Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Records of a Family of Engineers by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 3 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

beacon, while the anvils thundered with the rebounding noise of
their wooden supports, and formed a curious contrast with the
occasional clamour of the surges. The wind was westerly, and the
weather being extremely agreeable, as soon after breakfast as the
tide had sufficiently overflowed the rock to float the boats over
it, the smiths, with a number of the artificers, returned to the
beacon, carrying their fishing-tackle along with them. In the
course of the forenoon, the beacon exhibited a still more
extraordinary appearance than the rock had done in the morning.
The sea being smooth, it seemed to be afloat upon the water, with a
number of men supporting themselves in all the variety of attitude
and position: while, from the upper part of this wooden house, the
volumes of smoke which ascended from the forges gave the whole a
very curious and fanciful appearance.

In the course of this tide it was observed that a heavy swell was
setting in from the eastward, and the appearance of the sky
indicated a change of weather, while the wind was shifting about.
The barometer also had fallen from 30 in. to 29.6. It was,
therefore, judged prudent to shift the vessel to the S.W. or more
distant buoy. Her bowsprit was also soon afterwards taken in, the
topmasts struck, and everything made SNUG, as seamen term it, for a
gale. During the course of the night the wind increased and
shifted to the eastward, when the vessel rolled very hard, and the
sea often broke over her bows with great force.

[Wednesday, 8th June]

Although the motion of the tender was much less than that of the
floating light--at least, in regard to the rolling motion--yet she
SENDED, or pitched, much. Being also of a very handsome build, and
what seamen term very CLEAN AFT, the sea often struck the counter
with such force that the writer, who possessed the aftermost cabin,
being unaccustomed to this new vessel, could not divest himself of
uneasiness; for when her stern fell into the sea, it struck with so
much violence as to be more like the resistance of a rock than the
sea. The water, at the same time, often rushed with great force up
the rudder-case, and, forcing up the valve of the water-closet, the
floor of his cabin was at times laid under water. The gale
continued to increase, and the vessel rolled and pitched in such a
manner that the hawser by which the tender was made fast to the
buoy snapped, and she went adrift. In the act of swinging round to
the wind she shipped a very heavy sea, which greatly alarmed the
artificers, who imagined that we had got upon the rock; but this,
from the direction of the wind, was impossible. The writer,
however, sprung upon deck, where he found the sailors busily
employed in rigging out the bowsprit and in setting sail. From the
easterly direction of the wind, it was considered most advisable to
steer for the Firth of Forth, and there wait a change of weather.
At two p.m. we accordingly passed the Isle of May, at six anchored
in Leith Roads, and at eight the writer landed, when he came in
upon his friends, who were not a little surprised at his unexpected
appearance, which gave an instantaneous alarm for the safety of
things at the Bell Rock.

[Thursday, 9th June]

The wind still continued to blow very hard at E. by N., and the Sir
Joseph Banks rode heavily, and even drifted with both anchors
ahead, in Leith Roads. The artificers did not attempt to leave the
ship last night; but there being upwards of fifty people on board,
and the decks greatly lumbered with the two large boats, they were
in a very crowded and impatient state on board. But to-day they
got ashore, and amused themselves by walking about the streets of
Edinburgh, some in very humble apparel, from having only the worst
of their jackets with them, which, though quite suitable for their
work, were hardly fit for public inspection, being not only
tattered, but greatly stained with the red colour of the rock.

[Friday, 10th June]

To-day the wind was at S.E., with light breezes and foggy weather.
At six a.m. the writer again embarked for the Bell Rock, when the
vessel immediately sailed. At eleven p.m., there being no wind,
the kedge-anchor was LET GO off Anstruther, one of the numerous
towns on the coast of Fife, where we waited the return of the tide.

[Saturday, 11th June]

At six a.m. the Sir Joseph got under weigh, and at eleven was again
made fast to the southern buoy at the Bell Rock. Though it was now
late in the tide, the writer, being anxious to ascertain the state
of things after the gale, landed with the artificers to the number
of forty-four. Everything was found in an entire state; but, as
the tide was nearly gone, only half an hour's work had been got
when the site of the building was overflowed. In the evening the
boats again landed at nine, and after a good tide's work of three
hours with torchlight, the work was left off at midnight. To the
distant shipping the appearance of things under night on the Bell
Rock, when the work was going forward, must have been very
remarkable, especially to those who were strangers to the
operations. Mr. John Reid, principal lightkeeper, who also acted
as master of the floating light during the working months at the
rock, described the appearance of numerous lights situated so low
in the water, when seen at the distance of two or three miles, as
putting him in mind of Milton's description of the fiends in the
lower regions, adding, 'for it seems greatly to surpass Will-o'-
the-Wisp, or any of those earthly spectres of which we have so
often heard.'

[Monday, 13th June]

From the difficulties attending the landing on the rock, owing to
the breach of sea which had for days past been around it, the
artificers showed some backwardness at getting into the boats this
morning; but after a little explanation this was got over. It was
always observable that for some time after anything like danger had
occurred at the rock, the workmen became much more cautious, and on
some occasions their timidity was rather troublesome. It
fortunately happened, however, that along with the writer's
assistants and the sailors there were also some of the artificers
themselves who felt no such scruples, and in this way these
difficulties were the more easily surmounted. In matters where
life is in danger it becomes necessary to treat even unfounded
prejudices with tenderness, as an accident, under certain
circumstances, would not only have been particularly painful to
those giving directions, but have proved highly detrimental to the
work, especially in the early stages of its advancement.

At four o'clock fifty-eight persons landed; but the tides being
extremely languid, the water only left the higher parts of the
rock, and no work could be done at the site of the building. A
third forge was, however, put in operation during a short time, for
the greater conveniency of sharpening the picks and irons, and for
purposes connected with the preparations for fixing the railways on
the rock. The weather towards the evening became thick and foggy,
and there was hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of the
water. Had it not, therefore, been for the noise from the anvils
of the smiths who had been left on the beacon throughout the day,
which afforded a guide for the boats, a landing could not have been
attempted this evening, especially with such a company of
artificers. This circumstance confirmed the writer's opinion with
regard to the propriety of connecting large bells to be rung with
machinery in the lighthouse, to be tolled day and night during the
continuance of foggy weather.

[Thursday, 23rd June]

The boats landed this evening, when the artificers had again two
hours' work. The weather still continuing very thick and foggy,
more difficulty was experienced in getting on board of the vessels
to-night than had occurred on any previous occasion, owing to a
light breeze of wind which carried the sound of the bell, and the
other signals made on board of the vessels, away from the rock.
Having fortunately made out the position of the sloop Smeaton at
the N.E. buoy--to which we were much assisted by the barking of the
ship's dog,--we parted with the Smeaton's boat, when the boats of
the tender took a fresh departure for that vessel, which lay about
half a mile to the south-westward. Yet such is the very deceiving
state of the tides, that, although there was a small binnacle and
compass in the landing-master's boat, we had, nevertheless, passed
the Sir Joseph a good way, when, fortunately, one of the sailors
catched the sound of a blowing-horn. The only fire-arms on board
were a pair of swivels of one-inch calibre; but it is quite
surprising how much the sound is lost in foggy weather, as the
report was heard but at a very short distance. The sound from the
explosion of gunpowder is so instantaneous that the effect of the
small guns was not so good as either the blowing of a horn or the
tolling of a bell, which afforded a more constant and steady
direction for the pilot.

[Wednesday, 6th July]

Landed on the rock with the three boats belonging to the tender at
five p.m., and began immediately to bale the water out of the
foundation-pit with a number of buckets, while the pumps were also
kept in action with relays of artificers and seamen. The work
commenced upon the higher parts of the foundation as the water left
them, but it was now pretty generally reduced to a level. About
twenty men could be conveniently employed at each pump, and it is
quite astonishing in how short a time so great a body of water
could be drawn off. The water in the foundation-pit at this time
measured about two feet in depth, on an area of forty-two feet in
diameter, and yet it was drawn off in the course of about half an
hour. After this the artificers commenced with their picks and
continued at work for two hours and a half, some of the sailors
being at the same time busily employed in clearing the foundation
of chips and in conveying the irons to and from the smiths on the
beacon, where they were sharped. At eight o'clock the sea broke in
upon us and overflowed the foundation-pit, when the boats returned
to the tender.

[Thursday, 7th July]

The landing-master's bell rung this morning about four o'clock, and
at half-past five, the foundation being cleared, the work commenced
on the site of the building. But from the moment of landing, the
squad of joiners and millwrights was at work upon the higher parts
of the rock in laying the railways, while the anvils of the smith
resounded on the beacon, and such columns of smoke ascended from
the forges that they were often mistaken by strangers at a distance
for a ship on fire. After continuing three hours at work the
foundation of the building was again overflowed, and the boats
returned to the ship at half-past eight o'clock. the masons and
pickmen had, at this period, a pretty long day on board of the
tender, but the smiths and joiners were kept constantly at work
upon the beacon, the stability and great conveniency of which had
now been so fully shown that no doubt remained as to the propriety
of fitting it up as a barrack. The workmen were accordingly
employed, during the period of high-water, in making preparations
for this purpose.

The foundation-pit now assumed the appearance of a great platform,
and the late tides had been so favourable that it became apparent
that the first course, consisting of a few irregular and detached
stones for making up certain inequalities in the interior parts of
the site of the building, might be laid in the course of the
present spring-tides. Having been enabled to-day to get the
dimensions of the foundation, or first stone, accurately taken, a
mould was made of its figure, when the writer left the rock, after
the tide's work of this morning, in a fast rowing-boat for
Arbroath; and, upon landing, two men were immediately set to work
upon one of the blocks from Mylnefield quarry, which was prepared
in the course of the following day, as the stone-cutters relieved
each other, and worked both night and day, so that it was sent off
in one of the stone-lighters without delay.

[Saturday, 9th July]

The site of the foundation-stone was very difficult to work, from
its depth in the rock; but being now nearly prepared, it formed a
very agreeable kind of pastime at high-water for all hands to land
the stone itself upon the rock. The landing-master's crew and
artificers accordingly entered with great spirit into this
operation. The stone was placed upon the deck of the Hedderwick
praam-boat, which had just been brought from Leith, and was
decorated with colours for the occasion. Flags were also displayed
from the shipping in the offing, and upon the beacon. Here the
writer took his station with the greater part of the artificers,
who supported themselves in every possible position while the boats
towed the praam from her moorings and brought her immediately over
the site of the building, where her grappling anchors were let go.
The stone was then lifted off the deck by a tackle hooked into a
Lewis bat inserted into it, when it was gently lowered into the
water and grounded on the site of the building, amidst the cheering
acclamations of about sixty persons.

[Sunday, 10th July]

At eleven o'clock the foundation-stone was laid to hand. It was of
a square form, containing about twenty cubic feet, and had the
figures, or date, of 1808 simply cut upon it with a chisel. A
derrick, or spar of timber, having been erected at the edge of the
hole and guyed with ropes, the stone was then hooked to the tackle
and lowered into its place, when the writer, attended by his
assistants--Mr. Peter Logan, Mr. Francis Watt, and Mr. James
Wilson,--applied the square, the level, and the mallet, and
pronounced the following benediction: 'May the great Architect of
the Universe complete and bless this building,' on which three
hearty cheers were given, and success to the future operations was
drunk with the greatest enthusiasm.

