Rambles of a Geologist (1)

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SUPPLEMENTARY.


IT is told of the "Spectator," on his own high authority, that having "read the controversies of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, he made a voyage to Grand Cairo on purpose to take the measure of a pyramid, and that, so soon as he had set himself right in that particular, he returned to his native country with great satisfaction."  My love of knowledge has not carried me altogether so far, chiefly, I daresay, because my voyaging opportunities have not been quite so great.  Ever since my ramble of last year, however, I have felt, I am afraid, a not less interest in the geologic antiquities of Small Isles than that cherished by the "Spectator" with respect to the comparatively modern antiquities of Egypt; and as, in a late journey to these islands, the object of my visit involved but a single point, nearly as insulated as the dimensions of a pyramid, I think I cannot do better than shelter myself under the authority of the short-faced gentleman who wrote articles in the reign of Queen Anne.  I had found in Eigg, in considerable abundance and fine keeping, reptile remains of the Oolite; but they had occurred in merely rolled masses, scattered along the beach.  I had not discovered the bed in which they had been originally deposited, and could neither tell its place in the system, nor its relation to the other rocks of the island.  The discovery was but a half-discovery,—the half of a broken medal, with the date on the missing portion.  And so, immediately after the rising of the General Assembly in June last [1845], I set out to revisit Small Isles, accompanied by my friend Mr Swanson, with the determination of acquainting myself with the burial place of the old Oolitic reptiles, if it lay anywhere open to the light.

    We found the Betsey riding in the anchoring ground at Isle Ornsay, in her foul-weather dishabille, with her topmast struck and in the yard, and her cordage and sides exhibiting in their weathered aspect the influence of the bleaching rains and winds of the previous winter.  She was at once in an undress and getting old, and, as seen from the shore through rain and spray,—for the weather was coarse and boisterous,—she had apparently gained as little in her good looks from either circumstance as most other ladies do.  We lay stormbound for three days at Isle Ornsay, watching from the window of Mr Swanson's dwelling the incessant showers sweeping down the loch.  On the morning of Saturday, the gale, though still blowing right ahead, had moderated; the minister was anxious to visit this island charge, after his absence of several weeks from them at the Assembly; and I, more than half afraid that my term of furlough might expire ere I had reached my proposed scene of exploration, was as anxious as he; and so we both resolved, come what might, on doggedly beating our way adown the Sound of Sleat to Small Isles.  If the wind does not fail us, said my friend, we have little more than a day's work before us, and shall get into Eigg about midnight.  We had but one of our seamen aboard, for John Stewart was engaged with his potato crop at home; but the minister was content, in the emergency, to rank his passenger as an able-bodied seaman; and so, hoisting sail and anchor, we got under way, and, clearing the loch, struck out into the Sound.

    We tacked in long reaches for several hours, now opening up in succession the deep withdrawing lochs of the mainland, now clearing promontory after promontory in the island district of Sleat.  In a few hours we had left a bulky schooner, that had quitted Isle Ornsay at the same time, full five miles behind us; but as the sun began to decline, the wind began to sink; and about seven o'clock, when we were nearly abreast of the rocky point of Sleat, and about half-way advanced in our voyage, it had died into a calm; and for full twenty hours thereafter there was no more sailing for the Betsey.  We saw the sun set, and the clouds gather, and the pelting rain come down, and night fall, and morning break, and the noon-tide hour pass by, and still were we floating idly in the calm.  I employed the few hours of the Saturday evening that intervened between the time of our arrest and nightfall, in fishing from our little boat for medusæ with a bucket.  They had risen by myriads from the bottom as the wind fell, and were mottling the green depths of the water below and around far as the eye could reach.  Among the commoner kinds,—the kind with the four purple rings on the area of its flat bell, which ever vibrates without sound, and the kind with the fringe of dingy brown, and the long stinging tails, of which I have sometimes borne from my swimming excursions the nettle-like smart for hours,—there were at least two species of more unusual occurrence, both of them very minute.  The one, scarcely larger than a shilling, bore the common umbiliferous form, but had its area inscribed by a pretty orange-coloured wheel; the other, still more minute, and which presented in the water the appearance of a small hazel-nut of a brownish-yellow hue, I was disposed to set down as a species of beroe.  On getting one caught, however, and transferred to a bowl, I found that the brownish-coloured, melon-shaped mass, though ribbed like the beroe, did not represent the true outline of the animal: it formed merely the centre of a transparent gelatinous bell, which, though scarce visible in even the bowl, proved a most efficient instrument of motion.  Such were its contractile powers, that its sides nearly closed at every stroke, behind the opaque orbicular centre, like the legs of a vigorous swimmer; and the animal, unlike its more bulky congeners,—that, despite of their slow but persevering flappings, seemed greatly at the mercy of the tide, and progressed all one way,—shot, as it willed, backwards, forwards, or athwart.  As the evening closed, and the depths beneath presented a dingier and yet dingier green, until at length all had become black, the distinctive colours of the acelpha,—the purple, the orange, and the brown,—faded and disappeared, and the creatures hung out, instead, their pale phosphoric lights, like the lanthorns of a fleet hoisted high to prevent collision in the darkness.  Now they gleamed dim and indistinct as they drifted undisturbed through the upper depths, and now they flamed out bright and green, like beaten torches, as the tide dashed them against the vessel's sides.  I bethought me of the gorgeous description of Coleridge, and felt all its beauty:—


They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
    Fell off in hoary flakes.
Within the shadow of the ship
    I watched their rich attire,—
Blue, glassy green, and velvet black:
They curled, and swam, and every track
    Was a flash of golden fire.


    A crew of three, when there are watches to set, divides wofully ill.  As there was, however, nothing to do in the calm, we decided that our first watch should consist of our single seaman, and the second of the minister and his friend.  The clouds, which had been thickening for hours, now broke in torrents of rain, and old Alister got into his water-proof oil-skin and souwester, and we into our beds.  The seams of the Betsey's deck had opened so sadly during the past winter, as to be no longer water-tight, and the little cabin resounded drearily in the darkness, like some dropping cave, to the ceaseless patter of the leakage.  We continued to sleep, however, somewhat longer than we ought,—for Alister had been unwilling to waken the minister; but we at length got up, and, relieving watch the first from the tedium of being rained upon and doing nothing, watch the second was set to do nothing and be rained upon in turn.  We had drifted during the night-time on a kindly tide, considerably nearer our island, which we could now see looming blue and indistinct through the haze some seven or eight miles away.  The rain ceased a little before nine, and the clouds rose, revealing the surrounding lands, island and main,—Rum, with its abrupt mountain-peaks,—the dark Cuchullins of Skye,—and, far to the south-east, where Inverness bounds on Argyllshire, some of the tallest hills in Scotland,—among the rest, the dimly-seen Ben-Nevis.  But long wreaths of pale gray cloud lay lazily under their summits, like shrouds half drawn from off the features of the dead, to be again spread over them, and we concluded that the dry weather had not yet come.  A little before noon we were surrounded for miles by an immense but thinly-spread shoal of porpoises, passing in pairs to the south, to prosecute, on their own behalf, the herring fishing in Lochfine or the Gareloch; and for a full hour the whole sea, otherwise so silent, became vocal with long-breathed blowings, as if all the steam-tenders of all the railways in Britain were careering around, us; and we could see slender jets of spray rising in the air on every side, and glossy black backs and pointed fins, that looked as if they had been fashioned out of Kilkenny marble, wheeling heavily along the surface.  The clouds again began to close as the shoal passed, but we could now hear in the stillness the measured sound of oars, drawn vigorously against the gunwale in the direction of the island of Eigg, still about five miles distant, though the boat from which they rose had not yet come in sight.  "Some of my poor people," said the minister, "coming to tug us ashore!"  We were boarded in rather more than half an hour after,—for the sounds in the dead calm had preceded the boat by miles,—by four active young men, who seemed wonderfully glad to see their pastor; and then, amid the thickening showers, which had recommenced heavy as during the night, they set themselves to tow us unto the harbour.  The poor fellows had a long and fatiguing pull, and were thoroughly drenched ere, about six o'clock in the evening, we had got up to our anchoring ground, and moored, as usual, in the open tide-way between Eilan Chasteil and the main island.  There was still time enough for an evening discourse, and the minister, getting out of his damp clothes, went ashore and preached.

    The evening of Sunday closed in fog and rain, and in fog and rain the morning of Monday arose.  The ceaseless patter made dull music on deck and skylight above, and the slower drip, drip, through the leaky beams, drearily beat time within.  The roof of my bed was luckily water-tight; and I could look out from my snuggery of blankets on the desolations of the leakage, like Bacon's philosopher surveying a tempest from the shore.  But the minister was somewhat less fortunate, and had no little trouble in diverting an ill-conditioned drop that had made a dead set at his pillow.  I was now a full week from Edinburgh, and had seen and done nothing; and, were another week to pass after the same manner,—as, for aught that appeared, might well happen,—I might just go home again, as I had come, with my labour for my pains.  In the course of the afternoon, however, the weather unexpectedly cleared up, and we set out somewhat impatiently through the wet grass, to visit a cave a few hundred yards to the west of Naomh Fraing, in which it had been said the Protestants of the island might meet for the purposes of religious worship, were they to be ejected from the cottage erected by Mr Swanson, in which they had worshipped hitherto.  We re-examined, in the passing, the pitch-stone dike mentioned in a former chapter, and the charnel cave of Francis; but I found nothing to add to my former descriptions, and little to modify, save that perhaps the cave appeared less dark, in at least the outer half of its area, than it had seemed to me in the former year, when examined by torchlight, and that the straggling twilight, as it fell on the ropy sides, green with moss and mould, and on the damp bone-strewn floor, overmantled with a still darker crust, like that of a stagnant pool, seemed also to wear its tint of melancholy greenness, as if transmitted through a depth of seawater.  The cavern we had come to examine we found to be a noble arched opening in a dingy-coloured precipice of augitic trap,—a cave roomy and lofty as the nave of a cathedral, and ever resounding to the dash of the sea; but though it could have amply accommodated a congregation of at least five hundred, we found the way far too long and difficult for at least the weak and the elderly, and in some places inaccessible at full flood ; and so we at once decided against the accommodation which it offered. But its shelter will, I trust, scarce be needed.

