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CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OP CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR
TIIE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.
No. 246. New Series.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1848.
pearances. Sulphur and asphalt or bitumen are among DETACHED SEAS.
the foreign substances contained in the water of the We all are familiar with the grand distinction between Dead Sea. The Caspian, in like manner, presents upon the sea and lakes-namely, the one being composed of its western banks springs of naphtha. All of these are salt, the other of fresh water. We experience, how simple natural circumstances, easily to be accounted for ever, some surprise on learning that there are many by the character of the country drained into these detached sheets of water throughout the earth, some of detached seas. them reaching the magnitude of inland seas, which, Till no distant period, it was supposed that there was though having no apparent connection with the ocean, a subterranean communication between the Caspian are composed of salt water. The grandest example is and the Black Sea, forming a secret outlet for the large the Caspian, which covers 36,000 square English miles. quantities of water brought into the former by the The instance, for various reasons, most interesting to Wolga and other rivers. As evidence in favour of this us is the Dead Sea in Palestine. The saline contents of supposition, it was observed that the sea-calves, dolthe former are said to be “inconsiderable ;' but those of phins, and other marine mammalia of the Mediterranean the Dead Sea greatly exceed the proportion general and Black Sea, were identical in species 'with those throughout the ocean, being 26-24 per cent.* There found in the Caspian. It was thought that these ani. is also to the northward and eastward of the Caspian a mals had found their way into the Caspian through the great range of salt lakes, one of which, the lake of subterranean passages. Such notions are now wholly Eltonsk, contains no less than 29:13 per cent. of salts. given up by men of science. In this range occurs the sea or Lake of Aral, likewise It has long been known, however, that the Caspian brackish, and resting in the same hollow which contains stands at a lower level than the ocean. Halley, the the Caspian, but not connected with it. In point of English astronomer of the reign of Charles II., specusize, these detached seas are rivalled by the grand lakes lated upon the depression in which it rests having been of North America. Their saline character—a pecu- produced by the stroke of a comet. When, about 1732, liarity evidently connected with their having no outlet some barometrical observations indicated its being fully -gives them, however, a distinction in virtue of which 300 feet below the ocean level, the idea was put aside they more forcibly arrest attention.
as evidently absurd ;' but, some years afterwards, The natural and proper condition of water is fresh other observers finding reason to come to the same conness-the state in which it falls from the clouds. It is clusion, it began to be the subject of serious inquiry. by accident that it acquires the saline or any other After many experiments by different persons, most of impregnation. This is indicated, if it were by nothing which came to widely different results, the depression else, in the varying degree of the saltness even in the of the Caspian below the level of the sea was ascertained ocean; for the sea is saltest between the tropics, where by levelling in 1837 to be about 83 or 84 feet. This the evaporation is greatest, and least salt at the poles, is a very remarkable fact, from its being of a nature not owing to the infusion of the melted ice. We need not, previously imagined as possible. But it is not alone the therefore, be surprised at finding that the detached seas area of the Caspian which is concerned. The eastern and salt lakes are of a different degree of saltness from and northern shores being almost level for a large space, the mean of the ocean, or that they are different among it appears, from a calculation of Baron Humboldt, that themselves. It is surprising, however, to find so heavy the extent of continental land depressed below the level a charge of this article in the Dead Sea as one-fourth of the ocean is not less than 18,000 square marine of its whole mass. So extraordinary a fact was sure to leagues, being more than the area of France. We are excite great attention in early ages, though, as we now
