The church and the highlands



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SWORD AND PEN

The rumours of war with which the political world was charged in the early spring of this year have given place to the grim reality; and Eussia and Japan are now engaged in a bloody and desperate struggle. Apart from the momentous character of the drama now being enacted in the far East, the war between these two countries is intensely in­teresting, on account of its tendency to discredit certain popular predictions. But a few years ago an opinion had gained ground that war between powerful and civilised states was no longer possible, or, at all events, extremely unlikely to happen. It was " Science," we believe, in the shape of a Russian philosopher, which first ventilated this remarkable theory. And it was asserted with all that vehe­mence and dogmatism with which the opinions of " Science " are nowadays wont to be charged. But the event has proved that the predictions of "Science " have been no more fortunate in this case than experience has shown they have been so in respect to a number of others which we could mention. War still refuses to bow to the arbitra­ment of " Science "; and the game of nation arming against nation goes merrily on. Individuals en­gaged in scientific pursuits, and who take themselves

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more seriously than do other people, may possibly be excused for failing to see the humour and irony of the situation which the indiscreet prophesies of some of these votaries have undoubtedly created. But for persons, like ourselves, who have grown somewhat tired of the hectoring tone and con­stant newspaper brow-beatings of "Science," and who are inclined to ridicule its pretensions to infallibility, the situation above-spoken is surely not without its element of comedy. We have no quarrel with " Science " per se. No sensible man has ; but when we see it stealing the thunder from Heaven, as it were, and "laying down the law" as though it were infallible, we are not altogether displeased when it receives a well-merited rebuke.

For our own parts, we are disposed to think that the consummation so confidently predicted by " Science " as being near at hand, if not actually at the door, and which Christians of all shades of opinion must necessarily unite in longing for, if they be true to their religious convictions, is just as far off as ever it was—if not farther. The Catholic does not require to be told that war will endure even unto the end of the world; but non-Catholics, in spite of their alleged respect for the letter of the Scripture, are apt to forget what their Bibles could tell them. For them, the prophesies and predictions of " Science," however extravagant and vain, would seem to possess a power and authority which the Word of God does not oonvey. At all events, it is amongst Protestants that the attitude we have spoken of—which, we confess, we find it somewhat difficult to understand, and not less difficult to reconcile with their professions— that the attitude we have spoken of is most fre­quently found. Perhaps the text of their numerous

"revised versions " does not harmonise with that of the Catholic Bible on this head; and they are con­sequently discharged from yet another obligation, from believing in yet another specification in their catalogue of rapidly diminishing " articles of faith ". We know not; but the fact here spoken of strikes us as singular.

We have said above that the earthly paradise which " Science " has bespoken, and all Christians desire, seems as far off as ever it was—if not farther. It appears to us that the presence of war in our midst tends to familiarise us with the notion of war-waging; and that the susceptibilities of peace are nowadays much less considered than they recently were. There is a certain cynicism observ­able in the open manner in which nation arms against nation, which does not bode well for the future peace of the world; and contrasts very un­favourably with princes' and statesmen's frequent avowals of their pacific intentions. It may be, of course, that the raising of the curtain in the far East has but brought upon the stage the spectre which always lurks in the wings, ready to step forth; and that it was not human nature and " progress," so much as appearances only, that were deceptive. Nevertheless, we cannot but feel that peace, of late, has fallen upon somewhat evil days; and that the existence of war is demoralising, as well to those immediately concerned as to such as are merely spectators.

The title we have chosen for this paper is "Sword and Pen". Eespect for popular belief should oblige us to reverse the order in which these two powerful instruments are placed; but here again, we imagine that popular belief is at fault. It is a common saying that the pen is

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mightier than the sword; but without going so far as to stigmatise that saying as a fallacy, we think it requires considerable modification, especially in view of recent warlike events. Generally speak­ing, the pen may be mightier than the sword; but the court of final appeal, so far as nations are concerned, is open to such only as are prepared to abide by the verdict of the latter.