    On our return to the Betsey, we passed through a straggling group of cottages on the hill-side, one of which, the most dilapidated and smallest of the number, the minister entered, to visit a poor old woman, who had been bed-ridden for ten years.  Scarce ever before had I seen so miserable a hovel.  It was hardly larger than the cabin of the Betsey, and a thousand times less comfortable.  The walls and roof, formed of damp grass-grown turf, with a few layers of unconnected stone in the basement tiers, seemed to constitute one continuous hillock, sloping upwards from foundation to ridge, like one of the lesser moraines of Agassiz, save where the fabric here and there bellied outwards or inwards, in perilous dilapidation, that seemed but awaiting the first breeze.  The low chinky door opened direct into the one wretched apartment of the hovel, which we found lighted chiefly by holes in the roof.  The back of the sick woman's bed was so placed at the edge of the opening, that it had formed at one time a sort of partition to the portion of the apartment, some five or six feet square, which contained the fire-place; but the boarding that had rendered it such had long since fallen away, and it now presented merely a naked rickety frame to the current of cold air from without.  Within a foot of the bed-ridden woman's head there was a hole in the turf-wall, which was, we saw, usually stuffed with a bundle of rags, but which lay open as we entered, and which furnished a downward peep of sea and shore, and the rocky Eilan Chasteil, with the minister's yacht riding in the channel hard by.  The little hole in the wall had formed the poor creature's only communication with the face of the external world for ten weary years.  She lay under a dingy coverlet, which, whatever its original hue, had come to differ nothing in colour from the graveyard earth, which must so soon better supply its place.  What perhaps first struck the eye was the strange flatness of the bed-clothes, considering that a human body lay below: there seemed scarce bulk enough under them for a human skeleton.  The light of the opening fell on the corpse-like features of the woman, —sallow, sharp, bearing at once the stamp of disease and of famine; and yet it was evident, notwithstanding, that they had once been agreeable,—not unlike those of her daughter, a good-looking girl of eighteen, who, when we entered, was sitting beside the fire.  Neither mother nor daughter had any English; but it was not difficult to determine, from the welcome with which the minister was greeted from the sick-bed, feeble as the tones were, that he was no unfrequent visitor.  He prayed beside the poor creature, and, on coming away, slipped something into her hand.  I learned that not during the ten years in which she had been bed-ridden had she received a single farthing from the proprietor, nor, indeed, had any of the poor of the island, and that the parish had no session-funds.  I saw her husband a few days after,—an old worn-out man, with famine written legibly in his hollow cheek and eye, and on the shrivelled frame, that seemed lost in his tattered dress; and he reiterated the same sad story.  They had no means of living, he said, save through the charity of their poor neighbours, who had so little to spare; for the parish or the proprietor had never given them anything.  He had once, he added, two fine boys, both sailors, who had helped them; but the one had perished in a storm off the Mull of Cantyre, and the other had died of fever when on a West India voyage; and though their poor girl was very dutiful, and staid in their crazy hut to take care of them in their helpless old age, what other could she do in a place like Eigg than just share with them their sufferings?  It has been recently decided by the British Parliament, that in cases of this kind the starving poor shall not be permitted to enter the law courts of the country, there to sue for a pittance to support life, until an intermediate newly-erected court, alien to the Constitution, before which they must plead at their own expense, shall have first given them permission to prosecute their claims.  And I doubt not that many of the English gentlemen whose votes swelled the majority, and made it such, are really humane men, friendly to an equal-handed justice, and who hold it to be the peculiar glory of the Constitution, as well shown by De Lolme, that it has not one statute-book for the poor, and another for the rich, but the same law and the same administration of law for all.  They surely could not have seen that the principle of their Poor Law Act for Scotland sets the pauper beyond the pale of the Constitution in the first instance, that he may be starved in the second.  The suffering paupers of this miserable island cottage would have all their wants fully satisfied in the grave, long ere they could establish at their own expense, at Edinburgh, their claim to enter a court of law.  I know not a fitter case for the interposition of our lately formed "Scottish Association for the Protection of the Poor" than that of this miserable family; and it is but one of many which the island of Eigg will be found to furnish.

    After a week's weary waiting, settled weather came at last; and the morning of Tuesday rose bright and fair.  My friend, whose absence at the General Assembly had accumulated a considerable amount of ministerial labour on his hands, had to employ the day professionally; and as John Stewart was still engaged with his potato crop, I was necessitated to sally out on my first geological excursion alone.  In passing vessel-wards, on the previous year, from the Ru Stoir to the farmhouse of Keill, along the escarpment under the cliffs, I had examined the shores somewhat too cursorily during the one half of my journey, and the closing evening had prevented me from exploring them during the other half at all; and I now set myself leisurely to retrace the way backwards from the farm-house to the Stoir.  I descended to the bottom of the cliffs, along the pathway which runs between Keill and the solitary midway shieling formerly described, and found that the basaltic columns over head, which had seemed so picturesque in the twilight, lost none of their beauty when viewed by day.  They occur in forms the most beautiful and fantastic; here grouped beside some blind opening in the precipice, like pillars cut round the opening of a tomb, on some rock-front in Petræa; there running in long colonnades, or rising into tall porticoes; yonder radiating in straight lines from some common centre, resembling huge pieces of fan-work, or bending out in bold curves over some shaded chasm, like rows of crooked oaks projecting from the steep sides of some dark ravine.  The various beds of which the cliffs are composed, as courses of ashlar compose a wall, are of very different degrees of solidity: some are of hard porphyritic or basaltic trap; some of soft Oolitic sandstone or shale.  Where the columns rest on a soft stratum, their foundations have in many places given way, and whole porticoes and colonnades hang perilously forward in tottering ruin, separated from the living rock behind by deep chasms.  I saw one of these chasms, some five or six feet in width, and many yards in length, that descended to a depth which the eye could not penetrate; and another partially filled up with earth and stones, through which, along a dark opening not much larger than a chimney-vent, the boys of the island find a long descending passage to the foot of the precipice, and emerge into light on the edge of the grassy talus half-way down the hill.  It reminded me of the tunnel in the rock through which Imlac opened up a way of escape to Rasselas from the happy valley,—the "subterranean passage," begun "where the summit hung over the middle part," and that "issued out behind the prominence."

Avicula

Mytilus


    From the commencement of the range of cliffs, on half-way to the shieling, I found the shore so thickly covered up by masses of trap, the debris of the precipices above, that I could scarce determine the nature of the bottom on which they rested.  I now, however, reached a part of the beach where the Oolitic beds are laid bare in thin party-coloured strata, and at once found something to engage me.  Organisms in vast abundance, chiefly shells and fragmentary portions of fishes, lie closely packed in their folds.  One limestone bed, occurring in a dark shale, seems almost entirely composed of a species of small oyster; and some two or three other thin beds, of what appears to be either a species of small Mytilus or Avicula, mixed up with a few shells resembling large Paludina, and a few more of the gaper family, so closely resembling existing species, that John Stewart and Alister at once challenged them as smurslin, the Hebridean name for a well-known shell in these parts,—the Mya truncata.  The remains of fishes,—chiefly Ganoid scales and the teeth of Placoids,—lie scattered among the shells in amazing abundance.  On the surface of a single fragment, about nine inches by five, which I detached from one of the beds, and which now lies before me, I reckon no fewer than twenty-five teeth, and twenty-two on the area of another.  They are of very various forms,—some of them squat and round, like ill-formed small shot,—others spiky and sharp, not unlike flooring nails,—some straight as needles, some bent like the beak of a hawk, some, like the palatal teeth of the Acrodus of the Lias, resemble small leeches; some, bearing a series of points ranged on a common base, like masts on the hull of a vessel, the tallest in the centre, belong to the genus Hybodus.  There is a palpable approximation in the teeth of the leech-like form to the teeth with the numerous points.  Some of the specimens show the same plicated structure common to both; and on some of the leech backs, if I may so speak, there are protuberant knobs, that indicate the places of the spiky points on the hybodent teeth.  I have got three of each kind slit up by Mr George Sanderson, and the internal structure appears to be the same.  A dense body of bone is traversed by what seem innumerable roots, resembling those of woody shrubs laid bare along the sides of some forest stream.  Each internal opening sends off on every side its myriads of close-laid filaments; and nowhere do they lie so thickly as in the line of the enamel, forming, from the regularity with which they are arranged, a sort of framing to the whole section. It is probable that the Hybodus,—a genus of shark which became extinct some time about the beginning of the chalk,—united, like the shark of Port Jackson, a crushing apparatus of palatal teeth to its lines of cutting ones.  Among the other remains of these beds I found a dense fragment of bone, apparently reptilian, and a curious dermal plate punctulated with thickset depressions, bounded on one side by a smooth band, and altogether closely resembling some saddler's thimble that had been cut open and straightened.

    Following the beds downwards along the beach, I found that one of the lowest which the tide permitted me to examine,—a bed coloured with a tinge of red,—was formed of a denser limestone than any of the others, and composed chiefly of vast numbers of small univalves resembling Neritæ.  It was in exactly such a rock I had found, in the previous year, the reptile remains; and I now set myself with no little eagerness to examine it.  One of the first pieces I tore up contained a well-preserved Plesiosaurian vertebra; a second contained a vertebra and a rib; and, shortly after, I disinterred a large portion of a pelvis.  I had at length found, beyond doubt, the reptile remains in situ.  The bed in which they occur is laid bare here for several hundred feet along the beach, jutting out at a low angle among boulders and gravel, and the reptile remains we find embedded chiefly in its under side.  It lies low in the Oolite.  All the stratified rocks of the island, with the exception of a small Liasic patch, belong to the Lower Oolite, and the reptile-bed occurs deep in the base of the system,—low in its relation to the nether division, in which it is included.  I found it nowhere rising to the level of high-water mark.  It forms one of the foundation tiers of the island, which, as the latter rises over the sea in some places to the height of about fourteen hundred feet, its upper peaks and ridges must overlie the bones, making allowance for the dip, to the depth of at least sixteen hundred.  Even at the close of the Oolitic period this sepulchral stratum must have been a profoundly ancient one.  In working it out, I found two fine specimens of fish jaws, still retaining their ranges of teeth,—ichtbyodorulites,—occipital plates of various forms, either reptile or ichthyic,—Ganoid scales, of nearly the same varieties of pattern as those in the Weald of Morayshire,—and the vertebræ and ribs, with the digital, pelvic, and limb-bones, of saurians.  It is not unworthy of remark, that in none of the beds of this deposit did I find any of the more characteristic shells of the system,—Ammonites, Belemnites, Gryphites, or Nautili.

