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A RAMBLING SKETCH OF THE FAR NORTH. The Crofter Commission, which has at last ended its labours in adjusting the rentals in the Orkneys and Shetlands, has brought into more general notice these remote isles of Great Britain, which until within the last few years have been little known or visited by their southern neigh- bours. These islands are often confused with the Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland and as a Member of Parliament replied to an Orcadian landowner anxious to push forward a bill on an Orcadian question, Few members know where the Orkneys are, and no one cares." They are thought to he dreary sea-girt islands, with unceas- ing stormy winds howling and waves dashing on bare rocks. Instead of for the most part rich in cultivation to the water's edge, comfortable steadings, and a thorough well-to-do-ness about all the people, a steady, frugal, handsome race of Norsemen, of a quite different type, accent, and names to their neighbours across the Pentl-vnd Firth. The climate of Orkney is, owing to the intluence of the Gulf Stream, milder than that of other parts of Scotland. The mean temperature is 46 degrees, and the average rainfall 37 inches. The westerly gales are severe, and are a blightin" wind to gardens. Sea fishing, tish curinj, and agriculture are the principal industries of the islanders, who, like their neighbours the Scotch, are far better educated and better read than the English of the same class. They are very musical, and sing a great deal among themselves. The violin and accordion are the favourite instru- ments, and violins have been made by some of the young men unable to obtain them otherwise. Farming is in an advanced state, and the most improved implements are in use. Barley is little down bere being much moie successfully grown. Some of the wildest and most romantic sea coast in the world is to be seen amidst the Orkneys, especially in the coasts of Hoy and Walls. In Hoy in particular, the grandeur of structure and gorgeousness of colouring to be found in the caves, rocks and cliffs, surpasses most of the rock scenery of Britain. Rising in many places to the height of 1,100 feet, looking wild and weird with their voes and gloups. The general scenery is not grand, but on a bright sunny day the sight of the numerous green islands apparently floating on the brilliantly blue sea (and the sea in the Orkneys is as blue as the far famed Mediterrean). The clouds making constantly changing lights and shadows, over all a soft blue haze half veiling the ditant horizon, softening and smoothing away every hard line, is a most lovely one as seen from the Ward Hilljof Hoy, which taking its heightu-ollly 1,600 feet—into consideration, affords a more beautiful view than any hill of the same altitude in the kingdom. On almost all the islands are most interesting antiquarian remains of Churches, Monasteries and Palaces of the old Jarls and Bishops. The beautiful old Cathedral of St. Magnus, one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the North of Scotland, and, prior to the restoration of St. Giles in. Edinburgh, the only remaining perfect specimen of our Scottish Cathedrals. Founded by St. Rognvald, Earl of Orkney, in 1100, the east window, believed by Drydeu to be unique, is of great beauty. A particularly fine set of three large bells, being in the helfrcy-caiit in 1528- and the curfew still rings out as of old. Close to the Cathedral are the ruins of the Bishop's and Earl's Palaces, the fmnier being; much the older, and in a room of the upp r storey, of which, at midnight on the loih December, 1263, died Hacco, the last of the sea kings, t)f a broken heart, after the defeat of his Armada at the battle of Largs. The towns of Kirkwell and Kteuness are quaint and foreign looking, consisting of one long straggling street running til) from the quays, Ic, -1 It. paved with round Cottle stones, and a very narrow- causeway in the centre with flat stones. The street is so narrow that in many parts pedestrians must stand aside in a doorway to allow of the passing of the occasional cart. The famous ring of Steuness, a circle of monumental monoliths believed to be of Pietish origin, stand on a pro- montory of the same metal, between the Lochs of Stetiliess and Harray. The Lochs are excellent for trout and sea-trout fishing. The parish of Harray, famous as being entirely in the hands of about 100 "purie Lairds" or freeholders, who hold their lands by udal title. Amonnthelandtaxcs there still exist the Norwegian land tax, paid ori- ginally to the Jarls, and still paid by the land- owners to their successor, the Earl of Zetland, is, in the case of the proprietor of Rusag as much. ¡lSto 4:200 a year, in addition to all other taxes. For sportsmen there is much to attract in thtsse- islands—not slaughtering of home-raised birds,, but real wild shooting, grouse, and all kinds of wild fowl the rock pigeon and wild duck being most exciting. The Lochs abound with trout, and for sea fishing, cod and liii, amply repay the fisherman, besides the amusing silloch tishing, so profitable to the islanders, the dried fish supply- ing them with a delicacy for winter and the oil for light. Seals abound, and to watch 40 or 50 of these creatures playing on the rocks at low tide would soften any sportsman's heart against attempting to shoot them, although necessary to gain a "Sportsman's Badge." (To win this one must kill a salmon, a deer, a seal, and all eagle).