza have the same ear for music as their brethren in the Firth of Forth, who require a continuous dredging-song to lull them to their doom, so that the wily fishers must perforce keep up an incessant monotonous chaunt, in which all their conversation must be carried on. Various collectors of old ballads have from time to time gone out for a night with the dredgers, hoping to add new songs to their store, but all agree in saying that the same words never occur twice unchanged; and so they only gain the bitter cold of a night in an open boat in one of the months "with an B.," which you perceive excludes all the bonnie summer nights. One allusion to this graceful fancy is found in a charming ballad which begins

The herring loves the merry moonlight,
The mackerel loves the wind,
But the oyster loves the dredging song,
For he comes of a gentle kind."

Several prominent head-lands were pointed out to me, in the course of the day, as the sites of so-called Vitrified Forts—strange relics of the past, concerning which nothing is known certainly. Among the many theories which have been propounded, none has for me ouch fascination as that which assumes them to have originally been Fire-Temples, the altars of Bel, the Celtic Baal, or Sun-god.

These vitrified circular masses are generally placed on some commanding height, often too near together to have been used as beacon lights. The stones are fused into glassy masses, the inside more perfectly vitrified than the outside, as would naturally be the case, if these raging fiery furnaces were the altars, where fire burnt day and night, and where animals and perhaps human sacrifices were offered, at the great Baal festivals. We know that long after Christianity was introduced in Britain, the fire-worship was continued; the land remaining in a strange twilight state, halting between two opinions—the grossness of heathen darkness, mitigated indeed by Christianity, but still very far from the light of perfect day; the people in general, having some leaning to the new faith, but a strong hold on the old idolatries.

The golden sunset fell on Ailsa Craig, and the bold headland of Davaar, as we entered the fine land-locked harbour of Campbelton, wherein lay many fishing-boats of all sizes, with rich brown sails. I bethought me of old Pennant's account of this crowded harbour, where in the last century so many as two hundred and sixty "busses" might be seen at once. I fear that the Cockney mind, picturing a 'bus of the present day, would be somewhat disappointed to find so very dull a little town.

Campbelton is chiefly remarkable for the amazing fact that it is the means of annually contributing more than one million sterling to the Inland Revenue, in form, of whisky duty. That is to say, the distilleries of Campbelton and its immediate neighbourhood collectively produce upwards of 2,657,000 gallons per annum, and whisky-duty is ten shillings per gallon. Of the great sum thus represented 705,560 was actually paid to the Collector of Inland Revenue at Campbelton in the year ending March 1883. The surplus, being shipped under bond, is not included in the local payments. However, whether exported to Glasgow or elsewhere, Campbelton is responsible for the manufacture of this enormous amount of Fire-Water! What a field for the beneficent Blue Ribbon Army, and how justly might they plead that this vast amount of barley should go to feed the thousands, now on the verge of starvation, throughout our own North-West.

The whiskies of Campbelton, like those of Lagavulin and Taiisker (which are two celebrated distilleries on Islay and Skye), have at least the merit of being accounted first-class; and the distillers give so good a price for barley that there is no longer any inducement for the Highlanders to deal with the smugglers, who in very recent times had stills for mountain-dew, all over this part of the country—so extensive a seaboard affording good scope for their trade. The Hebrideans crossed from the Isles, to Rhunahourine (the Heron's Point), thence marching across the hills to Skipness in bands of thirty or forty armed men, whose rough shelties were laden with heavy creels containing the moonlight produce, which was then sent to Glasgow.

The "stream in the moonlight which kings dinna ken" has not, however, wholly ceased to flow, and I have heard of sundry mysterious presents of kegs of "the crathur," very superior in quality to any that is to be procured from the large stills. And although the men of Skye seem to have given up this illicit business, there are still many quiet nooks in the dark glens of Western Ross, where it is carried on in secrecy and comparative safety, in snug caves, or deep hollows, near some rippling stream.

Many such romantic spots, long since deserted, do I know in the wilds of Banffshire, where, in the heart of the dark fir woods, amid richest purple heather, you may note in one place a circle of white stemmed birches, in another a fringe of golden broom and tangled wild roses clustering round a deep circular cup, where once the stills, worms and mash-tubs were concealed, and the mountain dew was distilled, but where now the greenest and richest ferns nestle in the cool shade, while wood-doves murmur on every side—pleasant play-grounds for children on bright summer days.

Old songs are not yet forgotten, whose gleeful point lay in telling how "The Deil ran awa' wi' the exciseman," and that official is still an unwelcome visitor in certain remote corners of the land; but the days are gone by, when the wild Skipness men thought it all fair play to fight their battles with a revenue cutter, and, having overpowered her crew, to turn them all adrift again, without oars or tackle, to be tossed at the mercy of the waves!

To return to Campbelton, or as it was anciently called, Dairuadhem. Remote as it now seems to us, there was a time when it was the centre of Scottish life, and for upwards of three centuries it was, in fact, the capital of Scotland. This continued till the reign of Kenneth II., King of the Scots, who, having finally subdued the Picts, and merged both races in one kingdom, selected Forteviot, in Perthshire, as a more suitable capital.

These Dairiads seem to have come over from Ireland about the year 502 A.D., and to have founded that kingdom known in Scottish history as Alba; their power and numbers must have increased rapidly, for not long afterwards, we hear how the King of Alba invaded Ireland and fought the great battle of Moyra, famous in old song. In fact, these Scot,-Dalriads held their place as a strong Celtic race, till the Norsemen overran the land, and moulded existing institutions to suit their own convenience. In later days James IV. here held a Parliament, as "Parliament Close" still attests. There were, however, certain turbulent chiefs who would by no means render obedience to his laws; more especially one Macdonald, whose castle of Cean Loch stood on the very spot now occupied by the large Castle-hill Church. In order to keep this man in check, James V. came here in person, and repaired the old fort of KilKerran, leaving in it such a garrison as might overawe all rebellious subjects. But before the King had got clear of the harbour, Macdonald sallied out of his castle, took possession of the fortalice, and, in the sight of the King, hanged the new governor from the walls.

This old castle of Kil-Kerran stood about a mile from Campbelton. A very large old burial-ground, close by, still marks the spot where St. Kieran, the Apostle of Cantyre, first taught the people. The cave in which he lived, the Cove a Kieran, lies among the rocks so close to the sea, that you cannot enter it at high water. At all times it is a difficult, slippery scramble. Once there, you find a fine cave, with a dripping well, filling with clear, sparkling water a rock basin, whence the Saint drank. And beside it, on a great stone, is a rudely-sculptured cross, where, in the solitude of this grand wild temple, guarded from all human intruders by that barrier of mighty waters, he might worship his God undisturbed. Of his church, once the most important in Cantyre, little, if any, trace now remains; but two shafts of broken crosses, carved with galleys, figures and arabesques, are among the very ancient stones in the old kirkyard.

