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staff. The people rose up in reverence for the old man. He inquired if the young man who went to find the resting-place of the sun was forgotten ? The old men remembered the story told them by their fathers.
“Then,' said he, 'behold the man of whom ye have heard. I am he. Long, long years are gone. I left my friends, my people, and my country. I travelled on, on, and on, till I came to a great water, and standing there, on the shore, I saw the sun disappear. I have now returned to you to tell you of my success, and to be buried in the land of my fathers. The sun, when it disappears, falls into the water. In the morning it must rise out of it. My mission is ended, my work is done, all, all farewell.' And the old man lay down and died.
“Such is the tradition, and, whether true or false, the expressions for the rising and the setting of the sun, in use among the Choctaws at this day, are in accordance with it : Hoshi vt okatula-hoshi, the sun ; oka, water; itula, to fall : The sun falls in the water."*
[To be continued.]
A VISIT TO SARK:
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY AND PRESENT STATE
OF THAT ISLAND, WHEN I learned lessons in geography, very long
ago, the Channel Islands—Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney,
and Sark-were only known to many English people as they were then made known to me, that is, as “islands lying in the British Channel, between England and France." Now, however, these islands form an easy, and very frequent excursion trip for our Londoners: the two first at least do so, but Sark is still out of the beaten track of the water highway, and as yet few excursionists have thought of descending upon it on a ticket of leave from our South Western Railway Company. It is such a curious little isle, and such a charming one, that I venture on its description, although I own I am disappointed in finding it a much more civilized one than I had expected.
But if an excuse for trying to amuse others with an account of my visit here be necessary, I can only say that I do so in the hope of amusing myself, for having slipped down the wet rocks in its remarkable caves, called Les Boutiques, or the Shops, and thus dislocated a foot, I am obliged, in the absence of society, books, work, or any other source of what the French call distraction, to take up the pen as a refuge against ennui.
* "Transactions of the American Ethnological Society,' vol. iii. part 1.
You approach Sark from Guernsey, distant five miles, in a small cutter, which cutter being dependent on wind and tide, and having a dangerous coast to make, is sometimes less than two, and sometimes more than ten hours on its voyage ; and is, in its outgoings and comings-in, notwithstanding that these take, place daily, the great source of interest and excitement to the world of Sark, being its only mode of communication with that of Guernsey, and carrying back and forward the natives of that island, who cross the five miles of water that lie between to try the effect of change of air on this, during the summer and autumn seasons; while, to what are called “foreigners,” like myself for example, the evening arrivals of the said cutter are the cause of even more anxious commotion, from the fact that there is neither post, post-boy, post-office, nor even receiving-house for stray letters on the island of Sark. So that strangers' letters have the chance of making a tour of the isle, or lying at the captain's house, or of being deposited by some quick-witted sailor after the fashion of one now remaining here. This letter was addressed to a Miss Rily, which name was a foreign one to the crew of the Sark cutter, but the name of my landlord, who acts sometimes as pilot, is William Messurier, and he goes by that of Billy; the crew of the cutter, therefore, not knowing Miss Rily, supposed the name must mean Mrs. Billy, and actually brought the letter here, and popped it into my good landlady's hands, saying they could make nothing else of it; and here it still lies, appealing in vain to the said Miss Rily. Having a more unintelligible name by far, I am obliged to lie in wait for the captain and his crew; and after sitting on the roadside till nearly ten o'clock one night, I made the old man very angry by forcing him into a cottage and searching the great basket on his back for my own share of the epistles that, with other stores, were to be found therein. I a told that once, in this portion of the British kingdom, there was a depository for letters at a little shop; but the good woman who kept the shop was so laughed at for the novelty of “setting up a post-office,” that she had to give it up.
I dare say, however, that our next visitors to Sark will find such a “foreign invention” flourishing there. A steamer, too, may possibly be running here ; and then adieu to the present privacy, peace, and simplicity of this little out-of-the-world isle.
But this is a digression into which the famous cutter has led us.
Sark, as viewed from the sea, appears only a mass of rocksgigantic, perpendicular, and inaccessible rocks, which on a near
approach take a singular variety of form and colouring--scooped, worn, and broken by the action of the waves that have so long beaten against them. No stranger, looking at this apparently impregnable barrier, could possibly divine that within it lay a fertile, smiling, pretty spot of earth- a little flower-bed encircled with a rugged border of stone.
The whole passage from Guernsey is curious, and might keep interest alive in all passengers in whom the action of the current, and the motion of the cutter, had not extinguished the faculties of observation.
The large rocks first passed are called Les Ferrières, and are usually covered with cormorants; the little isle of Jethou is resorted to by a steam-tug to draw stone from its quarries; that of Herm is celebrated for its beach of fine shells, which furnishes the artistes in shell-work, in Guernsey, with some of the tiniest materials for their flowers.
