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The Harvest of the Sea
Chapter XV - The Fisher-Folk


 The Fisher-People the same everywhere - Growth of a Fishing Village - Marrying and giving in Marriage - Newhaven, near Edinburgh - Newhaven Fishwives - A Fishwife's mode of doing Superstitions - Dunbar - Buckhaven - Scene - Superstitions - Dunbar - Buckhaven - Scene of the Antiquary: Auchmithie - Smoking Haddocks - The Round of Fisher Life - Fittie and its quaint Inhabitants.

A BOOK describing the harvest of the sea must of necessity contain a chapter about the quaint people who gather in that harvest, otherwise it would be like playing "Hamlet" without the hero. I have a considerable acquaintance with the fisherfolk; and while engaged in collecting information about the fisheries, and in investigating the natural history of the herring and other food-fishes, have visited most of the Scottish fishing villages and many of the English ones, nor have I neglected Normandy, Brittany, and Picardy; and wherever I went I found the fisher-folk to be the same, no matter whether they talked a French patois or a Scottish dialect, such as one may hear at Buckie on the Moray Firth, or in the Rue de Pollet of Dieppe. The manners, customs, mode of life, and even the dress and superstitions, are nearly the same on the coast of France as they are on the coast of Fife, and used-up gentlemen in search of seaside sensations could scarcely do better than take a tour among the Scottish fisher-folks, in order to view the wonders of the fishing season, its curious industry, and the quaint people. There are scenes on the coast worthy of any sketch-book; there are also curious seaside resorts that have not yet been vulgarised by hordes of summer visitors—infant fishing villages, set down by accident in the most romantic spots, occupied by hardy men and rosy women, who have children "paidling" in the water or building castles upon the sand. Such seascapes- for they look more like pictures than realities -may be witnessed from the deck of the steamboat on the way to Inverness or Ultima Thule.

Looking from the steamer-if one cannot see the coast in any other way-at one of these embryo communities, one may readily guess, from the fond attitude of the youthful pair who are leaning on the old boat, that another cottage will speedily require to be added to the two now existing. In a few years there will be another ; in course of time the four may be eight, the eight sixteen; and lo ! in a generation there is built a large village, with its adult population gaining wealth by mining in the silvery quarries of the sea ; and by and by we will see with a pleased eye groups of youngsters splashing in the water or gathering seaware on the shore, and old men pottering about the rocks setting lobster-pots, doing business in the crustaceous delicacies of the season. And on glorious afternoons, when the atmosphere is pure, and the briny perfume delicious to inhale -when the water glances merrily in the sunlight, and the sails of the dancing boats are just filled by a capful of wind-the people will be out to view the scene and note the growing industry of the place ; and, as the old song says

" O weel may the boatie row,
And better may she speed ;
And muckle luck attend the boat
That wins the bairnies' bread."

In good time the little community will have its annals of births, marriages, and deaths ; its chronicles of storms, its records of disasters, and its glimpses of prosperity; and in two hundred years its origin may be lost and the inhabitants of the original village represented by descendants in the sixth generation. At any rate, boats will increase, curers of herrings and merchants who buy fish will visit the village and circulate their money, and so the place will thrive. If a pier should be built, and a railway branch out to it, who knows but it may become a great port ?

I first became acquainted with the fisher-folk by assisting at a fisherman's marriage. Marrying and giving in marriage involves an occasional festival among the fisher-folks of Newhaven of drinking and dancing - and all the fisher-folks are fond of the dance. In the more populous fishing towns there are usually a dozen or two of marriages to celebrate at the close of each herring season ; and as these weddings are what are called in Scotland penny weddings - i.e. weddings at which each guest pays a small sum for his entertainment, there is no difficulty in obtaining admission to the ceremony and customary rejoicings. Young men often wait till the close of the annual fishing before they venture into the matrimonial noose ; and I have seen at Newhaven as many as eight marriages in one evening. It has been said that a "day, or rather night, is usually chosen for the ceremony, for " luck " is the ruling deity of the fishermen; but as regards he marriage customs of the fisher-class, it was explained to me that marriages were always held on a Friday (usually thought to be an unlucky day), from no superstitious feeling or notion, as was sometimes considered by strangers, but simply that the fishermen might have the last day of the week (Saturday) and the Sunday to enjoy themselves with their friends and acquaintances, instead of, if their weddings took place on Monday or Tuesday, breaking up the whole week afterwards. I considered this a sort of feasible and reasonable explanation of the matter. On such occasions as those of marriage there is great bustle and animation. The guests are invited two days beforehand by the happy couple in propriis personis, and means are taken to remind their friends again of the ceremony on the joyous day. At the proper time the parties meet-the lad in his best blue suit, and the lass and all the other maidens dressed in white-and walk to the manse or church, as the case may be, or the minister is "trysted" to come to the bride's father's residence. There is a great dinner provided for the happy occasion, usually served at a small inn or public-house when there is a very large party. All the best viands which can be thought of are procured : fish, flesh, and fowl ; porter, ale, and whisky, are all to be had at these banquets, not forgetting the universal dish of skate, which is produced at all fisher marriages. After dinner comes the collection, when the best man, or some one of the company, goes round and gets a shilling or a sixpence from each. This is the mode of celebrating a penny wedding, and all are welcome who like to attend, the bidding being general. The evening winds up, so far as the young folks are concerned, with unlimited dancing. In fact dancing at one time used to be the favourite recreation of the fisher-folk. In a dull season they would dance for " luck," in a plentiful season for joy - anything served as an excuse for a dance. On the wedding-night the old folks sit and enjoy themselves with a bowl of punch and a smoke, talking of old times and old fishing adventures, storms, miraculous hauls, etc.; in short, like old military or naval veterans, they have a strong penchant "to fight their battles o'er again." The fun grows fast and furious with all concerned, till the tired body gives warning that it is time to desist, and by and by all retire, and life in the fishing village resumes its old jogtrot.

