The church and the highlands



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the four hills, as it were, of the Highlands, does not deserve to succeed. Celtic people, when all is said and done, are much like other folk—they require variety in their literary provender, just as they exact a reasonable diversity in respect of their daily food. Besides, to suppose that they are to be always entertained by erudite dissertations touch­ing the Gaelic particle a, or the use of the pre­position do is contemptible reasoning, and the abnegation of all common sense. What they require is a publication which, admitting a reasonable amount of matter appertaining peculiarly to them­selves, yet goes abroad for topics whereby they may be equally amused and instructed. Let us take the Nineteenth Century or any similar publication of the like standing in England. The reader will find that its pages are not exclusively devoted to the discussion of topics of English origin. On the contrary, it takes a wide view of life and of society. It discusses the affairs of other countries besides those of England, and endeavours to entertain

and to instruct by the breadth of its views as well as by the variety of its printed matter. Now what is the case with respect to our Celtic publications ? I dare to say that there is not one of them which, on examination, will be found to answer to this higher conception of what a national publication should be. Of course, if the aim is to produce a sort of trade periodical, a specialised organ appealing to a limited class, the design may be a good one, whatever there may be to say with regard to the manner of its execution. But the Highlands should produce at least one publication which is capable of taking a broad view of life; and which, whilst devoting that attention to the language, the literature, and the customs of the Gael, which is necessary in the interests of our people, should yet endeavour to take them out of themselves, as it were, by treating of topics which, from the point of view of their edification, are every whit as im­portant and as requisite. It is a fault of the Celtic Kenaissance that its leaders and spokesmen take too narrow a view of life. They are, apparently, fearful lest the common attention should be diverted from the consideration of their proceedings, and directed into channels which might prove antagon­istic to the aims and objects which, no doubt honestly enough, they have in view. Greater mistake, of course, they could not make. If the Gaelic language is to die, if the remnants of our nationality are to pass away (which God forbid!), it will not be the spokesmen and leaders of the Celtic Renaissance who will prevent it. On the contrary, my own view is that their conduct and attitude, if they have any influence at all, tend rather to aggravate than to restrain or to retard the threatened process of decay, if not of actual dissolution. In other words, they

"bore" friend and foe alike by their unseasonable and vehement insistence, by their unpractical management of great issues, and by the ignorance of social and political conditions which they show. They mean well, no doubt, and so far as they go are respectable enough; but by confining and cramping the movement for the preservation of our language and customs, they hamper and distress, not only themselves but others, who, whilst just as zealous as they are to promote the objects which they have in view, have more discretion and a higher and wider conception of the destinies of our ancient race.

As a practical publisher, I am inclined to think that such a periodical as I have glanced at above has a reasonable chance of existence if vigorously con­ducted. On the other hand, I do not attempt to disguise the fact that the Highland reader leaves much to be desired. Often, regrettably so, my ex­perience shows, he is very remiss in respect of the payment of his subscription, which, apparently, he is apt to resent as an unfair demand on the part of the publisher. I regret to say, too, that many Highlanders are bigoted to the point of besotted superstition. If they do not find exactly what suits them, what coincides, that is to say, with their every preconceived opinion and prejudice they will wax indignant, and peremptorily decline all assist­ance ! They will even take the trouble of writing to the editor to expostulate or reason with him on account of what they are pleased to consider as his ignorance or waywardness! More fatuous conduct, or one better calculated to defeat their own ends, could not, of course, well be conceived. But few of us can conscientiously say that we read a journal with whose obiter dicta we are in complete harmony, and whose views correspond with ours at every con­ceivable point of the religious and political compass. We do not, however, read our papers the less on that account, or fly into a passion, or half choke with impotent rage whenever we come across anything that happens to stick in our literary digestive apparatus. If we are inclined to be philosophical, we assume a calmness which, perhaps, we do not feel, and pass nonchalantly by on the other page: at all events we do not cut off our noses in order to spite our faces by cancelling our subscription to


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