An geamheadh, 1906



Download 1.33 Mb.
Page1/6
Date08.12.2018
Size1.33 Mb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6








Guth na Bliadhna
leabhar iii.) AN GEAMHEADH, 1906. [aireamh i.
a' chrois-tara

Tha Eachdraidh Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba cosmhuil ri aon de na h-innleachdan diomhair sin ris an abrar kaleidoscope's a' Bheurla. Tha i, mar gu'm b'ann, air a dheanamh suas air fad le mòran de chriomagan beaga dhathan anns nach 'eil runsuidhichte, no riaghailteachd, r'a faicinn. Tha cogadh no fead a' leantainn air muin fead ann, mar tha tonn a' tighinn air muin tuinne air tràigh na fairge, gus mu dheireadh, is èiginn do'n fhear-amhairc a shùilean a thoirt air ais, air dha 'bhi ceannsaichte agus imcheisteach, 's air a dheanamh dall ach beag leis.

'S e so a' chùis a thaobh luchd-leughaidh, aig nach 'eil an t-àm no an toil a dhol a stigh innte. Cha 'n 'eil iad a' faicinn ann ar n-Eachdraidh dad 'sam bith ach trioblaid agus còmhstri. Tha ar cùisean pràbach fèin 'gan cur fo dhoilleireachd ro-mhòr; agus o'n a tha iad 'gan tuigsinn an rathad cumhann, 's ann mar sin tha iad a' leugh­adh Eachdraidh. Is iomadh neach a tha mar so 's an t-saoghal air fad. An ni sin nach 'eil soilleir dhoibh an toiseach, cha 'n 'eil iad a' ghabhail ris air chòir air bith. Is toil leo a mhàin nithean ro-fhaicsinneach, so-thuigsinn. Mur 'eil Eachdraidh, no dad 'sam bith eile, a dh'ainmeachadh sinn, rèidh,


soirbh, aon-fhillte, agus direach mar is àill leo a bhith, air ball fàsaidh iad seachd sgith; agus ann an ùine ghoirid, seargaidh iad gu tur. Tha an fheadhainn so cosmhuil ris an t-siol a chuireadh anns na h-àitean creagach. Chual iad am Facal Naomh le gairdeachas; ach cha robh freumh aca annta fèin. Mhairidh iad car tamuill, mar an ceudna; ach an uair a thig àmhgar, no duilgheadas 'sam bith, seargaidh iad air falbh gu grad.

Ach, saor o choghaidhean agus fheadaibh, cha 'n 'eil ar n-Eachdraidh fèin cho duilich a thuigsinn, dubharach, agus air a chur thar a' chèile, mar a tha mòran a' cur oirre. Gun teagamh, tha iomadh ni innte a tha fuaighte ris a' Ghàidhealtachd, 's an dòigh, agus 's an tomhas a tha dualach d'ar dùthaich; ach is e so seòrsa de dh'aodainn-fuadain a mhàin, agus's an taobh a stigh dhith, tha gach ni rèidh, soileir, agus so-thuigsinn gu lèir. Tha ar n-Eachdraidh fèin mar shealladh air dùthaich fad air astar, anns am bheil, air tùs, beanntan agus bailtean, sruthan agus coilltean, gleanntan agus machraichean air an cur thàr a' chèile air dòigh nach 'eil gu tur soilleir. Ach, ann an ùine bhig, 's air do'n t-sùil a' fàs gnathaichte ris, thig gach ni ann rèidh, riaghailteach, agus mar is còir da 'bhi.

Tha Eachdraidh Gaidhealtachd na h-Alba air a roinn gu lèir an tri earrannan. Tha a' chiad earrann o theachd Eigh Fhearghais gu ruig blàr Srath Chathruaidh (1130). Tha an dara earrainn a' tighinn a nuas o'n bhliadhna sin gu ruig adhar­tachadh Mhic Dhòmhnuill nan Eilean, 's a' bhliadhna 1476; agus tha an treas earrann a' tighinn a nuas o'n àm sin gu ruig "Bliadhna Thearlaich," agus blàr Chuil-fhodair (1746).

Cha 'n 'eil e duilich Eachdraidh Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba a thuigsinn gu ruig bliadhna arbhar­tachadh Mhic Dhòmhnuill nan Eilean, a chionn gu'm bheil i air a sgriobhadh gu soilleir an Each­draidh choitchionn na h-Alba. Ach an deigh do Eigh Seumas Mac Dhòmhnull nan Eilean a chur fo smachd, agus an tiodal uaibhreach, cumhachdach, sin a thoirt air falbh uaith, cha 'n 'eil e cho soirbh a leigeadh ris dhith; a chionn gu'n robh an tubaist ud 'n a ceann-aobhar dhuinn chum gach ànraidh agus diobraidh a thachair oirnn an deigh sin; agus o'n a tha e 'n a ceann-aobhar dhuinn chum gach " ceannairc" agus còmhstri a thachair anns a' Ghàidhealtachd an deigh bàis Mhic Dhòmhnuill nan Eilean.

Ach, roimh an àm ud, cha 'n eil e duilich Eachdraidh na h-Alba a thuigsinn, mar a thubhairt sinn mu thrath; do bhrigh roimhe 'n tubaist sin, cha robh 's an duthaich air fad ach dithis chumh­achdan —'s e sin ri ràdh, a'chumhachd Ghàidheal­ach, agus a'chumhachd nach robh Gàidhealach idir. Ach air do Mhac Dhòmhnuill nan Eilean a bhith air a chur fo smachd, agus a thiodal uaibhnach a bhith air a thoirt air falbh uaith leis an Eigh, thuit Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba fo aimhreit anabarr ro mhòr, a chionn nach robh neach 'sam bith's an dùthaich gu lèir aig an robh ughdarras cho mòr, 's cho farsuinn r'ar cuisean fèin a chuir air adhart, agus Gàidheal na h-Alba a dheanamh 'n an aon.

Tha Eachdraidh na h-Alba a' leigeil ris duinn gu soilleir ciod e an t-aobhar a bh'ann chum gach cogadh agus fead a bh'ann eadar Gàidheal na dùthcha agus na coigrich a bha 'n taobh a stigh dhith, an deigh bàis an dara Eigh Calum (1034). Thug esan oidhirp an leantuinn-rioghail a chur gu taobh, agus a chinneadh fèin a shocrachadh air cathair rioghail na h-Alba, ni nach bu choir dha­san a dheanamh; oir a rèir cleachdainnean agus laghanna na dùthcha, b'e Lulaig Mhic Ghillecom-gain (Righ Mhoiridh) a bha 'n a fhior-oighre do'n chrùn aig an àm ud. Thoisich, leis a sin, gach trioblaid, culaidh-fharmaid, agus còmhstri a thachair oirnn an deigh sin, an lorg a' ghlacaidh eucoraich ud. Lean Gàidheil na dùthcha taobh teaghlaich Mhoiridh, agus chath na Sasunnaich agus coigrich eile 'n an aghaidh. Sheas ar dùthaich fèin anns an staid chunnartach mhi-fhiosraich aimhreitich ud gu ruig rioghachadh a' chiad Righ Dhaibhidh, an uair, 's a bhliadhna 1130, mar a thubhairt sinn mu thrath, thug an righ sin buaidh air teaghlaich Mhoiridh air blàr Srath Chathruaidh, agus aig a' cheart àm, dh'aonaich e an dùthaich sin ris fèin.