[Tuesday, 26th July]

The wind being at S.E. this evening, we had a pretty heavy swell of
sea upon the rock, and some difficulty attended our getting off in
safety, as the boats got aground in the creek and were in danger of
being upset. Upon extinguishing the torchlights, about twelve in
number, the darkness of the night seemed quite horrible; the water
being also much charged with the phosphorescent appearance which is
familiar to every one on shipboard, the waves, as they dashed upon
the rock, were in some degree like so much liquid flame. The
scene, upon the whole, was truly awful!

[Wednesday, 27th July]

In leaving the rock this evening everything, after the torches were
extinguished, had the same dismal appearance as last night, but so
perfectly acquainted were the landing-master and his crew with the
position of things at the rock, that comparatively little
inconveniency was experienced on these occasions when the weather
was moderate; such is the effect of habit, even in the most
unpleasant situations. If, for example, it had been proposed to a
person accustomed to a city life, at once to take up his quarters
off a sunken reef and land upon it in boats at all hours of the
night, the proposition must have appeared quite impracticable and
extravagant; but this practice coming progressively upon the
artificers, it was ultimately undertaken with the greatest
alacrity. Notwithstanding this, however, it must be acknowledged
that it was not till after much labour and peril, and many an
anxious hour, that the writer is enabled to state that the site of
the Bell Rock Lighthouse is fully prepared for the first entire
course of the building.

[Friday, 12th Aug.]

The artificers landed this morning at half-past ten, and after an
hour and a half's work eight stones were laid, which completed the
first entire course of the building, consisting of 123 blocks, the
last of which was laid with three hearty cheers.

[Saturday, 10th Sept.]

Landed at nine a.m., and by a quarter-past twelve noon twenty-three
stones had been laid. The works being now somewhat elevated by the
lower courses, we got quit of the very serious inconvenience of
pumping water to clear the foundation-pit. This gave much facility
to the operations, and was noticed with expressions of as much
happiness by the artificers as the seamen had shown when relieved
of the continual trouble of carrying the smith's bellows off the
rock prior to the erection of the beacon.

[Wednesday, 21st Sept.]

Mr. Thomas Macurich, mate of the Smeaton, and James Scott, one of
the crew, a young man about eighteen years of age, immediately went
into their boat to make fast a hawser to the ring in the top of the
floating buoy of the moorings, and were forthwith to proceed to
land their cargo, so much wanted, at the rock. The tides at this
period were very strong, and the mooring-chain, when sweeping the
ground, had caught hold of a rock or piece of wreck by which the
chain was so shortened that when the tide flowed the buoy got
almost under water, and little more than the ring appeared at the
surface. When Macurich and Scott were in the act of making the
hawser fast to the ring, the chain got suddenly disentangled at the
bottom, and this large buoy, measuring about seven feet in height
and three feet in diameter at the middle, tapering to both ends,
being what seamen term a Nun-buoy, vaulted or sprung up with such
force that it upset the boat, which instantly filled with water.
Mr. Macurich, with much exertion, succeeded in getting hold of the
boat's gunwale, still above the surface of the water, and by this
means was saved; but the young man Scott was unfortunately drowned.
He had in all probability been struck about the head by the ring of
the buoy, for although surrounded with the oars and the thwarts of
the boat which floated near him, yet he seemed entirely to want the
power of availing himself of such assistance, and appeared to be
quite insensible, while Pool, the master of the Smeaton, called
loudly to him; and before assistance could be got from the tender,
he was carried away by the strength of the current and disappeared.

The young man Scott was a great favourite in the service, having
had something uncommonly mild and complaisant in his manner; and
his loss was therefore universally regretted. The circumstances of
his case were also peculiarly distressing to his mother, as her
husband, who was a seaman, had for three years past been confined
to a French prison, and the deceased was the chief support of the
family. In order in some measure to make up the loss to the poor
woman for the monthly aliment regularly allowed her by her late
son, it was suggested that a younger boy, a brother of the
deceased, might be taken into the service. This appeared to be
rather a delicate proposition, but it was left to the landing-
master to arrange according to circumstances; such was the
resignation, and at the same time the spirit, of the poor woman,
that she readily accepted the proposal, and in a few days the
younger Scott was actually afloat in the place of his brother. On
representing this distressing case to the Board, the Commissioners
were pleased to grant an annuity of 5 pounds to Scott's mother.

The Smeaton, not having been made fast to the buoy, had, with the
ebb-tide, drifted to leeward a considerable way eastward of the
rock, and could not, till the return of the flood-tide, be worked
up to her moorings, so that the present tide was lost,
notwithstanding all exertions which had been made both ashore and
afloat with this cargo. The artificers landed at six a.m.; but, as
no materials could be got upon the rock this morning, they were
employed in boring trenail holes and in various other operations,
and after four hours' work they returned on board the tender. When
the Smeaton got up to her moorings, the landing-master's crew
immediately began to unload her. There being too much wind for
towing the praams in the usual way, they were warped to the rock in
the most laborious manner by their windlasses, with successive
grapplings and hawsers laid out for this purpose. At six p.m. the
artificers landed, and continued at work till half-past ten, when
the remaining seventeen stones were laid which completed the third
entire course, or fourth of the lighthouse, with which the building
operations were closed for the season.


[Wednesday, 24th May]

The last night was the first that the writer, had passed in his old
quarters on board of the floating light for about twelve months,
when the weather was so fine and the sea so smooth that even here
he felt but little or no motion, excepting at the turn of the tide,
when the vessel gets into what the seamen term the TROUGH OF THE
SEA. At six a.m. Mr. Watt, who conducted the operations of the
railways and beacon-house, had landed with nine artificers. At
half-past one p.m. Mr. Peter Logan had also landed with fifteen
masons, and immediately proceeded to set up the crane. The sheer-
crane or apparatus for lifting the stones out of the praam-boats at
the eastern creek had been already erected, and the railways now
formed about two-thirds of an entire circle round the building:
some progress had likewise been made with the reach towards the
western landing-place. The floors being laid, the beacon now
assumed the appearance of a habitation. The Smeaton was at her
moorings, with the Fernie praam-boat astern, for which she was
laying down moorings, and the tender being also at her station, the
Bell Rock had again put on its former busy aspect.

[Wednesday, 31st May]

The landing-master's bell, often no very favourite sound, rung at
six this morning; but on this occasion, it is believed, it was
gladly received by all on board, as the welcome signal of the
return of better weather. The masons laid thirteen stones to-day,
which the seamen had landed, together with other building
materials. During these twenty-four hours the wind was from the
south, blowing fresh breezes, accompanied with showers of snow. In
the morning the snow showers were so thick that it was with
difficulty the landing-master, who always steered the leading boat,
could make his way to the rock through the drift. But at the Bell
Rock neither snow nor rain, nor fog nor wind, retarded the progress
of the work, if unaccompanied by a heavy swell or breach of the

The weather during the months of April and May had been uncommonly
boisterous, and so cold that the thermometer seldom exceeded 40
degrees, while the barometer was generally about 29.50. We had not
only hail and sleet, but the snow on the last day of May lay on the
decks and rigging of the ship to the depth of about three inches;
and, although now entering upon the month of June, the length of
the day was the chief indication of summer. Yet such is the effect
of habit, and such was the expertness of the landing-master's crew,
that, even in this description of weather, seldom a tide's work was
lost. Such was the ardour and zeal of the heads of the several
departments at the rock, including Mr. Peter Logan, foreman
builder, Mr. Francis Watt, foreman millwright, and Captain Wilson,
landing-master, that it was on no occasion necessary to address
them, excepting in the way of precaution or restraint. Under these
circumstances, however, the writer not unfrequently felt
considerable anxiety, of which this day's experience will afford an

[Thursday, 1st June]

This morning, at a quarter-past eight, the artificers were landed
as usual, and, after three hours and three-quarters' work, five
stones were laid, the greater part of this tide having been taken
up in completing the boring and trenailing of the stones formerly
laid. At noon the writer, with the seamen and artificers,
proceeded to the tender, leaving on the beacon the joiners, and
several of those who were troubled with sea-sickness--among whom
was Mr. Logan, who remained with Mr. Watt--counting altogether
eleven persons. During the first and middle parts of these twenty-
four hours the wind was from the east, blowing what the seamen term
'fresh breezes'; but in the afternoon it shifted to E.N.E.,
accompanied with so heavy a swell of sea that the Smeaton and
tender struck their topmasts, launched in their bolt-sprits, and
'made all snug' for a gale. At four p.m. the Smeaton was obliged
to slip her moorings, and passed the tender, drifting before the
wind, with only the foresail set. In passing, Mr. Pool hailed that
he must run for the Firth of Forth to prevent the vessel from
'riding under.'

On board of the tender the writer's chief concern was about the
eleven men left upon the beacon. Directions were accordingly given
that everything about the vessel should be put in the best possible
state, to present as little resistance to the wind as possible,
that she might have the better chance of riding out the gale.
Among these preparations the best bower cable was bent, so as to
have a second anchor in readiness in case the mooring-hawser should
give way, that every means might be used for keeping the vessel
within sight of the prisoners on the beacon, and thereby keep them
in as good spirits as possible. From the same motive the boats
were kept afloat that they might be less in fear of the vessel
leaving her station. The landing-master had, however, repeatedly
expressed his anxiety for the safety of the boats, and wished much
to have them hoisted on board. At seven p.m. one of the boats, as
he feared, was unluckily filled with sea from a wave breaking into
her, and it was with great difficulty that she could be baled out
and got on board, with the loss of her oars, rudder, and loose
thwarts. Such was the motion of the ship that in taking this boat
on board her gunwale was stove in, and she otherwise received
considerable damage. Night approached, but it was still found
quite impossible to go near the rock. Consulting, therefore, the
safety of the second boat, she also was hoisted on board of the

At this time the cabins of the beacon were only partially covered,
and had neither been provided with bedding nor a proper fireplace,
while the stock of provisions was but slender. In these
uncomfortable circumstances the people on the beacon were left for
the night, nor was the situation of those on board of the tender
much better. The rolling and pitching motion of the ship was
excessive; and, excepting to those who had been accustomed to a
residence in the floating light, it seemed quite intolerable.
Nothing was heard but the hissing of the winds and the creaking of
the bulkheads or partitions of the ship; the night was, therefore,
spent in the most unpleasant reflections upon the condition of the
people on the beacon, especially in the prospect of the tender
being driven from her moorings. But, even in such a case, it
afforded some consolation that the stability of the fabric was
never doubted, and that the boats of the floating light were at no
great distance, and ready to render the people on the rock the
earliest assistance which the weather would permit. The writer's
cabin being in the sternmost part of the ship, which had what
sailors term a good entry, or was sharp built, the sea, as before
noticed, struck her counter with so much violence that the water,
with a rushing noise, continually forced its way up the rudder-
case, lifted the valve of the water-closet, and overran the cabin
floor. In these circumstances daylight was eagerly looked for, and
hailed with delight, as well by those afloat as by the artificers
upon the rock.

