Nae Fash, Nae Fear

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_Fishermen_at_Sea_-_Google_Art_Project

Fishermen at Sea, by J.M.W. Turner

Susanna here, with a true-life New Year’s tale for you, from Aberdeen (well, properly from Footdee—pronounced “Fittie”—which is like a little early 19th century fishing village tucked within the city, by the harbour).

So much of the news always seems to be negative, but even our forebears did their best to look for the positive. I came across this little gem in the Aberdeen Herald for Saturday, January 6, 1844 (courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive, of which I’ve been a member for several years). Rather than trying to paraphrase or summarize it, I’m going to simply transcribe the entire article for you, because I don’t think I could possibly improve on the original.

Aberdeen herald banner

* * * * *

THE FISHERMEN

 

“Weel may the boatie row

And better may she speed.”

 

WE had the gratification, on Thursday afternoon, of witnessing one of the most affecting scenes that a person could have much chance of encountering in the course of a long life. It was no less than the meeting of fifty-three fishermen, whose lives had for a time been despaired of, with their rejoicing relatives. It was a scene that no philanthropist should have lost, and one that none who witnessed it will be ready to forget.

About four o’clock on the morning of New-year’s day, the boats belonging to this port put out to sea, trusting to the appearance of the weather. A part remained inshore, to fish for cod; while nine of them—eight from Footdee, and one from Torry—made for the deep-water fishing. About six o’clock, the moon set in a thick, lowering bank, in the north-west—which, to use the language of our informant, “lookit as if the Braidhill war whom’lin ’o the sea”: and the portentous omen was read aright by the fishermen, who putting “up helm,” rowed with might and main for the shore. The boats near the coast succeeded in reaching it; but the others were taken by the hurricane eight miles from land, and, although they struggled on with stout hearts and willing hands, the wind, waves, and blinding snow were all against them, and, instead of  making any headway, they drifted before the tempest.

Henri Jacques Bource  Fisherman's wife praying for a happy return

 Fisherman's wife praying for a happy return, by Henri Jacques Bource

On shore, throughout the morning, there was the greatest apprehension in the minds of all for the safety of the nine missing boats; and when the storm increased throughout the day, the friends and relatives of the unfortunate crews gave themselves up entirely to despair. One of the tugs (the Dorothy) was, through the kindness of the Harbour Trustees, despatched in quest of them, well stocked with provisions and clothing; and, at Arbroath, took on board the crews of five Findon boats that had been picked up by a trader belonging to Dundee, but received no intelligence of the immediate objects of its search. This failure added to the heart-breaking suspense of the afflicted people. The state of the fishing community, that thus appeared to have one-half of its males swept away by one terrific catastrophe, is said to have been most affecting. The wives and children, fathers and mothers of the missing fishermen, looked upon themselves as bereaved of their only earthly support and the objects of their fondest affection.

Of some families, there were three, of others four, amissing, and the greater part were more or less connected with one another. To almost every house, the touching language of the prophet might have been applied—“There was a voice heard, lamentation and weeping and great mourning: Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they were not.”

Through Monday night and Tuesday, this dreadful suspense continued; and eagerly was the post of Wednesday morning waited for, as the ultimatum that should extinguish the little remnant of hope that was clung to by the unhappy community, or bring the anxiously prayed-for news of the safety of their friends. The preservation of all was scarcely to be looked for, but their fondest hopes were more than realized. Intelligence came that all were safe; and when the glad tidings were carried to Footdee, the sudden revulsion from the extremity of sorrow to that of joy was evinced by the warmest transports, after a thousand fashions. Some poured forth warm, heartfelt thanks, some weeped, some danced, some sang; but one feeling animated all—the deepest, purest, and most intense joy that can fall upon the heart of man.

