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Title: The Celtic Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 3, January 1876 - A Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Literature, History, Antiquities, Folk Lore, Traditions, and the Social and Material Interests of the Celt at Home and Abroad
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Celtic Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 3, January 1876 - A Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Literature, History, Antiquities, Folk Lore, Traditions, and the Social and Material Interests of the Celt at Home and Abroad" ***

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Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



THE CELTIC MAGAZINE.

No. III. JANUARY 1876.


THE STATE OF THE OSSIANIC CONTROVERSY.

[CONTINUED.]


MR ARNOLD in that handsome, but slightly ambiguous admission of his,
that the Celts in their intellectual capacity come very near the secret
of nature and of natural magic, does not seem to imply more in reality
than that they have a subtler sense of certain natural affinities than
their Anglo-Saxon brethren have; that they apprehend more surely when,
where, and how the truest impress of physical nature occurs on the
percipient faculties of the soul, than men of a more phlegmatic
constitution do; and that they can draw from such intuitions of their
own a sort of inspiration, or second-sight of nature, comparable to
prophecy, which gives their highest poetic utterance a rapt
enthusiasm--and the accuracy of this estimate need not be disputed, but,
so far as Ossian is concerned, it must be considerably extended. To read
Ossian as we do, from the text of Macpherson, there was another sort of
insight, purely scientific, into the mysteries of nature, inherited and
expressed by him; a certain acquaintance with her hidden powers, and a
certain augury of her possible future development, if men could only
attain to it, far beyond the mere rapt enthusiasm of a poet, or the
so-called second-sight of a seer. Whether this peculiar faith of his was
derived by tradition, and if so, from whom; or whether it was the result
of practical experiment in his own generation, is foreign for the moment
to our present inquiry. But that it was relied upon as an endowment of
the most gifted heroes; that it was exercised by them in extremity, as
if to subdue nature from whom they had borrowed it, and to wrest the
very power of destruction out of her hand; and that such practical
conquest was sometimes achieved by them, or is said to have been
achieved by them, is just as certain as that Macpherson's translation is
before us now. What we refer to more especially for the present, is the
secret of extracting or discharging electricity from the atmosphere by
mechanical means--by the thrust of a spear, or of a sword, into the
bosom of the low-hanging cloud, or lurid vapour, and so dislodging the
imaginary spirit of evil by which they were supposed to be tenanted.
Only the very best, and bravest, and wisest could prevail in such
conflict with nature; but they did prevail, according to Ossian; and the
weapons of their warfare, and the mode of their assault, were precisely
similar to what an experimentalist in electricity might employ at the
present day, or to what the Egyptians employed in the days of Moses. We
shall not now go further back in the prosecution of this inquiry, but
would seriously recommend the reader who has any difficulty on the
subject to compare, at his leisure, the work of Moses on the top of
Mount Sinai and elsewhere, with an Egyptian "rod" in his hand, and the
exploits of Fingal in conflict with the Spirit of Loda on the heights of
Hoy, with a sword in his hand. There might have been a far-derived and
long traditional secret connection between the two, most edifying, or at
least most curious, to investigate; or they might both have resulted
from that sort of intuition which only the most gifted of any nation
enjoy independently, re-appearing again in Franklin, and now
familiarised to the world. Let those who doubt, or who differ on this
point, satisfy themselves. What we are now concerned to maintain and
prove is, that the fact is more than once described by Ossian, in
circumstances, in situations, and with instrumentalities, which render
the allegation of it at least indubitable. In the case above referred
to, for example, Fingal, challenged and assaulted in a thunderstorm by
the Spirit of Loda, encounters his antagonist with a sword, on the very
verge of a cliff overhanging the Atlantic; and by one or two scientific
thrusts, with incredible daring, disarms the cloud, dissipates the
storm, and sends his atmospheric adversary shrieking down the wind with
such violence that "Innistore shook at the sound; the waves heard it on
the deep, and stopped on their course with fear." The scene is described
in that well-known passage in _Carric-Thura_, which Macpherson himself
characterises as "the most extravagant fiction in all Ossian's poems."

Now the question as regards the authenticity or reliability of this very
passage, is whether Macpherson understood the meaning of it; what it
represented, where the conflict occurred, or how it happened? It has
been sufficiently demonstrated elsewhere--in "Ossian and the Clyde," pp.
311-324--that the encounter took place near the celebrated "Dwarfie
Stone" on the western headland of Hoy in the Orkneys--a region more
remarkable for its sudden electric gatherings and violent atmospheric
currents than almost any other in Great Britain, and at that particular
spot so much so, that the very scene described in Ossian has been
selected by Walter Scott for a similar electrical display in the
"Pirate." But of this obvious fact, and of all that is connected with it
in his own translation, Macpherson is so ignorant that he not only does
not point it out, but does not understand it, and cannot even conjecture
where it was. His great antagonist Laing is equally at fault on the
subject, and by way of exposing, as he believes, the dishonesty of
Macpherson, endeavours to show that in patching up his account
Macpherson had mistaken Thurso for Thura. Macpherson, in fact, knew
nothing either about Thurso or Thura--even less than Laing did; and it
is only in the work above cited that either the scene has been
identified, or the encounter explained.

Here, then, is a question, not of linguistic criticism, but of
scientific fact--of geographical position, of atmospheric agency--which
should be disposed of on its own merits, and which, like many others of
the same sort, must ultimately transfer the whole inquiry to a much
higher field than that of syllables and syntax.

But the description in question, it may be objected, is very much
exaggerated, and therefore cannot be relied on: which is the very
objection Macpherson himself urged--that it is "the most extravagant
fiction in all Ossian's poems." But if that was the case in his opinion,
how could the passage be his own? It was easy enough either to remedy or
explain it, if he could explain it, or not to introduce it. On the other
hand, when rightly understood, there is no undue exaggeration in the
account at all--not more than might be reasonably expected from a poet
of the highest sensibility and the most vivid imagination in describing
an incomprehensible natural phenomenon; not more, for example, than in
"the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words" on Mount Sinai. Still it
is not the question of descriptive exaggeration, but of scientific fact,
that is now before us; and if the whole of the so-called conflict of
Fingal with the Prince of the Power of the Air on Roraheid in Hoy was so
utterly inexplicable to Macpherson, both as to place and character, that
he speaks of it hopelessly as a story "concerning ghosts," on what
principle of critical consistency, or of common sense, can he be said to
have been the author of it? If the Septuagint translators, for example,
had added a note of their own on the giving of the Law at Sinai, to the
effect that it appeared "the most extravagant fiction" to them, at the
same time transferring, in defiance of their own text, the entire scene
from one end of the Red Sea to the other, would any reader in his senses
accuse the Seventy of having fabricated not only the two chapters in
question, but the whole Book of Exodus--even although the original had
been now lost? Their very simplicity and ignorance would have acquitted
them. Yet Macpherson, in similar circumstances, is to be held guilty,
although he could have more easily cleared himself by altering or
omitting the whole passage, than a man in London could prove by an
_alibi_ that he had been guilty of no forgery at Inverness or Edinburgh
six hours before! But if this hitherto incomprehensible passage in
Ossian be genuine then the entire poem of _Carric-Thura_, which is
identified with it in every word and syllable from beginning to end,
must be genuine also.

In the same sort of field, but without the addition of supernatural
agency, we have another scene of scientific import in the _War of
Inisthona_. Inisthona, according to Macpherson, was on the coast of
Norway--he did not know where; Inisthona, according to Laing, was a
wilful corruption of Inis-owen in Lough Foyle; Inisthona, in point of
fact, was Iceland--as clearly and distinctly so in Macpherson's own
text, as latitude, longitude, and physical configuration can make it;
far more distinctly recognisable than any _Ultima Thule_ of the Romans.
But here, in this Inisthona, we have first a fountain surrounded with
mossy stones, in a grassy vale, at the head of a bay; then a wilderness
of half a day's journey inland; then a lake at the end of the wilderness,
exhaling pestilential vapours, called Lake Lano--but no volcano visible
as yet: and in Iceland we have still the basin of the fountain,
surrounded with its mossy stones, petrified and dried up by volcanic heat,
at the head of the bay; we have still the dreary wilderness beyond it,
now scorched and blackened, ending in the Plain of Thingvalla, where the
King of Denmark was entertained more than a twelvemonth ago; we have
still the lake beyond that, where it should be, but now relieved of its
sulphurous vapours by eruptive jets of steam in its neighbourhood; and
besides, we have now Mount Hecla in active operation, by whose accumulated
fires and dreadful discharges, since Ossian's day, the whole island has
been torn and desolated. Here, therefore, again, the same question of
fact arises, and must be disposed of by all reasonable inquirers. In this
one identification we have geography, geology, history, and navigation
combined, beyond Macpherson's own comprehension--earthquakes, subterranean
fires, latent volcanic forces; a beautiful island where there is now
desolation; and a warlike people occupying its soil, subject to the Danes
600 years and more before the Danes themselves are supposed to have
discovered it. In the face of such a revelation as this, nowhere else to
be found but in Ossian, what does it signify that the Gaelic text of
_Inisthona_ has perished? The fact that it survives in English is only
a greater miracle, for which we are indebted solely to the patience and
fidelity of a man who has been called a liar and an impostor.

One more miracle has yet to be added in the same field--viz., that Lake
Lego or Lough Neagh in Ireland, and Lake Lano in Iceland, both emitting
pestilential vapours, are geographically connected in Ossian with
subterranean volcanic movements which pass from Ireland, by the west
coast of Scotland, through the Orkneys to Inisthona; and thus the latest
theories of the most accomplished geologists have been anticipated more
than a hundred years before their announcement, by the work of a man who
is supposed to have had no original to guide him, and who himself had
not the remotest idea of what his own words conveyed.

It remains then, after such illustrations, for those who still deny the
authenticity of Ossian to declare whether they have ever studied him;
and for those who still wrangle about the style of Macpherson's
so-called Gaelic to decide whether they will continue such petty warfare
among vowels and consonants, and ill-spelt mediæval legends, when the
science, the history, the navigation, the atmospheric phenomena, and the
impending volcanic changes of Western Europe fifteen hundred years ago,
are all unveiled and detailed, with an accuracy and a minuteness beyond
cavil or competition, in the matchless English translation before them.
Will our most erudite grammarians never understand? Would they abandon
Genesis, shall we say, because _Elohim_ and _Jehovah_ are sometimes
interchanged in the text? Can they believe that any Jew, who could
concoct a book like Genesis, did not also know that _Elohim_ was a
plural noun? Can they any more, then, believe that a Celtic man with
brains enough to fabricate poems like _Fingal_ and _Temora_ did not know
that the Gaelic name for the sun was feminine? Can they see no other way
of accounting for such alleged variations of gender, and number, and
case, than by forgery, when the very forger himself must have seen them?
Or do they seriously prefer some letter of the Gaelic alphabet to a law
of nature? Will they forego the facts of an epoch, for the orthography
of a syllable? If so, then the friends of Ossian, who is one great mass
of facts, must turn once more to the common sense of the public, and
leave his etymological detractors at leisure to indulge their own
predilections, and to entertain one another.

