The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Celtic Magazine, Vol. I No. V

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Title: The Celtic Magazine, Vol. I No. V

Author: Various

Editor: Alexander Macbain

Alexander Macgregor

Alexander Mackenzie

Release date: July 19, 2012 [eBook #40275]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Tamise Totterdell, Margo von Romberg and the
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[Pg 131]


No. V. MARCH 1876.


Very interesting and instructive, though very sad it is to chronicle certain undeniable and not unfrequent facts in the history of human nature, outbursts, as Carlyle calls them, of the feral nature, that element which man holds in common with the brutes, and which, when it breaks forth in him, assumes, by contrast, a more hideous and savage character than in them, even as fire seems more terrible in a civilized city than amidst a howling wilderness; among palaces and bowers than among heathery moorlands or masses of foliage, and even as the madness of a man is more fearful than that of a beast. It is recorded of Bishop Butler that one day walking in his garden along with his Chaplain immersed in silent thought, he suddenly paused and turning round asked him if he thought that nations might go mad as well as individuals. What reply the Chaplain gave we are not informed; but fifty years after the French Revolution with its thunder-throat answered the Bishop's question. Nay—it had been answered on a less scale before by Sicilian Vespers—Massacres of Bartholomew, and the Massacre of Glencoe, and has been answered since, apart from France, in Jamaica, India, and elsewhere. God has made of one blood all nations that dwell on the face of the earth. Yet alas, that blood when possessed by the spirit of wrath, of revenge, of fierce patriotism, or of profound religious zeal, and heated sevenfold, becomes an element only inferior in intensity to what we can conceive of the passions of hell, such as Dante has painted in his Ugolino in the Inferno, gnawing his enemy's skull for evermore; such as Michael Angelo has sculptured on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in eyes burning with everlasting fury, and fists knotted to discharge blows, the least of which were death, but which hang there arrested as if for ever on the walls, and such as Milton has represented in Moloch's unappeaseable malignity, and in Satan's inexorable hate.

It is to one of these frightful outcomes of human ferocity, an event with which even after a period of 200 years that all Scotland, and especially all the Highlands, rings from side to side, and which unborn generations shall shudder at, that we propose to turn the attention of the readers of the Celtic Magazine. We do so partly, no doubt, from the extreme interest of the subject, and partly also, because important lessons of humanity, of forgiveness, of hatred at wrong and oppression, of the benefits of civilization, of the gratitude we feel for the extinction of clan[Pg 132] quarrels and feuds, and the thousand other irregularities and inhumanities which once defaced the grandest of landscapes, and marred a noble and a manly race of men; because such lessons may be, if not formally drawn, yet may pervade and penetrate the whole story as with a living moral.

The occasion of the Massacre of Glencoe was as follows:—Although the Lowlands, since the date of the Revolution, were now quiet, it was far different with the Highlands. There, indeed, the wind was down, but still the sea ran high. The Highlanders were at that time very poor, very discontented, and very pugnacious. To subdue them seemed a long and difficult process. To allow them to exterminate one another, and re-enact on a much larger scale, the policy of the battle between the clans on the North Inch of Perth seemed as unwise as it was cruel. There was a third course proposed and determined on, that of buying them up, bribing them in short, applying that golden spur which has, in all ages, made the laziest horse to go, and the most restive to be obedient. The Government of King William resolved to apply to this purpose a sum variously estimated at £12,000 and £20,000. This sum was committed to John, Earl of Breadalbane, the head of a powerful branch of the great Clan Campbell. He was one of the most unprincipled men of that day; had turned his coat, and would have turned his skin had it been possible and worth while; and is described by a contemporary as "Grave as a Spaniard, cunning as a fox, wiry as a serpent, and slippery as an eel." He was the worst of persons to have the charge of pacifying the Highlands committed to him, being distrusted by both parties, and hated by the Jacobites with a deadly hatred. Nevertheless the negotiations went on, although slowly. Breadalbane lived at Kilchurn Castle, which, now a fine old ruin, stands on the verge of the magnificent Loch Awe, looks up to the gigantic Ben Cruachan, and which Wordsworth has glorified in one of his finest minor poems. To that romantic castle, now silent in its age, but then resounding with the music and revelry of the clans, were to be seen some of the leading Jacobite chieftains crossing the mighty mountains to the northwest, and holding conferences with the crafty head of the Campbells; and on the 30th of January 1690 a large assembly met at Achallaster in Glenorchy, to arrange matters between the Earl and the Highlanders, but in vain. There was mutual distrust. The chiefs were willing to come to terms, but they suspected that Breadalbane meant to deceive them and to keep a portion of the cash in his own Sporran. He, on the other hand—ill-doers being usually ill-dreaders—thought that they were playing a double game. More than a year passed in fruitless negotiations, and the autumn of 1691 saw the matter unsettled. At last Lord Stair and the other advisers of the King resolved to try the effect of threats as well as bribes; and in August they issued a proclamation promising an indemnity to every rebel who should swear the oath of allegiance in the presence of a Civil Magistrate before the 1st January 1692, and threatening with dire penalties, letters of fire and sword, as they were called, all who delayed beyond that day. The proclamation was drawn up by Stair in conjunction with Breadalbane. He had wished to form a Highland Regiment in favour of Government, and to get, if possible, all the Highland chiefs to transfer their allegiance from King[Pg 133] James to the New Dynasty. This he found very difficult. The chiefs were fond enough of the money, but fonder at heart of the Stewarts. Many of them, including the Macdonalds stood out for more favourable terms. The negotiations were broken off, and the fatal proclamation was issued. Stair's letters show to a certainty that he and King William's Government cherished the hope that the chiefs would not submit at all, or at least that they would hold on beyond the prescribed time. Like Hyder Ali, as described by Burke, he had determined, in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to make the broad Highlands a monument of his vengeance.

The great object, let it be remembered, of the Government was to get the troops employed in the Highlands disengaged and free for service in other places. To serve this purpose they were willing to pay a certain sum, but if this proved ineffectual they were still more willing to inflict summary punishment on the principal offenders. Hence Stair had collected troops at Inverlochy, had resolved to take advantage of the winter when the passes would be probably stopped with snow, and when the Highlanders, not expecting the attack, would be likely to fall an easy prey. And thus, not like an injured and infuriated Hyder Ali, but like a tiger on the edge of his jungle, did this inhuman lawyer lie eagerly biding his time. Hear his own language illustrating a character whom Macaulay elaborately defends. "If the rest are willing, as crows do, to pull down Glengarry's nest so as the King be not hindered from drawing four regiments from Scotland, in that case the destroying him and his clan will be to the full as acceptable as his coming in." What a fiend in the form of one pretending to worship equity and distribute justice!

It is generally thought that the chiefs got information of the designs of their enemies, probably by communication from King James. At all events, in the end of the year to the profound mortification of Stair, the principal of them, Lochiel, Glengarry, Clanranald, Keppoch, and others came forward and took the oath of allegiance, all save one, MacIan, or Macdonald of Glencoe. Stair, as chief after chief took the oath, had been more and more chagrined and desirous that some one or other of the clans should refuse and become the victim of his vengeance. And one such tribe did at last fall into his vindictive and quivering jaws. It was the tribe of the Macdonalds, inhabiting, as a munition of rocks, the Valley of Glencoe.

Glencoe is well known to the lovers of the picturesque as one of the very grandest scenes in Scotland. We have seen some of the sublimest scenes in Switzerland and in Norway, but none of them, not Chamouni nor the Romsdale Valley have obliterated the memory or lessened the admiration of that awful glen which we have often thought of as a softened Sinai—a smaller but scarcely gentler similitude of the Mount that might be touched. There are, of course, many diversities. Through the valley of Glencoe winds a stream called the Cona—a name of perfect music, soft as Italian, and which seems the very echo of the pathetic and perpetual wail of a lonely river. No such stream laves the foot of Sinai's savage hill. Then there lies below one of the boldest hills of the pass, a lovely little sheet of water, being the Cona dispread into a[Pg 134] small lake looking up with childlike, trustful, untrembling, eye to the lowering summits above, and here and there a fine verdure creeps up the precipices and green pastures, and still waters encompass hills on which Aaron might have waited for death, or Moses ascended to meet God. But the mural aspect of many of the precipices, the rounded shape of some of the mountains contrasted with the sharp razor-like ridges of others, the deep and horrid clefts and ravines which yawn here and there, the extent, dreariness, solitude, and grandeur of the mountain range above—the summits you see, but scarcely see behind their nearer brethren, as though retiring like proud and lonely spirits into their own inaccessible hermitages, the appearance of convulsion and tearing in pieces and rending in twain, and unappeasable unreconciliation which insulates as it were, and lifts on end the whole region are those of Horeb, as we have seen it in picture or in dream, and the beholder might, on a cloudy and dark day, or on an evening which has set all the hills on fire, become awestruck and silent, as if waiting for another Avatar of the Ancient One on the thundersplit and shaggy peaks. In other moods, and when seen from a distance while sailing from Fort-William, its mountains have suggested the image of the last survivors of the giants on the eve of their defeat by Jove, collected together into one grim knot of mortal defiance with grim-scathed faces, and brows riven by lightning, retorting hatred and scorn on their triumphant foes. And when you plunge into its recesses and see far up among its cliffy rocks spots of snow unmelted amid the blaze of June, the cataracts, which after rain, descend from its sides in thousands; its solitary and gloomy aspect which the sunshine of summer is not entirely able to remove, and which assumes a darker hue and deepens into dread sublimity, when the thunder cloud stoops his wing over the valley, and the lightning runs among the quaking rocks, you feel inclined to call Glencoe, in comparison with the other glens of Scotland, the "Only One," the secluded, self-involved, solemn, silent valley. Green covers the lower parts of the hills, but it seems the green of the grave, its sounds are in league with silence, its light is the ally of darkness. The feeling, however, finally produced is not so much terror as pensiveness, and if the valley be, as it has been called, the valley of the Shadow of Death, it is death without his sting—the everlasting slumber there; but the ghastliness and the horror fled. Yet at times there passes over the mind as you pass this lonely valley, the recollection of what occurred 200 years ago, and a whisper seems to pierce your ear, "Here! blood basely shed by treachery stained the spotless snow. These austere cliffs, where now soars and screams the eagle, once listened to the shriek of murdered men, women, and children; and on this spot where peaceful tourists now walk admiring the unparalleled grandeur, and feeling the spirit of the very solitary place bathing them in quiet reverie and dream-like bliss was transacted a scene of cruelty and cold-blooded murder which all ages shall arise and call accursed!"

As the clime is, so the heart of man. The Macdonalds were worthy of their savage scenery, and more savage weather. True children of the mist were they, strong, fearless, living principally on plunder, at feud with the adjacent Campbells to which clan Breadalbane belonged, and often had the blood of the race of Dermid smoked on their swords.[Pg 135] MacIan, their chieftain, was a noble specimen of the Highland character. He was a man of distinguished courage and sagacity, of a venerable and majestic appearance, was stately in bearing, and moved among his neighbouring chieftains like a demigod. He had fought at Killiecrankie and was a marked man by Government. He had had a meeting with Breadalbane on the subject of the proclamation and their mutual differences, but they had come to a rupture, and MacIan went away with the impression that Breadalbane would do him an injury if he could. And yet, with a strange inconsistency amounting almost to infatuation, he delayed taking the oath, and thereby securing his own safety, till the appointed period was nearly expired. In vain is the net set in the sight of any bird. But Stair had set the net before the eyes of Macdonald, and had openly expressed a hope that he would fall into it, and still the old man lingered.