It would take up too much space, and weary the reader besides, were I to give in detail an account of all the fishing places I have visited. My purpose will be amply served by a glance at a few of the Scottish fishing villages, which, with the information I can interpolate about the fisher-folks of the coast of France, and the eel-breeders of Comacchio, not to mention those of Northumberland and Yorkshire, will be quite sufficient to give the general reader a tolerable idea of this interesting class of people ; and to suit my own convenience I will begin at the place where I witnessed the marriage.

Newhaven is most celebrated for its " fishwives," who were declared by King George IV, to be the handsomest women he had ever seen, and were looked upon by Queen Victoria with eyes of wonder and admiration. The Newhaven fishwife must not be confounded by those who are unacquainted in the locality with the squalid fish-hawkers of Dublin ; nor, although they can use strong language occasionally, are they to be taken as examples of the genus peculiar to Billingsgate. The Newhaven women are more like the buxom dames of the market of Paris, though their glory of late years has been somewhat dulled. There is this, however, to be said of them, that they are as much of the past as the present ; in dress and manners they are the same now as they were a hundred years ago; they take a pride in conserving all their traditions and characteristics, so that their customs appear unchangeable, and are never, at any rate, influenced by the alterations which art, science, and literature produce on the country at large. Before the railway era, the Newhaven fishwife was a great fact, and could be met with in Edinburgh in her picturesque costume of short but voluminous and gaudy petticoats, shouting " Caller herrings !" or "Wha'll buy my caller cod ?" with all the energy that a strong pair of lungs could supply. Then, in the evening, there entered the city the oyster-wench, with her prolonged musical aria of " VVha'll o' caller on ?" But the spread of fishmongers' shops and the increase of oyster-taverns is doing away with this picturesque branch of the business. Forty years ago

nearly the whole of the fishermen of the Firth of Forth, in view of the Edinburgh market, made for Newhaven with their cargoes of white fish ; and these, at that time, were all bought up by the women, who carried them on their backs to Edinburgh in creels, and then hawked them through the city. The sight of a bevy of fishwives in the streets of the Modern Athens, although comparatively rare, may still occasionally be enjoyed; but the railways have lightened their labours, and we do not find them climbing the Whale Brae with a hundredweight, or two hundredweight, perhaps, of fish, to be sold in driblets, for a few pence, all through Edinburgh.

The industry of fishwives is proverbial, their chief maxim being, that "the woman that canna work for a man is no worth ane;" and accordingly they undertake the task of disposing of the merchandise, and acting as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Their husbands have only to catch the fish, their labour being finished as soon as the boats touch the quay. The Newhaven fishwife's mode of doing business is well known. She is always supposed to ask double or triple what she will take ; and, on occasions of bargaining she is sure, in allusion to the hazardous nature of the gudeman's occupation, to tell her customers that "fish are no fish the day, they're just men's lives." The style of higgling adopted when dealing with the fisher-folk, if attempted in other kinds of commerce, gives rise to the wellknown Scottish reproach of "D'ye tak' me for a fishwife?" The style of bargain-making carried on by the fishwives may be illustrated by the following little scene :

A servant girl having just beckoned to one of them, is answered by the usual interrogatory, " What's yer wull the day, my bonnie lass?" and the "mistress" being introduced, the following conversation takes place :

"Come awa, mem, an' see what bonnie fish I hae the day."

"Have you any haddocks ?"

"Ay hae I, mem, an' as bonnie fish as ever ye clappit yer twa een on."

"What's the price of these four small ones ?"

"What's yer wull, mem ?"

"I wish these small ones."

"What d'ye say, mem ? sma' haddies ! they's no sma' fish, an they're the bonniest I hae in a' ma creel."

"Well, never mind, what do you ask for them ?"

"Weel, mem, its been awfu' wather o' late, an' the men canna get fish; ye'll no grudge me twentypence for thae four ?"

"Twentypence !"

"Ay, mem ; what for no ?"

"They are too dear; I'll give-"

"What d'ye say, mem! ower dear ! I wish ye kent it: but what'll ye gie me for thae four ?"

"I'll give you a sixpence."

"Ye'll gie me a what ?"

"A sixpence."

"I daur say ye wull, ma bonny leddy, but ye'll no get thae four fish for twa sixpences this day."