While speaking of saintly names associated with this town, I cannot forbear to remind you of one, the mention of whose birthplace cannot fail to recall to multitudes (and assuredly to every Scotchman, of whatever denomination) the name of the great, and good, and genial Norman Macleod--a teacher as influential and beloved, and one as unsparing of his work, as the mightiest of those Celtic Fathers; one who needs no canonization at the hands of earthly Councils to rivet his hold on the affections, and his influence on the life, of multitudes, even of those who were never privileged to hear his voice, but who, nevertheless, were followed to the uttermost ends of the earth by his good and loving words—so tender, and yet so strong and invigorating—learning from him year by year something of deeper reverence for things human and divine, and perchance catching from his large-hearted liberality, something of a broader and more glowing charity, such as would fain enfold the whole great world in its own boundless love. Truly, were it only for having given birth to one such son as he, Cantyre may henceforth claim to be not least among the provinces of Scotland.

In the market-place of Campbelton there stands a very fine cross of hard blue whinstone, covered with well-carved figures, foliage, and runic knots, and bearing an inscription,—but whether this is Saxon or Lombardic is still disputed. It is supposed to have been brought over from Iona, where at one time there stood 360 stone crosses. These, the Synod of Argyle, in A.D. 1560, pronounced to be "monuments of idolatrie," and commanded that they should be thrown into the sea. Some, however, were rescued, and taken to old churchyards and market-places in the neighbouring islands, or on the mainland. They are all very similar, being monoliths, generally of whinstone, and covered with elaborate designs.

The most casual traveller in Argyleshire cannot fail to be struck by the number of little roofless, fern-fringed, chapels, distinguished by the prefix of kil or cell, marking the spot as that where some early preacher of the Cross established himself, perhaps in yet heathen days. Such are Kil-Choman, Kil-Michael, Kilcoinan, Kilkeran, Kilcoivan, Kilkevan, Kilcousland, Kilraven, Kifldavic, Kileolan, Kill-blaan, Kil-ewen, Killean, Kil-Kenzie, where the graves are irregularly scattered in picturesque confusion among sandhills or grassy knolls. Most of these have some carved stones —sometimes knights, sometimes ladies, always swords.

On some we find the galley of the Isles; on others deer-hunts, hounds, otters, creatures like griffins with wonderful tails of scrollwork, winding about in intricate patterns of foliage or other tracery; sometimes birds fighting; sometimes shears or other implements of work. AU, or almost all, are alike nameless, covering the dust of long-forgotten heroes. Some have niches, in which lie sculptured effigies of bishops, with their pastoral crooks and mitres, or else knights with broadsword and battle-axe. Many have one or more of those round-headed, upright crosses, which we identify with Iona, almost all of a grey whinstone—a hard stone, not much affected by centuries of wind and storm. Some have inscriptions in the Saxon character, unintelligible to the unlearned.

Some of the sculptures in the best preservation, are in the chapel of St. Cormac, at Kiels, in North Knapdale (north of Cantyre), where there are an unusual number of such memorials. Indeed throughout Knapdsle, such links to the past are especially abundant, and such spots as Kil-Michael Lussa, Kiels, and Kilmory, by turns invite attention.

Some very interesting remains are to be seen on the Eilan More, a little isle at the entrance to Loch Killisport Here there is a small chapel, and a vaulted chamber, divided into two cells, one of which was apparently the dwelling-place of the hermit. In the other is a stone coffin, supported by four grotesque figures. On the lid is the figure of a priest in his cope, surrounded by elaborate tracery. Outside the chapel lies a plain stone coffin and a broken cross. Another cross stood on the highest point of the Isle; on one side was depicted the Crucifixion, with the women standing by; on the other, elaborate Runic knotting. But now the cross has fallen, and only broken fragments remain.

At some of these old churchyards there now remains literally no trace of the ancient cell, only the silent God's Acre, where sleep so many generations of the simple folk, whose one ambition was to the where they were born, and where they lived their uneventful lives, hoping at last, to be laid to rest beside their forefathers, in this quiet spot, which, from their earliest infancy, has been to them a place of awe and reverence.

Such lonely burial-grounds always recall to my memory Wordsworth's lines:

Of Church or Sabbath ties
No vestige now remains. Yet thither creep
Bereft ones, and in lowly anguish weep
Their prayers out to the wind and naked skies.
Proud tomb is none; but rudely sculptured knights
By humble choice of plain old times are seen
Level with earth, among the hillocks green."

The majority, however, still retain some ruins of the old churches. Others again, do not betray their character by their name, as Patchen, an enclosure among the sand-hills, where the old tombs are half overgrown with bent, and half veiled with salt drifting sand.

Many a sad story these churchyards of our seaboard could tell; of terrible nights in which all the bread-winners of a hamlet have been lost, and none but lads and women left to fight life's battle. Such women, though I so brave and hardy; and withal so leal to the dead. In one of these quiet little churchyards in Yorkshire is a simple headstone, and the fishers will tell you that the man who lies there, was drowned one awful night, and the sea did not give up her dead till the end of eleven weeks !—from December till March; and during all those bitter wintry days his wife followed every receding tide, scanning each ledge and crevice of the black rocks,—each pool beneath the slippery, tangled, sea-weed. Vainly did the neighbours urge her to forego the hopeless search. Early and late the sad solitary woman was at her post, reckless of the beating storm and bitter frosty wind, still keeping her weary vigil; and at last, when almost despairing of success, her prayer was granted, and the waves brought him to her feet. So she buried him in "mother clay," and watched by the green mound for upwards of thirty years, ere she was laid by his side.

It really is curious to remark how largely the numerous early saints of this district have left their impress on the land. In looking over a list of the parishes in Argyleshire I find the following goodly proportion, which still retain the name of some once venerated father, and, of course, each parish may, and generally does, contain several churches dedicated to others of perhaps equal note.

In other counties the parishes with this prefix are comparatively few, as here shown.

Parishes in Argyle-shire.

Kil-finichen and Kil-vickeon (Iona), Kil-Brandon and Kilchattan, Kil-calmonell and Kil-berry, Kil-chornan, Kil-charenan, Kil-dalton, Kil-mun, Kil-malic, Kil-finan, Kil-arrow, Kil-meny, Killean, Kil.ehenzie, Kil-maiie, Kil-martin, Kil-morich, Kil-modan, Kil-more, Kil-ninian, Kil-inver, Kil-meLford, Kil-bride (St. Bridget).

I do not know whether the prefix kin is a corruption of id!, as Kin-loss (Abbey in Morayshire), Kin-row, Kin-loch-spelvie, Kinloch-rannoch, Kin-loch-luichart, Kin-cardine, Kin-fauna, Kinclaven, Kin-naird, Kin-nell, Kin-tore, Kin-nethmont, Kin-gussie, Kin-tail, Kin-garth, &c., &c.