A few days, however, before the first of January, Colonel Hill is sitting in his room at Fort-William when some strangers claim an audience. There enter several Highlanders, all clad in the Macdonald tartan—one towering in stature over the rest, and of a dignified bearing—all armed, but all in an attitude of submission. They are MacIan and the leaders of his tribe, who have come at the eleventh hour to swear the oath of allegiance to King William. The Colonel, a scholar and a gentlemen, is glad and yet grieved to see them; for, alas! being a military and not a civil officer, he has no power to receive their oaths. He tells them so, and the old chieftain at first remonstrates, and at last, in his agony, weeps—perhaps his first tears since infancy, like the waters of the Cona, breaking over the channels of their rocky bed! The tears of a brave patriarch are the most affecting of all tears; and Colonel Hill, moved to the heart, writes out a letter to Sir Colin Campbell, Sheriff of Argyleshire, requesting him, although legally too late, to stretch a point and receive the submission of the chief; and with this letter in his Sporranmollach, away he hied in haste from Fort-William to Inverary. The road lay within a mile of his dwelling, but such was his speed that he did not even turn aside to salute his family. The roads were horrible; the very elements seemed to have joined in the conspiracy against the doomed Macdonalds; a heavy snow-storm had fallen, and in spite of all the efforts he could make, he reached Inverary too late—the first of January was past. Worse still, he found the Sheriff absent, and had to wait three days for his return. He told him his story, and he being a sensible and a humane man, after a little hesitation, moved by the old man's tears, and the letter of Colonel Hill, consented to administer to him the oath, and sent off at the same time a message to the Privy Council relating the facts of the case, and explaining all the reasons of his conduct. He also wrote to Colonel Hill, requesting him to take care that his soldiers should not molest the Macdonalds till the pleasure of the Privy Council in the matter was made known.


(To be Continued.)

[Pg 136]




During the relation of the first part of the legend—that which described the atrocious conduct of Allan Dubh and his associates, the members gave evident signs of disapprobation. Norman was constantly interrupted with such exclamations as "Ubh ubh," "Oh na traillean," "Na bruidean," "Na murtairean," and various others of the same complimentary nature ("Oh the servile wretches," "The brutes," "The murderers"), but as the story proceeded, and the tide turned in favour of the revenging Mackenzies, although their own means of retaliation were almost equally inhuman, the tone of the circle gradually changed; and when Norman finished there was a general chorus of satisfaction at the final result, the only expression of regret being the death of the young and brave leader of the Mackenzies, and the escape of Allan Dubh Mac Ranuil from the clutches of his pursuers.

"A capital story and well told" says Ian a Bhuidhe (John Buidhe). "I heard it before somewhere, but my version of it was not near so full as yours, and it differed in various particulars. According to mine there was a chief of Glengarry in the early part of the 17th century whose name was Angus Macdonnel, and who held a small property called Strome, in the centre of the lands belonging to the Mackenzies, in the neighbourhood of Lochalsh. The Mackenzies were most anxious to get rid of their neighbour, and finding it impossible to dispossess him of Strome by lawful means, they, during the night, seized, and, in cold blood, murdered the Master of Glengarry, who was at the time indisposed and unable to escape.

"A few survivors of the Master's adherents returned to Glengarry and informed the old Chief of the death of his eldest son and heir, through the perfidy of the Mackenzies. Angus became frantic with rage and regret, and sat silent and moody, exhibiting only 'the unconquerable will, the study of revenge, immortal hate!' On the following day he sent a messenger to Ardachy to the Gille Maol Dubh, informing him that he had to perform a sacred duty to his Chief and kindred, and that for its effectual and complete discharge one possessing the four following qualifications was indispensably necessary—namely, 'Misneachd, scoltachd, treubhantas, agus maisealachd' (courage, cunning, bravery, and beauty). The Gille Maol Dubh said he knew the very man, and sent to his chief, Ronald Macranuil, whom he guaranteed to possess all the necessary qualifications. Glengarry was much pleased with Ronald's appearance and fierce disposition, and having informed him of his son's violent and untimely death said, 'I want you to revenge it, and your reward shall depend on the extent of your service. Go then, gather your followers, and heedless of place or time destroy all who bear the hateful name of Mackenzie.'

[Pg 137]

"Macranuil selected the flower of the clan, marched during the night and arrived at the Chapel of Cilliechriost on the Sabbath morning, where they massacred the unsuspecting inmates as described in your version of the legend far more graphically than in mine, but they are on all fours, regarding the facts and incidents except that in mine, the Mackenzies overtook and routed the Macdonalds at Lon na fola or the 'Bog of Blood,' near Mealfuarvonie, and that it was at Ault a Ghiuthais, across a chasm four hundred feet high, with a fearful and foaming cataract beneath, that Lundi made his celebrated leap, and not in Ault-Sigh as in yours. I am, however, disposed to think your version is the most correct of the two."

We shall now give the following poem composed by Andrew Fraser of Inverness, and inscribed to Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Baronet of Gairloch, during his minority, to whom we are indebted for the manuscript. It corroborates Norman's version of the Raid of Cilliechriost in almost every particular, and has considerable merit of its own as an original composition:—


Most respectfully inscribed to the Heir of Gairloch, &c., &c.

Gathered are Glengarrie's pride
On Lochlundie's mossy side,
The Crantara they obey,
They are met they know not why,
But they bind the broadsword on;
And the studded buckler shone
As the evening's sunny rays
Burnt in summer's orient blaze
Through the silent sombre wood
That lines the margin of the flood.
Mark, O mark that eagle crest,
Towering lordly o'er the rest,
Like the tall and monarch pine
Which waves its head in dark Glenlyne,
When the stormy cloud is cast
Above that region of the blast.
Mark that forehead's fitful glow,
Mark that grey and shaggy brow,
Mark, O mark that dreadful eye
Which glistens but on misery.
Now rolling in revengeful mood
O'er the thoughts of coming blood,
Then casting to the glorious sky
A glance of hopeless agony.
Warrior of the savage breast,
Fell Macranuil 'twas thy crest,
'Twas the banner of thy race
Which the wondering eye might trace,
As it wound by wood and brake,
Rolling stream and stilly lake,
As it fluttered for a while
On the brow of dark Torgoil,
Or descended the rough side
Of the Moristone's wild tide.
Silent is Macranuil's tread
And his followers' stealthy speed,
As they cross the lovely glen
Where Urquhart's waters, flow between
Hillocks where the zephyrs dwell,
In the blue and fragrant bell:
Groves where echo answers ever
The low murmurs of the river;
And the mountain top is seen
Snow-speck'd in the distant scene.
Mhicranuil! why that softened pace?
Thou seek'st not now the wary chase?
Why do'st thou and thy warriors keen
So fold your plaids that nought is seen
Of arms or armour, even the lance
Whereon your pendant used to glance
Its blazoned "Lamh dhearg" 'mid the rays
Of solar light, or battle blaze,
Has disappeared, and each wild look
Scowls at the music of the brook,
As if sweet nature seemed to scan
The inmost heart of guilty man?
Oh! can you in a scene so loved
By all that's holy stand unmoved?
Can vengeance in that heart be found
Which vibrates on this blessed ground?
Can that lone deep cathedral bell
Cast all around its sacred spell?
And yet on ruthless murder bent,
Its voice to thee in vain be sent?
Mhicranuil? raise thy haggard eye,
And say beneath the glowing sky
Is there a spot where man may rest
More beautiful, more truly blest
Than where the Beauly pours its stream
Through nature's all-romantic Dream,[A]
Down to that ridge which bounds the south
[Pg 138] Of Nephia's salmon-spangled mouth?
The voice of praise was heard to peal
From Cillechriost's low holy aisle,
And on the Sabbath's stilly air
Arose the hopeful soul of pray'r:
When on the pastor's thoughtful face
Played something like a radiant grace;
Still was each thought to heaven sent,
Still was each knee in prayer bent;
Still did each heart in wonder rise
To something far beyond the skies,
When burst, as an electric cloud
Had wrapt them in a flaming shroud,
The roof above, the sides around,
The altar—nay the very ground
Seemed burning, mingled with the air
In one wild universal flare!
Hark, heaven! through the lurid air
Sprung the wild scream of mad despair,
Those that so late did breath but love,
Whose kindred hearts were interwove,
Now tore away strong nature's ties
Amidst her stronger agonies;
Affection, frantic, burst the band
That linked them often hand to hand,
And rushed along the maddening tide
Which rolled in flames from side to side.
Eager the crowded porch to gain
In hopes of safety. Ah! how vain?
The demon ministers of death.
From stern Glengarrie's land of heath
Stood bristled round the burning fane
Like hells last hopeless, hideous chain,
That even the infant might not die
Beneath a brighter, cooler sky,
Whilst in their savageness of joy
The war-pipe screams their victory.


Ho! Clanchonich? mark the blaze
Reddening all your kindred skies,
Hear ye not your children's cries
Welcoming Macranuil?
Hear ye not the eagle scream
O'er the curling, crackling flame
Which flies to heaven with the name
Of glorious Clandonuil?
Ho! horo? the war-note swell,
Burst aloud Clanchonich's wail!
Hark! it is their wild farewell
To Allan-du-Macranuil!
Never yet did victor smile
On a nobler funeral pile,
Than rushes from this holy aisle
In memory of Clandonuil!
Never shall pale sorrow's tear
Blanch the cheek that slumbers here,
They have pressed a warmer bier
For Allan-du-Macranuil!
Never shall a footstep roam
From their dreary voiceless home
They have slept in one red tomb
For grateful Clandonuil!
The house of prayer in embers lay,
The crowded meeting wore away;
The quieted herdboy saw them go
With downcast look, serene and slow;
But never by the wonted path
That wound so smoothly through the heath
And led to many a cottage door
By meadow-stream, and flow'ry moor,
Came back a human voice to say
How that meeting sped away.
The Conon lends the ready ford,
The Conon glitters back the sword,
The Conon casts the echo wide,
"Arise Clanchonich! to the raid;
Pursue the monsters to their lair,
Pursue them hell, and earth, and air;
Pursue them till the page of time
Forgets their name, forgets their crime."
The sun had sunk in the far sea,
But the moon rose bright and merrily,
And by the sparkling midnight beam
That fell upon the gladdened stream;
The wild deer might be seen to look
On his dark shadow in the brook,
Whilst the more timorous hind lay by
Enamoured of the lovely sky.
Bright heaven! 'twas a glorious scene,
The sparry rock, the vale between,
The light arch'd cataract afar
Swift springing like a falling star
From point to point till lost to view,
It fades in deep ethereal blue.
So lone the hour, so fair the night,
The scene, the green and woody height,
Which rises o'er Glenconvent's vale
Like beauty in a fairy tale.
Here where the heavenward soul might stray,
The red remorseless spoiler lay,
Where holy praise was wont to rise
Like incense to the opening skies:
In broken and unhallowed dreams
He laughs amid the roar of flames.
Ha! see he starts, afar is heard
The war-cry wild of "Tullach Ard."
Away Mhicranuil! with thy band,
Away, Clanchonich is at hand,
Scale rock and ravine, hill, and dale,
Plunge through the depths of Urquhart's vale,
And spread thy followers one by one,
'Tis meet that thou should'st be alone.
It boots not for the jerkin red,
Fit emblem of the man of blood,
Is singled still, and still pursued
Through open moor and tangled wood.
High bounding as the hunted stag
He scales the wild and broken crag,
And with one desperate look behind
Again his steps are on the wind.
Why does he pause? means he to yield?
He casts aside his ponderous shield,
His plaid is flung upon the heath,
More firm he grasps the blade of death,
And springing wildly through the air
[Pg 139] The dark gulf of Altsigh is clear!
Unhesitating, bold, and young,
Across the gulf Mackenzie sprung;
But ah! too short one fatal step,
He clears, but barely clears the leap,
When slipping on the further side
He hung suspended o'er the tide;
A tender twig sustained his weight,
Above the wild and horrid height.
One fearful moment whilst he strove
To grasp the stronger boughs above.
But all too late, Macranuil turns
With fiendish joy his bosom burns,
"Go, I have given you much," he said,
"The twig is cut—the debt is paid."