[Friday, 2nd June]

In the course of the night the writer held repeated conversations
with the officer on watch, who reported that the weather continued
much in the same state, and that the barometer still indicated
29.20 inches. At six a.m. the landing-master considered the
weather to have somewhat moderated; and, from certain appearances
of the sky, he was of opinion that a change for the better would
soon take place. He accordingly proposed to attempt a landing at
low-water, and either get the people off the rock, or at least
ascertain what state they were in. At nine a.m. he left the vessel
with a boat well manned, carrying with him a supply of cooked
provisions and a tea-kettle full of mulled port wine for the people
on the beacon, who had not had any regular diet for about thirty
hours, while they were exposed during that period, in a great
measure, both to the winds and the sprays of the sea. The boat
having succeeded in landing, she returned at eleven a.m. with the
artificers, who had got off with considerable difficulty, and who
were heartily welcomed by all on board.

Upon inquiry it appeared that three of the stones last laid upon
the building had been partially lifted from their beds by the force
of the sea, and were now held only by the trenails, and that the
cast-iron sheer-crane had again been thrown down and completely
broken. With regard to the beacon, the sea at high-water had
lifted part of the mortar gallery or lowest floor, and washed away
all the lime-casks and other movable articles from it; but the
principal parts of this fabric had sustained no damage. On
pressing Messrs. Logan and Watt on the situation of things in the
course of the night, Mr. Logan emphatically said: 'That the beacon
had an ILL-FAURED {171a} TWIST when the sea broke upon it at high-
water, but that they were not very apprehensive of danger.' On
inquiring as to how they spent the night, it appeared that they had
made shift to keep a small fire burning, and by means of some old
sails defended themselves pretty well from the sea sprays.

It was particularly mentioned that by the exertions of James Glen,
one of the joiners, a number of articles were saved from being
washed off the mortar gallery. Glen was also very useful in
keeping up the spirits of the forlorn party. In the early part of
life he had undergone many curious adventures at sea, which he now
recounted somewhat after the manner of the tales of the Arabian
Nights. When one observed that the beacon was a most comfortless
lodging, Glen would presently introduce some of his exploits and
hardships, in comparison with which the state of things at the
beacon bore an aspect of comfort and happiness. Looking to their
slender stock of provisions, and their perilous and uncertain
chance of speedy relief, he would launch out into an account of one
of his expeditions in the North Sea, when the vessel, being much
disabled in a storm, was driven before the wind with the loss of
almost all their provisions; and the ship being much infested with
rats, the crew hunted these vermin with great eagerness to help
their scanty allowance. By such means Glen had the address to make
his companions, in some measure, satisfied, or at least passive,
with regard to their miserable prospects upon this half-tide rock
in the middle of the ocean. This incident is noticed, more
particularly, to show the effects of such a happy turn of mind,
even under the most distressing and ill-fated circumstances.

[Saturday, 17th June]

At eight a.m. the artificers and sailors, forty-five in number,
landed on the rock, and after four hours' work seven stones were
laid. The remainder of this tide, from the threatening appearance
of the weather, was occupied in trenailing and making all things as
secure as possible. At twelve noon the rock and building were
again overflowed, when the masons and seamen went on board of the
tender, but Mr. Watt, with his squad of ten men, remained on the
beacon throughout the day. As it blew fresh from the N.W. in the
evening, it was found impracticable either to land the building
artificers or to take the artificers off the beacon, and they were
accordingly left there all night, but in circumstances very
different from those of the 1st of this month. The house, being
now in a more complete state, was provided with bedding, and they
spent the night pretty well, though they complained of having been
much disturbed at the time of high-water by the shaking and
tremulous motion of their house and by the plashing noise of the
sea upon mortar gallery. Here James Glen's versatile powers were
again at work in cheering up those who seemed to be alarmed, and in
securing everything as far as possible. On this occasion he had
only to recall to the recollections of some of them the former
night which they had spent on the beacon, the wind and sea being
then much higher, and their habitation in a far less comfortable

The wind still continuing to blow fresh from the N.W., at five p.m.
the writer caused a signal to be made from the tender for the
Smeaton and Patriot to slip their moorings, when they ran for Lunan
Bay, an anchorage on the east side of the Redhead. Those on board
of the tender spent but a very rough night, and perhaps slept less
soundly than their companions on the beacon, especially as the wind
was at N.W., which caused the vessel to ride with her stern towards
the Bell Rock; so that, in the event of anything giving way, she
could hardly have escaped being stranded upon it.

[Sunday, 18th June]

The weather having moderated to-day, the wind shifted to the
westward. At a quarter-past nine a.m. the artificers landed from
the tender and had the pleasure to find their friends who had been
left on the rock quite hearty, alleging that the beacon was the
preferable quarters of the two.

[Saturday, 24th June]

Mr. Peter Logan, the foreman builder, and his squad, twenty-one in
number, landed this morning at three o'clock, and continued at work
four hours and a quarter, and after laying seventeen stones
returned to the tender. At six a.m. Mr. Francis Watt and his squad
of twelve men landed, and proceeded with their respective
operations at the beacon and railways, and were left on the rock
during the whole day without the necessity of having any
communication with the tender, the kitchen of the beacon-house
being now fitted up. It was to-day, also, that Peter Fortune--a
most obliging and well-known character in the Lighthouse service--
was removed from the tender to the beacon as cook and steward, with
a stock of provisions as ample as his limited store-room would

When as many stones were built as comprised this day's work, the
demand for mortar was proportionally increased, and the task of the
mortar-makers on these occasions was both laborious and severe.
This operation was chiefly performed by John Watt--a strong, active
quarrier by profession,--who was a perfect character in his way,
and extremely zealous in his department. While the operations of
the mortar-makers continued, the forge upon the gallery was not
generally in use; but, as the working hours of the builders
extended with the height of the building, the forge could not be so
long wanted, and then a sad confusion often ensued upon the
circumscribed floor of the mortar gallery, as the operations of
Watt and his assistants trenched greatly upon those of the smiths.
Under these circumstances the boundary of the smiths was much
circumscribed, and they were personally annoyed, especially in
blowy weather, with the dust of the lime in its powdered state.
The mortar-makers, on the other hand, were often not a little
distressed with the heat of the fire and the sparks elicited on the
anvil, and not unaptly complained that they were placed between the
'devil and the deep sea.'

[Sunday, 25th June]

The work being now about ten feet in height, admitted of a rope-
ladder being distended {174a} between the beacon and the building.
By this 'Jacob's Ladder,' as the seamen termed it, a communication
was kept up with the beacon while the rock was considerably under
water. One end of it being furnished with tackle-blocks, was fixed
to the beams of the beacon, at the level of the mortar gallery,
while the further end was connected with the upper course of the
building by means of two Lewis bats which were lifted from course
to course as the work advanced. In the same manner a rope
furnished with a travelling pulley was distended for the purpose of
transporting the mortar-buckets, and other light articles between
the beacon and the building, which also proved a great conveniency
to the work. At this period the rope-ladder and tackle for the
mortar had a descent from the beacon to the building; by and by
they were on a level, and towards the end of the season, when the
solid part had attained its full height, the ascent was from the
mortar gallery to the building.

[Friday, 30th June]

The artificers landed on the rock this morning at a quarter-past
six, and remained at work five hours. The cooking apparatus being
now in full operation, all hands had breakfast on the beacon at the
usual hour, and remained there throughout the day. The crane upon
the building had to be raised to-day from the eighth to the ninth
course, an operation which now required all the strength that could
be mustered for working the guy-tackles; for as the top of the
crane was at this time about thirty-five feet above the rock, it
became much more unmanageable. While the beam was in the act of
swinging round from one guy to another, a great strain was suddenly
brought upon the opposite tackle, with the end of which the
artificers had very improperly neglected to take a turn round some
stationary object, which would have given them the complete command
of the tackle. Owing to this simple omission, the crane got a
preponderancy to one side, and fell upon the building with a
terrible crash. The surrounding artificers immediately flew in
every direction to get out of its way; but Michael Wishart, the
principal builder, having unluckily stumbled upon one of the uncut
trenails, fell upon his back. His body fortunately got between the
movable beam and the upright shaft of the crane, and was thus
saved; but his feet got entangled with the wheels of the crane and
were severely injured. Wishart, being a robust young man, endured
his misfortune with wonderful firmness; he was laid upon one of the
narrow framed beds of the beacon and despatched in a boat to the
tender, where the writer was when this accident happened, not a
little alarmed on missing the crane from the top of the building,
and at the same time seeing a boat rowing towards the vessel with
great speed. When the boat came alongside with poor Wishart,
stretched upon a bed covered with blankets, a moment of great
anxiety followed, which was, however, much relieved when, on
stepping into the boat, he was accosted by Wishart, though in a
feeble voice, and with an aspect pale as death from excessive
bleeding. Directions having been immediately given to the coxswain
to apply to Mr. Kennedy at the workyard to procure the best
surgical aid, the boat was sent off without delay to Arbroath. The
writer then landed at the rock, when the crane was in a very short
time got into its place and again put in a working state.

[Monday, 3rd July]

The writer having come to Arbroath with the yacht, had an
opportunity of visiting Michael Wishart, the artificer who had met
with so severe an accident at the rock on the 30th ult., and had
the pleasure to find him in a state of recovery. From Dr.
Stevenson's account, under whose charge he had been placed, hopes
were entertained that amputation would not be necessary, as his
patient still kept free of fever or any appearance of
mortification; and Wishart expressed a hope that he might, at
least, be ultimately capable of keeping the light at the Bell Rock,
as it was not now likely that he would assist further in building
the house.

[Saturday, 8th July]

It was remarked to-day, with no small demonstration of joy, that
the tide, being neap, did not, for the first time, overflow the
building at high-water. Flags were accordingly hoisted on the
beacon-house, and crane on the top of the building, which were
repeated from the floating light, Lighthouse yacht, tender,
Smeaton, Patriot, and the two praams. A salute of three guns was
also fired from the yacht at high-water, when, all the artificers
being collected on the top of the building, three cheers were given
in testimony of this important circumstance. A glass of rum was
then served out to all hands on the rock and on board of the
respective ships.

[Sunday, 16th July]

Besides laying, boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting thirty-
two stones, several other operations were proceeded with on the
rock at low-water, when some of the artificers were employed at the
railways, and at high-water at the beacon-house. The seamen having
prepared a quantity of tarpaulin, or cloth laid over with
successive coats of hot tar, the joiners had just completed the
covering of the roof with it. This sort of covering was lighter
and more easily managed than sheet-lead in such a situation. As a
further defence against the weather the whole exterior of this
temporary residence was painted with three coats of white-lead
paint. Between the timber framing of the habitable part of the
beacon the interstices were to be stuffed with moss, as a light
substance that would resist dampness and check sifting winds; the
whole interior was then to be lined with green baize cloth, so that
both without and within the cabins were to have a very comfortable

Although the building artificers generally remained on the rock
throughout the day, and the millwrights, joiners, and smiths, while
their number was considerable, remained also during the night, yet
the tender had hitherto been considered as their night quarters.
But the wind having in the course of the day shifted to the N.W.,
and as the passage to the tender, in the boats, was likely to be
attended with difficulty, the whole of the artificers, with Mr.
Logan, the foreman, preferred remaining all night on the beacon,
which had of late become the solitary abode of George-Forsyth, a
jobbing upholsterer, who had been employed in lining the beacon-
house with cloth and in fitting up the bedding. Forsyth was a
tall, thin, and rather loose-made man, who had an utter aversion at
climbing upon the trap-ladders of the beacon, but especially at the
process of boating, and the motion of the ship, which he said 'was
death itself.' He therefore pertinaciously insisted with the
landing-master in being left upon the beacon, with a small black
dog as his only companion. The writer, however, felt some delicacy
in leaving a single individual upon the rock, who must have been so
very helpless in case of accident. This fabric had, from the
beginning, been rather intended by the writer to guard against
accident from the loss or damage of a boat, and as a place for
making mortar, a smith's shop, and a store for tools during the
working months, than as permanent quarters; nor was it at all meant
to be possessed until tile joiner-work was completely finished, and
his own cabin, and that for the foreman, in readiness, when it was
still to be left to the choice of the artificers to occupy the
tender or the beacon. He, however, considered Forsyth's partiality
and confidence in the latter as rather a fortunate occurrence.