In the present aspect of the controversy, indeed, the only antagonists
entitled to anything like a patient hearing are the respectable,
perhaps venerable, geologists and antiquarians who still lodge or
linger about the Roman Wall; who talk, with a solemn air, about stern
facts; who are also fortified by the authority of Hugh Miller and Smith
of Jordanhill, and are led on to continuous defeat on their own ground,
under the auspices of the _Scotsman_, who knows well how to shut the
door politely in any man's face who pursues them. These gentlemen are
far from being either unimportant or unworthy antagonists, if they would
only speak intelligently for themselves and not allow their credit to be
usurped by some nameless reviewer in a newspaper, who may know less
about the whole matter in dispute than they do about Sanscrit. But let
them have patience. Their favourite haunts, and impregnable strongholds,
about Dunglass and Duntocher, shall be investigated with religious care;
and the waters of the Clyde, as high as they will honestly flow, let in
upon them without ceremony or remorse. As for the others, who, with no
great semblance of either grace or grammar to support them, persist in
affirming, with point-blank stolid effrontery, that Macpherson "must
have been an impostor," and that Ossian is a "fudge"--they may safely be
consigned in silence to their legitimate fate.

                                                     P. HATELY WADDELL.

                   (_To be Concluded in our next._)



TO PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE.

A LOCHABER LILT.


    A health to thee, Stuart Blackie!
      (I drink it in _mountain dew_)
    With all the kindliest greetings
      Of a heart that is leal and true.
    Let happen what happen may
      With others, by land or sea;
    For me, I vow if I drink at all,
      I'll drink a health to thee.

    A health to thee, Stuart Blackie!
      A man of men art thou,
    With thy lightsome step and form erect,
      And thy broad and open brow;
    With thy eagle eye and ringing voice
      (Which yet can be soft and kind),
    As wrapped in thy plaid thou passest by
      With thy white locks in the wind!

    I greet thee as poet and scholar;
      I greet thee as wise and good;
    I greet thee ever lord of thyself--
      No heritage mean, by the rood!
    I greet thee and hold thee in honour,
      That thou bendest to no man's nod--
    Amidst the din of a world of sin,
      Still lifting thine eye to God!

    Go, search me the world and find me;
      Go, find me if you can,
    From the distant Farœs with their mists and snows,
      To the green-clad Isle of Man;
    From John O' Groats to Maidenkirk,
      From far Poolewe to Prague--
    Go, find me a better or wiser man
      Than the Laird of Altnacraig.

    Now, here's to the honest and leal and true,
      And here's to the learned and wise,
    And to all who love our Highland glens
      And our Bens that kiss the skies;
    And here's to the native Celtic race,
      And to each bright-eyed Celtic fair;
    And here's to the Chief of Altnacraig--
      And hurrah! for the Celtic Chair!

                                                       NETHER-LOCHABER.



GENERAL SIR ALAN CAMERON, K.C.B.,

COLONEL 79th CAMERON HIGHLANDERS.


A POPULAR writer[A] of the past generation, in some introductory
observations to his historical essay, makes the following on Scotland
and its natives:--Considering the limited population and extent of that
country, it has made a distinguished figure in history. No country in
modern times has produced characters more remarkable for learning,
valour, or ability, or for knowledge in the most important arts, both of
peace and of war; and though the natives of that formerly independent,
and hitherto unconquered kingdom, have every reason to be proud of the
name of _Britons_, which they have acquired since the Union; yet they
ought not to relinquish all remembrance of the martial achievements, and
the honourable characteristics of their ancestors. Acting on the
recommendation embodied in the foregoing quotation; and as the
conductors of the _Celtic Magazine_ have intimated their intention of
making biographies form occasionally part of its contents, the following
sketch of one who, in his day was not the least distinguished among our
Highland countrymen, but of whose eminent services to his country,
little or nothing has appeared, may prove interesting. Biography is
admitted to be one of the most interesting sections of literature. We
therefore trust that this feature in the Magazine will be appreciated.
The field will be found extensive, inasmuch that, happily for the
country, its benefactors have been numerous, the record of whose deeds
deserve to be remembered in this Celtic periodical for the
entertainment, and may be, the emulation of its readers.

The details of the life and public services of the gallant gentleman now
submitted, and deserving record, are supplied partly from oral
information collected at intervals, and partly from documents received
by the writer, but which, although imperfect, it is hoped may be
acceptable, even at this distance since the lifetime of the subject.

The absence of any adequate notice of Sir Alan Cameron's services, save
that in a couple of pages of the _Gentleman's Magazine_ at his death
(1828) may be ascribed much to his own reticence in supplying
information respecting them. Sir John Philliphart and Colonel David
Stewart, when collecting materials for their respective "Military
Annals," expressed their regret that Sir Alan's reply to their
applications for particulars of his life and career was of the most
meagre nature. Although in common with the majority of other
distinguished men, averse to giving publicity to the incidents of his
life, he was otherwise than reticent with his friends, and was never
happier than when surrounded by them. His house in Gloucester Place was
a rendezvous during many years for his companions in arms, and his
"Highland cousins" (as he fondly termed them) were always received with
a genial welcome. Notwithstanding the general absence of his name from
unofficial publications, it may be affirmed, without hesitation, that in
his day few were better known, and there was none whose fame stood
higher than _Ailean an Earrachd_. In the army he was held in universal
popularity, where, in consequence of his familiar habit of addressing
the Irish and Highland soldiers with the Gaelic salute of "_Cia mar tha
thu_," he was known as "Old cia mar tha." Indeed, he is so styled in Mr
Lever's novel of "Charles O'Malley," where he is represented (vol. 1,
chap, x.) as one of the friends of General Sir George Dashwood. Another
writer (Miss Sinclair's "Scotland and the Scotch") refers to him as "a
frequent visitor at her father's house in London, and a celebrity of the
past generation who was said to have been one of the principals in the
last duel fought with broadswords; and also known to his friends for the
more than hearty grasp he shook their hands with." These distinctions,
no doubt, combined many incidents for their existence. A tragic
adventure at the outset of his career; his imprisonment during the
American War; and afterwards his services with the Highlanders
throughout the wars of the period. He was remarkable for the immense
size and powerful structure of his person. In a verse from one of the
many Gaelic songs written in honour of _Fear an Earrachd_, alluding to
his majestic form and figure when in the Highland costume, the bard
says:--

    Nuair theid thu 'n uidheam Gaidheil
    Bu mhiann le Ban-Righ sealladh dhiot,
    Le t-osan is math fiaradh,
    Do chalp air fiamh na gallinné:
    Sporan a bhruic-fhiadhaich,
    Gun chruaidh shnaim riamh ga theannachadh,
    Gur tric thu tarruing iall as
    'S ga riachaidh a measg aineartaich.

He was the firm friend of the soldier, and considered every man in his
regiment committed to his personal care. In health he advised them; in
sickness he saw that their wants were supplied; and once any became
disabled, he was incessant in his efforts till he secured a pension for
them. Numerous are the stories told of the encounters between Sir Harry
Torrens (Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief) and himself for
his persistent applications for pensions and promotions. These poor
fellows, for whom he was never tired of interceding, were naturally
grateful for his fatherly feeling towards them. Such is an outline of
the characteristics of the subject of the following Biographical sketch.


CHAPTER II.

THE sires of the subject of our memoir were of the tribe of Camerons'
known as _Sliochd Eoghainn 'ic Eoghainn_, and descended directly from
the parent stock of the chiefs of the clan, to whom they stood next in
relationship after the Fassiferns. The lands assigned for their
occupation, and on which they lived from the earliest settlement of the
Camerons in Lochaber, were within a short distance of the castle of the
chiefs, and the homestead of Sir Alan's family was named _Earrachd_, and
situated on an elevated plateau at the entrance of _Gleann Laoidh_ (Glen
Loy) which leads off in a westerly direction. It is close to, and seen
from, the banks of that portion of the Caledonian Canal between
Gairlochy and Banavie Locks.

The parents of Alan were Donald Cameron and _Marsali_ (Marjory) MacLean
(of the family of Drimnin in Morvern). Two incidents connected with the
infancy of both father and son are peculiarly remarkable. The father was
an infant in the arms of his mother when she went to the gathering place
to support the Earl of Mar (1715) to bid farewell to her husband the day
the clan left; and Alan was an infant in the arms of his mother when
_his_ father marched out with the clan to meet Prince Charles at
Glenfinnan (1745). The battle of Sheriffmuir ended the career of Alan's
grandfather, and the disasters on the field of Culloden made the father
a wanderer from his hearth and home for the next three years, while his
family were subjected during that time to cruelties and indignities,
which were a disgrace to men calling themselves the soldiers of the
king. Domiciliary visits were made at frequent intervals, and on every
occasion numbers of cattle were driven off the lands for the use of the
garrison at Fort-William. These spoliations continued for several months
after the _rising_ was suppressed, and proved ruinous to the poor people
whose only crime was that they risked their lives in support of the
claims of one whom they believed to be the rightful heir to the Crown of
the United Kingdom. Their descendants, a quarter of a century
afterwards, risked their lives in another cause with equal fidelity and
bravery, asserting the rights and defending the honour of the British
Crown. It is known that the Clan Cameron was the first to appear in
support of the standard of the Prince. The gathering place of the clan
was at _Drochaid Laoidh_, and there ten of the _twelve_ tribes promptly
answered the _Cothionnal_ "_Thigibh a chlann na 'n con 's gheobh sibh
feoil._" The absentees were, the Camerons of Fassifern, and the Camerons
of Glen Nevis; the proverbial caution of the first forbade their
adherence, while the influence of the Whig Clan Grant prevailed with the
latter. The defection of the Fassiferns gave the place of second in
command, or Lieutenant of the clan, to Cameron of _Earrachd_ (Alan's
father). The clan turned out 600, but these were considerably augmented
a few days afterwards. After a spirited address from the chief (the
"gentle Lochiel"), the first march of that eventful movement commenced
with pipers playing and banners flying, wending their way with steady
demeanour and elastic step up Glen Loy, and over the hills that
separated them from Glenfinnan.

Many of the chiefs of Lochiel were, in addition to being men of great
military renown and martial ardour, shrewd politicians. They encouraged
other septs to dwell on their lands that they might be serviceable to
assist them in keeping the jealous or more turbulent spirits of their
own clansmen in subjection. At any rate, with the Camerons in this
campaign, a third was composed of Maclachlans, Macmillans, Kennedies,
Macphees, Mackinnons, &c.

The Governor of the garrison at Fort-William having heard of the
intended gathering at Glenfinnan, sent out a company of soldiers by way
of reconnoitring the proceedings. To avoid observance they followed a
devious path over the hills, and most opportunely fell in with the
Camerons, by whom they were surrounded, and without much difficulty made
prisoners. Besides the _eclat_ of this the first victory, the arms thus
possessed were of considerable advantage to the Highlanders, most of
whom were miserably equipped for the exigencies of the campaign.