"Notwithstanding the hideousness of this double crime of sacrilege and murder, which certainly in magnitude of atrocity was rarely, if ever, equalled in this quarter; it is strange that many will be found at no great distance from the scene of horror referred to in the poem who are not only ignorant of the cause of the fearful catastrophe, but even of the perpetrators of it. It is, therefore, the intention of the author to accompany the printed copy[B] with a copious note.

"Inverness, 4th Dec. 1839."

"Ah," says Domhnull a Bhuidhe, another of the bard's sons, "these men of Glengarry were a fine race. For real courage and bravery few in the Highlands could excel them. I remember once hearing a story of young 'Glen,' in which, perhaps, is exhibited the finest example of daring ever recorded in the annals of our country. Once upon a time Old Glengarry was very unpopular with all the northern chiefs in consequence of his many raids and spoliations among the surrounding tribes; but although he was now advanced in years and unable to lead his clan in person none of the neighbouring chiefs could muster courage to beard him in his den single-handed. There was never much love lost between him and the chief of the Mackenzies, and about this time some special offence was given to the latter by the Macdonnels, which the chief of Eilean-donnan swore would have to be revenged; and the insult must be wiped out at whatever cost. His clan was at the time very much subdivided, and he felt himself quite unable to cope with Glengarry in arms. Mackenzie, however, far excelled his enemy in ready invention, and possessed a degree of subtlety which usually more than made up for his enemy's superior physical power.

"'Kintail' managed to impress his neighbouring chiefs with the belief that Glengarry purposed, and was making arrangements to take them all by surprise and annihilate them by one fell swoop, and that in these circumstances it was imperative for their mutual safety to make arrangements forthwith by which the danger would be obviated and the hateful author of such a diabolical scheme extinguished root and branch. By this means he managed to produce the most bitter prejudice against Glengarry and his clan; but all of them being convinced of the folly and futility of meeting the 'Black Raven,' as he was called, man to man and clan to clan, Mackenzie invited them to meet him at a great council in Eilean-donnan Castle the following week to discuss the best means of protecting their mutual interests, and to enter into a solemn league, and swear on the 'raven's cross' to exterminate the hated Glengarry and his race, and to raze, burn, and plunder everything belonging to them.

"Old Glengarry, whom the ravages of war had already reduced to one son out of several, and he, only a youth of immature years, heard of the confederacy formed against him with great and serious concern. He[Pg 140] well knew the impossibility of holding out against the combined influence and power of the Western Chiefs. His whole affections were concentrated on his only surviving son, and, on realizing the common danger, he bedewed him with tears, and strongly urged upon him the dire necessity of fleeing from the land of his fathers to some foreign land until the danger had passed away. He, at the same time, called his clan together, absolved them from their allegiance, and implored them also to save themselves by flight; and to their honour be it said, one and all spurned the idea of leaving their chief, in his old age, alone to his fate, exclaiming—'that death itself was preferable to shame and dishonour.' To the surprise of all, however, the son, dressed in his best garb, and armed to the teeth, after taking a formal and affectionate farewell of his father, took to the hills amidst the contemptuous sneers of his brave retainers. But he was no sooner out of sight than he directed his course to Lochduich, determined to attend the great council at Eilean-donnan Castle, at which his father's fate was to be sealed. He arrived in the district on the appointed day and carefully habilitating himself in a fine Mackenzie tartan plaid with which he had provided himself, he made for the stronghold and passed the outer gate with the usual salutation—'Who is welcome here?' and passed by unheeded, the guard replying in the most unsuspicious manner—'Any, any but a Macdonnell.' On being admitted to the great hall he carefully scanned the brilliant assembly. The Mackenzie plaid put the company completely off their guard; for in those days no one would ever dream of wearing the tartan of any but that of his own leader. The chiefs had already, as they entered the great hall, drawn their dirks and stuck them in the tables before them as an earnest of their unswerving resolution to rid the world of their hated enemy. The brave and intrepid stranger coolly walked up to the head of the table where the Chief of Kintail presided over the great council, threw off his disguise, seized Mackenzie by the throat, drew out his glittering dagger, held it against his enemy's heart, and exclaimed with a voice and a determination which struck terror into every breast—'Mackenzie, if you or any of your assembled guests make the slightest movement, as I live, by the great Creator of the universe I will instantly pierce you to the heart.' Mackenzie well knew by the appearance of the youth, and the commanding tone of his voice, that the threat would be instantly executed if any movement was made, and tremulously exclaimed—'My friends, for the love of God stir not lest I perish at the hands of my inveterate foe at my own table.' The appeal was hardly necessary, for all were terror-stricken and confused, sitting with open mouths, gazing vacantly, at each other. 'Now,' said the young hero, 'lift up your hands to heaven and swear by the Long, am Bradan, agus an Lamh Dhearg (the ship, the salmon, and the bloody hand) that you will never again molest my father or any of his clan.' 'I do now swear as you request,' answered the confused chief. 'Swear now,' continued the dauntless youth, 'you, and all ye round this table, that I will depart from here and be permitted to go home unmolested by you or any of your retainers.' All with uplifted hands repeated the oath. Young Glengarry released his hold on Mackenzie's throat, sheathed his dirk and prepared to take his departure, but was, extraordinary to relate, prevailed upon to remain at the feast and spend the night with the sworn[Pg 141] enemies of his race and kindred, and the following morning they parted the best of friends. And thus, by the daring of a stripling, was Glengarry saved the fearful doom that awaited him. The youth ultimately became famous as one of the most courageous warriors of his race. He fought many a single combat with powerful combatants, and invariably came off victorious. He invaded and laid waste Glenmoriston, Urquhart, and Caithness. His life had been one scene of varied havoc, victory, ruin, and bloodshed. He entered into a fierce encounter with one of the Munros of Fowlis, but ultimately met the same fate at the hands of the 'grim tyrant' as the greatest coward in the land, and his body lies buried in the churchyard of Tuiteam-tarbhach."


(To be Continued.)


[A] The Dream is a scene on the River Beauly, whose picturesque properties realizes this term in its utmost limits.

[B] This is the only printed copy that ever saw the light, and if the "copious note" was ever written we were unable to procure it.

A. O.

The Gaelic Society of Inverness.—The following are the newly elected office-bearers for 1876:—Chief—Professor Blackie; Chieftains—Mr Charles Mackay, builder; Mr Alexander Fraser, accountant; and Bailie Noble, Inverness; Honorary Secretary—Mr Wm. Mackay, solicitor; Secretary—Mr William Mackenzie, Free Press Office, Inverness; Treasurer—Mr Evan Mackenzie, solicitor, Inverness; Council—Mr Alexander Mackenzie, of the Celtic Magazine; Councillor Huntly Fraser; Mr James H. Mackenzie, bookseller; Mr James Fraser, C.E.; and Mr Lachlan Macbean; Librarian—Mr Lachlan Macbean; Bard—Mrs Mary Mackellar; and Piper—Pipe-Major Maclennan, Inverness. The following members have been elected since the beginning of the year:—Mr A. R. Munro, 57 Camphill, Birmingham; Councillor D. Macpherson, Inverness; Mr W. A. Mackay, bird-stuffer, do.; Mr Jonathan Nicolson, Birmingham; Major William Grant, factor for the Earl of Seafield, honorary; Mr Donald Macleod, painter, Church Street, Inverness; Mr Hugh Shaw, tinsmith, Castle Street, Inverness; Rev. Lachlan Maclachlan, Gaelic Church, Inverness; Mr Archibald Macmillan, Kaituna, Havelock, Marlborough, New Zealand; Mr William Douglas, Aberdeen Town and County Bank, Inverness; Mr Donald Macdonald, farmer, Culcraggie, Alness; Mr Andrew Mackenzie, ironmonger, Alness; Mr Hugh Mackenzie, postmaster, Alness; Mr William Mackenzie, factor, Ardross; Mr W. Mackenzie, solicitor, Dingwall; Captain Alex. Matheson, Dornie, Lochalsh; Mr Christopher Murdoch, gamekeeper, Kyleakin, Skye; Mr Norman M'Raild, Caledonian Canal, Laggan, Fort-Augustus; Mr James Hunter, Bobbin Works, Glengarry; Mr Fergusson, schoolmaster, Guisachan; Mr Maclean, schoolmaster, Abriachan; Mr D. Dott, Caledonian Bank, Inverness; and Dr Farquhar Matheson, Soho Square, London. Mr Alex. Mackenzie, of the Celtic Magazine, on the 17th February, resigned his connection with the Society's Publishing Committee, as convener of which he edited, last year, vols. III. and IV. of the Society's "Transactions."

Dictionary of the Welsh Language.—We are glad to learn that a Dictionary of the Welsh language is in preparation, compiled from original sources by D. Silvan Evans, B.D., Professor of Welsh at University College, Aberystwyth, Wales, and late Editor of the "Archæologia Cambrensis." Professor Evans is a Celtic scholar of high repute, and his work will, we are assured, prove a great acquisition to the student of Philological Science.

[Pg 142]


The sunny plains of Carolina was the first emigration field taken advantage of by the Scottish Highlander. And there is no denying that his temporal interests required a change for the better. Oppressed with poverty in his own wild glens, in the endeavour to eke out an existence from the returns of a soil the reverse of fertile, or from the produce of a small flock of trifling value, or from the precarious productions of stormy lochs, the honest Gael becomes gradually convinced that his condition might be much improved in the genial climes recently opened up. With this in view he gives a willing ear to the kindly suggestions of those who sought to promote his welfare; and he resolves at length, in acting upon these suggestions, to rupture the ties that bound him to his home, and to face a voyage which was then regarded as the highest test of courage, but which can now be accomplished in as little time, and with as little concern as a voyage in those days from Mull or Skye to the banks of the Clyde.