    I explored the shores of the island on to the Ru Stoir, and thence to the Bay of Laig; but though I found detached masses of the reptile bed occurring in abundance, indicating that its place lay not far beyond the fall of ebb, in no other locality save the one described did I find it laid bare.  I spent some time beside the Bay of Laig in re-examining the musical sand, in the hope of determining the peculiarities on which its sonorous qualities depended.  But I examined and cross-examined it in vain.  I merely succeeded in ascertaining, in addition to my previous observations, that the loudest sounds are elicited by drawing the hand slowly through the incoherent mass, in a segment of a circle, at the full stretch of the arm, and that the vibrations which produce them communicate a peculiar titillating sensation to the hand or foot by which they are elicited, extending in the foot to the knee, and in the hand to the elbow.  When we pass the wet finger along the edge of an ale-glass partially filled with water, we see the vibrations thickly wrinkling the surface: the undulations which, communicated to the air, produce sound, render themselves, when communicated to the water, visible to the eye; and the titillating feeling seems but a modification of the same phenomenon acting on the nerves and fluids of the leg or arm.  It appears to be produced by the wrinklings of the vibrations, if I may so speak, passing along sentient channels.  The sounds will ultimately be found dependent, I am of opinion, though I cannot yet explain the principle, on the purely quartzose character of the sand, and the friction of the incoherent upper strata against under strata coherent and damp.  I remained ten days in the island, and went over all my former ground, but succeeded in making no further discoveries.

    On the morning of Wednesday, June 25th, we set sail for Isle Ornsay, with a smart breeze from the north-west.  The lower and upper sky was tolerably clear, and the sun looked cheerily down on the deep blue of the sea; but along the higher ridges of the land there lay long level strata of what the meteorologists distinguish as parasitic clouds.  When every other patch of vapour in the landscape was in motion, scudding shorewards from the Atlantic before the still-increasing gale, there rested along both the Scuir of Eigg and the tall opposite ridge of the island, and along the steep peaks of Rum, clouds that seemed as if anchored, each on its own mountain-summit, and over which the gale failed to exert any propelling power.  They were stationary in the middle of the rushing current, when all else was speeding before it.  It has been shown that these parasitic clouds are mere local condensations of strata of damp air passing along the mountain summits, and rendered visible but to the extent in which the summits affect the temperature.  Instead of being stationary, they are ever-forming and ever-dissipating cloud,—clouds that form a few yards in advance of the condensing hill, and that dissipate a few yards after they have quitted it.  I had nothing to do on deck, for we had been joined at Eigg by John Stewart; and so, after watching the appearance of the stationary clouds for some little time, I went below, and, throwing myself into the minister's large chair, took up a book.  The gale meanwhile freshened, and freshened yet more; and the Betsey leaned over till her lee chain-plate lay along in the water.  There was the usual combination of sounds beneath and around me,—the mixture of guggle, clunk, and splash,—of low, continuous rush, and bluff, loud blow, which forms in such circumstances the voyager's concert.  I soon became aware, however, of yet another species of sound, which I did not like half so well,—a sound as of the washing of a shallow current over a rough surface; and, on the minister coming below, I asked him, tolerably well prepared for his answer, what it might mean.  "It means," he said, "that we have sprung a leak, and a rather bad one; but we are only some six or eight miles from the Point of Sleat, and must soon catch the land."  He returned on deck, and I resumed my book.  Presently, however, the rush became greatly louder; some other weak patch in the Betsey's upper works had given way, and anon the water came washing up from the lee side along the edge of the cabin floor.  I got upon deck to see how matters stood with us; and the minister, easing off the vessel for a few points, gave instant orders to shorten sail, in the hope of getting her upper works out of the water, and then to unship the companion ladder, beneath which a hatch communicated with the low strip of hold under the cabin, and to bring aft the pails.  We lowered our foresail; furled up the mainsail half-mast high; John Stewart took his station at the pump; old Alister and I, furnished with pails, took ours, the one at the foot, the other at the head, of the companion, to hand up and throw over; a young girl, a passenger from Eigg to the mainland, lent her assistance, and got wofully drenched in the work; while the minister, retaining his station at the helm, steered right on.  But the gale had so increased, that, notwithstanding our diminished breadth of sail, the Betsey, straining hard in the rough sea, still lay in to the gunwale; and the water, pouring in through a hundred opening chinks in her upper works, rose, despite of our exertions, high over plank, and beam, and cabin floor, and went dashing against beds and lockers.  She was evidently filling, and bade fair to terminate all her voyagings by a short trip to the bottom.  Old Alister, a seaman of thirty years' standing, whose station at the bottom of the cabin stairs enabled him to see how fast the water was gaining on the Betsey, but not how the Betsey was gaining on the land, was by no means the least anxious among us.  Twenty years previous he had seen a vessel go down in exactly similar circumstances, and in nearly the same place; and the reminiscence, in the circumstances, seemed rather an uncomfortable one.  It had been a bad evening, he said, and the vessel he sailed in, and a sloop, her companion, were pressing hard to gain the land.  The sloop had sprung a leak, and was straining, as if for life and death, under a press of canvass.  He saw her outsail the vessel to which he belonged, but, when a few bow-shots a-head, she gave a sudden lurch, and disappeared from the surface instantaneously, as a vanishing spectre, and neither sloop nor crew were ever more heard of.

    There are, I am convinced, few deaths less painful than some of those untimely and violent ones at which we are most disposed to shudder.  We wrought so hard at pail and pump,—the occasion, too, was one of so much excitement, and tended so thoroughly to awaken our energies,—that I was conscious, during the whole time, of an exhilaration of spirits rather pleasurable than otherwise.  My fancy was active, and active, strange as the fact may seem, chiefly with ludicrous objects.  Sailors tell regarding the flying Dutchman, that he was a hard-headed captain of Amsterdam, who, in a bad night and head wind, when all the other vessels of his fleet were falling back on the port they had recently quitted, obstinately swore that, rather than follow their example, he would keep beating about till the day of judgment.  And the Dutch captain, says the story, was just taken at his word, and is beating about still.  When matters were at the worst with us, we got under the lee of the point of Sleat.  The promontory interposed between us and the roll of the sea; the wind gradually took off; and after having seen the water gaining fast and steadily on us for considerably more than an hour, we, in turn, began to gain on the water.  It came ebbing out of drawers and beds, and sunk downwards along pannels and table-legs,—a second retiring deluge; and we entered Isle Ornsay with the cabin-floor all visible, and less than two feet water in the hold.  On the following morning, taking leave of my friend the minister, I set off, on my return homewards, by the Skye steamer, and reached Edinburgh on the evening of Saturday.



END OF THE CRUISE OF THE BETSEY

_____________________________


 

RAMBLES OF A GEOLOGIST;

OR,

TEN THOUSAND MILES OVER THE FOSSILIFEROUS
DEPOSITS OF SCOTLAND. [1]


CHAPTER I.


FROM circumstances that in no way call for explanation, my usual exploratory ramble was thrown this year (1847) from the middle of July into the middle of September; and I embarked at Granton for the north just as the night began to count hour against hour with the day.  The weather was fine, and the voyage pleasant.  I saw by the way, however, at least one melancholy memorial of a hurricane which had swept the eastern coasts of the island about a fortnight before, and filled the provincial newspapers with paragraphs of disaster.  Nearly opposite where the Red Head lifts its mural front of Old Red Sandstone a hundred yards over the beach, the steamer passed a foundered vessel, lying about a mile and a half off the land, with but her topmast and the point of her peak over the surface.  Her vane, still at the mast-head, was drooping in the calm; and its shadow, with that of the fresh-coloured spar to which it was attached, white atop and yellow beneath, formed a well-defined undulatory strip on the water, that seemed as if ever in the process of being rolled up, and yet still retained its length unshortened.  Every recession of the swell showed a patch of mainsail attached to the peak: the sail had been hoisted to its full stretch when the vessel went down.  And thus, though no one survived to tell the story of her disaster, enough remained to show that she had sprung a leak when straining in the gale, and that, when staggering under a press of canvass towards the still distant shore, where, by stranding her, the crew had hoped to save at least their lives, she had disappeared with a sudden lurch, and all aboard had perished.  I remembered having read, among other memorabilia of the hurricane, without greatly thinking of the matter, that "a large sloop had foundered off the Red Head, name unknown."  But the minute portion of the wreck which I saw rising over the surface, to certify, like some frail memorial in a churchyard, that the dead lay beneath, had an eloquence in it which the words wanted, and at once sent the imagination back to deal with the stern realities of the disaster, and the feelings abroad to expatiate over saddened hearths and melancholy homesteads, where for many a long day the hapless perished would be missed and mourned, but where the true story of their fate, though too surely guessed at, would never be known.