" I'll not give more."

"Well, mem, gude day" (making preparations to go); " I'll take eighteenpence an' be dune wi't."

"No; I'll give you twopence each for them."

And so the chaffering goes on, till ultimately the fishwife will take tenpence for the lot, and this plan of asking double what will be taken, which is common with them all and sometimes succeeds with simple housewives, will be repeated from door to door, till the supply be exhausted. The mode of doing business with a fishwife is admirably illustrated in the Antiquary. When Monkbarns bargains for "the bannockfluke" (turbot) and "the cock-padle" (the lump-sucker), Maggie Mucklebackit asks four shillings and sixpence, and ends, after a little negotiation and much finesse, in accepting half-a-crown and a drain; the latter commodity being worth siller just then, in consequence of the stoppage of the distilleries.

The fishwives while selling their fish will often say something quaint to the customer with whom they are dealing. I will give one instance of this, which, though somewhat ludicrous, is characteristic, and have no doubt the words were spoken from the poor woman's heart. "A fishwife who was crying her `caller cod' in George Street, Edinburgh, was stopped by a cook at the head of one of the area stairs. A cod was wanted that day for the dinner of the family, but the cook and the fishwife could not trade, disagreeing about the price. The night had been stormy, and instead of the fishwife flying into a passion, as is their general custom when bargaining for their fish if opposed in getting their price, the poor woman shed tears, and said to the cook, ` Tak' it or want it; ye may think it dear, but it's a' that's left to me for a faither o' four bairns.' "

Notwithstanding, however, their lying and cheating in the streets during the week when selling their fish, there are no human beings in Scotland more regular in their attendance at church. To go to their church on a Sunday, and see the women all sitting with their smooth glossy hair and snow-white caps, staring with open eyes and mouth at the minister, as he exhorts them from the pulpit as to what they should do, one would think them the most innocent and simple creatures in existence. But offer one of them a penny less than she feels inclined to take for a haddock, and he is a lucky fellow who escapes without its tail coming across his whiskers. Of late our fishwives have been considering themselves of some importance. When the Queen came first to Edinburgh, she happened to take notice of them, and every printshop window was then stuck full of pictures of Newhaven fishwives in their quaint costume of short petticoats of flaming red and yellow colours. They wear a dress of a peculiar and appropriate fashion, consisting of a long blue duffle jacket, with wide sleeves, a blue petticoat usually tucked up so as to form a pocket, and in order to show off their ample under petticoats of bright-coloured woollen stripe, reaching to the calf of the leg. It may be remarked that the upper petticoats are of a striped sort of stuff technically called, we believe, drugget, and are always of different colours. As the women carry their load of fish on their backs in creels, supported by a broad leather belt resting forwards on the forehead, a thick napkin is their usual headdress, although often a muslin cap, or mutch, with a very broad frill, edged with lace, and turned back on the head, is seen peeping from under the napkin. A variety of kerchiefs or small shawls similar to that on the head encircle the neck and bosom, which, with thick worsted stockings and a pair of stout shoes, complete the costume.

The sketch of fisher-life in the Antiquary applies as well to the fisher-folk of to-day as to those of sixty years since. This is demonstrable at Newhaven; which, though fortunate in having a pier as a rendezvous for its boats, thus admitting of a vast saving of time and labour, is yet far behind inland villages in point of sanitary arrangements. There is in the "town" an everlasting scent of new tar, and a permanent smell of decaying fish, for the dainty visitors who go down to the village of Edinburgh to partake of the fish-dinners for which it is so celebrated. Up the narrow closes, redolent of "bark," we see hanging on the outside stairs the paraphernalia of the fisherman-his "properties," as an actor would call them; nets, bladders, lines, and oilskin unmentionables, with dozens of pairs of those particularly blue stockings that seem to be the universal wear of both mothers and maidens. On the stair itself sit, if it be seasonable weather, the wife and daughters, repairing the nets and baiting the lines-gossiping of course with opposite neighbours, who are engaged in a precisely similar pursuit; and to day, as half a century ago, the fishermen sit beside their hauled-up boats, in their white canvas trousers and their Guernsey shirts, smoking their short pipes, while their wives and daughters are so employed, seeming to have no idea of anything in the shape of labour being a duty of theirs when ashore. In the flowing gutter, which trickles down the centre of the old village, we have the young idea developing itself in plenty of noise, and adding another layer to the incrustation of dirt which it seems to be the sole business of these children to collect on their bodies. These juvenile fisher-folk have already learned from the mud-larks of the Thames the practice of sporting on the sands before the hotel windows, in the expectation of being rewarded with a few halfpence. "What's the use of asking for siller before they've gotten their denner ?" we once heard one of these precocious youths say to another, who was proposing to solicit a bawbee from a party of strangers.