Thoisich a' chòmhstri sgriosail so, mar a thug sinn fainear a cheana, le connsachadh mu chòir-sheilbh air cathair-rioghail na h-Alba. Cha robh i air tùs 'n a spàirn eadar Gàidheal is Gall idir. Bha fir teaghlaich Athuil agus fir teaghlaich Mhoiridh 'n an Gàidheil araon; agus o'n a bha e mar sin, b'e droch-còrdadh a mhàin a bha eadar an dà theagh­laich Ghàidhealach. Ach, is ann mar a chaidh an spàirn so air a h-adhart, is ann mar sin a tha e 'toirt a mach ceum air cheum gu soilleir co dhiù gach ni a bha fillte ann, gu h-àraidh gur h-e cath eadar Gàidheal agus Gall a bh'ann. B'e teaghlach Athuil a thoisich a' chluich chunnartach, fhuilteach ud; agus is ann do bhrigh nach urrainn doibh an cùisean fèin a chuir air adhart gun chobhair, gu'n do ghuidh iad air Sasunnaich na h-Alba 'thighinn 'gan cuideachadh. Aig an àm cheudna, thoisich righrean teaghlaich Athuil gu bhith 'n an riagh­ladairean Sasunnach. Dh'atharraich iad àrd-bhaile na dùthcha o Sgàin gu Dùn Eideann : b'e Righ Daibhidh a thug a steach do'n dùthaich so na cleachdainnean riaghailteach sin ris an abrar am

Feudal System's a' Bheurla; agus air iomadh dòigh eile thug iad oidhirp air Gàidheal na h-Alba a chuir fo aimheal.

Ach, cha robh so, mar bu dualach duinn, tait­neach do mhuinntir na Gàidhealtachd. Dh'èirich muinntir Mhoiridh fo armachd a rìs agus a rìs, agus muinntir Ghàidhealach eile maille riu, an aghaidh righrean na h-Alba, agus an aghaidh an cleachdaidhean coigreachail cèin. Anns a' bhli­adhna 1093 dh'èirich Gàidheil na h-Alba air fad fo armachd, agus le Dòmhnull Bàn, Mac dara Righ Calum, air an ceann, thilg iad a mach na Sasunnaich agus coigrich eile as an rioghachd. Anns a' bhliadhna 1130, dh'èirich muinntir na Gàidhealtachd fo armachd air taobh Aonghais Righ, no Morair, Mhoiridh, agus ann an ùine ghoirid an deigh sin, dh'èirich iad a rìs chum "Calum Mac Aoidh" a chur air cathair riaghail na dùthcha. Anns a' bhliadhna 1153, bha "ceann­airc" Ghàidhealach ann air son Shomhairle Righ nan Eilean. Anns a' bhliadhna 1164, bhris Somh-airle a rìs a stigh do dh'Alba, le armailt mòr de mhuinntir nan Eilean agus de mhòr-thir na dùthcha comhla ris chum an riaghladh Sasunnach a chur air falbh, agus crùn na h-Alba a ghlacadh mar a chuid fèin. Anns a' bhliadhna 1174, bha "ceann­airc " Ghàidhealach eile ann air taobh iar-dheas na dùthcha. B'e Dòmhnull Bàn a thog a' " cheannairc " Ghàidhealach sin a thachair an Alba anns a' bhli­adhna 1181, agus ann an ùine bhig an deigh sin, dh'èirich Guthred Mac Uilleim fo armachd, agus mòran de mhuinntir Ghàidhealach comhla ris.

A nis, ciod is ciall do'n chogadh so uile ? An e a mhàin, gu'n do chuir muinntir Mhoiridh, agus Gàidheil eile, an teaghlach Mhoiridh air cathair rioghail na dùthcha? Gun teagamh, is ann mar sin a bha e an tomhas mòr; ach cha'n ann buileach. Is cinnteach gu'n do chog ar sinnsirean-ne air son na chis sin, ach cha'n ann air son sin a mhàin; oir am bitheantas bha an shilean-ne ri chisean agus còirean mòran ni 's mò na sin. Dh'èirich iad fo armachd air an son fèin, 's an dùthcha, an cainnt, air son an cleachdainnean fèin agus Alba, agus an rioghachd air fad. Is ann mar sin a bha, mar tha Eachdraidh 'ga dearbhadh gu soilleir dhuinn, agus is ann mar sin a bhitheas a rìs, ma bhitheas sinn fèin fireannach, dileas, seasmhach a thaobh cainnt is dùthcha.

A nis, ciod a thachair an Alba an deigh do mhuinntir Mhoiridh a bhith air an cur fo smachd le ard-righrean na dùthcha a bhuineadh do theagh­laich Athuil ? Gu grad, chaidh a' chumhachd agus an seasamh uasal is euchdail a bha aca mar riochdairean Gàidhealach thairis gu righrean nan Eilean. Chuir iad umpa fèin an fhalluing bhoidheach Ghàidheal­ach, agus sheas iad a mach fad re iomadh bliadhna mar diuraidhean nan Gàidheal. B'e Somhairle a spion a' bhratach Gàidhealach a mach a' làmhan fàilinneach Mhorairean Mhoiridh, agus a thog i an àird ann am measg nan Eilean. B'e Somhairle a chuir sios mar dhileab a' bhratach so d'a luchd-leanmhuinn fèin, agus a shuidhich a rìs, agus a shin-a-mach an t-seann Bheul-Aithris Ghàidhealach. B'e a' bhratach so, air an robh " Cainnt is Dùthaich " sgriobhta (theagamh ged nach robh e soilleir air tùs) a thug Dòmhnull nan Eilean an àird 's a' bhliadhna 1411, oir 's gann a ruigear a leas a dhearbhadh gur e crùn na h-Alba air an robh e 'cumail sùla, 'nuair a shiubhail e le armailt mòr o na h-Eileanaibh chum catha a chur 'an aghaidh nan Sasunnach. Tharruingeadh an rùn ceudna a stigh ionnsuidh inntinnean an luchd-leanmhuinn

a bha aige. Dh'innis iad gu follaiseach gu'n robh iad 'n an riaghlaidearan air leith, agus air am bonn fèin. Dhealbh iad airgiod air an son fèin, agus rinn iad còrdadh ri rioghachd chèin eile. Tha cuid ag ràdh, an lorg so, gu'n robh iad 'n am fir-bhrathaidh, fir-cheannairc a thaobh righ is dùthcha; ach cha b'ann mar so idir a bha iad. Bha iad a' glèidheadh Beul-Aithris nan Gàidheal. A' bhrat­ach Ghàidhealach air an robh iad air an cuir an seilbh, bha iad mar so a' cumail suas, le dubhlan, agus gu buannachdail. Thubhairt iad-fèin gu foll­aiseach, agus ann an litir a sgriobh fear dhuibh a dh'ionnsuidh an righ Shasunnaich, gu'n robh iad 'n an riaghlaidearan air leith, air am bonn fèin, agus gu'n robh iad, mar a bha an sinnsirean 'n an nàimh­dean do righ na h-Alba, agus do'n dùthaich sin a bhuineas da.