I also find Kil-churn, Kil-menny, Kil-bervie, Kil-bucho, Kilcreggan, Kil-finan, Killundine on the Morven coast, and Kimtuintaik (which last was the cell of St. Winifred); Killouran on Isle Colonsay, was the cell of St. Oran. Kil-michael Lussa is near to Kids and Kilmory, in Knapdale. Cantyre has a special cluster of saintly cells—Kil-Kerran, Kil-Michael, Kil-Chouslaxi (pronounced Kooelan), Kil-Coivin, Kil-Kevan, Kil Choman, Kil Colmkeil, KilRaven, Kill-Davie, Kil-Eolan, Kill-Blaan, Kil-Ewen, Kil-lean, Kil-kenaic.

It is probable that some of the saintly names here quoted may be those of St. Columba's predecessors, for there seems every reason to believe that the honour of having first introduced Christianity to this district has been erroneously attributed to him, St. Kieran, whose church and cave we saw near Campbeltown, having, it is said, come over from Ireland with a colony of Christian Dairiads, who settled in Argyleshire, some fifty years before Columba, the fiery Abbot of Durrow, had quarrelled with, and been banished from Ireland by, the Ardriagh, or President.

It seems that when attending a great meeting of the lords temporal and spiritual of the Green Isle, Columba was rash enough to take with him a young son of Aodh, King of Connaught, who was at enmity with the Ardriagh. Even the sanctity of the Abbot proved no protection for the young man, who was treacherously slain. Then followed war, in which Columba sided with the aggrieved father, and eventually received that command to quit Ireland, which brought his fiery energies to the aid of the little Christian band of Dairiads in Cantyre; whence he moved onward to that Isle where, in after years, kings and rulers craved permission to lay their dust near that of one so holy.

St. Kieran is not the only pioneer of the faith whom we are apt to rob of honour due, while heaping veneration on St. Columba. How constantly we hear the latter spoken of, as though he first had brought to our Western Isles that light of Christianity, which thence radiated to the farthest corners of the mainland! So far from this being the case, we know that for a century before the birth of Coluinba, a series of duly ordained bishops had ruled over Scottish dioceses in various parts of the land; these being, for the most part, native Christians, who, of their own accord, had gone to Rome to study. Their existence as Christians gives some colour to the belief that, so early as the third century, Christ's Name was known in this land.

The first bishop of whom we hear was that St. Ninian who, in the end of the fourth century, returned from Rome to his native county of Galloway, where, we are told, "he ordained presbyters, consecrated bishops and organized parishes." At Whitehorn may still be seen his Candida Caea, the first Christian church built of stone in Britain. Here he was buried, about the year A. D. 430.

In the following year St. Palladius was sent to this country as "Primus Episcopus to the Scots believing in Christ," and about the same period St. Patrick appears on the scene. He was born about the year A.D. 373, in Dumbarton, the place of his birth being named in his honour, Kilpatrick. Having been captured by pirates and carried over to Ireland, he was filled with an exceeding longing to Christianize the Hibernians. History records how he escaped from slavery, and contrived to reach the shores of Gaul, where he studied the Scriptures for thirty-five years before he was ordained priest Nor was it till he was about sixty years of age that he was sent back as Bishop, to commence his mission in the Emerald Isle. The patient student proved a long-lived teacher, and is said to have died at his post in his 120th year.

Early in the sixth century, we hear how St. Kentigern (better known to us as St. Mungo, the patron saint of the beautiful old cathedral at Glasgow), fixed his see at the place where that city now stands. To him the credit seems due of first Christianizing part of Wales. He owed his early training to St. Serf; the Apostle of the Orkneys; so those remote Isles must have had their first rays of light, long before the disciples of Iona went thither "as doves from the nest of Columba." The fame of that most energetic worker certainly has no need to borrow lustre by defrauding his predecessors of their rightful share; doubtless, when he landed on this wild shore of Cantyre, his heart was gladdened by the knowledge that the light he strove to diffuse was already glimmering in divers corners of the land.

In defiance of the commonly received account of his having first landed on Isle Oronsay, near Colonsay, and having thence departed because he could still see Ireland, which he had vowed never to behold again,—the tradition in Cantyre is, that he first landed at the southernmost point of the Moyle; and that, although in full view of the Irish coast, he here built his little church, where he preached for some time before he went to Iona, leaving his saintly mark on many a nook. At the southern extremity of the Moyle or "Mull" the men of Cantyre still point out the "Bay of the Boat," as the spot where his frail currach, of wicker-work covered with hides, first touched the shore, whence he was to make his way to the court of Connal MacCongail, King of the Northern Scots, to whom he was nearly related, being himself of the blood-royal. Connal and his people, being already Christians, gave him warm welcome, and sent him under safe escort to Brude, the King of the Picta. He too declared himself a Christian; and his chiefs and people were not slow to follow his example. Soon even Broichan, the Arch-Druid, was converted, having been cured by St. Columba of a dangerous and sudden illness.

To those who accept this form of the tradition, perhaps the most interesting ecclesiastical site of Cantyre is the aforesaid little chapel, known as Kil-Colm-Keil, the Cell of St. Columba, at Keil, situated at the extreme end of the Mull of Cantyre,—just such an one as that where King Arthur was laid, when sorely wounded in that battle among the mountains beside the winter sea—

"A ruined shrine, beside the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights. And over them the sea wind sang
Shrill, chill—with flakes of foam."

It is a tiny roofless ruin—its grey walls veiled by luxuriant ferns which cling to every crevice, and form a soft, green coping. It lies so close to the sea, that the salt foam dashes over the old tombs, and the tough green bent creeps up amongst the stones, while bright sea-pinks gleam through the mossy grass. A steep crag of reddish rock rises directly above it; and, just beyond, the bluff headland of the Moyle itself rises abruptly from the sea, which here scarcely ever knows calm, but seems to revel in its joyous liberty.

There is not a sailor or a fisher on all this coast, or the opposite shores of Ireland (Antrim being but twelve miles distant), who does not dread the mighty green waves that are for ever raging in their ceaseless battle with the stern old Moyle. In quick succession the booming breakers burst on the unfeeling rocks, which have withstood them for such countless ages, and now fling them back once more. With swift rush, the baffled waters fall back on the advancing wave, and thus reinforced, renew the ceaseless, hopeless attack, —then, "white with rage," dash themselves to atoms, and fall in dazzling spray and foam over the cliff.

If you count the waves, you will see that about every sixth is larger than the others, a chieftain in fact; and if, as it curls proudly over, you can catch a gleam of light through the transparent water, you will see its wonderful clear green, at the very moment that the land breeze carries back its crest in tossing spray, like the mane of some white sea-horse. Most beautiful of all, is the moment when two waves, whose courses differ slightly, come to a violent collision, and dash their white spray heavenward,—an encounter which you will here see to perfection, as two strong currents meet at this point. Perhaps if the sea is not very angry indeed, there will come a lull— an amnesty,--and the graves that were drenched with the salt sea spray, will dry in the sunlight; and the shepherds can put off their boat, and row to the grassy islands to see how it fares with their sheep.

