The church and the highlands



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1 We quote from O'Connor's translation of Heating's History, which though bad and "dishonest," as Dr. Tod affirmed, suffici­ently well here answers our purpose.

were not hereditary. " The devices," says Professor Sullivan, " were probably at that time personal, as among the old Norse, and not hereditary as they subsequently became." For our parts, we are disposed to regard Sullivan's " probably " as super­fluous. Certainly, we know of nothing at all confirmatory of the opposite opinion. It is true that shields were handed down from father to son, and that the gift of a shield on the part of a king to a poet or other learned person was by no means-uncommon; but, as Sullivan himself justly observes, these shields were regarded as heirlooms only, and as such were bequeathed through several genera­tions, " or passed from one warrior to another as valuable trophies ".1 Another circumstance which militates against the idea of the existence of hereditary coats of arms among the ancient Celts, is, that the shields of great warriors were personi­fied, and "received often expressive and poetical names,"8 which could not have happened had the shield been regarded simply as " coat armour ".

a Ibid., p. 472.

We must, however, take exception to Chalmers' assertion that chivalry, as commonly understood, did not exist among the ancient Gaels. It seems to be too often taken for granted that chivalry I came over" with the feudal system; and that the latter sprang into existence as suddenly, and, apparently, as causelessly, as the dragon's teeth of ancient mythology. A more erroneous notion could not exist. The feudal system was the pro­duct, the slow growth, of centuries; and if we wish to discover its originals we must needs go back almost to the beginning of time—at all events to the dawn of authentic European history. We
'Introduction, p. 471.

have seen already that the ancient Celts embellished their shields with what would undoubtedly nowa­days be styled heraldic devices. Consequently had they made these devices hereditary, instead of personal, they would undoubtedly have taken a very great step in the direction of modern chivalry and all that it implies ; and Mr. Lloyd of Stockton would have been perfectly justified in marshalling the arms of his venerable ancestor (Belinus the Great) alongside his own.1 But though the fact that the ancient Gaels did nothing of the kind "makes all the difference," as a modern writer might say, yet it shows unmistakably how great was the resemblance and how close the analogy between the two systems, which is further empha­sised and made clear when we remember that the institution of knighthood was also familiar to the Celts—an institution which is commonly supposed to be one of the most peculiar and distinguishing features of continental feudalism. In Leabhar na h- Uidhre there is a brief account of Cuchulairm's reception into the order of knights, which as given by O'Curry,2 would seem to differ very little from the feudal ceremonies which were wont to take place on a similar occasion at a very much later date, the only substantial difference being, of course, that the religious ceremonies which distinguished the Christian's reception of knightly honours were in the case of the Pagan warrior mentioned above conspicuous by their absence. "Cuchulainn then repaired to the King, and in the proper manner solicited him for the arms of a champion. ' Who in-

xIt should be distinctly understood that the practice of quartering arms, as that of going to professional state-aided heralds for grants of the same, is comparatively modern.

1 Vol. ii., p. 200.

structed you to seek them 1' said Conchobar. ' Cath-badh,' said the youth. ' You shall have them,' said the King, and Conchobar (the King) then presented him with a sword, a shield, and two spears, a form which constituted him thenceforth a knight or champion at arms." Of the various orders of chivalry in ancient Erin, undoubtedly the most famous was that which was styled the "Red Branch Knights," though the Fianna were almost equally celebrated on account of their chivalrous exploits and prowess in arms. In a footnote to his instructive chapter on the "Fenian Cycle," Dr. Hyde1 has expressed some doubts as to the propriety of applying the appellation of " knight" to these warriors. "Moore's genius," he says, "has stereotyped amongst us the term Red Branch Knight, which, however, has too much flavour of the mediaeval about it. The Irish is curadh (Scots Gaelic, curaidh), ' hero'. The Irish for ' knight' in the appellations White Knight, Knight of the Glen, etc., is 'Ridire,' which is evidently the mediaeval 'Bitter,' le., Rider." With respect to this objec­tion, it should be observed that whether the warrior who had been admitted into the Red Branch was more properly curaidh than Ridire matters little, since the manner of his reception, and the tasks which that organisation proposed to itself, were eminently " knightly ". The propriety of the word knight in connection with the Red Branch may, indeed, be disputed; but the latter's striking re­semblance to one of the best known of the institu­tions of mediaeval chivalry is beyond all question.

We are inclined to believe, therefore, that the ancient chivalry of the Gaels in Ireland and Scotland

lA Literary History of Ireland, chap, xxix., p. 363.