not sure if the baron includes in this calculation the see, it is out-paralleled in the Lake of Eltonsk. Tra- space and precincts of the Lake of Aral, which is now vellers tell that they have been able to discover no trace believed to be about the same level with the Caspian, of animal life in the Dead Sea. They find themselves and only divided from it by a very low tract. so buoyant in it, owing to its great specific gravity, that
Nearly about the same time when the Russian savans they can scarcely swim, it being difficult to keep both were engaged in this investigation, several gentlemen arms and legs under the surface at once. The skin of different countries, almost simultaneously, and quite smarts from the contact of the waters, and they come independently of one another, made the discovery that out with a sensible incrustation of salt all over. The there was a similar depression in the area of the Dead stories told, however, of birds not being able to fly over Sea. One of these gentlemen, Dr Von Schubert, says, the lake, owing to the fumes arising from it, are of the in a narrative which he has published — We were not class of imaginary tales engendered by marvellous ap- a little astonished at Jericho, and still more at the Dead
Sea, to see the mercury in our barometer ascend beyond * The saline contents of the ocean are from 3 to 4 per cent. the scale. We were obliged to calculate the height by the eye, and although we reduced the height as much reflection to the inhabitants of Astrakhan, that their as possible, owing to the extremely unexpected nature of city is only saved from permanent and hopeless inundathe result, yet the level of the Dead Sea, hence deduced, tion by the power of the sun's rays. So equally would was at least 640 English feet under that of the Mediter- this tract become the seat of a prolongation of the Meranean. We endeavoured to explain away this conclusion diterranean, a true saline sea, if the ground intervening in every possible way.... I could not have ventured to between it and the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov, were make public so extraordinary a measurement after my to be from any cause broken down or lowered. return home, although the measurement of the height It becomes an interesting subject of speculation-By of the Lake of Tiberias corresponded with it, had it not what means, and in what circumstances, have the Casbeen that some of my friends published a notice of it in pian and Aral been drained or emptied down to their the "Allgemeine Zeitung." An interest being now ex- present diminished forms and extent? It is first necescited in the subject, several other measurements were sary to keep in view that Caspian shells being found made, but none of a satisfactory nature, till Lieutenant on a sort of under-cliff of the Úst-Urt from 150 to 200 Symonds, in 1841, executed a trigonometrical survey feet above the Aral (which it overlooks), we must preof the space between Jaffa and the Dead Sea, and ascer- sume that the Aralo-Caspian basin had once a greater tained the latter to be depressed below the Mediter- height of water by at least that amount. The question ranean no less than 1311 feet! The area occupied by, arises—By what height of country is the Aralo-Caspian and surrounding the famed Asphaltite Lake, including basin divided from that of the Black Sea ?—the only a large portion of the valley of the Jordan-the scene point in which a connection has been presumed to have of some of the most remarkable events in history-thus existed. We obtain some light on this subject from the appears to be a kind of pit, for so it may well be called. observations of Pallas, who describes a cliff like the borEven the Lake of Tiberias, seventy miles up the valley der of an ancient sea extending between the extremity of the Jordan, was discovered by Lieutenant Symonds of the Ural Mountains and a point near the upper extre. to be 328 feet below the level of the ocean.