[Wednesday, 19th July]

The whole of the artificers, twenty-three in number, now removed of
their own accord from the tender, to lodge in the beacon, together
with Peter Fortune, a person singularly adapted for a residence of
this kind, both from the urbanity of his manners and the
versatility of his talents. Fortune, in his person, was of small
stature, and rather corpulent. Besides being a good Scots cook, he
had acted both as groom and house-servant; he had been a soldier, a
sutler, a writer's clerk, and an apothecary, from which he
possessed the art of writing and suggesting recipes, and had hence,
also, perhaps, acquired a turn for making collections in natural
history. But in his practice in surgery on the Bell Rock, for
which he received an annual fee of three guineas, he is supposed to
have been rather partial to the use of the lancet. In short, Peter
was the factotum of the beacon-house, where he ostensibly acted in
the several capacities of cook, steward, surgeon, and barber, and
kept a statement of the rations or expenditure of the provisions
with the strictest integrity.

In the present important state of the building, when it had just
attained the height of sixteen feet, and the upper courses, and
especially the imperfect one, were in the wash of the heaviest
seas, an express boat arrived at the rock with a letter from Mr.
Kennedy, of the workyard, stating that in consequence of the
intended expedition to Walcheren, an embargo had been laid on
shipping at all the ports of Great Britain: that both the Smeaton
and Patriot were detained at Arbroath, and that but for the proper
view which Mr. Ramsey, the port officer, had taken of his orders,
neither the express boat nor one which had been sent with
provisions and necessaries for the floating light would have been
permitted to leave the harbour. The writer set off without delay
for Arbroath, and on landing used every possible means with the
official people, but their orders were deemed so peremptory that
even boats were not permitted to sail from any port upon the coast.
In the meantime, the collector of the Customs at Montrose applied
to the Board at Edinburgh, but could, of himself, grant no relief
to the Bell Rock shipping.

At this critical period Mr. Adam Duff, then Sheriff of Forfarshire,
now of the county of Edinburgh, and ex officio one of the
Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses, happened to be at
Arbroath. Mr. Duff took an immediate interest in representing the
circumstances of the case to the Board of Customs at Edinburgh.
But such were the doubts entertained on the subject that, on having
previously received the appeal from the collector at Montrose, the
case had been submitted to the consideration of the Lords of the
Treasury, whose decision was now waited for.

In this state of things the writer felt particularly desirous to
get the thirteenth course finished, that the building might be in a
more secure state in the event of bad weather. An opportunity was
therefore embraced on the 25th, in sailing with provisions for the
floating light, to carry the necessary stones to the rock for this
purpose, which were landed and built on the 26th and 27th. But so
closely was the watch kept up that a Custom-house officer was
always placed on board of the Smeaton and Patriot while they were
afloat, till the embargo was especially removed from the lighthouse
vessels. The artificers at the Bell Rock had been reduced to
fifteen, who were regularly supplied with provisions, along with
the crew of the floating light, mainly through the port officer's
liberal interpretation of his orders.

[Tuesday, 1st Aug.]

There being a considerable swell and breach of sea upon the rock
yesterday, the stones could not be got landed till the day
following, when the wind shifted to the southward and the weather
improved. But to-day no less than seventy-eight blocks of stone
were landed, of which forty were built, which completed the
fourteenth and part of the fifteenth courses. The number of
workmen now resident in the beacon-house was augmented to twenty-
four, including the landing-master's crew from the tender and the
boat's crew from the floating light, who assisted at landing the
stones. Those daily at work upon the rock at this period amounted
to forty-six. A cabin had been laid out for the writer on the
beacon, but his apartment had been the last which was finished, and
he had not yet taken possession of it; for though he generally
spent the greater part of the day, at this time, upon the rock, yet
he always slept on board of the tender.

[Friday, 11th Aug.]

The wind was at S. E. on the 11th, and there was so very heavy a
swell of sea upon the rock that no boat could approach it.

[Saturday, 12th Aug.]

The gale still continuing from the S.E., the sea broke with great
violence both upon the building and the beacon. The former being
twenty-three feet in height, the upper part of the crane erected on
it having been lifted from course to course as the building
advanced, was now about thirty-six feet above the rock. From
observations made on the rise of the sea by this crane, the
artificers were enabled to estimate its height to be about fifty
feet above the rock, while the sprays fell with a most alarming
noise upon their cabins. At low-water, in the evening, a signal
was made from the beacon, at the earnest desire of some of the
artificers, for the boats to come to the rock; and although this
could not be effected without considerable hazard, it was, however,
accomplished, when twelve of their number, being much afraid,
applied to the foreman to be relieved, and went on board of the
tender. But the remaining fourteen continued on the rock, with Mr.
Peter Logan, the foreman builder. Although this rule of allowing
an option to every man either to remain on the rock or return to
the tender was strictly adhered to, yet, as it would have been
extremely inconvenient to have the men parcelled out in this
manner, it became necessary to embrace the first opportunity of
sending those who had left the beacon to the workyard, with as
little appearance of intention as possible, lest it should hurt
their feelings, or prevent others from acting according to their
wishes, either in landing on the rock or remaining on the beacon.

[Tuesday, 15th Aug.]

The wind had fortunately shifted to the S.W. this morning, and
though a considerable breach was still upon the rock, yet the
landing-master's crew were enabled to get one praam-boat, lightly
loaded with five stones, brought in safety to the western creek;
these stones were immediately laid by the artificers, who gladly
embraced the return of good weather to proceed with their
operations. The writer had this day taken possession of his cabin
in the beacon-house. It was small, but commodious, and was found
particularly convenient in coarse and blowing weather, instead of
being obliged to make a passage to the tender in an open boat at
all times, both during the day and the night, which was often
attended with much difficulty and danger.

[Saturday, 19th Aug.]

For some days past the weather had been occasionally so thick and
foggy that no small difficulty was experienced in going even
between the rock and the tender, though quite at hand. But the
floating light's boat lost her way so far in returning on board
that the first land she made, after rowing all night, was Fifeness,
a distance of about fourteen miles. The weather having cleared in
the morning, the crew stood off again for the floating light, and
got on board in a half-famished and much exhausted state, having
been constantly rowing for about sixteen hours.

[Sunday, 20th Aug.]

The weather being very favourable to-day, fifty-three stones were
landed, and the builders were not a little gratified in having
built the twenty-second course, consisting of fifty-one stones,
being the first course which had been completed in one day. This,
as a matter of course, produced three hearty cheers. At twelve
noon prayers were read for the first time on the Bell Rock; those
present, counting thirty, were crowded into the upper apartment of
the beacon, where the writer took a central position, while two of
the artificers, joining hands, supported the Bible.

[Friday, 25th Aug.]

To-day the artificers laid forty-five stones, which completed the
twenty-fourth course, reckoning above the first entire one, and the
twenty-sixth above the rock. This finished the solid part of the
building, and terminated the height of the outward casing of
granite, which is thirty-one feet six inches above the rock or site
of the foundation-stone, and about seventeen feet above high-water
of spring-tides. Being a particular crisis in the progress of the
lighthouse, the landing and laying of the last stone for the season
was observed with the usual ceremonies.

From observations often made by the writer, in so far as such can
be ascertained, it appears that no wave in the open seas, in an
unbroken state, rises more than from seven to nine feet above the
general surface of the ocean. The Bell Rock Lighthouse may
therefore now be considered at from eight to ten feet above the
height of the waves; and, although the sprays and heavy seas have
often been observed, in the present state of the building, to rise
to the height of fifty feet, and fall with a tremendous noise on
the beacon-house, yet such seas were not likely to make any
impression on a mass of solid masonry, containing about 1400 tons,

[Wednesday, 30th Aug.]

The whole of the artificers left the rock at mid-day, when the
tender made sail for Arbroath, which she reached about six p.m.
The vessel being decorated with colours, and having fired a salute
of three guns on approaching the harbour, the workyard artificers,
with a multitude of people, assembled at the harbour, when mutual
cheering and congratulations took place between those afloat and
those on the quays. The tender had now, with little exception,
been six months on the station at the Bell Rock, and during the
last four months few of the squad of builders had been ashore. In
particular, Mr. Peter Logan, the foreman, and Mr. Robert Selkirk,
principal builder, had never once left the rock. The artificers,
having made good wages during their stay, like seamen upon a return
voyage, were extremely happy, and spent the evening with much
innocent mirth and jollity.

In reflecting upon the state of the matters at the Bell Rock during
the working months, when the writer was much with the artificers,
nothing can equal the happy manner in which these excellent workmen
spent their time. They always went from Arbroath to their arduous
task cheering and they generally returned in the same hearty state.
While at the rock, between the tides, they amused themselves in
reading, fishing, music, playing cards, draughts, etc., or in
sporting with one another. In the workyard at Arbroath the young
men were almost, without exception, employed in the evening at
school, in writing and arithmetic, and not a few were learning
architectural drawing, for which they had every convenience and
facility, and were, in a very obliging manner, assisted in their
studies by Mr. David Logan, clerk of the works. It therefore
affords the most pleasing reflections to look back upon the
pursuits of about sixty individuals who for years conducted
themselves, on all occasions, in a sober and rational manner.


[Thursday, 10th May]

The wind had shifted to-day to W.N.W., when the writer, with
considerable difficulty, was enabled to land upon the rock for the
first time this season, at ten a.m. Upon examining the state of
the building, and apparatus in general, he had the satisfaction to
find everything in good order. The mortar in all the joints was
perfectly entire. The building, now thirty feet in height, was
thickly coated with fuci to the height of about fifteen feet,
calculating from the rock: on the eastern side, indeed, the growth
of seaweed was observable to the full height of thirty feet, and
even on the top or upper bed of the last-laid course, especially
towards the eastern side, it had germinated, so as to render
walking upon it somewhat difficult.

