The church and the highlands



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"Is coma leam's coma leam cogadh no sithe Marbhar sa chogadh no crochar's 'an t-'sith mi."

"Cogadh no sith !" ghlaoidh Giorsal, a tucadh le feirg, ri a fear—cogadh no sith! am bosdair dubh ! 'se nathair nimhe a tha agad air son mic, fhir-an tighe!"

Dhanns meuran a ghille gu cridheil air an fheadan agus thuit crith rudeiginn a bha ri thighinn air an t-sluagh uile mu'n cuairt. Bha na seann chnoic a deanamh mire leis an fhuaim shùrdagaich; thilg Dun Chorrabhile e gu Druimfearna, agus chuir Druimfearn 'e a leum thar 'reidhleannan Chillmuine gu coireachan uaine Leacnamban. " Gaol, gaol! an seann duan, thig agus, faigh feoil! " thuirt feannag gu garbh-ghuthach ri companach fad as air a Bheinn Bhric cheothar, agus chrath na sgiathan troma dubha sear. Dhi-chuimhnich a ghaoth chairdeal beadradh a dheanamh ri badan-a-ghuibhais, agus ris an roid shrannraidh, agus bha steall na h-Aora na 'linne dhuinn mar fhuaim fiona ann an cuaich. " Cogadh no sith, cogadh no sith; tha sinne coma codhiu,'' sheinn ribheidean na pioba, agus bha'n tional agus an siubhal ann, dian-ruith theth-chasach thairis air mointeich a bha 'grodadh fo uisge na neul, gliougadh iaruinn, gleadhar sleagha agus sgeithe, ran tachta fuath agus acrais, slachdadh as gearradh as tuiteam, agus air a chul aimhreit shean ris an Apuinn.

Ag aomadh air an aghart, mar gum b'ann a bruadar, sheas gillean smearail Aora. Dh'fheuch iad air an leasan, far nach robh ach criosan falamh agus thuirt fear dhuibh ri 'leanabh. " A ghaoil ghil, faigh dhomh an sgian fhada ud leis na bearnan inte, agus an ceann-bheart orra, oir tha mi sgith do bhuachailleachd." Thug an leanabh suil air aodunn agus chaidh e dhachaidh a caoineadh.

Agus thaom an ceol fhathast air aghart, " Gun d' thuair mi pog 'o laimh an righ," agus "A Bhiodag bhoidheach," agus gach fonn ni 'b'fhearr na cheile. Cha'd 'rinn piob shith Cnoc nan Daoine Beaga riamh fiabhrus fuaim 'bu mhilse, gidheadh ghoirtich e cluasan nam boirionneach, aig an robh aobhar fios a bhi aca air duais sùrdagan phiobairean.

"Stad! stad, A Thearlaich Oig!" ars iadsan, 's leor mu chogadh! nach eil ruidhle agad ann ad 'mhaileid?"

Cha robh ruidhle riamh am Boraraig, ars' an gille; agus ghabh e do 'Rabhadh Dunibheag, am fonn a chuala Colla Cìotach ann pìobairr aige 'cluich anns an aird-an-iar air an latha anns an robh a ghalla dhubh 'o Dhunstamhuinnis na sinneadh a plosgail air a shon ; agus chuir am bàta aige 'sron mu'n 'cuairt ann an am air son a chraiceann a shàbhaladh.

"Tha 'n dearbh fhacal fhein ann," arsa Paruig, a di-chuimhneachadh sgeig Giorsail, agus gach ni ach uaill 'athar.

'Sann ann am meadhon an 'Rabhaidh a thainig

Donnachadh Dubh, bàr a bhroige anns an stiorap, a nios 'o Chaisteal Ion'araora le gille-cas-fhliuch air a chul-thaobh air a 'rathad gu Lochogha.

" 'Sann shios an sud 'bu choir dhuit a bhith a Shair Phiobaire, agus cha'n'ann a seideadn an so air son dibhe," ars esan, a bualadh a 'bhrigis le 'chuip, agus a cur gruaim air fo mhaileadhan dubha ris an t-sluagh. "Tha mo bhean sgith do'n' chlàrsaidh, agus tha i 'g iarradh na pioba."

