A work on Gaelic music is in course of preparation, when that appears there will be another element of comparison. Meantime those who are curious in such matters may hear bagpipes in nearly all the European countries where Celts have been. I have heard the pipes in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, I believe they are in Albania, and I have heard tell of something of the kind in the Himalayan mountains. They are to be seen in the old English prints, and old German pictures; and the other ancient Gaelic musical instrument, the harp, is to be found all over the world. Who first invented these is a question yet to be solved, but both are sufficiently old.
In 1627 a certain Alexander MacNaughton, of that ilk, was commissioned to raise a body of Highland bowmen, and on January 15, 1628, he wrote to the Earl of Morton, from Falmouth, where he had been driven with his men by stress of weather. He says1 –
… “(and withal) that I your L. will haue clothis for them quhen it sall pleise god that they come to the Ile of Wicht, for your L, knowis althow they be men of personagis, they cannot muster befoir your L. with thair Trewis and blew cappis.”
Whether this means that they wore trewis, or had none to wear, does not clearly appear, but the postscript seems to imply the latter. He says –
“My L. as for newis frome our selfis our bagg pypperis and Marlit Plaidis serwitt us to guid wise in the persuit of ane man of warr that hetlie followit us.”
These men, therefore, wore tartans, and followed the pipes, and as they were bound to join the forces of King Charles I. they were a Highland regiment in embryo. It appears that the piper, Allester Caddell, was followed by a boy, and pipers still claim to be exempt from menial service. There was also “Harrie McGra, harper, fra Larg,” and another piper; and as they were one hundred on the roll, they had a tolerable band of national music. At the end of the roll is the remark –
“To be disposed of be the Erle of Morton. They haue bene deir guests.”
They were shipped at “Lochkilcherane,” 11th of December, 1627, and it is surmised that they must have joined their countrymen and Gustavus Adolphus.
And now, in conclusion, let me recommend the study of Gaelic to Scotch antiquaries. Their worthy president lately expressed a wish to be able to knock up the dead, by the help of a table, to answer some vexed questions:- he could get nothing even from them without knowing the language of his departed countrymen.
In the preceding pages, strange Gaelic witnesses dressed in vellum and parchment and tattered brown paper, and some few in gay attire of green and gold – queer characters, who live far up the stream of time – have appeared to answer questions, and have told a great deal about the Ossianic controversy. A good number of Lowlanders have been summoned from the past, and have deponed, sometimes in very bad language, that they knew of the Feinne, and thought them bad company, but Celtic gods.
A good number of Welsh and Breton witnesses have been called, and have confirmed what the rest had asserted. A few Icelanders, Norwegians, Germans, and Frenchman, A Carthagenian, and some Egyptians, Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Aryans, have said a few words. A good many Highland hills, and a few Edinburgh porters, have said their say; and the best sort of clairvoyance, as it seems to me, for my lowland countrymen to aim at, is to clear their eyes from lowland prejudice, and take a look at Gaelic, when they want to find out something which happened before that language was driven into corners. A large proportion of the names about Edinburgh are Gaelic; but no one there will look so near home as the first Highland porter for an explanation of their meaning. Men would rather go to Wales or Brittany than look at home for anything “British,” and even Sir Walter Scott, who wrote amongst a Gaelic population, made the strangest of mistakes when he used Gaelic words.
As I have done my best to make peace between Celt and Celt, and Celt and Saxon, I wished to end with a peaceful Gaelic quotation; but having searched right through divers song books, I have utterly failed to discover one that will suit. Bards are a pugnacious race. I can only say with Motherwell and the Gaelic proverb –
“Gree, bairnies, gree.”
“‘S e deireadh gach cogaidh sìth.”
The end of each strife is peace.
Even the strife and confusion of tails, which some ancient Gaelic artist imagined and depicted centuries ago; even the “Ossianic controversy,” and its confusion of tongues and arguments; “Mythology;” “West Highland Tales;” even this lengthy postscript and its tail-piece – all have a beginning, a middle, and