It was on one of these unwonted days of rest, that I found my way to Kilcolmkeil. Let each who loves the peace of nature, picture the scene for himself. The beetling crag,—God's-acre bathed in light,— earth and sky, gleaming with that clear shining that cometh after rain. And the hush and silence of the calm wide ocean, noiselessly stealing on and on, till the great brown rocks, with their wealth of golden seaweeds, lie hidden, like purple shadows, beneath the cool and quiet blue, and only a tiny edge of white rippling foam, marks the lip of the lazy wave as it glides to and fro, or brims over the ribbed sand, glancing and gleaming in the bright sunlight. Only here and there, the still surface of the waters is broken by a broad leaf of brown sea-ware, waving idly from the forest below, with quivering motion, like some curious wriggling sea-snake; or a floating tangle, like long human hair, washed to and fro, suggests some fancy of the sea giving up her dead, to this green resting-place. Now and then, there is the quick flash of some white-winged gull, as it darts upon its prey, and then again floating UA ward, hangs idly poised in the sunny air.

Altogether it is a scene of most blessed peace, such as sinks into the heart with strange sweet power, soothing and lulling the turmoil of its cares. For there is no more dear companionship than that of the sea, which in its ever-changing moods, seems almost like some human thing, that one day claims our sympathies with its own wild joys or sorrows, ready in its turn to weep or laugh with ours; to-day so calm and peaceful, laughing in the sunlight; tomorrow roused to mad excitement, lashing itself into wild rage; then, when its wrath is spent, subsiding as though repentant, lying still and silent beneath the cold mists, dreary and desolate and sad, —like a sorrowful spirit, when all life's energies are subdued. They only, who have been cradled and nurtured within sound of that ceaseless song of the wild waters, can fully realize their subtle charm, or tell the unutterable yearning for their music,—the craving for their breadth, for their reflections of the great clouds,—for their incessant movement, which oftentimes comes over the spirit, when the body is tied to some monotonous inland region; the unspeakable longing for sight and sound of the great green waves, the tossing spray and screaming sea-birds, and the wild breesa that rushes past, laden with the salt sea-brine. None else can understand the intensity of that passionate love which the sea and its shores can inspire—the thousand memories linked with those wide white sands—those slippery rocks—that brown, wet tangle, each leaf of which seems to have some hidden power whereby to twine itself round the innermost depths of the soul. None else can sympathize with the bitter disappointment of awakening from some blissful vision of shell-gathering, or idling by those great waters, to find that in truth it was but a dream.

To such I say, if you would see Old Ocean in its glory, come to Cantyre; but those who desire true mountain scenery bad better stay away, for when once you leave the seaboard and turn inland, you will find that you have left all beauty behind you; the great swelling green hills do indeed rise to a height of 2000 feet; but the very name Cnoc Maigh, or the Hill of the Plain, suggests mere shapeless high ground. Much of this is amble, but at the tine if our visit, a sore pest was troubling the land, owing to the lack of frost in the previous winter. This was a gluttonous grub, which had appeared in countless myriads, and had eaten bare all the fair green crops, leaving only fields of parched red earth. Some of the farmers were brave enough to hazard a second sowing, but with small hope of better success.

But the glory of Cantyre lies in her dairy-farms; the rich fine soil yielding abundant pasture, and supporting from twenty to thirty cows on each farm. It is a land flowing with milk and money, with comfortable, well-to-do inhabitants, who thankfully told us that the cattle plague had as yet never found its way to their shores. But though the farmer will offer you wine and spirits in abundance, you must not test his hospitality so cruelly as to expect such a bowl of creamy milk as any old "Cailach" in a black bothy would be proud to offer you, should she own but one gentle "Crummie." At these great dairies, the farmer prides himself on his unbroken pans of rich milk, therein estimating prospective pounds of butter and cheese for a sure market.

Looking on these prosperous dairy-farms, the idea very forcibly suggested itself, that such farms, worked on a co-operative system, may yet bring gold and comfort to many a district, where, although the soil is unfit for cultivation, it assuredly affords rich natural pastures, which could hardly be more usefully employed, both for the farmer and the public.

To the antiquarian, Cantyre offers some special attractions. I am told that no part of Scotland is richer in relics of pre-Christian times; cairns and barrrows, monumental pillars erected above stone coffins, and rude urns containing the ashes of bodies that had been burnt, having been found in many of its green downs.

There are countless old legends attached to these green hills, and to the cliffs and caves along the shore; tales of the warrior and mighty hunter, Fingal, and his faithful hound Bran; wonderful holes in the rock, that have served for his cooking pots, wherein to boil rude kettles formed of the skins of the deer, and filled with flesh, such as he loved to eat half raw, and caves that have been honoured by his presence; but these tales have been so carefully collected by Campbell of Islay, that all lovers of such lore need only refer to his 'Tales of the West Higands'for an inexhaustible store of wild Gaelic legends.

Though by no means one of the most ancient ruins, the fine old Castle of Saddell, with its ruined monastery and picturesque kirkyard, are among the most remarkable ecclesiastical remains on Cantyre. Here quaintly-sculptured tombs of ecclesiastics and warriors lie beneath the shadow of some fine old trees close to the shore. Two of these represent knights clad in armour, and round them there are inscriptions in Saxon character, setting forth that these were Macdoniilds of Saddehl. Several fine old Crosses have fallen, or been overthrown, and their broken fragments lie half-hidden by the tangled brambles. Little of the monastery now remains, as it unhappily proved a useful quarry for ruthless hands, and the modern dwelling-house has been in a great measure built at the expense of the church, all the hewn stones having been removed, and the offices paved with gravestones---a species of sacrilege which, until the present generation, was terribly common throughout Britain; and indeed it needs all the efforts of antiquarians to check it even now.

I well remember with what difficulty my father stopped similar devastation at Kinloss Abbey in Morayshire, where its stones were rapidly being carried off by neighbouring farmers, to build barns and dykes, bridges and gate-posts. One fine old stone coffin had been converted into a pig's trough! There have even been cases where a neighbouring farmer has spared himself the trouble of stealing the stones, and therewith building byres, by the simple expedient of making use of the grey ruins of the old church itself, as a convenient substitute for cattle-sheds, sheep-pens, or even pig-styes I These neglected churchyards were also treated as monumental storehouses, whence beautifully-sculptured slabs might be selected to mark fresh graves, the modern name being roughly' chiselled over the weather-worn escutcheon of some brave knight of old; or perhaps the robber went so far as to smoothe the slab, as in the case of that beautiful stone at Hilton of Cadboll, where the elaborate tracery has been completely obliterated from one side, and replaced by an inscription to the memory of "Alexander Duff, Esq. and His Thrie Wives"!

The Monastery of Saddell is one of considerable interest. It was founded in the twelfth century by one of the Lords of the Isles—whether by the great Somerled or by his son Ronald seems uncertain, but it very soon acquired a reputation for sanctity, and great men of old craved to be buried there. Of Somerled, and his wars with Godred, King of Man, both old Sagas and Gaelic legends tell many tales. There were terrible sea-fights, in one of which the Manx fleet of galleys was so sorely beaten, that Godred was compelled to yield all the Sudereys, or Southern Isles, including "Yla and Kintyre," retaining only the island of Man itself. The wife of Somerled was a daughter of Olaf the Swarthy, King of Man and the Isles.