"Cha phiobaire boirionnaich mise, 'Lochogha; faodaidh a bhean agaibh eisdeachd ri cronan na cuidhle-shniomh ma tha i sgith do'n 'chlàrsaidh," ars' an gille : agus air falbh mharcaidh an Ceannard, agus air an ais do'n luba chaidh na boirionnaich agus chaidh na fir a dh'ionnsuidh a chabair agus na cloiche, agus chaidh Tearlach, le ite eile 'bharrachd na 'bhonaid, dhachaidh do dh' Ion'araora a fàgail facal magaidh mar a dh'fhalbh e air son athar.

'Mhionnaich Paruig Dall gu feasgar ris a mhac nach fhac e riamh, agus phuinseanaich a bhean an inntinn aige.

"Tha n' Gleann ri fanaid oirbh, a dhuine, bho Charnus gu Croit-bhile. Se latha dubh loisgeach naire a th'ann dhuibh a Pharuig Dhoill!"

"Thighearna, se latha dubh gu leoir a th'ann dhomhsa aig a chuid as fhearr !" ars' an duine dall.

" 'S'ann a tha sibh air bhur tàmailteachadh le mac bhur droch dheanadais fhein ; le balach gun fuil air a'bhiodaig, le àrdan gu goirsinn os bhur cionn."

Agus thug Paruig mionnan as ùr, air a Chrois agus Coin Lathurna, agus air miotaig ghil an t'soluis a tha na famhairean a caitheamh, agus air seachd Buidsichean Chothmar. Bha e olc ged a bha e aosda, agus chaidh e air ais gu toiseach tìm air son a 'chainnt. "Ach a Dhia! theid aig a ghille air cluich! " thuirt e mu dheireadh.

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50 Lamh Dhearg




" 0 amadain dhoill! " ghlaodh a 'bhean ; nam bu mhise sibh, bhiodh ionga bharr a chuilean roimh bheul an latha."

'' A bhean ghoraich, chluich daoine riomhe so a phiob agus meur dhiubh ; seall air Alasdair Corraig."

"Biodh sin mar sin, ach tha làmh cho furasda 'ghearradh ri meur, do dhuine 'thug grealach a fiadh le sgian-dubh gheur. 'N dean sibh e no 'n duilt sibh ?"

Cha V eisdeadh Paruig an còrr, ghabh e gu 'chluasaig.

Thainig uisge leis an dubh-thrath. 'Reic an Aora, an abhainn oirdhearc, suas an Gleann dorcha bho 'Leum a Bhradain, chruinnich na cnoic gu tiugh agus trom mu'n cuairt air an tuath-bhaile sgaoilte, rinn barran ura uaine a ghiubhais agus duilleagan copair nan craobhan daraich òga fuaim ghearanach anns a ghaoith. 'N sin thainig gaoithean saillte le fuaim reubaidh a nios bho 'n 'fhairge a bleith meoir ri meangan, agus bha smùid as an talamh uile le farum uisge a thainig air fhiaradh air, gu dian agus teth.

Dh'eirich Giorsal, a h-eudach fhathast uimpe, chuir i breacan air a ceann dubh, agus thug an dorus tiugh slacadh air ais air an leabaidh'nuair a leum i do'n ghaillinn. Bha a casan troma bog fluich a dol troimh 'n fheur mhòintèachail, ghreimich am fraoch air earbuill eabarach a 'còtaichean a thoirt orra stad ; ach lion ise 'cridhe le aon smuain, agus be sin fuath; agus feuch! bha i air leathad an Tairbh Dhuibh mu 'n do ghabh a 'fear dall a stigh 'de 'bha i 'ciallachadh. Bha Caisteal Ionbharaora na luidhe aig bonn an duinn choillteich, a dol na chadal le ceol an loch shàile a rinn buairas agus cobhar, a tuath's a deas ann an luig nam beann; an dràsd 's a rithisd thug a ghealach suil air rudan, an dràsd's a rithisd ghoir

Lamh Dhearg 51

cailleach-oidhche's a choille bhraonaich mar a bha 'n t-uisge 'bualadh air itean a broilleich; 'leum earba 'mach as an dubhar agus a stigh ann le cruinn-leum gealtach os ceann Charlònain, bhuail tein'-adhair anns an dorcha an aghaidh gualainn Bheinn Ime, agus luaisg e 'n saoghal.

