1870 April 19 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY - A FRUIT SOIREE was held in the Free Church here on the evening of Wednesday week. There was a large attendance of people from all parts of the island – many even from the neighbouring islands of Weir and Egilshay. The services commenced at half-past seven o’clock by the choir, under the leadership of Mr Leonard, singing the 100th Psalm. After prayer, the Chairman – Rev. Mr Rose, pastor of the congregation – rose, and spoke on the nature and uses of social meetings. The Rev. John McLellan, of the U.P. Church, then delivered an excellent address on the power of habit, concluding by giving some suitable counsels to the young. The Rev. Mr Roy, of Firth, delivered an able and telling speech on “Lighthouses and their Lessons,” which was listened to with deep attention. During the evening the choir sang several pieces of sacred music, to which Mrs Rose, who presided at the harmonium, played the accompaniments. An abundant supply of fruit and cake was served to the company by Messrs Thomas R. Reid, George Reid, John S. Craigie, and John McLellan, who acted as stewards. After spending a very pleasant evening, the meeting separated about 10 o’clock, after the benediction had been pronounced by Mr McLellan.
FARMING OPERATIONS. – The late dry weather is allowing our farmers to get their out-door operations rapidly pushed forward.
1870 May 3 Orkney Herald
THE WEATHER during the past week has been exceedingly cold. On Sunday and yesterday the wind blew a perfect storm from the North, accompanied by showers of sleet and snow. A continuance of such ungenial weather will be most prejudicial to the young grass and briard.
EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY HONOURS. – In our notice of the names of those belonging to the county who won distinction at the University, we inadvertently omitted the name of Mr William. M. Craigie, Wasbister, Rousay, [William Marwick Craigie, son of William Craigie and Margaret Inkster of Cogar, later Old School], who stood second in the order of merit both in the Junior Greek and Junior Latin Classes. It was his first session, and the position which he has acquired is most creditable to himself, and also to his teacher, Mr Bruce. We are glad to learn that Mr Craigie is a young man of decided talent, and gives promise, if spared, by diligence and perseverance, of a distinguished career. It is very gratifying to observe the number of young men from this county who have more or less distinguished themselves in the different departments of study during the last session.
1870 June 16 John o’ Groat Journal
At St Peter's Church, Edinburgh, the 4th inst., by the Rev. J. A. Sellar, Incumbent, assisted by the Rev. J. S. S. Lillie, Frederick William Traill Burroughs, Esq. of Rousay, J.P., D.L., Colonel and Lieut.-Colonel, 93d Sutherland Highlanders, son of Major-General F. W. Burroughs, to Eliza D'Oyly, youngest daughter of Colonel William Geddes, C.B. (late Bengal Artillery), D.L., J.P.
1870 June 21 Orkney Herald
At the marriage of Colonel Burroughs, of Rousay, we understand the bride wore a very beautiful gold bracelet, set with pearl, turquoise, and cornelian, presented to her by the tenants’ wives and other ladies of Rousay and Weir, as a token of the esteem in which they hold their much-respected landlord. The wedding-presents were numerous and magnificent, and among them articles of great beauty and value.
1870 July 12 Orkney Herald
PLEASURE TRIP. – We understand Captain Robertson contemplates running the “Orcadia” to Rousay with a party of excursionists, landing them at one side of the island and taking them on board again at the other. We believe this to be the most popular route which could have been selected.