    The harvest had been early; and on to the village of Stonehaven, and a mile or two beyond, where the fossiliferous deposits end and the primary begin, the country presented from the deck only a wide expanse of stubble.  Every farm-steading we passed had its piled stack-yard; and the fields were bare.  But the line of demarcation between the Old Red Sandstone and the granitic districts formed also a separating line between an earlier and later harvest; the fields of the less kindly subsoil derived from the primary rocks were, I could see, still speckled with sheaves; and, where the land lay high, or the exposure was unfavourable, there were reapers at work.  All along in the course of my journey northward from Aberdeen I continued to find the country covered with shocks, and labourers employed among them; until, crossing the Spey I entered on the fossiliferous districts of Moray; and then, as in the south, the champaign again showed a bare breadth of stubble, with here and there a ploughman engaged in turning it down.  The traveller bids farewell at Stonehaven to not only the Old Red Sandstone and the early-harvest districts, but also to the rich wheat-lands of the country, and does not again fairly enter upon them until, after travelling nearly a hundred miles, he passes from Banffshire into the province of Moray.  He leaves behind him at the same line the wheat-fields and the cottages built of red stone, to find only barley and oats, and here and there a plot of rye, associated with cottages of granite and gneiss, hyperstene and mica schist; but on crossing the Spey, the red cottages re-appear, and fields of rich wheat-land spread out around them, as in the south.  The circumstance is not unworthy the notice of the geologist.  It is but a tedious process through which the minute lichen, settling on a surface of naked stone, forms in the course of ages a soil for plants of greater bulk and a higher order; and had Scotland been left to the exclusive operation of this slow agent, it would be still a rocky desert, with perhaps here and there a strip of alluvial meadow by the side of a stream, and here and there an insulated patch of rich soil among the hollows of the crags.  It might possess a few gardens for the spade, but no fields for the plough.  We owe our arable land to that comparatively modern geologic agent, whatever its character, that crushed, as in a mill, the upper parts of the surface-rocks of the kingdom, and then overlaid them with their own debris and rubbish to the depth of from one to forty yards.  This debris, existing in one locality as a boulder-clay more or less finely comminuted, in another as a grossly pounded gravel, forms, with few exceptions, that subsoil of the country on which the existing vegetation first found root; and, being composed mainly of the formations on which it more immediately rests, it partakes of their character, bearing a comparatively lean and hungry aspect over the primary rocks, and a greatly more fertile one over those deposits in which the organic matters of earlier creations lie diffused.  Saxon industry has done much for the primary districts of Aberdeen and Banff-shires, though it has failed to neutralize altogether the effects of causes which date as early as the times of the Old Red Sandstone; but in the Highlands, which belong almost exclusively to the non-fossiliferous formations, and which were, on at least the western coasts, but imperfectly subjected to that grinding process to which we owe our sub-soils, the poor Celt has permitted the consequences of the original difference to exhibit themselves in full.  If we except the islands of the Inner Hebrides, the famine of 1846 was restricted in Scotland to the primary districts.

    I made it my first business, on landing in Aberdeen, to wait on my friend Mr Longmuir, that I might compare with him a few geological notes, and benefit by his knowledge of the surrounding country.  I was, however, unlucky enough to find that he had gone, a few days before, on a journey, from which he had not yet returned; but, through the kindness of Mrs Longmuir, to whom I took the liberty of introducing myself, I was made free of his stone-room, and held half an hour's conversation with his Scotch fossils of the Chalk.  These had been found, as the readers of the Witness must remember from his interesting paper on the subject, on the hill of Dudwick, in the neighbourhood of Ellon, and were chiefly impressions—some of them of singular distinctness and beauty—in yellow flint.  I saw among them several specimens of the Inoceramus, a thin-shelled, ponderously-hinged conchifer, characteristic of the Cretaceous group, but which has no living representative; with numerous flints, traversed by rough-edged, bifurcated hollows, in which branched sponges had once lain; a well-preserved Pecten; the impressions of spines of Echini of at least two distinct species; and the nicely-marked impression of part of a Cidaris, with the balls on which the sockets of the club-like spines had been fitted existing in the print as spherical moulds, in which shot might be cast, and with the central ligamentary depression, which in the actual fossil exists but as a minute cavity, projecting into the centre of each hollow sphere, like the wooden fusee into the centre of a bomb-shell.  This latter cast, fine and sharp as that of a medal taken in sulphur, seems sufficient of itself to establish two distinct points: in the first place, that the siliceous matter of which the flint is composed, though now so hard and rigid, must, in its original condition, have been as impressible as wax softened to receive the stamp of the seal; and, in the next, that though it was thus yielding in its character, it could not have greatly shrunk in the process of hardening.  I looked with no little interest on these remains of a Scotch formation now so entirely broken up, that, like those ruined cities of the East which exist but as mere lines of wrought material barring the face of the desert, there has not "been left one stone of it upon another;" but of which the fragments, though widely scattered, bear imprinted upon them, like the stamped bricks of Babylon, the story of its original condition, and a record of its founders.  All Mr Longmuir's Cretaceous fossils from the hill of Dudwick are of flint,—a substance not easily ground down by the denuding agencies.

    I found several other curious fossils in Mr Longmuir's collection.  Greatly more interesting, however, than any of the specimens which it contains, is the general fact, that it should be the collection of a Free Church minister, sedulously attentive to the proper duties of his office, but who has yet found time enough to render himself an accomplished geologist; and whose week-day lectures on the science attract crowds, who receive from them, in many instances, their first knowledge of the strange revolutions of which our globe has been the subject, blent with the teachings of a wholesome theology.  The present age, above all that has gone before, is peculiarly the age of physical science; and of all the physical sciences, not excepting astronomy itself, geology, though it be a fact worthy of notice, that not one of our truly accomplished geologists is an infidel, is the science of which infidelity has most largely availed itself.  And as the theologian in a metaphysical age,—when scepticism, conforming to the character of the time, disseminated its doctrines in the form of nicely abstract speculations,—had, in order that the enemy might be met in his own field, to become a skilful metaphysician, he must now, in like manner, address himself to the tangibilities of natural history and geology, if he would avoid the danger and disgrace of having his flank turned by every sciolist in these walks whom he may chance to encounter. It is those identical bastions and outworks that are now attacked, which must be now defended; not those which were attacked some eighty or a hundred years ago.  And as he who succeeds in first mixing up fresh and curious truths, either with the objections by which religion is assailed or the arguments by which it is defended, imparts to his cause all the interest which naturally attaches to these truths, and leaves to his opponent, who passes over them after him as at second hand, a subject divested of the fire-edge of novelty, I can deem Mr Longmuir well and not unprofessionally employed, in connecting with a sound creed the picturesque marvels of one of the most popular of the sciences, and by this means introducing them to his people, linked, from the first, with right associations.  According to the old fiction, the look of the basilisk did not kill unless the creature saw before it was seen;—its mere return glance was harmless: and there is a class of thoroughly dangerous writers who in this respect resemble the basilisk.  It is perilous to give them a first look of the public.  They are formidable simply as the earliest popularizers of some interesting science, or the first promulgators of some class of curious little-known facts, with which they mix up their special contributions of error,—often the only portion of their writings that really belongs to themselves.  Nor is it at all so easy to counteract as to confute them.  A masterly confutation of the part of their works truly their own may, from its subject, be a very unreadable book: it can have but the insinuated poison to deal with, unmixed with the palatable pabulum in which the poison has been conveyed; and mere treatises on poisons, whether moral or medical, are rarely works of a very delectable order.  It seems to be on this principle that there exists no confutation of the "Constitution of Man" in which the ordinary reader finds amusement enough to carry him through; whereas the work itself, full of curious miscellaneous information, is eminently readable; and that the "Vestiges of Creation,"—a treatise as entertaining as the "Arabian Nights,"—bids fair, not from the amount of error which it contains, but from the amount of fresh and interestingly-told truth with which the error is mingled, to live and do mischief when the various solidly-scientific replies which it has called forth are laid upon the shelf.  Both the "Constitution" and the "Vestiges" had the advantage, so essential to the basilisk, of taking the first glance of the public on their respective subjects; whereas their confutators have been able to render them back but mere return glances.  The only efficiently counteractive mode of looking down the danger, in cases of this kind, is the mode adopted by Mr Longmuir.

    There was a smart frost next morning; and, for the first few hours, my seat on the top of the Banff coach, by which I travelled across the country to where the Gamrie and Banff roads part company, was considerably more cool than agreeable.  But the keen morning improved into a brilliant day, with an atmosphere transparent as if there had been no atmosphere at all, through which the distant objects looked out; sharp of outline, and in as well-defined light and shadow, as if they had occupied the background, not of a Scotch, but of an Italian landscape.  A few speck-like sails, far away on the intensely blue sea, which opened upon us in a stretch of many leagues, as we surmounted the moory ridge over Macduff, gleamed to the sun with a radiance bright as that of the sparks of a furnace blown to a white heat.  The land, uneven of surface, and open, and abutting in bold promontories on the frith, still bore the sunny hue of harvest, and seemed as if stippled over with shocks from the ridgy hill summits, to where ranges of giddy cliffs flung their shadows across the beach.  I struck off for Gamrie by a path that runs eastward, nearly parallel to the shore,—which at one or two points it overlooks from dark-coloured cliffs of grauwacke slate,—to the fishing village of Gardenstone.  My dress was the usual fatigue suit of russet, in which I find I can work amid the soil of ravines and quarries with not only the best effect, but with even the least possible sacrifice of appearance: the shabbiest of all suits is a good suit spoiled.  My hammer-shaft projected from my pocket; a knapsack, with a few changes of linen, slung suspended from my shoulders; a strong cotton umbrella occupied my better band; and a gray maud, buckled shepherd-fashion aslant the chest, completed my equipment.  There were few travellers on the road, which forked off on the hill-side a short mile away, into two branches, like a huge letter Y, leaving me uncertain which branch to choose; and I made up my mind to have the point settled by a woman of middle age, marked by a hard, manly countenance, who was coming up towards me, bound apparently for the Banff or Macduff market, and stooping under a load of dairy produce.  She too, apparently, had her purpose to serve or point to settle; for as we met, she was the first to stand; and, sharply scanning my appearance and aspect at a glance, she abruptly addressed me.  "Honest man," she said, "do you see yon house wi' the chimla?"  "That house with the farm-steadings and stacks beside it?" I replied.  "Yes."  "Then I'd be obleeged if ye wald just stap in as ye'r gaing east the gate, and tell our folk that the stirk has gat fra her tether, an' 'ill brak on the wat clover.  Tell them to sen' for her that minute."  I undertook the commission; and, passing the endangered stirk, that seemed luxuriating, undisturbed by any presentiment of impending peril, amid the rich swathe of a late clover crop, still damp with the dews of the morning frost, I tapped at the door of the farm-house, and delivered my message to a young good-looking girl, in nearly the words of the woman: "The gudewife bade me tell them," I said, "to send that instant for the stirk, for she had gat fra her tether, and would brak on the wat clover."  The girl blushed just a very little, and thanked me; and then, after obliging me, in turn, by laying down for me my proper route,—for I had left the question of the forked road to be determined at the farm-house,—she set off at high speed, to rescue the unconscious stirk.  A walk of rather less than two hours brought me abreast of the Bay of Gamrie,—a picturesque indentation of the coast, in the formation of which the agency of the old denuding forces, operating on deposits of unequal solidity, may be distinctly traced.  The surrounding country is composed chiefly of Silurian schists, in which there is deeply inlaid a detached strip of mouldering Old Red Sandstone, considerably more than twenty miles in length, and that varies from two to three miles in breadth.  It seems to have been let down into the more ancient formation,—like the keystone of a bridge into the ringstones of the arch when the work is in the act of being completed,—during some of those terrible convulsions which cracked and rent the earth's crust, as if it had been an earthen pipkin brought to a red heat and then plunged into cold water.  Its consequent occurrence in a lower tier of the geological edifice than that to which it originally belonged has saved it from the great denudation which has swept from the surface of the surrounding country the tier composed of its contemporary beds and strata, and laid bare the grauwacke on which this upper tier rested.  But where it presents its narrow end to the sea, as the older houses in our more ancient Scottish villages present their gables to the street, the waves of the German Ocean, by incessantly charging against it, propelled by the tempests of the stormy north, have hollowed it into the Bay of Gamrie, and left the more solid grauwacke standing out in bold promontories on either side, as the headlands of Gamrie and Troup.