Ach, air do'n tiodal so a bhi air a thoirt air falbh leis an righ, thuit dùthaich nan Gàidheal air fior droch làithean. Is ann mar dhuine gun cheann, gun ghàirdeanan, gun chridhe, gun ghuth a dh'fhàs ar dùthaich-ne gu grad an lorg na tubaiste sin. Tha cuid ag ràdh gu'n robh e 'n a ni maith air son Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba gu'n robh Tigh­earnan nan Eilean air an cuir as leis an righ, a chionn gu'n robh iadsan 'n an ain-tighearnan os cionn mòran fhineachan eile ; agus air do Dhòmh-null a bhi air a chur fo smachd, leigeadh fa sgaoil na fineachan eile so. Ar leinn, gu'm bheil iadsan gu tur air am mealladh a thaobh a' bheachd so. An lorg ceannsachaidh nan Eilean, chaill a' Ghàidh­ealtachd gu grad, agus an tomhas mòr a' chumh­achd a bha aice anns na linntean a dh'fhalbh chum leanailteachd, chum fèin-ceangaltas. Fhad's a bha Tighearnan nan Eilean air an ceann, bha Gàidheil na h-Alba làidir, neartmhor, agus aonnichte ri

chèile gu h-iomlan. Ach cha b'ann mar sin a bha 'nuair a thug righrean na h-Alba buaidh orra. Thugadh a' chumhachd a bha aca uatha, agus Bratach nan Gàidheal maille rithe; ach cha d' thàinig ni air bith eile an àite na bha air a thilgeadh sios. Bha Dòmhnuill nan Eilean air a sgrios ; ach cha robh e comasach do righrean na h-Alba dùth­aich nan Gàidheal a chuir air a bonn fèin. Dh' èirich fine 'an aghaidh fine, agus teaghlach an aghaidh teaghlaich. Cha robh neach 'sam bith ann aig an robh ùghdarras na's leòir chum a' chòmstri sgriosail fhuilteach ud a chumail fodha. Gun cheann-feadhna, gun bhratach, gun chumh-achd-teis-meadhonach, chaidh a' Ghàidhealtachd uile am miosad gu grad. Uidh air uidh, thàinig a steach do dhùthaich nan Gàidheal droch chle-achdainnean gun àireamh, aimhreit, eas-aonachd, creachan, mortadh, agus gach seòrsa uilc eile. Cha n-aobhar foghnaidh dhuinn gu'n robh na Gàidheal 'n am muinntir aineolach, allmharach, aimhreiteach aig an àm mhuladach sin. Ach, fa dheoidh, thàinig an àrd-righ gu Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba, agus 'n a chois, aineolas, buirbe, cleachdainnean is luchd-comhairle Sasunnach, a' Bheurla, agus mòran ni eile nach 'eil a' cordadh dhuinn idir.

Agus a nis, 's ged a thàinig an àrd-righ ionn-suidh dùthcha nan Gaidheal, thuit Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba da-rireadh air droch làithean ; agus is ann mar so a bha i air fad mhòran bhliadhnaichean a bha fathast ri tighinn oirre. Gu grad, chuir an Crùn a chùl ris a Ghàidheal's ris a' Ghaidhlig, agus thug e air falbh leis gu dranndanach, fèin-chùiseach gach cothrom agus tachartas a thàinig's a rathad chum dùthaich nan Gàidheal a chuir am feabhas. Mhair an rian so fad iomadh bliadhna ; ach fa dheòidh rinneadh agus chuireadh a mach innleach­dan-riaghlaidh eile. Fhuair a' chiad Eigh Tearlach a. mach agus a chuid-cùairtearan —'s e sin ri ràdh iadsan a bha 'cumail taobh ris 'an aghaidh luchd-leanmhuinne Chrombheill—gu'n robh na Gàidheil 'n an gaisgich threuna, agus, gun teagamh {foillseachadh na 's mò na sin dha'n taobh fèin), gu'm bitheadh iad ro fheumail dhoibh mar chom­panaich an àm doibh a' dol a chogadh an aghaidh an nàimhdean-ne. So, a nis, am bann a chaidh a dheanamh eadar righ na h-Alba agus muinntir na Gàidhealtachd. Thubhairt a' Chùirt nach buineadh iadsan ri cùisean is gnothaichean na Gàidhealtachd ; agus cheadaich cinn-fheadhna dùthcha nan Gàidh­eal, air an dara làimh, a' bhratach rioghail a chumail suas, mar a b'fheàrr a dh'fhaodadh iad. Gu dearbh ■chàraich am bann so buil neònach, bhreisleachal, air muinntir na Gàidhealtachd; do bhrigh gu'n d'thug e orra a' bhi 'n an luchd-cumail suas agus 'n an luchd-dionaidh nan Stiubhairteach —an t-aon teagh­lach an Alba air fad leis an robh Gàidheil na dùthcha am bitheantas air an cumail fodha's air an docharaicheadh air dòigh a bu mhutha. Gun teagamh, dh'fheudadh mòran a bhith air a chur an cèill mu na nithibh so; ach cha'n 'eil àite againn air an son aig an àm so. Dh'fheuch sinn r'a leigeil ris •da'r luchd-Ieughaidh cia mar a thachair do Ghàid­healtachd na h-Alba a' bhith 'n a cùil-taic, agus 'n a dionadair do na Stiubhairtich, leis an robh i am bitheantas air a cur am mi-shuim, agus cho mòr air a dearmad leo fad mòran bhliadhnaichean. Ach, ged nach robh an co-aontachadh so gu h-iomlan maith air son dùthcha nan Gàidheal, oir thug e a steach do'n Ghàidhealtachd droch spiorad cogaidh is aineolais, agus a tha maireann gus an latha an diugh ; gidheadh, tha sinn ag aideachadh gu'n robh i ni maith a thaobh aoin nithe co dhiù—is e sin ri


io

A' Chrois-Tara

Gaelic Confederation

ii


ràdh, gu'n do chum e suas a' bhratach Ghàidhealach,, agus gu'n do ghlèidh e a' Bheul-Aithris Ghàidheal­ach air dhòigh nach robh comasach, theagamh, do rud 'sam bith eile a dheanamh. Bha roimhe so daoine cealgach, fèin-chùiseach ann am measg nan Gàidheal, mar a tha, 's mar a bhitheas, gun teag­amh, gu crich an t-saoghail so; ach a dh'aindeoin sin, cha robh a' chuid bu mhò de mhuinntir na Gàidhealtachd 'n an daoine cealgach, faoine, fèin-chùiseach aig an àm ud, ni 's mò na tha iad an diugh. Chog ar Sinnsirean an aghaidh Chrom-bheill, 's an aghaidh Righ Uilleim, s an aghaidh na h-Aonachd, agus air taobh an 8mh Righ Seumas agus a mhic Prionnsa Tearlach, cha'n ann a chionn gu'n deachaidh am bribeadh le òr is airgiod a chum sin a dheanamh, ach a chionn gu'n d'thug iad gràdh do'n Gàidhealtachd; gu'n d'thug iad gràdh do'n bhrataich againn, agus a chionn gu'n d'thug iad, mar an ceudna, gràdh 's onoir da'r Beul-Aithris Ghàidhealach.