Tesembled very much that which obtained in Eng­land and on the Continent of Europe during the Middle Ages. The essential difference between the two ideas was, seemingly, comparatively slight, though it must be admitted, on a nearer view, that the fact of hereditary grants of arms being a custom not observed by the Celts, constitutes a very serious objection to regarding them as identical The Celtic system of government and the feudal system possess many striking features in common— indeed, they are far more alike than is commonly imagined, as we may have occasion to demonstrate in a future number of this Review; but however much they may be found to agree upon particular points, this matter of arms, and the manner of their descent, is certainly not one of them; and the attempt to treat as hereditary devices which were only bestowed individually and personally is much to be regretted in the interests of " scientific" heraldry. No doubt, when the feudal system came to be thoroughly established, and those who had been living under a Celtic polity found it convenient or necessary to subscribe to the prevailing fashion, many a Celtic device was adopted for arms for feudal shields; but, we repeat, to treat Celtic heraldic devices—the products of purely Celtic times—as amenable to the same laws and regulations as govern the application of modern heraldic principles to coat armour, is both absurd and misleading.

IRELAND AND SCOTLAND

A very interesting chapter in the history of inter­national relations would be the narrative of those anciently subsisting between Ireland and Scotland. There exists abundant material for such a compila­tion ; and we are inclined to marvel that no one has yet undertaken it, at least in a formal and connected way. Nowadays, when authors are everywhere lamenting that they are "hard up" for topics, and that the stream of their invention is well-nigh exhausted, if not actually run dry, it is surely matter of legitimate surprise that no one has yet turned his attention to this interesting, if not fascinating, subject. There must be many who, like ourselves, would gladly welcome any such undertaking, and who would be profoundly grateful to the author who should accomplish it in a thorough and schol­arly manner. Perhaps these observations may meet the eye of some one who, like the scriptural lion, is seeking something to devour, in the shape of a suitable " subject" for his pen. We hope so ; and, with our balmiest blessing, heartily recom­mend this suggestion to his earnest consideration and protection.

We have no intention ourselves to execute any such literary " mission " as we have here indicated. The topic properly belongs to history; and being practically virgin soil, to treat of it in part, or briefly, would be, in our opinion, to spoil it. We are no great believers in history " boiled down " to suit lazy stomachs, or trifling palates. The histori­cal or literary handbook is generally a contemptible performance, and short cuts to knowledge usually end by extending the perambulations of those who set out to acquire learning, if, indeed, they do not serve to confirm the popular impression touching the utility of the blind as leaders thereof.

In passing, therefore, from this branch of our theme, there is one observation which we should like here to register: which is, that we do not believe that the correspondence between the Gaels of Ireland and those of Scotland was much inter­rupted owing to the Norse invasions, in spite of all that our vulgar historians may say to the contrary. That it suffered some interruption, we are prepared to admit; but that the Norse held the seas to the entire exclusion of the native craft is an opinion to which we are by no means prepared to subscribe. Should any one be so bold as to demand chapter and verse for this pious opinion of ours, it is possible that we might condescend to give them. For the present, however, the above-mentioned belief is merely recorded in passing.

The modern or existing relations between Ire­land and Scotland would appear to be of the slenderest capacity. As a nation, we hear little of Ireland; and that which we do hear is obviously " cooked " for our consumption. We know little of the industrial revolution which is rapidly transform­ing Ireland from a poor country into a prosperous one. If our press had deliberately entered into a conspiracy of silence touching the internal affairs of Ireland, we could not hear less about Hibernian concerns than we actually do gather from the meagre and scanty references in our newspapers. The few allusions that we are treated to are mostly of a political character, being obviously designed to pander to party and faction prejudices. Even journals which profess to be written in the interests of the Scottish Gael have very little to say about Ireland, and that little is generally copied from Eng­lish or Lowland periodicals. There would appear to be, indeed, a singular want of enterprise observable in our press in this respect, which, instead of moving with the times, seems incapable of adapting itself to new conditions, or rather having laboriously digested a particular policy or line of conduct is quite incompetent to assimilate another.

