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'every battle of the warriors' was with confused noise and garments rolled in blood!'

From the artist's standpoint Shetland, if we except the highly picturesque isle of Hoy, stands head and shoulders above Orkney for interest. Cultivated fields and vegetable patches are far less in evidence for the most part the Zetland isles present wilder wastes of heath, more barren soil, duskier peatbogs interspersed with innumerable small lakes in the moorland hollows. But, above all, it is beyond question the desolate grandeur of the massive cliffs along the coastline, torn and shattered into shapes fantastic of stack, skerry, arch, and vaulted cavern, which in Shetland appeal so to the lover of seascape scenery.

In the domain of romance, again, Hjaltland must ever take a special place as having been made to captivate for all time the imagination of reading men and women in the pages of The Pirate. For myself, if the egoism may be excused, I may say it was the dream and aspiration of my life, ever since on the verge of my teens I read that fascinating book, to see with my own eyes the rugged rifted precipices of Sumburgh and Fitful Head, to tramp the mosses of Dunrossness with Mordaunt Mertoun, to explore the ancient mansion of the convivial old Udaller, and to track the footsteps of the Sybil Norna through the principal scenes of her wanderings. And this, after long waiting, it was recently given me during two summers in some sort to do.

With these preliminary observations, I will ask the reader to make a start with me from Kirkwall by steamboat en route to the chief town of the Shetlands, Lerwick. Let us suppose it may be near about midsummertide, and not the typical British. weather described by the Latin historian foul with frequent storms and mists,' though we may pray for his qualification as to the temperature.* In this extremity of Britain at that season we shall be able to endorse the further observation of Tacitus that one may distinguish but little interval between the end and the beginning of daylight. And if, wrapped up in an adequate overcoat you prefer sitting out on deck and can keep your eyes

*Coelum crebris imbribus nebulisque foedum: asperitas frigorum abest.'-Tacitus, Agric. Vit., XII.

open, there is much to recompense you. Exquisite indescribable tints of sea and firmament, amber, opaline, roseate, cerulean; with perhaps a passing vessel or fishing lugger encountered dark and shadowy in the twilight. Then, over yonder, about midway in the great Sound which separates the two insular clusters, where we discern a brilliant light, is Fridarey (Fair Isle), its western face all cleft into lofty stacks and gios by the tremend

ous ocean-surge.

Fair Isle (isle of sheep) has quite a little history of its own. From its peculiar situation—an elevated holm lying in mid-sea between the Orkneys and Shetlands-its manifest advantages as a signal station were called into play near eight hundred years back. For it was one of the chain of beacon-lights erected by Jarl Páll Hakonsson, the fires whereof were to be lit on the approach of foes from Hjaltland. Directly the Fair Isle beacon was kindled and visible, the fire-signal was repeated from Rinansay in Orkney, and so on in succession through other Orcadian isles. The first lightkeeper on Fridarey, so the Orkneyinga Saga tells us, was one Dagfinn Hlödverson, who on one occasion was tricked into lighting up his beacon by a false alarm, the result of which was to pass the alarm on to the Orkneys and so collect a great band of Jarl Páll's fighting men. Soon thereafter, a certain Eirik took Dagfinn's place in charge of the Fridarey beacon, and he in his turn was outwitted by Uni (of Earl Rögnvald's following), who, under false pretences, got temporary custody of the beacon, and when no one was near drenched the fuel-pile with water. Whereupon it fell out that, on the coming south of Jarl Rögnvald and his warrior-band from Hjaltland, it was impossible to light the beacon; and so they were got to Westray or ever Earl Paul could be given timely warning of their movements. It was to Fridarey, also, that the renowned rover, Swein Asleifson, once had to betake himself for shelter in stress of weather with twelve of his galleys.

Coming down the centuries, we may picture to ourselves a scene of different complexion in these waters and upon our little lone islet. When Drake and Howard, in that memorable August of 1588, had crippled and discomfited the Spaniard in the chops of the English Channel, and when even the stars in their courses

had begun to fight against him, the great Armada, still numbering 120 vessels, was driven by the elements to steer for the Orkneys, and try to work back to Spain by way of the Pentland Strait and outside Ireland. With the pen of a pastmaster in graphic description, James Anthony Froude at this point in the drama reveals to us the situation :—

With a sea growing wilder as they passed the shelter of the Scotch coast,' the ships 'lost sight of each other for nearly a week. On the 9th19th (August) the sky lifted, and Calderon found himself with the Almirante of Don Martinez de Recalde, the galleon of Don Alonzo, the San Marcos, and twelve other vessels. Sick signals were flying all round, and the sea was so high that it was scarcely possible to lower a boat. The large ships were rolling heavily, their wounded sails had been split by the gusts, and masts and yards carried away. That night it again blew hard. The fog closed in once more, and the next morning Calderon was alone on the open sea without a sail in sight, having passed between the Orkneys and the Shetlands. Recalde and da Leyva had disappeared with their consorts, having, as Calderon conjectured, gone north.'