    In passing downwards on the fishing village of Gardenstone, mainly in the hope of procuring a guide to the ichthyolite beds, I saw a labourer at work with a pick-axe, in a little craggy ravine, about a hundred yards to the left of the path, and two gentlemen standing beside him.  I paused for a moment, to ascertain whether the latter were not brother workers in the geologic field.  "Hilloa!—here,"—shouted out the stouter of the two gentlemen, as if, by some clairvoyant faculty, he had dived into my secret thought; "come here."  I went down into the ravine, and found the labourer engaged in disinterring ichthyolitic nodules out of a bed of gray stratified clay, identical in its composition with that of the Cromarty fish-beds; and a heap of freshly-broken nodules, speckled with the organic remains of the Lower Old Red Sandstone,—chiefly occipital plates and scales,—lay beside him.  "Know you aught of these? said the stouter gentleman, pointing to the heap.  "A little," I replied; "but your specimens are none of the finest.  Here, however, is a dorsal plate of Coccosteus; and here a scattered group of scales of Osteolepis; and here the occipital plates of Cheirolepis Cummingiœ; and here the spine of the anterior dorsal of Diplacanthus Striatus."  My reading of the fossils was at once recognised, like the mystic sign of the freemason, as establishing for me a place among the geologic brotherhood; and the stout gentleman producing a spirit-flask and a glass, I pledged him and his companion in a bumper.  "Was I not sure?" he said, addressing his friend: "I knew by the cut of his jib, notwithstanding his shepherd's plaid, that he was a wanderer of the scientific cast."  We discussed the peculiarities of the deposit, which, in its mineralogical character, and generically in that of its organic contents, resembles, I found, the fish-beds of Cromarty (though, curiously enough, the intervening contemporary deposits of Moray and the western parts of Banffshire differ widely, in at least their chemistry, from both); and we were right good friends ere we parted.  To men who travel for amusement, incident is incident, however trivial in itself, and always worth something.  I showed the younger of the two geologists my mode of breaking open an ichthyolitic nodule, so as to secure the best possible section of the fish.  "Ah," he said, as he marked a style of handling the hammer which, save for the fifteen years' previous practice of the operative mason, would be perhaps less complete,—"Ah, you must have broken open a great many."  His own knowledge of the formation and its ichthyolites had been chiefly derived, he added, from a certain little treatise on the "Old Red Sandstone," rather popular than scientific, which he named.  I of course claimed no acquaintance with the work; and the conversation went on.  The ill luck of my new friends, who had been toiling among the nodules for hours without finding an ichthyolite worth transferring to their bag, showed me that, without excavating more deeply than my time allowed, I had no chance of finding good specimens.  But, well content to have ascertained that the ichthyolite bed of Gamrie is identical in its Composition, and, generically at least, in its organisms, with the beds with which I was best acquainted, I rose to come away.  The object which I next proposed to myself was, to determine whether, as at Eathie and Cromarty, the fossils here appear not only on the hill-side, but also crop out along the shore.  On taking leave, however, of the geologists, I was reminded by the younger of what I might have otherwise forgotten,—a raised beach in the immediate neighbourhood (first described by Mr Prestwich, in his paper on the Gamrie ichthyolites), which contains shells of the existing species at a higher level than elsewhere,—so far as is yet known,—on the east coast of Scotland.  And, kindly conducting me till he had brought me full within view of it, we parted.  The ichthyolites which I had just been laying open occur on the verge of that Strathbogie district in which the Church controversy raged so hot and high; and by a common enough trick of the associative faculty, they now recalled to my mind a stanza which memory had somehow caught when the battle was at the fiercest.  It formed part of a satiric address, published in an Aberdeen newspaper, to the not very respectable non-intrusionists who had smoked tobacco and drank whisky in the parish church at Culsalmond, on the day of a certain forced settlement there, specially recorded by the clerks of the Justiciary Court.


Tobacco and whisky cost siller,
    And meal is but scanty at hame;
But gang to the stace-mason M——r,
    Wi' Old Red Sandstone fish he'll fill your wame.


Rather a dislocated line that last, I thought, and too much in the style in which Zachary Boyd sings "Pharaoh and the Pascal."  And as it is wrong to leave the beast of even an enemy in the ditch, however long its ears, I must just try and set it on its legs.  Would it not run better thus?


"Tobacco and whisky cost siller,
 An' meal is but scanty at hame;
 But gang to the stane-mason M——r,"
 He'll pang wi' ichth'ólites your wame,—
 Wi' fish! ! as Agassiz has ca'd'em,
 In Greek, like themsel's, hard an' odd,
 That were baked in stane pies afore Adam
 Gaed names to the haddocks and cod.


Bad enough as rhyme, I suspect; but conclusive as evidence to prove that the animal spirits, under the influence of the bracing walk, the fine day, and the agreeable rencounter at the fish-beds,—not forgetting the half-gill bumper,—had mounted very considerably above their ordinary level at the editorial desk.

    The raised beach may be found on the slopes of a grass-covered eminence, once the site of an ancient hill-fort, and which still exhibits, along the rim-like edge of the flat area atop, scattered fragments of the vitrified walls.  A general covering of turf restricted my examination of the shells to one point, where a landslip on a small scale had laid the deposit bare; but I at least saw enough to convince me that the debris of the shell-fish used of old as food by the garrison had not been mistaken for the remains of a raised beach,—a mistake which in other localities has occurred, I have reason to believe, oftener than once.  The shells, some of them exceedingly minute, and not of edible species, occur in layers in a siliceous stratified sand, overlaid by a bed of bluish-coloured silt.  I picked out of the sand two entire specimens of a full-grown Fusus, little more than half an inch in length, —the Fusus turricola; and the greater number of the fragments that lay bleaching at the foot of the broken slope in a state of chalky friability, seemed to be fragments of those smaller bivalves, belonging to the genera Donax, Venus, and Mactra, that are so common on flat sandy shores.  But when the sea washed over these shells, they could have been the denizens of at least no flat shore.  The descent on which they occur sinks downwards to the existing beach, over which, it is elevated at this point two hundred and thirty feet, at an angle with the horizon of from thirty-five to forty degrees.  Were the land to be now submerged to where they appear on the hill-side, the bay of Gamrie, as abrupt in its slopes as the upper part of Loch Lomond or the sides of Loch Ness, would possess a depth of forty fathoms water at little more than a hundred yards from the shore.  I may add, that I could trace at this height no marks of such a continuous terrace around the sides of the bay as the waves would have infallibly excavated in the diluvium, had the sea stood at a level so high, or, according to the more prevalent view, had the land stood at a level so low, for any considerable time; though the green banks which sweep around the upper part of the inflection, unscarred by the defacing plough, would scarce have failed to retain some mark of where the surges had broken, had the surges been long there.  Whatever may in this special case be the fact, however, I cannot doubt that in the comparatively modern period of the boulder clays, Scotland lay buried under water to a depth at least five times as great as the space between this ancient sea-beach and the existing tide-line.


 
CHAPTER II.


I LINGERED on the hill-side considerably longer than I ought; and then, hurrying downwards to the beach, passed eastwards under a range of abrupt, mouldering precipices of red sandstone, to the village.  From the lie of the strata, which, instead of inclining coastwise, dip towards the interior of the country, and present in the descent seawards the outcrop of lower and yet lower deposits of the formation, I found it would be in vain to look for the ichthyolite beds along the shore.  They may possibly be found, however, though I lacked time to ascertain the fact, along the sides of a deep ravine, which occurs near an old ecclesiastical edifice of gray stone, perched, nest-like, half-way up the bank, on a green hummock that overlooks the sea.  The rocks, laid bare by the tide, belong to the bed of coarse-grained red sandstone, varying from eighty to a hundred and fifty feet in thickness, which lies between the lower fish-bed and the great conglomerate, and which, in not a few of its strata, passes itself into a species of conglomerate, different only from that which it overlies, in being more finely comminuted.  The continuity of this bed, like that of the deposit on which it rests, is very remarkable.  I have found it occurring at many various points, over an area at least ten thousand square miles in extent, and bearing always the same well-marked character of a more thoroughly ground-down conglomerate than the great conglomerate on which it reposes.  The underlying bed is composed of broken fragments of the rocks below, crushed, as if by some imperfect rudimentary process, like that which in a mill merely breaks the grain; whereas, in the bed above, a portion of the previously-crushed materials seems to have been subjected to some further attritive process, like that through which, in the mill, the broken grain is ground down into meal or flour.

    As I passed onwards, I saw, amid a heap of drift-weed stranded high on the beach by the previous tide, a defunct father-lasher, with the two defensive spines which project from its opercles stuck fast into little cubes of cork, that had floated its head above water, as the tyro-swimmer floats himself upon bladders; and my previous acquaintance with the habits of a fishing village enabled me at once to determine why and how it had perished.  Though almost never used as food on the eastern coast of Scotland, it had been inconsiderate enough to take the fisherman's bait, as if it had been worthy of being eaten; and he had avenged himself for the trouble it had cost him, by mounting it on cork, and sending it off, to wander between wind and water, like the Flying Dutchman, until it died.  Was there ever on earth a creature save man that could have played a fellow-mortal a trick at once so ingeniously and gratuitously cruel?  Or what would be the proper inference, were I to find one of the many-thorned ichthyolites of the Lower Old Red Sandstone with the spines of its pectorals similarly fixed on cubes of lignite?—that there had existed in these early ages not merely physical death, but also moral evil; and that the being who perpetrated the evil could not only inflict it simply for the sake of the pleasure he found in it, and without prospect of advantage to himself, but also by so adroitly reversing, fiend-like, the purposes of the benevolent Designer, that the weapons given for the defence of a poor harmless creature should be converted into the instruments of its destruction.  It was not without meaning that it was forbidden by the law of Moses to seethe a kid in its mother's milk.