1870 July 26 Orkney Herald
HOLIDAY EXCURSION TO ROUSAY. - On the morning of Friday last, the s.s. “Orcadia,” freighted with a goodly company of pleasure-seekers, left Kirkwall Harbour at ten o’clock for Rousay. The morning was somewhat cloudy, but the barometer prognosticated a fine day, and, consequently, all were in the highest spirits anxious to secure the greatest amount of enjoyment possible. As most of the excursionists contemplated spending the day among the hills, due attention had been paid to the commissariat. Gentlemen whose game-bags and fishing-baskets were stuffed with eatables and drinkables hoped to have these replaced by rabbits and trout ere they embarked on the return voyage; nor were they disappointed. The island abounds in game, the fine lochs swarm with trout, and the farmers will doubtless for the next fortnight duly repeat a paternoster for the benefit of the kind souls who reduced those pests - the rabbits - by so many dozen on Friday last. In sailing out the bay there was little to attract attention. As we opened Damsay Sound, the mansion house of Binscarth, with the village of Finstown picturesquely situated between the hill came into view. Balfour Castle, pleasantly placed amid a miniature forest, with fine green lawn in front, next attracted attention; and as our smart little boat steamed between Rendall and Gairsay, we observed the ruins of an ancient palace, in which perchance in days gone by the youth and beauty of the north have often met to celebrate the Yule feast. In the twelfth century, Gairsay was the residence of Olaf, the renowned Viking, and his wife Asleif, by whom he had a daughter and three sons, Vallthiof, Gunn, and Swein. The second son was the ancestor of all the Caithness and Orkney Gunn’s, while the youngest – Swein - was the most daring sea-rover of his day. The summer months he devoted to practical expeditions, and the winter to those Jol-feasts, which continued to be held long after the days of the Vikings were ended. To Swein belongs the honour - if such it can be designated - of surprising the city of Dublin, and carrying off all the Aidermen prisoners.
A few minutes after passing Gairsay, we dropped anchor at Westness. But short time was spent in landing the passengers, who no sooner reached terra firma than in parties of twos, threes, and half-dozens, they wandered off in all directions. Rousay is undoubtedly one of the most romantic islands in the group; second only to Hoy. The hills, rising to an altitude of 1100 feet, give it a most imposing appearance. In no part of the island is there anything approaching a level plain. From the sea shore the hills commence to rise, and though for probably on an average of a mile all round the acclivity is not such as to prevent farming operations being conducted in the usual manner, and with the most approved implements of husbandry, yet after this strip of green well-cultivated land has been passed, the hills rise terrace above terrace - in some places so steep that travellers may climb rather than walk to their summits. Standing upon the Cairn of Blotching-field - the highest peak in the island - an excellent view of the whole northern group is obtained. Far in the distance is Kirkwall, and its ancient Cathedral; to the south-west Wideford, the Orphir, and the Hoy hills seem to form one range - an impassable bulwark against the advance of western foes. The plains of Sandwick, Harray, and Birsay; the dark lands of Firth, and the green fields of Rendall and Evie, with the ships and boats sailing through the firths and bays, make a beautiful and romantic panorama. Dimly rising above the sea level, and, on account of the distance somewhat indistinctly traced, is Foula; while as a mist-cloud rises upon the summer’s breeze, Fair Isle looms aloft like a phantom of air. North Ronaldshay, Sanday, Eday, and Westray, stretch out in all their varied beauty - green fields intermingling with the dark heath-clad hills. Passing through and over peat-bogs, and hills, and dales innumerable, around and between lakes many feet above the sea level, we at length descended to the road which encircles the island. A short walk brought us to Westness House, built, it is supposed, on the site once occupied by the dwelling of the celebrated Jarl Sigurd. Westness House, now the residence of Colonel Burroughs, the proprietor of the island, is most picturesquely situated on the slope of the hill in the midst of a cluster of trees, planted several years ago by the late Mr Traill of Woodwick.