It has often been said that the Highlander is wanting in a spirit of adventure, and that in consequence there is still a great amount of poverty and wretchedness at home, which might easily be remedied by a little more pluck in taking advantage of the rich soil of colonial fields. This phenomenon, which is only too true, has its explanation in a strange mystic spell of attachment to the native heath with all its associations. This is proverbially true of the Highlander in distinction from all other nationalities, and it cannot be ignored by those who wish to see him emigrate to countries where he can soon raise himself, by a little industry, to a position of affluence and independence which he never dreamed of in his native country.

Even the physical aspect of his native scenery has a charm for the Gael which can never be lost. His very heath in autumnal bloom spread out like a gorgeous carpet, towering summits, wild cascades, birch and rowans, verdant hill sides, browsing flocks, bounding deer, soaring eagles, and the vast expanse of land and water—all form an enchanting panorama which indelibly instamps itself on the mountaineer's mental vision. Add to this the social aspect of his nature, and you have a still stronger chain of attachment to his barren home. He feels himself as an individual member of a large family or confederacy, with common interests, common language and traditions. The huge mountain barriers which prevent the inhabitants of a glen from general communication with others, and completely isolate them, tends to generate this feeling of clannishness. They work in a great measure together, tending their flocks, cultivating their crofts, capturing their fish. And especially is their social nature developed in their long winter evening gatherings from house to house, in rehearsing their traditionary folk-lore, and cultivating the poetic muse in every variety of verse and style of chorus. Nor does the holy day of rest interrupt their gregarious proclivities. They meet at the same kirk,[Pg 143] they survey with becoming emotion the last resting place of those who were content to have their remains repose in their native valley, they hear proclamations of plighted affection between parties who have no higher ambition than to share each other's future lot on the scantiest fare, they join "their artless notes" together in grateful thanksgiving to the Sovereign of all lands for such temporal gifts as others might think "small mercies," and more especially do they hear, in their own expressive vernacular, impressive lessons upon time and its manifold labours, its constant changes and solemn issues.

All this constitutes a sacred tie of affection to the native spot, lasting as the hills, and which no other can understand like the Scottish Gael. It must, therefore, be duly recognised and weighed by all benefactors of the race, if they would loosen its hold upon the individual without outraging his feelings, and loosening "the brittle thread of life." Of this strong attachment many instances might be given. We have been told by a venerable divine of a Highland parish how repeatedly he had witnessed the fond affection of his parishioners in taking their departure, how they approached the sacred edifice, ever dear to them, by the most hallowed associations, and with tears in their eyes kissed its very walls, how they made an emphatic pause in losing sight of the romantic scenes of their childhood, with its kirks and cots, and thousand memories, and as if taking a formal and lasting adieu, uncovered their heads and waved their bonnets three times towards the scene, and then with heavy steps and aching hearts resumed their pilgrimage towards new scenes in distant climes.

But in thus quitting his native land the Highlander did not leave his loyalty and patriotism behind. The country to which he was steering his course was under the colonial away of George the Second; and to that region he transferred his loyalty and clannishness, and all those traits of character which distinguish him from other races. Unless, indeed, these peculiarities were taken advantage of, the foreign field for emigration, with its various inducements, might have appealed in vain. As a clannish being, and accustomed throughout his whole historical life to follow the direction of chiefs and leaders, the Scottish Gael is now invited to resign himself to the same leadership with the view of crossing the great Atlantic. Accordingly emigration leaders were found who made it their business to attend to the interests of their countrymen, and accompany their footsteps to their new homes. The first of these leading benefactors who broke the ice of emigration to Carolina was a Neil M'Neill of Kintyre, who succeeded in leading a whole shipload of his countrymen to that colony and settled them on the banks of the Cape Fear River, where he himself also made his permanent home, and where his name is still perpetuated by a numerous and respectable offspring to the present day.

Here at the head of navigation, and at a distance of more than a hundred miles from the sea coast, the immigrants literally pitched their camp, for the country was then almost an unbroken wilderness and few human abodes to offer shelter, the chief occupants of the soil being droves of wild horses, wild cattle, deer, turkeys, wolves, raccoons, oppossums, and last but not least, huge rattlesnakes in hideous coils, ready to oppose[Pg 144] the disturbers of their marshy tranquillity. Fortunately for the homeless pioneers the climate was genial and favourable, and all that could be expected from its southern latitude of 35 degrees. The only protection, therefore, absolutely necessary for health and comfort was some temporary shelter from the heavy autumnal dews of that region; and this they could speedily extemporise or discover already at hand in the arching canopy of stately hickories, mulberries, and walnut trees, where in patriarchal fashion, "each one under his own vine and fig tree" they could while away days and weeks without any serious discomfort or detriment to health. But they soon set about the work of improvement in their new domains. They construct more permanent abodes in the shape of log cottages, neat, clean, and tidy, and two for a family, according to subsequent use and wont in that warm country. They begin to fell the primeval forest, to grub, drain, and clear the rich alluvial swamps bordering on that stream, to reduce to ashes in a thousand conflagrations the most valuable timber of every variety and sort, and to supersede this primeval growth by the more precious production of rice, cotton, maize, melons, pumpkins, peaches, grapes, and other endless varieties for comfort and luxury. All this is accomplished, be it known, by ways and means of which, in the case of the new settler, stern necessity is the inventing mother. And may we not here suggest the reflection how much the residuary occupants of our glens are interested in these bush clearances. In receiving in regular supplies from that very district, the famous "Carolina Rice," chief of its class, not to speak of other products, is there not awakened a feeling of interest and grateful thanks to the memory of our hardy kinsman in the days of yore.

But progression and improvement is the rule in every colony and growing community. By the increase of population and settlement of a country the laws of society imperatively demand a different mode of life. The abundant supply of the necessities of life soon creates a desire for its comforts, and these in turn for its conveniences and luxuries. This progressive change is distinctly marked in the case before us. Very soon the nucleus of a town is seen in the centre of the settlement, where the products of industry could be bartered and sold, and where the usual system of commerce could afford facilities for supplying the growing demands of a prosperous community. The name of Campbelton is given to this hamlet, thus identifying the national origin of its patriotic founders, and when by subsequent emigrations it grew to a large and commercial importance, rivalling and soon surpassing its namesake in the Fatherland, and becoming the seat of justice and general centre of traffic for that whole Highland district, the names of its commercial firms, of its civic officials, judges, and barristers, unmistakeably declared that the name of the town was well chosen. And although the course of events afterwards changed its original designation to that of La Fayette or Fayetteville, which it still retains, yet it will always be remembered with a lively interest by Scottish Highlanders as the abode of their brave countrywoman, the renowned heroine Flora Macdonald, whose memory is still cherished in the country of her sojourn, and whose name is preserved from oblivion by the gay and gallant little steamer "Flora Macdonald," which plies up and down the unruffled waters of the Cape Fear.

[Pg 145] As already remarked, this was the beginning of the tide of emigration to Carolina, and at a period now buried in the annals of well nigh a century and a half. The ice being thus broken, and the pioneers of the flock giving good accounts of the new pasture, others soon eagerly began to follow their footsteps in large numbers. There was, in fact, a Carolina mania at that time, and which did not fairly subside until within the last half century. It is here necessary to note the great event which gave such a special impetus to the movement. That was the disastrous results which followed the memorable rebellion of '45. The collapsing of the romantic scheme which enlisted so many brave mountaineers, and unsheathed so many claymores, proved ruinous to the whole race of Scottish Celts. There was no discrimination made in the exercise of punishment between those "who were out" for Charlie, and those who followed Maccallan Mor and others in defence of the reigning dynasty. All were alike nationally persecuted, so that the whole system of clanship was completely and for ever broken up. The golden chain of patriarchal respect and affection to the chief, cemented by law or immemorial usage, was now severed. No military service or vassalage could any more be exacted by a feudal superior, and no support or protection could henceforth be expected by the vassal. All was now at an end; and the ghostly idea of chieftainship, which still hovers in our mists, is only entertained as a harmless sentiment or a pleasant burlesque. The Highlander was totally disarmed. Those weapons, as naturally associated with the mountaineer's life as the implements of husbandry to the farmer, were wrested from him, and heavy fines and transportation enforced in case of disobedience. Nay more, his very garb was proscribed. A romantic costume, suggestive of the well-known dirk and other weapons of military warfare, and of prowess, bravery, and skill, in the use of them, falls under the ban of the state. What must have been the Gael's feelings, from this state of things, we can easily imagine. Dispirited, insulted, outlawed, without chief or protector, with such a complete revolution in his social life, he has no alternative but to quit his native haunts and try to find peace and rest in the unbroken forests of Carolina. Accordingly the flame of enthusiasm for foreign adventure passes like wild fire through the Highland glens and islands at the period to which we refer. It pervades all classes, from the poorest crofter to the well-to-do farmer, and in some cases men of easy competence, who were, according to the appropriate song of the day, "dol a dh'iarruidh an fhortain do North Carolina," (i.e., sequenturi fortunam usque Carolinam).

Within a short time great crowds had left the country. Large ocean crafts, from several of the Western Lochs, laden with hundreds of passengers, sailed direct for the far west, and this continuous tide kept rolling westwards from year to year, until at the era of the Colonial Revolution, the Highland settlers in Carolina could be numbered by many thousands. And there you find their worthy sons at the present day, occupying a large area of the state, no less than five counties in a body, all preserving the genuine names and sterling qualities of their sires; and with their known enterprise and patient industry, exerting more than their numerical share of political influence in that country. They constitute doubtless the largest Gaelic community out of Scotland, tenaciously[Pg 146] holding the religion of their fathers, and preserving, to some extent, their language and customs. And be it known to our "Brither Scots" of Saxon origin, that these are known by their neighbours as pre-eminently "the Scotch," and their tongue "the Scotch language," so that a native of Auld Reeky or Dumfries, without a knowledge of the Celtic tongue, could hardly pass muster among them for being a genuine son of Scotia.