A most cordial reception was given to Lochiel and his clan by the
Prince, after which the Marquis of Tullibardine unfurled the standard,
amidst unbounded enthusiasm. It was made of white and blue silk.
Meanwhile the Laird of Keppoch was observed advancing with a contingent
of 300 of his Macdonells. At the head of the diminutive force thus made
up, Prince Charles embarked on a contest with a power the most
formidable in Europe. And the daring of this small band was even more
conspicuous when they at once determined to march direct on the capital
of the kingdom. Glenfinnan, formed not unlike an amphitheatre, and easy
of access for all parts of the Western Highlands, was admirably fitted
for the rendezvous.

The morning march of the little army took the route alongside of an arm
of the sea named Lochiel (the same from which the chief takes his modern
title) to Corpach. Here they encamped the first night, afterwards
continuing their way up the Braes of Lochaber, Blair Athole, and towards
the City of Perth, which they occupied as an intermediate resting place.
A few days further march brought them within a short distance of
Edinburgh. On nearing the capital a halt was made at Duddingston, and a
council was held, at which it was decided to detach Lochiel's force to
make the advance and demand the surrender of the city. The Camerons
having been the first arrivals at Glenfinnan, may have been the cause of
this selection. Lochiel having received some injury from a fall off his
horse on the journey, he was unable to accompany his clansmen. Cameron
of Earrachd consequently succeeded to the command of this important
mission, and its success is matter of history. The events of the '45 are
introduced into the career of Alan (the son) somewhat irrelevantly, but
only to connect the latter with the singular incident that sixty-two
years afterwards it fell to _his_ lot to have been ordered by Sir Arthur
Wellesley to take possession of the Citadel of Copenhagen (1807). Taking
leave now of Prince Charles and his Highlanders, with their fortunes and
their failures, the narrative of Alan Cameron will proceed without
further divergence.


CHAPTER III.

IT was during these turbulent times that Alan Cameron passed his
infantile years--he was four years of age before he saw his father, and,
although it was hoped that the settlement of the difficulties which had
existed would favour his career in life, exempt from the toils and
strifes of war, it was not so ordained, as the narrative will prove.

Alan was the oldest son of a family of three sons and three daughters,
some of whom found meet employment subsequently in his regiment. Their
education was conducted as customary in those days by resident tutors
from Aberdeen and St Andrews. With one of these Alan, on reaching a
suitable age, went to the latter University for one or two sessions to
complete his education. As the oldest son, it was intended that on
arriving at a certain age he should relieve his father of the care and
management of the lands and stock, and become the responsible
representative of the family at home; while it was arranged that of the
other sons, Donald was to enter the naval service of the Dutch East
India Company, and the youngest, Ewan, was to find a commission in one
of the Fencible Corps of the county of Argyll. But this arrangement was
not to be, especially as regards the eldest and youngest sons. A
circumstance of melancholy interest occurred before the former had taken
to the succession of the farm, or the other had arrived at the age to be
an effective officer of his regiment, which had the effect of exactly
reversing these intentions. The occurrence referred to was of a tragical
nature, and caused the utmost sensation among the families of the
district, inasmuch as relationship was so general there that whatever
brought affliction to the hearth of one family, would leave its portion
also at the threshold of the others. Alan, like other youths, employed
much of his juvenile years in the sports of a Highland country
life--fox-hunting, deer-stalking, and fishing for salmon on the Lochy;
at all of which he was more than ordinarily successful. The nearest
house to his father's was that of another Cameron--chieftain of a
considerable tribe (_Mac Ile' Onaich_ or Sliochd Ile' Onaich), who had
recently died of wounds received at Culloden. His widow and children
occupied the house at Strone. The lady is reputed to have been very
handsome, and would apparently answer _Donachadh Ban's_ description of
_Isabel og an or fhuilt bhuidhe_, leastways, to borrow a word from the
Cockney--she was styled _par excellance_, _a Bhanntrach Ruadh_. Alan, like
a friendly kinsman, was most generous in sharing the successes of his
gun and rod with the widowed lady, for which, no doubt, she expressed
her acknowledgments to the youthful sportsman. The course of this
commendable neighbourship was rather unexpectedly interrupted by some
words of misunderstanding which occurred between Alan and a gentleman
(also a Cameron) who was closely related to the widow's late husband. He
was known as _Fear Mhorsheirlich_; had been _out_ in the '45 when quite
a youth, and escaped to Holland, from which he had only returned a few
months previous to the incident of this narrative. Contemporaries spoke
of him as being most accomplished, and of gallant bearing. The real
nature of the dispute has not descended sufficiently authentic to
justify more minute reference than that rumour assigned it to have been
an accusation that Alan was imprudently intimate with the handsome widow
of Strone (_a Bhanntrach Ruadh_). The delicate insinuation was resented
by Alan in language probably more plain than polite. Mr Cameron was
Alan's senior by some twenty years or so, but notwithstanding this, his
high spirit could not brook the rough retort of the accused; and, much
to Alan's confusion, the result was that he received a peremptory demand
to apologise or arrange a meeting for personal satisfaction. As he
declined to return the one, he was obliged to grant the desperate
alternative. Reading this account of men going out to engage in personal
combat for a cause so small, will lead us to consider that such a result
ought to have been prevented by the interposition of friends. But it
must not be overlooked that the customs of the times are very much
ameliorated from what prevailed in those days (1772). It is probable
that even then if the management of the affair had been confided to
skilful diplomatists the meeting might have been averted. Friends of
such conciliating habits were either not at hand, or they were not
consulted; and, as men equal in high spirits, the principals could not
volunteer any compromise. Alan's chief anxiety was how to keep the event
secret from his parents and family, therefore, he quietly repaired to a
relative to request his attendance the following morning as his friend
for the occasion. It is said that this gentleman used his utmost powers
of dissuasion, although unsuccessful--determination had, in the interval
of a few hours, become too settled for alteration. Alan, as the
challenged, was, according to duelling etiquette, entitled to the choice
of weapons and place of meeting. Although the pistol had in a measure
superseded the rapier in England, the broadsword remained the favourite
weapon in the north when required for the purpose of personal
_satisfaction_. Highlanders had always a preference for the weapon named
by Ossian--_An Lann tanna_--and by the modern bards--_Tagha nan Arm_.
Alan decided on making choice of the steel blade, and named a certain
obscure spot on the banks of the Lochy for the meeting on the following
day at the grey hour of the morning. His difficulty now was how to get
possession of one of these implements of war without exciting suspicion
or inquiries. They numbered more than one in the armory of every
Highland household, and in the case of those in his father's house they
were preserved with a care due to articles which had been often used
with effect in the past. Among them was one which had been _out_ in the
campaigns of 1689 (Dundee's), 1715 (Mar's), and in 1745-6. It was of
Spanish manufacture, and remarkable for the length and symmetry of its
blade, in consequence of which it received the sobriquet of _Rangaire
Riabhach_.[B] In his failure to find the keys of the arms depository, he
bethought him to make a confident and enlist the sympathies of an
elderly lady, who had been a member of the family since the days of his
childhood. The aged Amazon not only promised her aid, but highly
approved, and even encouraged, the spirit of her youthful relative.
Having access to the keys of the armory, the _Rangaire_ was soon in
Alan's hands, and with it he repaired to the place appointed, "to
vindicate his own honour and give _satisfaction_ to his antagonist."

The time of year when this event took place was in the early days of
autumn. Daylight and the combatants arrived on the scene together. Vague
particulars of the preliminaries between them have been variously
retailed, but they are not necessary to the narrative, and therefore not
referred to. The fact that the elder Cameron was reputed to be a skilled
swordsman, also that it was not the first time he had met his foes in
the field, may have had some effect on the nerves of his younger
opponent, but there was no outward indication of it. The home-taught
countryman, however, must have felt that he was standing face to face
with no ordinary opponent. Alan, like the generality of young men, had
such practice in the use of the weapon as to make him acquainted with
the _cuts_ and _guards_. The superiority of Mr Cameron was at first
apparent and proved, inasmuch as he not only kept himself for some time
uninjured, but inflicted a severe cut on Alan's left arm. This blow may
be said to have brought the conflict to its sudden and fatal
termination. The pain, together with the humiliation, roused Alan's
wrath to desperation. It became manifest to the only two friends
present, that the life of one, if not of the two combatants, would be
sacrificed; but they found themselves quite powerless to restrain the
rage of the wounded principal. Their anticipations were not long in
being confirmed. The elder Cameron fell from a blow delivered on the
head by the powerful arm of his opponent. The force may be imagined when
it is stated that it was what is known as No. 7 cut, and that the
wounded man's sword in defending was forced into his own forehead. He
lived just long enough to reach Strone house--a mile or so distant. It
is impossible, except to those who have experienced a similar trial, to
estimate the state of feeling such a painful scene produced on the three
now remaining on the field. Time, however, was not to be trifled with,
for, although, there were no "men in blue" to make prisoners of the
breakers of the peace; yet the vanquished combatant had friends who
would not hesitate to take life for life. Alan's _achates_ at once
thought of that probability, or of revenge in some form. They,
therefore, hurried him away from the field and across the river Lochy. A
short consultation decided that he should remove himself entirely from
the Cameron country for the time being. This was concurred in by Alan,
who girded his claymore and determined on making direct for his uncle's
house in Morvern--(Maclean of Drimnin)--distant about sixty miles, where
he arrived without resting or drawing breath. The advice of his counsel,
and the decision arrived at, proved to be not unnecessary, as the sequel
proved. The fallen man was one of the cadets of a numerous tribe, and
they would naturally, in accordance with the habit of the times, seek to
avenge the death of their kinsman. They sought for the slayer of their
friend with diligence and zeal. Their search was far and wide; but,
fortunately for the fugitive, and thanks to the vigilance of his
relatives, his pursuers were defeated in their attempt to capture their
intended victim. The consternation of the uncle (Drimnin), on learning
the cause of his nephew's sudden visit, may be surmised; but what was
done could not be undone. When the Laird was satisfied with Alan's
version, that _Morsheirlich_ fell in fair fight, brought about by
himself, his displeasure somewhat relented. Affection and sympathy
mingled in the old Laird's bosom, and he decided to befriend his
unfortunate nephew at all hazard. It was conjectured that the search of
the avengers would be directed towards this district, where Alan's
relatives were numerous, and where he would likely betake himself in
this emergency. That he might elude his pursuers with greater certainty,
the Laird of Drimnin had him escorted across the Sound of Mull by some
trusty kinsmen, to the charge of another Maclean (Pennycross), and with
whom he was to remain until he received further instructions respecting
his future destination. The grief and revenge of _Morsheirlich's_
friends had not yet subsided, and would not, for years to come, so that
Alan would be unwise to return to his native home, or place himself in
their path.