Anns an uair fhionn ar roimh bheul an latha bha 'm boirionnach ann an seomar a phiobaire aig geat' Ionbharaora bharr nach robh dorus riamh air a chrannadh air cheann na h-oidhche cho fhad 's bu 'leir do Chailain Laidir, am fear-dion, bho Ghearasdan Dhunchuach gu Cladach.

Luidh Tearlach, am piobaire, air a dhruim, le boisge na monadh 'leith-mhairbh air 'aodunn 's air a làmhan. " Paruig, Paruig I " ars' a bhean rithe fhein 'nuair a chuir i as gu sàmhach le 'casan an teine-monadh : agus thionndaidh i dh' ionnsuidh na leabadh. Agus feuch! bha e thairis. Rinn sgian bheg dhubh a 'fir grad-shiubhal cabhagach air caol-an-duirne aig an fhear a bha na chadal, agus bha 'n làmh aic'se air a deanadh fluich le fuil theth mic a 'fir.

Leum Tearlach suas le gaoir anns an dorcha, agus dh' fheuch e air son a 'nàmhaid, ach bha 'n tigh falamh, oir bha Giorsal a ruidh coltach ri agh feidh tarauinn reidhlean bog a Chuirnbhain. Bhuail an tein'-adhair aig Gleann-Aora ann am feirg agus mi-riaghailt bhearnaich, bha an tàirneanach a toirt farum fàs air a Chreig Dhuibh : ann an luib anns a cheum aig na Tri-Drochaidean choinnich a bhean ri a fear-posda.

" A nighean ifrinn !" ars'esan, " am bheil e deanta ? agus am be 'm bàs e ?"

" A Ghaoil nam fear" ars'ise le gaire beadarrach. " Cha robh ann ach làmh isein. Bheir sibhse dhuinn. ' Is leamsa 'n Gleann' anns a mhaduinn."

PlOB-MHOR.

The Kingdom of Dailriada 53


THE KINGDOM OF DAILRIADA

Out of the tangled skein of early Scottish history it is possible to draw a thread or two which, though it will certainly disappoint expectation and induce impatience by returning, sooner or later, to be en­gulfed, as it were, in the confused mass of events relating to those times ; yet is it sufficiently strong, distinct and enduring to serve as guide for a brief period. One of the most substantial of these threads is the Dailriadic occupation, or rather colonisation of a part of what is now Argyllshire, which took place, according to the Irish annalists, circa 160 A.D. under the conduct of Cairbre Eiata; though the erection of the colony into an independent kingdom or Principality was not effected until near three hundred years later.

The vicissitudes of this colony constitute one of the most interesting topics of Scottish history, as well as one of the most confusing and perplexing of all debatable historical questions. In the dim, un­certain light afforded by the chroniclers of times so distant and eventful, it is exceeding hard to discover anything connected with them which is not encrusted with legend, partial to the extreme, or the sport of fable. The many furious controversies that have raged (and still rage) about the early history of Dailriada, as about the various problems based upon its un­certainties, serve but to aggravate the difficulties of a position which needs not art nor extraneous assistance to render it confused and complicated in the highest degree ; nor anything empirical or

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designedly misleading to increase that feeling of utter despair which even the youngest of us must experience when brought face to face with that huge mass of tightly interwoven fact, fiction, legend and hyperbole out of which it is necessary to construct the raw material for authentic and well-ordered historical narrative. Moreover, as if the difficulties of the task were not already considerable enough, they have been farther aggravated by a succession or group of subsidiary, or rather collateral, questions of an abstruse and highly debatable character, prominent among which we are to reckon the apparently inter­minable discussion relating to the Picts and the Scots. The two questions, that touching the authenticity of the early Scottic narrative, and that whose subject is the respective original of Pict and Scot, may be said to dove-tail into one another so closely and effectually that he who would aspire to treat of one without extended reference to the other would propose almost an impossible task to himself, by reason of the fact that here, at all events, the science of history and the science of ethnology are, by common consent, considered as inseparable.