Calderon luckily was able to catch up Medina Sidonia and the main body of the fleet miles outside Cape Wrath, but Recalde and Alonzo da Leyva, with five and twenty ships, steered northwest after passing the Orkneys. They went on,' says Froude, 'to latitude 62°,' shaping course for Iceland, but 'the wild west wind came down once more.' What a wild wester or nor'wester here must have meant to the hapless crews of Andalusians, Catalans, and Castilians, only those who have been out in such gales can realise.

'One galleon was driven on the Faröe Isles; the rest turned about, and made for the Shannon or Galway. A second was lost on the


Though Fair Isle, as a matter of fact, is classed among the Shetlands, it was doubtless to the wreck of a galleon or transport on this desolate spot that the historian was referring. The ship was El Gran Grifon, belonging to the squadron [8th division of the fleet] commanded by Don Juan Gomez de Medina. Two hundred or more of the crew [soldiers and sailors] managed to get ashore, of whom-for we know many of the galleons were desperately short of victual and without fresh water-some died of starvation, thirst, or both; and some were thrown over the cliffs or

otherwise despatched by the islesmen. A circumstantial and highly interesting narrative of the Spaniards' reception and doings during their five or six weeks' stay in the island is supplied by James Melvill, who fell in with the strangers, and extracted from them a recital of their adventures. The Zetlanders appear to have regarded the unfortunate foreigners with horror and apprehension as bringers of famine to the island: nay worse, as emissaries of the Prince of Darkness sent to eat them up.* Ultimately, the shipwrecked aliens got over to Dunrossness, and from thence to Dunkerque, calling in at Anstruther on the voyage south. These Spaniards, says Melvill, were, for the maist part young beardless men, sillie, trauchled, (worn out), and hungered.' The minister and bailies of the ancient Fife town, compassionating their sorry case, fed them for a day or two on 'kail, porridge, and fish.' On reaching France, Gomez de Medina showed his grateful sense of this kindness by making interest for the release of an Anstruther ship then detained in arrest at Calais.

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The current story is that the remnant of the castaway Spaniards beguiled their enforced leisure in Fair Isle by teaching the natives how to dye and weave, after the fashions of Cadiz and Malaga, the quaint patterns in woolwork for which the island is still famed. Likewise, it has been supposed that in the physiognomies and complexions of some of the islanders one may still see traces of the consorting of the swarthy Spaniard with the Zetland women. As to the Spaniard's supposed weaving lessons, the tradition or common idea has certainly obtained large acceptance, and figures in many published works. On the other hand, an eminent archæologist has represented to me with much force that, considering the brief stay of the Iberians in Fair Isle and the determined hostility shown to them by the islanders, the popular notion hardly holds water. Moreover, there is the fact that the dyes used in the Fair Isle worsted work are produced from the lichens and peaty matter indigenous to the islands, while both dyes and patterns of the yarns appear to be much

* See the Diary of Mr. James Melvill (Bannatyne Club), p. 174; and an Account by Monteith of Egilsay, written in 1633.

the same as those generally met with throughout the Scottish Isles.

My first introduction to Hjaltland proper was in one of those dense sea-fogs which, evolved from the warm currents of the Gulf Stream, are so common in Shetland waters, especially during the months of July and August. We had been steaming alternately half-speed or dead slow for some hours, swaying about in the long swell of the Roost of Sumburgh, and ceaselessly sounding our fog whistle. We had crept unawares into some spot in the Dunrossness peninsula near enough to make out for a moment a grim beetling precipice, when the mist closed again. Thereafter nothing whatever was visible till, all in an instant, a gap opened in the dense vapour, and there abreast of the steamer loomed up a huge rampart of dark rock fissured and caverned, with a glimpse of a grand natural archway at its extremity, and above it the white walls and buildings of a lighthouse. The array of stern-faced cliffs turned out to be the southern shore of the isle of Bressay, and the point surmounted by the lighthouse was Kirkabister Ness. Here rounding the corner of the coast-line we pass a cluster of houses and the site of the ancient chapel of St. John, which evidently gave the Ness its name. A couple of miles onward the steamer enters Bressay Sound [Breideyarsund], and, curving in sharply to westward, unfolds to us a very striking and picturesque view of the town, shipping, and fine sheltered harbour, of Lerwick, the Zetland capital. Half-an-hour later we are alongside the quay and ashore on the main isle of Hjaltland.

No visitor should leave Lerwick without if possible making a day's excursion to the island of Noss lying outside Bressay; for its eastern cliffs are undoubtedly a marvel of wild and desolate grandeur hardly to be matched in the circuit of Great Britain. From Lerwick quay we can boat or ferry across to the western side of Bressay, landing near about the old church by the Voe or creek of Leiraness. Or, again, one can land at the jetty below Maryfield, where I believe it is customary to apply for permission to visit Noss. From here it is a pleasant walk of some 2 to 3 miles over the hill [that is, the dorsal ridge of the island] past two lochs to Brough. As one mounts the hill-slope and looks

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