mity of the Sea of Azov : this is said to average about From these discoveries, it results that there is no 300 feet of elevation above the Aralo-Caspian basin. It possible means of exit for the waters thrown into the would obviously, if there were no lower point of conCaspian and Dead Sea besides evaporation. Great as nection, form a boundary for a lake or detached sea sufis the volume brought in by the rivers, the sun in those ficient in height to deposit the shells on the under-cliff warm latitudes is sufficiently powerful to withdraw overlooking the Aral. We are not so clearly informed it again, thus keeping down the surface at a certain as to the height of the ground intervening more directly general level, lower than that of the main sea. It is between the Caspian and Black Sea; but such informa. believed that the reason of the saline taste of such tion is scarcely necessary, as the brackish character isolated masses of water-and in this category the ocean established for the ancient Caspian by its shells shows itself might be included--is, as long ago suggested by it to have been divided from the Black Sea by a height Buffon, their being the ultimate place of deposit for the sufficient to cut off all connection between their respecparticles of salt washed by the rivers out of the land tive waters. When we ask more strictly, by what means during their courses. A Caspian is, in this respect, to has the ancient Caspian Sea been reduced? it becomes be regarded as a co-ordinate of the great ocean itself, important to know that there is evidence for the fact, albeit on a comparatively small scale. An English generally believed amongst the neighbouring people, lake which received a rivulet, and had no outlet, would that the waters are continually though slowly diminishbe another example; and even in such a sheet of water ing. A small overbalance of the evaporative over the a charge of salts would perhaps in time be acquired. filling power, such as we may believe now exists, would
Sir Roderick I. Murchison, in his late laborious work be sufficient, in the course of time, to reduce the great on the Geology of Russia in Europe, describes the cha- sea of a former age to the present pair of detached lakes. racter of the great basin occupied by the Aral and Sir Roderick I. Murchison, speculating on this subCaspian. Excepting a tract (the Ust-Urt) interposed ject, says— Whilst we specially invite attention to the between these seas, which is a plateau of miocene lime grandeur and peculiarity of this former internal sea, ve stone ranging under 731 feet above the level of the Cas- think that its diminution to the size of the present Caspian, this large region may be generally described as “a pian and Aral Seas is mainly due to oscillations of its desiccated sea-bottom : . entirely composed of sand, former bottom. The eruptive rocks which range along with occasional heaps of fine gravel . . . . rarely argil- the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the Balkan of Khwalaceous and loamy, and almost everywhere strewed over rezm, are fortunately at hand to explain that, as igneous with shells, or the debris of species, some of which are matter in many forms has sought an issue at many now living in the adjacent Caspian Sea.' This super points in those contiguous mountains, partially raising ficial formation rests on the flanks of the miocene lime- up sedimentary deposits, and changing their mineral stone of the Ust-Urt, showing that it was deposited in aspects and condition, so probably have internal widelya sea which insulated that district; and this sea appears acting expansive forces, derived from the same deepto have been one precisely resembling the present Cas- seated source, heaved up, in broad horizontal masses, to pian, for the fossil shells are wholly of the kinds (car- the different levels at which we now find them, the dium, mytilus, adacnè, &c.) which live in brackish seas, beds of the former great Caspian Sea. Such elevations resembling these also in their being of a very limited would very naturally, we contend, be accompanied by number of species, while numerous as individuals; in adjacent depressions; and thus we would explain the which respect, it may be remarked, brackish seas differ low position of the Caspian Sea, and such portions of from ordinary seas where the species are usually of land about it, as are admitted by all observers to lie great variety. Sir Roderick, therefore, believes that the beneath the surface of the ocean.' great steppe of Astrakhan, and all the rest of that We must profess ourselves to be at a loss to perextensive low tract, forming what may be called the ceive occasion for such upheavals and depressions Aralo- Caspian basin, was, in comparatively modern of the surface as are here called forth.* There is geological times, but before the age of history, covered nothing in the configuration of the district which we by a brackish sea, forming a sort of inner Mediter- may not suppose to have co-existed with the former ranean, and fully equalling that sea in extent. This tract is indeed only saved from being so at this moment by the strength the evaporative power: were that the character of the eruptive rocks. If these are very modern,
* The value of Sir Roderick's statement depends altogether upas diminished to any serious extent, the large rivers now as lavas and trachytes, &c. ; if they have acted upon the miocene flowing into the Aral and Caspian (the Oxus, Jaxartes, rocks of the district, so as to control and otherwise derange their Wolga, &c.) would undoubtedly raise a single sheet of natural horizontality; or if they have in the least affected the
character of the superficial masses containing the shells, the ta water by which this extensive portion of Western Asia
a certainty volcanic forces have had to do roith the screran & I would be overflowed. It may be a curious subject of Caspian and Black Sea.- Nole by a Friend.
