THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY.
[This table of contents was inserted by the website
Editor, there being none in the book as published. Some illustrations have
also been added.]
The players: Mr. Swanson, the minister; Mr. Stewart, the
sailor; Mr. Miller, the geologist and commentator; and Betsey, the Free
A five-week holiday—Chisels and hammers (for the specimens)—By
steamer to Tobermory—The geography of the Western coast—Oban; hammer and
chisel put to work—The geology of the Oban area; M'Dougall's Dog-stone—The
sound of Mull—Anchored in the Bay of Tobermory—The Free Church yacht
Betsey—Cramped accommodation—Toasted herrings for dinner—The
Florida, a wrecked Armada galleon—The fossils of Tobermory—The Isle of
Eigg, and to bed.
The islanders provide cream, butter, oaten cakes, eggs for
breakfast—Difficulty in anchoring safely—The Island shoes; tanning the
skin—A gift from supporters of The Witness—The view from the
anchorage; the Chapel of St Donan—Origin of the white sand—An
exploratory ramble on Eigg—The cave of Frances; the M'Leods and the
Massacre at Eigg—The M'Donalds: their human and domestic remains—Teeth,
ancient and modern—The story of the massacre—The Scuir of Eigg, a
perpendicular but ruinous rampart.
The Scuir of Eigg; parallels with the Giant's Causeway—The
geology of the Scuir —Taking samples; the ancient Eigg pine—Climbing the
Scuir; an ancient hill fort; "the island, spread out at our feet as in a
map, was basking in yellow sunshine"—The Disruption; penalty of a
dissenting minister; the Betsey—Mashed potato for dinner—American drift
wood—The curious "rejectamenta of the sea"—the new minister's gratuitous
unkindness to a brother in calamity.
A misty morning, then sunshine—A walk to the Bay of Laig,
"bearing bag and hammer"—View of the island of Rum—"A tall withered
female", the spectre of the island's superstition—A thick oyster-bed;
Ammonites, Belemnites, "chalky Bivalves" and other fossil
shells—Curious sandstone ditches and "fields of petrified mushrooms, of a
gigantic size"—The musical sand of the Bay of Laig—The
harp of Jabel Nakous
and the large drum of the hill of Reg-Rawan—At a loss to explain
The geology and fossils of the Bay of Laig—A geological theory of the
inner Hebrides—The Scuir viewed from below—The puffin and "the harsh
scream of the eagle"—The potato replaces the puffin as a meal—The young
puffin's fat-reducing diet—Ru-Stoir,
or the "Red Head"; fossil-hunting and a hospitable meal—John Stewart's
lesson in fossil-hunting—Fossil teeth, and reptilian bones "in
abundance"—A beach "thronged by reptile shapes more strange than poet ever
imagined"— The Plesiosaurus—A picture of a shieling'; A hospitable island
girl, a turf fire and "a rich bowl of mingled milk and cream"—Hoffman's
extraordinary fossil, its fate and eventual justice.
Apologies to both 'non' and 'semi' geologist readers—The
"latest-born creation in the series"—The Sabath; a dull and rainy morning,
and off to church—The Gaelic congregation, their minister (Mr Swanson) and
their church—The previous incumbent "deposed from his office" for
drunkenness—Dr. Johnson on the conversion of the inhabitants of Rum—The
story of the father of the two ragged boys—The Disruption; leaving the
manse—To Ornsay; the herring fishermen; the Minister's home; the geology—Luidag
the goblin—To the Isle of Skye, by post-gig, for a geological ramble .
The geology of Skye—Signs of "a very considerable marks of
disturbance"—The Storr of Skye—The Ammonites
Murchisonœ—A gathering storm; a soaking—A debt to Sir Roderick
Murchison—Misjudging "The three Edinburgh gentlemen"—The postmaster of
Portree, "a cuttlefish, that preyed on the weaker molluscs"—Back to Ornsay;
at home with the Swansons—Setting sail for Rum, with two bottles of
vintage Madiera—Becalmed; a gathering storm, then a gale—Anchoring at Loch Scresort—A
stormy Sabbath—To church; a full congregation; "two long energetic
discourses"; a weary minister.
Geology of the island of Rum, a partly-framed picture—Agassiz,
and the mysterious 'scratchings' and 'polishings'—Killing
a lizard; "divided life"—The amygdaloid of Scuir More, "a mountain of
gems"—The formation and anatomy of a pebble of Scuir More—The hospitable
shepherd and his wife; "a vast bowl of milk" and a basket of bread and
cheese—"A wool and mutton speculation"; the depopulation of Rum and its
social consequences—A gift of fish—Herding trout; trout for dinner.
