Photo of Melsetter House

Melsetter House

Isle of Hoy, Orkney Islands, Scotland

The rocks assumed all hues in the fiery beams of the setting sun. The red granite glowed with tints of crimson, violet, indigo, and gold, these colours assuming a greater intensity when reflected in the transparent waters of the Firth. It was a scene to see, not prate about, and the memory of its brilliancy still lies enshrined like some precious gem in Flora Lyndsay’s heart.

As headland after headland flew past, revealing at every point some fresh combinations of grandeur and beauty, Flora clapped her hands together in a sort of ecstasy.

Lyndsay was standing silently beside her, watching with an air of melancholy interest the scene which excited in her such intense enthusiasm.

Flora, do you see that old-fashioned mansion that crowns the green amphitheatre, surrounded by those lofty hills, in front of us? It is a lovely romantic place—with that giant hill that looks like an old man in a highland bonnet, towering above it, away there in the back-ground. That is the old man of Hoy. That old house is M——, where I was born and brought up. He drew a deep sigh, and turning his face from his wife, continued to gaze with an earnest longing. The shades of night drew a veil over the stern landscape, and the moon rose up, bathing rock and crag and mountain height with a flood of silver glory, and adding a ghostlike awful sublimity to the scene. Lyndsay still leant upon the vessel’s side, watching with the same intense expression the black outline of the receding coast, which in that uncertain light presented an aspect of rugged frowning desolation.

Susanna Moodie, Flora Lindsay (1854)