The west and north sides of the island are far the most romantic. A short distance from Westness is Sweinrow, where Jarl Paul is supposed to have been captured by Swein, the son of Asleif. Paul, hearing that his rival, Jarl Ronald, had arrived from Norway, fled to Rousay hoping to receive protection and assistance from Sigurd. He was hiding in one of the caves in Scabro Head, when Swein, in a war-galley, entered the sound. Paul’s hiding-place was soon discovered, and a desperate fight between his followers and those of Swein ended by the retainers of the former being all slain, while Jarl Paul himself was captured and carried prisoner to Morayshire. The grave mounds of those killed are still to be seen near to the sea shore. About the same locality are a couple of those mounds commonly designated Picts’ houses, or Broughs. One of them having been partially explored, we were able to enter what seemed to be the principal apartment, from which there were at least two entrances to other passages or chambers, but from neither of which the earth and other debris had been cleared. A short distance farther on are the Sinians of Cutclaws – sea-caves which penetrate in some cases several hundred yards up through the land, terminating in large circular openings in the level ground, hundreds of feet in depth, and into which the sea, through these subterranean caves, surges with a hollow boom. The west side also boasts of the highest precipices. Hell’s Point, or Hallyea-Spur, is a mural precipice extending, we believe, to upwards of a mile in length, and nearly 500 feet in height. At the same range of cliffs is what is known as “the Lobist,” a huge stack, or colossal pillar of rock, on a level with, but detached from the land by a chasm several yards in width. This rock, as well as the crags all around, are constantly covered with immense flocks of sea birds, each different species retaining their own particular part of the rock. The young were all able to fly, else, a most intelligent friend – who kindly accompanied us around the island and pointed out the “lions” - informed us it would not have been safe to have ventured near the place, the sea-gulls who hatch their young at the summit of the precipice being valiant defenders of what undoubtedly they deem their “Vaterland.” The Kilns of Brimnovan are also well worth a visit. These consist of a number of natural arches and caves, worn by the ceaseless motion of the waves. Some of the caves are of colossal proportions, sufficient to permit an ordinary fishing boat to pass underneath, in full sail. The sea caves here, as in other parts of the island, run long distances up into the land. In many instances the length of the caves have never been explored. Some are inhabited by the rock pigeon and the cormorant, while in others the seal finds a safe and secure retreat. Here every shelf of rock is covered by thousands of sea fowls, whose ceaseless movements and incessant cries startle and bewilder the beholder. One of the prettiest spots in the whole island is the Loch of Wasbister, noted for the excellence and abundance of its trout. In the centre of the loch is a small island covered with trees - a very oasis in the “waste of waters,” and a safe hatching-place for the teal and the eider duck. While passing along there was pointed out to us the huge stone slab which the giant Cubberow threw from the Fitty Hill of Westray at a person who had done him some injury! The marks of his fingers are still to be seen on the stone! and if any of our readers are inclined to doubt the fact of their being “giants in those days,” we recommend them to examine this monolith, and be no longer “faithless!!”
In point of agriculture, the island seems fully abreast of some of its neighbours. There are numerous excellent steadings, with thrashing-mills attached, and surrounded by splendid crops of grain and turnips. Flocks of fine sheep pasture in ample fields adjoining the farms, as well as on the common. We believe that, taken as a whole, Rousay will favourably compare with any island in the group. The various trades and professions are amply represented, there being no fewer than a dozen joiners, ten shoemakers, three tailors, one mill-wright, one clock-cleaner, and one tinsmith. There are three professors of the birch; while theology is duly promulgated by three clergymen, belonging one to each of the Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches.
Having made the circuit of the island, we arrived at Sourin, where the steamer was waiting to take us to Kirkwall. Across the sound, was the ruins of St Magnus Church on the island of Egilshay - a church built possibly to commemorate the Jarl of the name who, centuries ago, was foully murdered in the island, and who was subsequently elevated to a niche in the calendar of Orcadian saints.
After a short delay, all were safely got on board, the whistle sounded, and our good ship was once more under weigh for Kirkwall. Several members of the Choral Union being among the excursionists, a glee party was got up, which in no small degree contributed to the pleasure of the voyage home. The day had throughout continued beautiful, and the whole party were safely landed at Kirkwall quay about nine o’clock. The whole arrangements connected with the excursion were made by Captain Robertson with much care and excellent discrimination, and nothing transpired to mar the harmony of the “happy family.” All returned home highly delighted with one of the most successful holiday excursions ever enjoyed by Orcadians.