The Collector of His Majesty's Customs at the Port of Greenock was an
immediate relation to the Laird of Drimnin by marriage, and a
correspondence was entered on with him with the view of ascertaining his
opinion as to what was best to be done for Alan. Negotiations occupied
more time for their conduct at that time than in the present day; at any
rate nothing satisfactory was proposed to Alan, so that for a couple of
years he continued wandering up and down the island of Mull, and through
the glens of Morvern, entirely under the guidance of his uncle. At last
a request came from the Collector to send the fugitive to him, that he
might find employment for him in his own office. The uncle decreed,
rather against Alan's grain, that the offer of clerkship should
meanwhile be accepted. He remained in this occupation for several
months, until he received an invitation from another friend residing in
Leith. This gentleman wrote to say that there was now an opportunity of
giving him service in an enterprise likely to be congenial to "a man of
metal" such as he conceived Alan to be. The war of American Independence
had commenced, and the employment which the Leith friend proposed was
that Alan should join a privateer which was fitting out in an English
port, armed with letters of marque, to capture and destroy American
shipping. Alan answered the invitation by repairing to Leith in person
with all speed. The nature of the service offered, however, did not
accord with his ideas of honourable warfare; in fact, he considered it
more akin to piracy, and not such as a gentleman should take part in. He
had no affection, he said, for clerkship, but he had still less for the
life of a pirate.

While Alan was oscillating in this manner, he learned that another
relative of his mother's, Colonel Alan Maclean of Torloisk, who had
emigrated to one of the North American colonies some years previously,
had received a commission to embody a regiment of those of his
countrymen who had become residents on free-grants of land at the same
time with himself. To this gentleman Alan decided on going. Soldiering
was more genial to his nature than marine freebooting, and he calculated
on Colonel Maclean's assistance in that direction. (This Colonel
Maclean's grand-daughter was Miss Clephane Maclean, afterwards
Marchioness of Northampton.) Arrived in America, Alan was received
kindly by his relative, and being a soldier himself he viewed the past
event in Alan's life as of a nature not entirely without a certain
amount of recommendation to a wanderer in search of fame. Alan was not
long in the country when Colonel Maclean added him to his list of
volunteers, in a body, which was soon afterwards enrolled as the "Royal
Highland Emigrant Corps."

                         (_To be Continued._)

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: Sir John Sinclair.]

[Footnote B: Brown or brindled wrangler.]



A. R. wants to know "the best standard for Gaelic orthography?"

CABAR-FEIDH would like to know if any of Grant's [_Bard Mor an
t-Slagain_] Poems were ever published? If so, where? and by whom? It is
believed many of his pieces, which were famous in his day, are still
known in the Lochbroom and Dundonnell districts. _Cabar_ requests that
any of the readers of the _Celtic Magazine_ to whom any of the poems are
known would kindly forward them for publication. Grant knew more
Ossianic poetry than any man of his day--1746 to 1842. Any information
regarding him would be of interest.

MACAOIDH enquires to what sept of the clan the famous pipers--the
Mackays of Gairloch--belonged, and how did they find their way to that
part of the country? Are there any of their descendants still living in
this country or in North British America, where the last famous piper of
the race emigrated? The "Blind Piper" and bard was the most famous of
this remarkable family, and was a pupil in the celebrated College of the
Macrimmon's in Skye.



REPLY TO "GLENGARRY'S" QUERY.--There are words in English to
_Piobaireachd Mhic Ranuil_ or _Cilliechriost_, and they, with
particulars of the occasion on which the tune was composed, will appear
in the next instalment of the HIGHLAND CEILIDH in the _Celtic
Magazine_.



THE HIGHLAND CEILIDH.

BY ALASTAIR OG.

[CONTINUED.]


ON the conclusion of the "Spell of Cadboll" Norman received the hearty
and unanimous congratulations of the circle. The frail old bard, pulling
himself together, got up, went across the room, and shook him heartily
with both hands. This special honour was a most unusual one. It was
clear that _Alastair_ was just in the mood when a little persuasion
would suffice to get him to recite one of his own compositions. This he
was generally very chary of doing, but Norman getting the hint from one
of his immediate neighbours to ask the bard a special favour on this
occasion at once begged the honour of hearing one of the bard's
compositions from his own lips. The venerable old man bent himself
forward, began to work the fingers of both hands and beat time on his
leg as on a chanter, humming a quiet _cronan_. This was his usual
practice when composing or reciting poetry, and it was at once seen that
he would consent. "I will give you," says he, "a _Marbh-rann_, or Elegy
which no one ever heard, and which I have recently composed to the late
'Bailie Hector' of Dingwall, a son of my late esteemed friend
'Letterewe,' on condition that you, Sir, will give us another story when
I am done." Norman at once agreed, and the bard commenced as follows:--


MARBHRANN.

DO BHAILIDH EACHAINN, INBHIR-FEOTHARAN, MAC FEAR LEITIR-IUGH.

          AIR FONN--"_'S mi 'm shuidhe 'm 'onar._"

    O 's truagh an sgeula tha 'n diugh ri fheutainn,
    Thug gal air ceudan a measg an t-sluaigh,
    Mu Eachainn gleusta 'bha fearail, feumail,
    Gun da ghlac an t-eug thu a threun-laoich chruaidh:
    'S mor bron do Chinnidh, mar eoin na tuinne
    Tha 'n cronan duilich 's an ullaidh uath
    'S bho nach duisg an gair thu, 's nach cluinn thu 'n gailich,
    Se chlaoidh do chairdean do bhas cho luath.

    Tha do chairdean cianal, tha bron da'lionadh,
    Tha 'n inntinn pianail bho n' ghlac thu 'm bas,
    'S iad a ghnath fuidh thiorachd 's nach faigh iad sgial ort,
    Ach thu bhi iosal an ciste chlar
    Bu tu ceann na riaghailt 'us lamh na fialachd,
    A sheoid gun fhiaradh, gun ghiamh gun sgath,
    'Sa nis bho 'n thriall thu, 's sinn lan dha d' iargan,
    'S nach eil 's na criochan fear a lionas d' ait.

    Bha d' aite miaghail 's gach cas an iarrt' thu,
    A reir mo sgiala bu teirc do luach:
    Bha thu pairteach, briathrach, ri ard 's ri iosal,
    Gun chàs gun dioghaltas air an tuath.
    Bha foghlum Iarl' agad 's ciall fear riaghlaidh
    Bu mhor an diobhail nach da liath do ghruag,
    'S ann a bharc an t-aog ort mas d' thainig aois ort,
    A ghnuis bha faoilteach air chaochladh snuaidh.

    Bha do shnuadh cho aillidh 's nach fhaodainn s' aireamh,
    Mar ròs a gharaidh ri maduinn dhriuchd,
    Bu chuachach, faineach, do ghruag an caradh--
    Mar theudan clarsaich an' inneal ciuil
    Do ghruaidh dhearg dhathte, do shuil mar dhearcag,
    Fuidh ghnuis na maise bu tapaidh sùrd
    Rasg aotram, geanach, bho 'm b'fhaoilteach sealladh
    Beul muirneach tairis, 's deud thana dhluth.

    O! 's dluth bha buaidhean a stri mu'n cuairt duit,
    Cha b' eol dhomh suairceas nach robh 'do chrè
    Bha thu ciallach, narach, 's tu briathrach, pairteach,
    'S tu rianail, daimheil, ri d' chairdean fhein:
    Bu tu firean, fallain, bha rioghail, geanach,
    'Sa leoghann tapaidh bu ghlaine beus;
    Bhiodh min 'us gairg' air, bhiodh sith 'us fearg air,
    Nuair chit' air falbh e bhiodh colg na cheum.

    Se do cheum bu bhrisge 's bu shubailt iosgaid,
    Bha moran ghibhtean ri d' leasraidh fuaight.
    Bu tu glas nan Gaidheal, bho mhuir gu braighe
    Gu crioch Chinntaile 's na tha bho thuath.
    O! 's lionmhor oigfhear tha 'n diugh gu bronach
    A fasgadh dhorn, 'us ruith-dheoir le ghruaidh,
    'Bhiodh dana, sgaiteach, gun sgath gun ghealtachd,
    Na 'm bu namhaid pears' bheireadh Eachainn bh' uainn.

    Bha thu mor an onair, bu mhor do mholadh,
    Bu mhor do shonas, 's tu gun dolaidh gibht'
    Bu mhor a b'fhiach thu, bu mhor do riaghailt,
    Bu mhor do mhiagh ann an ciall 's an tuigs',
    Bu mhor do churam, bu mhor do chuisean,
    Bu mhor do chliu ann an cuirt 'sa meas,
    Bu mhor do stata, 's bu mhor do nadur,
    'S cha mhor nach d'fhag thu na Gaidheil brist'.

    O! 's priseil, laidir, a ghibhte 'dh-fhag sinn--
    'S mios'da Ghaeltachd bàs an t-seoid,
    Tha Mhachair tursach bho n' chaidh an uir ort,
    'S tu dh-fhuasgladh cuis do gach cuirt mu bhord,
    Bha 'Ghalldachd deurach ri cainnt ma d' dheighinn,
    Gu ruig Dun-eidin nan steud 's nan cleoc,
    'S cha ghabhainn gealtachd, air son a chantuinn,
    Gur call do Bhreatuinn nach eil thu beo.

    'S tu chraobh a b'aillidh bha 'n tus a gharaidh
    'S i ùr a fas ann fuidh bhlath 's fuidh dhos,
    O! 's truagh a dh-fhag thu ma thuath na Gaidheil
    Mar uain gun mhathair ni'n sgath ri frois,
    'S tu b'urr' an tearnadh bho chunnart gabhaidh,
    'S an curaidh laidir, chuireadh spairn na tost,
    Tha 'n tuath gu craiteach, 's na h-uaislean càsai,
    'S bho 'n chaidh am fàd ort 's truagh gair nam bochd.

"_Ma ta 's math sibh fhein Alastair Bhuidhe; 's grinn comhnard a
bhardachd a th'air a mharbhrainn, ach cha 'n eil i dad nas fhearr na
thoill brod a Ghaidheil agus am fior dhuin' uasal dha'n d'rinn sibh i,"
arsa Ruairidh Mor._ (Well done yourself, _Alastair Buidhe_, the
composition of the Elegy is beautifully elegant and even, but not any
better than the memory of the best of Highlanders and the truest of
gentlemen, to whom you composed it, deserved, said Big Rory). This was
the general verdict of the circle.

Norman was now called upon to fulfil his part of the arrangement, which
he promptly did by giving the Legend, of which the following is a
translation:--


THE RAID OF CILLIECHRIOST.