Bernera Barracks—Awaiting the tide; the fierce currents of
the Kyles of Skye; "swept in the tideway, like a cork caught during a
thunder shower"—The fishers for sillocks—The
fleet-footed Betsey—Anchorage at Broadford;
razor-fish for dinner—Fossils of the neighbouring Lias—To Pabba, by a
light breeze, to explore—Castle Maoil—A bare larder, but 'needs must,' and
dried thornback for dinner—Back to Ornsay; what the anchor brought up; the
Caileach stone, a navigational hazard—The story of the Betsey's grounding;
cast away on a rock.
Mr. Swanson gives "an English preaching" to the fishermen—Allegory on the
bones of Uamh Fraing—To
Dingwall by mail-gig; conversation with an Establishment minister—Old
memories, the "fossils of mind"—Looking up an old work-mate—On to
Cromarty—The international language of geology—The Pterichthys and the
Diplacanthus; taking pride in their discovery.
The fossils of Shandwick and the Cromarty Firth—signs of
"disaster and sudden extinction"—The armour-plated fish of the Old Red;
the "humble arts of the tiler and slater" anticipated—Pre-historic use of
jet and of flints—The curious distribution of fossil types; comparison
with today's fish habitats—Thurso; an exploratory ramble—Speculation on
the geology of the planet Mars—"Bones steeped in pitch"; "a Holoptychius
of gigantic proportions"—Wild and broken scenery; the cave of Pudding-Gno;
the birds of Dunnet Head—Some 'extenders' of the limits of geology.
By boat to Nairn—The limestone quarry of Clune—Cheiracanthus; Glyptolepis; Coccesteus—Limestone
nodules taking the form of the fossil fish they enclose; "stone coffins" expressing
the outline of the corpses within—An evening in the forest of Darnaway—Ferried
across the Findhorn at Sluie—A coach to Elgin; fossils of the Weald at Linksfield;
the sandstones at Scat-Craig—Transmutation, development, progression of
species—End of the Summer ramble; the coach to Edinburgh.
Small Isles revisited—To Eigg, to search for the burial
place of the Oolitic reptiles—To Ornsay; marooned by foul weather—Becalmed
in the Sound of Sleat; fishing for medusæ;
a rainy night—Towed ashore by the islanders—Exploring a cavern—Visiting a
poor parishioner; a miserable hovel; poverty and helplessness—Basalt
columns; the Oolitic beds are laid bare; the
reptile-bed—The musical sand revisited—To Ornsay in a gale; Betsey springs
a leak; all hands to the pumps—Home to Edinburgh.
RAMBLES OF A GEOLOGIST
[This table of contents was inserted by the website
Editor, there being none in the book as published. Footnotes
13 & 14
are also additions to the original text.]
By steamer from Granton to Aberdeen—The hurricane; the
wreck of a victim—Boundary of the 'Old Red Sandstone' and the granitic
districts; its effect on agriculture—The changing landscape—The
formation of arable land—Rev. Longmuir's 'stone-room' and its flint
fossils—The theologian, geology and metaphysics—To Gamrie, in a "fatigue
suit of russet"—Two fellow geologists; the ichthyolite bed of
Gamrie—Fixing a poor rhyme.
On the beach; searching for the ichthyolite beds; an act of
gratuitous cruelty—The fishing village of Gardenstone; a drunk and a
sumptuous dinner;—To Macduff by night, in a tempest—The lady in green, a
ghost story—Dr Emslie of Banff, "an intelligent geologist"—The fossils of
Banffshire—The Blackpots tile-clay and its formation.
A walk along the shore—The Burn of Boyne and its valley—Unriddling
the history of graphic granite—Portsoy marble, a "pretty
stone"—Elizabeth Bond of Portsoy—To Fochabers
on a stormy day—An old pensioner, a sheep's head and trotters, and a case
of mistaken identity—The learnèd
coach-guard; by coach to Elgin—The geologic formations of Banffshire,
"like Joseph's coat of many colours."
Northward from the Forth, the changing geology—The Weald at
Linksfield—The 'evolution' of fish, "from the fantastic and the
complex to the simple and the plain"—Fossilized fish scales; speculations
regarding 'pore-covered' fish; "adaptation of means to an end"—Protection;
"the flutes and fillets of Cromwell's helmet"—The puzzle of
partly-armoured fish; a theory of 'burrowing'—The Elgin Museum—By coach to
Campbelton—The Moray Frith and its curious "detrital
promontories"; the arch-wizard theory.
Rosemarkie and its boulder clay—The Keas' Craig, a breeding
place for the daw and the sand-martin—The excavations of the valley of
Rosamarkie, scenes of "strange and ghostly wildness"—To Cromarty, and
among old familiar faces—The boulder-clay and a scenic peculiarity, the
Giants' Graves—Samuel's Well—Ravines that cut the escarpment of the
ancient coast line from top to base—The quarry; memories of "the evils of
hard labour"—Exploring a deep ravine of boulder-clay; rocks that bear
scratched and polished surfaces.