Various accounts are given of the manner of his death, but whether in a sea-fight with pirates, or by assassination in his own tent, seems uncertain. One version is that he sailed with 160 galleys to besiege Renfrew, and fell in action with the Scottish army. In any case his body seems to have been brought to Saddell for burial, and laid where so many turbulent warriors now sleep in stillness, and the only unrest is that of the restless ocean.

In the castle is shown an old dungeon where Macdonald starved a luckless Irishman who had the misfortune to own too beautiful a wife. At first he only confined him in a granary; and the prisoner found means to get at the grain, and so was kept alive. Then he changed his prison; but through the barred window a kindly hen came daily, and gave him her egg. So the flickering flame of life still burned. Once more he was removed, and cast into this deep noisome cell, where nor bird nor beast could bring him supplies— and here at length he died, having gnawed his own flesh in the agony of his hunger. Then Macdonald gave him burial; and the beautiful wife, looking down from the high tower, espied the funeral, and asked whose it was; when she knew that it was her own liege lord, she cried in bitter anguish that she would be with him anon, and with one wild spring, she dashed herself from the battlements, and was buried by his side.

The ruins of another old prison still remain in the wood close by, and many tales of the treachery and vengeance of the lords of Saddell are told in connection with these grey walls.

This part of Cantyre also has one or two traditions of Robert the Bruce; and the little Isle of Rachrin, off the Irish coast (distinctly visible from the Mull), was to him a haven of refuge in times of danger.

In the old Fort of Dunaverty he also found warm welcome. A few scattered stones, on a rocky promontory, are all that now mark this old Castle of Dunaverty, "the Fort of Blood," once a mighty stronghold of the Danes, whose fleet were wont to anchor near the opposite Isle of Sands, still known to the Highlanders as the wife of Somerled was a daughter of Olaf the Swarthy, King of Man and the Isles.

Various accounts are given of the manner of his death, but whether in a sea-fight with pirates, or by assassination in his own tent, seems uncertain. One version is that he sailed with 160 galleys to besiege Renfrew, and fell in action with the Scottish army. In any case his body seems to have been brought to Saddell for burial, and laid where so many turbulent warriors now sleep in stillness, and the only unrest is that of the restless ocean.

In the castle is shown an old dungeon where Macdonald starved a luckless Irishman who had the misfortune to own too beautiful a wife. At first he only confined him in a granary; and the prisoner found means to get at the grain, and so was kept alive. Then he changed his prison; but through the barred window a kindly hen came daily, and gave him her egg. So the flickering flame of life still burned. Once more he was removed, and cast into this deep noisome cell, where nor bird nor beast could bring him supplies and here at length he died, having gnawed his own flesh in the agony of his hunger. Then Macdonald gave him burial; and the beautiful wife, looking down from the high tower, espied the funeral, and asked whose it was; when she knew that it was her own liege lord, she cried in bitter anguish that she would be with him anon, and with one wild spring, she dashed herself from the battlements, and was buried by his side.

The ruins of another old prison still remain in the wood close by, and many tales of the treachery and vengeance of the lords of Saddell are told in connection with these grey walls.

This part of Cantyre also has one or two traditions of Robert the Bruce; and the little Isle of Rachrin, off the Irish coast (distinctly visible from the Mull), was to him a haven of refuge in times of danger.

In the old Fort of Dunaverty he also found warm welcome. A few scattered stones, on a rocky promontory, are all that now mark this old Castle of Dunaverty, "the Fort of Blood," once a mighty stronghold of the Danes, whose fleet were wont to anchor near the opposite Isle of Sands, still known to the Highlanders as the gathering-place of the Danes, by whom it was called Avoyn, 'the Island of Harbours.' Upon it are the ruins of St. Annian's Chapel, once a place of refuge, where all outlaws might find sanctuary.

On the ruins of the Danish Fort a new castle was built by the Macdonalds, who held their own in Cantyre till the days of Montrose, whose cause they espoused even unto death. But when the star of the Covenanters was in the ascendant., and the Royalists were driven even to this Land's End, Sir Aflister Macdonald sailed for Ireland, there to raise new forces. He left his castle in the hands of his brother, with a garrison of three hundred men.

Very soon General Leslie, with three thousand of Argyle's men, advanced to besiege the old fort. Bravely it was defended, but after awhile, Leslie discovered that the only well for the supply of the garrison lay outside the walls, and that the water was brought in artificially. Of course this was at once cut off, and not one drop was to be had, to quench their raging thirst. It was midsummer, and even the kindly rains from heaven forgot to fall. Vainly were all eyes strained to watch for Sir Allister's return, across the sea, whose cool green waves dashed their salt sea foam so mockingly in the faces of these dying men, at their last extremity. Sir Allister had been slain in battle; so they might watch till they were weary, but all in vain.

At length they were forced to capitulate, and for five days were kept prisoners on their rock together with a hundred more who had been captured in a cave, or rather, smoked out of it, as the manner was. Leslie seems to have inclined to mercy towards the captives, but he was hounded on by a Puritan preacher, Nave by name, and knave by nature, who insisted on the slaughter "of these Amalekites." At length his counsel prevailed, and all the helpless captives were either put to the sword, or dashed from the precipice into the sea, where they lighted on hard, cruel, jagged rocks. And so they perished (all save one man, and one infant), and from time to time, bleached bones and skulls are still washed up from the clefts of the rocks; and the fishers tell how, when the wind drifts the sand from the bank close by, heaps of human bones are sometimes seen, which the next kindly wind covers up again with a fresh layer of soft yellow sand.

The escape of the little infant was the only gleam of light in that day's devilish work. Its nurse caught it up naked in her arms and fled along the shore. She was stopped by a Campbell, and vowed the child was hers: "It has the eye of the Macdonald" was the answer. Nevertheless, the heart of Craignish was soft, and, dividing his plaid, he gave her half for the naked baby, and suffered her to escape. During those five days of waiting on the rock, another Macdonald drew near, with a small body of men, to relieve the garrison. As soon as the piper perceived them, he struck up a note of warning to bid them turn back. Thus they were saved from the cruel fate that awaited their brethren; but the piper paid dearly for his tune, the enraged Campbells cutting off his fingers to prevent his playing any more such strains.

Thus it was, that Cantyre passed from the hands of the Macdonalds to those of the gleed (squinting) Marquis of Argyle and his clansmen. It seemed as though Heaven's righteous retribution sought them out, when, ere many years had past, a terrible plague came and utterly depopulated the whole of Cantyre. It was the same year that the Great Plague was raging in London. The pestilence swept over the land in visible form, as a great white cloud laden with death—just such a cloud as, in later days, has rested on Malaga, and other cities, in times of cholera (on Dumfries, for instance, where in 1843 the cholera raged for months, nor ever stayed its ravages till one-third of the inhabitants were laid in great pits in the overcrowded churchyards. And during all the time that the Angel of Death thus brooded over the city, a pestilential cloud hung like a death-pall, floating in mid-air, above the circle of hills which enclose the city as in a cup. It was a dull heavy film, through which neither the foul air could escape nor could fresh air circulate, but all was dead stagnation; even the sunbeams passing through were discoloured, and fell with lurid glare upon the scene of horror below). The fever-cloud rested long on Cantyre, and left its traces for many generations. So sorely did Argyle's estates suffer, that moneys were voted by Parliament for his relief, while the poorer folk received such help as the churches could collect.