THE ancient Chapel of Cilliechriost, in the Parish of Urray, in Ross,
was the scene of one of the bloodiest acts of ferocity and revenge that
history has recorded. The original building has long since disappeared,
but the lonely and beautifully situated burying-ground is still in use.
The tragedy originated in the many quarrels which arose between the two
chiefs of the North Highlands--Mackenzie of Kintail and Macdonald of
Glengarry. As usual, the dispute was regarding land, but it were not
easy to arrive at the degree of blame to which each party was entitled,
enough that there was bad blood between these two paladins of the north.
Of course, the quarrel was not allowed to go to sleep for lack of action
on the part of their friends and clansmen. The Macdonalds having made
several raids on the Mackenzie country, the Mackenzies retaliated by the
spoiling of Morar with a large and overwhelming force. The Macdonalds,
taking advantage of Kenneth Mackenzie's visit to Mull with the view to
influence Maclean to induce the former to peace, once more committed
great devastation in the Mackenzie country, under the leadership of
Glengarry's son Angus. From Kintail and Lochalsh the clan of the
Mackenzies gathered fast, but too late to prevent Macdonald from
escaping to sea with his boats loaded with the foray. A portion of the
Mackenzies ran to Eilean-donan, while another portion sped to the narrow
strait of the Kyle between Skye and the mainland, through which the
Macdonalds, on their return, of necessity, must pass. At Eilean-donan
Lady Mackenzie furnished them with two boats, one ten-oared and one
four-oared, also with arrows and ammunition. Though without their chief,
the Mackenzies sallied forth, and rowing towards Kyleakin, lay in wait
for the approach of the Macdonalds. The first of the Glengarry boats
they allowed to pass unchallenged, but the second, which was the
thirty-two-oared galley of the chief was furiously attacked. The
unprepared Macdonalds rushing to the side of the heavily loaded boat,
swamped the craft, and were all thrown into the sea, where they were
despatched in large numbers, and those who escaped to the land were
destroyed "by the Kintail men, who killed them like _sealchagan_."[A]
The body of young Glengarry was secured and buried in the very door-way
of the Kirk of Kintail, that the Mackenzies might trample over it
whenever they went to church. Time passed on, Donald _Gruamach_, the
old chief, died ere he could mature matters for adequate retaliation of
the Kyle tragedy and the loss of his son Angus. The chief of the clan
was an infant in whom the feelings of revenge could not be worked out by
action; but there was one, his cousin, who was the Captain or Leader in
whom the bitterest thoughts exercised their fullest sway. It seems now
impossible that such acts could have occurred, and it gives one a
startling idea of the state of the country then, when such a terrible
instance of private vengeance could have been carried out so recent as
the beginning of the seventeenth century, without any notice being taken
of it, even, in those days of general blood and rapine. Notwithstanding
the hideousness of sacrilege and murder, which, certainly, in magnitude
of atrocity, was scarcely ever equalled, there are many living, even in
the immediate neighbourhood, who are ignorant of the cause of the act.
Macranuil of Lundi, captain of the clan, whose personal prowess was only
equalled by his intense ferocity, made many incursions into the
Mackenzie country, sweeping away their cattle, and otherwise doing them
serious injury; but these were but preludes to that sanguinary act on
which his soul gloated, and by which he hoped effectually to avenge the
loss of influence and property of which his clan were deprived by the
Mackenzies, and more particularly wash out the records of death of his
chief and clansmen at Kyleakin. In order to form his plans more
effectually he wandered for some time as a mendicant among the
Mackenzies in order the more successfully to fix on the best means and
spot for his revenge. A solitary life offered up to expiate the manes of
his relatives was not sufficient in his estimation, but the life's blood
of such a number of his bitterest foemen, and an act at which the
country should stand aghast was absolutely necessary. Returning home he
gathered together a number of the most desperate of his clan, and by a
forced march across the hills arrived at the Church of Cilliechriost on
a Sunday forenoon, when it was filled by a crowd of worshippers of the
clan Mackenzie. Without a moments delay, without a single pang of
remorse, and while the song of praise ascended to heaven from fathers,
mothers, and children, he surrounded the church with his band, and with
lighted torches set fire to the roof. The building was thatched, and
while a gentle breeze from the east fanned the fire, the song of praise,
mingled with the crackling of the flames, until the imprisoned
congregation, becoming conscious of their situation, rushed to the doors
and windows, where they were met by a double row of bristling swords.
Now, indeed, arose the wild wail of despair, the shrieks of women, the
infuriated cries of men, and the helpless screaming of children, these
mingled with the roaring of the flames appalled even the Macdonalds, but
not so Allan Dubh. "Thrust them back into the flames" cried he, "for he
that suffers ought to escape alive from Cilliechriost shall be branded
as a traitor to his clan"; and they were thrust back or mercilessly hewn
down within the narrow porch, until the dead bodies piled on each other
opposed an unsurmountable barrier to the living. Anxious for the
preservation of their young children, the scorching mothers threw them
from the windows in the vain hope that the feelings of parents awakened
in the breasts of the Macdonalds would induce them to spare them, but
not so. At the command of Allan of Lundi they were received on the
points of the broadswords of men in whose breasts mercy had no place.
It was a wild and fearful sight only witnessed by a wild and fearful
race. During the tragedy they listened with delight to the piper of the
band, who marching round the burning pile, played to drown the screams
of the victims, an extempore pibroch, which has ever since been
distinguished as the war tune of Glengarry under the title of
"Cilliechriost." The flaming roof fell upon the burning victims, soon
the screams ceased to be heard, a column of smoke and flame leapt into
the air, the pibroch ceased, the last smothered groan of existence
ascended into the still sky of that Sabbath morning, whispering as it
died away that the agonies of the congregation were over.

East, west, north, and south looked Allan Dubh Macranuil. Not a living
soul met his eye. The fire he kindled had destroyed, like the spirit of
desolation. Not a sound met his ear, and his own tiger soul sunk within
him in dismay. The Parish of Cilliechriost seemed swept of every living
thing. The fearful silence that prevailed, in a quarter lately so
thickly peopled, struck his followers with dread; for they had given in
one hour the inhabitants of a whole parish, one terrible grave. The
desert which they had created filled them with dismay, heightened into
terror by the howls of the masterless sheep dogs, and they turned to
fly. Worn out with the suddenness of their long march from Glengarry,
and with their late fiendish exertions, on their return they sat down to
rest on the green face of Glenconvinth, which route they took in order
to reach Lundi through the centre of Glenmorriston by Urquhart. Before
they fled from Cilliechriost Allan divided his party into two, one
passing by Inverness and the other as already mentioned; but the
Macdonalds were not allowed to escape, for the flames had roused the
Mackenzies as effectually as if the fiery cross had been sent through
their territories. A youthful leader, a cadet of the family of Seaforth,
in an incredibly short time, found himself surrounded by a determined
band of Mackenzies eager for the fray; these were also divided into two
bodies, one commanded by Murdoch Mackenzie of Redcastle, proceeded by
Inverness, to follow the pursuit along the southern side of Loch Ness;
another headed by Alexander Mackenzie of Coul, struck across the country
from Beauly, to follow the party of the Macdonalds who fled along the
northern side of Loch Ness under their leader Allan Dubh Macranuil. The
party that fled by Inverness were surprised by Redcastle in a
public-house at Torbreck, three miles to the west of the town where they
stopped to refresh themselves. The house was set on fire, and they
all--thirty-seven in number--suffered the death which, in the earlier
part of the day, they had so wantonly inflicted. The Mackenzies, under
Coul, after a few hours' hard running, came up with the Macdonalds as
they sought a brief repose on the hills towards the burn of Aultsigh.
There the Macdonalds maintained an unequal conflict, but as guilt only
brings faint hearts to its unfortunate votaries they turned and again
fled precipitately to the burn. Many, however, missed the ford, and the
channel being rough and rocky several fell under the swords of the
victorious Mackenzies. The remainder, with all the speed they could
make, held on for miles lighted by a splendid and cloudless moon, and
when the rays of the morning burst upon them, Allan Dubh Macranuil and
his party were seen ascending the southern ridge of Glen Urquhart with
the Mackenzies close in the rear. Allan casting an eye behind him and
observing the superior numbers and determination of his pursuers, called
to his band to disperse in order to confuse his pursuers and so divert
the chase from himself. This being done, he again set forward at the
height of his speed, and after a long run, drew breath to reconnoitre,
when, to his dismay, he found that the avenging Mackenzies were still
upon his track in one unbroken mass. Again he divided his men and bent
his flight towards the shore of Loch Ness, but still he saw the foe with
redoubled vigour, bearing down upon him. Becoming fearfully alive to his
position, he cried to his few remaining companions again to disperse,
until they left him, one by one, and he was alone. Allan, who as a mark
of superiority and as Captain of the Glengarry Macdonalds, always wore a
red jacket, was easily distinguished from the rest of his clansmen, and
the Mackenzies being anxious for his capture, thus easily singled him
out as the object of their joint and undiverted pursuit. Perceiving the
sword of vengeance ready to descend on his head he took a resolution as
desperate in its conception as unequalled in its accomplishment. Taking
a short course towards the fearful ravine of Aultsigh he divested
himself of his plaid and buckler, and turning to the leader of the
Mackenzies, who had nearly come up with him, beckoned him to follow,
then with a few yards of a run he sprang over the yawning chasm, never
before contemplated without a shudder. The agitation of his mind at the
moment completely overshadowed the danger of the attempt, and being of
an athletic frame he succeeded in clearing the desperate leap. The young
and reckless Mackenzie, full of ardour and determined at all hazards to
capture the murderer followed; but, being a stranger to the real width
of the chasm, perhaps of less nerve than his adversary, and certainly
not stimulated by the same feelings, he only touched the opposite brink
with his toes, and slipping downwards he clung by a slender shoot of
hazel which grew over the tremendous abyss. Allan Dubh looking round on
his pursuer and observing the agitation of the hazel bush, immediately
guessed the cause, and returning with the ferocity of a demon who had
succeeded in getting his victim into his fangs, hoarsely whispered, "I
have given your race this day much, I shall give them this also, surely
now the debt is paid," when cutting the hazel twig with his sword, the
intrepid youth was dashed from crag to crag until he reached the stream
below, a bloody and misshapen mass. Macranuil again commenced his
flight, but one of the Mackenzies, who by this time had come up, sent a
musket shot after him, by which he was wounded, and obliged to slacken
his pace. None of his pursuers, however, on coming up to Aultsigh, dared
or dreamt of taking a leap which had been so fatal to their youthful
leader, and were therefore under the necessity of taking a circuitous
route to gain the other side. This circumstance enabled Macranuil to
increase the distance between him and his pursuers, but the loss of
blood, occasioned by his wound, so weakened him that very soon he found
his determined enemies were fast gaining on him. Like an infuriated wolf
he hesitated whether to await the undivided attack of the Mackenzies or
plunge into Loch Ness and attempt to swim across its waters. The shouts
of his approaching enemies soon decided him, and he sprung into its
deep and dark wave. Refreshed by its invigorating coolness he soon swam
beyond the reach of their muskets; but in his weak and wounded state it
is more than probable he would have sunk ere he had crossed half the
breadth had not the firing and the shouts of his enemies proved the
means of saving his life. Fraser of Foyers seeing a numerous band of
armed men standing on the opposite bank of Loch Ness, and observing a
single swimmer struggling in the water, ordered his boat to be launched,
and pulling hard to the individual, discovered him to be his friend
Allan Dubh, with whose family Fraser was on terms of friendship.
Macranuil, thus rescued remained at the house of Foyers until he was
cured of his wound, but the influence and the Clan of the Macdonalds
henceforth declined, while that of the Mackenzies surely and steadily
increased.

