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we sight some sailing vessels in the far distance, and although we have not as yet seen the “northern lights,” the atmosphere presents a remarkable, and to us entirely novel aspect : the cloudless air is filled with prismatic reflections, by turns pale white, and then yellow, and green. The older hands declare that it portends an easterly wind if seen further north ; but here, so far south, it surely indicates that the pack ice is well south.
The 25th of May finds us to the southward of the Shetlands, and we hope to make the south entrance of Lerwick Harbour before twelve next day. The north entrance is narrow and studded with rocks ; and our chart was somewhat old; we passed the south entrance during the night, having made a bad land fall; the wind had shifted, then having daylight with us, we essayed the northern entrance, luckily with no worse accident than a slight graze against an unseen rock ; but we are glad it is no worse, and soon forget the misadventure as we land in this pretty little fishing-town. The place reminds us of the wellremembered lines :
“ Within a long recess there lies a bay,
An island shades it from the rolling sea,
Here we procure wood, water, supplies of fresh food, and additional men for our crew. Here, too, as the weather was unpropitious, we determined to see the few objects of historic interest the place couid boast of, and with this object in view set out after church
to explore the ruins of Scalloway Castle, an old feudal stronghold of the Stewarts. A matter of seven miles seemed to us of no account, and after a reasonable time had been devoted to the expedition, we inquired at a neighbouring farm-house, where we discovered we were far out of our way. Crossing the hills to regain our course, we soon lost our way in a fog, and but for the kindly assistance of a shepherd we found by chance in his lonely hut, we should have fared even worse perhaps. It was not until after five hours were spent in wandering in the direction of the ruin, that we found ourselves beneath the walls of this ancient keep, and as it had been raining all the time of
our weary search, we were in but little mood for hearing the tales of the garrulous old lady who did the honours of the place. From her we gathered some curious popular traditions respecting the building of the pile, and declining her invitation to foregather round her peat fire, and enjoy what humble fare she had to offer, we inspected such details of the mediaval Celtic architecture as remained ; we saw the solid arches on which the upper stories of the building rested ; and while we speculated on the use of the usual turreted extremities of the structure so common in early Scottish buildings, the guide ran on with her quaint account of the merciless exactions of the founder, who compelled all his lieges to supply sufficient white of egg of the sea-fowl, which abound in these islands, to temper his mortar, in the hopes of rendering his donjon impervious to the onslaught of his enemies, or the wearing tooth of time, giving the refractory the alternative of hanging if they declined to assist. After we had satisfied ourselves with a survey of the ancient castle, we requested the worthy dame to let us see some samples of her skill in Shetland wool-work, but she as persistently declined to offer any of her work for our inspection, fearing that we should tempt her to trade with us on the Sabbath day.
We learned afterwards that about the year 1600, Earl Patrick, of Orkney, commenced the erection of Scalloway castle, and it is scarcely possible to conceive a more flagrant exercise of oppression than that which really occurred during the erection of this structure. This
“Fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,
laid a tax upon each parish in the county, obliging the Shetlanders to find as many men as were required for the building, as well as furnish provisions for the workmen. The penalty for not fulfilling this requisition was forfeiture of property. The building was soon perfected ; its turreted walls rising from the naked shores of Hialtland with all the feudal haughtiness of a regular baronial mansion, appearing to mock the humble habitations of the ancient udallers.
It is said that when the pious minister of the parish came to pay his respects to the lord of the new mansion, he was called upon for a suitable text to affix to the stone forming the frontispiece of the house, and without fear, “remembering the sinful enormity of that overbearing oppression which had enforced its structure," quoted the parable of the house built on a rock, and that constructed on sand, to the dismay of his host. At first he resolved to condemn the poor
man to instant imprisonment; but afterwards a compromise was effected, and the result was the following inscription, which is still partly legible :
PATRICIUS STEWARDUS, ORCADIÆ ET ZETLANDIA
labilis e contra, si sit arena perit.
This Patrick Stewart eventually was deservedly executed for some, or more likely for all, the crimes he had been guilty of.
During our short stay at Lerwick, we learned many other curious particulars respecting the ancient habits and customs of this remote branch of the Celtic family, and being limited for time, instead of visiting, as we gladly would have done, the many curious records of remote antiquity which are plentifully scattered over the islands in the shape of mounds, circles, runic stones, ancient tower churches, inscribed memorials, “standing stones,” and other antiquarian objects, we sat and listened to tales of witchcraft, the influences of the “evil eye,” and other abominations of the “
“good old times.” We endured also the depressing effects of stories of savagery committed by the feudal chiefs, that only equalled, though they do not surpass in barbarous injustice, the revolting and iniquitous state