Now if, instead of losing ourselves, or allowing others to be lost, in the subtle mist or maze of mingled conjecture and fable which surrounds these topics to the almost entire exclusion of light, we allow ourselves to assume that which, according to every recognised authority save one,1

1 it is only reasonable to believe, namely, that the Picts were a Celtic people, speaking a Celtic language (whethei Brythonic or Oadelic matters little for historical purposes), it is obvious that by so doing we shall be tending greatly to lighten our own darkness, as well as doing a considerable service to history, which has 1 Professor Rhys.

immensely suffered by reason of these vain and un­profitable controversies. For once the ground is well cleared of all the rubbish with which philologists and ethnologists have been pleased to cumber it, not always in the interests of the science of truth (whose end is the good of humanity), it is to be feared, but largely in gratification of their own pride, and in pursuit of their own vexatious and impertinent quarrels; it stands to reason that we shall be in­finitely the freer to move, to marshal, our facts (however scanty they may be) in an open and business-like manner, and to draw our deductions therefrom, without superfluous fear or needless alarm that in so doing we may be offending the dogmas or wounding the susceptibilities of someone whose ethnological or philological views are not under proper control, being too headstrong and violent to be subordinated to historical interests.

A striking illustration of what the writer here intends will be found in Dr MacBain's criticism on Vols. I. and III. of Skene's Celtic Scotland, in which the former says, "They are both spoiled by his ethnologic views in regard to the Picts ; " by which it would seem that, in Dr MacBain's opinion, Skene's ethnologic views are of much more import­ance than his historical discoveries—a singular in­version of the real state of affairs ; for philology and ethnology are the handmaids of history proper rather than the dictators thereof. They are the twin assistant lights, without which no properly-qualified historian would dream of starting on his adventurous and arduous journey ; but that opinions such as Dr MacBain would appear to hold should dominate and control history is absurd, or that mere whim, caprice or partiality for a particular theory, however intelligently conceived or brilliantly set forth, should occupy the whole field of historical inquiry, to the entire exclusion of the purely historical instinct and science, is a proposition to which no one in his senses can reasonably be ex­pected to assent.

It may here be objected that the two principal questions relating to early Scottish history, namely the authenticity of the early Dailriadic narrative and the problem of the Picts and Scots, are so intimately connected that they cannot be separated without risk of serious injury to the proper handling of both. To which I reply, that if it indeed be true that these two topics are so closely connected that they cannot be divided, it is largely owing to the efforts of the philologists and ethnologists that they are so. Many of these impractical scholars have approached the subjects in a factious spirit, with a desire to make party capital out of them, and apparently more out of a regard and consideration to their own individual prowess in the field of learn­ing than out of love and respect for progress in historical knowledge and research. At all events, whatever their designs or intentions, they have so successfully confused the various issues, which were already complicated enough, that no historian now dares to approach the subject of the early history of Scotland without declaring or discovering himself a furious partisan. Dr MacBain complains that "county histories, cian histories and general Scottish histories, presently in course of publication, accept Skene's views (on the subject of the Picts), either without doubt or with little demur; or even with a jocose gaiety that makes the latest of them ' go one better';" but considering the confusion into which the "experts" themselves have fallen, and their various contradictory and antagonistic opinions, it is scarce to be wondered at that the general historian should adopt a course which, however unambitious and well-meaning, is found to leave much to be desired from the point of view of the purely "scientific" writer.