One would think that in view of the fact that Irish and Scots have so much in common, some endeavour would be made by the newspaper press to cultivate friendly relations between the two peoples. Both of us stand in need of mutual encouragement, sympathy and assistance in the arduous undertaking we have embarked on; but instead of doing all that we can to help one another, we selfishly and blindly pursue our own respective ways, without the slightest thought as to the other. Union is strength, and though we are perfectly conscious that the Gael has never acted on that maxim, yet is it not full time that he should at last learn wisdom from the enemy, and do so 1 Nothing is to be gained by a policy of self-isolation, which in our case can certainly never be "splendid," however foolish and unsound it may be. We should endeavour to draw near to one another, to increase and to strengthen those numerous ties which bind the people of Scotland and those of Ireland together. If our press will not take the lead, then the public should see to it that their wishes in this respect are made known and regarded. Newspapers were made for man—not man for the newspapers—and a few vigorous protests on the part of the reading public would soon work a wonderful alteration in

g

the direction which we have indicated. But so long, of course, as those who are interested sit still, and do absolutely nothing to call the attention of editors and newspaper proprietors to the species of folly which they are guilty of, so long, of course, will they continue to crowd their pages with trifling and irrelevant matter, to the almost entire exclusion of topics which every Gael who is worth his salt cannot but take the liveliest and profoundest interest in. The average editor, as the average newspaper proprietor, is only too anxious to please his readers; and as we all know, both sometimes go absurdly out of their way in order to arrive at that desirable consummation; but conductors of periodicals, after all, are not infallible, and if they err, as they are prone to do, it is the interest of the public to call speedy attention to their mistakes of judgment. Depend on it, they will rarely persist in a thing, or in a course, if it can be proved to them that by so doing they will be alienating their readers, and so injuring the prospects of their periodicals, which they "run " not for mere pleasure, but for gross profit. So that, really, the remedy for the state of affairs of which we complain is largely, if not entirely, in the hands of the public themselves. If they like " that sort of thing," as one of the groundlings might say, then, of course, they doubtless do well to submit to it. If not (as we believe), then the sooner they open their minds on the subject, and that forcibly and frankly, the sooner we shall all be relieved of a fatuous and altogether discreditable state of affairs.

The movement in Ireland for the preservation of the language, literature and customs of the Gael finds little or no response in the Scottish press. We doubt if the rank and file of our people are aware how lively and general this agitation has become. Certainly, the press does little or nothing to lighten their darkness on that head; and even those who do know it from hearsay, or have travelled in that country in order to see for them­selves, are strangely reticent on the subject. Pos­sibly they are too timid to speak out, or belong to that large order of men which believes that every­thing that happens, good or ill, is for the best, in this best of all possible worlds; and being reluct­antly persuaded that the Gaelic is to die, they see no object in endeavouring to prolong its existence. Unfortunately, we have many such melancholy sentimentalists in our midst. You can scarcely open a book treating of Celtic affairs, or take up a newspaper containing reports of our numerous (and superfluous) "Celtic" societies' meetings, or rather polytechnic displays, without encountering their familiar croak. In Ireland, the species is very much less acute, being overawed by the vigour of the language movement, or shamed into silence by the boldness and healthy optimism of those who are at the head of affairs. Among ourselves, how­ever, as we have said, they are noisy and ubiquitous ; and their tedious vapourings, and, we are tempted to believe, in many cases hypocritical utterances, are on every one's lips, especially on those of such as are inimical to the movement, which, to say the least, is significant.

To say truth, Ireland has entered on this struggle for the maintenance of all that a self-respecting nation should hold dear to it, far more seriously and thoroughly than we yet have. It would appear as if the calamity of the '45 had knocked all the spirit out of our people; and that, convinced of the futility of further kicking against the pricks, we were prepared to accept without repining or protest the very worst that fate, seeing our supineness and despising our inactivity, may have in store for us. The difficulty in Scotland is, to persuade the people that this is a serious move­ment, in which important issues are involved. There is far too prevalent a disposition abroad to regard the language movement as something that may be played with—as a hobby suitable for dull winter evenings, or as an excuse for " social gather­ings " at which tea and gossip (for the most part in English) may be indulged in to the weak heart's unbounded content. We do not know if a similar tendency is observable in Ireland, but even sup­posing that there are some in that country to whom the struggles of a nation to preserve its own appear but in the light of holiday, the thoroughness and deadly earnestness of the movement in general is not to be gainsaid for a moment; and, no doubt, as time goes on, and the agitation gathers yet more headway, these timorous or flighty ones will be either persuaded to alter their conduct, or will be crushed out of existence altogether, by sheer force of an irresistible public opinion.