Individually, indeed, the pen may be mightier than the sword; but, collectively, it is the sword which prevails. A single pen may rouse a nation to arms; but force, in some shape or form, is the ultimate resource of all nations and of all men. What is law but the application of force by "con­stitutional " methods, and through " constitutional I channels ? All great political movements are liable to degenerate into displays of violence, if they are baulked in their designs, or reach that point when success becomes dangerous, because charged with temptation.

Small and struggling peoples like ourselves must watch the stirring events now being enacted in the far East with a peculiar interest. When two powerful kingdoms come to blows, the attention of outsiders is immediately arrested. The other great powers watch the conflict with mixed senti­ments, according as the States engaged are favour­able or hostile to their respective interests ; but all with the determination to profit by it as much as possible. The scientific aspect of war appeals to every one nowadays. The value of practical experience with regard to the conditions applying to modern warfare is recognised, and acted on, to an extent not formerly admitted. Every civilised country sends its attaches to the scene of action, who are required to report on the operations to

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their respective governments; whilst the armies of the combatants are followed by a host of ad­venturers, intent on studying the scientific aspect of modern warfare as near to the actual centres of hostility as possible.

Such, briefly, is the interest of the neutral great powers in a conflict such as that which is now raging in the far East. Smaller peoples—peoples who have not yet obtained autonomy, have just acceded to it, or are mere spokes in the wheel of some great Empire, though struggling for the recognition of their national rights—are not suffered to approach, at all events officially, in the capacity of spectators. They must rest content with watch­ing the struggle from afar. But, nevertheless, the drama now being enacted in the far East is not without its interest and signification for them also. It can teach them a lesson of endurance and self-sacrifice, of courage and perseverance, of patriotism and devotion to national duty under the most dis­couraging circumstances, and in a cause whose rights and wrongs the mere individual has abso­lutely no means at his disposal for determining. Moreover, it can teach them discretion and caution, joined to a wholesome respect for the enemy; which are qualities in which some of the " young nations " do not abound. Such a conflict can show them, too, far more effectually than a legion of pens, the absolute hopelessness and folly of kicking against the pricks, when Providence declines to show a way out of them. Above all, it should suffice to demonstrate to reason the absolute futility of what is known as "physical force". No small people can afford to fight a big one, unless the lesser be assisted by the greater; and great powers do not usually condescend to court alliances

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with small States, unless the benefit they expect to derive from the connexion, counterbalances the inconvenience incurred in allowing it. The cost of the necessary machinery of warfare should be in itself a sufficient deterrent to small peoples. We make bold to say that the Boers would not have gone to war with England had the present struggle in the far East preceded the rising which they effected. Surely regret at their own foolhardiness and want of discretion and foresight in provoking so unequal a contest, and at a time so unpropitious to themselves, must long since have taken the place of any sentiments of pride and satisfaction which they may have felt at the very transitory successes which they obtained.

Some individuals appear to think that when two great nations fall out, small peoples may come by their own. For our own parts, however, we fear that the theory of the balance of power is far too sacred in the eyes of European statesmen to permit of its being thus lightly set aside. The result of the struggle between Russia and Japan can, it seems to us, in nowise effect the disposition of force—the distribution of that power which keeps nations in bondage. The triumph of Russia should establish her preponderance in Asia. That of Japan might possibly result in the resurrection of the East; but what have either of these eventualities to do with the domestic concerns of Ireland and Scotland? We have nothing to hope for from the outside world, even if we wished it, which we do not. We are quite content to remain as we are—or rather we should not be content to remain where a fanatic or two here and there may wish to consign us. Our political salvation we expect neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the North, nor from the South; which is but another way of saying that we intend to mind, not other people's business, but our own; and that to sell our wares, as it were, in the highest political market is our only immedi­ate object and concern. There is probably nothing essentially and fundamentally obnoxious in the fact of Empire, if one could but dissociate it from its present-day attributes and appurtenances. An Empire of mind—a confederacy of nations pledged to propagate and to preserve the highest principles —is surely the only form of " world-wide " dominion at all tolerable to the Christian. But this is ideal­ism, not politics. And we prefer to be excused from treating of that theme. Both Ireland and Scotland have enough to engage their undivided attentions for many a long year to come. We have to re-create our respective countries, to reform, and to elevate, to consolidate and to renew. The clash of arms in other parts of the world is thus not likely greatly to disturb us— much less to distract us from the absorbing task which lies before us; and which is calculated to call forth the best endeavours and the noblest qualities of the Gaelic race. The lessons that are being learnt in other quarters of the globe are not, however, without their value and significance for us. We should watch these proceedings with an interested eye ; and be prompt to take advant­age of any unconsidered trifle in the shape of precept or example which may seem likely to repay its closer inspection. When the ruins of St. Paul's lie smoking beneath the feet of the peripatetic New Zealander will be time enough to concern ourselves with other affairs; and to raise the question of quo mdimus ?