    A steep bulwark in front, against which the tide lashes twice every twenty-four hours,—an abrupt hill behind,—a few rows of squalid cottages built of red sandstone, much wasted by the keen sea-winds,—a wilderness of dunghills and ruinous pig-sties,—women seated at the doors, employed in baiting lines or mending nets,—groups of men lounging lazily at some gable-end fronting the sea,—herds of ragged children playing in the lanes,—such are the components of the fishing village of Gardenstone.  From the identity of name, I had associated the place with that Lord Gardenstone of the Court of Session who published, late in the last century, a volume of "Miscellanies in Prose and Verse," containing, among other clever things, a series of tart criticisms on English plays, transcribed, it was stated in the preface, from the margins and fly-leaves of the books of a "small library kept open by his Lordship" for the amusement of travellers at the inn of some village in his immediate neighbourhood; and taking it for granted, somehow, that Gardenstone was the village, I was looking around me for the inn, in the hope that where his Lordship had opened a library I might find a dinner.  But failing to discern it, I addressed myself on the subject to an elderly man in a pack-sheet apron, who stood all alone, looking out upon the sea, like Napoleon; in the print, from a projection of the bulwark.  He turned round, and showed, by an unmistakeable expression of eye and feature, that he was what the servant girl in "Guy Mannering" characterizes as "very particularly drunk,"—not stupidly, but happily, funnily, conceitedly drunk, and full of all manner of high thoughts of himself.  "It'll be an awfu' coorse nicht," he said, "fra the sea."  "Very likely," I replied, reiterating my query in a form that indicated some little confidence of receiving the needed information; " I daresay you could point me out the public-house here?"  "Aweel I wat, that I can; but what's that?" pointing to the straps of my knapsack; "are ye a sodger on the Queen's account, or ye'r ain?"  "On my own, to be sure; but have ye a public-house here?"  "Ay, twa; ye'll be a traveller?"  "O yes, great traveller, and very hungry: have I passed the best public house?"  "Ay; and ye'll hae come a gude stap the day?"  A woman came up, with spectacles on nose, and a piece of white seam-work in her hand; and, cutting short the dialogue by addressing myself to her, she at once directed me to the public-house.  "Hoot, gudewife," I heard the man say, as I turned down the street, "we suld ha'e gotten mair oot o' him.  He's a great traveller yon, an' has a gude Scots tongue in his head."

    Travellers, save when, during the herring season, an occasional fish-curer comes the way, rarely bait at the Gardenstone inn; and in the little low-browed room, with its windows in the thatch, into which, as her best, the landlady ushered me, I certainly found nothing to identify the locale with that chosen by the literary lawyer for his open library.  But, according to Ferguson, though "learning was scant, provision was good;" and I dined sumptuously on an immense platter of fried flounders.  There was a little bit of cold pork added to the fare; but, aware from previous experience of the pisciverous habits of the swine of a fishing village, I did what I knew the defunct pig must have very frequently done before me,—satisfied a keenly-whetted appetite on fish exclusively.  I need hardly remind the reader that Lord Gardenstone's inn was not that of Gardenstone, but that of Laurencekirk,—the thriving village which it was the special ambition of this law-lord of the last century to create; and which, did it produce only its famed snuff boxes, with the invisible hinges would be rather a more valuable boon to the country than that secured to it by those law-lords of our own days, who at one fell blow disestablished the national religion of Scotland, and broke off the only handle by which their friends the politicians could hope to manage the country's old vigorous Presbyterianism.  Meanwhile it was becoming apparent that the man with the apron had as shrewdly anticipated the character of the coming night as if he had been soberer.  The sun, ere its setting, disappeared in a thick leaden haze, which enveloped the whole heavens; and twilight seemed posting on to night a full hour before its time.  I settled a very moderate bill, and set off under the cliffs at a round pace, in the hope of scaling the hill, and gaining the high road atop which leads to Macduff, ere the darkness closed.  I had, however, miscalculated my distance; I, besides, lost some little time in the opening of the deep ravine to which I have already referred as that in which possibly the fish-beds may be found cropping out; and I had got but a little beyond the gray ecclesiastical ruin, with its lonely burying-ground, when the tempest broke and the night fell.

    One of the last objects which I saw, as I turned to take a farewell look of the bay of Gamrie, was the magnificent promontory of Troup Head, outlined in black on a ground of deep gray, with its two terminal stacks standing apart in the sea.  And straightway, through one of those tricks of association so powerful in raising, as if from the dead, buried memories of things of which the mind has been oblivious for years, there started up in recollection the details of an ancient ghost-story, of which I had not thought before for perhaps a quarter of a century.  It had been touched, I suppose, in its obscure, unnoted corner, as Ithuriel touched the toad, by the apparition of the insulated stacks of Troup, seen dimly in the thickening twilight over the solitary burying-ground.  For it so chances that one of the main incidents of the story bears reference to an insulated sea-stack; and it is connected altogether, though I cannot fix its special locality, with this part of the coast.  The story had been long in my mother's family, into which it had been originally brought by a great-grandfather of the writer, who quitted some of the seaport villages of Banffshire for the northern side of the Moray Frith, about the year 1718; and, when pushing on in the darkness, straining, as I best could, to maintain a sorely-tried umbrella against the capricious struggles of the tempest, that now tatooed furiously upon its back as if it were a kettle-drum, and now got underneath its stout ribs, and threatened to send it up aloft like a balloon, and anon twisted it from side to side, and strove to turn it inside out like a Kilmarnock nightcap,—I employed myself in arranging in my mind the details of the narrative, as they had been communicated to me half an age before by a female relative.

    The opening of the story, though it existed long ere the times of Sir Walter Scott or the Waverley novels, bears some resemblance to the opening, in the "Monastery," of the story of the White Lady of Avenel.  The wife of a Banffshire proprietor of the minor class had been about six months dead, when one of her husband's ploughmen, returning on horseback from the smithy, in the twilight of an autumn evening, was accosted, on the banks of a small stream, by a stranger lady, tall and slim, and wholly attired in green, with her face wrapped up in the hood of her mantle, who requested to be taken up behind him on the horse, and carried across.  There was something in the tones of her voice that seemed to thrill through his very bones, and to insinuate itself, in the form of a chill fluid, between his skull and the scalp.  The request, too, appeared a strange one; for the rivulet was small and low, and could present no serious bar to the progress of the most timid traveller.  But the man, unwilling ungallantly to offend a lady, turned his horse to the bank, and she sprang up lightly behind him.  She was, however, a personage that could be better seen than felt: she came in contact with the ploughman's back, he said, as if she had been an ill-filled sack of wool; and when, on reaching the opposite side of the streamlet, she leaped down as lightly as she had mounted, and he turned fearfully round to catch a second glimpse of her, it was in the conviction that she was a creature considerably less earthly in her texture than himself.  She had opened, with two pale, thin arms, the enveloping hood, exhibiting a face equally pale and thin, which seemed marked, however, by the roguish, half-humorous expression of one who had just succeeded in playing off a good joke.  "My dead mistress! !" exclaimed the ploughman.  "Yes, John, your mistress," replied the ghost.  "But ride home, my bonny man, for it's growing late: you and I will be better acquainted ere long."  John accordingly rode home, and told his story.

    Next evening, about the same hour, as two of the laird's servant-maids were engaged in washing in an out-house, there came a slight tap to the door.  "Come in," said one of the maids; and the lady entered, dressed, as on the previous night, in green.  She swept past them to the inner part of the washing-room; and, seating herself on a low bench, from which, ere her death, she used occasionally to superintend their employment, she began to question them, as if still in the body, about the progress of their work.  The girls, however, were greatly too frightened to make any reply.  She then visited an old woman who had nursed the laird, and to whom she used to show, ere her departure, greatly more kindness than her husband.  And she now seemed as much interested in her welfare as ever.  She inquired whether the laird was kind to her; and, looking round her little smoky cottage, regretted she should be so indifferently lodged, and that her cupboard, which was rather of the emptiest at the time, should not be more amply furnished.  For nearly a twelvemonth after, scarce a day passed in which she was not seen by some of the domestics; never, however, except on one occasion, after the sun had risen, or before it had set.  The maids could see her in the gray of the morning flitting like a shadow round their beds, or peering in upon them at night through the dark window-panes, or at half-open doors.  In the evening she would glide into the kitchen or some of the out-houses,—one of the most familiar and least dignified of her class that ever held intercourse with mankind,—and inquire of the girls how they had been employed during the day; often, however, without obtaining an answer, though from a cause different from that which had at first tied their tongues.  For they had become so regardless of her presence, viewing her simply as a troublesome mistress, who had no longer any claim to be heeded, that when she entered, and they had dropped their conversation, under the impression that their visitor was a creature of flesh and blood like themselves, they would again resume it, remarking that the entrant was "only the green lady."  Though always cadaverously pale, and miserable looking, she affected a joyous disposition, and was frequently heard to laugh, even when invisible.  At one time, when provoked by the studied silence of a servant girl, she flung a pillow at her head, which the girl caught up and returned; at another, she presented her first acquaintance, the ploughman, with what seemed to be a handful of silver coin, which he transferred to his pocket, but which, on hearing her laugh, he drew out, and found to be merely a handful of slate shivers.  On yet another occasion, the man, when passing on horseback through a clump of wood, was repeatedly struck from behind the trees by little pellets of turf; and, on riding into the thicket, he found that his assailant was the green lady.  To her husband she never appeared; but he frequently heard the tones of her voice echoing from the lower apartments, and the faint peal of her cold, unnatural laugh.