To see the people of Newhaven, both men and women, one would be apt to think that their social condition was one of great hardship and discomfort : but one has only to enter their dwellings in order to be disabused of this notion, and to be convinced of the reverse of this, for there are few houses among the working population of Scotland which can compare with the well-decked and well-plenished dwellings of these fishermen. Within doors all is neat and tidy. When at the marriage I have mentioned, I thought the house I was invited to was the cleanest and the cosiest-looking house I had ever seen. Never did I see before so many plates and bowls in any private dwelling; and on all of them, cups and saucers not excepted, fish, with their fins spread wide out, were painted in glowing colours; and in their dwellings and domestic arrangements the Newhaven fishwives are the cleanest women in Scotland, and the comfort of their husbands when they return from their labours on the wild and dangerous deep seems to be the fish wife's chief delight. I may also mention that none of the young women of Newhaven will take a husband out of their own community, that they are as rigid in this matrimonial observance as if they were all Jewesses.

["There fishermen and fishermen's daughters marry and are given in marriage to each other with a sacredness only second to the strictness of intermarriage observed among the Jews. On making inquiry we find that occasionally one of these buxom young damsels chooses a husband for herself elsewhere than from among her own community; but we understand that when this occurs the bride loses caste, and has to follow the future fortunes of the bridegroom, whatever these may turn out to be. Speaking of marriages, the present great scarcity both of beef and mutton, and the consequent high price of these articles of food, seems in no way to terrify the denizens of Newhaven, for there the matrimonial knot is being briskly tied. While chatting with some of the fishermen just the other day we heard that two of these celebrations had taken place the night before, and that other four weddings were expected to come off during this week; and we both heard and saw the fag end of the musical and dancing jollification, which was held in a public-house on these two recent occasions, and which was kept up until far on in the next afternoon. We can see little to tempt the young women of Newhaven to enter into the marriage state, for it seems only to increase their bodily labour. This circumstance, however, would appear to be no obstacle in the way; but rather to spur them on ; and we recollect of once actually hearing, when a girl rather delicate for a Newhaven young woman was about to be married, another girl, a strapping lass of about eighteen, thus express herself:-"Jenny Flucker takin' a man ! she's a gude cheek; hoo is she tae keep him ? the puir man'll hae tae sell his fish as weel as catch them." When upon this subject of intermarriages among the Newhaven people it is proper to mention that we heard contradictory accounts regarding the point; some saying that no such custom existed, or at least that no such rule was enforced by the community, while another account was that only one marriage out of the community had, so far as bad come to the knowledge of our informant. taken Place during the last eight or nine years."-North Briton.]

The remains of many old superstitions are still to be found about Newhaven. I could easily fill a page or two of this volume with illustrative anecdotes of sayings and doings that are abhorrent to the fisher mind. The following are given as the merest sample of the number that might be collected. They have several times " gone the round " of the newspapers, but are none the worse for that: If an uninitiated greenhorn of a landsman chanced to be on board of a Newhaven boat, and, in the ignorance and simplicity of his heart, talked about "salmon," the whole crew-at least a few years ago-would start, grasp the nearest iron thowell, and exclaim, " Cauld iron ! cauld iron !" in order to avert the calamity which such a rash use of the appellation was calculated to induce ; and the said uninitiated gentleman would very likely have been addressed in some such courteous terms as "O ye igrant brute, cud ye no ca'd it redfish? " Woe to the unfortunate wight - be he Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Churchman or Dissenter-who being afloat talks about "the minister:" there is a kind of undefined terror visible on every countenance if haply this unlucky word is spoken; and I would advise my readers, should they hereafter have occasion, when water-borne, to speak of a clergyman, to call him " the man in the black coat;" the thing will be equally well understood, and can give offence to none. I warn them, moreover, to be guarded and circumspect should the idea of a cat or a pig flit across their minds ; and should necessity demand the utterance of their names, let the one be called " Theebet" and the other "Sandy;" so shall they be landed on terra firma in safety, and neither their ears nor their feelings be insulted by piscatory wit. In the same category must be placed every four-footed beast, from the elephant moving amongst the jungles of Hindostan to the mouse that burrows under the cottage hearth-stone. Some quadrupeds, however, are more " unlucky" than others ; dogs are detestable, hogs horrible, and hares hideous ! It would appear that Friday, for certain operations, is the most unfortunate ; for others the most auspicious day in the week. On that day no sane fisherman would commence a Greenland voyage, or proceed to the herring-ground, and on no other day of the week would he be married.