Now the great advantage which Ireland has over Scotland in this matter is this, that the rank and file, as the leaders of the movement, being thoroughly persuaded that the agitation is a politi­cal one, consistently act on that belief. We make bold to say that here the Irish are perfectly right; and we appeal to all history for confirmation of this assertion. We do not mean to say that every man who joins the movement joins it in his capa­city of Nationalist, Conservative, or Badical, which­ever it may be. Party politics have nothing whatever to do with such a question; and the

Gaelic League is to be congratulated on having hitherto kept the party lunatic at arm's length. But what we do mean most emphatically to say is this, namely, that every man who joins the Irish movement, be he Tory, Nationalist or Whig, be he Catholic or Protestant, does so with a full know­ledge and consciousness of the fact that it is Ireland —his nation—that he is desirous to better. Now, can we truthfully say that such a lofty conception of patriotism exists in Scotland ? No doubt, the Irish have certain elementary advantages in their struggle for existence which we, unfortunately, lack. Ireland is an island, and its people are more homogeneous than ours are. Again, they are numerically much stronger, and considerably richer. Their educated classes are composed for the most part of native-born Irishmen who natur­ally take a pride and delight in endeavouring to resuscitate the departed glories of their country; whilst our own are mostly composed of individuals of foreign extraction, to whom Gaelic, if not ana­thema, is at all events a matter of indifference. In Ireland, too, even the nobility and gentry are far more " Irish " in their tastes, inclinations and sym­pathies than our corresponding classes in Scotland are Scotch. In fine, when you go to Ireland, you recognise at once that you are setting foot in a country which has all the elements necessary to constitute a nation. When you travel through Scotland, you recognise that it is a province ; and save from the tourist's point of view, not a par­ticularly brilliant one at that.

But making every allowance and excuse which it is possible for a lover of his country to make in behalf of Scotland, there undoubtedly remains an immense margin, which, much as we regret to say it, is all to the bad. Whether Celtic Scotland is imitating the tactics of the parrot, who said very little but thought a great deal, we know not, but the fact remains that she is half asleep. There is little or no vitality in her language movement, and even less conduct. The efforts that she puts forth to stay the process of decay are feeble and spas­modic. Greed of gold is working untold mischief in the Celtic population of to-day. It is gradually undermining the Highlander's fine gift of sensi­bility ; so that before very long he will be in all probability as grasping and as avaricious as his neighbour. Moreover, under the influence of those evil communications which corrupt good manners, he is rapidly becoming indifferent as to his country's past, and careless as to its future. Language and customs, which, after all, comprise a people's all, he is, in ever-increasing numbers, sending by the board, in the vain endeavour to enrich himself at the expense of his nationality, which he would appear to regard as the sole obstacle between him­self and a beastly prosperity. To rouse him to enthusiasm, to endeavour to persuade him to cast his bread upon the waters, with the idea of finding it twenty-fold, after many days, is almost an im­possibility. He is all for an immediate gain; and so far as posterity is concerned his prevailing senti­ment would appear to be

Scabies capeant extremum.

His sense, too, of racial homogeneity is practically nil. He has as yet no idea of making his individ­uality a factor in his efforts towards material advancement, which is surprising considering how alert he usually is to justify his acquisition of the new-found faith which is in him. And so deter­mined is he to qualify himself for the " struggle for existence " (as he plausibly styles his lewd scramble for money), that his servility to mammon even exceeds that of the avowed professors thereof, so that, in countless oases, not only is he become an abject, but a laughing-stock as well.

These may seem severe strictures for a fellow-countryman to pass, and no doubt they are so ; but who shall say that they are not thoroughly deserved ? The trusdar, or greedy manipulator of the rake, is far too common a character in the Highlands of to-day. Even the man whose attitude towards his race is one of shamefaced apology is thoroughly contemptible; and this sort of weakling is one of our lesser abominations, as every one can testify who has considered the subject. How then, since this is so, can our movement be expected to suc­ceed? To be perfectly candid, it will not do so until the mass of our countrymen have been brought into line with the few who think strongly, and speak plainly, on this point. Certainly, nothing is to be gained by merely aiming at the continuance of the present state of affairs, with, perhaps, temporary improvements here and there, and wholesale defections a little farther on. The nettle must be grasped firmly, if the hand which lays hold on it is to escape an injury. To hide our light under a bushel, instead of placing it where all men may see—to be for ever apologising and excusing when the time for such postures is long overpast and fearless aggressive work is essential, if the threatened citadel of our nationality (which is our language) is to be saved—is not conduct like this both absurd and unprofitable? Let us take our thought from the Irish, who whether they wish for Empire or eschew it, are quitting themselves


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Ireland and Scotland


like men, and who have entered upon their present struggle for national existence with the firm deter­mination that come what may, Ireland at all events shall be uppermost. The inspiring cry is, " Ireland for the Irish !"- a new Ireland (intellectually and materially) for a reformed people. Can not we, too, shake off the sloth and indifference of nigh a couple of centuries, and give our kinsmen across the Moyle measure for measure? It is now full time that we ceased junketing -that we put an end for ever to all our sentimental do-nothing twaddle about clans and "Bonnie Prince Charlie"—and seriously addressed ourselves to business.



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