BOBAN SAOR

'S ann an Eirinn a bha e 'fuireach. 'Se saor geal a bh'ann. 'S bha e 'n a chlachan* a cheart cho] math. 'S ann dha rinneadh a chiad tàl ann an] Eirinn no 'n Albainn. Cha robh tàl aig duine-riamh gus an d'fhuair e fhèin e.

Ghabh na saoir ann an Eirinn gamhlas da's e 'dianamh rudan a dh'fhairtlicheadh orra fhèin.] Chuir iad rompa gun dianadh iad suas arm da a; chuireadh bho fheum e., A h-uile ball-acfhuinnl a bh' aig na saoir—mar a tha 'n locair 'sa ghilb—'si ann a' cur bhuapa a bha iad. Dh'iarr na saoir airj na goibhnean arm a dhianamh a bhiodh a' tighinn' g'a ionnsuidh fhèin 's gun gearradh e e fnei^M gun cuireadh e e fhèin bho fheum. Rinneadh an] so tàl dha, 's bha deagh fhaobhar air. 'Nuair al fhuair Boban 'na dha laimh e, 'sa bhuail e air snaidheadh leis, bha e cho math leis ri aon ann a fhuair e riamh. Cha d'fhuair e arm riamh gu'n] d'fhuair e 'n tàl.

Bha mac diolain aig Boban, 's bha e 'g a chun ann an duiliochd, 's e sin cha robh e 'gabhail ris| Cha do ghabh e ris riamh, gus an robh e suas ri] còig-bliadhna-diag. Bha e mach as an fhoghluma is as an ionnsachadh a bha e 'faotuinn. 'Nuair a] bha Boban 'g a fhaicinn, mar a bha e'm bichiontas,] chòrd e ris mar ghille reachdor tlachdor. Thuirt e] ris fhèin 's an àm sin gun reachadh e air tòir aj ghille. Thuirt a mhàthair ris gum b'e làn dì-aj bheatha, ach e 'phàidheadh air a shon. Thug e leis] dhachaidh e.

Smaointich e 'n sud latha gun cuireadh e air falbh an gille le treud chaorach g' an reic al dh'fhiach ciod e 'n gliocas a bh'ann. Dh'iarr e air na caoraich a reic, 's na caoraich 's an t-airgiod 'thoirt h-uige-san air ais. Ged a dh'fhalbh an gille "bha 'chuis a' cur ioghnadh air cia mar a ghabhadh ian gnothach dianamh. 'N deaghaidh sin, ghabh an [gille comhairl' athar. 'H-uile duine beò 'choin-.nicheadh e, dh'fhoighnicheadh iad c'àite 'n robh e L'dol leis an treud. Chanadh an gille gun robh e ['dol 'gan creic. " De'n seol creic a th' agad orra ?" —theireadh a h-uile duine ris. " Dh'iarr m'athair orm na caoraich 'san t-airgiod a thoirt leam dhachaidh ;"—os esa. A h-uile duine 'chluin­neadh sin, cha robh iad ag gabhail gnothach ris ach 'ga leigeil seachad. Thachair an sin boirion-nach mòr sgafarra ris, is dh'fhoighneachd i c'àite 'n robh e 'dol leis an treud. " Tha mi 'dol 'gan creic," os esa, " ach cha-n 'eil fhios agam cia mar a 'reiceas mi iad: 's gun do dh'iarr m'athair orm na caoraich 's an t-airgiod a thoirt leam dhachaidh." ,"0 seadh, 'ille thapaidh," os ise, "dh'iarr d'athair rud ceart gu leoir. Beir thus' air na caoraich 1 dhomhsa is ceannaichidh mis' iad." Chuir e 'n ^cù mu chuairt air na caoraich, is thug e seasamh orra, is bhuail e air breith orra. Thug ise mach deamhais bho 'crios, is bhuail i air an rùsgadh. 'Nuair a bha i ullamh, cheangail i 'chlòimh suas, 's chuir i ann am pocannan i, is thug i dha 'n t-air­giod, is thill esa 'n taobh bho'n tàinig e.