Agus tha so 'gar 'toirt air ar n-aghaidh gus ar ceann-teagaisg a rìs. Agus is e sin ri ràdh ann an aon fhocal a' Chrois-Tara, no, "is ann mar so a bha, agus is ann mar so a bhitheas," mur bi sinne lag, faoin, mi-chreidmheach agus mi-dhileas a thaobh nan daoine o'n d'thàinig sinn. Is fior, gu labhairt an cainnt chumanta, gu bheil ar làithean-cogaidh mar o shean. Chuir sinn seachad gach claidheamh agus dag, biodag agus sleagh. Ach a' bratach bhoidheach Ghàidhealach air am bheil na focail misneachail, brosnachail, beothachail, a leanas air an sgriobhadh gu soilleir, gu comharraichte, agus, ar leinn, gu bràth " Cainnt agus Dùthaich" ; is e sin gu dearbh fathast ann ar measg. Is leinn fèin a' bhratach bhoidheach sin : is leinn fèin an t-sean Bheul-Aithris Ghàidhealach. Togaibh suas a' bhratach gu h-àrd! Togaibh an sean iolach ris na speuraibh 1 " Albainn ! Albainn ! "—an t-sean chath-gairm Ghàidhealach. An diugh an t-àm taitneach ! An diugh an uair iomchuidh!
gaelic confederation

The drawing together of the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland is a natural consequence of the language movement in both countries, and that that move­ment should have awakened a general desire for more intimate international relations is an en­couraging and gratifying feature of our common agitation. We have already drawn attention in these pages to the antiquity of that correspondence, and to the desirability of re-establishing it upon a firm and enduring basis. That the Gaels of Ireland and of Scotland should unite to advance objects and aspirations held in common by them is at once a measure of the simplest precaution, and the most obvious expediency. As we have already remarked more than once, we are of the same race with the Irish, we enjoy a common literature, much of our history is a common possession, our aims and ob­jects are identical, and our languages are nearly the same. Under these circumstances, it is obvious that not to unite for purposes of offence and defence would be to expose ourselves to the charge of neglecting to utilise means and resources which Providence has placed in our way; and inasmuch as neglect of this kind is justly universally derided as the unfailing characteristic of weak statesmen and feeble, indecisive measures, we venture to express the hope that men and conduct of this sort will on no account be suffered to play havoc with the interests of the Gael.

There is no need to insist at this particular conjuncture of our affairs on the purely historical and antiquarian aspect of that Union and corre­spondence which used to subsist between the Gaels of Ireland and those of Scotland. We have already dealt with that topic ; and in view of the words of abounding and imperishable wisdom which one immeasurably greater, wiser and better than our­selves uttered concerning it many centuries ago, we hold that it would be almost an impertinence to re-open the question. Said Naomh Colum Cille at the famous Convention of Drumcat, which was organised for the purpose of establishing the rela­tions which should subsist between the two great branches of the Gaelic brotherhood, namely the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Scotland, " 11 have, O High King and Princes of the Gael, one word more to say in this business. It is plain to every person who has been looking for any length of time upon the Gael of Alba and on the way they have succeeded against every foe who attempted to interfere in any way with them, that the hand of God is with them and against their foes. Hence I say it is not a very wise thing for the Gael of Ire­land to accept any advice, or to adopt any purpose of action which would be in danger of dragging them into hatred for the Gael of Alba, and perhaps into a war with them. It is friendship and affection and love that ought to be between the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Scotland, and not hatred or war. If the hand of God is with the Gael of Alba, against their foes, the hand of God will be with the Gael of Ireland as long as the friendship which ought to be is between them and the Gael of Alba.'

" Colum Cille sat down. The Ardrigh stood up.

" ' Kings and nobles of the Irish,' said he,

' both clergy and laity, I think it is as well for us all to leave this business to the arbitration and settlement of Colum Cille himself. It must be that the Ardrigh of Ireland has some dominion or power or authority over the Gael of Alba. All I want is to find out what that dominion is, and to put a name on it, and to enforce it. When that is done we shall all understand each other. I now, in the presence of this Convention, ask Colum Cille himself to take that matter in hand and to settle it, and we shall all be satisfied with whatever settlement he makes.' " The Ardrigh sat down. Colum Cille stood up. " 'High King of Erin,' said he, 'and ye princes and nobles of the Gael, the whole question has been already settled, generously settled. There is henceforward no danger that hatred or war shall arise between those two tribes of the Gael. There is a disciple of mine here, and he has an exact knowledge of every sort of relation that has taken place between the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Alba, from the first day an Irish person went east­wards until the day we now have. He has an exact knowledge also of the nations of Europe and of their history, and of every occasion on which matters stood between two races of people as they now stand between the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Alba. From the knowledge which he possesses he will find out for us what sort of bond it is that exists now between the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Alba. He will, as the Ardrigh has said, put a name on the bond. The settlement of the question was put upon me. I now put the settlement of the question upon my pupil, Colman, the son of Comgellan.'

" Colman, the son of Comgellan, then made the settlement, and here is how he made it:—

"' That the hosting of the Gael of Alba shall be always with the men of Erin, because the hosting belongs to the original stock; but that their spoils and their ships shall belong to the men of Alba.'

"It is in those words we find the settlement which Colman made, but historians are not very well agreed among themselves as to the force and significance of the words. Some of them say that the settlement left the Gael of Alba under the dominion of the Ardrigh of Ireland. Others of them say it did not, but that it is how the Gael of Alba were bound to help the Gael of Ireland in time of need, and the Gael of Ireland to help the Gael of Alba in the same way; that no do­minion was given to any side of them over the other side.

"When the settlement was made Aodh, the Ardrigh, ordered an enactment to be written, and that the will of the Convention should approve the enactment, so that it should have the strongest force of law. He asked Colum Cille to draw up the enactment. Colum Cille did so. The enactment was composed and written. Then it was read for the Convention, and the Convention sanctioned it. That made firm law of it. According to that en­actment the Gael of Alba were free for ever from any claim of tribute from the Ardrigh of Ireland, and from any other sort of dominion. It was not how Aodh, the Ardrigh, relished that, but it was how he saw plainly that the mind of the Conven­tion was determined on it, and that it was no use for him to be trying to resist it. But for the in­fluence Colum Cille possessed in the Convention and the reverence all the people had for him, and but for the dread which the Ardrigh had of him, there was no fear that that settlement or that enactment would have been made. War would have arisen between the Gael of Ireland and the Gael of Scotland, and there was no knowing what would have been the end of it."

Now, the character of the relations which should subsist between the Gael of Scotland and the Gael of Ireland being as above described by Colum Cille, it becomes our bounden duty, no less than our interest, to fall on all available means and measures whereby that ancient and honourable compact may be revived and strengthened, in order that both contracting parties may derive the greatest amount of satisfaction and profit from this natural and necessary union.