greater height of the Aralo-Caspian Sea, so that only neighbours most heartily, whenever we go amongst the connection with the Mediterranean basin be higher them, I much prefer the convenience of a comfortable than the position of the shells so often alluded to carriage, with the inestimable blessing of eyesight, to point upon which we have every reason to conclude toiling on foot afflicted and wayworn.' affirmatively. Sir Roderick's contending for depres- 'But,' vehemently urged his daughter, 'then we should sions seems uncalled for, when we consider that there be welcomed for the sake of genius and the love of art; are many lakes deeper than the neighbouring seas, now it is because you are the Squire of Swan Pool, and and that in their cases we should equally find a sub- I your heiress, and that we give good dinners in reaërial depression, if the evaporative power were only turn, and a ball at Christmas! in excess over that by which the lake is fed. The · Don't talk any more nonsense, Dasee,' answered her bottom of Loch Ness, for instance, is 700 or 800 feet father impatiently. “I like sentiment well enough, but below the level of the sea. Were it placed in a suffi- not sentiment run mad, as yours seems to be. Why ciently torrid climate, we should have it transformed don't you take a lesson in common sense from your into a comparatively small salt lake, occupying the friend Miss there;' pointing to me as he said so. bottom of a vale precisely like that of the Jordan and However, we need not say any more about that just Dead Sea. Lake Superior, in North America, the surface now. So come and kiss me, like a good, sensible girl, of which is 627 feet above the sea, has a bed 336 feet and tell me what you think of Mr Smith, our new below that level. Here an increased evaporative power pastor?' would have exactly the same effect. Such depressions • Why,' said the 'good, sensible girl,' he is a great of the surface apart from the bed of the ocean are deal too fat and ruddy for a clergyman, and too young common: had this been kept in mind, and had the and happy-looking. What with his commonplace name, main fact connected with salt lakes been held in view and commonplace appearance, I can't bear him.' -namely, their issuing in evaporation-such men as * But, my dear,' added Dame Winny, the squire's Humboldt, Arago, and Murchison could not have sister and housekeeper, .a good young pastor, well and failed to see that all recourse to such extraordinary conscientiously performing his manifold duties, ought means as upheavals and depressions might have been to look happy, if a quiet conscience and peace of mind spared. Such motions of the surface are no doubt can give happiness ; and as to being ruddy and robust, amongst the most indubitable of the facts educed by what fault is that of his ? I am sure he is a most exgeology from the history of the past; but it was in cellent young man, and we are very fortunate in having earlier ages than those of the superficial formations such a successor to our lamented Mr Morgan.' that they were at their maximum of intensity. There I should think we were much more fortunate,' has been of late years too great a disposition to resort saucily rejoined the foolish, heedless Dasee, ‘if Mr to them for the explanation of comparatively modern Smith had been a Mr anything else, and a pale, intephenomena.
resting, miserable-looking person, whom it would have These speculations are not exclusive of the possible made me weep to listen to, thinking of the sad tale that connection of the Aralo-Caspian Sea with the Black doubtless formed his history!'. Sea in an earlier age. It is ascertained of some parts * Right glad should I be if he had a tale to tell thee, of the earth that the relative level of sea and land has thou foolish Dasee !' said the fond father. But if thou undergone a change to the extent of many hundreds art so full of folly, depend upon it that Mr Smith will of feet. Suppose this to have been the case also in the never think of thee.' confines of Europe and Asia, then the Aralo-Caspian • Mr Smith think of me indeed!' indignantly exclaimed would be an inner Mediterranean, as Murchison calls the heiress : ‘I would not have him, even if he grew it, until the waters fell (using this word merely for con- pale, and thin, and elegant to-morrow !' venience) below the point where they would join ; after On my second visit to Swan Pool, Dasee herself rewhich the Aralo-Caspian would be isolated, and its minded me of these words, and also of the following drainage by means of evaporation would commence. incident, which took place in the churchyard :The fish of the present Caspian are said to be different This burial-ground was situated on a hillside facing as species from those of all other parts of the earth, the lake; ancient trees spread their branches above the though denominated sturgeon, salmon, herring, &c. ; grassy mounds, many of which were ornamented with but the same marine mammalia exist here as in the beautiful flowering plants, placed there by the hand of Black Sea. If we could suppose the differences in the affection, and carefully tended, for the Welsh peasant fish to be only such as differences of conditions can in attaches peculiar interest to these sweet memorials of the course of time effect, there would be nothing to the departed. It was evening time, and all was hushed prevent our regarding the zoology of the Caspian as around as Dasee Lewellyn and myself sat down to rest an interesting memorial of the former connection of on a projecting stone. A woman, clad in mourning this sea with the ocean.