1870 August 2 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – ARRIVAL OF COLONEL AND MRS BURROUGHS. – When it became known to the inhabitants of Rousay and Wier that Colonel Burroughs had arrived in Orkney, there was a strong desire manifested by all the tenants on his estate to have an opportunity of meeting and welcoming their landlord and his lady on their arrival in Rousay. This feeling was the more general on account of this being the first occasion upon which Mrs Burroughs has visited Orkney. During the early part of the week the one great subject of talk in the islands was the arrival of the laird and his lady. It soon became known that Thursday was the day on which they were expected to arrive; and consequently at an early hour of that day groups of farmers might be seen wending their way, from all parts of the island, in the direction of Westness; while those from Weir, who had crossed the sound from that island, were also moving to the same destination. At Westness House everything wore a holiday aspect, and it was quite apparent that an event of more than ordinary interest was near. The flagstaffs, both at the house and the shore, were covered with flags; and on the grassy slope surrounding the mansion-house the assembled tenants were squatted in groups. On the road from the landing-place a triumphal arch had been erected, bearing the appropriate motto, “Welcome,” in large characters. A profuse display of bunting was also floating from the flagstaffs at the houses of Hullion and Corse, so that the island in all directions wore quite a gala-day appearance. About half-past one o’clock all eyes were directed to the opposite shore of Evie, from which the party were expected to arrive. Ere long the boat, with colours flying, was observed to leave the shore; and, with a favourable breeze, was speedily alongside the pier of Westness. Directly the gallant colonel and his lady touched the island, they were received with three hearty cheers by the crowd who had by this time assembled at the place of landing. Having arrived at the lawn opposite the entrance to the grounds, and all present having been introduced to the Colonel and his lady, Mr John Gibson, Langskaill, was requested to read the following address of welcome and congratulation:-
“COLONEL AND MRS BURROUGHS, - We, representing the whole tenantry of the islands of Rousay and Weir, have this day the greatest pleasure in welcoming Colonel Frederick William Traill Burroughs to his island home. This we now do most cordially; and, if possible, the more so as he brings with him a lady regarding whom we have already heard good reports as being well fitted to aid and encourage him in every good work, and one in whose presence we shall only add if she were not good, her looks would not tell truth. Colonel and Mrs Burroughs, we bid you a hearty welcome.
“No connection betwixt man and man ought to be more carefully guarded than that betwixt landlord and tenant, and every good man who loves his country should do what in him lies to cement that tie, and to continue what in troublous time has formed the strength of the nation – that union and co-obligation of classes which made a brotherhood of all claiming the same country – landlord and tenant standing back to back and facing the enemy at all points.
“Sir, we have now but kind and gracious remembrances of you, of your late uncle Mr Traill, and of his connections, the worthy and loved family who formerly owned and occupied Westness; and we hope to prove to you in the good management of our farms, and fulfilment of our obligations, that we are not unworthy of a good landlord. At all events, we shall do our best. We may now hope, after the gallant course you have so long pursued as a soldier in the service of your country, and the many perils through which you have passed, that you will be allowed a time to rest in this your retirement; and that, accompanied by your amiable and beautiful lady, you shall once more go out and in amongst us to direct us by your advice, and to cheer us by your approval.
“You will see that we have not been idle since you last visited Rousay, and that while you were fighting your country’s enemies on the hills of the Crimea, and in the unhealthy jungles of India, we, too, have been fighting against a rugged soil and an uncertain climate, endeavouring to make two blades of grass grow on your islands where one, or rather none, grew before.
“We beg once more to assure Mrs Burroughs and yourself of the sincere happiness it gives all your tenants, and, indeed, all the residents in Rousay and Weir, to welcome you both to your home of Westness; and we pray the Almighty to bless you there and elsewhere, and to make you a blessing.”
Colonel Burroughs briefly replied, thanking them for the honour done Mrs Burroughs and himself, and expressing the hope that he would be able to see them all personally at their own farms. He concluded by requesting their presence inside the house, where refreshments would be served. Shortly afterwards, all returned home, highly gratified at seeing their respected landlord once more among them, and delighted that he had taken along with him his amiable and accomplished lady.
1870 August 17 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – DINNER TO COLONEL BURROUGHS. – On Friday last, the tenants of Rousay and Veira entertained their landlord, Colonel Burroughs, and his lady, at dinner in the large barn of Westness farm, which was gaily decorated with flowers and evergreens. About fifty sat down to dinner besides the guests, including Colonel, and Mrs, and Miss Burroughs; Mr Charles Dépeyson Burroughs, and two other gentlemen visitors at Westness; Dr Logie, Kirkwall; Mr Scarth of Binscarth; Mr James C. Scarth, Scar House, Sanday; the Rev. Messrs Gardner and Rose; and Messrs Mackay and Reid, schoolmasters.
The tenants having requested Mr Scarth to take the chair, the company sat down to a substantial and well-served dinner at 4 o’clock, and seldom has a company spent a more pleasant evening. After dinner, the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given, and heartily responded to.