in illustration of the peculiar dread and antipathy of fishermen to swine, I give the following extract from a volume published by a schoolmaster, entitled An Historical Account of St. Monance. The town is divided into two divisions, the one called Nethertown and the other Overtown - the former being inhabited entirely by fishermen, and the latter by agriculturists and petty tradesmen: The inhabitants of the Nethertown entertained a most deadly hatred towards swine, as ominous of evil, insomuch that not one was kept amongst them; and if their eyes haplessly lighted upon one in any quarter, they abandoned their mission and fled from it as they would from a lion, and their occupation was suspended till the ebbing and flowing of the tide had effectually removed the spell. The same devils were kept, however, in the Uppertown, frequently affording much annoyance to their neighbours below, on account of their casual intrusions, producing much damage by suspension of labour. At last, becoming quite exasperated, the decision of their oracle was to go in a body and destroy not the animals (for they dared not hurt them), but all who bred and fostered such demons, looking oil them with a jealous eye, on account of their traffic. Armed with boat-hooks, they ascended the hill in formidable procession, and dreadful had been the consequence had they not been discovered. But the Uppertown, profiting by previous remonstrance, immediately let loose their swine, whose grunt and squeak chilled the most heroic blood of the enemy, who, on beholding them, turned and fled down the hill with tenfold speed, more exasperated than ever, secreting themselves till the flux and reflux of the tide had undone the enchantment. According to the most authentic tradition, not an animal of the kind existed in the whole territories of St. Monance for nearly a century; and, even at the present day, though they are fed and eaten, the fisher people are extremely averse to looking on them or speaking of them by that name ; but, when necessitated to mention the animal, it is called `the beast,' or 'the brute,' and, in case the real name of the animal should accidentally be mentioned, the spell is undone by a less tedious process-the exclamation of ` cauld iron' by the person affected being perfectly sufficient to counteract the evil influence. Cauld iron, touched or expressed, is understood to be the first antidote against enchantment."

The system of merchandise followed by the fishwives in the old days of creel-hawking, and even yet to a considerable extent, was very simple. Having procured a supply of fish, which having bestowed in a basket of a form fitted to the back, they used to trudge off to market under a load which most men would have had difficulty in carrying, and which would have made even the strongest stagger. Many of them still proceed to the market, and display their commodities ; but the majority, perhaps, perambulate the streets of the city, emitting cries which, to some persons, are more loud than agreeable, and which a stranger would never imagine to have the most distant connection with fish. Occasionally, too, they may be seen pulling the door-bell of some house where they are in the habit of disposing of their merchandise, with the blunt inquiry, " Ony haddies the day?"

While treating of the peculiarities of these people, I may record the following characteristic anecdote:- "A clergyman, in whose parish a pretty large fishing-village is situated, in his visitations among the families of the fish-carriers found that the majority of them had never partaken of the sacrament. Interrogating them regarding the reason of this neglect, they candidly admitted to him that their trade necessarily led them so much to cheat and tell lies, that they felt themselves unqualified to join in that religious duty." It is but justice, however, to add that, when confidence is reposed in them, nothing can be more fair and upright than the dealings of the fisher class; and, as dealers in a commodity of very fluctuating value, they cannot perhaps be justly blamed for endeavouring to sell it to the best advantage.

At Prestonpans, and the neighbouring village of Cockenzie, the modern system, as I may call it, for Scotland, of selling the fish wholesale, may be seen in daily operation. When the boats arrive at the boat-shore, the wives of those engaged in the fishing are in readiness to obtain the fish, and carry them from the boats to the place of sale. They are at once divided into lots, and put up to auction, the skipper's wife acting as the George Robins of the company, and the price obtained being divided among the crew, who are also, generally speaking, owners of the boat. Buyers, or their agents, from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, etc., are always ready to purchase, and in a few hours the scaly produce of the Firth of Forth is being whisked along the railway at the rate of twenty miles an hour. This system, which is certainly a great improvement on the old creel-hawking plan, is a faint imitation of what is done in England, where the owners of fishing smacks consign their produce to a wholesale agent at Billingsgate, who sells it by auction in lots to the retail dealers and costermongers.

Farther along on the Scottish east coast is North Berwick, now a bathing resort, and a fishing town as well ; and farther east still is Dunbar, the seat of an important herring-fisherygrown from a fishing village into a country town, in which a mixture of agricultural and fishing interests gives the place a somewhat heterogeneous aspect ; and between St. Abb's Head and Berwick-on-Tweed is situated Eyemouth, a fishing-village pure and simple, with all that wonderful filth scattered about which is a sanitary peculiarity of such towns. The population of Eyemouth is in keeping with the outward appearance of the place. As a whole, they are a rough uncultivated people, and more drunken in their habits than the fishermen of the neighbouring villages. Coldingham Shore, for instance, is only three miles distant, and has a population of about one hundred fishermen, of a very respectable class, sober, well-dressed, and "wellto-do." A year or two ago an outburst of what is called "revivalism" took place at Eyemouth, and seemed greatly to affect it. The change produced for a time was unmistakable. These rude unlettered fishermen ceased to visit the public-houses, refrained from the use of oaths, and instead sang psalms and said prayers. But this wave of revivalism, which passed over other villages besides Eyemouth, has rolled away back, and in some instances left the people worse than it found them.