Bha athair a' coimhead a mach fiach am faiceadh e 'tighinn e. Ghabh e 'n a choinneamh, 's 'nuair a chunnaic e na caoraich, dh'aithnich e gun d' rinn an gille 'n gnothach. Dh'fhoighneachd e co 'chean­naich na caoraich bhuaithe. Dh'inns' an gille. Dh'fhoighneachd e c'aìte 'n robh.i 'fuireach. Thuirt e nach robh fios aige. " An aithneadh tu'm boir-ionnach nam faiceadh tu i?" "Dh'aithneadh glè mhath."

"An gabhadh tu gnothach ris a bhoirionnach fad buan do shaoghal nam faigheadh tu i?"

" Ghabhadh agus taing air son a faighinn.* " 'S fhearr dhuinn tilleadh air falbh ma ta, agus 's-dòcha gum beir sinn oirre air an rathad mum faigh i dhachaidh leis a chloimh." Chuir iad na caoraich a stigh do phairc, 's ghabh iad air aghaidh. Rug iad air a bhoirionnach, is chaidh iad 'na còmhail. Tharrainn iad suas rithe.

Thuirt Boban Saor: " Tha thu 'tarrainn air aghaidh leis a chloimh. Càit' an d'fhuair thu i ?" Thuirt ise: "Fhuair air an rathad mhòr bho leithid so de ghille air ainm's air a shloinneadh." Dh'fhoigh­neachd e an gabhadh i gnothuch ris a ghille fad buan a saoghal, 's thuirt ise gun gabhadh nam faigheadh i e. Thionndaidh e ris a ghille, is thuirt an gille gun gabhadh es' ise, 's gur a h-esan a dhianadh sin.

Thuirt Boban rithe gum bu bhargan e ma ta, 's-gun robh cho math na h-eich iomain a dh'ionn-suidh a thaighe fhèin.

Ghabh iad an so uile gu tigh Bhobain Shaoir. Fhuair Boban aite dhaibh, is phòs e iad le pears-eaglais.

Bhuail athair an sin air ionnsachadh na ciùirde 'bh' aige fhèin dha. Bhiodh e 'so a' falbh còmhla ris fhèin dha na h-uile cearn. Dè bha ach thàinig fios air a Lochlainn e 'dhol a thogail caisteal. 'N latha a dh'fhalbh iad an so, dh'fhàg iad slàn aig a mhnaoi 'an dùil nach tilleadh iad gus an tilleadh iad aon uair. Thug iad leotha 'n t-eallach air am muin. Cha robh iad fad air falbh uile gu len gus an tuirt Boban ris gun robh 'n t-àm aca cnap a thoirt as an eallach. Thuirt an gille nan tugadh iad sud as an eallach gum biodh e 'dhìth orra fhèin a rithisd. Thuirt Boban ris mur toireadh iad cnap as an eallach gun tigeadh orra tilleadh dhachaidh. Air dhaibh tilleadh, bha 'bhean a stigh romh 'n ghille.

" Ciod e rud a thill thu ?" os ise.

" Bha m'athair ag ràdh gum f eumamaid cnap a thoirt as an eallach, 's bha mise 'g ràdh gum biodh feum againn fhèin air a chnap ud a rithisd." "Cuin a bhios sibh a' falbh fhathasd?" os ise. "Bithidh 'màireach."