In order to effect an easy entrance into the island, which can only be done at one of the many small bays, named Le Creux, we have to make nearly the circuit of the rocky coast, and then we come to a place where a modern breakwater, erected at a cost of 1,6001., leaves only a small opening for the entrance of still less boats than the cutter; into these boats we are put, and finally landed in a singularly-romantic spot-a little harbour, uniquely picturesque, a small, rock-scooped bay, on three sides bounded by a nearly-perpendicular barrier of immensely-high rocks, where, but for the sight of the artificial breakwater, and a boat or two drawn up on the beach, one might imagine oneself cast on an uninhabited coast, escaped from shipwreck, thankful for a foot of ground to stand on, but thinking that not Crusoe himself could tell what to do there, for to climb up the wall of rock, and see what may
lie beyond it, appears to us impossible.
Just as I began to think about this, however, little Harry exclaimed, “O! I see now! there is a hole in the rock, aunt: we can get through that way."
So it was; there is a tunnel, pierced through the solid rock, about twenty yards long, and wide enough for carts and carriages to pass through; and it is by this artificial entrance alone that heavy goods can be brought in or out of this rock-bound isle.
The low-arched tunnel, cut in the high wall with which Nature has here defended her own sea-girt fortress, increases not a little the curious, picturesque, and uncommon aspect of this little bay. The tunnel leads out on a good but hilly road, by which we ascend for about three-quarters of a mile, when we attain the level of the island, and look round on a scene as unlike as can be from that which our approach and entrance to it led us to expect : a level, fertile, pleasant scene, utterly devoid of any remarkable characteristics. This is what is called the table-land of Sark; but we must wait a little before we see what ups and downs this tableland may present.
Our first object is to look for shelter—a matter of some anxiety, as they told us at Guernsey not to think of coming here until we had written to engage rooms at the newly-established hotel. We had no wish to try our chance there, and we were fortunate enough to find three nice rooms at the first house we went to, at the weekly rent of fifteen shillings. So now, supposing we have arranged the important affairs of the table, of which English travellers in general tell so much—that is to say, supposing we have made a good Sark meal of tea and dried fish, we shall at once proceed to make out some of the historic details of this isle ; for I always feel that knowing something of the history of a place gives additional interest to the scenes around one.
The popular tradition is, that the aborigines of Sark were the fairies; it is a curious but a very current belief as to the past time, although the present existence of such little people is not believed in- at least, fairy lore forms no part of the existing superstitions of the people; but they hold that the first inhabitants of Sark were the fairies, who, becoming extinct, are all buried in the ground with gold in both hands; and a woman told me that among other good measures of the new seigneur, or lord of the isle, was that for employing workmen in the winter to excavate the ground, and get up the buried gold. The notion probably arose from the fact that he had expressed the desire of excavating some supposed Druidic remains.
Perhaps Druids and fairies have become confused together in the popular antiquities of Sark; but the tradition I have named is one that has descended from age to age; perhaps, too, the fact that Roman coins, proving an early habitation of the isle, have been found in the soil, may have had something to do with the tradition of the buried gold. In its authentic history, however, as well as in its present state, there are many points of interest.
The little isle of Sark is the last existing relic in the British kingdom of the ancient feudal system-that is to say, its old feudalic constitution remains as it was originally formed, although many of its provisions, from the changes that have taken place in
our world, are either retained in the letter only or totally disused. For instance, it is I believe still in the power of its seigneur to authorise or forbid marriages; but I am told he never does so, for the simple reason that no one now asks his consent, though, the people say, formerly they had that custom. All these peculiarities, however, can be seen when we come to relate the manner in which that constitution came to be formed.
The first authentic notice of Sark is found in the acts of the Christian missionaries. A Briton who fled from the Saxon persecution took refuge in France, and became Bishop of Dol, in Bretagne or Brittany. This bishop, as St. Sampson, was formerly reverenced as the Christianizer of both Sark and Guernsey, as St. Helier was esteemed the patron saint of Jersey. In the sixth century he sent out a missionary, whose acts are recorded at Jersey also--St. Maglorious, who brought with him a company of religious teachers, and founded a monastery at Sark, from whence, I think, missionaries went forth to the piratical isle of Alderney, and there also planted the faith.
It seems strange that while no records remain of this early monastery in this little “isle of the sea," it appears to have existed there for several centuries, since in the reign of Edward III. there is mention made of a pension being granted in aid of the monastery of Sark. It was probably then unable to support itself, and the pension appears to have been inadequate to do so, for soon afterwards the monks left the island. No religious house was again planted there; the building fell to decay: its site is now only guessed at ; but the name seems to be perpetuated in a part of the island close to where the seigneury now stands; this is called Le Moinerie, a species of French being the language spoken by the people.
From the length of time the monks were able to maintain themselves here, it is probable that the land which they cultivated themselves was able to yield them and its other inhabitants good supplies; but after—or, perhaps, shortly before—their departure, Sark fell upon evil times. Once deprived of all religious instruction, the sea-robbers, who had possibly molested the peace of the monastery before, now gained absolute rule in the isle: the people who remained upon it, when their teachers departed, became lawless and wicked ; Sark remained for long a nest merely of pirates and wreckers, who enticed passing vessels by false lights to their fatal coast.
These pirates were destroyed by English seamen : an expedition