    One day at noon, a year after her first appearance, the old nurse was surprised to see her enter the cottage; as all her previous visits had been made early in the morning or late in the evening; whereas now,—though the day was dark and lowering, and a storm of wind and rain had just broken out,—still it was day.  "Mammie," she said, "I cannot open the heart of the laird, and I have nothing of my own to give you; but I think I can do something for you now.  Go straight to the White House [that of a neighbouring proprietor], and tell the folk there to set out with all the speed of man and horse for the black rock in the sea, at the foot of the crags, or they'll rue it dearly to their dying day.  Their bairns, foolish things, have gone out to the rock, and the tide has flowed round them; and, if no help reach them soon, they'll be all scattered like sea-ware on the shore ere the fall of the sea.  But if you go and tell your story at the White House, mammie, the bairns will be safe for an hour to come, and there will be something done by their mother to better you, for the news."  The woman went, as directed, and told her story; and the father of the children set out on horseback in hot haste for the rock,—a low, insulated skerry, which, lying on a solitary part of the beach, far below the line of flood, was shut out from the view of the inhabited country by a wall of precipices, and covered every tide by several feet of water.  On reaching the edge of the cliffs, he saw the black rock, as the woman had described, surrounded by the sea, and the children clinging to its higher crags.  But, though the waves were fast rising, his attempts to ride out through the surf to the poor little things were frustrated by their cries, which so frightened his horse as to render it unmanageable; and so he had to gallop on to the nearest fishing village for a boat.  So much time was unavoidably lost in consequence, that nearly the whole beach was covered by the sea, and the surf had begun to lash the feet of the precipices behind, but until the boat arrived, not a single wave dashed over the black rock; though immediately after the last of the children had been rescued, an immense wreath of foam rose twice a man's height over its topmost pinnacle.

    The old nurse, on her return to the cottage, found the green lady sitting beside the fire.  "Mammie," she said, "you have made friends to yourself to-day, who will be kinder to you than your foster-son.  I must now leave you.  My time is out, and you'll be all left to yourselves; but I'll have no rest, mammie, for many a twelvemonth to come.  Ten years ago, a travelling pedlar broke into our garden in the fruit season, and I sent out our old ploughman, who is now in Ireland, to drive him away.  It was on a Sunday, and every body else was in church.  The men struggled and fought, and the pedlar was killed.  But though I at first thought of bringing the case before the laird, when I saw the dead man's pack, with its silks and its velvets, and this unhappy piece of green satin (shaking her dress), my foolish heart beguiled me, and I bade the ploughman bury the pedlar's body under our ash tree, in the corner of our garden, and we divided his goods and money between us.  You must bid the laird raise his bones, and carry them to the churchyard; and the gold, which you will find in the little bowl under the tapestry in my room, must be sent to a poor old widow, the pedlar's mother, who lives on the shore of Leith.  I must now away to Ireland to the ploughman; and I'll be e'en less welcome to him, mammie, than at the laird's; but the hungry blood cries loud against us both,—him and me,—and we must suffer together.  Take care you look not after me till I have passed the knowe."  She glided away, as she spoke, in a gleam of light; and when the old woman had withdrawn her hand from her eyes, dazzled by the sudden brightness, she saw only a large black grayhound crossing the moor.  And the green lady was never afterwards seen in Scotland.  The little hoard of gold pieces, however, stored in a concealed recess of her former apartment, and the mouldering remains of the pedlar under the ash tree, gave evidence to the truth of her narrative.  The story was hardly wild enough for a night so drear and a road so lonely; its ghost-heroine was but a homely ghost-heroine, too little aware that the same familiarity which, according to the proverb, breeds contempt when exercised by the denizens of this world, produces similar effects when too much indulged in by the inhabitants of another.  But the arrangement and restoration of the details of the tradition,—for they had been scattered in my mind like the fragments of a broken fossil,—furnished me with so much amusement, when struggling with the storm, as to shorten by at least one-half the seven miles which intervene between Gamrie and Macduff.  Instead, however, of pressing on to Ban; as I had at first intended, I baited for the night at a snug little inn in the latter village, which I reached just wet enough to enjoy the luxury of a strong clear fire of Newcastle coal.

    Mrs Longmuir had furnished me with a note of introduction to Dr Emslie of Banff, an intelligent geologist, familiar with the deposits of the district; and, walking on to his place of residence next morning, in a rain as heavy as that of the previous night, I made it my first business to wait on him, and deliver the note.  Ere, however, crossing the Deveron, which flows between Banff and Macduff, I paused for a few minutes in the rain, to mark the peculiar appearance presented by the beach where the river disembogues into the frith.  Occurring as a rectangular spit in the line of the shore, with the expanded stream widening into an estuary on its upper side, and the open sea on the lower, it marks the scene of an obstinate contest between antagonist forces,—the powerful sweep of the torrent, and the not less powerful waves of the stormy north-east; and exists, in consequence, as a long gravelly prism, which presents as steep an angle of descent to the waves on the one side as to the current on the other.  It is a true river bar, beaten in from its proper place in the sea, by the violence of the surf, and fairly stranded.  Dr Emslie obligingly submitted to my inspection his set of Gamrie fossils, containing several good specimens of Pterichthys and Coccosteus, undistinguishable, like those I had seen on the previous day, in their state of keeping, and the character of the nodular matrices in which they lie, from my old acquaintance the Cephalaspians of Cromarty.  The animal matter which the bony plates and scales originally contained has been converted, in both the Gamrie and Cromarty ichthyolites, into a jet-black bitumen; and in both, the inclosing nodules consist of a smoke-coloured argillaceous limestone, which formed around the organisms in a bed of stratified clay, and at once exhibits, in consequence, the rectilinear lines of the stratification, mechanical in their origin, and the radiating ones of the sub-crystalline concretion, purely a trick of the chemistry of the deposit.  A Pterichthys in Dr Emslie's collection struck me as different in its proportions from any I had previously seen, though, from its state of rather imperfect preservation, I hesitated to pronounce absolutely upon the fact.  I cannot now doubt, however, that it belonged to a species not figured nor described at the time; but which, under the name Pterichthys quadratus, forms in part the subject of a still unpublished memoir, in which Sir Philip Egerton, our first British authority on fossil fish, has done me the honour to associate my humble name with his own; and which will have the effect of reducing to the ranks of the Pterichthyan genus the supposed genera Pamphractus and Homothorax.  A second set of fossils, which Dr Emslie had derived from his tile-works at Blackpots, proved, I found, identical with those of the Eathie Lias.  As this Banffshire deposit had formed a subject of considerable discussion and difference among geologists, I was curious to examine it; and the Doctor, though the day was still none of the best, kindly walked out with me, to bring under my notice appearances which, in the haste of a first examination, I might possibly overlook, and to show me yet another set of fossils which he kept at the works.  He informed me, as we went, that the Grauwacke (Lower Silurian) deposits of the district, hitherto deemed so barren, had recently yielded their organisms in a slate quarry at Gamriehead; and that they belong to that ancient family of the Pennatularia which, in this northern kingdom, seems to have taken precedence of all the others.  Judging from what now appears, the Graptolite must be regarded as the first settler who squatted for a living in that deep-sea area of undefined boundary occupied at the present time by the bold wave-worn headlands and blue hills of Scotland; and this new Banffshire locality not only greatly extends the range of the fossil in reference to the kingdom, but also establishes, in a general way, the fossiliferous identity of the Lower Silurian deposits to the north of the Grampians with that of Peebles-shire and Galloway in the south,—so far as I know, the only other two Scottish districts in which this organism has been found.

    The argillaceous deposit of Blackpots occupies, in the form of a green swelling bank, a promontory rather soft than bold in its contour, that projects far into the sea, and forms, when tipped with its slim column of smoke from the tile-kiln, a pleasing feature in the landscape.  I had set it down on the previous day, when it first caught my eye from the lofty cliffs of Gamrie-head, at the distance of some ten or twelve miles, as different in character from all the other features of the prospect.  The country generally is moulded on a framework of primary rock, and presents headlands of hard, sharp outline, to the attrition of the waves; whereas this single headland in the midst,—soft-lined, undulatory, and plump,—seems suited to remind one of Burns' young Kirk Alloway beauty disporting amid the thin old ladies that joined with her in the dance. And it is a greatly younger beauty than the Cambrian and mica-schist protuberances that encroach on the sea on either side of it.  The sheds and kilns of a tile-work occupy the flat terminal point of the promontory; and as the clay is valuable, in this tile-draining age, for the facility with which it can be moulded into pipe-tiles (a purpose which the ordinary clays of the north of Scotland, composed chiefly of re-formations of the Old Red Sandstone, are what is technically termed too short to serve), it is gradually retreating inland before the persevering spade and mattock of the labourer.  The deposit has already been drawn out into many hundred miles of cylindrical pipes, and is destined to be drawn out into many thousands more,—such being one of the strange metamorphoses effected in the geologic formations, now that that curious animal the Bimana has come upon the stage; and at length it will have no existence in the country, save as an immense system of veins and arteries underlying the vegetable mould.  Will these veins and arteries, I marvel, form, in their turn, the fossils of another period, when a higher platform than that into which they have been laid will be occupied to the full by plants and animals specifically different from those of the present scene of things,—the existences of a happier and more finished creation?  My business to-day, however, was with the fossils which the deposit now contains,—not with those which it may ultimately form.