R. C. garb, entered the churchyard, and, not seeing us, pre
sently knelt down by the side of a newly-made grave,
on which the flowers, but lately planted, were struggling DASEE LEWELLYN'S WISH.
to regain elasticity and strength. We saw her tie them "Oh, father! how delightful it would be if you were up, and pluck off the faded leaves ; we heard her deep an outlaw, or a rebel, or something of that sort; then sobs, and her fervent ejaculations reached our ears. I might be like Ellen in the Lady of the Lake: there Dasee was very pale, silent, and thoughtful, looking on would be danger and excitement, and daily sacrifices the mourner with deep interest and absorbing attention ; to make for you! Nay, if you were but an old blind and when at length the poor woman left the burialharper, papa, I would be content! Leading you over place, she arose and sought the new-made grave, with the hills, as in the olden days of chivalry, in lighted clasped hands and an earnest manner softly exclaiming, halls and Beauty's bowers to be welcomed everywhere.' Oh I wish that I too had a grave to tend l'
Such was the observation made one day by young Admonition, warning, or reproof was alike useless. Dasee Lewellyn, the daughter of a Welsh squire, and we silently left the spot, nor exchanged a word till my very intimate though eccentric friend—a compound, within the warm cheerful rooms of the old house once as I sometimes thought her, of Die Vernon and Anne more. We found the squire and Dame Winny busily of Geierstein. I was at the time on a visit to Swan engaged with a disputation at cribbage; but I fancied Pool, the picturesque residence of Squire Lewellyn, and I guessed Dasee's feelings as she sprang into the arms though Dasee had often amused me with her flashes of of these dear ones, embracing them again and again sentiment, I felt that her present wish to see her father with unwonted demonstrations of affection even for either a rebel or a beggar was rather too romantic. her, warm and affectionate as she ever was. Her heart
. Thank you, my darling : I am much obliged to you,' perhaps smote her, but the idle words could not be said the squire; “but as we are already welcomed by our / recalled.
Our sojourn in the pleasant Welslı valley at length heedlessly exclaimed, “I wish that I too had a grave to terminated; and many years passed away, bringing tend !” Am I not answered ? For here sleeps my firstchanges to us all, while still at intervals of time we born, and by his side a golden-haired cherub babe continued to receive tidings of our valued friends at second Dasee!' She meekly bowed her head; and Swan Pool.
silence was the only and the best sympathy I could Dasee's letters were piquant and artless productions, offer as we slowly approached the old gabled housebut affording subjects for serious contemplation, as the beloved home of her early years, the scene of so marking the gradual change of disposition wrought by many wild exploits. time, change of circunıstances, and the development of I have already said that without all remained unfeelings which had hitherto lain dormant.