Crossing the Firth of Forth, the coast of Fife, from Burntisland to "the East Neuk," will be found studded at intervals with quaint fishing-villages; and the quaintest among the quaint is Buckhaven. Buckhaven, or, as it is locally named, Buckhyne, as seen from the sea, is a picturesque group of houses sown broadcast on a low cliff. Indeed, most fishing villages seem thrown together without any kind of plan. The local architects had never thought of building their villages in rows or streets; as the fisher-folks themselves say, their houses are "a' heids and thraws," that is, set down here and there without regard to architectural arrangement. The origin of Buckhaven is rather obscure : it is supposed to have been founded by the crew of a Brabant vessel, wrecked on that portion of the Fife coast in the reign of Philip II. The population are, like most of their class, a peculiar people, living entirely among themselves; and any stranger settling among them is viewed with such suspicion that years will often elapse before he is adopted as one of the community. One of the old Scottish chap-books is devoted to a satire of the Buckhaven people. These old chap-books are now rare, and to obtain them involves a considerable amount of trouble, Thirty years ago the chapmen were still carrying them about in their packs: now it is pleasing to think they have been superseded by the admirable cheap periodicals which are so numerous and so easy to purchase. The title of the chap-book referred to above is, The History of Buckhaven, in Fifeshire, containing the Witty and Entertaining Exploits of Wise Willie and Witty Eppie, the Ale-wife, with a description of their College, Coats of Arms, etc. It would be a strong breach of etiquette to mention the title of this book to any of the Buckhaven people; it is difficult to understand how they should feel so sore on the point, as the pamphlet in question is a collection of very vulgar witticisms tinged with such a dash of obscenity as prevents their being quoted here. The industrious fishermen of Buckhaven are moral, sober, and comparatively wealthy. As denoting the prosperous state of the people of Buckhaven, it may be stated that most of the families there have saved money; and not a few of them have a bank account, as well as considerable capital in boats, nets, and lines. Fishermen, being much away from home, at the herring-fishery or out at the deepsea fishing have no temptation to spend their earnings or waste their time in the tavern. Indeed, in some Scottish fishing villages there is not even a public-house. The Buckhaven men delight in their boats, which are mostly "Firth-built," - i.e. built at Leith on the Firth of Forth. Each boat with its appurtenances has generally more than one owner ; in other words, it is held in shares. This is rather an advantage than otherwise, as every vessel requires a crew of four men at any rate, so that each boat is usually manned by two or three of its owners-a pledge that it will be looked carefully after and not be exposed to needless danger. With all the youngsters of a fishing village it is a point of ambition to obtain a share of a boat as soon as ever they can; so that they save hard from their allowances as extra hands, in order to attain as early as possible to the dignity of proprietorship. We look in vain, except at such wonderful places as Rochdale, to find manufacturing operatives in a similar financial position to these Buckhaven men : in fact, our fishermen have been practising the plan of co-operation for years without knowing it, and without making it known. The co-operative system seems to prevail among the English fisher-folk as well. At Filey, on the Yorkshire coast, many of the large fishing yawls -these vessels average about 40 tons each - are built by little companies and worked on the sharing principle : so much to the men who find the bait, and so much to each man who provides a net; and a few shillings per pound of the weekly earnings of the ship go to the owners. In France there are various ways of engaging the boats and conducting the fisheries. There are some men who fish on their own account, who have their own boat, sail, and nets, etc., and who find their own bait, whether at the sardine-fishery or when prosecuting any other branch of the sea-fisheries. Of course these boat-owners hire what assistance they require, and pay for it. There are other men again who hire a boat, and work it on the sharing plan, each man getting so much, the remainder being left for the owner. A third class of persons are those who work off their advances : these are a class of men so poor as to be obliged to pawn their labour to the boat-owners long before it is required. We can parallel this at home in the herring-fishery, where the advance of money to the men has become something very like a curse to all concerned.

The retired Buckhaven fishermen can give interesting information about the money value of the fisheries. One, who was a young fellow five-and-thirty years ago, told me the herring-fishery was a kind of lottery, but that, on an average of years, each boat would take annually something like a hundred crans - the produce, in all cases where the crew were part owners, after deducting a fifth part or so to keep up the boat, being equally divided. " When I was a younker, sir," said this person, "there was lots o' herrin', an' we had a fine winter fishin' as well, an' sprats in plenty. As to white fish, they were abundant five-an'-twenty years ago. Haddocks now are scarce to be had; being an inshore fish, they've been a' ta'en, in my opinion. Line-fishin' was very profitable from 1830 to 1840. I've seen as many as a hunder thoosand fish o' ae kind or anither ta'en by the Buckhyne boats in a week-that is, countin' baith inshore boats an' them awa at the Dogger Bank. The lot brocht four hunder pound ; but a' kinds of fish are now sae scarce that it taks mair than dooble the labour to mak the same money that was made then."

I will now carry the reader with me to a very quaint place indeed, the scene of Sir Walter Scott's novel of The Antiquary - Auchmithie. The supposed scene of Sir Walter Scott's novel of The Antiquary, on the coast of Forfarshire, presents a conjunction of scenic and industrial features which commends it to notice. At Auchmithie, which is distant a few miles from Arbroath, there is often some cause for excitement; and a real storm or a real drowning is something vastly different from the shipwreck in the drama of The Tempest, or the death of the Colleen Bawn. The beetling cliffs barricading the sea from the land may be traversed by the tourist to the music of the everlasting waves, the dashing of which only makes the deep solitude more solemn; the sea-gull sweeps around with its shrill cry, and playful whales gambol in the placid waters.