The Chairman then gave the toast of the evening on the part of all the tenants of Rousay and Veira (many of the smaller tenants were unavoidably absent at the fishing in Stronsay). “The warmest and heartiest welcome, and long life, health, and happiness to Colonel and Mrs Burroughs;” making a few well-timed remarks on the importance of such kindly meetings as the present, the happy connection upon grounds of mutual interest and mutual respect existing betwixt Colonel Burroughs and his tenantry, the amiability of his character; his gallant, long, and arduous services to his Queen and country; the rejoicings of the tenantry on learning that on his return from India with his gallant regiment, the 93d, he was to marry and settle down amongst them; the hearty welcome they had given to him and his amiable lady on their landing; and their spontaneous desire, so admirably carried out, of having a social meeting with them both, as on this happy occasion. The Chairman said it gave him the greatest pleasure to be their spokesman on this occasion, although he was very unable to do justice to such a toast; which was then drunk with all the honours, three times three cheers, and three cheers additional for Mrs Burroughs.
Colonel Burroughs, in returning thanks, said – Gentlemen, I beg to thank you for your very kindly welcome to my wife and myself – to my wife on her first appearance amongst you, and to me on my return home after an absence of eleven years. I thank, through you, the Ladies of Rousay and Veira for the very handsome wedding-present they were so kind and thoughtful as to send my wife. Handsome as the gift is, it is of far more value to us as showing the interest you take in all concerning us, and that you sympathise with us in our joys and sorrows. I trust that this kindly feeling may ever continue amongst us. Reference has been made to the connection between landlord and tenant. I think I need not reassure you how fully I reciprocate the sentiments you have so well expressed. It is, whatever popular agitators may say or write to the contrary, to the mutual interest of landlord and tenant to keep on the friendliest terms; and it is to our mutual good, happiness, and comfort, that we should pull well together; and this, I believe, is to be best effected by our reciprocally and ungrudgingly performing the duties and obligations devolving upon each of us. In addressing you at a similar meeting the last time I was at home, I pointed out to you all that had come under my observation in my excursions through the islands. You will perhaps be glad to hear what I think of the changes that have since taken place. You may perhaps remember that I expressed hopes of some day seeing a good road round the island, and to see many a gig rattling over it; to see your farms and fields scientifically squared, and cultivated to the latest improved system of agriculture; to see a better style of houses enlivened by flowers, and shrubs, and trees about them. All this I now see in a great measure fulfilled. We have now an excellent road round Rousay. I hope there will soon be one through Veira; and I hope ere long we shall have good roads of access to those districts of Rousay that may require, such as from Scockness, from Saviskaill, and through the hills from Westness to Sourin, past the Free Kirk. I hope, too, that the long-talked-of pier will soon be a reality. I see a very great improvement in the system of farming. Not to see a well-squared and well-drained field is now, I am very glad to say, an exception amongst us. This clearly proves that all – even those who were most difficult to be persuaded – are coming round to see that it is to their own advantage to cultivate their land in an orderly, careful, and scientific manner. Much dyking and enclosing has, I am glad to see, been done by many here present; and, if you ask them, I think they will tell you they are not losers thereby. In other cases, I am sorry to see dykes left in the same unfinished state they were in when I was last here – just where the landlord’s allowance per lease ceased – and some of these on exposed bits of land, requiring all the shelter procurable, and the completion of which dykes (had they been immediately completed) would ere now have handsomely repaid their erection, by the amount of cattle and crop they would have sheltered and saved. Their non-completion, I think those concerned will admit, has been short-sighted policy on their part. I am very glad to see the improvement that has taken place in house-building and house-keeping; to see, even in some of the lowliest cots, the neatly-kept, clean, and comfortable chambers, with their plastered roofs, papered walls, and deal floors; to see clean and comfortable fire-places and grates, and in some cases (especially Veira) to find the latest patent cooking-stoves and ranges in the kitchens of the houses. The peat fire in the centre of the floor of a house, with merely a hole in the roof above by way of a chimney, once so common in the northern counties, is now, I am glad to see, consigned to the past amongst us. I am glad