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Farewell, my harp! again no more
Beyond the reach of sober thought.
Full oft transporting thoughts have glow'd
But in the birth my fancies die,
My raptured dreams dissolve in air,
They gleam-and sink I know not where.
Yet will I joy, for hastes the time,
Though now no minstrelsy be given,
"My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep," Job xxx, 31.
EXCURSION TO THE SHETLAND ISLES.
ON Thursday, June 20, 1822, it was finally arranged at the meeting in which the president of the conference was present in Glasgow, that I should, without delay, set out on the expedition directed by the last conference, to ascertain if a missionary could be successfully employed in the Shetland Isles. On Monday evening, at five P. M., I set sail in the Lerwick packet, Captain Simpson. Wind favourable, but very light. My reflections were sufficiently painful and anxious. I
was a stranger to every one on board, wholly unacquainted with the land whither I went, and had the greatest loathing of a sea voyage; at least not less than that of Dr. Johnson, who describes the situation of a seaman as that of one confined in a prison, with the additional risk of being drowned.
There were thirteen passengers on board, and only eight beds in which to accommodate them; and what added to my uneasiness was, that the berth I had taken was denied me. A great deal of whispering took place, and once and again a glance was bestowed, and the word "stranger" was employed. Things turned out beyond expectation; for, as no complaint was offered to the captain, he showed every disposition to oblige, and even gave up his own bed to my use.
Tuesday morning.-Wind very light. Off Fifeness, about ten A. M., began to blow a fine but gentle breeze S. W., verging by and by more southerly, the best we could have desired. The coast was within sight. Saw the Bell Rock opposite to the entrance of the Frith of Tay, and, along the coast, Arbroath, Montrose, and Girderness were distinctly visible. Late in the evening we were between Aberdeen and Peterhead, and about midnight launched, with the wind very favourable, into the great deep, and soon lost sight of land.
Wednesday morning the wind fell, but sea heavy— was very sick—there was to me something awful in the thought "undique maria, undique cœlum," but I thought with a measure of delight, undique Deus. After leaving Peterhead we had to sail one hundred and twenty miles out of sight of land. At noon this day an observation was taken, and it appeared we were fifty-six miles N. E. of Peterhead. The wind freshened in the evening from the N. W., and we made considerable way in a heavy
sea, and anxiously did we count on how long it might be ere we should see land.
Thursday morning, at three A. M., Fair Isle was in sight. We tried to make it in a tremendous sea, in order to land one of the passengers. The island is a most magnificent object. It rises boldly out of the ocean, as it were on the pedestals of the pillars of heaven. One portion of it is called the Sheep Rock. Its upper surface is flat, or a gently inclined plane. The sheep which feed upon it are drawn up a precipice, which no one can ascend with safety for the first time. The sea has worn deep fissures through the pediment of the rock, so that daylight may be easily seen through it. Short and passing was our view of this islet of the sea, for no boat could venture off to take our passenger, who was, if not the proprietor, at least the tenant of the whole island, though it is five miles in extent one direction, and I know not how many in the other. We bore away two points more to the east, and were twenty-six miles from the next point of the Shetland Isles. At length, about nine A. M., we bore up toward Sumburgh-head, and saw the light-house, Fitful-head, and, I imagine, Quendal Bay. A signal was hoisted, and a boat came off for the gentleman who had been disappointed of getting on shore. The boats are very slender fabrics, and in the canoe shape. "Poor beings," said one of the passengers, "these people hardly ever see the face of a Christian." "What must I give you?" said he to them. "You shall give us nothing, for we are going out to yon Dutch buss." This morning seven men were lost in the tremendous sea, through which a kind Providence conducted us in safety. I was told that the poor men, having their whole dependance on fishing, risk their lives with the utmost desperation, rather than
lose their nets or lines; for, whoever loses them has no prospect but the most miserable and chilling. From Sumburgh-head to Lerwick is twenty-four miles; in infinite mercy we reached smooth water, and dropped anchor about half-past one P. M., our voyage having been, by the will of God, so prosperous, as that we completed it in about sixty-seven hours. Went on shore and made for the inn, but next day got a private lodging.
On the day of my landing was accosted in the street by a member of the Methodist society from Leith, who had come hither to be married. Drank tea with him and his spouse. That evening the annual meeting of the Shetland Bible Society took place. The Rev. Mr. T., of T- preached from Psalm xix, 4. The sera devotional strain, but seemed to me like a sword of true steel, which wanted a point and an edge. There was little if any thing of close application to the conscience. Preaching being concluded, a report was read and a speech delivered by the Rev. Mr. M., incumbent of the parish.---Annual income £50. Mr. M. is a man of an excellent character as a Christian, a pastor, and a preacher. Hope to hear him on the sabbath. This day I was introduced to the Rev. Mr. R., independent pastor in Lerwick, and by him was engaged to preach to-morrow evening in his chapel.
Friday, June 28.-Dined with Mr. O., but obtained little information, except that Yell was the most destitute district of Shetland. Mr. O. has been exceedingly polite and attentive, and nothing can exceed the urbanity of his lady. Drank tea with Miss C.; from her I learned that the aurora borealis is accompanied in these regions with a noise like the fanners of a mill, which sound is distinctly audible in still weather. She gave me an account of a short journey in the winter to a place at no
great distance from this town. What with crossing friths, or "voes," as they are here termed, wading through snow in a country where roads are unknown, &c., &c., she had undergone no small degree of hardship and fatigue. To itinerate in the winter half-year is a thing, it seems, entirely out of the question. Went to the chapel, and sick, faint, and cold, attempted to speak from Ephesians v, 14, and never had a more attentive congregation, nor one, all things considered, more numerous. It was a cold evening, an easterly wind, a chilling and incessant rain, but the place was nearly full, and is capable of holding five hundred persons. I ought to make mention of the psalmody. Both in church and chapel it is singularly beautiful, and has an air of wildness in it that will not soon be forgotten by any one who has a taste for music. The congregation joined with great exactness and feeling. It was a season of comfort to me, and in heart I thanked God for this opportunity of inviting the inhabitants of the rock to sing. The first hymn was the 23d paraphrase from the 11th verse--a composition of great beauty, and apparently appropriate to the occasion.
"Lo former scenes predicted once
Sing to the Lord in joyful strains,
O city of the Lord, begin