The village of Auchmithie, which is wildly grand and romantic, stands on the top of the cliffs, and as the road to it is steep, a great amount of labour devolves on the fishermen in carrying down their lines and nets, and carrying up their produce, etc. One customary feature observed by strangers on entering Auchmithie is, that when met by female children they invariably stoop down, making a very low curtsey, and for this piece of polite condescension they expect that a few halfpence will be thrown to them. If you pass on without noticing them they will not ask for anything, but once throw them a few halfpence and a pocketful will be required to satisfy their importunities. There are two roads leading to Auchmithie from Arbroath, one along the sea-coast, the other through the country. The distance is about 3 miles in a north-east direction, and the country road is the best ; and approaching the village in that direction it has a very fair aspect. Two rows of low-built slate-roofed houses, and a school and chapel, stand a few yards off by themselves. On the north side of the village is a stately farm-house, surrounded by trees, and on the south side a Coast-Guard station, clean, whitewashed, and with a flag staff, giving the whole a regular and picturesque appearance. Entering the village of Auchmithie from the west, and walking through to the extreme east end, the imagination gets staggered to think how any class of men could have selected such a wild and rugged part of the coast for pursuing the fishing trade-a trade above all others that requires a safe harbour where boats can be launched and put to sea at a moment's warning if any signals of distress be given. The bight of Auchmithie is an indentation into rocky cliffs several hundred feet in perpendicular height. About the middle of the bight there is a steep ravine or gully with a small stream, and at the bottom of this ravine there is a small piece of level ground where a fish-curing house is erected, and where also the fishermen pull up their boats, that they may be safe from easterly gales. There are in all about seventeen boats' crews at Auchmithie. Winding roads with steps lead down the side of the steep brae to the beach. There are a few half-tide rocks in the bight that may help to break the fury of waves raised by easterly winds; but there is no harbour or pier for the boats to land at or receive shelter from, and this the fishermen complain of, as they have to pay 2 a year for the privilege of each boat. The beach is steep, and strewed with large pebbles, excellently adapted, they say, for drying fish upon.

The visitor, in addition to studying the quaint people, may explore one of the vast caves which only a few years ago were the nightly refuge of the smuggler. Brandy Cove and Gaylet Pot are worth inspection, and inspire a mingled feeling of terror and grandeur. The visitor may also take a look at the "Spindle "-a large detached piece of the cliffs, shaped something like a corn-stack, or a boy's top with the apex uppermost. When the tide is full this rock is surrounded with water, and appears like an island. Fisher-life may be witnessed here in all its unvarnished simplicity. Indeed nothing could well be more primitive than their habits and mode of life. I have seen the women of Auchmithie "kilt their coats" and rush into the water in order to aid in shoving off the boats, and on the return of the little fleet carry the men ashore on their brawny shoulders with the greatest ease and all the nonchalance imaginable, no matter who might be looking at them. Their peculiar way of smoking their haddocks may be taken as a very good example of their other modes of industry. Instead of splitting the fish after cleaning them, as the regular curers do, they smoke them in their round shape. They use a barrel without top or bottom as a substitute for a curing house. The barrel being inserted a little distance in the ground, an old kail-pot or kettle, filled with sawdust, is placed at the bottom, and the inside is then filled with as many fish as can conveniently be hung in it. The sawdust is then set fire to, and a piece of canvas thrown over the top of the barrel: by this means the females of Auchmithie smoke their haddocks in a round state, and very excellent they are when the fish are caught in season. The daily routine of fisher-life at Auchmithie is simple and unvarying ; year by year, and all the year round, it changes only from one branch of the fishery to another. The season, of course, brings about its joys and sorrows : sad deaths, which overshadow the village with gloom ; or marriages, when the people may venture to hold some simple fete, but only to send them back with renewed vigour to their occupations. Time, as it sweeps over them, only indicates a period when the deep-sea hand-lines must be laid aside for the herring-drift, or when the men must take a toilsome journey in search of bait for their lines. Their scene of labour is on the sea, ever on the sea ; and, trusting themselves on the mighty waters, they pursue their simple craft with persevering industry, never heeding that they are scorched by the suns of summer or benumbed by the frosts of winter. There is, of course, an appropriate season for the capture of each particular kind of fish. There are days when the men fish inshore for haddocks ; and there are times when, with their frail vessels, the fishermen sail long distances to procure larger fish in the deep seas, and when they must remain in their open boats for a few days and nights. But the El-dorado of all the coast tribe is "the herring." This abounding and delightful fish, which can be taken at one place or another from January to December, yields a six weeks' fishing in the autumn of the year, to which, as has already been stated, all the fisher-folk look forward with hope, as a period of money-making, and which, so far as the young people are concerned, is generally expected to end, like the third volume of a love-story, in matrimony.