to see this because, irrespective of the darkness, dirt, and discomfort it engendered, I believe it did much towards increasing the illness and complaints of the sickly. Mrs Burroughs has been very pleased to see the pretty flowers in the windows of many houses we have visited, and to see the well-kept gardens, shrubs, and trees around them; and she begs me to say how happy she will be to assist you all, so far as in her power, by giving you cuttings or seeds from the gardens of Westness. Considering how far behind, agriculturally, Orkney was to the rest of Britain some thirty years ago, it is astonishing to see the progress the county has lately made, and, indeed, is yearly making. It strikes me, perhaps, more, who have been so long absent, than it does you who have remained on the spot. Much has been done, but there yet remains plenty for us to do; and I do not despair of living to see it all done. And of seeing Orkney equal to most counties of Great Britain; and I do not assert this wildly, but with forethought, for I have just returned from a long journey through France, Belgium, Prussia, Austria, and Southern Germany, and through England and Scotland; and I have seen everywhere, excepting, perhaps, in Scotland, a good deal worse farming than is to be seen on any properly-cultivated farm in Orkney, and I have seen farms in Orkney as well and carefully cultivated, and as productive of their kind as any elsewhere. I may notice this very farm of Westness as an instance; and I can vouch for its productiveness by the balance of cash it yearly returns me, under Mr Learmonth’s skilful cultivation; and what has been done by some may be done by others. I desire here, before you all, to thank Mr Scarth for his judicious and careful management of my estate. By his advice, a considerable part of my rental has yearly been devoted to the improvement of my estate; and it has produced good fruit. The admirable system of letting farms, initiated by him, has worked fairly and advantageously for both landlord and tenant. It has secured to the industrious farmer, in peace, and comfort, and perfect security, a sure return for his outlay of labour and capital; whilst the equal and fixed seven years’ rises of rent point out any tenants who prefer idleness to industry, and standing still to progressing. I beg to thank you all for this very handsome entertainment. I hope, before I leave Rousay, to see you all here again, and that you will then bring your wives and daughters and sons with you; and I hope, before very long, that Mrs Burroughs and I will be permanently settled in Rousay, and that we may then have many such meetings. Again I beg to thank you most cordially. (Loud applause.)
Amongst the subsequent toasts were the Church of Scotland, and the other churches and clergymen of Rousay, responded to by the Rev. Messrs Gardner and Rose, the Chairman reading the following letter from the much respected minister of the United Presbyterian Church, whose unavoidable absence, and its cause, were much regretted:-
Rousay, 12th Aug. 1870.
To the Chairman of Committee for arranging the public dinner to be given to Col. Burroughs.
MY DEAR SIR, - In consequence of slight indisposition, I feel that I cannot avail myself of your kind invitation to the dinner in honour of your esteemed proprietor.
Most heartily do I join with the tenants in their expressions of goodwill to the gallant Colonel, and hope that he and his amiable lady may be long spared to countenance and encourage you in your labours of honest industry. – I am, with much respect, yours very sincerely,
Many toasts and speeches followed.
On “Schools and Education” being given, Mr Thomas Balfour Reid, teacher of the General Assembly’s School, Sourin, responded by reading the following poetical address:-
A voice of loud cheering is heard on our shore,
Again ‘tis renewed, yet, once more and once more,
And flags are all flying, from turret and tower,
And words of glad welcome, are spoke in that hour.
Why flutter these flags, and why cheer so high?
Our landlord long absent, to his home draweth nigh,
Nor hither alone is he wending his way,
But with him his lady, so lively and gay,
As gentle and peerless, as a flower in May,
Ah! How short is the time, since thus we met here,
To welcome him home with her he holds dear;
Ah! How short is the time till again he must go,
How brief is our joy, but how lengthened our woe.
We rejoiced at his coming and hoped he would stay,
But fate adverse fate says he must away;
His absence before filled our hearts oft with dread,
Lest the demons of war near his footsteps might tread;
Lest the Sepoy so subtle might unfaithful prove,
And treacherously smite in return for his love.
I am pained by these thoughts so expressive of sadness
When at present we ought to be roused into gladness,
He is here in our midst, in the full glow of health,
(A blessing which cannot be purchased by wealth),
And his beautiful bride, who has won every heart:
By so kindly, so courteously, acting her part –
Her name we will cherish, until she return,
And the briefer her absence, the shorter we’ll mourn.