But the clans were not long settled in the land of their adoption before having their national character put to the test. The occasion was furnished by the unfortunate revolt of the North American Colonists, arising from causes useless to dilate upon at this time of day, but which might have been obviated at the time by wise imperial policy, and thus retained under the imperial aegis an enormous territory which has since then become an independent and powerful rival. Of course the Carolina Highlander was not a disinterested spectator of the rising struggle. Nor was it with him a question for a moment upon which side his claymore should be unsheathed. Naturally Conservative, and ever loyal to constituted authorities, he at once enlisted under the banner of King George the Third, and resolved with devoted loyalty and wonted military prowess to exert his utmost endeavours to perpetuate the British sway and quell the great rebellion. At the call of his leaders, and to the martial strains of his national pipes, he readily obeys; and with such alacrity as if summoned by the fiery cross of old, he musters to the central place of rendezvous, band after band, day after day, until a whole regiment of active volunteers are enrolled and ready for action. This was called the "Highland Regiment of Carolina," a body of men, let us remark, less known in history than it deserves; for in resolute courage, strength of nerve and muscle, intrepid bravery and unshaken fidelity, few instances could be found of superior excellence within the annals of the empire. The officers of the regiment were taken from influential leaders among the emigrants, and it need hardly be said, were of the same sterling metal. When we mention the name of Capt. Macdonald of Kingsborough, the husband of the famous Flora, and another officer of the same clan, as also the names of Macleod and M'Arthur, all of whom were the ruling chiefs of the "Royalists," it will at once appear how homogeneous was the body, and how naturally they were all animated by a kindred spirit with the view of achieving the same great end. Thus marshalled under the royal standard, they rush into the contest, with the sole determination, be the issue what it might, of discharging their conscientious duty to their king and country, and resolved with true Highland courage to conquer or to die. But, alas, this latter was, in substance, the inevitable alternative to which they had to succumb. The odds against them was overpowering. For even supposing them to have had the advantages of regular military discipline, they were not able to withstand the immense numbers by which they were assailed. Almost the whole colonies were in a state of revolt, and the imperial forces, from well-known causes, were few and far between. There was, therefore, no help for the royal cause. After long and fatiguing marches by night and day, through creeks and swamps, in arid sand and scorching sun, and after several desperate encounters with the numerous foe, meeting them at various points, they had finally to disperse, and thus for ever surrender a cause which it was[Pg 147] hopeless to have undertaken. Their leaders had to flee for life and find their way through swamp and forest to the far distant sea-board, as their only hope of safety. This they made out, and then found the means of transit, though by a circuitous voyage, across the ocean to their native land. The perils and hardships endured by these in their several routes could not be narrated in the space at our disposal. But we cannot take leave without briefly relating the daring exploit of one of their leaders after being captured and imprisoned. This, however, must be reserved for a subsequent number.





Chapter VI.

Two years before Alan's return from America, the Highland Society of London was instituted for "Promoting objects of advantage to the Highlands generally; and good fellowship with social union, among such of its natives as inhabited the more southern part of the island." To the foregoing summary were also added several specific objects, such as the restoration of the Highland dress; the preservation of the music; and cultivation of the Celtic language, &c., &c. An institution for the support of these objects would have particular attraction for Alan; and now that he was not otherwise specially employed, he could give some attention to their promotion. The members of the society were composed of almost all the men of rank and position belonging to, or connected with, Scotland. In the list Alan appears to have been elected at a meeting on 21st January 1782, and with the names of other gentlemen on the same occasion that of John Home (Author of Douglas) is included.

The Act of Parliament which enacted the suppression of the Highland dress was in force in Scotland during Alan's childhood, and up to the time of his departure from it, after the encounter with Morsheirlich, so that he had never worn the garb of his ancestors until he had joined his regiment in America. Its use was still (1782) prohibited in the old country. Alan and many of his friends became the most active members for promoting the objects of the society. Having found that one of these was the restoration of the Highland dress, they formed a committee to co-operate with a member of the Legislature to have that obnoxious Act obliterated from the Statute Book. Of that committee the following were the Executive, and being the authors of the extirpation of this national stigma, they are entitled to be remembered, by Highlanders especially, with admiration and everlasting gratitude. They were—Hon. General Fraser of Lovat (President); Lord Chief Baron Macdonald; Lord Adam Gordon; Earl of Seaforth; Colonel Macpherson of Cluny; Captain Alan Cameron (Erracht); and John Mackenzie (Temple), Honorary Secretary.

[Pg 148]

Fortunately for the committee, the Marquis of Graham, one of the members of the society, had a seat in the House of Commons, and to this nobleman they entrusted a Bill for the repeal of the Act passed in 1747, commonly known as the Unclothing Act. The noble Marquis took charge of the bill, which he introduced to the House in May 1782, with so much earnestness that it passed through the various stages in both Houses of Parliament with unusual rapidity. Indeed, within a few months after this date, the legal restriction placed on the dress of a people for the past thirty-five years, was obliterated for ever. "The thanks of the Society were given to his Lordship for his exertions in procuring a law so acceptable to all Highlanders."[C] Addresses in prose and poetry were presented to the Marquis from all the Highland parishes, while at the same time the contemporary Gaelic bards were profuse with patriotic songs of praise, notably among them, that by Duncan M'Intyre (Donnachadh Ban) commencing—

Fhuair mi naidheachd as ùr
Tha taitinn ri rùn mo chridh
Gu faigheamaid fasan na dùtch
A chleachd sinn an tùs ur tìm,
O'n tha sinn le glaineachan làn,
A bruidhinn air màran binn,
So i deoch slainte Mhontrois
A sheasamh a choir so dhuinn.

The next action of national importance which engaged the attention of the Society was the publication of the Poems of Ossian in the original Gaelic. In the prosecution of this project Alan Cameron was also zealous, but before it was completed he was called away to duties of a sterner nature. About the same time the controversy respecting the authenticity of the poems was continuing to run its rancour unabated. During the few days of Alan's sojourn as a fugitive in Mr Bond's house, they had conversed on the merits of Ossian's poems, the latter gentleman informed Alan that he had such evidence in favour of their ancient existence that he was convinced of their being the genuine remains of poetry of a very remote period, adding that he owed his intimacy with Ossian to the acquaintance of the Rev. Colin M'Farquhar (a native of one of the Hebrides), at this time minister in Newhaven of Pennsylvannia. It occurred to Alan that it would be desirable to get the testimony of the reverend gentleman respecting the poems, therefore he decided to address himself to his kind friend in Philadelphia on the subject. In due time Mr Bond replied with a communication from Mr M'Farquhar, dated, "Newhaven, Penn., January 1806," stating as follows:—"It is perfectly within my recollection when I was living in the Highlands of Scotland, that Mr James Macpherson was there collecting as many as he could find of the Poems of Ossian. Among those applied to was a co-presbyter of mine, who knew that a man of distinguished celebrity had resided in my congregation, and he requested the favour of me to have an interview with him and take down in writing some of these poems from his lips for Mr Macpherson, which I did, but cannot recollect at this distance of time the names of the poems, though I well remember they were both lengthy and irksome to write, on account of the many mute letters contained in[Pg 149] almost every word. Indeed, it would be difficult to find one among ten thousand of the Highlanders of the present day who could or would submit to the task of committing one of them to writing or memory, though in former ages they made the repetition of the poems a considerable part of their enjoyment at festive and convivial entertainments. Well do I remember the time when I myself lent a willing ear to the stories of Fingal, Oscar, Ossian, and other heroes of the Highland bard. I cannot, therefore, forbear calling that man an ignorant sceptic, and totally unacquainted with the customs of the history of the Highlanders, and the usages prevailing amongst them; who can once doubt in his mind their being the composition of Ossian? And as to being the production of Macpherson or any of his companions, I have no more doubt than I have of the compositions of Horace or Virgil to be the works of these celebrated authors."

The Secretary laid Mr Bond's letter and its inclosure with the foregoing statement of the Reverend Mr M'Farquhar before the Highland Society, which they considered so important as to have adopted it in Sir John Sinclair's "Additional Proofs of the Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian." While on this subject, another reference must be made to Mr Bond. The Highland Society in acknowledging the receipt of his communications, alluded to the service he had rendered to their fellow-countryman (Erracht) when in distress. The Marquis of Huntly, who was President, moved that the Society's Gold Medal be conferred on Mr Bond; also that he be elected an Honorary member of the Society.[D] The propositions were unanimously approved, and thus his friendship to the benighted prisoner was not forgotten by the members of this noble and patriotic Society.

Chapter VII.

Alan, although now (1792) surrounded by a young family, and in circumstances independent of the emoluments of his profession, was not, however, disposed to live a life of idleness. Nor had he relinquished the intention to enter again on active service. This was most difficult of accomplishment, on account principally, of the reduction of the army on the termination of the American War; and that no additions wore made to it for the last five or six years.

Britain was for the moment at peace with all nations; but the state of affairs in India was causing so much concern that the home government decided on increasing the military force in each of its Presidencies; and to enable that intention to be effected, an augmentation of the army of five battalions was ordered, commencing with the 74th Regiment. Two of these were to be raised in Scotland and three in England. Into one of the new corps, Alan hoped to be transferred from the "provincial list." In this, however, he was disappointed owing to other applicants being his seniors in the service; notwithstanding that the Marquis of Cornwallis, whoso friendship he had gained in America, had previously recommended him to the Commander-in-Chief.

After remaining a few years longer at home, an event impended, which was to shake Europe to its foundation. This was the French Revolution. To trace the causes, or detail the scenes, which followed this[Pg 150] revolution, is beyond the limits of our subject, except simply to refer to its excesses in burning, plundering, and confiscating property of every description, to which was finally added the execution of the King and Queen on the scaffold. These iniquitous acts were execrated by reasonable people of all countries, but were shortly followed by the Republican Assembly offering aid to other nations to rid themselves of their monarchical rulers. The incitement to extend rebellion to their neighbours drew upon them the animosity of all governments, of whom the continentals were the first to take offence.

To demonstrate their earnestness, the French took immediate action by advancing three armies towards their northern frontiers; the total strength being not under half a million soldiers, under the command of their ablest generals—Jourdan, Moreau, and Pichequr. Simultaneously with this offensive demonstration, war was declared against Holland, Spain, and Britain. The manufactures of the latter country were strictly prohibited in France, and it was, moreover, ordered that all British subjects in whatever part of the Republic should be arrested, and their properties seized.

The whole powers of the Continent were now arrayed against the French, yet the vigour of their measures enabled them to disconcert the dilatory schemes of their allied opponents. This same year (1793) the insurrection at Toulon also broke out, and it was on this occasion that first appeared the extraordinary man, who was to wield for a considerable period the destinies of Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte, then Chef de bataillon, was dispatched by the Convention as second in command of the artillery, where he displayed a genius in the art of war, which soon afterwards gained him the direction of the Corps d'armee in Italy.

The British Government now became alarmed, and resolved on sending the Duke of York to Flanders with 10,000 troops. Among the evils of the Hanoverian succession was, that it dragged Britain into the vortex of continental politics, and often made her subservient to the King's views in favour of his electorate. The present was one of the instances. This decision of co-operation may be said to have committed this country to a line of policy which engaged its army and navy, more or less persistently for upwards of twenty years, and terminated only in varying success, with the crowning victory of Waterloo, and the occupation of Paris in the summer of 1815.

Chapter VIII.