The heavy ridge between the vale of Urquhart and Aultsigh where Allan
Dubh Macranuil so often divided his men, is to this day called
_Monadh-a-leumanaich_ or "the Moor of the Leaper."

                         (_To be Continued._)

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: Snails.]



CAN THIS BE THE LAND?


          "_How are the mighty fallen!_"

    Can this be the land where of old heroes flourished?
    Can this be the land of the sons of the blast?
    Gloom-wrapt as a monarch whose greatness hath perished,
    Its beauty of loneliness speaks of the past:--
    Tell me ye green valleys, dark glens, and blue mountains,
    Where now are the mighty that round ye did dwell?
    Ye wild-sweeping torrents, and woe-sounding fountains,
    Say, is it their spirits that wail in your swell?

    Oft, oft have ye leaped when your children of battle,
    With war-bearing footsteps rushed down your dark crests;
    Oft, oft have ye thundered with far-rolling rattle,
    The echoes of slogans that burst from their breasts:--
    Wild music of cataracts peals in their gladness,--
    Hoarse tempests still shriek to the clouds lightning-fired,--
    Dark shadows of glory departed, in sadness
    Still linger o'er ruins where dwelt the inspired.

    The voice of the silence for ever is breaking
    Around the lone heaths of the glory-sung braves;
    Dim ghosts haunt in sorrow, a land all forsaken,
    And pour their mist tears o'er the heather-swept graves:--
    Can this be the land of the thunder-toned numbers
    That snowy bards sung in the fire of their bloom?
    Deserted and blasted, in death's silent slumbers,
    It glooms o'er my soul like the wreck of a tomb.

    SUNDERLAND.                                              WM. ALLAN.



HIGHLAND FOLK-LORE.

BY "NETHER-LOCHABER."


FOLK-LORE--a word of recent importation from the German--is a big word,
and Highland Folk-Lore is a big subject, so big and comprehensive that
not one Magazine article, but a many-chaptered series of Magazine
articles would be necessary ere one could aver that he had done his
"text" anything like justice. On the present occasion, therefore, we do
not pretend to enter into the heart of a subject so extensive and
many-sided: we shall content ourselves with a little scouting and
skirmishing, so to speak, along the borders of a territory which it is
possible we may ask the readers at some future time to explore along
with us more at large. A few of the many proverbs, wisdom words, and
moral and prudential sentences in daily use shall, in clerical phrase,
meantime form "the subject-matter of our discourse." Nor must the reader
think that the subject is in any wise _infra dignitate_, unworthy, that
is, or undignified. Of the world-renowned Seven Wise Men of Greece, five
at least attained to all their eminence and fame no otherwise than
because they were the cunning framers of maxims and proverbs that
rightly interpreted were calculated to advance and consolidate the moral
and material welfare of the nation around them. Of the remaining two, it
is true that one was an eminent politician and legislator, and the other
a natural philosopher of the first order; but it is questionable if
either of them would have been considered entitled to their prominent
place in the Grecian _Pleiades_ of Wise Men had they not been
proverb-makers and utterers of brief but pregnant "wisdom-words" as
well. Even Solomon, the wisest of men, was less celebrated as a botanist
and naturalist, though he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in
Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; and of
beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes--less
celebrated even as a lyrist, though his songs were a thousand and five,
than for his proverbs and moral maxims of which the record takes care to
tell us he spake no less than "three thousand." So much then for the
dignity of our subject: what engaged the attention of Solomon and the
Seven Sages of Greece cannot surely be unworthy some small share of our
regard.

"Six and half-a-dozen" is an English phrase, implying either that two
things are exactly the same, or so very much alike as to be practically
the same. The old Gael was not much of an arithmetician, he rarely
meddled with numbers, and therefore no precisely similar phrase is to be
found in his language; but he could express the same idea in his own
way, and so pithily and emphatically that his version of the proverbial
axiom is, perhaps, as good as is to be found in any other language
whatever. The Gael's equivalent for "six and half-a-dozen" is, "_Bo
mhaol odhar, agus bo odhar, mhaol_"--(A cow that is doddled and dun, and
a cow that is dun and doddled)--a phrase drawn, as are many of his most
striking proverbs and prudential maxims, and very naturally too, from
his pastoral surroundings. We recollect an admirable and very ludicrous
application of this saying in a story once told us by the late Dr Norman
Macleod of Glasgow, "old" Norman that is, not the Barony Doctor, but his
father:--When a boy in Morven, of which parish his father was minister,
there was a well-known character in that part of the country called
"_Eoghann Gorach Chraigan Uibhir_," Daft Ewen of Craig-an-Ure in Mull, a
born "natural," who, although a veritable "fool," had yet in him much of
the quiet, keen-edged satire and roguery which is not unfrequently found
in the better ranks of such "silly ones." Ewen regularly perambulated
Mull and Morven, with an occasional raid into the neighbouring districts
of Sunart and Ardnamurchan. He had sense enough to be able to carry the
current news of the day from district to district, and on this account
was always a welcome guest in every farm-house and hamlet on his beat;
and as he sung a capital song, and was remarkable for much harmless
drollery and "dafting," he was, it is needless to say, a great favourite
everywhere. He took a great interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and
always attended the church when the state of his wardrobe and other
circumstances permitted. On one occasion Ewen was passing through
Morven, and knowing that the annual communion time was approaching, he
called upon the minister and begged to know who his assistants on that
particular occasion were to be. He was going to pay a visit, he said, to
all the glens and outlying hamlets in the parish, and as the people were
sure to ask him the important question, he wished to have the proper
answer direct from the minister himself. "_Tha raghadh 'us taghadh nam
ministeiran, Eoghainn; An Doiteir A. B. a Inneraora, agus an Doiteir C.
D. a Muille._" (The pick and choice of ministers Ewen said the minister,
Doctor A. B. from Inverary, and Doctor C. D. from Mull). "Whe-e-we!" in
a contemptuously prolonged low whistle replied Ewen. "_An ann mar so a
tha; Bo mhaol, odhar, agus bo odhar, mhaol!_" (And is it even so; are
these to be your assistants? A cow that is doddled and dun, and a cow
that is dun and doddled!) Than which nothing could more emphatically
convey Ewen's very small opinion of the "assistants" mentioned. They
were much of a muchness; six and half-a-dozen; a cow doddled and dun,
and a cow dun and doddled! The Gael was a keen observer of natural
phenomena, and some of his best sayings were founded on the knowledge
thus acquired. Meteorological "wisdom-words" for instance, are quite
common. "_Mar chloich a ruith le gleann, tha feasgar fann foghairidh_"
is an admirable example. (As is the headlong rush of a stone, atumbling
down the glen, so hurried and of short duration is an autumnal
afternoon.) The philosophy of the saying is that you are to begin your
work betimes in the season of autumn; at early dawn if possible, and not
to stop at all for dinner, seeing that once the day has passed its
prime, the hour of sunset approaches with giant strides, and there is
little or no twilight to help you if you have been foolish enough to
dawdle your time in the hours of sunset proper. "_'S fas a chùil as nach
goirear_" is another pregnant adage. (Desert, indeed, is the corner
whence no voice of bird is heard.) Some people are very quiet, almost
dumb indeed, but on the occurrence of some event, or on the back of
some remark of yours, they speak, and speak so clearly and well that
you are surprised, and quote the saying that it is a solitary and silent
glade indeed whence no voice is heard. "_Am fear a bhios na thamh,
saoilidh e gur i lamh fhein as fhearr air an stiùir_" is a common saying
of much meaning and wide application. (He that is idle [a mere
spectator] thinks that he could steer the boat better than the man
actually in charge.) And we all know how apt we are to meddle, and
generally unwisely, with the proper labours of others. Nothing, for
instance, is more annoying and dangerous even than to put forth your
hand by way of helping a driver in managing his horses, or to interfere
with the tiller of a boat at which a perfectly competent man is already
seated. We have known the saying just quoted scores of times suffice to
stop the unwise and gratuitous intermeddling of such as were disposed to
interfere with what did not properly belong to them. "_Bidh fear an aon
mhairt aig uairean gun bhainne_" is a frequent saying, and implies more
than is at first sight apparent. (The man with only one cow will be at
times without milk.) The import of the saying is something more than a
mere statement of fact. You have only one cow, and you are certain to be
at times without milk. Get by your industry and perseverance _two_ cows
or three, and then you are pretty sure to have more or less milk all the
year round.

We have thus briefly touched the hem, so to speak, of a very interesting
subject--a subject that in the Highlands of Scotland, at least, has
never yet received a tittle of the attention it deserves. And let no one
be afraid to meddle with it to any extent he pleases, for we promise him
that he will meet with nothing in any way to shock his delicacy or
offend his taste, no matter how fine so ever of edge and exquisite; and
in this respect, at all events, the good old Gael is superior to that of
any other people of whom we have any knowledge. We may, perhaps, deal
more at large with the subject in a future number. Meantime, we may
state that we are of the same opinion as the Editor of the _Inverness
Courier_; there is abundance of room for the _Celtic Magazine_ if it
continues to be well conducted, without, in the least degree,
encroaching upon the territories of any other periodicals interested in
Celtic affairs.

    NETHER-LOCHABER, November 1875.



IMAGINATION.

_Dedicated by consent to_ ALFRED TENNYSON.