A sunnier legend of Dunaverty in its palmy days, tells how its chief rescued the fair daughter of the King of Carrickfergus from the pillion of O'Connor, the King of Innisheon, who had run away with her against her will. He restored her to her father, and continued his honoured guest till, in his turn, he claimed the maiden's hand, and was cast-into a dungeon to rue his presumption. Thence rescued by the damsel, he escaped to Dunaverty; but once more returning in quest of his love, found that she too was now in durance vile, for having aided his flight. So, like the hardy Norseman of old, he showed that neither bolt nor bar could part him from his own true love, and carried her safely across the sea to his own old castle. The wrathful king followed in his galley, with many mighty men of war, vowing swift vengeance. Happily counsels of peace prevailed, and the lady obtained pardon for her lord; so they all went back together to the Emerald Isle, and lived merrily to the end of the chapter, and their children became kings, from whom the Earls of Antrim claim descent.

About two miles from Campbelton lies the old kirkyard of Kilcousland, one of the many which, to me, give an especial charm, to these green shores; lying, as they do, almost within reach of the wild spray, which, dashing heavenward, falls in lightest showers over the rank grass and golden iris, and mossy stones, beneath which sleep so many forgotten generations. Kilcousland has no gravestones of especial interest, but (half hidden by large-leaved coltsfoot and dockans, and stately tall white hemlocks) are many which are quaint and old, and though the majority only show crowns and shields and grotesque death's-heads-and-crossbones, and fat-faced cherubs with lumps of moss for their eyes, or else such growth of golden lichen as Old Mortality would have loved to scrape away, there are some devices which tell the daily work of the sleeper forcibly enough. Thus, a ploughman has quite a graceful grouping of reins and harness; a carpenter keeps his hammer and saw and sundry other tools; while the tailor carries his shears and his goose to the end of time.

On the broken shaft of an old cross, a carved galley tells of some forgotten Island chief, while a neighbouring stone bears a knight's two-handed sword, surrounded with runic knotting. The next tomb bears only a heavy dagger on a shield, no name to mark who sleeps beneath.

I sat for many hours in this calm "God's acre," in the shade of the ruined church, watching the ever-changing colours of the quiet sea, upping up to the foot of the green hill on which I rested; constant changes from blue to green, and purple and silvery greys, all blended by the reflection of every tint of sky and cloud, according as the angle of the broken wavelet either mirrors these, or lets u4 see beneath its surface, into its own depths; giving us hints of the wonderful world below the waters. There were broken reflections, too, from the hills of Arran, and from Ailsa Craig, which is a very tine rock-islet, at the entrance to Campbelton harbour. In form it resembles the familiar Bass Rock, rising precipitously from the sea to a height of 1100 feet. It is a mass of grey columnar basalt, which to the north-west presents a very grand face of great basaltic columns. On the opposite side are the ruins of an ancient square tower, on a high rock-terrace overlooking the sea. It is a very green isle, and affords pasture to many goats. A multitude of rabbits and innumerable sea-birds also hold the Craig in possession.

Now and then I watched a white sail round the lighthouse, and enter the quiet haven. I thought of the words of one whose dying prayer was—

"Lay me beneath the grass,
Where it slopes to the south and the sea;
Where the living I love may pass,
And, passing, may think of me"—

and I thought that just such a churchyard as this was the resting. place for which she craved. It was a scene of great peace, and I lingered till the blue sky of noon had changed to that pale primrose against which each form of earth cute with such intensity of colour; and the evening breeze, rustling among the tall flags, sounded like a mysterious whisper from the sleepers around me. The saint to whom this spot was dedicated, was a certain kindly old St. Couslan, whose sympathies were all on the side of young couples whose true love was thwarted by stern parents and guardians. To make matters easy for them, he set up near his cell • large stone with a hole in the eentre, and announced that runaway couples who succeeded in reaching this stone, and here joining hands, should be considered indissolubly united. Here we have a trace of the earlier paganism —a survival of that old Norse custom of betrothal, which bade lovers join hands through a circular bolo in a sacrificial stone. This was called the promise of Odin, and was practised in the Northern Isles long after they had embraced Christianity.

The custom was long observed in Orkney, where, a little to the east of one of the two clusters of large standing stones (the stones of Stennis) there was one stone with a hole right through it. To this stone of betrothal came all the Orkney lovers, to plight their troth by clasping hands through the perforated stone. This ceremony was considered so binding, that there was no downright necessity for a subsequent marriage with Christian rites. Indeed there were certain advantages in dispensing with such a ceremony, as those who were joined together with the sanction of the Church could never more be parted, whereas those who had dispensed with it, and had only bound themselves by the promise of Odin, might, should they grow weary one of another, legally annul their marriage, by merely entering the Church of Stennis, and there parting.

"They both came to the kirk of Steinhouse," says Dr. Henry of Orkney, "and after entering the kirk the one went out at the south, and the other at the north door, by which act they were holden to be legally divorced, and free to make another choice."

The celebrated perforated stone of Stennis is known to have been an object of veneration to the men of Orkney, long before the Northmen came, and called it after Odin, and the people continued to hold it in reverence till the beginning of this century, when it was destroyed.

A simple and more poetic form of betrothal was for the lad and lass to stand on either side of a narrow brook, and to clasp hands across the stream, calling on the moon to witness their pledge.

Sometimes the young couple each took a handful of meal, and kneeling down, with a bowl between them, emptied their hands therein, and mixed the meal; at the same time taking an oath on the Bible never to sever, till death should them part. A case was tried in Dalkeith in 1872, where this simple marriage ceremony was proved by Scotch law to be legally binding.

But the commonest and certainly the most curious custom of betrothal, was that of thumb-licking, when lovers licked their thumbs and pressed them together, vowing constancy. This was held binding as an oath, and to break a vow so made, was equivalent to perjury. This custom is still quite common in Ross-shire, on concluding all manner of bargains, such as sales of cattle or grain. Hence the saying, "I'll gie ye my thumb on it," or, "I'll lay my thoomb on that," expressing that the statement last made is satisfactory. There are men still in the prime of life, who remember when the custom of thumb-licking was the recognized conclusion of business transactions, even so far south as the Clyde, and not unknown in Glasgow itself.

Whatever may have been the origin of this quaint ceremony, it is curious to remember that the ancient Indian custom on sealing a bargain or conferring a gift was to pour water into the hand of the recipient, as is shown on many sculptures. Probably the thumb- licking was a convenient substitute for the original symbol.