The force sent to Flanders (1793) was a serious drain on the strength of the army, which must be made good without delay. The Government viewed it in that light, and ordered commissions to be issued forthwith for the enrolment of twenty-two regiments for general service (from the 79th to the 100th), sixteen of which were subsequently made permanent, and added to the establishment. Other bodies were also raised for home services, known as "Fencibles." Now was the time for Alan to bestir himself. Applicants, with influence and claims on the War Office, were greatly in excess of the number required. Lord Cornwallis' previous recommendation in his favour was found of advantage in support of Alan's present application, inasmuch that the "Letter of Service" granted in his favour was among the first of the batch gazetted on the 17th of Aug.[Pg 151] 1793. Although Major-Commandant Cameron (he will be now named by his successive ranks in the army) had reason to be satisfied with the success of his application for the "Letters," yet the terms and conditions embodied were not only illiberal, but even exacting, a circumstance he had an opportunity some time afterwards of pointing out to one of His Majesty's sons (the Duke of York). The document is too long and not sufficiently interesting to be quoted, and an extract or two from it must suffice. "All the officers—the ensigns and staff-officers excepted—are to be appointed from the half-pay list, according to their present rank, taking care, however, that the former only are recommended who have not taken any difference in their being placed on half-pay. The men are to be engaged without limitation as to the period of their service, and without any allowance of levy money, but they are not to be drafted into any other regiments." On receipt of this official communication from the War Office, Major Cameron had an intimation from his father-in-law—Squire Philips—that money to the extent of his requirements for the expenses of attaining his ambition, would be placed at his disposal. This act of generosity relieved the Major from one of his difficulties. The next consideration was how far it might be prudent to make the recruiting ground his own native district of Lochaber, when it is remembered that he left that country as a fugitive from the vengeance of a considerable portion of its inhabitants. The terms of his "Letters of Service" restricted him in the disposal of the commissions which might have been offered them as a means of pacification, but the few left in his power he decided at once to confer on those sons of families who might be in influential positions and otherwise eligible for the appointments. With this view he despatched several copies of the London Gazette containing the "authority to raise a Highland Regiment" to his brother Ewan (known in later years as Eoghann Mor an Earrachd) with a letter, both of which he was enjoined to make as widely and as publicly known as possible. The letter is, if somewhat plausible, frank enough, and characteristic of his conduct throughout his varied career in life. In it he states that, "having been favoured with the honour of embodying a Highland Regiment for His Majesty's service; where could I go to obey that order but to my own native Lochaber; and with that desire I have decided on appealing to their forgiveness of byegone events, and their loyalty to the sovereign in his present exigencies. The few commissions at my disposal shall be offered first to the relatives of the gentleman whose life, unfortunately, was sacrificed by my hand."

The printing press, even of the capital of the County of Inverness was not so advanced in those days, as to have circulars printed of the foregoing proclamation. Therefore, the brother had to transcribe copies as best he could, which he did to some effect, inasmuch that before Alan arrived in Lochaber, on his mission, Ewan had already engaged the complement of a company to start with, all of whom he retained on his farm at Earrachd till the arrival of the Major. Thus the credit of gathering the nucleus of the now famous 79th is due to Eoghann Mor, for which service the Major procured him a commission as captain and recruiting officer, for his regiment, in that district.

(To be Continued.)


[C] Minutes of the Highland Society of London, 1782.

[D] Minute Highland Society of London 1806.

[Pg 152]


It is to be regretted, since the art of printing has existed for so many centuries, that nothing in the Gaelic was ever produced in the form of a printed book until the year 1567. No doubt many valuable documents, poems, and charters were written on parchment and paper in that venerable language previous to that date, but the first Gaelic book was Bishop Carsewell's Translation of Knox's Liturgy, which was printed in the above year. Forms of prayer, the Administration of the Sacraments, and the Catechism of the Reformed Church of Scotland were composed by Knox, and published in a small volume. Carsewell was an earnest and zealous man, and in the discharge of his pastoral duties in districts where the Gaelic was the vernacular tongue, he could not fail to see the benefit to be derived from a manual in that language for the instruction of the people, and hence the translation and printing of the volume just alluded to. It was in the duodecimo form, and consisted of about three hundred pages. The printer was Robert Lekprevik who was remarkable in his day for the successful manner in which he executed black-letter printing. It was he who produced from his press "The Reasoning betwixt the Abbot of Crossraguel and John Knox," to which book were attached the words:—"Imprinted at Edinburgh by Robert Lekprevik, and are to be solde at his hous at the Netherbow, 1563."

It would appear that about that time this notable printer removed from Edinburgh to St Andrews, where printing of different kinds was carried on, to what was then considered a great extent. It was while in that town that he printed "Davidson's Metrical Version of Knox's History and Doctrines," in a volume of considerable size. The work was entitled:—"Ane brief commendation of Uprichtness."—"Imprentit at Sanctandrois be Robert Lekprevik, anno 1573."

It is a matter of no small regret to the lovers of the Celtic tongue, as well as to philologists in general, that the very interesting translation of Bishop Carsewell is now hardly to be had anywhere. It is said that the Duke of Argyle has a copy of it in his library at Inveraray Castle; and it is well known that another copy, and a very complete one, was in the possession of a well-known Gaelic scholar, and excellent Christian man, the late Mr John Rose, teacher at Aberarder, parish of Dunlichity, near Inverness. It is not known what has become of the copy of which Mr Rose was the owner, but it would be pleasing if it were somewhere in safe-keeping, and still more pleasing if it would find its way to the library shelves of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. The rarity of the little work in question makes it the more valuable, and while out of print it cannot be replaced.

The language of this small volume differs a little in spelling from the Gaelic of the present day, yet it is, upon the whole very plain, and quite intelligible to any one acquainted with the pronunciation of it. This may be seen, and better understood, by giving a small quotation from the[Pg 153] work—viz., the concluding declaration of the learned translator, which runs as follows:—"Do chriochnvigheadh an leabhran beag so, le Heasbug Indseadh gall, an, 24 la do Mhi. Aprile sa seachtmhadh bliadhain tar thri fithid agas ar chuig cēd, agas ar Mhile bliadhain dandaladh ar Dtighearna Iosa Criosd. Sa geuigeadh bliadhain tar fithid do Rìghe na Riòghna ro chumhachtaighe Marie Banrighan na Hàlban."

The printer has concluded this interesting but now rare volume, by the words:—"Do Bvaileadh so agclo an Dvn Edin le Roibeart Lekprevik, 24 Aprilis, 1567."

John Carsewell, by all accounts, was a faithful servant of his Divine Master. He not only preached the Word with earnestness and power, but was always instant in season and out of season—"a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." He was for some years Rector of Kilmartin, a parish in the county of Argyle; but after the Reformation he was made Bishop of the Western Isles. A certain writer has said of the reverend gentleman that "he early joined the reformed clergy, and when the Protestant doctrine was ratified by Parliament in 1560, he was appointed Superintendent of Argyle." The superintendents, it will be recollected, were ministers set over a large district or diocese, in which they were appointed regularly to travel, for the purpose of preaching the gospel, of planting churches, and of inspecting the conduct of ministers, exhorters, and readers. They were, in fact, Bishops, but (according to the Book of Discipline) they were not "to be suffered to live idle, as the Bishops had done heretofore." Bishop Carsewell was wealthy and lived in state at Carnassary Castle, now in ruins, at the head of the Valley of Kilmartin.

This volume of Bishop Carsewell, to which the attention of the readers of the Celtic Magazine is now called, is very interesting from another point of view. In consequence of some incidental remarks made by the learned bishop, it will be seen that in his day traditions existed in the Highlands and Islands in regard to the Ossianic poetry. This is a fact which ought to be of no small importance in the present day, when such keen controversies exist as to the authenticity of the poetical productions attributed to Ossian. It is surely unreasonable to suppose if the poems in question had been the creation of James Macpherson, how it became possible for Bishop Carsewell to allude to the traditions in the Highlands and Islands regarding Fingal and his heroes upwards of two hundred years before Macpherson's day! Such direct and legitimate evidence as this ought to be allowed to have its full weight and force; and no prejudice on the part of such as are ignorant of the elegance and beauty of the Gaelic language ought to lead them away from a desire to believe what is really the truth. Carsewell dedicated his interesting volume to the Earl of Argyle, on whom he looked as his patron, and who, by his power and influence, aided the good Bishop in his earnest endeavours to promote the temporal and spiritual good of the population of his estates, as well as of that of the Highlands and Islands at large.

In his somewhat lengthy dedication, the following passage appears, which is here given as faithfully translated by the Committee of the Highland Society in their report on the poems of Ossian.

[Pg 154]

The passage in question runs as follows:—"But there is one great disadvantage which we, the Gael of Scotland and Ireland, labour under, beyond the rest of the world, that our Gaelic language has never yet been printed, as the language of every other race of men has been; and we labour under a disadvantage which is still greater than every other disadvantage, that we have not the Holy Bible printed in Gaelic, as it has been printed in Latin and English, and in every other language, and also that we have never yet had any account printed of the antiquities of our country, or of our ancestors; for though we have some accounts of the Gael of Scotland and Ireland contained in manuscripts, and in the genealogies of bards and historiographers, yet there is great labour in writing them over with the hand, whereas the work which is printed, be it ever so great, is speedily finished. And great is the blindness and sinful darkness, and ignorance, and evil design of such as teach, and write, and cultivate the Gaelic language, that, with the view of obtaining for themselves the vain rewards of this world, they are more desirous, and more accustomed to compose vain, tempting, lying, worldly histories concerning the 'seann dàin,' and concerning warriors and champions, and Fingal, the son of Cumhail, with his heroes, and concerning many others which I will not at present enumerate or mention, in order to maintain or reprove, than to write and teach, and maintain the faithful words of God, and of the perfect way of truth."

It may be seen from this that the learned Bishop naturally complained of the great disadvantage under which the Gael, both in Scotland and Ireland, laboured in their not being possessed of any book whatever in the Gaelic, as nothing hitherto had ever been printed in that language. It would have been both interesting and instructive to have had the annals of their country recorded in this manner, as they could not have depended so much on the still more vague and uncertain narratives to which were handed down from age to age by tradition. No doubt the bards and seanachies had their manuscripts and parchments in which many important facts, and many ancient productions in poetry were recorded, but these were at best but comparatively few, and could benefit the community but to a small extent, compared with the productions of even such printing-presses as were made use of by the renowned Lekprevik. The want of the Holy Scriptures in the Gaelic language particularly in districts where it was the only spoken language, was a disadvantage which the good Bishop deeply deplored; and that want was no doubt the chief cause of his publishing his "Forms of Prayer, &c.," to facilitate his ministerial labours among the Highlanders. Had the Bishop been a prophet in a sense, and had he been able to have foreseen the keen controversies that were to take place two centuries after his time, relative to the poems that told of Fingal and his warriors, he would have given a more detailed account of the Ossianic poetry which was no rare thing in his day. Posterity would have felt very grateful to the learned gentleman if he had enlarged somewhat on the songs and tales of olden times, as he had every opportunity of hearing them rehearsed by the family bards of chieftains, as well as by the clan seanachies who made such things their sole employment. Carswell seemed to think (as many clergymen have thought in latter times) that the Highlanders, among[Pg 155] whom he laboured, paid too much attention to their songs and tales about warriors and Fingalian battles, and thereby neglected the more important preparations for a future world. In all probability he directed his eloquent addresses against such practices, although by no means successful in extinguishing them. For two centuries they descended from age to age, and were communicated from sire to son, until ultimately stamped out by the effects of adverse changes, and of the altered economy in the management of the Highlands and Islands.