The fishermen, after struggling for hours against the tempest, lost all hope of outliving it. Their boats were fast filling with water, and becoming entirely unmanageable; and, even had there been any possibility of working them, the poor men, with a few exceptions, were unable to stir themselves—they had become completely exhausted and so benumbed with the piercing cold, as to be incapable of handling their oars. Death, in two forms, was staring them in the face, certain in the one or other. There was help at hand, however, when least expected.

Max_Bohm_-_Fishermen_in_a_Stormy_Sea_1898

Fishermen in a Stormy Sea, by Max Bohm

The Greyhound cutter, on this station, commanded by Lieutenant Dooley, while running before the wind, came in sight of the boats, about eleven o’clock, off Findonness, and bore up to them. The greatest difficulty existed in taking the men from their frail crafts. Some of them were old and feeble, and in such a state, from wet and exposure, that made it necessary, as seamen say, to “parbuncle” them; while the storm had risen to such a height, that the mainsail of the cutter was carried away, and her work of mercy, in some measure, retarded. A trysail was, however, soon hoisted in its place, and, after an hour or two, the whole of the poor men were stowed away in warm berths or dry clothing, and all their wants most kindly attended to by the warm-hearted commander and his gallant crew.

Nor did their endeavours cease with the preservation of the lives of the fishermen; every attempt was made to save their property likewise. The boats were all made fast astern by a five-inch hawser, but the increasing storm dashed them one against another, stove them in, and soon rendered it necessary to set them adrift. The cutter then made for the Frith [sic] of Forth, and the whole of the fishermen were landed at Leith, on Tuesday morning.

The vicinity of a vessel of this class to the boats, in their unfortunate condition, was most providential. A trader, even had such been at hand, would have availed but little. Even had all been got on board—which would have been very doubtful—many must have perished through cold, from the want of those necessaries to their restoration which abound in a roomy, well-furnished, Government vessel. Lieutenant Dooley most attentively took the earliest opportunity of communicating to Provost Blaikie the welcome intelligence that the poor fishermen were all safe.

At four o’clock on Thursday afternoon, the whole of the fishermen reached their homes, when, as we have already said, the scene was the most touching that could be imagined. About six or seven hundred in all were present—young and old, men, women, and children; in fact, all the fishing community of Footdee were on the pier to welcome their friends. Some weeped their welcome—some were loud and vociferous—while others, rushing hither and thither in search of relatives, and wives, mothers, brothers, and sisters, crowding and clinging round the restored objects of their love, made the scene one well worthy of the noblest pencil to commemorate.

The new-year’s day that rose and set so sadly upon many hearths, and was greeted by no look of pleasure—no voice of joy, among those of our townsmen who win their bread by

—“the boat,

The merlin, and the creel,”

had, on Thursday night, a posthumous celebration, more hearty than was ever before heard of in Footdee.

 

* * * * *

 

A footnote (because you know how I love footnotes…)

William ThomA year afterwards, in 1845, the Aberdonian poet William Thom (1799-1848), published the second edition of his book Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Loom Weaver, with several new poems. Among the new additions was an abridged version of this newspaper article—which had clearly moved and inspired him—and an original poem beneath it, titled: "Lines Suggested By the Above Disaster."

The poem is a bit melodramatic, and frankly rather gloomy, but I do like how it begins:

 

’Twas the blythe New Year, when hearts are mov’d

     Like fairy wind harp ringing,

To the breathing smile of friend belov’d,

In whisper dear—in noisy cheer—

Nae fash, nae fear—the good New Year

Sets the good old world a-singing.

 

* * * * *

 

Good words for us all to remember, for 2019.

Happy New Year, everyone! Keep looking for the positive.

70 thoughts on “Nae Fash, Nae Fear”

  1. How lovely it is to find these little gems of miracles from days past. Thanks Susanna! Happy New Year to you all, thanks for all you do for us!

    Reply
  2. How lovely it is to find these little gems of miracles from days past. Thanks Susanna! Happy New Year to you all, thanks for all you do for us!