A puzzle - boulder-clay devoid of definite contemporary
organic matter—The question of the shell fragments found at Wick and
Thurso, and a forgotten discovery—The "iceberg theory" of the crushed
shells—Dating the boulder-clays to the "existing geological
epoch"—Speculating on the crushing action of ancient icebergs—Some
corroborating evidence from the Isle of Man—Problems in defining the
history of boulders—The story of the miller's cottage, the meteor, and the
The beds of washed out ravines; evidence of iceberg
action—The cause of the red clay—The ferruginous pavement of the
boulder-clay, the cause of "soil doomed to barrenness"—Relics of an
ancient Pictish battlefield fought on a barren moor, mottled by "huge
pebbles"—Exploring along the Burn of Killein; a good speciman of
Coccosteus decipiens—A Statistical Account of the
Parish of Avoch—Towards Strathpeffer; the changing hue of the
boulder-clay—The Great Conglomerate—The beauty of the River Auldgrande—Granitic
gneiss of a pale flesh-colour, streaked with black, "the most remarkable
stone on the lands of Balnagown"—Where occur the boulder-stones of the
region—The mute boulders of Cromarty; the huge boulder called
The geological history of the
Clach Malloch—Earthquakes, introduced "to bring authors out of
difficulties"—The Celtic myth of the boulder beside the Auldgrande—A
meeting with "an extremely old woman, cadaverously pale and miserable
looking"—Buchubai Hormazdji, a little Parsi girl—On
to Dingwall; the old solitary burying-ground beside the Conon;
longevity—Half an hour with an old acquaintance.
The Great Conglomerate; the Brahan district—A
traditionary story—The banks of Loch Ousy—The summit of
Knock Farril; soil condition—The puzzle of the "vitrified forts"; several
unconvincing theories; a possibility; examining the vitrified materials—A
visit to the spa at Strathpeffer; the passage of spa
water through rock saturated with the organic matter—Possible medicinal
uses of rock—The view from Knock Farril summit, all "gloomy and chill"—A
nightmare at Evanton—The ruins of Craighouse; the arrival of tea
accounting for the disappearance of ghosts and fairies.
By coach to Wick—An introduction to Mr Bremner, a wreck
raiser of distinction; a discussion on the building of harbour walls—The
passage to Orkney—Kirkwall, and a view over the Town—Fossil hunting
in a quarry; a new species, Coccosteus minor?—The
antiquities of Kirkwall; Saint Magnus Cathedral; the mansion of old Earl
Patrick; the Bishop's Palace.
The last Norwegian invader; the Icelandic Sagas and
the death of Haco—The lack of Christian influence upon Norse
aggression—Orcadian features; the ethnic distribution of Northern
Scotland—An evening with an antiquary; some "curious old papers"
concerning Mary Queen of Scots, General Monck, Rev. Alexander Smith of
Colvine, and Jacobitism—The fossils of the quarry of Pickoquoy—To
Stromness; views of Orkney from the mail-gig—The Orkney poet, John
Stromness; seeking fossils about the Great Conglomerate—An
Asterolepis uncovered of remarkable size—The anatomy of the
Asterolepis—Dipterians, Acanthodians and Cephalaspides,
ranged in three-storied order—The extraction of medicinal iodine—A
coastline fatal to the mariner—Distinguishing between
Dipterians—A walk to see a 'stack'; the attrition of the
surf upon "the iron-bound coast"; the Orkney precipices.
Fossils well preserved within a brittle jet—more examples
of the "three-storied order"—The Coccostei—A
shipwreck; the story of 'Johnstone's Cave'—The story of the ruined country
residence of the bishops of Orkney—Sandstones of subaerial formation—The
Loch and Standing Stones of Stennis—The story of Jarl Einar, who carved
the back of Halfdan the Long-legged into a red eagle.
The communal ownership of land; the accumulation of landed
property in the hands of a few—Harray, a land-locked parish, the
stronghold of many ancient customs and superstitions—The "gay meadows"
towards Birdsay—A link between degradation and hardship, and
reproduction—Orkney, a land of defunct fishes"—Similarity between the
teeth of the Dipterus and the Striped Wrasse—The
dearth of fossilized vegetable matter on Orkney—A voyage to Hoy; the story
of the 'unsociable fisherman'.
The island of Hoy—The enormous Dwarfie Stone, the work of
an ugly, malignant goblin, the Elfin Trolld—Sheltering from a storm;
recalling an interview with Trolld; contributing to the graffiti—The
carbuncle of the Ward Hill—A striking profile of Sir Walter Scott; the
models for two of Sir Walter's characters—A model for Byron's 'The
Island'—A German visitor—Some fossil specimens—Return to Wick, with
pleasing recollections of an interesting country and a hospitable
people—"To Orkney", a poem by David Vedder, the sailor-poet of Orkney.