Kilmuir, Skye, in 1842—Ossian and Witchcraft.—There is no medical practitioner nearer than the village of Portree, upwards of twenty miles distant, and the consequence is that he is never sent for but in cases of extreme danger. Three or four individuals lately died at the age of 100. In the district of Steinscholl a man died about twelve years ago, named John Nicolson, or Maccormaic, at the very advanced age of 105. There is one circumstance connected with this old man's history worthy of notice, which is, that he could repeat the most of Ossian's Fingal, Temora, &c., with great fluency and precision. The writer of this heard him say that he committed these beautiful poems to memory from hearing them repeated, when a boy, by his grandfather. If this fact be not sufficient to establish the authenticity of these unparalleled poems, it must surely establish the truth, that they existed before the time of Macpherson, who attempted to translate them into the English language. The silly allegation by some that Ossian's poems were Macpherson's own production is palpably confuted by Mac Cormaic and others, who could repeat them before Macpherson was born. But should that not have been the case, and should none have been found who could rehearse them before Macpherson's time, the allegation that they were either by Macpherson, or by any other in the age in which he lived, appears ridiculous in the sight of such as know the construction and beauty of the Celtic language... Some time ago the natives firmly believed in the existence of the "Gruagach," a female spectre of the class of Brownies, to whom the dairy-maids made frequent libations of milk. The "Gruagach" was said to be an innocent supernatural visitor, who frisked and gambolled about the pens and folds. She was armed only with a pliable reed, with which she switched any who would annoy her, either by uttering obscene language or by neglecting to leave for her a share of the dairy production. Even so late as 1770, the dairy-maids, who attended a herd of cattle in the Island of Trodda, were in the habit of pouring daily a quantity of milk in a hollow stone for the "Gruagach." Should they neglect to do so they were sure of feeling the effects of Miss Brownie's wand next day. It is said that the Rev. Donald Macqueen, then minister of this parish, went purposely to Trodda to check that gross superstition. He might then have succeeded for a time in doing so, but it is known that many believed in the "Gruagach's" existence long after that reverend gentleman's death. Besides the votaries of this ridiculous superstition, there are others who confidently believe in the existence of a malignant look or evil eye, by which cattle and all kinds of property are said to suffer injury. The glance of an evil eye is consequently very much dreaded. No doubts are entertained that it deprives cows of their milk, and milk of its nutritive qualities so as to render it unfit for the various preparations made from it. This superstition can certainly lay claim to great antiquity.

"Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos."—Virg.

New Statistical Account of Kilmuir, Skye, "drawn up by Mr Alexander Macgregor, M.A., Licentiate of the Church of Scotland, and son of the Incumbent."

[Pg 156]


Grey Blavin in grandeur gold-crested appears,
As swift sinks the sun in the west,
Whose gleams of departure, as love-guarding spears,
Skim over the blue ocean's breast:
The lav'rock pours sweetly his ev'ning joy song,
Lone cushats croon soft in each vale,
Pale gloaming's low melodies linger among
The beauties of loved Armadale:
It is the hour when raptures reign,
It is the hour when joys prevail,
I'll hie away to meet again
My Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale:
The dim robe of night over Knoydart's brown hills,
Comes weirdly with dark-shading lour,
Slow-stealing it shrouds the repose it full fills
With calm's hallowed, heart-clinging, pow'r:
It tells of a maiden whose heart I have got,
It whispers the love-longing tale,
It bids me away to yon heather-thatched cot,
Snug nestling by sweet Armadale:
It is the hour of Nature's peace,
It is the hour when smiles unveil
The beauty which bids love increase
For Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale:
Her eyes are as dark as the gloom of Loch Hourn,
Yet soft as the gaze of a fawn,
Still darker the tresses that crown to adorn
A brow like a light-mellowed dawn.
Her voice is a fountain of summer's dream-song,
Her smiles can the budding rose pale,
O! rare are the graces which humbly belong
To Flora of dear Armadale:
It is the hour of love's alarms,
It is the hour when throbs assail
This heart which glows beneath the charms
Of Flora, Star of Armadale;
Armadale! Armadale!
Flora, Star of Armadale.




[Pg 157]

OSSIAN AND THE CLYDE, FINGAL IN IRELAND, OSCAR IN ICELAND, OR OSSIAN HISTORICAL AND AUTHENTIC, by P. Hately Waddell, LL.D., Minister of the Gospel, Editor and Biographer of Robert Burns, Translator of the Psalms into Scottish, &c. Glasgow: James Maclehose, Publisher to the University, 1875.

We cannot, after careful study of this book, assign to it any but the first place in Ossianic literature. In style of composition it is pure, dignified and eloquent; in substance and matter it surpasses beyond reach of comparison any book hitherto written on the same subject. It can scarcely be doubted, indeed, that this great work has rescued a discussion which even in the highest hands seemed descending to mere verbal quibbles and party abuse from such a degradation, and has raised it to a position, which if it ever held before, it was rapidly losing. The subject is now made universal; it enters on a new life, strengthened with a new element which will never now be overlooked. A culminating point has been reached for all preceding criticism, and a sure foundation has been laid for a new school of investigation, other and higher than the dogmatism of Johnson, Laing, or Macaulay. We know not how far these men were able to comprehend and appreciate such pure and unique creations as those of Ossian, but it is to be attributed neither to their refined and cultivated taste, to their critical discernment, nor yet to their historical and literary knowledge that they despised and abandoned, as mere myths of savage tribes or wholesale fabrications of a modern literateur, the poetic annals of their own land and the grand historical epics where the actions of Norsemen, Scots, and Romans alike, are pourtrayed and immortalised. Now, however, these works stand on a new footing; comprehensible, beautiful, and historical every one, deserving more than ever the enthusiastic admiration with which all nations have received them, for now it can be based on reason and knowledge.

The historical and critical value of this book, and the change it will effect not only on the Ossianic literature, but on the poems themselves, may easily be seen in three ways at least. First, the importance of the question discussed, the universal character of the poems, and the historical results depending on the decision of their authenticity are now clearly set forth. It has been the prevalent, if not the only way of examining these works, to regard them merely as interesting literary productions, relics of ancient poetry or modern frauds, and to determine their truth or falsity, as the case might be, by such tests as the character of the translator, the means of preserving and collecting such poems, and especially the form of the language found in them. These were the only grounds of criticism. Nor did even their most ardent supporters seem to see much higher results involved than the recognition of some early national songs and ballads, or the preservation of the oldest Celtic literature of the country. To them it was an interesting and important discussion in this[Pg 158] light only; the history contained in these songs they either did not understand, or entirely neglected. It has been reserved for the author of this book to shew, beyond dispute or doubt, that the poems of Ossian are not on the one side merely grand romances or national myths, or on the other only curious literary deceptions; they are tales of history, grand and romantic certainly, but unreal or deceptive never; annals of war and songs of love for Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, and Denmark; lives of these countries' heroes, pictures of their lands. And though more may yet be discovered, and stranger things be proved, this at least—the early history of these nations with their lawgivers, kings, and emperors, Scotch and Roman, Celt and Saxon; with their wars and works, their public acts and private life, their religion, their customs, their trade; their moors and glens and streams, their Roman walls and battlefields—this, and nothing less than this, is Ossian; in interest and importance coming close beside Homer, both as historian and poet, and leaving Junius, Chatterton, the German "Epistolæ," &c., far, far behind:—

O, Johnson, Pinkerton, Macaulay, and the rest—to say that this was all bombast and a lie! But you knew nothing of Arran: you never traversed the vale of Shisken, nor surveyed its monuments, nor considered its geography; nor heard the rustle of the winds, in your imagination, among its prostrate woods; nor glanced on the surge of its departed lake, nor compared its traditions with the text of Ossian; yet neither did Macpherson, whom you have accused of falsehood and forgery; he was equally ignorant of it all. How strange you now look confronted with him thus; how strange he himself looks, in the bewilderment of unexpected victory at the grave of Oscar and by the tomb of Malvina; with the ghosts of fifteen hundred years ago, awoke from the dead, to enlighten and convict you—yourselves now ghosts, like them—in the pride of your unbelief!... Even the possibility of reply is foreclosed, by the verdict of the whole landscape around you. The earth, the water, the wind and very clouds are agreed about it. The sunbeam from the east, beyond the grave at Glenree there, glances golden rebuke on your dull culumnies, and the ebbing fiord of Sliddery carries your vaunted authority to sea. The fine-drawn light which shimmers thus, through so many centuries, on fallen forests, wasted lakes, and mouldering dead dispels the last obstruction of your scorn—and our controversy with you is ended.

But still further, these poems assume a new form, and a peculiar interest in being now by Dr Waddell harmonized and united into one grand series, linked together in a continuous chain. They are no longer detached fragments, doubtful and incomprehensible myths, unknown and unanalysable; they have unity now, the unity which belongs to the works of one universal poet, as well the unity of history. Such an analysis and conception of these works has never before been attempted. A critic here and there has examined and partially explained one or two pieces, as separate poems, but always imperfectly and with hesitation; afraid evidently of his conclusions, not yet having discovered the clue to this labyrinth of song. Nor can we wonder that critics and commentators should hesitate to tread upon ground where the translator himself was at fault; for, however faithfully he compared and considered, he did not understand the geography of Ossian. He gathered the poems as fragments, and fragments they remained to him; for though he might strive hard to explain and connect them, yet while he had little idea of the places described it was impossible he could succeed; they are all descriptive poems, and require to be localised. This formerly confused mass of Highland and Irish tradition and geography Dr Waddell has fearlessly attacked and completely mastered, the unexplored land has all been surveyed and cleared up, and the truth and harmony of the Ossianic[Pg 159] poems demonstrated. And by whom? By a Southern Scot—an actual "Son of the Stranger"—who examined, and who discusses, the question purely on its merits; and who is proof against the charges of narrow Highland bigotry and prejudice, which would have been so effectively hurled against a native of "Tir nam beann nan gleann's nan gaisgeach" by other Southerners who never expended a single moment in a personal study of the question, but accepted their opinions and conclusions second hand.

The most important matter however, in this volume, and which alone rendered the foregoing results possible, is the method pursued. It is upon this that all else is based, and without which Ossian would still have remained the inexplicable enigma he not long ago really was; for not all the criticism which has been lavished on this ancient and immortal bard by professors, philologists, and philosophers, has rendered him one whit more clear or perspicuous, but has certainly raised discussion and animosity enough between the opposing combatants. And the reason is, that no man yet has got farther in his analysis than the mere words and letters of the text, their various spelling or combinations, their ancient or modern use, their Celtic or Saxon origin, their gender, number, and case. Philology is, has been, and will always be a useful and most important science beyond many others; but philology may be, and has often been, shamefully abused and mocked. The "dry light" of truth and certainty for which everybody is toiling and labouring in art, religion, philosophy, and literature, is concealed by more than the darkness of printers' types in mere verbal criticism—the most popular, but perhaps the most pernicious habit of the day. The form of the poetry in Ossian, apart from all its spirit and substance, has long been analysed, investigated, discussed, destroyed, and built up again; yielding all the fruit it seems likely ever to yield, more doubt and more discussion; tense-endings and inflections have been tried and found wanting.

The method we now speak of has abandoned all such criticism, or, at least, made it entirely subservient to a higher and more comprehensive one; and has brought into the darkness of the Ossianic controversy a revelation bright as noonday. The spirit of the poems has been taken instead of the letter, the contents instead of the words, the geography of Scotland as it stands instead of inflections, and the history of our own and of other nations has been substituted for emendations and various readings. And by this means a work has been done for the Highlands, for Scotland and for Europe, which can scarcely be realised; the history of Scotland, and with it the history of a great part of Europe in some of its darkest ages, has been revealed, and the literature of our country saved. Nor does the man who has done this need thanks, although, at the hands of all, and especially of Highlanders, he certainly deserves them. The work is its own reward.