No doubt there is considerable justification for Dr MacBain's complaint. Celtic scholars are not sufficiently consulted by those who undertake to treat of early (and even modern) Scottish history; and only too often is the sorry spectacle presented to us of one setting forth to discuss our national beginnings who is but imperfectly acquainted—or not acquainted at all—with the history of those peculiar institutions and customs which gave rise to them, or who has a foolish sort of contempt of our country's originals, and, being ignorant himself, is too proud or indifferent to learn. The necessity for caution, for careful and supportable narrative, is, seemingly, not generally recognised, so far as those early times are concerned; or, at all events, is not sufficiently practised. Presuming on the inherent ignorance of the public and the scarcity of available evidence of a trustworthy character, many historians appear to take a positive pride and pleasure in being a law unto themselves; and evidently considering this a fair, vacant field, where no favour is, nor necessity, neither, for keeping the ordinary historical terms, they give a loose to their imaginations and endeavour to be "brilliant" at the expense of the truth. Or, failing such a conduct, the historian, who is indifferent, is in haste to pass to more familiar times, or who feels himself incom­petent to deal with Celtic Scotland in a convincing and scholarly manner, adopts a course which is equally reprehensible. He embraces the views of those who have gone before him, and who enjoy a credit and reputation, by reason of their investiga­tions, which more often than not are out of all pro­portion to their true value; or which, respectable enough considering the times in which they were made, have been largely discounted by more recent discoveries. But although we may sympathise with Dr MacBain in his indignant repudiation of Skene's views, and in his criticism of those who make so bold as to continue to hold them, it should be borne in mind that that author himself has by no means established his case. He says, " This very plausible theory (that the Picts were Gaels) has for the last sixty years held the field in Scottish history; indeed, the popular historians know no other. The county histories of Messrs Blackwood, of course, hold by Skene's theories; and the two latest historians of Scotland (Dr Hume Brown and Mr A. Lang) regard the Picts as purely Gaels, and kill off the Dalriads in the time of the terrible Pictish king, Angus MacFergus (about 740) ... Dr Skene has retarded the progress of scientific research into early Scottish history for at least a generation. This sort of thing, as shown by Lang's case, will go on for many a day yet, let Celtic scholars do what they like." But the need, the grave necessity, for caution and scrupulous moderation in the presentation of views on the great debatable questions relating to early Scottish history, especially on this, perhaps the greatest of them all, namely, the problem or question of the Picts, is by no means over-past, however confident in themselves those may be who are responsible for the various conflicting opinions which have been imposed on them, ostensibly with a view to their elucidation. Says Professor Mackinnon in an admirable criticism on Dr Skene's position (and incidentally it would seem on that of Dr MacBain also) : " The question cannot, however, be settled on such narrow lines as these [Pictish, if non-Gaelic would have left remains, and an interpreter was only wanted twice]; the question of blood and language must always be kept distinct. Anthropology and archaeology may hereafter yield concrete evidence which will be decisive of this matter. As things are, the following facts must be kept in the forefront. Among the Picts, succession was through the female. This custom is unknown among the Celts; it is, so far as we know, non-Ayran. Again, Bede regarded Pictish as a separate language. The Gael of Ireland looked upon the Picts, or Cruithnig, to use the native term, as a people different from themselves. Cormae, the first Gaelic lexicographer, gives one or two Pictish words, quoting them as foreign words, at a time when, presumably, Pictish was still a living language. The Norsemen called the Pentland Firth, Peltland, that is Pictland, Fjord; while the Minch was Skottland Fjord. Mr Whitley Stokes, after examining all the words in the old records presumably Pictish, says, " The foregoing list of names and words contains much that is still obscure; but on the whole it shows that Pictish, so far as regards its vocabulary, is an indo-European, and especially Celtic, speech. The phonetics, so far as we can ascertain them, resemble those of Welsh rather than of Irish.' Celtic scholars of the first rank, who have pronounced on the matter, are all agreed that Pictish was not Gaelic, as Skene held."

By this we may see how necessary it is that we should suspend our judgment until such times as all obscure and controversial topics in connection with this controversy have been cleared of the element of uncertainty with which they are presently en­compassed. But, in the meantime, this much, at all events, may be regarded as established beyond question, namely, that the Picts were a Celtic people, speaking a language akin to the Gaelic. But whether this last was certainly Brythonic or Gadelic, the present state of our knowledge in regard to this subject does not allow us positively to say.

Another disputed point in connection with the early history of Scotland is the means whereby the kings of Dailriada secured their succession to the Pictish throne. This event has been debated quite as fiercely as the one I have just touched on, and, perhaps, just as unprofitably. All we know for certain is, that the plantation of Dailriada by the Scots or Irish was at first neither resented nor resisted by the Pictish people in general, notwith­standing the displeasure wherewith particular individuals or small bodies of men may have regarded that proceeding. "Assuming, there­fore, essential affinities in language and manners between the emigrant Scoti and the native Gael (Celt), we can readily understand how such a race, seeking the shores of Argyle, originally rather as friendly refugees than as invaders, gradually acquired a footing there."Moreover, the Scots were constantly being re­inforced, not indeed in large numbers but con­siderably enough, by their countrymen from Ireland; and no doubt in proportion as their numbers increased their power spread, until at last they would appear to have imposed their name and rule upon the native Picts, by reason of a succession of events whose precise character and succession are very obscure, but whose outstanding feature was undoubtedly possession through the primitive and time-honoured channel of conquest.

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