The beacon-house was in a perfectly sound state, and apparently
just as it had been left in the month of November. But the tides
being neap, the lower parts, particularly where the beams rested on
the rock, could not now be seen. The floor of the mortar gallery
having been already laid down by Mr. Watt and his men on a former
visit, was merely soaked with the sprays; but the joisting-beams
which supported it had, in the course of the winter, been covered
with a fine downy conferva produced by the range of the sea. They
were also a good deal whitened with the mute of the cormorant and
other sea-fowls, which had roosted upon the beacon in winter. Upon
ascending to the apartments, it was found that the motion of the
sea had thrown open the door of the cook-house: this was only shut
with a single latch, that in case of shipwreck at the Bell Rock the
mariner might find ready access to the shelter of this forlorn
habitation, where a supply of provisions was kept; and being within
two miles and a half of the floating light, a signal could readily
be observed, when a boat might be sent to his relief as the weather
permitted. An arrangement for this purpose formed one of the
instructions on board of the floating light, but happily no
instance occurred for putting it in practice. The hearth or
fireplace of the cook-house was built of brick in as secure a
manner as possible, to prevent accident from fire; but some of the
plaster-work had shaken loose, from its damp state and the
tremulous motion of the beacon in stormy weather. The writer next
ascended to the floor which was occupied by the cabins of himself
and his assistants, which were in tolerably good order, having only
a damp and musty smell. The barrack for the artificers, over all,
was next visited; it had now a very dreary and deserted appearance
when its former thronged state was recollected. In some parts the
water had come through the boarding, and had discoloured the lining
of green cloth, but it was, nevertheless, in a good habitable
condition. While the seamen were employed in landing a stock of
provisions, a few of the artificers set to work with great
eagerness to sweep and clean the several apartments. The exterior
of the beacon was, in the meantime, examined, and found in perfect
order. The painting, though it had a somewhat blanched appearance,
adhered firmly both on the sides and roof, and only two or three
panes of glass were broken in the cupola, which had either been
blown out by the force of the wind, or perhaps broken by sea-fowl.

Having on this occasion continued upon the building and beacon a
considerable time after the tide had begun to flow, the artificers
were occupied in removing the forge from the top of the building,
to which the gangway or wooden bridge gave great facility; and,
although it stretched or had a span of forty-two feet, its
construction was extremely simple, while the road-way was perfectly
firm and steady. In returning from this visit to the rock every
one was pretty well soused in spray before reaching the tender at
two o'clock p.m., where things awaited the landing party in as
comfortable a way as such a situation would admit.

[Friday, 11th May]

The wind was still easterly, accompanied with rather a heavy swell
of sea for the operations in hand. A landing was, however, made
this morning, when the artificers were immediately employed in
scraping the seaweed off the upper course of the building, in order
to apply the moulds of the first course of the staircase, that the
joggle-holes might be marked off in the upper course of the solid.
This was also necessary previously to the writer's fixing the
position of the entrance door, which was regulated chiefly by the
appearance of the growth of the seaweed on the building, indicating
the direction of the heaviest seas, on the opposite side of which
the door was placed. The landing-master's crew succeeded in towing
into the creek on the western side of the rock the praam-boat with
the balance-crane, which had now been on board of the praam for
five days. The several pieces of this machine, having been
conveyed along the railways upon the waggons to a position
immediately under the bridge, were elevated to its level, or thirty
feet above the rock, in the following manner. A chain-tackle was
suspended over a pulley from the cross-beam connecting the tops of
the kingposts of the bridge, which was worked by a winch-machine
with wheel, pinion, and barrel, round which last the chain was
wound. This apparatus was placed on the beacon side of the bridge,
at the distance of about twelve feet from the cross-beam and pulley
in the middle of the bridge. Immediately under the cross-beam a
hatch was formed in the roadway of the bridge, measuring seven feet
in length and five feet in breadth, made to shut with folding
boards like a double door, through which stones and other articles
were raised; the folding doors were then let down, and the stone or
load was gently lowered upon a waggon which was wheeled on railway
trucks towards the lighthouse. In this manner the several castings
of the balance-crane were got up to the top of the solid of the

The several apartments of the beacon-house having been cleaned out
and supplied with bedding, a sufficient stock of provisions was put
into the store, when Peter Fortune, formerly noticed, lighted his
fire in the beacon for the first time this season. Sixteen
artificers at the same time mounted to their barrack-room, and all
the foremen of the works also took possession of their cabin, all
heartily rejoiced at getting rid of the trouble of boating and the
sickly motion of the tender.

[Saturday, 12th May]

The wind was at E.N.E., blowing so fresh, and accompanied with so
much sea, that no stones could be landed to-day. The people on the
rock, however, were busily employed in screwing together the
balance-crane, cutting out the joggle-holes in the upper course,
and preparing all things for commencing the building operations.

[Sunday, 13th May]

The weather still continues boisterous, although the barometer has
all the while stood at about 30 inches. Towards evening the wind
blew so fresh at E. by S. that the boats both of the Smeaton and
tender were obliged to be hoisted in, and it was feared that the
Smeaton would have to slip her moorings. The people on the rock
were seen busily employed, and had the balance-crane apparently
ready for use, but no communication could be had with them to-day.

[Monday, 14th May]

The wind continued to blow so fresh, and the Smeaton rode so
heavily with her cargo, that at noon a signal was made for her
getting under weigh, when she stood towards Arbroath; and on board
of the tender we are still without any communication with the
people on the rock, where the sea was seen breaking over the top of
the building in great sprays, and raging with much agitation among
the beams of the beacon.

[Thursday, 17th May]

The wind, in the course of the day, had shifted from north to west;
the sea being also considerably less, a boat landed on the rock at
six p.m., for the first time since the 11th, with the provisions
and water brought off by the Patriot. The inhabitants of the
beacon were all well, but tired above measure for want of
employment, as the balance-crane and apparatus was all in
readiness. Under these circumstances they felt no less desirous of
the return of good weather than those afloat, who were continually
tossed with the agitation of the sea. The writer, in particular,
felt himself almost as much fatigued and worn-out as he had been at
any period since the commencement of the work. The very backward
state of the weather at so advanced a period of the season
unavoidably created some alarm, lest he should be overtaken with
bad weather at a late period of the season, with the building
operations in an unfinished state. These apprehensions were, no
doubt, rather increased by the inconveniences of his situation
afloat, as the tender rolled and pitched excessively at times.
This being also his first off-set for the season, every bone of his
body felt sore with preserving a sitting posture while he
endeavoured to pass away the time in reading; as for writing, it
was wholly impracticable. He had several times entertained
thoughts of leaving the station for a few days and going into
Arbroath with the tender till the weather should improve; but as
the artificers had been landed on the rock he was averse to this at
the commencement of the season, knowing also that he would be
equally uneasy in every situation till the first cargo was landed:
and he therefore resolved to continue at his post until this should
be effected.

[Friday, 18th May]

The wind being now N.W., the sea was considerably run down, and
this morning at five o'clock the landing-master's crew, thirteen in
number, left the tender; and having now no detention with the
landing of artificers, they proceeded to unmoor the Hedderwick
praam-boat, and towed her alongside of the Smeaton: and in the
course of the day twenty-three blocks of stone, three casks of
pozzolano, three of sand, three of lime, and one of Roman cement,
together with three bundles of trenails and three of wedges, were
all landed on the rock and raised the top of the building by means
of the tackle suspended from the cross-beam on the middle of the
bridge. The stones were then moved along the bridge on the waggon
to the building within reach of the balance-crane, with which they
were laid in their respective places on the building. The masons
immediately thereafter proceeded to bore the trenail-holes into the
course below, and otherwise to complete the one in hand. When the
first stone was to be suspended by the balance-crane, the bell on
the beacon was rung, and all the artificers and seamen were
collected on the building. Three hearty cheers were given while it
was lowered into its place, and the steward served round a glass of
rum, when success was drunk to the further progress of the

[Sunday, 20th May]

The wind was southerly to-day, but there was much less sea than
yesterday, and the landing-master's crew were enabled to discharge
and land twenty-three pieces of stone and other articles for the
work. The artificers had completed the laying of the twenty-
seventh or first course of the staircase this morning, and in the
evening they finished the boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting
it with mortar. At twelve o'clock noon the beacon-house bell was
rung, and all hands were collected on the top of the building,
where prayers were read for the first time on the lighthouse, which
forcibly struck every one, and had, upon the whole, a very
impressive effect.

From the hazardous situation of the beacon-house with regard to
fire, being composed wholly of timber, there was no small risk from
accident: and on this account one of the most steady of the
artificers was appointed to see that the fire of the cooking-house,
and the lights in general, were carefully extinguished at stated

[Monday, 4th June]

This being the birthday of our much-revered Sovereign King George
III, now in the fiftieth year of his reign, the shipping of the
Lighthouse service were this morning decorated with colours
according to the taste of their respective captains. Flags were
also hoisted upon the beacon-house and balance-crane on the top of
the building. At twelve noon a salute was fired from the tender,
when the King's health was drunk, with all the honours, both on the
rock and on board of the shipping.

[Tuesday, 5th June]

As the lighthouse advanced in height, the cubical contents of the
stones were less, but they had to be raised to a greater height;
and the walls, being thinner, were less commodious for the
necessary machinery and the artificers employed, which considerably
retarded the work. Inconvenience was also occasionally experienced
from the men dropping their coats, hats, mallets, and other tools,
at high-water, which were carried away by the tide; and the danger
to the people themselves was now greatly increased. Had any of
them fallen from the beacon or building at high-water, while the
landing-master's crew were generally engaged with the craft at a
distance, it must have rendered the accident doubly painful to
those on the rock, who at this time had no boat, and consequently
no means of rendering immediate and prompt assistance. In such
cases it would have been too late to have got a boat by signal from
the tender. A small boat, which could be lowered at pleasure, was
therefore suspended by a pair of davits projected from the cook-
house, the keel being about thirty feet from the rock. This boat,
with its tackle was put under the charge of James Glen, of whose
exertions on the beacon mention has already been made, and who,
having in early life been a seaman, was also very expert in the
management of a boat. A life-buoy was likewise suspended from the
bridge, to which a coil of line two hundred fathoms in length was
attached, which could be let out to a person falling into the
water, or to the people in the boat, should they not be able to
work her with the oars.

[Tuesday, 7th June]

To-day twelve stones were landed on the rock, being the remainder
of the Patriot's cargo; and the artificers built the thirty-ninth
course, consisting of fourteen stones. The Bell Rock works had now
a very busy appearance, as the lighthouse was daily getting more
into form. Besides the artificers and their cook, the writer and
his servant were also lodged on the beacon, counting in all twenty-
nine; and at low-water the landing-master's crew, consisting of
from twelve to fifteen seamen, were employed in transporting the
building materials, working the landing apparatus on the rock, and
dragging the stone waggons along the railways.

[Friday, 8th June]

In the course of this day the weather varied much. In the morning
it was calm, in the middle part of the day there were light airs of
wind from the south, and in the evening fresh breezes from the
east. The barometer in the writer's cabin in the beacon-house
oscillated from 30 inches to 30.42, and the weather was extremely
pleasant. This, in any situation, forms one of the chief comforts
of life; but, as may easily be conceived, it was doubly so to
people stuck, as it were, upon a pinnacle in the middle of the

[Sunday, 10th June]

One of the praam-boats had been brought to the rock with eleven
stones, notwithstanding the perplexity which attended the getting
of those formerly landed taken up to the building. Mr. Peter
Logan, the foreman builder, interposed, and prevented this cargo
from being delivered; but the landing-master's crew were
exceedingly averse to this arrangement, from an idea that "ill
luck" would in future attend the praam, her cargo, and those who
navigated her, from thus reversing her voyage. It may be noticed
that this was the first instance of a praam-boat having been sent
from the Bell Rock with any part of her cargo on board, and was
considered so uncommon an occurrence that it became a topic of
conversation among the seamen and artificers.