We shall now come more to details and give some examples of the way in which Dr Waddell conducts his investigations, and of the discoveries which follow from them in the region of geography alone. For the convincing identification, however, of the places named, we must refer the reader to the book itself.

Dr Waddell seems to have been a believer, from his youth, in the[Pg 160] authenticity of Ossian by what he calls moral instinct, founded merely on the characteristics of Macpherson's text—its simplicity, sublimity, and coherence. Judging of it by these attributes alone, he could never doubt it; and from this, the next step was easy and indeed necessary—if Ossian in his opinion was thus authentically true, Ossian ought also to be historically and geographically true; and therefore the whole, or at least the principal, object of his investigation has been to declare that truth by demonstrating the actual correspondence of nature to the letter of the translation, even where Macpherson himself had never seen it. And this undeniable fact, the ignorance of the translator as to the whereabouts of the places accurately described in his own text, is one of the strongest proofs he makes use of. This interesting method seems to have been suggested to him first by discoveries in the island of Arran, where the tomb of Ossian, and the graves of Fingal, Oscar, and Malvina were pointed out to him by the people, and authenticated by tradition. On examining all the allusions in the translation, they were found exactly to confirm the identity of these places; yet Macpherson never was in Arran. Next, Dr Waddell proceeded to examine the whole Frith of Clyde, where equally distinct proofs awaited him. He shews that the Clyde must have been a fiord to Rutherglen and Bothwell in Ossian's day, and that Balclutha must have been identical with Castlemilk, or some other ruined fortress near Rutherglen, and not as commonly supposed, with Dunglass or Dumbarton. The Kelvin, both in name and character is the Colavain of Ossian, and was a fiord up to Kilsyth; near which he discovers the actual scene of Comala's death, and of the triumph of Oscar over Carausius, a little to the east. Here too, Macpherson was completely at fault. In the north of Ireland, from the descriptive text of Fingal and Temora, the valley of the Six-Mile-Water is found to correspond in the most minute particulars with the scenes of these poems, whereas Macpherson by mere guess-work placed them much farther south and west. In the Orkney Islands, by a similar process of minute verification, he finds Carricthura at Castle Thuroe in Hoy; and the celebrated scene of Fingal's encounter with Loda, near the well-known Dwarfie Stone on the west coast of that island. In Iceland, by a most irrefragable demonstration, he identifies the dried-up fountain at Reikum with the "fount of the mossy stones," and the plain of Thingvalla with the plain of the pestiferous Lano—both in the War of Inisthona.

Now the only, and to many the great, difficulty in the way of accepting such proof in its entirety, is the boldness of the author's assumption that the Frith of Clyde must have been from seventy to eighty feet higher in Ossian's era—that is, in the time of the Romans—than it now is; but if this be proved it adds another conclusive proof to the authenticity of Ossian, for Macpherson was ignorant likewise of this. The possibility of such a fact has already been loudly challenged by a scientific reviewer in the Scotsman, whose objections, however, have been conclusively answered by Dr Waddell in the same paper, and in the last three numbers of the Celtic Magazine; indeed the exquisite photographic views in the work of the actual marine formations on the Clyde, and the sectional views of the coast at other points, leave no room for serious doubt on the subject.

[Pg 161]

Besides all this, Dr Waddell adds a critical dissertation on Macpherson's text, to shew the impossibility of his having tampered with the original, illustrating this part of his argument by references to Berrathon, Croma, and Conlath and Cuthona. He has also introduced an interesting statistical summary, gathered from Ossian, of the manners, customs, religious observances, and scientific knowledge of the age; which may be studied with much benefit. In the appendix we have a curious history of the Irish people from the earliest traditional dates down to the time of Ossian, compiled from reliable chronicles, hitherto, we suspect, very little known; the whole book being illustrated by many beautiful wood-cuts and original maps. The exquisite little poem which completes the work we cannot omit:—




Born of earthquakes, lonely giant,
Sphinx and eagle couched on high;
Dumb, defiant, self-reliant,
Breast on earth and beak in sky:
Built in chaos, burnt out beacon,
Long extinguished, dark, and bare,
Ere life's friendly ray could break on
Shelvy shore or islet fair:
Dwarf to atlas, child to Etna,
Stepping-stone to huge Mont Blanc;
Cairn to cloudy Chimborazo,
Higher glories round thee hang!
Baal-tein hearth, for friend and foeman;
Warden of the mazy Clyde;
In thy shadow, Celt and Roman,
Proudly galley'd, swept the tide!
Scottish Sinai, God's out-rider,
When he wields his lightning wand;
From thy flanks, a king and spider
Taught, and saved, and ruled the land!
Smoking void and planet rending,
Island rise and ocean fall,
Frith unfolding, field extending—
Thou hast seen and felt them all.
Armies routed, navies flouted,
Tyrants fallen, people free;
Cities built and empires clouted,
Like the world, are known to thee.
Science shining, love enshrining,
Truth and patience conquering hell;
Miracles beyond divining,
Could'st thou speak, thy tongue would tell.
Rest awhile, the nations gather,
Sick of folly, lies, and sin,
To kneel to the eternal Father—
Then the kingdom shall begin!
Rest awhile, some late convulsion,
Time enough shall shake thy bed:
Rest awhile, at Death's expulsion,
Living green shall clothe thy head!

We are glad to find that the Queen's Book—"Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands"—will soon appear in Gaelic. The translation is by the Rev. John Patrick St Clair, St Stephen's, Perth, who is an excellent scholar, with a deep-rooted love for his Gaelic vernacular. This news cannot but be gratifying to the patriotic Highlander all over the world, who has ever been loyal to Her Majesty, as a descendant of the Stuarts; and especially should a work be welcome, in our native language, in which the highest in the realm describes the Highlander as "one of a race of peculiar independence and elevated feeling." What has become of the Highland Society's Translation entrusted to the late Mr Macpherson?

[Pg 162]


Secretary Gaelic Society of Sydney.—Letter received and sentiments reciprocated. Great success to your Society. Your instructions are attended to.

D. O. Cameron, Nokomai, New Zealand.—Letter received and contents noted. The Publishers of the Celtic Magazine and the Publisher of "Knockie's Highland Music" are not the same.

Wm. Kennedy, Burmah.—Letter and P.O.O. received. Your suggestions will be duly considered.

The Highland Ceilidh.—The answer to the many enquiries and complaints regarding its non-appearance last month is, that it was unavoidably crushed out for want of space.

The Prophecies of Coinneach Odhar Fiosaiche.—The Brahan Seer, by Alex Mackenzie of the Celtic Magazine.—We regret no more copies can be supplied as it is out of print. Mr Noble, bookseller, Castle Street, to whom we refer R. M'L. and P. M'R., has a few copies left.

Gaelic Teaching in Highland Schools.—An article on the subject will appear in the next—the April—number. It is impossible to please everybody all at once, and it is just as well that we delayed discussing such an important question until the Celtic Magazine had secured an acknowledged position as a representative mirror of moderate and intelligent Highland opinion.

In answer to "A. R.'s" query in No. III., asking which is the "best standard for Gaelic orthography?" permit me to say that I do not know of any standard upon which any two writers of Gaelic absolutely agree; but, on the whole, I think the orthography of the Gaelic Bible is now, with very slight modification, adopted generally by the best writers, so much so, that it may now be considered the best and safest standard of Gaelic orthography to follow. Most of those who read and write Gaelic learnt to read it first out of the Gaelic Scriptures, so that they are more acquainted with their orthography, and naturally prefer to read and write it.—Deer's Grass.

"Macaoidh" wishes to get information regarding the famous pipers—the Mackays of Gairloch—the most celebrated of whom was John, or "Iain Dall." John's father—Ruairidh Dall—came to Gairloch from Lord Reay's country; and, no doubt, belonged to that sept—the chief branch of the Mackays. I am not aware of the cause which led Ruairidh Dall to leave his own country, but it is well known that his son often visited the country of his ancestors, and that Lord Reay was one of his patrons. On one occasion, when on his way to visit his lordship, the "Blind Piper" was informed at Tongue of the death of his patron, when he at once composed that magnificent poem "Coire 'n-Easain," than which there is nothing more truly beautiful in the Gaelic language, and which would, by itself, immortalize the fame of any man. There are some of his descendants, on the female side, still living in Gairloch, but none of them ever gave any signs of possessing in the slightest degree the musical or poetical talents of their progenitors. I am told some of the family are still living in America, who continue to inherit the musical genius of the "Blind Pipers" of Gairloch, and will be glad, in common with "Macaoidh," if some of your North British American readers will supply any information regarding them.—Cailleach a Mhuillear.

The Rev. Mr Lachlan Mackenzie of Lochcarron, and "Alastair Buidhe," the Gairloch Bard.—It is well known that these good and distinguished men (each in his own way) were great friends, and both composed poems of considerable merit. I heard it stated that, on one occasion, during one of Alastair's visits to his friend "Mr Lachlan," the famous divine requested the bard to compose a poem on the "Resurrection of Christ." To this he demurred and told Mr Lachlan in Gaelic that "he knew more about such matters himself, and should try his own hand on such an elevated theme." "Hud a dhuine," says Mr. Lachlan, "cha'n fhaod gun tig eadar cairdean mar sin. Ni mise 'n deilbh 's dean thusa 'n fhighidh. (Hut man, friends must not cast out in that manner, I'll do the warping but you must do the weaving.) The poem—a very fine one I am told—was composed by the bard and approved by the divine; and I would esteem it a great favour if some of your readers would supply a copy of it. It has never been published as far as I know. Indeed, the only pieces of Alastair Buidhe's, although he composed many, besides having a hand in several of Wm. Ross', which were ever published, are "Tigh Dige na Fir Eachannach" and "Clann Domhnuill mhor nan Eileanan" (the latter unacknowledged by the publisher), and his elegy on Bailie Hector of Dingwall, given in a recent number of the Celtic Magazine in the "Highland Ceilidh."—Lochcarron from Home.


The following amendments to the text have been made:

p. 133 "of" changed to "off"; "similtude"  changed to "similitude";

p. 137 "Cilliechroist" changed to "Cilliechriost";

p. 139 "annhilate" changed to "annihilate";

p. 140 comma added after "you request";

p. 142 comma replaced by full stop after "clannishness";

p. 143 "waived" changed to "waved";

p. 147 "numer" changed to "number";

p. 148 quotation marks before "Fhuair mi" deleted;

p. 153 quotation marks have been tentatively added after "Superintendent of Argyle";

p. 155 "superstitution" changed to "superstition";

p. 156 colon changed to full stop at end of last line of "Flora, Star of Armadale";

p. 159 "everbody" changed to "everybody";

p. 162 full stop added after "Fiosaiche".

The spellings "CILLECHRIOST" and "CILLIECHRIOST", "Inverary" and "Inveraray" appear in this text.

The word "bell" in the line "In the blue and fragrant bell" on p. 137 should possibly be "dell" but has been left unchanged.

"Pichequr" on p. 150 should probably be "Pichegru" but has been left unchanged.