    Reply
  3. How lovely it is to find these little gems of miracles from days past. Thanks Susanna! Happy New Year to you all, thanks for all you do for us!

    Reply
  4. How lovely it is to find these little gems of miracles from days past. Thanks Susanna! Happy New Year to you all, thanks for all you do for us!

    Reply
  5. How lovely it is to find these little gems of miracles from days past. Thanks Susanna! Happy New Year to you all, thanks for all you do for us!

    Reply
  6. Wonderful story, Susanna. Reminds me of when everyone was waiting for news of the boys trapped in the cave. And mining disasters where the family can do nothing but wai and hopet. I wish all such events ended so well. Nae fash, nae fear indeed.

    Reply
  7. Wonderful story, Susanna. Reminds me of when everyone was waiting for news of the boys trapped in the cave. And mining disasters where the family can do nothing but wai and hopet. I wish all such events ended so well. Nae fash, nae fear indeed.

    Reply
  8. Wonderful story, Susanna. Reminds me of when everyone was waiting for news of the boys trapped in the cave. And mining disasters where the family can do nothing but wai and hopet. I wish all such events ended so well. Nae fash, nae fear indeed.

    Reply
  9. Wonderful story, Susanna. Reminds me of when everyone was waiting for news of the boys trapped in the cave. And mining disasters where the family can do nothing but wai and hopet. I wish all such events ended so well. Nae fash, nae fear indeed.

    Reply
  10. Wonderful story, Susanna. Reminds me of when everyone was waiting for news of the boys trapped in the cave. And mining disasters where the family can do nothing but wai and hopet. I wish all such events ended so well. Nae fash, nae fear indeed.

    Reply
  11. A wonderful story indeed.
    Perhaps the two-year-old me should have known it when she ran around the house chanting a firth of fourth. (I have no idea where I heard it, and I certainly had no meaning, but I loved alliteratve Fs at that age.

    Reply
  12. A wonderful story indeed.
    Perhaps the two-year-old me should have known it when she ran around the house chanting a firth of fourth. (I have no idea where I heard it, and I certainly had no meaning, but I loved alliteratve Fs at that age.

    Reply
  13. A wonderful story indeed.
    Perhaps the two-year-old me should have known it when she ran around the house chanting a firth of fourth. (I have no idea where I heard it, and I certainly had no meaning, but I loved alliteratve Fs at that age.

    Reply
  14. A wonderful story indeed.
    Perhaps the two-year-old me should have known it when she ran around the house chanting a firth of fourth. (I have no idea where I heard it, and I certainly had no meaning, but I loved alliteratve Fs at that age.

    Reply
  15. A wonderful story indeed.
    Perhaps the two-year-old me should have known it when she ran around the house chanting a firth of fourth. (I have no idea where I heard it, and I certainly had no meaning, but I loved alliteratve Fs at that age.

    Reply
  16. Annette, I can only imagine how awful that first day of the New Year was for all of them–those on shore, and those at sea–and how wonderful it must have felt to get that message from Lieutenant Dooley that the men were safe. A scenario that has replayed, in various ways and with various outcomes, throughout human history, right to the present day. I’m glad this one ended happily.

    Reply
  17. Annette, I can only imagine how awful that first day of the New Year was for all of them–those on shore, and those at sea–and how wonderful it must have felt to get that message from Lieutenant Dooley that the men were safe. A scenario that has replayed, in various ways and with various outcomes, throughout human history, right to the present day. I’m glad this one ended happily.

    Reply
  18. Annette, I can only imagine how awful that first day of the New Year was for all of them–those on shore, and those at sea–and how wonderful it must have felt to get that message from Lieutenant Dooley that the men were safe. A scenario that has replayed, in various ways and with various outcomes, throughout human history, right to the present day. I’m glad this one ended happily.