changed ; within, the same, but oh how altered ! With heartfelt sorrow we heard from Dame Winny The white-headed squire was gently led about, not of the worthy squire's affliction-namely, that he had by his daughter-she had other pressing duties to atbecome a palsied, sightless old man; but then Dame tend to--but by his granddaughter, Winny Smith; and Winny spoke of “ Niece Dasee's beautiful demeanour if Winny Smith's papa had been fat and ruddy on our and dutiful love towards her father;' and we shrewdly former visit to Swan Pool, what was he now !-- while of opined also that the reverend gentleman of the ruddy | his hilarity and happiness there could be no doubt: it countenance and odious name' was beginning to find was perfectly heartfelt and decided. Dame Winny, too, favour with the heiress. She herself wrote to us of his was as active, as kind, as fidgetty, and talkative as ever; many amiable qualities, of his assiduous attentions but withered and shrunken, and slightly deaf (only towards her poor father, who, from his past habits and slightly she said); going about with a tall silver-headed pursuits, most bitterly felt his present deplorable condi- stick, stumping loudly up and down the stairs and tion, so that, when the final news reached us of her passages, ever giving warning of the dear old lady's princely patronymic being lost for ever in the common approach unknown to herself. place one of • Smith,' we were not much astonished. There were so many tiny Smiths running about, that
After this event our correspondence became irregular. it seemed unlikely there was any real danger of their Our wanderings, vicissitudes, and sorrows, and her being individually spoiled by grandpapa or Aunt Winny. increasing family, accounted for this; while dear Dame We observed that they all wore black sashes, and that Winny had so much upon her hands, so many calls Dasee also was attired in mourning, thus giving notice on her time and attention, that writing, which had of a recent loss; we found, on inquiry, that she had not always been a laborious task to her, now became an long buried the second child she had lost : her eldest almost impossible one.
born, a promising boy of seven years old, had been Destiny, however, conducted us once more to Lewel- taken from her a few years previously, and she had lyn's home; and at the period of our second visit to mourned his loss nearly to the death ; but this last Swan Pool, when we gained the summit of the hill, and bereavement found the mother calm and resigned, pregazed down on the valley beneath, it might have seemed pared to render back the priceless treasure unto Him as if the summer-time of our first visit had come again, who gave it. only that the summer of the heart had departed, and Many visits in company together Dasee and myself many wintry blasts impressed reality too vividly for paid to the burial-ground on the hillside, with her fancy to hold its sway. All was unchanged without: pretty children frolicking around us; and I believe, were there reposed the sparkling lake, over which Dasee the usual tenor of our conversations analysed, and the used to skim in her fairy shallop, the ancient trees, the pith of the matter extracted, the condensation would be mountains, the old house, and the church spire rising comprised in a small space, the following quotation of amidst the dark foliage; all were there as in the days of few words amply expressing our voluminous reminisyore! As we passed the burial-ground on the hillside, cences- Experience is the best of schoolmasters, only an impulse which I could not resist impelled me to the school-fees are heavy.' alight and to enter the sacred precincts alone. How many new graves there were; how many brilliant flowers clustering around them, as the last rays of the
FOWLING IN FAROE AND SHETLAND. setting sun illuminated the rainbow tints; thus telling These two groups of islands, situated in the northern of glory for the departed, and whispering hope to the Atlantic, and separated by only about one hundred and survivors, seeming to say, 'I shall rise again to-morrow; eighty miles, are not more contrasted in their political the flowers will bloom another and another summer; position and internal economy than in their geological and the inmates of these quiet graves are not dead, but structure, and consequent dissimilarity of scenery; sleeping !'
though, from having been originally peopled by the I was aroused from a deep reverie into which I had same Scandinavian race, and long under one governfallen by the soft sound of infancy's sweet engaging ment, there are still to be discovered numerous traces prattle ; and on looking up, I saw a portly lady with of similar language, manners, and even personal appear. two fair children standing beside two little grassy mounds, and answering their questions in an earnest, While Shetland is an integral portion of the home impressive, and tender manner. That voice-I knew British empire, participating in her enlightened laws it at once ! But how could I recognise the identity and policy, her freedom and progress in improvement, of the sedate and portly matron, the anxious nursing together with the good, and also, alas ! evil, more or less mother, and the wild, giddy, aërial sylph of the attendant on our peculiar institutions, Faroe, as respects mountain-side? But it was Dasee herself, and she manners and state of society, is in much the same consmiled when I called her “Mrs Smith ;' and the tears dition as it has been for a century past at least, or as came into her eyes as we spoke of her numerous off- Shetland was at that distance of time. spring: then I knew her again ; for the smile was the Faroe belongs to the Danish crown, is governed by its saucy smile of yore, and the eyes wore the same touch- absolute though mild and paternal rule, and is subject ing and gentle expression which so often in girlhood to a royal monopoly of all commerce and other resources. had given promise of better things.