Thuirt i ris gun robh e furasda gu leoir dha 'athair a riarachadh anns an dòigh ud. " 'Se'n cnap a thoirt as an eallach do cheann a thoirt as an iris-mhuineil's gun leigeadh sibh ur n-anail."

'Nuair a dh'fhalbh iad an sin an lath-air-na-mhàireach thuirt Boban ri mhac: " Giùlain thusa mise 'n diugh, agus giùlajnidh mis' thus am màir­each." " Cha'n urrainn domh," os an gille. " Mur a h-urrainn 's fheudar dhuinn, tilleadh dhachaidh an diugh fhathasd," osa Boban.

'Nuair a ràinig iad an tigh, dh'inns' an gille ciod e 'thug orra tilleadh. Thuirt a bhean ris gun robh e furasda gu leoir dha sud a dhianamh, gun robh athair a' ciallachadh esan a chumail suas seanchas ris air a h-uile rud a chunnaic's a chual' e riamh ; 's gum biodh iad a' faireachduinn an astair na bu ghiorra, 's gum biodh an inntinne na bu toilichte air an t-slighe.

Dh'fhalbh iad an so lath-air-na-mhàireach, 's thug iad leotha beagan acfhiunn is chum an gille bruidhinn ri 'athair mar a bha ise 'g iarraidh : cainnt agus còmhradh mar a bha e 'g ionnsachadh bho 'oige bha e 'gabhail sin ri' athair. Thoisich Boban lath-air-na-mhàireach air an leithid eile innse dha mhac.

Ràinig iad uidh air n-uidh mar sin Lochlainn. Nochd iad ris an duin' uasal. Chaidh e ceum

'nan coinneamh. Dh'aithnich e taghte gur a h-iad, iad so an fheadhainn a bha e 'g iarraidh. Cha robh fios aige co am mac seach an t-athair. Cha robh tuar orra gun robh mìr acfhuinn' aca. Am beagan -a bh'aca's ann 'nam pocannan a bha e aca. Thuirt e riutha gun robh iad car fadalach, 's gun robh mòran obair ri dhianamh, 's gun robh mòran dhaoine 'g obair air a chaisteal, 's ged a bha fhèin gun robh an cuid fhèin a' feitheamh orrasan. Dh'fhoighnich e dhiubh co bu dhiubh am maighistir, am mac no 'n t-athair. Thuirt Boban gur e 'n gille 'bha 'na mhaighistir, gum b' e fhèin an gille.

'Nuair a ràinig iad bonn a chaisteil, sheall iad os an coinn. Rinn na saoir a bha gu h-àrd glag .gàire, 'nuair a chunnaic iad coltas an dà amadan a bha 'so a' ruighinn gun acfhuinn, gun sian aca.

Dh'iarr Boban Saor air a mhac dìreadh do'n fharadh. Chuir an gille, 'nuair a ràinig e gu h-àrd a làmh 'na phòc, 's thug e mach tora beag, agus òrd beag. Dh'eubh am fear a bha gu h-ìseal ciod e 'chnag a bha dhìth air. Thuirt esa ris gur 'e •cairteal na h-òirlich de dhealg a bha e 'g iarraidh. Rug Boban Saor, an uair sin, air sàbh beag biodach. Thug e h-uige cnag, 's chuir e air ealaig i. Shàbh e rud as a chnaig, agus thòisich e air na dealgan a thilgeadh as leis an tuaigh, 's 'gan tilgeil suas os a chionn lion fear is fear thun a ghille; agus cha robh a h-aon duibh 'dol 'an tasard ('tuiteam seachad no 'dol a null na nall). Bha 'n gille 'cur an ceann anns an toll, is 'bualadh buille de 'n òrd orra 's bha e diante. 'Nuair a bha na saoir eile a' faicinn an dol-air-adhart a bh'aig an •dithis dhaoine, sheas iad, is ghabh iad ioghnadh. Dh'aithnich iad an sin gun robh e cho math dhaibh falbh is fuireach, 's nach reachadh iad faisg air an dithis a thàinig. Chrom iad as na h-àraidhean, is thog iad an tuarasdal as na rinn iad, is theich iad. Dh'fhàg iad an caisteal mar a bha e aig Boban Saor 's aig a mhac.