[Tuesday, 12th June]

To-day the stones formerly sent from the rock were safely landed,
notwithstanding the augury of the seamen in consequence of their
being sent away two days before.

[Thursday, 14th June]

To-day twenty-seven stones and eleven joggle-pieces were landed,
part of which consisted of the forty-seventh course, forming the
storeroom floor. The builders were at work this morning by four
o'clock, in the hopes of being able to accomplish the laying of the
eighteen stones of this course. But at eight o'clock in the
evening they had still two to lay, and as the stones of this course
were very unwieldy, being six feet in length, they required much
precaution and care both in lifting and laying them. It was only
on the writer's suggestion to Mr. Logan that the artificers were
induced to leave off, as they had intended to complete this floor
before going to bed. The two remaining stones were, however, laid
in their places without mortar when the bell on the beacon was
rung, and, all hands being collected on the top of the building,
three hearty cheers were given on covering the first apartment.
The steward then served out a dram to each, when the whole retired
to their barrack much fatigued, but with the anticipation of the
most perfect repose even in the "hurricane-house," amidst the
dashing seas on the Bell Rock.

While the workmen were at breakfast and dinner it was the writer's
usual practice to spend his time on the walls of the building,
which, notwithstanding the narrowness of the track, nevertheless
formed his principal walk when the rock was under water. But this
afternoon he had his writing-desk set upon the storeroom floor,
when he wrote to Mrs. Stevenson--certainly the first letter dated
from the Bell Rock LIGHTHOUSE--giving a detail of the fortunate
progress of the work with an assurance that the lighthouse would
soon be completed at the rate at which it now proceeded; and, the
Patriot having sailed for Arbroath in the evening, he felt no small
degree of pleasure in despatching this communication to his family.

The weather still continuing favourable for the operations at the
rock, the work proceeded with much energy, through the exertions
both of the seamen and artificers. For the more speedy and
effectual working of the several tackles in raising the materials
as the building advanced in height, and there being a great extent
of railway to attend to, which required constant repairs, two
additional millwrights were added to the complement on the rock,
which, including the writer, now counted thirty-one in all. So
crowded was the men's barrack that the beds were ranged five tier
in height, allowing only about one foot eight inches for each bed.
The artificers commenced this morning at five o'clock, and, in the
course of the day, they laid the forty-eighth and forty-ninth
courses, consisting each of sixteen blocks. From the favourable
state of the weather, and the regular manner in which the work now
proceeded, the artificers had generally from four to seven extra
hours' work, which, including their stated wages of 3s. 4d.,
yielded them from 5s. 4d. to about 6s. 10d. per day besides their
board; even the postage of their letters was paid while they were
at the Bell Rock. In these advantages the foremen also shared,
having about double the pay and amount of premiums of the
artificers. The seamen being less out of their element in the Bell
Rock operations than the landsmen, their premiums consisted in a
slump sum payable at the end of the season, which extended from
three to ten guineas.

As the laying of the floors was somewhat tedious, the landing-
master and his crew had got considerably beforehand with the
building artificers in bringing materials faster to the rock than
they could be built. The seamen having, therefore, some spare
time, were occasionally employed during fine weather in dredging or
grappling for the several mushroom anchors and mooring-chains which
had been lost in the vicinity of the Bell Rock during the progress
of the work by the breaking loose and drifting of the floating
buoys. To encourage their exertions in this search, five guineas
were offered as a premium for each set they should find; and, after
much patient application, they succeeded to-day in hooking one of
these lost anchors with its chain.

It was a general remark at the Bell Rock, as before noticed, that
fish were never plenty in its neighbourhood excepting in good
weather. Indeed, the seamen used to speculate about the state of
the weather from their success in fishing. When the fish
disappeared at the rock, it was considered a sure indication that a
gale was not far off, as the fish seemed to seek shelter in deeper
water from the roughness of the sea during these changes in the
weather. At this time the rock, at high-water, was completely
covered with podlies, or the fry of the coal-fish, about six or
eight inches in length. The artificers sometimes occupied half an
hour after breakfast and dinner in catching these little fishes,
but were more frequently supplied from the boats of the tender.

[Saturday, 16th June]

The landing-master having this day discharged the Smeaton and
loaded the Hedderwick and Dickie praam-boats with nineteen stones,
they were towed to their respective moorings, when Captain Wilson,
in consequence of the heavy swell of sea, came in his boat to the
beacon-house to consult with the writer as to the propriety of
venturing the loaded praam-boats with their cargoes to the rock
while so much sea was running. After some dubiety expressed on the
subject, in which the ardent mind of the landing-master suggested
many arguments in favour of his being able to convey the praams in
perfect safety, it was acceded to. In bad weather, and especially
on occasions of difficulty like the present, Mr. Wilson, who was an
extremely active seaman, measuring about five feet three inches in
height, of a robust habit, generally dressed himself in what he
called a MONKEY JACKET, made of thick duffle cloth, with a pair of
Dutchman's petticoat trousers, reaching only to his knees, where
they were met with a pair of long water-tight boots; with this
dress, his glazed hat, and his small brass speaking trumpet in his
hand, he bade defiance to the weather. When he made his appearance
in this most suitable attire for the service his crew seemed to
possess additional life, never failing to use their utmost
exertions when the captain put on his STORM RIGGING. They had this
morning commenced loading the praam-boats at four o'clock, and
proceeded to tow them into the eastern landing-place, which was
accomplished with much dexterity, though not without the risk of
being thrown, by the force of the sea, on certain projecting ledges
of the rock. In such a case the loss even of a single stone would
have greatly retarded the work. For the greater safety in entering
the creek it was necessary to put out several warps and guy-ropes
to guide the boats into its narrow and intricate entrance; and it
frequently happened that the sea made a clean breach over the
praams, which not only washed their decks, but completely drenched
the crew in water.

[Sunday, 17th June]

It was fortunate, in the present state of the weather, that the
fiftieth course was in a sheltered spot, within the reach of the
tackle of the winch-machine upon the bridge; a few stones were
stowed upon the bridge itself, and the remainder upon the building,
which kept the artificers at work. The stowing of the materials
upon the rock was the department of Alexander Brebner, mason, who
spared no pains in attending to the safety of the stones, and who,
in the present state of the work, when the stones were landed
faster than could be built, generally worked till the water rose to
his middle. At one o'clock to-day the bell rung for prayers, and
all hands were collected into the upper barrack-room of the beacon-
house, when the usual service was performed.

The wind blew very hard in the course of last night from N.E., and
to-day the sea ran so high that no boat could approach the rock.
During the dinner-hour, when the writer was going to the top of the
building as usual, but just as he had entered the door and was
about to ascend the ladder, a great noise was heard overhead, and
in an instant he was soused in water from a sea which had most
unexpectedly come over the walls, though now about fifty-eight feet
in height. On making his retreat he found himself completely
whitened by the lime, which had mixed with the water while dashing
down through the different floors; and, as nearly as he could
guess, a quantity equal to about a hogshead had come over the
walls, and now streamed out at the door. After having shifted
himself, he again sat down in his cabin, the sea continuing to run
so high that the builders did not resume their operations on the
walls this afternoon. The incident just noticed did not create
more surprise in the mind of the writer than the sublime appearance
of the waves as they rolled majestically over the rock. This scene
he greatly enjoyed while sitting at his cabin window; each wave
approached the beacon like a vast scroll unfolding; and in passing
discharged a quantity of air, which he not only distinctly felt,
but was even sufficient to lift the leaves of a book which lay
before him. These waves might be ten or twelve feet in height, and
about 250 feet in length, their smaller end being towards the
north, where the water was deep, and they were opened or cut
through by the interposition of the building and beacon. The
gradual manner in which the sea, upon these occasions, is observed
to become calm or to subside, is a very remarkable feature of this
phenomenon. For example, when a gale is succeeded by a calm, every
third or fourth wave forms one of these great seas, which occur in
spaces of from three to five minutes, as noted by the writer's
watch; but in the course of the next tide they become less
frequent, and take off so as to occur only in ten or fifteen
minutes; and, singular enough, at the third tide after such gales,
the writer has remarked that only one or two of these great waves
appear in the course of the whole tide.

[Tuesday, 19th June]

The 19th was a very unpleasant and disagreeable day, both for the
seamen and artificers, as it rained throughout with little
intermission from four a.m. till eleven p.m., accompanied with
thunder and lightning, during which period the work nevertheless
continued unremittingly, and the builders laid the fifty-first and
fifty-second courses. This state of weather was no less severe
upon the mortar-makers, who required to temper or prepare the
mortar of a thicker or thinner consistency, in some measure,
according to the state of the weather. From the elevated position
of the building, the mortar gallery on the beacon was now much
lower, and the lime-buckets were made to traverse upon a rope
distended between it and the building. On occasions like the
present, however, there was often a difference of opinion between
the builders and the mortar-makers. John Watt, who had the
principal charge of the mortar, was a most active worker, but,
being somewhat of an irascible temper, the builders occasionally
amused themselves at his expense; for while he was eagerly at work
with his large iron-shod pestle in the mortar-tub, they often sent
down contradictory orders, some crying, 'Make it a little stiffer,
or thicker, John,' while others called out to make it 'thinner,' to
which he generally returned very speedy and sharp replies, so that
these conversations at times were rather amusing.

During wet weather the situation of the artificers on the top of
the building was extremely disagreeable; for although their work
did not require great exertion, yet, as each man had his particular
part to perform, either in working the crane or in laying the
stones, it required the closest application and attention, not only
on the part of Mr. Peter Logan, the foreman, who was constantly on
the walls, but also of the chief workmen. Robert Selkirk, the
principal builder, for example, had every stone to lay in its
place. David Cumming, a mason, had the charge of working the
tackle of the balance-weight, and James Scott, also a mason, took
charge of the purchase with which the stones were laid; while the
pointing the joints of the walls with cement was intrusted to
William Reid and William Kennedy, who stood upon a scaffold
suspended over the walls in rather a frightful manner. The least
act of carelessness or inattention on the part of any of these men
might have been fatal, not only to themselves, but also to the
surrounding workmen, especially if any accident had happened to the
crane itself, while the material damage or loss of a single stone
would have put an entire stop to the operations until another could
have been brought from Arbroath. The artificers, having wrought
seven and a half hours of extra time to-day, had 3s. 9d. of extra
pay, while the foremen had 7s. 6d. over and above their stated pay
and board. Although, therefore, the work was both hazardous and
fatiguing, yet, the encouragement being considerable, they were
always very cheerful, and perfectly reconciled to the confinement
and other disadvantages of the place.