From analogy and observation, however, we are disposed The little children intently watched our movements ; to the opinion that, for a half-instructed, isolated, ani their prattle ceased ; and they looked awed, holding pastoral people, the Faroese appear to be at preseat in by their mother's hands with trustful love, as she precisely the circumstances most conducive to their pointed to the graves beside her, turning towards me morality, independence, and happiness. a glance which I well understood, for the same remem- The geological formation of the Faroe Isles is of brance flashed simultaneously on our minds. “You volcanic origin ;* hence their splendid basaltic columns do not forget; alı! I see you do not,' she whispered, * those thoughtless words once spoken here, when I * They are composed almost entirely of trap-rock.
and conical hills, deep valleys and mural precipices, and son having been lowered at once, the one above the narrow fiords and rushing tides. The shores are so other, on a fowling expedition, by the usual rope; that steep, that in many of the islands there is no convenient on beginning to ascend, they perceived two of the three landing-place. Boats are drawn up precipitous banks cords of which it was composed had been cut by the by ropes and pulleys; and a ship of large burden may abrasion of the rocks, and could not sustain the weight lie close to a wall of rock from one to two thousand feet of more than one of them; and how, after a short but in height on either side, where the strait between is so anguished contention, the father prevailed on the son narrow, that she can only be towed or warped onwards to cut him off, and thus sacrifice his parent's life as the or outwards, as alongside a wharf. In some situations only chance of saving his own. the cliffs present stupendous basaltic pillars, to which À far more instructive and thrilling anecdote, which, those of Staffa and the Giant's Causeway are pigmies. so far as we know, has not appeared in print, was told More commonly the precipices are broken into nar- our informant in Faroe by a member of the young row terraces, overhanging crags, and gloomy recesses, man's family to whom it occurred. tenanted by myriads of sea-fowl of every name, whose We have said that the fowlers are lowered from incessant motions and shrill echoing cries give variety above, and manage to get stationed on some shelf or and animation to scenes otherwise desolate in their ledge of rock, frequently beneath an overhanging crag, sublimity.
where they disengage themselves from the rope, and Among these dizzy and almost confounding scenes proceed to their employment. Now it unfortunately the fowler pursues his hazardous but familiar avoca- happened that the young man we have alluded to, tion; for the eggs and flesh of the sea-fowl are an im- having secured his footing on the flat rock, by some portant part of the food of the Faroese, and the feathers accident lost his hold of the rope, to which was also ata profitable article of exportation. Little thinks many tached his signal-line, which he had the agony to see, a discontented town-bred workman, or surly field la- after a few pendulous swings, settle perpendicularly bourer, and still less many a fashionable ennuyée, with utterly beyond his reach. When the first moments of what cheeriness and courage numbers of their fellow. surprise and nearly mortal anguish had elapsed, he sat creatures encounter not merely fatiguing toil, but down to consider, as calmly as might be, what he should frightful danger, while in quest of their daily bread! do, what effort make to save himself from the appalling
The manner of performing the perilous task of taking fate of perishing by inches on that miserable spot. His the birds from the precipices is thus described :*—The friends above, he knew, after waiting the usual time, fowler (fuglemand) is let down from the top of the cliff would draw up the rope, and finding him not there, by a rope about three inches thick, which is fastened would conclude he had perished; or should they by the to the waist and thighs by a broad woollen band, on same method descend to seek him, how among the which he sits. The adventurer soon loses sight of his thousand nooks of that bewildering depth of rock upon companions, and can only communicate with them by rock find the secret recess. he had chosen, where he a small line attached to his body. When he reaches had so often congratulated himself on his favourable the terraces, often