    All hail! far-seeing and creative power,
    Before whose might the universe bends low
    In silent adoration! Guide my pen
    While from my soul the sounds of music pour
    Towards thy praises! For to thee belongs
    The sounding stream of never-ending song.
    When out of chaos rose the glorious world,
    Sublime with mountains flowing from the skies,
    On lonely seas, sweet with slow-winding vales,
    Clasping the grandeur of the heavenly hills
    With soft and tender arms, or lowly glens
    Shrinking from glowing gaze of searching sun
    Beneath the shade of the high-soaring hills;
    Grand with great torrents roaring o'er fierce crags
    In suicidal madness, sad with seas
    That flash in silver of the gladdening sun,
    Yet ever wail in sadness 'neath the skies
    Of smiling heaven (like a lovely life
    That wears a sunny face, and wintry soul),
    Hopeful with fickle life renewing spring,
    Gladden'd with summer's radiance, autumn's joy,
    And sad and sullen with fierce winter's rain;
    Ruled by the race of God-made men who rush
    Towards eternity with half-shut eyes,
    Blind to the glories of sweet sky and sea,
    Wood-covered earth, and sun-reflecting hill,
    Thou in the mind of God, almighty power!
    Ruled, and directed his creative hand.
    With thee the seas spread and the hills arose
    To do thy Maker's will; the silvery stars
    Like heavenly glow-worms, beautifully cold,
    And gladly silent, gemmed the gloom of night,
    And shed the gladdening glances of their eyes
    On the sad face of the night-darken'd earth.
    Without thy sweetening influence, the soul
    Of nature's bard were like a sunless plain,
    Or summer garden destitute of flowers,
    A winter day ungladden'd by the gleam
    Of flowing sun, or river searching wild
    Through desert lands for ne'er appearing trees,
    Or peaceful flowers that sandy scenes disdain.
    No thought the philosophic mind imparts
    To an enraptured world, but bears thy power,
    And owns thee as the agent of its birth.
    O'er the sweet landscape of the poet's mind
    Thou sunlike shed'st the gladness of thy love,
    Inspiring all the scenes that lie below,
    Sweetening the bowers where Fancy loves to dwell,
    And on the crest of some huge mountain-thought
    Placing the glory of thy fleecy cloud,
    To make its frowning grandeur greater still,
    And heighten all its beauteous mystery.
    Thro' the sweet-coloured plains of Poesy
    Thou flowest like a sweetly-sounding stream,
    Here, rushing furious o'er the rocky crags
    Of wild, original thought, and there, 'neath bowers
    Of imagery, winding on thy way
    Peaceful and still towards the fadeless sea
    Of all enduring immortality.
    Like lightning flash for which no thunder-roar
    Makes preparation, from th' astonished mind
    On an astonished and admiring world
    Thou dartest in thine overwhelming course,
    Leaving a track of splendour in thy train,
    And lighting up the regions of thy way.
    With thee sweet music sings her various song,
    And thrills the soul and elevates the mind
    With "thoughts that often lie too deep for tears,"
    And own a sadness sweeter than the rills,
    A softer sweetness than the sinking sun
    Gives to the sparkling face of pensive sea.
    With thee great genius walketh hand in hand
    Towards the loftiest thought, or sits in pride
    Upon the golden throne of starry Fame.
    Borne on thy wings the pensive poet flies
    To the sweet-smiling land of sunny dreams,
    Or pours his floods of music o'er the world.
    With thy bright gleams his daily deeds are gemmed,
    And by thy balmy influence, his life
    Survives when he is dead!

    MAIDENKIRK.                                       D. R. WILLIAMSON.



LACHLAN MACKINNON,

OR "LACHLAN MAC THEARLAICH OIG," THE SKYE BARD.


AMONG many who have distinguished themselves by their display of
poetical talents, the subject of the present brief memoir, holds a
prominent place as a Gaelic poet. It is true that he was but little
known to the world, but he was much admired as a bard, and greatly
respected as a gentleman in his native "Isle of Mist."

Lachlan Mackinnon, patronimically designated "Lachlan Mac Thearlaich
Oig," was born in the parish of Strath, Isle of Skye, in the year 1665.
He was son of Charles Mackinnon of Ceann-Uachdarach, a cadet of the old
family of Mackinnon of Mackinnon of Strath. His mother was Mary Macleod,
daughter of John Macleod of Drynoch, in the same island. The poetical
genius of _Lachlan Mac Thearlaich_ showed itself almost in his infancy.
His father, like all Skye gentlemen in those good olden times, was a
very social and hospitable man, who seemed never to be contented unless
he had his house at Ceann-Uachdarach full of neighbours to enjoy
themselves in his family circle. The company were often much amused with
little Lachlan when a mere child, seeing the facility with which he
composed couplets on any subject prescribed to him. At the age of eight
he possessed a vigour of mind, and a vivacity of imagination rarely to
be met with in youths of more than double his age. A predilection for
poetry seemed to have gained an ascendency in his mind, over all other
pursuits and amusements of his tender years. He received the rudiments
of his education, under a tutor in his father's family, and as his
native island had not, at that remote period, the advantage of public
schools of any note, the young bard was sent, at the age of sixteen, to
the school of Nairn, which, from its reputation at the time as an
excellent seminary, was much resorted to by gentlemen's sons from all
parts of the north. The young Hebridean remained at Nairn continuously
for three years, and was greatly distinguished, not merely by his bright
talents, but by his assiduity and perseverance in improving them. His
studious disposition and diligent application were amply testified by
the progress made by him, and no less duly appreciated by his superiors
in the place. His love for study was enthusiastic, particularly in
regard to the languages. He was by far the best Greek and Latin pupil at
the Nairn Academy. His moments of relaxation were spent in the
composition of poems in the English language while at Nairn, although,
undoubtedly, the Gaelic was the medium which was most congenial to his
mind for giving expression in rhyme to his sentiments. At Nairn,
however, he composed several beautiful little pieces, and among the
rest a song which was much admired, to the air subsequently immortalized
by Burns as "Auld Lang Syne." Although his productions in English were
much admired, yet, as it was to him an acquired language, they could
bear no comparison with his truly superior compositions in Gaelic. It is
a matter of much regret that so few of his Gaelic poems are extant. Like
many bards he unfortunately trusted his productions to his memory; and
although well qualified, as a Gaelic writer, to commit them to paper,
yet he neglected it, and hence hundreds of our best pieces in Gaelic
poetry are lost for ever. Had they been all preserved, and given to the
public in a collected shape, they would have raised the talented author
to that high rank among the Celtic bards, which his genius so richly
merited.

In appearance _Lachlan Mac Thearlaich_ was tall, handsome, and
fascinating. He was distinguished by a winning gentleness and modesty of
manners, as well as by his generous sensibility and steadfast
friendship. His presence was courted in every company, and he was
everywhere made welcome. Of most of the chieftains and Highland lairds
he was a very acceptable acquaintance, while no public assembly, or
social meeting was considered complete if that object of universal
favour, the bard of Strath, were absent.

When a very young man he was united in marriage to Flora, daughter of Mr
Campbell of Strond, in the Island of Harris. Fondly attached to his
native isle, he rented from his chief the farm of Breakish, with the
grazing Island of Pabbay, at £24 sterling annually. And as an instance
of the many changes effected by time, it may be mentioned that the same
tenement is now rented at about £250 a-year. From what has been said of
the bard's amiable disposition and gentle manners, it will seem no wise
surprising that he proved to be one of the most affectionate of
husbands, and dutiful of fathers. The happiness of the matrimonial state
was to him, however, but of short duration. His wife, to whom he was
greatly attached, died in the prime and vigour of life. He was rendered
so disconsolate by means of his sudden and unexpected bereavement, that
he took a dislike to the scene of his transient happiness, and
relinquished his farm in Strath. Having removed from Skye, he took
possession of a new tenement of lands from Mackenzie in Kintail. Greatly
struck by what he considered the unrefined manners of his new neighbours
in that quarter, and contrasting them with the more genial deportment of
his own distinguished clan in Strath, he had the misfortune to exercise
his poetic genius in the composition of some pungent satires and
lampoons directed against the unpolished customs of the natives of
Kintail. It is needless to add that by these means he gained for himself
many enemies, and forfeited the good wishes of all around him. Finding
himself thus disagreeably situated, after an absence of four years, he
returned to Skye, where he was cordially received by his chief, and put
in possession of his former farm at Breakish. After being twelve years a
widower he went to Inverness for the purpose of visiting some of his
schoolfellows who resided there. Previous to his leaving the capital of
the Highlands his acquaintances there urged upon him the propriety of
marrying a widow lady of the name of Mackintosh, whom they represented
as being possessed of considerable means. He reluctantly complied with
their wishes, but it became soon too apparent to him that he did so at
the expense of his own happiness. His bride was not only penniless but
deeply involved in debt. Next morning after his marriage he was visited
by messengers who served him with summonses for a heavy debt due by his
wife. In the impulse of the moment, while he held the summons in his
hand, he seized a pen, and having taken his bride's Bible, wrote the
following expressive lines on the blank leaf:--

    "Tha'n saoghal air a roinn,
    Tha dà dhàn ann,
    Tha dàn ann gu bhi sona,
    Ach tha dàn an donuis ann."

This marriage proved, in every respect, an unhappy one. The lady, as a
stepmother, was peevish, harsh, and undutiful. Her cruelty to her
husband's children was a continual source of grief to him, and of
unhappiness to his domestic circle. On a certain day, the lady
quarrelling with one of her step-daughters, told her she hated to see
her face, and that she always considered the day an unlucky one on which
she had the misfortune to meet her first in the morning. The girl,
inheriting no doubt a share of her father's power of repartee, quickly
answered her stepmother, and said, "You have every cause to believe that
it is unlucky to meet me, for I was first-foot to my dear father the
unfortunate morning on which he left home to marry you."

Even amid his misfortunes, which he endured with much forbearance,
_Lachlan Mac Thearlaich_ was renowned for his hospitality and genuine
Highland friendship. Remote though the period be since he lived, still
his memory is fondly cherished in the place. He was possessed of so
endearing accomplishments, that time itself can hardly wipe away his
memory from the minds of his countrymen and clan. Many fragments of his
numerous songs continued for ages to be repeated in the country, but it
is feared, from all the changes which have taken place in the
circumstances of the natives, that these are now irretrievably lost.
Many of his witty sayings became proverbial in the island. He was one of
the first sportsmen in the country, and was considered one of the most
successful deer stalkers of his day. Along with his other
accomplishments he was an excellent performer on the violin, and in this
respect he had no equal in the Western Isles. Of him it may be justly
said:--

    "To thee harmonious powers belong,
    That add to verse the charm of song;
    Soft melody with numbers join,
    And make the poet half divine!"

As a proof of Lachlan Mackinnon's loyalty, it may be mentioned that,
quite contrary to the wishes of his chief, he went along with some other
loyal subjects, all the way from Skye to Inverness, in the year 1717, to
sign a congratulatory address to George I. on his succeeding to the
British throne. He spent the remainder of his days in his native isle
and parish, and died universally regretted in the year 1734, at the age
of sixty-nine. His funeral was attended by most of the Highland
chieftains, and their principal vassals. His cousin-german, Alasdair
Dubh of Glengarry, and all his gentlemen tacksmen were then present, as
also Macdonald of the Isles, Macleod of Dunvegan, Mackinnon of
Mackinnon, and Mackenzie of Applecross, with their chief retainers. A
numerous band of Highland pipers preceded the bier playing the usual
melancholy coronach. Amidst a vast assemblage of all ranks and classes
his remains were consigned to their kindred dust in the old churchyard
of Gillchrist, being the burying-ground of the parish which gave him
birth. A rude flag, with an inscription, still marks the poet's grave;
but the memory of his many virtues will be handed down in the place to
generations yet unborn.

_Lachlan Mac Thearlaich_ composed a beautiful and pathetic song which is
still preserved, to "Generosity, Love, and Liberality." He personified
those three, and pretended that he met them as lonely outcasts in a
dreary glen, and addressed them:--

    Latha siubhal slēibhe dhomh,
      'S mi 'falbh leam fein gu dlùth,
    A chuideachd anns an astar sin
      Air gunna glaic a's cù,
    Gun thachair clann rium anns a' ghleann,
      A'gul gu fann chion iùil;
    Air leam gur h-iad a b' aillidh dreach
      A chunnacas riamh le m' shùil.