Dh'ullaich Boban Saor's a mhac an caisteal air an ceann fhèin leotha fhèin. Thuirt Boban an so gun robh 'n Caisteal gus a bhith uile dheiseal. Ach leis an ùine a bha iadsa 'g obair, bha mòran tuarasdail ri 'thoirt dhaibh, agus b'fheàrr leis an duin' uasal an cur gu bàs na'm pàidheadh a thoirt dhaibh.

Ach ciod e mu'n do dh'fhàg Boban's an gille 'n tigh chomhairlich a bhean do'n ghille leannan a bhith aige 'ga bri àite 'n tàrladh dha 'bhith. Bhuail an gille air suirghe mar gum bitheadh e air nighinn a bha's an tigh mhòr mu'n robh e ca-la-diag'an Lochluinn. Cha robh an nighean a' cur teagamh 's am bith nach pòsadh e i. Fhuair an nighean a mach ann an diomhaireachd an diol a bha 'n duin' uasal a' dol a dhianamh orra, is dh'inns' i dhasan e 'nuair a bha e 'cumail làimh rithe. 'Nuair a fhuair an gille so a mach dh'inns' e dha athair e.

"Tha sin coltach gu leoir," os athair, "ach bheir shin a chur as a sin, 's cha bhi 'n ùine-fada."

Thuirt Boban an so ris an duin' uasal a chiad uair a chunnaic e e, mar a bha daoine ann an cabhaig 'an àm fàgail ah taighe gun do dh'fhàg e acfhuinn aig an tigh a chuireadh air dòigh barr nan stuadhannan, 's gum feumadh e fhèin's a mhac falbh 'ga h-iarraidh air neo mac an duin' uasail fhèin.

" Cha-n 'eil ann am mhacsan," os an duin' uasal,. " ach beadagan gille nach 'eil a' dianamh car obrach, agus cuiridh sinn air falbh e 'nar n-àitesa, agus-fanaidh sibhse gus an criochnaich sibh an obair."

"'Nuair a bhitheas do mhac deiseal cuir h-ugams' e, 's gun inns' mi dha mar a dh'iarras e 'm ball-acfhuinnsa."

'S e 'n gille 'thog an ùgag air air son falbh do dh'Eirinn, 'nuair a dh'iarradh air. Chaidh e 'stigh far an robh Boban, is thuirt Boban ris.

" 'Nuair a ruigeas tu 'n tigh, iarraidh tu air a bhoirionnach car-mu-char a thoirt dhuit, agus car-an-aghaidh-cuir: is ni sin an gnothach."

Dh'fhalbh an gille, is ràinig e Eirinn ; is fhuair e mach an tigh, is dh'inns' e 'cheann-turuis.

"'S fhior sin, gheibh thu sin gu toilichte," os am boirionnach. " Gabh a nuas mar so, mo ghille math 's gum faigheadh tu e." Ghabh ise sios, agus esan as a deaghaidh. Chaidh i 'stigh leis gu seòmar, is leum i thun an dorius, is thug i dha car-mu-char, is car-an-aghaidh-cuir le car a chur anns an iuchair 's an dorus, is ghlais i an sud e. Chuir i 'n gille 'bha leis air falbh dhachaidh, is thuirt i ris e dh'innse do 'n duin' uasal nach riachadh an acfhuinne bheag a null gus an tigeadh an acfhuinn mhòr a nall. Fhuair Boban 'sa mhac an so an tuarasdal, 's chaidh iad dhachaidh, 's leig iad air falbh mac an duin' uasail.

'S e dh'fhàg bean a ghille cho ro-fhiosrach gun tug i aona-bhliadhn'-diag 'an sgoil-duibh.

Iain Mac an Tailleir


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