It will doubtless be observed that, according to the terms of the compact submitted by the Saint and subsequently endorsed by the Convention, the contracting parties were left free to work out their respective social and political destinies; and to this arrangement we heartily subscribe. The alli­ance is to be not an incorporating Union—a phrase which for obvious reasons stinks in the nostrils of every patriotic Gael in Scotland—but an easy, flexible and statesmanlike arrangement whereby, whilst national independence is, in each case, jeal­ously preserved, a kind of Gaelic confederacy is established for the furtherance of common ends and for the purpose of offering a united resistance to the designs and attacks of ambitious and un­scrupulous enemies. This is the ideal form of Union, and the only thing of the kind, unless we are greatly mistaken, which the political conscience in every civilised country will tolerate in the future. This is the true Union of Hearts—an alliance based not on force and the abnegation, if not the positive destruction, of all national political rights, but on mutual affection and love; on the most powerful of all political motives, namely, the consciousness of possessing and sharing interests and aspirations in common; and lastly, on an identity of fact and tradition in respect of language, history and race. Such a Union as this we strongly advocate in the interests of the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland. We advocate it, too, in the interests of the British Empire itself which, if it is to be maintained here at home, must adapt itself to the altered condi­tions of which we speak by cancelling the present anomalous Unions, and by erecting in their place arrangements which shall be honourable and satis­factory to all the contracting parties. Unionism, as presently constituted, stands condemned. It is repugnant to the feelings of the three Celtic nations inhabiting the British Isles, whose political bond­age is now an affair of the past, and whose re­awakened national aspirations must inevitably travel in the direction of complete separation if English statesmen, who have so much to gain and so little to lose by the kind of friendly accommo­dation we suggest, are not wise enough to profit by their opportunities whilst yet there is time, and, by seasonable concessions (which can leave neither sting nor bitter taste behind them), grant us that which, whether they like it or not, we are every day growing more and more determined to possess, if necessary, at all costs and at all hazards imagin­able. And although in many respects we neces­sarily have not, nor ever can have, the slightest sympathy with Socialism, yet he must needs be a very trifling and shallow political observer indeed who does not or will not perceive that the current of political thought in Europe is now setting strongly, perhaps irresistibly, in that direction, and that the triumph of Socialism will involve the undoing of those means by which powerful nations keep those which are less numerous, less rich and less well-armed than themselves in political sub­jection to them. Indeed, so far is the tendency of the times from going in the direction of Imperialism as some vainly and ignorantly pretend, we hold, on the contrary, that it is progressing in precisely the opposite direction, owing to the spread of socialistic ideas in all the civilised countries of Europe. The days of " big battalions," overgrown fleets and costly and extravagant armaments of all kinds, whereby alone the sacred rights of individuals as well as nations have been ruthlessly violated and trampled on in the past, are fortunately drawing to a close, owing to the spread of the gospel of Socialism; and so far as it makes for peace, dis­armament and the universal recognition of the rights of oppressed nationalities, that otherwise predatory political creed has our unbounded ad­miration, and will always command our unqualified approval and support. We are coming to a time when nation will no more rise against nation, or country against country, at the bidding of a single individual however crooked in his measures or arbitrary in his rule, or at the instigation of a group of selfish and intriguing politicians or financiers. The " Rights of Man" is no empty, high-sounding phrase of doubtful utility, dubious political moral­ity, and, practically, impossible, but is, humanly speaking, an eternal verity, which the nations of the world are rapidly coming to regard as some­thing more than a mere revolutionary shibboleth— as something nobler and better and grander, and, last but by no means least, something infinitely more Christian than the mere party catch-word whereby and wherewith men, not a whit less self-seeking and corrupt than those they designed to supplant, managed in too many cases to gratify their lust of power at the expense of the people, whose spokesmen and agents they impudently and falsely pretended to be.

The subject of Union naturally inclines us to devote a few words at this conjuncture to the dis­cussion of that alliance which makes the greatest figure in our history—we allude, of course, to the compact with France. That connexion was the necessary consequence of the introduction of the feudal system into Scotland, and of that series of disastrous political arrangements which resulted in the gradual transference of the centre of political gravity from the west—its true home—to the east of Scotland. St. Columba's alliance with Ireland was the one which this country ought to have cultivated* and maintained at all costs, and at all hazards. It was not only the safest and soundest one in the interests of both countries, but, being founded on a natural sentiment, being the logical consequence of pre-existing historical facts, it was the only one capable of preserving the kingdom intact, and of saving the common nationality of both parties. The sovereigns of the House of Atholl, however, thought otherwise ; and on what slender and unsatisfactory grounds we too well know. They deliberately set to work to destroy the Gaelic power in Scotland, and having effectually accomplished that unpatriotic object, their suc­cessors on the throne of Alba found themselves face to face with the necessity of finding a work­able substitute for that alliance (in order to balance the power and pretensions of England) elsewhere. Even after the suppression of the Gaelic polity, and the virtual triumph of the feudal system, Scotland might yet have been drawn back, had there been statesmen and a party strong and far-seeing enough to grasp the full meaning of the situation, and to act on the knowledge which that consciousness brought them, to her original principles. But, apparently, the die of the political destinies of our country was cast for at least several hundreds of years ; and by the later feudal sovereigns (of the House of Stuart) the fatal alliance with France was made and maintained. Now, it is obvious that that disastrous policy could have but one of two results, either of which must inevitably, sooner or later, spell ruin (that is absorption) to the lesser of the two powers con­cerned. Either the alliance must endure for all time, in the which case, in obedience to the irre­sistible law of political majorities the lesser must become swallowed up by the greater, and Scotland so become a mere province of France; or the other alternative must no less certainly happen, namely, the connexion must sooner or later be­come incapable of bearing the political strain imposed on it, and, the law of political majorities again taking effect, Scotland, as being the lesser, must inevitably be absorbed by her more power­ful neighbour of England. As a matter of fact the first of these two eventualities was within an ace of coming to pass in the reign of Queen Mary, who, whilst in France, actually signed away the inde­pendence of her country to the French ; and there can be no doubt that had not the so-called Re­formation introduced another and equally hostile influence into Scotland, the Franco-Scottish alliance would soon have degenerated into the one-sided affair in which, sooner or later, it was bound to end.

That pestiferous upheaval—the " Reformation " —saved us, indeed, for a time; but the frying pan is, proverbially, but an indifferent exchange for the fire. Indeed, it is questionable whether of these two unblushing evils, absorption by France is not to be considered as an eventuality preferable to ex­tinction by England. At all events, when two evils which will noways be denied are clamorously striving for precedence, the wise man, and he that is cunning withal, will endeavour to make a shift with that which hails from the greater distance. Besides, absorption by France would at least have temporarily preserved the faith in Scotland— the loss of which, considered entirely from the political point of view, has wrought so great havoc amongst us, and is the cause of existing weaknesses and follies too numerous and perhaps too painful to mention. But, again, in the troubled history of our country, the die was cast adversely to the Gaelic tradition, and in violent and open opposi­tion to the wishes and inclinations, religious as well as political, of the Gaelic people. The " Re­formation " triumphed in the seat of Government, and in the East of Scotland, then more than now (owing to the growth of the great city of Glasgow) the home of political influence and power in Scot­land. The English cause, which was closely associated with it, triumphed also; and the two succeeding centuries witnessed the subjugation of the Gàidhealtachd by the English, and the complete absorption of the Lowland tradition by the national measures of the Saxon power- the two principal events which the policy of the "Reformers" in respect of Church and State, the destruction of the French alliance, and the feudal system with its inevitable tendency towards Anglicisation, was bound, in the natural course of political events, sooner or later to bring about. The seeds of national extinction, and, we are inclined to believe, of religious disruption, were sown far back in our history. The fatal policy pursued by our feudal sovereigns, from the reign of David I. downwards, of exploiting the anti-Celtic fringe at the expense of the Gaelic inhabitants of Scotland, the rightful and natural repositories of political power in the country, culminated at last, as all men of wisdom and foresight must have perceived that those un­patriotic measures if unwisely persisted in were obliged, by reason of their very character and tendencies, to terminate, namely in the destruction of the independence of the Scottish crown and people, through the agency either of absorption by England or annexation by France. Nor are these two consequences, dismal and melancholy though they must necessarily be regarded by every indi­vidual who has a spark of national pride or a particle of patriotism within him, to be considered as by any means exhausting the capacity for destruction and mischief which seems to have been inherent in that mischievous policy. The turbu­lence and barbarity of the Scottish nobles, of which the historian justly complains, the corruption and ignorance of the Church, and the lawlessness and ferocity of the common people under the feudal system, were but reflexes of the bitter struggle waged for so many years between the rival races inhabiting Scotland. The feudal sovereigns them­selves, thanks entirely to their obstinate devotion to that ruinous and tyrannical system, were for the most part either contemptible puppets in the hands of a few unscrupulous and designing men—mere phantoms in the mist of their ridiculous regal pretensions—or ultimately fell victims to their own unprincipled endeavours to yet further enslave the nation, and to drag their country, whether it wished it or not, still deeper into the mire of that feudalism whose goal and object here, as else­where in Europe, were government by " divine right," and the abolition of all constitutional checks and safeguards in favour of tyranny and absolute power. The Gaelic system of Government, imper­fect though it was in many ways, and to which Socialism owes all that is best and sanest in it to-day, was the very antithesis of feudalism ; and it is to the efforts of our feudal sovereigns, and to those of the Normans and others imported or invited into this country by them for the purpose of supporting their pretensions to unconstitutional Government and absolute power, that no small part of the evils and miseries which have inflicted, and continue to inflict, our country must be ascribed. The elective principle was the dominating keynote of the Gaelic system; and when that safeguard was removed by the introduction of slavery and feudalism by David, not only was our political development checked and indefinitely postponed, not only were we, the Gaels of Scotland, whose proud name this country bears, and whose whole soil, mountain and river, loch and forest, town and city, is justly and rightfully ours, robbed of our birthright, oppressed, insulted and despoiled, but the whole country was rudely and roughly torn up by the roots, as it were, and forced into a soil which being uncongenial, even repugnant to it, not only arrested its development and prematurely stunted its growth, but produced so luxuriant a crop of disasters, mischiefs and ills as finally choked our unhappy country altogether. Hence no doubt,

the stained and sordid page of Scottish story. Hence treasons innumerable and tyranny unspeak­able. Hence turbulence, rapine, murder, leagues and bands, covenants, plots and counter-plots. Hence Church corruption and State immorality; hence wars and tumults, risings and feuds, private assassinations and judicial murders ; hence foreign influences, and their attendant evils, partial counsels and unjust laws and ordinances ; and hence, coming more towards our own times, those successive changes and revolutions in Church and State which have robbed us of our independence ; which intro­duced the English influence, and which find us to­day little better, when all is said and done, than a conquered province—the English tripper's Mecca or the Saxon sportsman's Paradise !

We have said above that the understanding with Ireland is the measure which every patriotic Gael, whatever his religion or politics, should en­deavour to promote ; and we venture to repeat our advice. Would that our feudal sovereigns had seen the matter in the same light, and had acted on the counsel so wisely tendered by Saint Columba who, in the light of the Treaty of Drumcat, must surely be regarded as the Gael's great law-giver. But, with the solitary exception of that rousing patriot and far-seeing statesman King Robert the Bruce, the alliance we advocate was entirely neg­lected by them. Instead, the Gael of Scotland was treated as an intruder and an enemy within his own gates; and a policy which might have brought prosperity and contentment to both Scotland and Ireland, and confusion and disappointment to our common enemies, was recklessly cast aside for the glitter and tinsel of feudalism and the French alliance. The natural political affections and


24

Gaelic Confederation

The Gray Kirk

25

tendencies of the country were disregarded, and the policy of Scotland forced into a groove which, as all history shows, was peculiarly repugnant to the original owners of the soil; which so long as the crown existed, failed to obtain the sanction and approval of the Gaelic population ; which kept the country in a state of continual discord and con­fusion, anarchy and bloodshed; which wasted the resources and dissipated the energies of the land in an endless round of feuds and risings; which operated as the curse and blight of our national existence, and which finally left us where we are now, dispossessed and disinherited, landless, poverty-stricken, denationalised and disunited.

But, fortunately, gloomy and unspeakably de­pressing though this picture needs must be in great measure, yet we are not without all hope as regards the future. The recent general election, with which from the purely party point of view this publication is not to be regarded as being any way concerned, if it has proved anything has surely established the fact that the democracy of these Isles is becoming increasingly favourable to the cause of rational national self-government, in spite of the misrepresentation with which those who are hostile to the cause have endeavoured to combat and discredit it. For our own parts, we wish that this great question could be approached from the non-party point of view ; but since the exigencies of party warfare seem to forbid the indulgence of so reasonable a hope, we take this opportunity of saying that in so far as the Liberal programme embraces our cause, and so long as it shall continue favourable to the same, so far, and so long, shall we be favourable to Liberalism. Thanks to that elec­tion, and to the great change of feeling which has swept over the entire country in respect of what is called Home Rule, the Gaels of Scotland and the Gaels of Ireland have now a unique opportunity presented to them—an opportunity of renewing, strengthening and widening the understanding underlying the famous Treaty of Drumcat, an opportunity of living in history again, of re-estab­lishing the Gaelic tradition, of rejoining and carry­ing on the long-disconnected threads of our common story, of making the Gaelic cause the cause of Alba -at large (as once it was), of replanting our flag upon the ruins of the Lowland policy, of marching shoulder to shoulder in serried and irresistible array towards the realisation of our great national ambition—the establishment of a great Gaelic-speaking Confederacy of Nations. God grant that the hand of God may still be with us, and against our foes ! God grant that the tide which has now set in so strongly in favour of the Gaels may be taken at the flood—utilised to its utmost, and that there may be no " moaning at the bar " when next the Gael puts out to sea!
the gray kirk

In a gray valley between hills, shut out from all the world by mist and moors, there lies a village with a little church.

The ruined castle in the reedy loch, by which stand herons fishing in the rank growth of flags of bulrush and hemp-agrimony which fringes it, is scarcely grayer than the hills. The outcrop of the stone is gray, the louring clouds, the slated roofs, the shingly river's bed and the clear water of the stream. The very trout that dart between the stones, or hang suspended where the current joins the linn, look gray as eels.

Green markings on the moors show where once paths the border prickers followed on their wiry nags led towards the south, the land of fatted beeves and well-stored larders, clearly designed by Providence or fate to be the jackman's prey, but long disused, forgotten and grassed over, though with the ineffaceable imprint of immemorial use still clear.

Dark, geometrical plantations of black fir and spruce deface the hills, which nature evidently made to bear a coat of scrubby oak and birch. Wire fences gird them round, the posts well tarred against the weather, and the barbed wire so taut that the fierce winds might use them as ^Eolian harps, could they but lend themselves to song.

A district which the wildness of the past has so impressed, that the main line of railway steals through its corries and across its moors as it were under protest, and where the curlew mocks the engine's whistle with his wilder cry.

The village clusters round the kirk, as bees crowd round their queen, the older houses thatched. Their coping-stones carved with a rope, remain to show how, in the older world, their rustic architects secured their roofs against the blast.

No doubt the hamlet grew between the castle and the church. The jackman of the chief, the sacristan and kindly tenants of the church, ready and near at hand to put on splent and spur, and able to take lance or sprig of hyssop in their hand at the first tinkle of the beil or rout of horn.

The castle in the loch has dwindled to a pile of stones, from which spring alders, birches and syca­mores, whose keys hang yellow in the wind, un­locking nothing but the sadness of the heart, which.

marks their growth, from the decay of the abandoned keep.

A modern mansion set with its shrubberies and paltry planted woods, where once the Caledonian forest sheltered the wild white cattle in its glades, seems out of place in the surrounding gray. Its lodge, with trim-cut laurels and with orcubas and iron gate, run in a foundry from a mould, is trivial, comfortable and modern ; and the low sullen hills appear to scorn it in their fight with time, for they remain unchanged from the bold times of rugging and of rieving, when spearsmen, not a pensioned butler, kept the gate.

The crumbling and decayed stone wall, seclud­ing jealously the boggy meadows of the park, shuts off the modern mansion with its electric light, its motor-cars, its liveried servants and its air of cas­tellated meanness, from the old houses huddling in the wynd. They look towards the chapel with its high-pitched roof, its squat round tower with crenel­lated top and its sharp windows pointed like a lance. It seems to gaze at them, as if it felt they were the only links that time has left, it with its old own world. The eye avoids the modern buildings in the town, the parish church, four square and hideous, with windows like a house, and from the hills falls on the chapel and is satisfied. Only in some old missal, with the illustrations by some monk adscribed to his small round of daily cares, can you behold its equal, as it stands desolate and gray.

The chapel of a race of warriors, men dark and gray as is the stone of which its walls are built, once a lone outpost of the great mother fort in Rome, it lingers after them, sheltering their tombs and speaking of their fame. Instinctively one feels that once its doors stood open, just as it were a mosque or church in lands where faith continues the whole week, and men pray as they eat or sleep, just when they feel inclined, and naturally as birds.

In the green churchyard, whose grassy hillocks wave it like a sea, the long gray tombstones of the undistinguished dead appear like boats that make towards some haven, laying their courses by the beacon of the tower.

The church itself floats like a ship turned bottom upwards on the grassy sea. Its voyage is ended, and the men who once clattered in armour in its aisles and through its nave now sleep below its flags. A maimed ritual and a sterner creed prevail, and those who worship in the church have shown their faith by laying down encaustic tiles over the spur-marked stones on which their fore­bears jangled in their mail. A fair communion table of hewn stone, smug and well-finished and with the wounds upon the bleeding heart all staunched (as one would think), stands where the altar stood, cold and uninteresting, a symbol of the age. Nan ragionam; on every side, lie those who, in their time, carried their wars across the border, and on the bridge at Rome charged on the people who pressed on them, just as they would have charged in Edinburgh, had any other cian presumed to take the croon of the old causeway of the High Street, and brought upon themselves an excom­munication from the Pope.

Stretched under canopies of stone they lie, looking so grim and so impenitent, that one is sure they must be satisfied with their present­ments, if, looking down on their old haunts, they see their images. Many are absent who would have filled a niche right worthily, Tineman and the Black Knight of Jedburgh and others of the house, who, in their time, shook Scotland to the core. But in the middle of the aisle, in leaden caskets hooped with iron and padlocked, lie two hearts. One, that of Archibald who belled the cat. The other heart has travelled much, and in its life beat higher with all generous thoughts than any of its race.

He who possessed it, or was possessed by it, liked ever better, as he said, to hear the laverocks singing than the cheeping of the mouse. His hands were able, all his adventurous life, to keep his cheeks from scars, as he averred in Seville to the Spanish knight who wondered at their absence from his face. Carrying a heart to Palestine, he fell, not in the Holy Land, but on the frontiers of Granada, that last outpost of the Eastern world. The heart he carried lies at Melrose, and his own, sealed fast in lead, soldered perhaps in some wild camp lost in the Ajaràfè of Sevilla, is the chief ornament of the gray chapel of his race.

Set like a ship, the chapel lies in the long waves of sullen hill and moor that roll away to­wards the south.

In its long voyage through the sea of time, crews of wild warriors have clung to it, as their one refuge from the spear of life. Each in their turn have fallen away, leaving it lonely, but still weather-tight and taut; a monument of faith, as some may think, or of good masonry and well-slapped lime, as the profane may say, still sailing on the billowy moors which stretch towards Muir-kirk; so little altered that any one of those who in the past have prayed within its walls, if he returned to a changed world, would cling to it as the one thing he knew.

So it drifts on upon its voyage through time.

R. B. cunninghame graham.

creidhimh agus cainnt

Since our last number was published, the principles on which this publication is conducted (and will continue to be conducted) have been subjected to a good deal of conjecture and criticism on the part of some of our contemporaries in the newspaper press. There appears to be a feeling abroad that a Catholic Review, written by Gaels and in the interests of Gaels, is something in the nature of a " sensation," which time is rapidly changing, or deepening, into a mystery. A critic whose locality need not be specified charged us with starting a propaganda in the interests of the Catholic Church, and being politely informed that that is precisely what we have done, his astonishment and perplexity knew no bounds. The fact that the Catholic Church was here long before the Protestant religion was born or thought of, as the saying goes, does not seem to have occurred to these simple-minded people; and, really, if their attitude and language were not so unreservedly funny, we should be inclined to resent them as a piece of silly impertinence. But it would be indiscreet to quarrel with innocence, when it bears no malice, and is obviously the offspring of an ingenuous mind. There is, too, surely something pathetic about ignorance, when it arises, not from natural causes, but from sheer force of circum­stances, and the operation of laws forced on the victim from without. To judge, too, by appear­ances and by the facts of one's own times, though a popular failing, yet it need not arouse more than a passing resentment. If the heart is sound, the judgment, however whimsical and blundering, can soon be set right. It is your unpleasant person who refuses to be guided by learning, who re­solutely and obstinately shuts eyes and ears to historical truths, that excites our ridicule, and in­vites, as he deserves, our censure. Wilful mis­representation is the snake in the grass which de­serves to be " scotched " as soon as sighted. The merely uninformed—the blushing innocent—once he is brought off from his unlearned ways, is the good •cause's best friend.

So we desire to deal in no recriminations in re­spect of the head above mentioned. Its effect is merely to leave us a little sadder, though not wiser, men. For surely it is regrettable that even one Gael should be found a-wondering what a Catholic propaganda should be doing in the Gàidhealtachd. For our own parts, we reserve our astonishment, as our perplexity, for our Presbyterian friends, who have no earthly business at all to be there.

We have already touched on the part which the Gael of Scotland played at the " Reformation " ; but in view of the general ignorance on the subject, we conceive we cannot do better than to refer to it again. It is an important subject, because design­ing people have misrepresented it; whilst others, not a whit less disingenuous, have refrained from mentioning it altogether. We have lately been perusing a number of Gaelic tracts, obligingly furnished to the Gàidhealtachd by the Society for Promoting Christian Knoivledge, not so much for our spiritual edification, as the incautious reader might be disposed to imagine, as with a view to discovering what their authors might have to say on this very subject. Our discoveries have resulted in a series of mares' nests, if the confirming foregone conclusions by so amusing a process may thus be characterised. The means adopted by these authors is simplicity itself. They omit all reference to the

Highlands, and panegyrise John Knox as the em­bodiment and epitome of all virtues, and as the voice of a unanimous nation. Now, why do they say, in not very good Gaelic, the thing which is not ? Obviously, the answer is easy. Either they do not know about what they are writing (which, perhaps, is the more reasonable, as it certainly is the more charitable, hypothesis), or, being better informed, they are cunning enough not to let the historical cat out of the bag in so open and un­guarded a fashion.

It may be objected, however, that a Gaelic Protestant tract is hardly competent to discuss questions of history : that space forbids, and that the audience to be addressed is not to be considered as being mightily concerned with such matters. We waive the obvious objections to this point of view, and will take Eachdraidh na h-Eaglaise as guide, counsellor and friend in determining this matter. The volume in question is a somewhat ambitious performance. It begins with the birth of our Blessed Lord and ends, if we remember rightly, with some not very intelligible Church (Protestant) dispute in the Lowlands. The one infinitely solemn and all-important event may not to an unprejudiced reader—to one, at all events, who has not the privilege of " sitting under " any Protestant minister — seem even remotely con­nected, or even approximately at all appropriately contrasted or united to the other. But no matter. No doubt, it is a simple matter of taste—since neither religious nor profane history can have any­thing to do with the matter—whether the sublime and the (comparatively) ridiculous can thus be suitably associated. In any event, our point is, that Eachdraidh na h-Eaglaise is equally silent as

to the " Reformation " in the Gàidhealtachd as are the more " popular" productions of the estimable Society above mentioned. Why is this? the reader who is of an inquiring turn of mind will naturally demand. Is this silence upon so vital and momentous an issue part and parcel of the old discreditable policy of " boycotting " the Highlands ? Our answer to this reasonable inquiry is, Certainly not. The author of the Eachdraidh in question was a Gael, and a minister of the Presbyterian Church at that. He was no mean scholar and writer, too, as his, in many respects, well-written history proves ; and the curious reader may take it as certain from us that had his Church had a leg to stand on, historically, and with particular reference to the Highlands, he would have gratefully pre­sented his co-religionists with that support, if, indeed, his regard for truth and fair-play had re­sisted the vulgar temptation to add to the number.

Let us turn from these sources, however, to others, equally Protestant, though more historical, and, no doubt, better known. We have already quoted from Gregory's History on the subject. But we crave the reader's permission to quote him again. He says (p. 186): "Although the Reformation was undoubtedly one of the most important events in Scottish history, yet its progress is to be traced almost exclusively in the history of the Lowlands ; at least the history of the Highlands and Isles presents little that is interesting on this subject. It is not to be supposed, however, that the great Highland barons were slow to follow the example of their Lowland neighbours in seizing the lands and revenues of the Church. On the contrary, the deplorable state in which the Highlands and Isles were found to be, in a religious point of view, at

c

the commencement of the seventeenth century, was evidently owing to this cause. But in such pro­ceedings the bulk of the Highland population, if we except the vassals of the Earl of Argyll, seems to have taken little interest, and many of them long continued to adhere, as a portion still do, to the worship of their fathers." The testimony of Lachlan Shaw [History of the Province of Moray), who on almost every page reveals him to be a bigoted Protestant, is to a similar effect. He observes, " upon perusing the ecclesiastical records, it is apparent that the true rational Christian knowledge, which was almost quite lost under Popery, made very slow progress after the Refor­mation. It was long before ministers could be had to plant the several corners, and particularly the Highlands. In the year 1650 the country of Lochaber was totally desolate, and no Protestant ministers had before that time been planted there. And when the number of ministers increased, very few of them understood the Irish language, and people were settled in the Highlands who were mere barbarians to the people. ... The number of Papists was great. They who professed the Protestant religion retained strong prejudices in favour of the religion of their ancestors," etc.

But, indeed, the difficulty experienced in "re­forming " the Gaels of Scotland is well known, and eloquent testimony to the tenacity with which our ancestors clung to the faith of their forefathers, long after the more gullible Saxon of Scotland had swal­lowed the religious and political nostrums of Knox and his faction, is to be found in many a State paper, composed with a view to "civilising" the Gàid­healtachd, of destroying Catholicism, and of banning our language and customs. Even down to Bliadhna

Thearlaich (1745) the Highlands, as a whole, re­mained staunch and true to their original principles and maxims in Church and State. The spies of the Hanoverian Government in the Gàidliealtachd had but cold comfort to give to their southern employers. The Highlands swarm with " Papists," they tearfully report; " Popery " is everywhere. The priests of our Holy Religion go about openly, instructing the people, encouraging them to re­main true to the faith of their forefathers, and administering the rites of the Catholic worship. Everywhere in the Highlands these pious and self-sacrificing men are protected, and warmly and gratefully received. And when we turn from these accounts to the " Memorials," " Reports " and so forth which English statesmen invited, and re­ceived, from those who were supposed to under­stand Gaelic affairs and who were favourable to their "happy" establishment in Church and State, we easily perceive that the general burden of their refrain—their common counsel of despair—consists in urging the twofold maxim: To bring off the Gael from his religion, you must first "civilise" him; that is, suppress his language, and so teach him to become an Englishman.

To those who have been behind the scenes, as it were, in this manner, as we have done and are accustomed to do, in quest of historical material wherewith to carry on the great tradition of Gaelic history, there is something infinitely pleasing and encouraging in the frank and candid manner in which the foes of our nationality thus associated religion and language. These " memorialists" write for statesmen's eyes alone, sometimes, per­haps—though they knew it not—merely for the great man's pigeon-holes; for they were a garru­lous, as well as a rapacious crew, and doubtless, in many cases, exceeding fatiguing reading. But at at least they cultivated the virtue of candour, and so far as spies can justly be said to deserve it, they have merited our gratitude in this respect. They speak openly. They are not shouting from the house-tops with a police reporter below to take notes of their observations, or even confiding their lucubrations to the correspondence columns of a newspaper, wherein, though anonymity may be sanctioned, yet the name, though not necessarily for publication, is requisite as a guarantee of good faith. So they open their minds freely. There is no " hedging " observable in these informers—no unnecessary beating about the bush. A spade is not called " an agricultural implement," but simply and rudely a spade. The dominating idea is plainly to sell—whether for actual pelf or place matters not (the commercial instinct is nakedly there, and is the same)—as much of the rare commodity called truth as the informer can scrape together; and to trust rather to interest, than gratitude, for the resulting measure of "the Patron's" patronage. Hence it is, no doubt, that these State documents furnish so pleasing and edifying reading. Religion and language are the Gael's crimes. Abolish the one and you will destroy the other; and so, indeed, alas ! it has proved in too many cases.

There is, of course, nothing particularly new in this point of view. If not as old as the hills, it dates far back in our story. The war between Gael and Saxon, between Catholicism and Cosmo­politanism, is ancient reading. The first we have dealt with elsewhere, in the language appropriate to the theme. The second is now being waged with ever-increasing bitterness and fury all over the world. It is curious, too, and instructive to note how the importance of language and national­ity is being recognised in an ever-ascending scale, wherever our Holy Religion obtains ; and pray name us the place on God's earth where the Sign of the Cross is not raised ? There has just come to our hands a recent copy of La Nouvelle France, a Canadian publication published in the interests of our French-speaking co-religionists in that country, wherein we find an important article entitled, " La langue et la Foi: Pourquoi notre langue est la meilleure gardienne de notre Foi". The author rightly insists that the French language is, amongst French-speaking Canadians, the best guardian of the faith in Canada;1 and his remarks on the cognate case of Ireland—where this truth in re­gard to the Gaelic language is being rapidly realised —are sympathetic and singularly apposite. In the land of our hearts—in Alba, to wit—treason to religion and treachery to language have done abundant fell work. Temporarily, at all events, the measures so confidently recommended by hire­ling spies and " memorialists " have triumphed, not, thank God! entirely, but in a measure and to a degree which cannot but be saddening to those who have the best interests of the Gàidhealtachd at heart; who know how grossly our Holy Religion is maligned by interested partisans for their own selfish ends; who are familiar with the social and economic ills which Protestantism has brought in; and who reprobate and deplore the warring of modern Protestant Church factions as something wholly repugnant to the principles of our common



Share with your friends:
  1   2   3   4   5   6


The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2019
send message

    Main page