During fine weather, and while the nights were short, the duty on
board of the floating light was literally nothing but a waiting on,
and therefore one of her boats, with a crew of five men, daily
attended the rock, but always returned to the vessel at night. The
carpenter, however, was one of those who was left on board of the
ship, as he also acted in the capacity of assistant lightkeeper,
being, besides, a person who was apt to feel discontent and to be
averse to changing his quarters, especially to work with the
millwrights and joiners at the rock, who often, for hours together,
wrought knee-deep, and not unfrequently up to the middle, in water.
Mr. Watt having about this time made a requisition for another
hand, the carpenter was ordered to attend the rock in the floating
light's boat. This he did with great reluctance, and found so much
fault that he soon got into discredit with his messmates. On this
occasion he left the Lighthouse service, and went as a sailor in a
vessel bound for America--a step which, it is believed, he soon
regretted, as, in the course of things, he would, in all
probability, have accompanied Mr. John Reid, the principal
lightkeeper of the floating light, to the Bell Rock Lighthouse as
his principal assistant. The writer had a wish to be of service to
this man, as he was one of those who came off to the floating light
in the month of September 1807, while she was riding at single
anchor after the severe gale of the 7th, at a time when it was
hardly possible to make up this vessel's crew; but the crossness of
his manner prevented his reaping the benefit of such intentions.

[Friday, 22nd June]

The building operations had for some time proceeded more slowly,
from the higher parts of the lighthouse requiring much longer time
than an equal tonnage of the lower courses. The duty of the
landing-master's crew had, upon the whole, been easy of late; for
though the work was occasionally irregular, yet the stones being
lighter, they were more speedily lifted from the hold of the stone
vessel to the deck of the praam-boat, and again to the waggons on
the railway, after which they came properly under the charge of the
foreman builder. It is, however, a strange, though not an
uncommon, feature in the human character, that, when people have
least to complain of, they are most apt to become dissatisfied, as
was now the case with the seamen employed in the Bell Rock service
about their rations of beer. Indeed, ever since the carpenter of
the floating light, formerly noticed, had been brought to the rock,
expressions of discontent had been manifested upon various
occasions. This being represented to the writer, he sent for
Captain Wilson, the landing-master, and Mr. Taylor, commander of
the tender, with whom he talked over the subject. They stated that
they considered the daily allowance of the seamen in every respect
ample, and that, the work being now much lighter than formerly,
they had no just ground for complaint; Mr. Taylor adding that, if
those who now complained 'were even to be fed upon soft bread and
turkeys, they would not think themselves right.' At twelve noon
the work of the landing-master's crew was completed for the day;
but at four o'clock, while the rock was under water, those on the
beacon were surprised by the arrival of a boat from the tender
without any signal having been made from the beacon. It brought
the following note to the writer from the landing-master's crew:-

'Sir Joseph Banks Tender.

'SIR,--We are informed by our masters that our allowance is to be
as before, and it is not sufficient to serve us, for we have been
at work since four o'clock this morning, and we have come on board
to dinner, and there is no beer for us before to-morrow morning, to
which a sufficient answer is required before we go from the beacon;
and we are, Sir, your most obedient servants.'

On reading this, the writer returned a verbal message, intimating
that an answer would be sent on board of the tender, at the same
time ordering the boat instantly to quit the beacon. He then
addressed the following note to the landing-master:-

'Beacon-house, 22nd June 1810,
Five o'clock p.m.

'SIR,--I have just now received a letter purporting to be from the
landing-master's crew and seamen on board of the Sir Joseph Banks,
though without either date or signature; in answer to which I
enclose a statement of the daily allowance of provisions for the
seamen in this service, which you will post up in the ship's
galley, and at seven o'clock this evening I will come on board to
inquire into this unexpected and most unnecessary demand for an
additional allowance of beer. In the enclosed you will not find
any alteration from the original statement, fixed in the galley at
the beginning of the season. I have, however, judged this mode of
giving your people an answer preferable to that of conversing with
them on the beacon. --I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, ROBERT


'Beacon House, 22nd June 1810.--Schedule of the daily allowance of
provisions to be served out on board of the Sir Joseph Banks
tender: "1.5 lb. beef; 1 lb. bread; 8 oz. oatmeal; 2 oz. barley; 2
oz. butter; 3 quarts beer; vegetables and salt no stated allowance.
When the seamen are employed in unloading the Smeaton and Patriot,
a draught of beer is, as formerly, to be allowed from the stock of
these vessels. Further, in wet and stormy weather, or when the
work commences very early in the morning, or continues till a late
hour at night, a glass of spirits will also be served out to the
crew as heretofore, on the requisition of the landing-master."

On writing this letter and schedule, a signal was made on the
beacon for the landing-master's boat, which immediately came to the
rock, and the schedule was afterwards stuck up in the tender's
galley. When sufficient time had been allowed to the crew to
consider of their conduct, a second signal was made for a boat, and
at seven o'clock the writer left the Bell Rock, after a residence
of four successive weeks in the beacon-house. The first thing
which occupied his attention on board of the tender was to look
round upon the lighthouse, which he saw, with some degree of
emotion and surprise, now vying in height with the beacon-house;
for although he had often viewed it from the extremity of the
western railway on the rock, yet the scene, upon the whole, seemed
far more interesting from the tender's moorings at the distance of
about half a mile.

The Smeaton having just arrived at her moorings with a cargo, a
signal was made for Captain Pool to come on board of the tender,
that he might be at hand to remove from the service any of those
who might persist in their discontented conduct. One of the two
principal leaders in this affair, the master of one of the praam-
boats, who had also steered the boat which brought the letter to
the beacon, was first called upon deck, and asked if he had read
the statement fixed up in the galley this afternoon, and whether he
was satisfied with it. He replied that he had read the paper, but
was not satisfied, as it held out no alteration in the allowance,
on which he was immediately ordered into the Smeaton's boat. The
next man called had but lately entered the service, and, being also
interrogated as to his resolution, he declared himself to be of the
same mind with the praam-master, and was also forthwith ordered
into the boat. The writer, without calling any more of the seamen,
went forward to the gangway, where they were collected and
listening to what was passing upon deck. He addressed them at the
hatchway, and stated that two of their companions had just been
dismissed the service and sent on board of the Smeaton to be
conveyed to Arbroath. He therefore wished each man to consider for
himself how far it would be proper, by any unreasonableness of
conduct, to place themselves in a similar situation, especially as
they were aware that it was optional in him either to dismiss them
or send them on board a man-of-war. It might appear that much
inconveniency would be felt at the rock by a change of hands at
this critical period, by checking for a time the progress of a
building so intimately connected with the best interests of
navigation; yet this would be but of a temporary nature, while the
injury to themselves might be irreparable. It was now therefore,
required of any man who, in this disgraceful manner, chose to leave
the service, that he should instantly make his appearance on deck
while the Smeaton's boat was alongside. But those below having
expressed themselves satisfied with their situation-viz., William
Brown, George Gibb, Alexander Scott, John Dick, Robert Couper,
Alexander Shephard, James Grieve, David Carey, William Pearson,
Stuart Eaton, Alexander Lawrence, and John Spink--were accordingly
considered as having returned to their duty. This disposition to
mutiny, which had so strongly manifested itself, being now happily
suppressed, Captain Pool got orders to proceed for Arbroath Bay,
and land the two men he had on board, and to deliver the following
letter at the office of the workyard:-

'On board of the Tender off the Bell Rock,
22nd June 1810, eight o'clock p.m.

'DEAR SIR,--A discontented and mutinous spirit having manifested
itself of late among the landing-master's crew, they struck work
to-day and demanded an additional allowance of beer, and I have
found it necessary to dismiss D-d and M-e, who are now sent on
shore with the Smeaton. You will therefore be so good as to pay
them their wages, including this day only. Nothing can be more
unreasonable than the conduct of the seamen on this occasion, as
the landing-master's crew not only had their allowance on board of
the tender, but, in the course of this day, they had drawn no fewer
than twenty-four quart pots of beer from the stock of the Patriot
while unloading her. --I remain, yours truly, ROBERT STEVENSON.

Bell Rock Office, Arbroath.'

On despatching this letter to Mr. Kennedy, the writer returned to
the beacon about nine o'clock, where this afternoon's business had
produced many conjectures, especially when the Smeaton got under
weigh, instead of proceeding to land her cargo. The bell on the
beacon being rung, the artificers were assembled on the bridge,
when the affair was explained to them. He, at the same time,
congratulated them upon the first appearance of mutiny being
happily set at rest by the dismissal of its two principal abettors.

[Sunday, 24th June]

At the rock the landing of the materials and the building
operations of the light-room store went on successfully, and in a
way similar to those of the provision store. To-day it blew fresh
breezes; but the seamen nevertheless landed twenty-eight stones,
and the artificers built the fifty-eighth and fifty-ninth courses.
The works were visited by Mr. Murdoch, junior, from Messrs. Boulton
and Watt's works of Soho. He landed just as the bell rung for
prayers, after which the writer enjoyed much pleasure from his very
intelligent conversation; and, having been almost the only stranger
he had seen for some weeks, he parted with him, after a short
interview, with much regret.

[Thursday, 28th June]

Last night the wind had shifted to north-east, and, blowing fresh,
was accompanied with a heavy surf upon the rock. Towards high-
water it had a very grand and wonderful appearance. Waves of
considerable magnitude rose as high as the solid or level of the
entrance-door, which, being open to the south-west, was fortunately
to the leeward; but on the windward side the sprays flew like
lightning up the sloping sides of the building; and although the
walls were now elevated sixty-four feet above the rock, and about
fifty-two feet from high-water mark, yet the artificers were
nevertheless wetted, and occasionally interrupted, in their
operations on the top of the walls. These appearances were, in a
great measure, new at the Bell Rock, there having till of late been
no building to conduct the seas, or object to compare with them.
Although, from the description of the Eddystone Lighthouse, the
mind was prepared for such effects, yet they were not expected to
the present extent in the summer season; the sea being most awful
to-day, whether observed from the beacon or the building. To
windward, the sprays fell from the height above noticed in the most
wonderful cascades, and streamed down the walls of the building in
froth as white as snow. To leeward of the lighthouse the collision
or meeting of the waves produced a pure white kind of DRIFT; it
rose about thirty feet in height, like a fine downy mist, which, in
its fall, fell upon the face and hands more like a dry powder than
a liquid substance. The effect of these seas, as they raged among
the beams and dashed upon the higher parts of the beacon, produced
a temporary tremulous motion throughout the whole fabric, which to
a stranger must have been frightful.

[Sunday, 1st July]

The writer had now been at the Bell Rock since the latter end of
May, or about six weeks, during four of which he had been a
constant inhabitant of the beacon without having been once off the
rock. After witnessing the laying of the sixty-seventh or second
course of the bedroom apartment, he left the rock with the tender
and went ashore, as some arrangements were to be made for the
future conduct of the works at Arbroath, which were soon to be
brought to a close; the landing-master's crew having, in the
meantime, shifted on board of the Patriot. In leaving the rock,
the writer kept his eyes fixed upon the lighthouse, which had
recently got into the form of a house, having several tiers or
stories of windows. Nor was he unmindful of his habitation in the
beacon--now far overtopped by the masonry,--where he had spent
several weeks in a kind of active retirement, making practical
experiment of the fewness of the positive wants of man. His cabin
measured not more than four feet three inches in breadth on the
floor; and though, from the oblique direction of the beams of the
beacon, it widened towards the top, yet it did not admit of the
full extension of his arms when he stood on the floor; while its
length was little more than sufficient for suspending a cot-bed
during the night, calculated for being triced up to the roof
through the day, which left free room for the admission of
occasional visitants. His folding table was attached with hinges,
immediately under the small window of the apartment, and his books,
barometer, thermometer, portmanteau, and two or three camp-stools,
formed the bulk of his movables. His diet being plain, the
paraphernalia of the table were proportionally simple; though
everything had the appearance of comfort, and even of neatness, the
walls being covered with green cloth formed into panels with red
tape, and his bed festooned with curtains of yellow cotton-stuff.
If, in speculating upon the abstract wants of man in such a state
of exclusion, one were reduced to a single book, the Sacred Volume-
-whether considered for the striking diversity of its story, the
morality of its doctrine, or the important truths of its gospel--
would have proved by far the greatest treasure.