Our exteriors are rough, and our manners are rude,
But our hearts are all right, be that understood,
And she understood; nor did she expect
Courtly breeding; oft no proof of respect,
But respect is too cold, we love her, that’s ended;
The Colonel must hear it, and not be offended.
Yet still though we now are so joyous of heart,
All fear from our mirth, we never can part,
For Europe in arms, is tidings so dire,
We cannot foretell, what may therefrom transpire,
Though now for a season, Ah! How very protracted,
We must joyful be, even when, we’re dejected,
At the thought that again how soon he must go,
To marshal his troops, perhaps, combat the foe;
But go if he should, mid the cannon’s loud rattle,
Though we cannot protect – our God rules the battle –
And though spearmen, nor lancers, nor soldiers are we,
To help in his need, if needing was he,
Yet we, to a throne of grace can repair,
That God, who has guided his steps every day,
May guide, and protect him for ever and aye.
I am sure you are wearied, and indeed it’s no wonder,
You have listened with patience, to many a blunder,
For your patience my best thanks are certainly due;
Let me ask you to pardon my blundering too;
But yet I’m not done, I’ve a toast to propose,
That was the main object for which I arose;
Let your glasses be charged, fill, fill, to the brim,
If any neglect, drink dishonour to him;
To our noble guest, and his lovely young bride,
May they soon return, not to visit but reside,
Then with all the honours pledge ye your laird,
If ye for yourselves, have any regard,
And if ye wish here, to be honoured thro’ life,
Show no less respect, for his handsome young wife.
The “Tenantry of Rousay and Veira” was next proposed, coupled with the name of Mr John Gibson. In replying, Mr Gibson said he was much better accustomed to hard-work than public speaking, and wished the duty of returning thanks for the “Tenantry” had fallen upon one better able to discharge the duty. About forty-nine years ago, the first turnips were sown in the fields of Rousay, and about twenty-five years ago a more improved system of farming, with a regular rotation of crops, was begun and carried on, and the agriculture of the island has thereby been greatly improved. There was, however, still much to do. He hoped with the assistance of Colonel Burroughs that a small Agricultural Society would be started in the island, when ploughing matches could be got up thereby, infusing more spirit into the ploughmen. Another improvement greatly needed in the island was a doctor. In winter it sometimes was impossible to get aid from Kirkwall. Dr Logie visited the island occasionally, and at any time when he found it necessary to call upon that gentleman, he always found him very obliging and kind. The Chairman had complemented the tenants on not being due Colonel Burroughs or him one sixpence. He (Mr Gibson) thought the tenants must congratulate the Colonel upon having so excellent a factor, since it was owing to his good plans and wise counsel that the tenants were enabled to pay their rents with so much regularity. Should any one chance to be a little in arrears, the factor gives him a gentle hint. Though the soil of Rousay is very rugged and hard to cultivate, he hoped the day was not far distant when every available spot in the island would be improved.
Dr Logie proposed the health of Miss Burroughs, to which Mr C. Burroughs replied, thanking the company for the cordial manner in which they had drunk his sister’s health.
The toasts of “The oldest tenants,” coupled with the names of Mr Malcolm Corsie, Nears, and Mr Robert Sinclair, Swandale, which was duly acknowledged; and of “The youngest tenants,” coupled with the name of Mr Gibson, Langskaill, and Mr Marwick. The health of Mr Learmonth was also proposed and duly responded to.
After many other toasts, which produced instructive and humorous speeches and replies, had been given, Mr Sinclair proposed the health of the Chairman, whom he described as a hard, very hard man, not to be driven from his purpose either by threats or soft sawder, acknowledging, at the same time, his honesty in act and deed, always keeping his promise, though charry of making one; and adding that somehow there was luck under him, as every man found means of paying his rents.
The Chairman replied that he preferred leaving the amiable part to the landlord; but he was happy to be able to say, that although he had often helped struggling tenants by small loans for which he never charged a penny of interest, there was not at that moment ten shillings due either to the landlord or to himself by all the tenants on the Estate. He could conceive no greater cruelty than to allow a tenant to fall into arrears of rent, and be handed over to the lawyers.