Another saintly Father, who was reputed to take considerable interest in the matrimonial affairs of his people, was St. Coivin, who gets the credit of having established a most extraordinary law of divorce, which assuredly savours of earlier pagan days. He is said to have invited all unhappy couples to meet at his cell on a given night, when, having blindfolded each person, he started them on a pell-mell race thrice sunwise round the church. Suddenly the saint would cry "Cabhag!" i. e. seize quickly! and each swain must catch what lass he could, and be true to her for one whole year, at the end of which, if still dissatisfied, he might return to the saintly cell, and try a new assortment in the next matrimonial game at blind-man's-bull!

The spot where these strange games at blindfold love were played, is the old kirkyard of Kilkevan, on the high ground overlooking Macnahanish Bay, one of the most attractive, though loneliest, reaches of our sea-coast. Here the finest golden sands stretch for miles along the shore, where the great green waves break ceaselessly. To me St. Colvin's cell was a specially attractive sketching-ground, with its distant view of the five blue peaks of Jura, its pleasant surroundings of grassy downs, fragrant with lilac orchids and the quiet ivy-covered ruins. Many of its sculptured gravestones are of unusual beauty. Some of these bear the figures of knights, with sword as long as that of Robert the Bruce, and devices of the chase or

armorial bearings carved all round them. Others have no figure, only one long sword; some have only daggers. There is no mark to tell who sleeps beneath, or whence came the stones, though the people have a tradition that they were brought from Iona,—which, indeed, is likely enough; not as the spoils of ruthless pillage, but as the handiwork of some of the holy brethren, well skilled in cunning stone-work, who doubtless supplied these monuments to such of their neighbours as were willing to pay for them. Be that as it may, the carvers and the knights have been alike forgotten for many long ages, and here they still lie, all facing the east— waiting. The restless agitation of the mighty waters has not troubled their sleep; though, to the idle dreamer who lies among the golden iris watching the broad lights and shadows passing quickly over old Ocean's face, it seems such a constant emblem of the tossing and unrest of life, that he cannot well put away the thousand thoughts thus awakened, and as the murmurous echoes rise and fall with the breeze, they seem to whisper the words of an old song :-

"Like the wild ceaseless motion,
Of the deep heaving wave,
Is our heart's restless beating,
From our birth to our grave.
Toss'd by strong stormy passions
On the swift wind we flee,
Till life's bark reach the haven
Where is no more sea."

No spot on earth could well be more peaceful than the shores of beautiful Macnahanish Bay, and the green woods and braes of Losset, where we have spent so many pleasant days. The fields close to the house are white with narcissus, the uncultured growth of many generations; while genuine wild flowers—blue and green and gold—riot in the shelter of the glen, and all day long the mavis and merle pour forth their jubilant songs in the quiet wood.

It is curious to note how the absence of frost favours the growth of plants too delicate for our eastern coast. Camellias bloom in the open air, and great hedges of crimson fuschia live securely all the winter, on the lee side of sturdy fir trees, whose upper branches, however, are all scorched by the blighting sea-winds.

I wonder what peculiarity of atmosphere causes the wonderful splendour of the sunsets on this coast. You know how much we have always heard of the amazing glory of sunrise and sunset in the East, more especially during the rains. I may safely say that during a residence of several years in various parts of the tropics, I have scarcely once neglected to do homage to these outgoings of morning and evening, but, with perhaps two exceptions, I have seen nothing that could bear away the palm of beauty from our own skies; and I am more and more tempted to believe that these it comparisons" are due only to the different hours of rising and dining, which compel travellers to use their eyes in a way they quite forget to do when at home.

Have you not sometimes wondered at the dull hearts, and blind eyes, that could scarcely glance westward for one moment, though the golden gates seemed to have opened behind the heavy purple clouds, just flushed with rosy crimson; and all so quickly changing; softening and mellowing in the hazy sunset light, till earth, and sea, and sky alike lay steeped in loveliness I Blind eyes they must be, that have not yet been opened to read the Divine Book of Nature, written day by day by the finger of GOD Himself; the GOD of Infinite variety, Whose worship men are so apt to reduce to a mere system of forms, of infinite sameness. Surely the mind that most dearly loves to drink in the beauty of the visible world, must be the most in sympathy with that of the Great Artist Who delights in creating such refinements of beauty, "rejoicing in His work."

One advantage over the sunsets of the East we certainly possess, in the long, beautiful, hours of twilight, when the curlew and the plover alone are on the wing; and that still later hour "'twixt the gloaming and the mirk" when all voices of nature are hushed, except the grand music of the sea, murmuring its endless harmonies to the wild bent hills.

I doubt if there is any spot in all the British Isles, where you may study Old Ocean in all its varied tempers more perfectly than you can here, in beautiful Macnahanish Bay, which lies outspread before our windows, so that morning, noon, and night we watch its changing moods. From earliest times this spot has been noted for the tremendous size and roaring of the waves, which on the slightest provocation seem to lash themselves to raging fury, and many a brave ship has perished here, deceived by the lowness of the land, and so lured on to destruction.

The whole force of the broad Atlantic seems to sweep into the Bay, as the great wild waves rush onward, chafing in their tumultuous wrath, albeit with such "method in their madness;" rising and swelling so deliberately, as each mighty green billow curls and breaks, in a crest of gleaming foam; and the seething water dashes noisily over the shingle, bubbling and surging among the masses of rock which lie heaped in such grand confusion along the coast—or else tossing its spray in wild sport, right over the cliffs and caves, where the delicate ferns are nestling, to the green bank above, where the young lambs are learning to crop the sweet short grass from those dangerous ledges, and spring back, startled, by such chilling practical jokes.

The waves are not idle in their sport. They are washing up great masses of brown sea-ware, not carefully gathered with a loving hand, but torn up by the roots, from the great gardens in the ocean depths. And the poor kelp-burners are watching anxiously to see what harvest they may hope to reap. Some have only their creels, rough wicker baskets, which they carry on their own shoulders, but here and there is a little cart, drawn by a strong pony; a willing little beast, which strains every nerve to drag its burden of wet, heavy weed, over the rough shingle, to some spot above high-water mark, where it may be spread over the grass or sand, and left for several days to dry; this is the most anxious time in the harvest, as anxious as haymaking, in this uncertain climate; for one heavy shower of rain will wash away all the precious salts and iodine, and leave the beach strewn only with useless lumber.

As soon as it is safely dried, the weed is heaped into little stacks, till the last moment, when the furnace is ready to burn it. It is not "all fish that comes to the net" of the kelp-burner. Those broad fronds of brown wrack' which strew the shore are useless to him. He most values the masses of brown tangle covered with little bladders, and when the tide goes out, he will cut all that he can find growing on the rocks, and add it to his store; this being by far richer in salts than that which is cast up by the sea.