    Reply
  19. Annette, I can only imagine how awful that first day of the New Year was for all of them–those on shore, and those at sea–and how wonderful it must have felt to get that message from Lieutenant Dooley that the men were safe. A scenario that has replayed, in various ways and with various outcomes, throughout human history, right to the present day. I’m glad this one ended happily.

    Reply
  20. Annette, I can only imagine how awful that first day of the New Year was for all of them–those on shore, and those at sea–and how wonderful it must have felt to get that message from Lieutenant Dooley that the men were safe. A scenario that has replayed, in various ways and with various outcomes, throughout human history, right to the present day. I’m glad this one ended happily.

    Reply
  21. It reminded me of that, too, Anne. And even with the boys in the cave, there was a diver lost. So few of these events end with the happiness that this one did. That’s why I liked the story, when I found it. (Although now, being me, I’m curious to know more about Lieutenant Dooley…)

    Reply
  22. It reminded me of that, too, Anne. And even with the boys in the cave, there was a diver lost. So few of these events end with the happiness that this one did. That’s why I liked the story, when I found it. (Although now, being me, I’m curious to know more about Lieutenant Dooley…)

    Reply
  23. It reminded me of that, too, Anne. And even with the boys in the cave, there was a diver lost. So few of these events end with the happiness that this one did. That’s why I liked the story, when I found it. (Although now, being me, I’m curious to know more about Lieutenant Dooley…)

    Reply
  24. It reminded me of that, too, Anne. And even with the boys in the cave, there was a diver lost. So few of these events end with the happiness that this one did. That’s why I liked the story, when I found it. (Although now, being me, I’m curious to know more about Lieutenant Dooley…)

    Reply
  25. It reminded me of that, too, Anne. And even with the boys in the cave, there was a diver lost. So few of these events end with the happiness that this one did. That’s why I liked the story, when I found it. (Although now, being me, I’m curious to know more about Lieutenant Dooley…)

    Reply
  26. Having done (a little) research into sailing craft for my latest book, I’m struck with the achievement of the lieutenant and his crew. That they saved every life and lost none of their own is stunning. God was with that ship.
    Thanks for sharing such a special New Year’s story!

    Reply
  27. Having done (a little) research into sailing craft for my latest book, I’m struck with the achievement of the lieutenant and his crew. That they saved every life and lost none of their own is stunning. God was with that ship.
    Thanks for sharing such a special New Year’s story!

    Reply
  28. Having done (a little) research into sailing craft for my latest book, I’m struck with the achievement of the lieutenant and his crew. That they saved every life and lost none of their own is stunning. God was with that ship.
    Thanks for sharing such a special New Year’s story!

    Reply
  29. Having done (a little) research into sailing craft for my latest book, I’m struck with the achievement of the lieutenant and his crew. That they saved every life and lost none of their own is stunning. God was with that ship.
    Thanks for sharing such a special New Year’s story!

    Reply
  30. Having done (a little) research into sailing craft for my latest book, I’m struck with the achievement of the lieutenant and his crew. That they saved every life and lost none of their own is stunning. God was with that ship.
    Thanks for sharing such a special New Year’s story!

    Reply
  31. I love the writing style of the piece…. what is ‘parbuncle’? Thank you for sharing. It must be so much fun to research and find a treasure such as this. Miriam

    Reply
  32. I love the writing style of the piece…. what is ‘parbuncle’? Thank you for sharing. It must be so much fun to research and find a treasure such as this. Miriam

    Reply
  33. I love the writing style of the piece…. what is ‘parbuncle’? Thank you for sharing. It must be so much fun to research and find a treasure such as this. Miriam

    Reply
  34. I love the writing style of the piece…. what is ‘parbuncle’? Thank you for sharing. It must be so much fun to research and find a treasure such as this. Miriam

    Reply
  35. I love the writing style of the piece…. what is ‘parbuncle’? Thank you for sharing. It must be so much fun to research and find a treasure such as this. Miriam

    Reply

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