    Gu'm b' ioghnadh leam mar tharladh dhoibh
      A'm fàsach fad air chùl,
    Coimeas luchd an aghaidhean,
      Gu'n tagha de cheann iùil,
    Air beannachadh neo-fhiata dhomh
      Gu'n d' fhiaraich mi, "Cò sùd?"
    'S fhreagair iad gu cianail mi
      A'm brïathraibh mine ciùin.

    "Iochd, a's Gràdh, a's Fiughantas,
      'Nar triùir gur h-e ar n-ainm,
    Clann nan uaislean urramach,
      A choisinn cliu 's gach ball,
    'Nuair a phàigh an fhēile cis d'an Eūg
      'Sa chaidh i fein air chàll
    'Na thiomnadh dh' fhàg ar n-athair sinn
      Aig maithibh Innse-Gall."

                                                           SGIATHANACH.



FINGAL.


IN the yellow sunset of ancient Celtic glory appear the band of warriors
known as the Ossianic heroes. Under the magnifying and beautifying
influence of that sunset they tower upon our sight with a stature and
illustriousness more than human. Of these heroes, the greatest and best
was _Fionn_ or Fingal. Unless our traditions are extensively falsified
he was a man in whom shone all those virtues which are the boast of our
race. The unflinching performance of duty, the high sense of honour, the
tenderness more than woman's, and the readiness to appreciate the
virtues of others were among his more conspicuous characteristics. Now
that Celtic anthropology is being so extensively discussed, is it not
remarkable that Fingal, who so truly personifies the character of that
race, is not adduced as the representative Celt? He was a Celt to the
very core, and Celtic character has been in no small degree moulded by
copying his example. He was, in truth, not the _ultimus_ but the _Primus
Gaelorum_.

Nevertheless, it must be confessed that to many English readers Fingal
is nothing but a name, and that even to most of them he looms dark and
dim through the mist of years. Unhappily, a nature so transcendently
humane and heroic as his is not the sort to win the admiration of the
vulgar. Nay, so far is its simple grandeur removed above the common
materialism of modern life that the most refined cannot, at first sight,
appreciate its exalted loveliness.

The fullest and, we believe, the truest account of him is to be found in
Ossian's poems. That the poetry so denominated was, in substance,
composed by Ossian we have no doubt. At any rate the descriptions of
Fingal therein contained are not only consistent throughout, but also in
accordance with all that we know of him from other sources. But were we
even to adopt the absurd theory that Fingal is a creation of
Macpherson's imagination, the intrinsic beauty of the picture well
deserves our study.

An old man retaining all the energy, but not the rashness of youth; age
with vigour instead of decrepitude, delighting in the words of sound
wisdom rather than the usual tattle of second childhood; and, withal, an
old man who is prone to moralise as old men are; a man able and willing
to do his duty in the present though his heart is left in the past; such
is the most prominent figure in these poems. He is pourtrayed as of
tall, athletic frame and kingly port, his majestic front and hoary locks
surmounted by the helm and eagle plume of the Celtic kings.

Though the idea of Fingal pervades most of Ossian's poems he is seldom
introduced _in propria persona_. Even when attention is directed to him
the poet merely and meagerly sketches the herculean outline, and leaves
our imagination to do the rest:--

    At intervals a gleam of light afar
    Glanced from the broad, blue, studded shield of war,
    As moved the king of chiefs in stately pride;
    With eager gaze his eye was turned aside
    To where the warriors' closing ranks he sees;
    Half-grey his ringlets floated in the breeze
    Around that face so terrible in fight
    And features glowing now with grim delight.--_Tem. B. V._

In order to introduce his hero with the greater _eclat_, the bard first
places his friends in great straits; represents them, though brave, as
overcome by the enemy and without hope, apart from Fingal. Both friends
and foes speak of him in terms of respect, and even the greatest leaders
acknowledge his superiority. When Fingal appears on the scene the poet
rouses himself to the utmost. He piles simile on simile to give an
adequate idea of his first charge--

    Through Morven's woods when countless tempests roar,
    When from the height a hundred torrents pour,
    Like storm-clouds rushing through the vault of heaven,
    As when the mighty main on shore is driven,
    So wide, so loud, so dark, so fierce the strain
    When met the angry chiefs on Lena's plain.
    The king rushed forward with resistless might,
    Dreadful as Trenmor's awe-inspiring sprite,
    When on the fitful blast he comes again
    To Morven, his forefather's loved domain.
    Loud in the gale the mountain oaks shall roar,
    The mountain rocks shall fall his face before,
    As by the lightning's gleam his form is spied
    Stalking from hill to hill with giant stride.
    More terrible in fight my father seemed
    When in his hand of might his weapon gleamed,
    On his own youth the king with gladness thought
    When in the furious highland wars he fought.--_Fingal B. III._

The notion that Ossian drew in part, at least from real life, is
favoured by the wonderful calmness and absence of effort evinced in
delineating so great a character. Expressions that go far to heighten
our admiration of Fingal are employed in a quiet matter of course way.
"The silence of the king is terrible," is an expressive sentence. Or
this again, "The heroes ... looked in silence on each other marking the
eyes of Fingal."

Nor are the gentler feelings less fully brought out in Ossian's
favourite character. Nothing could speak more for his affability than
the attachment shown by his followers. "Fear, like a vapour winds not
among the host! for he, the king, is near; the strength of streamy
Selma. Gladness brightens the hero. We hear his words with joy."[A]

Gallantry and philanthropy we might expect to find in his composition,
but the tenderness he frequently displays strikes us as remarkable in an
uncivilized chief. His lamentation over the British city on the Clyde is
as pathetic as any similar passage in our language.

Another surprising trait is the generosity he invariably displays to his
vanquished foes. All the more surprising is it that a "savage" should
show magnanimity when the heroes of civilized Greece, Rome, and Judea,
counted it virtuous to torture their captured enemies. "None ever went
sad from Fingal," he says himself. Over and over he is represented as
lamenting the death of enemies when they fall, or granting them freedom
and his friendship when they yield--"Come to my hill of feasts," he says
to his wounded opponent Cathmor, "the mighty fail at times. No fire am I
to lowlaid foes. I rejoice not over the fall of the brave."

A notable fact about Fingal is, that though he lived in times of war, in
disposition he was a man of peace. "Fingal delights not in battle though
his arm is strong." "When will Fingal cease to fight?" he complains, "I
was born in the midst of battles, and my steps must move in blood to the
tomb." Under the influence of this desire for peace he formally gave up
his arms to Ossian--

    My son, around me roll my byegone years,
    They come and whisper in the monarch's ears.
    "Why does not grey-haired Fingal rest?" they say
    "Why does he not within his fortress stay?
    Dost thou in battle's gory wounds delight?
    Lovest thou the tears of vanquished men of might?"
    Ye hoary years! I will in quiet lie,
    Nor profit nor delight in blood have I.
    Like blustering storms from wintry skies that roll,
    Tears waste with grief and dreariness the soul.
    But when I stretch myself to rest, I hear
    The voice of war come thundering on my ear
    Within the royal hall, with loud command,
    To rouse and draw again th' unwilling brand.--_Tem. B. VIII._

Limited as were the means of communication in those pre-telegraphic
times the fame of such a man must have spread. Accordingly, we read of
his name being known and respected far and near. Foreign princes speak
of him with admiration, and refugees from distant lands seek his
protection.

But it is on the power of his name in after times that we wish more
particularly to dwell. There have been no people who honoured their
heroes so much as the Celts. With them _valour_ and _value_ were
synonymous terms. Theirs was not a nobility of money, or literature, or
æsthetics, or even of territory. Nobleness should be the qualification
of a nobleman, and strange as it may seem, it was among the uncivilised
Celts of Ireland and Scotland that such a character was properly
appreciated. But they held nobleness and heroism to be identical. They
seem to have thoroughly believed that cowardice was but the result of
vice. A fearless man, they felt, must be a true man, and he was honoured
accordingly. _Flath-innis_, the _Isle of the Noble_, was their only name
for heaven. _Allail_ or _divine_ they applied to their heroic men. To
imitate such was the old Celtic religion as it was the primitive
religion of most other peoples.

Among all the heroes whom the ancient Gael worshipped there was no name
so influential as Fingal's. Through the ages he has been the idol and
ideal of the Celt. His example was their rule of justice. His maxims
were cited much as we would quote Scripture. To the youth he was held up
as the model after which their lives should be patterned, and where
Christianity had not yet eradicated the old creed, a _post mortem_
dwelling with him in _Flath-innis_ was deemed no mean incentive to
goodness. He was, in fact, the god of the Gaelic people, worshipped with
no outward altar, but enshrined in the hearts of his admirers. How far
the more admirable traits of Highland character may be attributed to the
assimilating influence of the idea of Fingal we cannot decide. That our
character as a people has been largely influenced for good by the power
of his example we have no doubt. The bards, an order of the old Druidic
hierarchy, became the priests of the Fingalian hero-worship. Songs,
elegies, and poetic legends formed their service of praise. To induce
their countrymen to reverence and imitate so great and glorious a Gael
as Fingal was the object of many of their bardic homilies. Taking into
account the nature and circumstances of the ancient Caledonians, we must
conclude that from position and influence none were more suitable to
become their ethical and æsthetical advisers than these minstrel
ministers of the Fingalian hero-olatry.

Of course such a faith could not long withstand the more generous and
cosmopolitan spirit of Christianity, yet we venture to assert that it
was vastly preferable in its effects to some abortions of our common
creed. That there was a conflict between the two religions we know. As
late as the sixteenth century a Christian ecclesiastic complains that
the leaders of Gaelic thought of the period were heathen enough to
delight in "stories about the Tuath de Dhanond and about the sons of
Milesius, and about the heroes and _Fionn_ (Fingal), the son of Cumhail
with his Fingalians ... rather than to write and to compose and to
support the faithful words of God and the perfect way of truth."

Down to the present day the name of _Fionn_ is reverenced by the less
sophisticated Highlanders and Islanders. That his name will in future be
more extensively, if less intensely, respected we may confidently
predict. As men's views become more broad and just, and their feelings
become more cultivated and refined, we may hope that a superior
character such as Fingal will by-and-bye be appreciated. Even now he is
widely admired and we begin to read in the signs of the times the
fulfilment of his own words:--

        When then art crumbled into dust, O! stone;
    Lost in the moss of years around thee grown;
    My fame, which chiefs and heroes love to praise,
    Shall shine a beam of light to future days,
    Because I went in steel and faced th' alarms
    Of war, to help and save the weak in arms.--_Tem. B. VIII._

                                                     MINNIE LITTLEJOHN.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: The quotations in prose are from Macpherson's translation.]





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Celtic Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 3, January 1876 - A Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Literature, History, Antiquities, Folk Lore, Traditions, and the Social and Material Interests of the Celt at Home and Abroad" ***

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