[Monday, 2nd July]

In walking over the workyard at Arbroath this morning, the writer
found that the stones of the course immediately under the cornice
were all in hand, and that a week's work would now finish the
whole, while the intermediate courses lay ready numbered and marked
for shipping to the rock. Among other subjects which had occupied
his attention to-day was a visit from some of the relations of
George Dall, a young man who had been impressed near Dundee in the
month of February last; a dispute had arisen between the
magistrates of that burgh and the Regulating Officer as to his
right of impressing Dall, who was bona fide one of the protected
seamen in the Bell Rock service. In the meantime, the poor lad was
detained, and ultimately committed to the prison of Dundee, to
remain until the question should be tried before the Court of
Session. His friends were naturally very desirous to have him
relieved upon bail. But, as this was only to be done by the
judgment of the Court, all that could be said was that his pay and
allowances should be continued in the same manner as if he had been
upon the sick-list. The circumstances of Dall's case were briefly
these:- He had gone to see some of his friends in the neighbourhood
of Dundee, in winter, while the works were suspended, having got
leave of absence from Mr. Taylor, who commanded the Bell Rock
tender, and had in his possession one of the Protection Medals.
Unfortunately, however, for Dall, the Regulating Officer thought
proper to disregard these documents, as, according to the strict
and literal interpretation of the Admiralty regulations, a seaman
does not stand protected unless he is actually on board of his
ship, or in a boat belonging to her, or has the Admiralty
protection in his possession. This order of the Board, however,
cannot be rigidly followed in practice; and therefore, when the
matter is satisfactorily stated to the Regulating Officer, the
impressed man is generally liberated. But in Dall's case this was
peremptorily refused, and he was retained at the instance of the
magistrates. The writer having brought the matter under the
consideration of the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses,
they authorised it to be tried on the part of the Lighthouse Board,
as one of extreme hardship. The Court, upon the first hearing,
ordered Dall to be liberated from prison; and the proceedings never
went further.

[Wednesday, 4th July]

Being now within twelve courses of being ready for building the
cornice, measures were taken for getting the stones of it and the
parapet-wall of the light-room brought from Edinburgh, where, as
before noticed, they had been prepared and were in readiness for
shipping. The honour of conveying the upper part of the
lighthouse, and of landing the last stone of the building on the
rock, was considered to belong to Captain Pool of the Smeaton, who
had been longer in the service than the master of the Patriot. The
Smeaton was, therefore, now partly loaded with old iron, consisting
of broken railways and other lumber which had been lying about the
rock. After landing these at Arbroath, she took on board James
Craw, with his horse and cart, which could now be spared at the
workyard, to be employed in carting the stones from Edinburgh to
Leith. Alexander Davidson and William Kennedy, two careful masons,
were also sent to take charge of the loading of the stones at
Greenside, and stowing them on board of the vessel at Leith. The
writer also went on board, with a view to call at the Bell Rock and
to take his passage up the Firth of Forth. The wind, however,
coming to blow very fresh from the eastward, with thick and foggy
weather, it became necessary to reef the mainsail and set the
second jib. When in the act of making a tack towards the tender,
the sailors who worked the head-sheets were, all of a sudden,
alarmed with the sound of the smith's hammer and anvil on the
beacon, and had just time to put the ship about to save her from
running ashore on the northwestern point of the rock, marked 'James
Craw's Horse.' On looking towards the direction from whence the
sound came, the building and beacon-house were seen, with
consternation, while the ship was hailed by those on the rock, who
were no less confounded at seeing the near approach of the Smeaton;
and, just as the vessel cleared the danger, the smith and those in
the mortar gallery made signs in token of their happiness at our
fortunate escape. From this occurrence the writer had an
experimental proof of the utility of the large bells which were in
preparation to be rung by the machinery of the revolving light;
for, had it not been the sound of the smith's anvil, the Smeaton,
in all probability, would have been wrecked upon the rock. In case
the vessel had struck, those on board might have been safe, having
now the beacon-house, as a place of refuge; but the vessel, which
was going at a great velocity, must have suffered severely, and it
was more than probable that the horse would have been drowned,
there being no means of getting him out of the vessel. Of this
valuable animal and his master we shall take an opportunity of
saying more in another place.

[Thursday, 5th July]

The weather cleared up in the course of the night, but the wind
shifted to the N.E. and blew very fresh. From the force of the
wind, being now the period of spring-tides, a very heavy swell was
experienced at the rock. At two o'clock on the following morning
the people on the beacon were in a state of great alarm about their
safety, as the sea had broke up part of the floor of the mortar
gallery!, which was thus cleared of the lime-casks and other
buoyant articles; and, the alarm-bell being rung, all hands were
called to render what assistance was in their power for the safety
of themselves and the materials. At this time some would willingly
have left the beacon and gone into the building: the sea, however,
ran so high that there was no passage along the bridge of
communication, and, when the interior of the lighthouse came to be
examined in the morning, it appeared that great quantities of water
had come over the walls--now eighty feet in height--and had run
down through the several apartments and out at the entrance door.

The upper course of the lighthouse at the workyard of Arbroath was
completed on the 6th, and the whole of the stones were, therefore,
now ready for being shipped to the rock. From the present state of
the works it was impossible that the two squads of artificers at
Arbroath and the Bell Rock could meet together at this period; and
as in public works of this kind, which had continued for a series
of years, it is not customary to allow the men to separate without
what is termed a "finishing-pint," five guineas were for this
purpose placed at the disposal of Mr. David Logan, clerk of works.
With this sum the stone-cutters at Arbroath had a merry meeting in
their barrack, collected their sweethearts and friends, and
concluded their labours with a dance. It was remarked, however,
that their happiness on this occasion was not without alloy. The
consideration of parting and leaving a steady and regular
employment, to go in quest of work and mix with other society,
after having been harmoniously lodged for years together in one
large "guildhall or barrack," was rather painful.

[Friday, 6th July]

While the writer was at Edinburgh he was fortunate enough to meet
with Mrs. Dickson, only daughter of the late celebrated Mr.
Smeaton, whose works at the Eddystone Lighthouse had been of such
essential consequence to the operations at the Bell Rock. Even her
own elegant accomplishments are identified with her father's work,
she having herself made the drawing of the vignette on the title-
page of the Narrative of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Every admirer
of the works of that singularly eminent man must also feel an
obligation to her for the very comprehensive and distinct account
given of his life, which is attached to his reports, published, in
three volumes quarto, by the Society of Civil Engineers. Mrs.
Dickson, being at this time returning from a tour to the Hebrides
and Western Highlands of Scotland, had heard of the Bell Rock
works, and from their similarity to those of the Eddystone was
strongly impressed with a desire of visiting the spot. But on
inquiring for the writer at Edinburgh, and finding from him that
the upper part of the lighthouse, consisting of nine courses, might
be seen in the immediate vicinity, and also that one of the vessels
which, in compliment to her father's memory, had been named the
Smeaton, might also now be seen in Leith, she considered herself
extremely fortunate; and having first visited the works at
Greenside, she afterwards went to Leith to see the Smeaton, then
loading for the Bell Rock. On stepping on board, Mrs. Dickson
seemed to be quite overcome with so many concurrent circumstances,
tending in a peculiar manner to revive and enliven the memory of
her departed father, and, on leaving the vessel, she would not be
restrained from presenting the crew with a piece of money. The
Smeaton had been named spontaneously, from a sense of the
obligation which a public work of the description of the Bell Rock
owed to the labours and abilities of Mr. Smeaton. The writer
certainly never could have anticipated the satisfaction which he
this day felt in witnessing the pleasure it afforded to the only
representative of this great man's family.

[Friday, 20th July]

The gale from the N.E. still continued so strong, accompanied with
a heavy sea, that the Patriot could not approach her moorings; and
although the tender still kept her station, no landing was made to-
day at the rock. At high-water it was remarked that the spray rose
to the height of about sixty feet upon the building. The Smeaton
now lay in Leith loaded, but, the wind and weather being so
unfavourable for her getting down the Firth, she did not sail till
this afternoon. It may be here proper to notice that the loading
of the centre of the light-room floor, or last principal stone of
the building, did not fail, when put on board, to excite an
interest among those connected with the work. When the stone was
laid upon the cart to be conveyed to Leith, the seamen fixed an
ensign-staff and flag into the circular hole in the centre of the
stone, and decorated their own hats, and that of James Craw, the
Bell Rock carter, with ribbons; even his faithful and trusty horse
Brassey was ornamented with bows and streamers of various colours.
The masons also provided themselves with new aprons, and in this
manner the cart was attended in its progress to the ship. When the
cart came opposite the Trinity House of Leith, the officer of that
corporation made his appearance dressed in his uniform, with his
staff of office; and when it reached the harbour, the shipping in
the different tiers where the Smeaton lay hoisted their colours,
manifesting by these trifling ceremonies the interest with which
the progress of this work was regarded by the public, as ultimately
tending to afford safety and protection to the mariner. The wind
had fortunately shifted to the S.W., and about five o'clock this
afternoon the Smeaton reached the Bell Rock.

[Friday, 27th July]

The artificers had finished the laying of the balcony course,
excepting the centre-stone of the light-room floor, which, like the
centres of the other floors, could not be laid in its place till
after the removal of the foot and shaft of the balance-crane.
During the dinner-hour, when the men were off work the writer
generally took some exercise by walking round the walls when the
rock was under water; but to-day his boundary was greatly enlarged,
for, instead of the narrow wall as a path, he felt no small degree
of pleasure in walking round the balcony and passing out and in at
the space allotted for the light-room door. In the labours of this
day both the artificers and seamen felt their work to be extremely
easy compared with what it had been for some days past.

[Sunday, 29th July]

Captain Wilson and his crew had made preparations for landing the
last stone, and, as may well be supposed, this was a day of great
interest at the Bell Rock. 'That it might lose none of its
honours,' as he expressed himself, the Hedderwick praam-boat, with
which the first stone of the building had been landed, was
appointed also to carry the last. At seven o'clock this evening
the seamen hoisted three flags upon the Hedderwick, when the
colours of the Dickie praam-boat, tender, Smeaton, floating light,
beacon-house, and lighthouse were also displayed; and, the weather
being remarkably fine, the whole presented a very gay appearance,
and, in connection with the associations excited, the effect was
very pleasing. The praam which carried the stone was towed by the
seamen in gallant style to the rock, and, on its arrival, cheers
were given as a finale to the landing department.

Book of the day: