The church and the highlands



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the day is won will be time enough to pick holes in one another, and to dispute as to the wisdom and righteousness of this or that particular principle, which a common endeavour has made us acquainted with.

I have been asked to make a few observations

touching publishing prospects in the Highlands ; but of these candour obliges me to acknowledge that I cannot speak very favourably. The literary outlook of Celtic Scotland is, to say truth, insignificant; and what is worse, tends to become more so. Very few Gaelic books are published nowadays, though books in the English language treating of Celtic topics are fairly popular, and moderatively re­munerative. For my part, I do not think this is due so much to want of interest in Celtic affairs and to lack of Gaelic readers, as to the want of a central publishing house, from which exclusively Celtic works (Gaelic and English) might emanate. I believe the Gaelic League of Ireland does remarkably well with its publications, and the vitality of the language movement among our cousins is strikingly exemplified by the amount of native literature which the various publishing houses in that country have lately issued. In Scotland, however, that movement is, unfortunately (owing to political causes), far less "alive" and advanced, the consequence being that the output of literature is correspondingly smaller. My opinion is, however, that there is room for a small publishing house, which, establishing itself in Glasgow, should undertake to supply the Highlands exclusively with suitable literature. I think that auch a house, with a fair Gaelic scholar for adviser, and a good business man at its head, might do something to remove the standing reproach of High­landers—that they are a non-reading public, and do not support the little modern literature that they have, as well as to provide themselves with a fairly remunerative undertaking. Professions and em­ployments of all kinds are so crowded nowadays, and profits are shrinking so generally and alarmingly, that it surprises me that no one has yet had the courage to start such a business as I allude to above. No doubt, the experience of those who have dabbled (if I, who must plead guilty to having so dabbled, may use the expression) in publishing Celtic literature is not of a sort calculated to encourage others who may feel tempted to risk time and money in entering that uncertain and ungrateful field. But my contention is that most of us, if not all, who have dabbled, have done so more by way of experiment or entertainment than in course of prosecution of ordinary business; and so the reasons for our failure are not far to seek. But an exclusively Celtic publishing house is quite a possible and conceivable success, on a moderate scale, and I for one should be pleased to see the experiment attempted. Inexpensive books, with clear type and serviceable bindings and paper, are what the Highlands require ; and as to matter there is so much that awaits publication, and that could be published, that I apprehend that not the slightest difficulty need be experienced on that score, nor much expense incurred into the bargain. The editions of our classics are nearly all run out, and the high prices which the rarer of them now com­mand in the second-hand booksellers' shops tend to show that the republication of the more popular of them would be an adventure attended with consider­able prospects of success. It is certainly a disgrace to the Highlands, and a reflection upon the enter­prise of our people, that the poems of Alasdair Macdonald, perhaps the greatest of our poets, are presently, to all practical intents and purposes, un­procurable. Nicholson's Proverbs is another book which is scarcely now to be got, save at a very enhanced value, and which might well be re-issued in a cheap and handy form. A good English-Gaelic Dictionary (a companion volume to that recently published by the Highland News of Inverness) is also a want that might be easily and inexpensively supplied by a Celtic publishing house. Indeed, if I mistake not, the most of our Gaelic masterpieces (prose and poetry) are out of print, and not to be obtained save with considerable difficulty and at much expense. I think that inexpensive editions of the more popular of these would repay the cost of their republication, if not handsomely, at all events sufficiently well to justify such an undertaking on the part of a business man.

There is also a considerable quantity of fugitive literature in the Highlands, in the shape of legend, ballad, etc., which might well and profitably be gathered into shape and published at popular prices. Some effort, too, might be made (and I think that experience would justify it) to encourage modern talent, of which there is, perhaps, more in existence than is imagined. Of course, the difficulty with regard to publishing modern original Gaelic matter is that the profits from its sale in book form are not considerable enough to permit of the payment of the author, at all events, at all adequately, as well as to provide for the cost of production. This, no doubt, is a serious obstacle to Gaelic publishing; but I imagine that the difficulty might be got over by balancing one book against another—that is to say, by making a reprint (where the copyright has expired, and where there is a profit on the reprint) to pay for the cost of production and the author's honorarium of the modern original matter. The Highlands, too, are better educated than they were; and the number of persons able to read in Gaelic is fortunately considerably on the increase; so that in a few years' time there should be a sufficient number of persons to render the publication of any suitable




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