Let us sit down awhile, and watch him burn those brown heaps which he collected last week. We cannot stand on the open shore, or the bent hills, for the wind is blowing inland with such violence, that we should be sent right across the Isthmus—but there is a green bank at the foot of the cliff, facing the sea, where hardly a breath of air stirs the blue-bells and foxgloves; for the wind strikes the shore in front of it, and then seems to be thrown upward at a sharp angle to the top of the crag, and though we seem to be right in the wind's eye, we shall really be in perfect shelter. This is a wrinkle, which holds good for all rocky coasts.

Now the kelp-burners have made their kiln—it is a long deep grave lined with large stones. First they sprinkle a light covering of dry weed over these stones, and coax it till it burns, then slowly they add a handful at a time, till the grace is filled, and heaped up, with a semi-fluid mass, which they stir incessantly with a long iron bar; and a very picturesque group they are, half veiled by volumes of white opal smoke which has a pungent marine smell.

This work will go on for hours, and when all the tangle has been burnt, the kiln will be allowed to half-cool, and its contents cut into solid blocks of a dark bluish-grey material. These very soon become as hard and heavy as iron, and are then ready for the market. From this material much carbonate of soda and various salts are obtained. But its most valued product is iodine, precious alike to the physician and the photographer. Till very recently this was only to be obtained from the ash of dried sea-weed, consequently the discovery of its various good qualities gave a renewed impetus to the kelp trade. Now, however, iodine is more cheaply and readily obtained from crude Chili saltpetre, so the demand for kelp has again decreased. Moreover, it has been discovered that much of the iodine which was altogether wasted in the process of burning, can be saved and utilized by a process of distillation.

Kelp was formerly of very great value in the manufacture of soap, alum, and glass, but it is now found that crude carbonate of soda of better quality, and cheaper, can be obtained from sea-salt. Moreover, the great extent to which potass is now imported has proved a very heavy loss to the kelp-burners, whose hard work consequently brings a comparatively small return. And years ago, the removal of the duty on Spanish barilla was a matter of ruin to many of the Islanders, chiefly those of Skye, where the weed contained a much smaller proportion of the precious salts, than on other shores, such as those of Orkney, and where, consequently, this manufacture has been entirely given up.

Kelp-making does not appear to have been one of the industries of the Isles till about the middle of last century, when it became a distinctive feature, and so lucrative that some small farms paid their whole rent from the produce of the rocks. Thus it came to pass that the shores and rocks were sometimes let separately from the farms; and then the farmers were badly off indeed,—as indeed they are still, having to go miles to collect the necessary sea-weed wherewith to manure their fields, sometimes carrying it in creels on their backs for several miles, or fetching it in boats from long distances across the stormy seas. When the value of kelp was at its height, several farms in the Orkneys actually rose in rental from 401. to 3001. per annum.

The Orkney kelp is used in the manufacture of plate-glass, and fetches double the price of that made in the Hebrides, which is only fit for soap. Nevertheless in the year 1818 no less than 6000 tons were produced in the Hebrides alone, and sold at 20 per ton. In that year the kelp harvest of the entire coast of Scotland was upwards of 20,000 tons, and was valued at half a million sterling. Within the last few years, the price of kelp in the Hebrides fell to about 41. per ton. In former times 61. was the average, though it varied from 21. to 201. This high price was of short duration, and only continued during a sudden failure in the supply of Spanish barilla. When you consider with what infinite labour and risk this crop is gathered, and that every ton of kelp represents twenty-four tons of sea-weed, you must allow that there is pretty stiff work for the money, and that these kelp- burners do not eat the bread of idleness. The price obtained for kelp has continued gradually to decline, and latterly its manufacture has, in many places, been altogether abandoned, though the loss of this source of revenue is a serious matter to the people. It seems probable, however, that science may come to their rescue by utilizing the sea-weeds—once accounted so worthless, but now known to be so exceedingly precious. In the first place their value is now so fully recognized, as forming the submarine covert, wherein the baby fishes find not only food but a refuge from their foes,—that on some parts of the British coast (Devonshire) the Board of Trade has prohibited the cutting of sea-ware.

But to all our shores, old Ocean brings a liberal supply of drift- weed, precious to the farmer, to whose land they supply the phosphates and salts which nourish all plants. Cattle too, and horses, and sometimes sheep, find their winter fodder on the shore, and in times of scarcity many of our poor fellow-subjects eke out their scanty living by the use of certain sea-weeds, chiefly those known as dulse and tangle, which are offered for sale in many of our Scottish towns, not in the prepared forms, which to the Chinese and Japanese appear so appetizing, but in their crude, uninviting state. Now, when all food-products are being scientifically discussed, the merits of this great family are being realized—a family, moreover, of which not one poisonous species is known.' So now wise men are turning their attention to methods for utilizing these edible properties as food for man and beast; and in addition to these, many other good qualities are now being discovered. It is found that sea-weed yields a jelly ten times as strong as isinglass, and, by a new process, this glutinous matter can be separated from the weed, and an altogether new substance is obtained, to which the discoverer (Mr. Stanford) has given the name of Algin. It closely resembles horn, and has all the properties of strong glue, and of a transparent starch; and has already been applied to many practical uses,—in stiffening fabrics, in applying carbon to the lining of boilers, &c. &c. The weed from which it has been extracted is known as cellulose. It is bleached, to a fairly pure white, and being dried and pressed, forms a rough material, which seems likely to prove an excellent substitute for rags in the hands of the paper manufacturers. The other processes, to which weed is now subjected to obtain its salts, leave a large residuum of charcoal, which has a value of its own as an effectual and economical deodoriser. Altogether the prospect3 of sea-weed are looking up, and there seems good reason to hope that the Hebridean Isles may yet find a source of wealth in reaping the sell-sown crops, of these their great natural harvest-fields.

Of all beautiful sandy shores, I know none to compare with the golden beach of Macnahanish Bay, where the broad firm strand stretches for miles along the coast, making the pleasantest drive that can well be imagined, close to the water's-edge, where the sand is hard and firm, and the rippling wavelets run up past the horses' feet, and retreat again, till you become giddy with watching them, and are fain to look away across the mellow sea, to where the sun is sinking behind the hills of Islay, and the five blue peaks of Jura. This drive along the sands being the shortest road to Tarbert, it is not only on fine days that it proves tempting, and sometimes the well-trained horses, who have never felt a whip, but work gladly in obedience to their master's kind voice, have a difficult task to make their way, with blinding surf almost bewildering them.

Once, only once, the beautiful shore proved treacherous. A long line of shingle had been thrown up, by an unusually violent tempest, and great beds of wrack lay between that and the sea, till day by day, fresh layers of sand were blown up, and washed up, and it all looked smooth and firm as usual. But underneath, the hidden weed lay rotting, and as we drove confidently along, suddenly we found ourselves sinking lower and lower into dangerous quicksands. The good steeds knew the danger, and with violent effort dragged us out into the deeper water; and so, got round the perilous bank, which stretched far along the shore. Happily the sea was a dead calm, or we should have had a poor chance of escape, especially as we had tied the children into the carriage with a series of intricate knots, to prevent their jumping out to catch jelly-fish and such-like treasures.


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