    The Blackpots clay is of a dark-bluish or greenish-gray colour, and so adhesive, that I now felt, when walking among it, after the softening rains of the previous night and morning, as if I had got into a bed of bird-lime.  It is thinly charged with rolled pebbles, septaria, and pieces of a bituminous shale, containing broken Belemnites, and sorely-flattened Ammonites, that exist as thin films of a white chalky lime.  The pebbles, like those of the boulder-clay of the northern side of the Moray Frith, are chiefly of the primary rocks and older sandstones, and were probably in the neighbourhood, in their present rolled form, long ere the re-formation of the inclosing mass; while the shale and the septaria are, as shown by their fossils, decidedly Liasic.  I detected among the conchifers a well-marked species of our northern Lias, figured by Sowerby from Eathie specimens,—the Plagiostoma concentrica; and among the Cephalopoda, though considerably broken, the Belemanite elongatus and Belemnite lanceolata, with the Ammonite Kœnigi (mutabilis),—all Eathie shells.  I, besides, found in the hank a piece of a peculiar-looking quartzose sandstone, traversed by hard jaspedeous veins of a brownish-gray colour, which I have never found, in Scotland at least, save associated with the Lias of our north-eastern coasts.  Further, my attention was directed by Dr Emslie to a fine Lignite in his collection, which had once formed some eighteen inches or two feet of the trunk of a straight slender pine,—probably the Pinites Eiggensis,—in which, as in most woods of the Lias and Oolite, the annual rings are as strongly marked as in the existing firs or larches of our hill-sides. [2]

    The Blackpots deposit is evidently a re-formation of a Liasic patch, identical, both in mineralogical character and in its organic remains, with the lower beds of the Eathie Lias; while the fragments of shale which it contains belong chiefly to an upper Liasic bed.  So rich is the dark-coloured tenacious argil of the Inferior Lias of Eathie, that the geologist who walks over it when it is still moist with the receding tide would do well to look to his footing; the mixture of soap and grease spread by the ship-carpenter on his launch-slips, to facilitate the progress of his vessel seawards, is not more treacherous to the tread: while the Upper Liasic deposit which rests over it is composed of a dark slaty shale, largely charged with bitumen.  And of a Liasic deposit of this compound character, consisting in larger part of an inferior argillaceous bed, and in lesser part of a superior one of dark shale, the tile-clay of Blackpots has been formed.

    I had next to determine whether aught remained to indicate the period of its re-formation.  The tile-works at the point of the promontory rest on a bed of shell-sand, composed exclusively, like the sand so abundant on the western coast of Scotland, of fragments of existing shells.  These, however, are so fresh and firm, that, though the stratum which they form seems to underlie the clay at its edges, I cannot regard them as older than the most modern of our ancient sea-margins.  They formed, in all probability, in the days of the old coast line, a white shelly beach, under such a precipitous front of the dark clay as argillaceous deposits almost always present to the undermining wear of the waves.  On the recession of the sea, however, to its present line, the abrupt, steep front, loosened by the frosts and washed by the rains, would of course gradually moulder down over them into a slope; and there would thus be communicated to the shelly stratum, at least at its edges, an underlying character.  The true period of the re-formation of the deposit was, I can have no doubt, that of the boulder-clay.  I observed that the septaria and larger masses of shale which the bed contains, bear, on roughly-polished surfaces, in the line of their larger axes, the mysterious groovings and scratchings of this period,—marks which I have never yet known to fail in their chronological evidence.  It may be mentioned, too, simply as a fact, though one of less value than the other, that the deposit occurs in its larger development exactly where, in the average, the boulder-clays also are most largely developed,—a little over that line where the waves for so many ages charged against the coast, ere the last upheaval of the land or the recession of the sea sent them back to their present margin.  There had probably existed to the west or north-west of the deposit, perhaps in the middle of the open bay formed by the promontory on which it rests,—for the small proportion of other than Liasic materials which it contains serves to show that it could be derived from no great distance,—an outlier of the Lower Lias.  The icebergs of the cold glacial period, propelled along the submerged land by some arctic current, or caught up by the gulf-stream, gradually grated it down, as a mason's labourer grates down the surface of the sandstone slab which he is engaged in polishing; and the comminuted debris, borne eastwards by the current, was cast down here.  It has been stated that no Liasic remains have been found in the boulder-clays of Scotland.  They are certainly rare in the boulder-clays of the northern shores of the Moray Frith; for there the nearest Lias, bearing in a western direction from the clay, is that of Applecross, on the other side of the island; and the materials of the boulder-deposits of the north have invariably been derived in the line, westerly in its general bearing, of the grooves and scratches of the iceberg era.  But on the southern shore of the frith, where that westerly line passed athwart the Liasic beds of our eastern coast, organisms of the Lias are comparatively common in the boulder-clays; and here, at Blackpots, we find an extensive deposit of the same period formed of Liasic materials almost exclusively.  Fragments of still more modern rocks occur in the boulderclays of Caithness.  My friend Mr Robert Dick of Thurso, to whose persevering labours and interesting discoveries in the Old Red Sandstone of his locality I have had frequent occasion to refer, has detected in a blue boulder-clay, scooped into precipitous banks by the river Thorsa, fragments both of chalk-flints and a characteristic conglomerate of the Oolite.  He has, besides, found it mottled from top to bottom, a full hundred feet over the sea-level, and about two miles inland, with comminuted fragments of existing shells.  But of this more anon.



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NOTES.

 
1.    This second title bears reference to the extent of the author's geologic excursions in Scotland during the nine years from 1840 to 1848 inclusive.
 
2.    Since the above was written, I have seen an interesting paper in "Hogg's Weekly Instructor," in which the Rev. Mr Longmuir of Aberdeen describes a visit to the Lias clay at Blackpots.  Mr Longmuir seems to have given more time to his researches than I found it agreeable, in a very indifferent day, to devote to mine and his list of fossils is considerably longer.  Their evidence, however, runs in exactly the same tract with that of the shorter list.  He had been told at Banff that the clay contained "petrified tangles;" and the first organisms shown him by the workmen, on his arrival at the deposit, were some of the "tangles" in question.  "These," he goes on to say, "we found, as may have already been anticipated, to be pieces of Belemnites, well known on the other side of the Frith as 'thunderbolts,' and esteemed of sovereign efficacy in the cure of bewitched cattle."  Though still wide of the mark, there is here an evident descent from the supernatural to the physical, from the superstitious to the true.  "Satisfied that we had a mass of Lias clay before us, we set vigorously to work, in order either to find additional characteristic fossils, or obtain data on which to form a conjecture as to the history of this out-of-the-way deposit; and our labour was not without its reward.  We shall now present a brief account of the specimens we picked up.  Observing a number of stones of different sizes, that had been thrown out, as they were struck, by the workman's shovel, we immediately commenced, and, like an inquisitor of old, knocked our victims on the head, that they might reveal their secrets; or, like a Roman haruspex, examined their interior,—not, however, to obtain a knowledge of the future, but only to take a peep into the past.  1. Here, then, we take up, not a regular Lias lime nodule, but what appears to have formed part of one; and the first blow has laid open part of a whorl of an Ammonite, which, when complete, must have measured three or four inches in diameter, and it is perfectly assimilated to the calcareous matrix.  2. Here is a mass of indurated clay; and a gentle blow has exposed part of two Ammonites, smaller than the former, but their shells are white and powdery like chalk.  3. Another fragment is laid open; and there, quite unmistakeably, lie the umbo and greater portion of the Plagiostonta concentricum.  4. Another fragment of a granular gritty structure presents a considerable portion of the interior of one of the shells of a Pecten, but whether the attached fragment is part of one of its ears, or of the other valve turned backward, is not so easily determined.  5. Here is a piece of Belemnite in limestone, and the fracture in the fossil presents the usual glistening planes of cleavage.  6. Next we take up a piece of distinctly laminated Lias, with Ammonites as thick as they can lie on the pages of this black book of natural history.  7. Once more we strike, and we have the cast and part of the shell of another bivalve; but the valves have been jerked off each other, and have suffered a severe compound fracture; nevertheless we can have little hesitation in pronouncing it a species of unio.  8. Here is another piece of limestone, with its small fragment of another shell, of very delicate texture, with finely marked traverse striæ.  We are unwilling to decide on such slight evidence, but feel inclined to refer it to some species of Plagiostoma.  9. Here is a piece of pyrites, not quite so large as the fist, and so vegetable-like in its markings, that it might be mistaken for part of a branch of a tree.  This is also characteristic of the Lias; for when the shales are deeply impregnated with bitumen and pyrites, they undergo a slow combustion when heaped up with faggots and set on fire; and in the cliffs of the Yorkshire coast, after rainy weather, they sometimes spontaneously ignite, and continue to burn for several months.  10. As we passed through the works, on our way to the clay, we observed a sort of reservoir, into which the clay, after being freed from its impurities, had been run in a liquid state; the water had evaporated, and the drying clay had cracked in every direction.  Here we find its counterpart in this large mass of stone; only the clay here, mixed with a portion of lime, is petrified, and the fissures filled up with carbonate of lime; thus forming the septaria, or cement-stone.  We have dressed a specimen of it for our guide, who has a friend that will polish it, when the dark Lias will be strikingly contrasted with the white lime, and form rather a pretty piece of natural mosaic.  11. Coming to a simple piece of machinery for removing fragments of shale and stone from the clay, we examined some of the bits so rejected, and found what we had no doubt were fish-scales.  12. We have yet to notice certain long slender bodies, outwardly brown, but inwardly nearly black, resembling whip-cord in size.  Are we to regard these as specimens of a fucus, perhaps the filum, or allied to it, which is known in some places by the appropriate name of sea-laces?  13. Passing on to the office, we were shown a chop of wood that had been found in the clay, and was destined for the Banff Museum.  It is about eighteen inches in length, and half as much in breadth; and, although evidently water-worn, yet we could count between twenty-five and thirty concentric rings on one of its ends, which not only enabled us to form some conjecture of its age previous to its overthrow, but also justified us in referring it to the coniferæ of the vorwelt, or ancient world."

    Mr Longmuir makes the following shrewd remarks, in answering the question, "Whether have we here a mass of Lias clay, as originally deposited, or has it resulted from the breaking up of Lias-shale?"  "The former alternative" says Mr Longmuir, "we have heard, has been maintained; but we are inclined to adopt the latter, and that for the following reasons:—1. This clay, judging from other localities, is not in situ, but has every appearance of having been precipitated into a basin in the gneiss on which it rests, having apparently under it, although it is impossible to say to what extent, a bed of comminuted shells.  2. The fossils are all fragmentary and water-worn.  This is especially the case with regard to the Belemnites, the pieces averaging from one to two inches in length, no workman having ever found a complete specimen, such as occurs in the Lias shale at Cromarty, in which they may be found nine inches in length.  3. But perhaps the most satisfactory proof, and one that in itself may be deemed sufficient, is the frequent occurrence of pieces of Lias-shale, with their embedded Ammonites; which clearly show that the Lias had been broken up, tossed about in some violent agitation of the sea, and churned into clay, just as some denudating process of a similar nature swept away the chalk of Aberdeenshire, leaving on many of its hills and plains the water-worn flints, with the characteristic fossils of the Cretaceous formation."

 


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