not more than a foot broad, he frees position, but which seemed now destined for his grave? himself from the rope, attaches it to a stone, and com- More than once the almost invincible temptation mences his pursuit of the feathery natives. Where the rushed on his mind of ending his distraction and susnests are in a hollow of the rock, the bird-catcher gives pense by leaping into the abyss. One short moment, himself a swinging motion by means of his pole, till the and his fears and sufferings, with his • life's fitful fever,' vibration carries him so close, that he can get footing would be over. But the temporary panic passed away ; on the rock. He can communicate to himself a swing he raised his thoughts to the guardian care of Omnipo
of thirty to forty feet; but when the shelf lies deeper tence; and calmed and reassured, he trusted some mode | back, another rope is let down to his associates iu a of deliverance would present itself. To this end he
boat, who can thus give him a swing of one hundred or more particularly scanned his limited resting-place. one hundred and twenty feet.' The Faroese talk with It was a rocky shelf, about eight feet wide, and gradurapture of their sensations while thus suspended between ally narrowing till it met the extended precipice, where sea and sky, swinging to and fro by what would seem a not the foot of a gull could rest : at the other extremity frail link when the value of a human life is concerned. it terminated in an abrupt descent of hundreds of feet: Nay, so fascinating is this uncouth occupation, that at the back was a mural rock, smooth and slippery as there are often individuals who, provided with a small ice: and above was a beetling crag, overarching the supply of food, cause themselves to be lowered to some place where he stood, outside of which depended his recess, where the overhanging cliff gives shelter from only safety — his unfortunate rope. Every way he above, and a platform of a few square feet scarce affords moved, carefully examining and attempting each possufficient resting-place; and here, sometimes for a fort- sible mode of egress from his singular prison-house. night, and even three weeks together, will the adven- He found none. There remained, so far as his own turer remain alone, scrambling from crag to crag, col- efforts were concerned, one desperate chance to endealecting birds from the nests, or catching them as they vour to reach the rope. By means of his long pole he fly past him with his fowling-pole and net, till he has attempted to bring it to his hand. Long he tried; but filled his bags with their slaughtered bodies or their he tried in vain: he could hardly touch it with the feathers. We cannot imagine a more wildly-sublime end of the stick and other appliances; but no ingenuity locality for the restless energy of man to choose as a could serve to book it fast. Should he, then, leap from temporary sojourning place. The ceaseless discordant the rock, and endeavour to catch it as he sprung? scream of the birds, no doubt amazed at the dauntless Was there any hope he could succeed, or, catching, intruder on their haunts, the roar of the surf, and the could he sustain his hold till drawn to the top? This wailing of the wind among the rocks and crevices, might | indeed seemed his only forlorn - hope. One fervent combine well-nigh to deafen any unaccustomed ears. prayer, therefore, for agility, courage, and strength, Moreover, there is the danger, the awe-inspiring scenery, and with a bold heart, a steady eye, and outstretched the solitude; yet several persons have averred to our hand, he made the fearful spring! We dare not, and informant that in such a unique position they have could not say exactly the distance—it was many feet-spent absolutely their happiest days!
but he caught the rope, first with one hand, and in the In Faroe the story is related, which is also said to next moment with the other. It slipped through, have occurred at St Kilda, Foula, and Skye,f of a father peeling the skin from his palms; but the knot towards
the loops at the end stopped his impetus, and he felt
he could hold fast for a time. He made the usual signal * It is similarly pursued in Foula, St Kilda, and others of the urgently, and was drawn upwards as rapidly as possible, Scottish islands.
| To which of these several places, therefore, belongs the honour Yet the swinging motion, the imminent danger, and of the incident is doubtful.
his own precarious strength considered, we may well