Footdee, or "Fittie" as it is locally called, is a quaint suburb of Aberdeen, figuring not a little, and always with a kind of comic quaintness, in the traditions of that northern city, and in the stories which the inhabitants tell of each other. They tell there of one Aberdeen man, who, being in London for the first time, and visiting St. Paul's, was surprised by his astonishment at its dimensions into an unusual burst of candour. "My stars!" he said, "this maks a perfect feel (fool) o' the kirk o' Fittie." Part of the quaint interest thus attached to this particular suburb by the Aberdonians themselves arises from its containing a little colony or nest of fisher-folk of immemorial antiquity. There are about a hundred families living in Fittie, or Footdee Square, close to the sea, where the Dee has its mouth. This community, like all others made up of fishing folk, is a peculiar one, and differs of course from those of other working-people in its neighbourhood. In many things the Footdee people are like the gipsies. They rarely marry except with their own class ; and those born in a community of fishers seldom leave it, and very seldom engage in any other avocation than that of their fathers. The squares of houses at Footdee are peculiarly constructed. There are neither doors nor windows in the outside walls, although these look to all the points of the compass ; and none live within the square but the fishermen and their families, so that they are as completely isolated and secluded from public gaze as a regiment of soldiers within the dead walls of a barrack. The Reverend Mr. Spence, of Free St. Clement's, lately completed plans of the entire " toun," giving the number and the names of the tenants in every house ; and from these exhaustive plans it appears that the total population of the two squares was 584-giving about nine inmates for each of these two-roomed houses. But the case is even worse than this average indicates. " In the South Square only eight of the houses are occupied by single families ; and in the North Square only three, the others being occupied by at least two families each-one room apiece -and four single rooms in the North Square contain two families each ! There are thirty-six married couples and nineteen widows in the twenty-eight houses ; and the number of distinct families in them is fifty-four."The Fittie men seem poorer than the generality of their brethren. They purchase the crazy old boats of other fishermen, and with these, except on very fine weather, they dare not venture very far from "the seething harbour-bar ;" and the moment they come home with a quantity of fish the men consider their labours over, the duty of turning the fish into cash devolving, as in all other fishing communities, on the women. The young girls, or "queaus," as they are called in Fittie, carry the fish to market, and the women sit there and sell them ; and it is thought that it is the officious desire of their wives to be the treasurers of their earnings that keeps the fishermen from being more enterprising. The women enslave the men to their will, and keep them chained under petticoat government. Did the women remain at home in their domestic sphere, looking after the children and their husbands' comforts, the men would then pluck up spirit and exert themselves to make money in order to keep their families at home comfortable and respectable. Just now there are many fishermen who will not go to sea as long as they imagine their wives have got a penny left from the last hawking excursion. There is no necessity for the females labouring at out-door work. There are few trades in this country where industrious men have a better chance to make money than fishermen have, especially when they are equipped with proper machinery for their calling. At Arbroath, Auchmithie, and Footdee (Fittie), the fishing population are at the very bottom of the scale for enterprising habits and social progress. When the wind is in any way from the eastward, or in fact blowing hard from any direction, the fishermen at these places are very chary about going to sea unless dire necessity urges them.

The people of "Fittie" are progressing in morals and civilisation. One of the local journalists, who took the trouble to visit the place lately in order to describe truthfully what he saw, says:-" They have the reputation of being a very peculiar people, and so in many respects they are ; but they have also the reputation of being a dirtily-inclined and degraded people, and this we can certify from personal inspection they are not. We have visited both squares, and found the interior of the houses as clean, sweet, and wholesome as could well be desired. Their whitewashed walls and ceiling, their well-rubbed furniture, clean bedding, and freshly-sanded floors, present a picture of tidiness such as is seldom to be met with among classes of the population reckoned higher in the social scale. And this external order is only the index of a still more important change in the habits and character of our fisher-toun, the population of which, all who know it agree in testifying, has within the past few years undergone a remarkable change for the better in a moral point of view. Especially is this noticed in the care of their children, whose education might, in some cases, bring a tinge of shame to the cheek of well-to-do town's folks. Go down to the fisher squares, and lay hold of some little fellow hardly able to waddle about without assistance in his thick made-down moleskins, and you will find he has the Shorter Catechism at his tongue-end. Ask any employer of labour in the neighbourhood of the shore where he gets his best apprentices, and he will tell you that for industry and integrity he finds no lads who surpass those from the fisher squares. Inquire about the families of the fishermen who have lost their lives while following their perilous occupation, and you will find that they have been divided among other families in the square, and treated by the heads of these families as affectionately as if they had been their own."

As regards the constant intermarrying of the fisher class, and the working habits of their women, I have read an Italian fable to the following effect:- "A man of distinction, in rambling one day through a fishing-village, accosted one of the fishermen with the remark that he wondered greatly that men of his line of life should chiefly confine themselves, in their matrimonial connections, to women of their own caste, and not take them from other classes of society, where a greater security would be obtained for their wives keeping a house properly, and rearing a family more in accordance with the refinement and courtesies of life. To this the fisherman replied, that to him, and men of his laborious profession, such wives as they usually took were as indispensable to their vocation as their boat and nets. Their wives took their fish to market, obtained bait for their lines, mended their nets, and performed a thousand different and necessary things, which husbands could not do for themselves, and which women taken from any other of the labouring classes of society would be unable to do. `The labour and drudgery of our wives,' continued he, `is a necessary part of our peculiar craft, and cannot by any means be dispensed with, without retailing irreparable injury upon our social interests.' MORAL - This is one among many instances, where the solid and the useful must take precedence of the showy and the elegant."


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