The health of Dr Traill of Woodwick and his family was next given, with not a few reminiscences of what the island and people of Rousay owed to his father and uncle, who long resided amongst them.
Mr John Gibson proposed the health of Mr George Scarth, who had taken so much trouble in making the necessary arrangements for the dinner.
Mr Scarth, in returning thanks for the cordial manner in which his health has been responded to by the company, said he felt assured he only expressed the feelings of all the committee of management, as well as his own, when he said that the little exertion they had to make was really no trouble, but a great pleasure, and more than compensated for by the success of the meeting, as also the kind and friendly way in which the Colonel and his lady had met and visited all the tenants upon his estate.
After the whole company had sung some appropriate verses of “Auld Lang Syne,” the meeting separated, every one highly delighted with the success of the entertainment, and the admirable management of the stewards.
1870 September 28 Orkney Herald
0n Thursday, the 22nd instant, Colonel Burroughs entertained the tenantry of Rousay and Viera to dinner at Westness. The day was one of the ﬁnest of this fine season; but there was evidence of a severe gale in the far Atlantic in the fringe of white foaming waves, which stretched, in a line outside Eynhallow, from Skeaburgh Head to Costa, and the roaring surge in the caves of the West Crags. The sun shone brightly, and the inner sounds were smooth as a mirror, reﬂecting the hills and headlands. Westness, always beautiful, looked its best on this day, giving a smiling welcome to the groups of gaily dressed people, who were seen descending the hills and filing through the glens on their way to it.
The splendid weather made some change in the arrangements for dinner, for which the barns had been seated. It was resolved to dine outside upon the grassy lawn which extends from the garden wall to the burn at the offices. Never was seen a more beautiful sight anywhere than the party of about 400 old and young men and women, seated in half circles upon the green slope, interspersed here and there with a group of beautiful girls, dressed in white muslins, with gay sashes and head dresses.
The Rev. Mr Gardner, minister of the parish, asked a blessing; and the Rev. Mr Rose, of the Free Church, returned thanks, each, in appropriate language, urging gratitude for the fine season, the bountiful harvest now secured, and the happy circumstances under which they were all met that day to enjoy the liberal hospitality of their landlord, who had returned to them after long and arduous labour in distant lands, and in the service of his Queen and country.
The dinner lasted from three to ﬁve o’clock, the bagpipes being played all the time, and thereafter the young people enjoyed themselves until sunset dancing on the green, while the elders and children had free access to the gardens; Colonel and Mrs Burroughs, and their friends, exerting themselves, and most successfully, to make all feel comfortable and to enjoy the day.
When the daylight was about done, the barns were lighted up and tea served round, and with three violins and the bagpipes, dancing was kept up in the three barns with great spirit until eleven o’clock, when all said good-night and returned to their homes pleased with their day's enjoyment, and highly appreciating the urbanity and frank kindness of Colonel Burroughs and of his amiable lady, who has gained all hearts in Rousay. No wonder that all the tenants are delighted with the near prospect of their taking up their permanent residence on the island. Soon may the time arrive when we shall have no absentee proprietors in Orkney.
We understand that Colonel Burroughs left for Thurso on Monday, on his way to Dunrobin Castle, having an invitation from the Duke of Sutherland to spend some days there. Afterwards he returns to his regiment, the 93rd Highlanders, now quartered at Aberdeen, his leave of absence not extending beyond the present month.
We cannot close this record of a happy day in Rousay without a reference to the admirable way in which the details were managed by Mr Learmonth, Colonel Burroughs’ overseer in Westness farm, and the preparation of the dinner by Mrs Learmonth, and the waiting by the servants No one was neglected in all this numerous assemblage, and although there was an abundant supply of beer, ale, and even of toddy, not a single case of anything approaching to intemperance occurred ; while the demeanour of old and young was highly creditable to the islanders, and most have been gratifying to their clergymen who were present.
1870 October 5 Orkney Herald
NOTICE. - The Boat “REAPER” will early next month sail as a Packet between the East and West side of Rousay and Kirkwall, calling at Evie going and returning. The Boat will leave Rousay every Monday and Thursday. For further particulars apply to John Corsie. Mount Pleasant, Rousay.
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